1. "The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill (2007)
A young girl is abducted from her home in West Africa and forced into slavery in the US. She later gains freedom in Canada and gets her name into the Book of Negroes, earning her way home to Africa as an adult. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant historical fiction. Examines the issue of slavery in Africa, the United States and Canada and presents a side of the story lost in the history textbooks. (Also titled "Someone Knows My Name" in the US.)
2. "Push" by Sapphire (1997)
The book that has been made into the movie "Precious." A heartbreaking and redeeming story of a young women who is up against all odds. Her life is tragic and you cannot imagine anyone having to endure what she does, but this story also shows the power we have to not only rise above our circumstances but to help others rise above their circumstances. A must-read and the movie is a must-see as well.
3. "Dear Fatty" by Dawn French (2009)
Dawn French is half of the hilarious French and Saunders and star of Vicar of Dibley among many other things. Her story is hilarious, heartwarming, fascinating and endearing. One of the most brilliantly written memoirs I have read in that the entire book is written in the form of individual letters to friends and family. A concept that is engaging, open and from the heart. Absolutely Fabulous!
4. "In The Land of Invisible Women" by Qanta Ahmed (2008)
On a whim Ahmed, a young British Muslim doctor accepts a position at a hospital in Saudi Arabia. Her book is a fascinating look at Saudi Arabia from an outsider on the inside perspective. It is a land of incredible contrast and her book reveals what life is really like for women, both Saudi and foreign, living in the Kingdom. Very revealing.
5. "The Brightest Star in the Sky" by Marian Keyes (2009)
My last read of 2009 was a great one. In the beginning it is about the separate lives of people living in the flats of a house in Dublin. Soon their lives become intertwined and a story of friendship, love, tragedy and heartbreak occurs and their lives change in incredible ways. One of those books that make you say "ahhhhhhhh" partway through when you truly understand the forces at play. A sweet story that brings out every emotion inside of you and leaves you smiling as it comes to an end.