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Likely Stories: Best Reads of Last 5 Years

Ramona McKeown
Jim McKeown in his home library

Likely stories began as a monthly feature on KWBU but has grown to a regular weekly segment.  This week Jim take a look back at the best reads of the last five years.  FIVE STARS to Jim McKeown and Likely Stories 5th anniversary.  

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

One of the hardest questions for an avid reader is “What’s your favorite book?”  The task is no easier to come up with a list of my favorites over the last five years of Likely Stories.  So, I decided to pick two from each reading year. 

2009-10 – Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín.  Tóibín’s prose weaves a serene tale of life in Ireland and Brooklyn, NY.  The main character Eilis matures quickly after her arrival and develops a relationship with a young man she meets at a dance.  Toibin writes lovely prose.  Ballistics by Billy Collins.  This collection, by my favorite poet, sparkles with all the wit and humor, which characterizes his poetry.

2010-11 – Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff.  Schiff has written one of the most entertaining biographies I have ever read.  She brings the Queen of the Nile into sharp focus with all her strengths and weaknesses.  The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.  Another writer with elegant and beautiful prose, which tells the story of a close bond between a loner and a young girl who share a love of books and reading.

2011-12 – The Radetsky March by Joseph Roth.  The thread which ties this list together has emerged: spectacular, beautiful, enchanting prose.  This novel, set during the Napoleonic Wars might not seem interesting, but that would be a mistake on any reader’s part.  The Golden Droplet by Michel Tournier.  This story of a young girl’s search for a woman who took her photograph excites, saddens, and pleases on every page.

2012-13 -- The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch.  Iris Murdoch is one of my top three authors.  Her novels have large casts of characters with intricate plots.  Nearly every one of her novels is a masterpiece.  Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.  This first volume in a trilogy covers the life and loves of the Tudor Court of Henry VIII.  This Booker Prize Winner was followed by the same award for part two, Bring Up the Bodies.  Part three is due out sometime in 2015.  I can’t wait.

2013-14 – last we come to my 5th year of sharing my love for fine literature with my dedicated and faithful listeners.  Because we are now weekly, I have many more books to choose from, so this was a particularly hard decision.  So, I have declared a dead heat between Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is one of the finest novels I have ever read.  Despite its length, it was a fast read – a page turner some might say – about a young man who loses his mother in a terrorist attack, but new friends place him on a much more secure path to adulthood.  This is a must read.  And finally, Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 is another must readAgain, I urge readers not to allow the length – 933 pages – to deter from reading this fascinating story of two children, who share a secret bond neither of them fully understands.  Twenty years after their single encounter, they search for each other.

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  You can read my book blog at RabbitReader.blogspot.com.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and HAPPY READING!