I haven’t shared a book with you in over a month! A shame, because I’ve been reading some good ones:
1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart
I’ve been telling everyone about this engaging and timely examination of the cultural moment in the United States just before the Civil War. What was the political situation like? How did people really feel about the pressing issues of the day? I found a lot of parallels between 1861 and today, which is both comforting and frightening. A really great read!
Looker by Laura Sims
Our narrator lives next door to a famous actress. Our narrator has just been through a messy divorce and is sort of obsessed with the actress. Our narrator is bonkers. Taut and disturbing, but not without some dark humor! For fans of The Woman Upstairs, The Woman in the Window, and A Kind of Intimacy.
Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food by Ann Hood
I really like what I think of as “cozy food writing.” The kind where the author talks about their families and the people they cook for, the food they grew up with, and the dishes that strike an emotional cord for them. Hood delivers all of this in Kitchen Yarns, alongside wonderful descriptions of food and cooking.
Not bad for a month’s work. My apologies for not keeping up with blogging about them!
My son spent most of the first couple months of his life on my lap. He’s a real snuggler and likes to nap on people instead of in his crib. Not that I minded–not only did I get baby snuggles, it was the perfect reading time! Here’s what I managed to read one-handed and carefully balanced:
The Outsider by Stephen King
I liked how much of a mystery this book turned out to be. There are seriously chilling sequences, and the foe is indeed supernatural, but The Outsider plays very much as a detective story. Great characters and pacing, compelling, and I like the cross-over with the Bill Hodges books.
The Ruins by Scott Smith
I’d been meaning to read this one for years. A disturbing horror story (lots of body horror and paranoia) set in a Mexican jungle, this is a great one to keep in mind for future Horror Months!
Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean by Jonathan White
A fascinating and fun book about how the tide works. Covers history, travel, and science, all told in a very engaging and personable way.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Boy do I love Hill’s ghost stories. They’re so elegant, dark, and spare. This one, a story about revenge from beyond the grave, is wonderfully chilling and atmospheric.
Batavia’s Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History’s Bloodiest Mutiny by Mike Dash
By far the craziest historical incident I have yet read about, and I’ve read about the Crusades. In 1628 the Dutch ship Batavia ran onto a reef off the coast of Australia. A total psychopath happened to be on board, and he proceeded to take control and terrorize the survivors. Includes lots of great historical background about the Dutch East India Company and life on a Dutch trading ship, but mostly an affecting telling of a truly insane and horrifying incident.
I see a lot of books go out at the circulation desk over the course of a year. Our community has readers of many varied tastes and interests, so it’s always neat to run the numbers and see the books that went out the most.
Here are the books that Camden Public Library readers checked out most often in 2017, both a fiction and a nonfiction list. There were lots of ties, so these are in no particular order.
Top 10 Fiction:
Knife Creek by Paul Doiron The Little French Bistro by Nina George The Beach Inn by Joanne Demaio Mangrove Lightning by Randy Wayne White The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve No Middle Name by Lee Child The Denim Blue Sea by Joanne Demaio Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton Himself by Jess Kidd The Child by Fiona Barton
Top 10 Nonfiction:
Impatient Foodie: 100 Delicious Recipes for a Hectic, Time-Starved World by Elettra Wiedemann The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel Free Country: A Penniless Adventure the Length of Britain by George Mahood The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon’s Relentless Madre De Dios by Holly Conklin FitzGerald Obama: The Call of History by Peter Baker Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table by Stephen Westaby What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro
Click the image above to go to my Year in Books, courtesy of GoodReads.
I had set a goal of 100 books to read in 2017, and I managed 104. Not too shabby!
My favorite part of this summary is getting to see all of the different book covers all collected. It’s a fun visual for the variety of titles I read in a given year.
Some old favorites, some new, some TBR list, some nonfiction book club. More or less my reading year.
As I mentioned in my Favorites of 2017 post, it’s been a pretty good year. I’ve stuttered a bit here at the end, what with the holidays coming up. There’s so much to do (and I fall asleep so early these days) that it’s tough to find time to curl up with a good book. But I’m going to see out 2017 with Claire Messud’s The Burning Girl, Peter Straub’s Mr. X, and my non-fiction book club pick, The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction.
Here we are, nearly at the end of another year of reading, and it’s time to tally up the favorites!
Below please find my list of my favorite books of the past year. These aren’t necessarily books published in 2017, just ones I read this year. If I wrote a blog post for a title, I linked to it. If I didn’t, I linked to the Goodreads page.
It’s been a pretty good year, as far as books go. I found a couple of new favorite authors (Amy Stewart and Karen Maitland) and re-visited some old pals (like Ottessa Moshfegh). I ended up enjoying quite a bit of weird/fantastic fiction, which isn’t usually my thing. Nice to get out of the old comfort zone!
I suppose it’s a little pessimistic to say I’m not going to find another favorite book in the next three weeks, but I don’t think it’ll happen. Unless my current reads really take a turn and deliver something extraordinary, I think I’ll leave it here.
I took October off for reading scary stuff for Horror Month and re-reading The Shining and IT and The War of the Worlds. But I did manage to pick a few off the TBR list here and there!
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland. I really liked The Owl Killers, so I wanted to come back to this one–I remember beginning it almost ten years ago and then never getting beyond the first chapter. This is a loose retelling of The Canterbury Tales, set against the backdrop of the Black Plague in 1348. I really enjoyed it! The characters, each with a secret, are very distinct and well-drawn, and the atmosphere is great.
The Thing About December by Donal Ryan. I went through a contemporary Irish fiction phase a few years ago, and added this one to my list. I enjoyed it very much! Johnsey, lives in rural Ireland, and he inherits the family farm after his parents’ deaths. He’s a man who doesn’t quite fit in, and this makes for a melancholy read–it’s lyrical, though, with passages of beautiful writing and imagery.
Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart. Why the shift to third-person narration in this third book? One of the things I enjoyed best about the first two was being inside Constance’s head. I really missed that in this novel. I also missed the mystery element. But the story itself was fun, and ripped from the mid-1910’s headlines, with young women getting hauled into court on charges of “waywardness.” As ever, funny and fun, with a nice pace and great characters.
I’ve managed to cross a few more off my list by beginning them and realizing that I’m no longer interested. I’m in a bit of a fiction slump, but I’ve got some good nonfiction going: In the Great Green Room, a biography of Margaret Wise Brown, and Friends Divided, a new book about the relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.