Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Nicholas Sparks - "The Last Song"As fate would have it, Nicholas Sparks--best-selling author of The Notebook--was already interested in writing a novel about teen romance when he was commissioned to pen a film vehicle for teen pop diva Miley Cyrus. The result is The Last Song, the novel version of the film slated for release in April of next year. The story focuses on teenager Ronnie Miller, who has reacted to her parents' divorce with rebellious behavior. Sent to live with her father in a small beach community, she eventually reconnects with him through their mutual love of music. But don't forget that it's Nicholas Sparks--keep the tissues handy.
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Dan Brown - The Lost SymbolThis was a certainty from the day the book was announced. The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown's first book since the record-breaking The DaVinci Code, broke all conceivable sales records itself by selling over one million books on its first day, and two million in its first week. Brown's brilliant symbologist Robert Langdon is back again, and this time he's back home in the States. When he finds the severed hand of his friend Peter Solomon--head of the Smithsonian and a senior Freemason--waiting for him in D.C., Langdon and Peter's sister Katherine begin a breathtaking race around the capital to solve an ancient puzzle and rescue Solomon. The magnificent architecture of Washington, D.C. serves as the backdrop for Brown's twisting story, which delves into the dense and fascinating history of the Freemasons, who were intricately linked to the founding of this country. Brown scores with another engrossing, enlightening and fast-paced book that you just can't put down. Literally!
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Kathryn Scott - "The Help"Kathryn Stockett dazzles with The Help, her uplifting debut novel set in Civil Rights Era Jackson, Mississippi. Recent Ole Miss graduate Skeeter Phelan returns to Jackson and is dismayed at how poorly her fellow white women treat the African-American help. She decides to write a tell-all book with the help of Aibileen, a quietly-suffering nanny who has raised 17 white children but isn't allowed to use the same bathroom, and Minny, the best cook in town who nonetheless finds herself constantly fired when she speaks out against her mistreatment. Stockett authentically gives voice to these vibrant characters in a truly outstanding first novel.
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Steve Harvey "Act Like A Lady - Think Like A Man"Comedian Steve Harvey spent months on the best-seller list with his funny and frank self-help book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Harvey provides real relationship advice that is geared to help women understand just what's going on in a man's head atvarious stages of their interaction. From how to spot a mama's boy, to how long a man will wait for sex before seeking it elsewhere, Harvey tells it straight.
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009John Grisham - "The Associate"John Grisham's 21st novel is another page-turning legal thriller in the tradition of The Firm. The Associate follows promising Yale Law grad Kyle McAvoy, who is about to embark on what is sure to be a brilliant career. But Kyle's life is thrown off track when a mysterious stranger named Bennie Wright turns up in possession of incriminating video evidence of a past indiscretion that would badly embarrass Kyle and damage his career. Forced to assent to Bennie's demands, Kyle finds himself playing mole in a high-powered New York law firm representing a defense contractor. As Kyle tries to outwit his blackmailers, his past unexpectedly comes calling anyhow--and all bets are off.
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Jillian Michaels - "Master Your Metabolism"Fitness guru Jillian Michaels has kicked people into shape with her hardcore strength training regimens on TV's The Biggest Loser. Yet in her book Master Your Metabolism, Michaels emphasizes the importance of metabolism and balancing the body's hormones for sustainable weight loss. Through a 3-phase plan, Michaels instructs the reader on how to choose a proper diet and avoid foods, chemicals and behavior that knock the body's hormones--e.g. estrogen, testosterone, insulin, and cortisol--out of whack. With these in balance, it will be effortless to lose weight and keep it off for good.
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Pat Conroy - "South of Broad"It was worth the wait. A decade-and-a-half absence from fiction made anticipation for Pat Conroy's new novel South of Broad palpable. The beloved author of Prince of Tides didn't lose a step during his hiatus; his latest is another lush, sweeping novel of the Deep South, filled with vivid characters and emotional drama. Set in Conroy's native Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad tracks the lives of a motley crew of diverse friends who cling together through socially divisive 1960's Charleston all the way to AIDS-ravaged San Francisco in 1989. Another triumphant epic from Conroy.
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Charlaine HarrisCharlaine Harris has carved herself a niche with her Sookie Stackhouse novels, locking up the post-teenage vampire fan demographic with the help of the sultry HBO series True Blood based on her novels. In Dead and Gone, Sookie is hoping that the shape-shifters of Bon Temps, Louisiana will be afforded tolerance when they decide to reveal themselves to the world in the same way that vampires did previously. Her hopes are dashed, however, when a young werepanther girl is murdered and crucified. Meanwhile, Sookie finds herself being stalked by a malicious fairy prince and grilled by the FBI. Wicked fun.
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Mark Levin - "Liberty and Tyranny"Shrill right-wing conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin proves how easy it is to sell books to people who march in step with you. Liberty and Tyranny does what all books from ideologues of any stripe do: rip apart the opposition with a litany of myopic or distorted factoids of which no average reader would ever bother to check the veracity. Levin rails against social security, big government, immigration and other re-tread conservative talking points in his manifesto.
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Malcolm Gladwell - "Outliers"Why are ultra-successful people ultra-successful? asks best-selling author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell in his brilliant work Outliers. Through a wide swath of observations and social data, Gladwell engages the reader in a nature versus nurture debate to determine what factors contribute to success. Gladwell demonstrates the unbalanced manner in which society often cultivates talent, providing advantages to those who already have advantages. Gladwell also endorses the "10,000 hour rule," which he believes is the amount of practice required to master a skill. Gladwell contributes another stirring, insightful work.
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Mitch Albom - "Have A Little Faith"The author of the best-selling memoir of all time is at it again, penning this stirring portrait of faith in action. Mitch Albom inspired millions with his work Tuesdays with Morrie, and takes on a similar task for Have a Little Faith--chronicling another man's wisdom and legacy. In this case, it's two men: 80-something Albert Lewis, a rabbi from Albom's hometown, who wishes for the author to deliver his eulogy; and Henry Covington, an ex-con and former drug dealer turned pastor of a crumbling church in Albom's adopted hometown of Detroit. Albom marvels at the power of faith in these men's lives, which leads him to rekindle his own long-dormant faith. Get inspired!
Michele Wright – Top 10 Books of 2009Stieg Larsson - "The Girl Who Played With Fire"Swedish author, journalist and activist Stieg Larsson left behind the completed manuscripts of his Millennium Trilogy of crime novels after his untimely death. The Girl Who Played With Fire, the second book of the trilogy, continues the story of punk hacker and butt-kicker Lisbeth Salander and crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who are both at odds with a Swedish society dominated by corrupt, powerful men. Blomkvist is tipped off about a sex-trade scandal that reaches high levels of Swedish politics, but must help Lisbeth clear her name when she is framed for a trio of murders. To get to the bottom of the conspiracy, Lisbeth will have to reveal parts of her painful past.