Top Books Look Back (Part 3): The Indian stories of good and evil gods in “Ceremony” and navigating the maze in “The Battle of the Labyrinth”

Our Top Books Look Back series of articles is back this week . For our third part of the series, we’re taking a look back to the top books of 2010. In case you missed it, we’re revisiting the book titles which made up our top list for the past ten years. Some of them were included in the annual top ten lists way beyond the creation of this site so we took an opportunity to have them reviewed a bit. We selected a few of them which you could read or re-read. So again, here we go.

Leslie_Marmon_Silko_-_CeremonyCeremony

(by Leslie Marmon Silko. Top 4 book, 2010. Rate: 6.71/10. Penguin Books, 1977)

“What she said: the only cure I know is a good ceremony, that’s what she said.”

Ceremony is a story about a World War II soldier Tayo, a native American who returned to his native land in Laguna Pueblo and his struggle to return to his life after the war. Ceremony is a story that will take us through Indian culture: their traditions, beliefs and stories full of withcraft, good and evil gods and their dead people. This book is full of rituals and reading the poems and stories would make the readers feel like they are chanting spells. Tayo’s return to his land will reunite him with his people and his culture and thereby finding peace. The Boston Globe said “the novel is very deliberately a ceremony itself.” The book includes true English-translated, story-like incantations. For example:

(The hummingbird said)
Cover the jar with a new buckskin
And say this over the jar
And sing this softly above the jar:
After four days you will be alive
After four days you will be alive
After four days you will be alive
After four days you will be alive

Scary right?

Without Seeing the Dawn 1-without-seeing-the-dawn

(by Steven Javellana. Top 3 book, 2010. Rate: 6.84/10. Alemar’s-Phoenix, 1947)

“This line my son means that you will help several people into a life not of this world and bring misery to many others. It is an evil sign, so be careful…”

The title of Stevan Javellana’s only novel in English, Without Seeing the Dawn was derived from one of José Rizal’s character in the Spanish-language novel Noli Me Tangere or Touch Me Not. Javellana’s 368-paged book has two parts, namely Day and Night. The first part, Day, narrates the story of a pre-war barrio and its people in the Panay Island particularly in Iloilo. The second part, Night, begins with the start of World War II in both the U.S. and the Philippines, and retells the story of the resistance movement against the occupying Japanese military forces of the barrio people first seen in Day. It narrates the people’s “grim experiences” during the war.

The_Battle_of_the_Labyrinth-1The Battle of the Labyrinth

(by Rick Riordan. Top 4 book, 2010. Rate: 5.43/10. Disney-Hyperion Books, 2008).

“…You shall delve in the darkness of the endless maze…The dead, the traitor and the loss one raise…”

The Battle of the Labyrinth is a 2008 fantasy-adventure novel based on Greek mythology and the fourth novel in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Fictional demigod Percy Jackson, who is fifteen years old by the end of the book, enters the labyrinth to convince the great inventor Daedalus to join their side in the looming battle of the gods versus the titans and to stop Lord Kronos from using the labyrinth to invade Camp Half-Blood, the last hurdle in destroying Mount Olympus. This is by far my favourite among the Percy series, with action-packed battled and a smart use of the labyrinth as part of building the plots of the story. Daedalus simply rocks, though I don’t like him that much.

167176_195564683792307_7570430_nA Man Named Dave

(by Dave Pelzer. Top 1 book, 2010. Rate: 8.28/10. Orion Publishing Group, 1999)

“I always knew as a child, deep down inside, I could make it if I had the chance. And now my entire life was on track…I was becoming a real person.”

A Man Named Dave is the third installment of a series of autobiographical books of Dave Pelzer’s life. It tells the story of Dave Pelzer’s struggle to survive in society and how he tries to overcome his memories of being abused as a child. This one is a story of redemption and moving on. I read the first book, A Child Called It, back in college and reading the story was an experience I will never forget. While the first two books were told in a child’s point of view, this book was told by an adult Pelzer on his journey to become something of himself amid being pulled back by his past. A Man Named Dave is a story of courage and journey from being an abused child to a successful man. What he said on the last pages of this book was a lesson I would always remember: “I am now old enough and wise enough to understand that no one’s life is perfect or even normal. Everyone has a past, everyone has issues. Life is what we make of it.”

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