21. You Are Not The One by Vestal McIntyre - these are some of the best contemporary short stories I've read in a long time. All are linked by the theme of people looking to fill a hole in their lives, and each story is told in a very different voice. I can't wait to see what else Mr. McIntyre writes.
22. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - I usually have problems with fantasy/sci fi set in contemporary times, because I keep wondering how the bad things that happen could happen in our world, how we could get to the place where the story being told is remotely possible. This author made me so interested in his characters first, so that by the time the "bad thing" became a major part of the plot, I didn't care how it happened, I only wanted to know how it effected these people he'd gotten me to care about. I couldn't put the book down for the five chapters.
23. 84, Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff - I had to read these after reading "Underfoot in Show Business". The first is a collection of letters exchanged between Ms. Hanff and principally a London used book dealer; the second is her diary of her often postponed but greatly anticipated trip to London a few years after the time period of the letters. If you have any love for used books or old British Literature, I'd strongly both of them. They're very short, fast reads, so I'm only counting them as one book. Also, I read them one after the other, straight through, in one day, so they seemed like one book to me.
24. In A Shallow Grave by James Purdy - I can't come up with a few words to describe what happens in this very short but incredibly moving love story, so I'm stealing from the Independent Publisher's review, posted on Amazon.com. "Garnet Montrose is a man severely disfigured in the war, a modern leper, an often drugged prophet of the disintegration of values. Unwilling to hide in a veteran's hospital, Montrose returns to his home in Virginia. Obsessed with a childhood sweetheart, now the widow Georgina Rance, he devises an elaborate system of correspondence to woo her, depending on his "applicants" to carry letters to the lady. The relationship with these applicants forms the basis of the book. Quintus Pearch is quiet and mysterious, a wraithlike character who reads to Montrose from abstract tomes and rubs his master's feet with cynical adoration. Potter Daventry is a wild young man with twisted values and a go-for-broke attitude. Daventry courts Georgina for Montrose, then for himself. He marries her and is carried away by a freak storm. The implications are biblical in proportion; Purdy utilizes every subtlety and shading of language to enhance the demented howlings of these three lost souls. Purdy's skill consists of taking the familiar and distorting it; the results are often eerie." My opinion of the book is that it's one of the best stories I've ever read, and it's moved onto my list of books I'd want to have with me if I were stuck on a deserted island.
25. Leave Myself Behind by Bart Yates - Noah, the 17 year old boy that is the protagonist of this story, is sometimes funny, sometimes cruel, sometimes selfish, sometimes romantic, sometimes wise far beyond his years. It's that last trait that frequently took me out of what is otherwise a great story of secrets of the past and secrets of the present coming together, ripping apart one family and making another one stronger.