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2001 Puddly Awards

 

At the beginning of each year we ask you, our customers, to tell us the "best book you read last year." If you are disappointed that the following list does not include An Elementary Treatise In Herbology, 'Round Ireland with a Fridge, The Long, Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora, or The Advent of the Algorithm, please remember that with 7,000 entries, we didn't have space to list every title nominated. After many hours of laborious tallying we've pared the list down to the fifty titles with the most votes, this year's Puddlys. So whoever voted for Without Vodka, please feel free to give it another go in 2002, and good luck making it through the year.

 

Puddly Award
SERIES
1 Harry Potter SeriesHarry Potter (Series) by J. K. Rowling
"Reading all four Harry Potter books twice during the summer caused me to miss my bus (7 times), be late for work (4 times), be late cooking supper (a million times according to my son), and laugh out loud (at least a few hundred times). In my arithmetic, all this adds up to a great series."
Puddly Award
NOVEL
2 Poisonwood BibleThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
"This is one of those life-changing books! Everything about it overwhelmed me with its strength and beauty. Every chapter contains a metamorphosis, and each time I had the story figured out, the entire meaning and significance would change. By the end of the book I felt I had read a hundred tales." (read more)
  3 His Dark MaterialsHis Dark Materials (Series) by Philip Pullman
"A bold, daring and beautifully written fantasy for young and old alike. What other book marketed (wrongly in my opinion) for young adults has epigraphs from Keats, particle physics and Gnostic theology? The three volumes of His Dark Materials are among the most imaginative and thought-provoking fiction I've ever read."
Puddly Award
NEW NOVEL
4 Blind AssassinThe Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
"Margaret Atwood has such a way with words her prose is much like poetry. I had to set the book down a few times just to enjoy the flavor of a simple paragraph. The characters were full and the plot thick and meaty, with unending layers. The ending was also a bit of a surprise. Spectacular." (read more)
  5 Prodigal SummerProdigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
"I was thrilled that after reading the wonderful first sentence each following held that magical richness that makes you read a 444 page novel in a few hours. Prodigal Summer is a refreshing look at the interconnectedness of us all." (read more)
Puddly Award
DEBUT NOVEL
6 White TeethWhite Teeth by Zadie Smith
"This smart look at multicultural London is almost too good! Some of Smith's prose left me utterly gobsmacked. And, it's very, very funny to boot." (read more)
Puddly Award
MEMOIR
7 A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusA Heartbeaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
"Eggers's writing is almost conversational. It lacks the sappiness that mars many books dealing with a subject like death. HWSG is a perfect blend of humor, satire, poignancy and biography." (read more)
  8 Angela's AshesAngela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
"Along with being a true inspiration, Angela's Ashes has more 'feelings' than any I've ever read before or since. As far as I'm concerned, Frank McCourt is better than Superman, writing after so many years with the same emotions he had as a child and teenager but remembering his adult side enough to forgive (or at least explain) the many wrongs he suffered. McCourt and his mother deserve this year's Puddly." (read more)
  9 Memoirs of a GeishaMemoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
"I loved this book! I found it both touching and interesting. I also kept forgetting it was written by a man." (read more)
  10 The HoursThe Hours by Michael Cunningham
"I was taken with the beauty of this book's language, as well as its intriguing juxtaposition with Woolf's great novel, Mrs. Dalloway." (read more)
  11 Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
"Just a great book: family saga, action adventure, mystery, historical novel, and great techie details." (read more)
  12 The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
"I thoroughly enjoyed taking another look at the patriarchy of the Old Testament through the eyes of one of its lesser-known women. Diamant's book made me read my Bible with curiosity, wonder, and skepticisim. Very imaginative!" (read more)
  13 Plainsong by Kent Haruf
"Plainsong is beautifully written in deceptively simple prose. Haruf relates the most ordinary of stories with extraordianry results. Being an old cynic I hate to admit that I found Plainsong so satisfying and heartwarming." (read more)
  14 Left Behind (Series) by Tim F. Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
"Not the most literary reading I have encountered...but most of the books have been real page-turners. Whether one reads them from the perspective of Christian belief, as suspense novels, or as science fiction, the books hold the reader's attention."
  15 Timeline by Michael Crichton
"This is a book that grabs you from the very beginning and holds you to the very end. The author certainly supports the story with plausible science." (read more)
  16 House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus, III
"Dubus took incredible risks in plot structure, voice, and character development and pulled off a masterpiece." (read more)
Puddly Award
WRITING
17 On WritingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
"I found this book informative and interesting, and I recommend it for professional writers and anyone considering writing as a career opportunity." (read more)
  18 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
"This wildly imaginative novel is so entertaining and intelligent it would be great to read aloud." (read more)
Puddly Award
HUMOR
19 Me Talk Pretty One DayMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
"This collection is so heartfelt it hurts, and yet it took me hours to read because I spent most my time bursting into laughter. Sedaris is one of the funniest and most tragic writers to ever place his life on the printed page." (read more)
  20 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
"This is a very inspirational story. We should all be so lucky as to have a teacher like Morrie." (read more)
Puddly Award
THRILLER
21 HannibalHannibal by Thomas Harris
"The book had the hair on the back of my neck standing on end – yikes." (read more)
Puddly Award
SHORT STORIES
22 Interpreter of MaldiesInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
"You will want to take home and comfort – maybe make them laugh, give them a sandwich – every character in each of the nine stories in Jhumpa Lahiri's spectacular debut collection. Maybe they are not from your world, but you will feel like they belong to you." (read more)
  23 Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
"I have always wanted to walk into a Vermeer painting and live in that world for a while - this book fulfilled that wish." (read more)
Puddly Award
HISTORY
24 Guns, Germs and SteelGuns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
"An incredibly insightful explanation of how the world got the way it is in terms of the distribution of power, wealth, and technology across the globe." (read more)
Puddly Award
ROMANCE
25 OutlanderOutlander by Diana Gabaldon
"I really got lost into this story. A mix of history, romance, adventure, and fantasy makes the entire series impossible to put down." (read more)
  26 White Oleander by Janet Fitch
"This story of a rapidly evolving central character is insightful and disturbing." (read more)
  27 Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
"Bones, lost love, the disappearance of people, and a surprising, satisfying ending. What more could one ask for from a master of words?" (read more)
  28 Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel
"The author brings together many things – the history of the Catholic Church, the history of science, the politics of Galileo's time, etc. – in such a readable way. I think I learned more from this book than in an entire year of University studies. I certainly enjoyed myself more." (read more)
  29 Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
"An insightful look, through the eyes of a young girl, at the way family patterns can be dramatically altered by one seemingly happy event. Very beautifully written." (read more)
  30 I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
"One of those books that sucks you in – I lived this book for a week! Very honest, genuine characters." (read more)
  31 Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
"Laughter, romance, witty dialogue, war and unspeakable horror – all in one book." (read more)
  32 Faith of My Fathers by John McCain
"Really made me think about the courage of my parents' generation. Wow." (read more)
Puddly Award
TRAVEL WRITING
33 In a Sunburned CountryIn a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
"This book is not suitable bus reading as your fellow passengers tend to think you're insane when you keep bursting out laughing. A hilarious book." (read more)
  34 Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
"I read many books last year, but this is the only one where I truly wanted to savor every sentence because it was so beautifully written." (read more)
  35 The Brethren by John Grisham
"Hooks you from minute one. As good as any he has written. A true winner." (read more)
  36 Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
"A superb tale of love and adventure during the California Gold Rush." (read more)
  37 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
"An amazing novel: compelling story, magical storytelling, wonderful language." (read more)
Puddly Award
MYSTERY
38 Hot SixHot Six by Janet Evanovich
"Janet has a way with words that really flows and allows the reader to be in the story, not just outside looking in." (read more)
  39 Cider House Rules by John Irving
"I found this book to be a brilliant examination of all the complicated aspects of human relationships woven into a thoroughly entertaining and emotional story." (read more)
  40 Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins
"As always Tom Robbins's latest is a painfully funny wild ride told in rich and vivid language." (read more)
  41 Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
"Lethem took all of my conscious and unconscious predjudice about Tourette's Syndrome sufferers and made me look at them, re examine them, and change my view. Great story too." (read more)
  42 Chocolat by Joanne Harris
"A subtle, fascinating, smoky story of temptation and redemption. A tug-of-war between kindness and understanding, bitter self-loathing and fear." (read more)
  43 The Last Precinct by Patricia Cornwell
"Patricia Cornwell gives us all an insight into the folks she introduced us to so long ago, and makes it just as exciting and interesting as her other crime novels. Brava." (read more)
Puddly Award
SCIENCE FICTION
44 The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
"This is the best anthropological, science fiction speculation on ethics and the nature of God that I have read this year or this life." (read more)
  45 A Widow for One Year by John Irving
"You know it's a fantastic book when it makes you say "Wow!" out loud. Reading the last line made me want to start over from the beginning and do it again just to regain that "Wow" feeling." (read more)
  46 Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
"This beautiful story is about two people trying to survive circumstances beyond their control (the Civil War) and the effect it has on their lives. They both made a remarkable journey, one physically, the other psychologically, to be together. A truly great novel with unforgettable imagery." (read more)
  47 The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
"The Feast of Love is an album of Polaroid snapshots capturing the intimate moments between lovers, between parents and children, between close friends and casual acquaintances. Baxter has been good before, but here he ascends to the realm of master." (read more)
  48 A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
"I laughed, I cried – I really did – and I wasn't embarassed." (read more)
  49 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
"Amazing novel detailing the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Fast paced, entertaining, and full of great lines: "The overdressed traveler betrays more interest in being seen than in seeing"... "while the true traveler knows that the novel world about her serves as the most appropriate accessory." (read more)
  50 Ender's ShadowEnder's Shadow by Orson Scott Card
"Questions of humanity and morality confront the characters, and therefore the reader, in this fantastic story." (read more)

 

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