1. The Floating Girl, Zen Attitude, and The Bride’s Kimono, Sujata Massey: spunky Japanese-American detective/antiques dealer—can’t wait for Massey’s next book!
2. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry: Excellent, deeply melancholy story of four people—three men and one woman—during Indira Gandhi’s India
3. The Far Pavilions, M.M. Kaye: Another great Indian saga, this one took place in the 1860s; particularly timely as it describes the British-Afghan war
4. Saints and Villains, Denise Giardina: Gripping, fascinating historical novel about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life
5. Fall on Your Knees, Anne-Marie Macdonald: Very dark, brooding saga about family living off the coast of Novia Scotia…Catholic themes, shocking plot developments, and characters that are difficult to like, but a great story
6. American Fuji, Sarah Backer: Great read about American woman who goes to teach in a Japanese small town and gets wrapped up in a mystery
7. Letters from an Age of Reason, Nora Hague: Sweeping historical saga with such plot elements as interracial romance, suffragettes, morphine addiction, and lesbian innuendo, it’s easy to see her mentor was E.L. Doctorow
8. Total Recall, Sara Paretsky: She’s so much better than Sue Grafton and all the other imitators!!!
9. Plain Truth, Jodi Picoult: Young, unmarried Amish woman has a baby who shows up dead; spunky defense lawyer moves in with her family and gets to know the Amish ways; good until the implausible ending
10. Only in London, Hanan al-Shaykh: Four Arabic strangers meet on a plane from Oman to London
11. Murder on the Iditarod Trail, Sue Henry: Story of a gutsy woman and a glimpse into an entirely different culture—mushers on the Iditarod Trail
12. Vine of Desire, Chitra Banerjee Divarakuni: Sequel of Sister of My Heart, which I enjoyed, but this book was weaker
13. Kissing the Virgin’s Mouth, Donna Gershten: Mexican woman who rebels from her traditional upbringing and marries an American; drawn back to her roots, she finds herself in conflict with her rebellious daughter
14. Jim & Louella’s Heart Fix Remedy, Bertice Berry: Older black couple revitalizes their love live with advice of their ancestors, then discover they have special curative powers to fix broken hearts
15. The Painted House and The Chamber, John Grisham: First Grisham books I have ever read—Painted House was especially good; The Chamber had interesting insights on the death penalty
16. The Persian Pickle Club, Sandra Dallas: Story of a small-town quilting circle in depression-era Kansas
17. Feeling Sorry for Celia, Jacklyn Moriarty: Coming-of-age story of Australian teenager told through letters
1. Karen, Marie Killilea: Written in the early 50s, a story about her 3-months-premature daughter who developed cerebral palsy, when very little was known about it
2. The Invisible Thread, Yoshiko Uchida: Memoirs about growing up in California as a Japanese-American and becoming interned during WWII
3. Black, White, and Jewish, Rebecca Walker: Memoir of Alice Walker’s black-Jewish daughter—I found this book to be sad, as she was caught between two worlds, feeling as if she belonged nowhere
4. All Over but the Shoutin’, Rick Bragg: Memoir of Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who grew up poor in the Appalachians
5. Don’t Let Us Go to the Dogs Tonight: Memoir of an African Childhood, Alexandra Fuller: Evocative memoir of a British girl who grows up in Africa with racist parents and an alcoholic mother
6. Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey, Alison Wearing: Set of travelogues about author’s travels through Iran disguised as a honeymooning couple with her gay friend
7. Frida, A Biography of Frida Kahlo, Hayden Herrera: Made me long to go back to Mexico again!