Camden Public Library Top Reads for 2017

Happy New Year!

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.

Enjoy!

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

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December Staff Picks

Wear-1

The Fifth Trimester by Lauren Smith.
Admittedly, I haven’t quite finished this one yet, but I think I’ve got the gist. I think this book is a phenomenal resource for working moms, no matter how long you’ve been back to work. It is aimed at brand-new moms either freshly back at work, or anticipating their return, but the advice remains valuable even if it has been a while. Working motherhood is a logistical and emotional challenge it can sometimes feel like we never quite master.

Smith is a high-powered, NYC, fashion magazine editor and some of her advice on commuter heels and meeting a nanny in Central Park can feel a little irrelevant to those of us commuting in Bean boots in rural Maine. But, her book is designed to let you skip around to the chapters you find most useful, so feel free to miss the make-up tips if that’s not your priority.
She has great advice on how to talk about your new needs with your boss and your co-workers, the best way to figure out what childcare set-up works for your family, and how to beat the “I-must-quit” refrain that can run in your mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Honestly, I think everyone should give this book a read, not just new working moms. Understanding what working moms are going through is valuable for managers, HR reps, child-free workers, and anyone contemplating parenthood. It emphasizes open communication, and how beneficial flexible and understanding workplaces are to working mom productivity and retention.

My only major complaint, besides being super jealous of offices with special pumping rooms and in-office daycares for new moms, would be the language. I listen to audiobooks on my commute, usually with my toddler in tow, and I didn’t appreciate the swears. While infrequent, they were still enough to make me wince and hope my child isn’t absorbing them.

–Cayla
 The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More than Some Antics by John Pollack

This isn’t a joke book (although it is larded with wordplay), but an examination of wordplay, puns across languages, the neurobiology underlying this use of language, and more.  And the author has competed in national pun competitions (yeah!  that’s a real thing!!)
–Diane

My Year in Books

2017 My Books

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.

Book Covers

A representative sample of my 2017 reading.

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.

–Marie

Marie’s Favorites of 2017

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.

Marie’s Favorite Reads of 2017:

The Hike by Drew Magary

Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions by David Quammen

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller

When the English Fall by David Williams

Slade House by David Mitchell

Enjoy the last few reading weeks of 2017!  I hope you found lots of new favorites this year, too!

–Marie

TBR Challenge 12th and Final!

I’m calling it here: I’ve completed the 2017 TBR Challenge.  By which I mean I am done, not necessarily that I completed the challenge fully or anything.

Here are the last books I read:

Lady of the Snakes by Rachel Pastan.  This novel is about an academic trying to balance her research and her family life.  It’s got nice details about academia and the fictional writer’s wife she’s devoted her work to is really well-fleshed out.  Though I have to admit the story hits a bit too close to home for me at this point in my life (minus the brilliant academic doing groundbreaking research part).  The characters were easy to identify with, the style flows nicely, and the hook of the research into a famous Russian writer and his wife is great.

A Dark Matter by Peter Straub.  I feel like Straub has been on my to-read list for a million years and I’ve never quite gotten around to him.   I like his style–it’s compelling and always has the feeling that there’s a lot lurkingn under the surface.  This particular novel is about a writer trying to work out (and through) a mysterious and deadly event which occurred involving his wife and group of friends decades ago.

Orphans of the Carnival by Carol Birch.  I learned about the main character of this novel, Julia Pastrana, years ago when I read a book about medical curiosities.  Hers is a heartbreaking story, both in life and after death.  But at the same time, she had such a rich, full life.  I didn’t think the contemporary storyline was entirely necessary, but I get why Birch did it.  The writing is lyrical and absorbing, and Julia really does come to life as a full, real person.  Knowing what was going to happen sure did lend a lot of melancholy to it, though.

I’ve got a few more round-up posts coming your way this month–the tally of what I’ve read in 2017, my favorite reads of the year, and the Most-Circulated at the Library, which I promise I will not forget this time.

In closing, here’s the official list of books I read off of my TBR list in 2017.  Not too bad!  Though I wish I’d enjoyed more of the ones I had once wanted to read.

TBR Challenge 2017, Completed:

The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill
The Father of the Rain by Lily King
Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
This House is Haunted by John Boyne
She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor
The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland
The Small Hand: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill
Medieval Women by Eileen Power
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
Somebody With a Little Hammer by Mary Gaitskill
The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen
Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice
The Gilly Salt Sisters by Tiffany Baker
Deception by Denise Mina
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories by Lauren Groff
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
House of the Lost by Sarah Rayne
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
The Thing About December by Donal Ryan
Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart
Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville
The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier
The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penny and Peter Stastny

Stay tuned for 2018, when I’ll probably decide to do this or something like it to myself again.

–Marie

November Staff Picks

Wear-1

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth: A Graphic Novel by Isabel Greenberg.
This graphic novel is an intricate story about stories–about storytelling, myths, and folklore, and how they shape human experience.  The art and words flow together, with so much detail in every picture.  It’s also got a lot of humor, both visual and textual.  The core story is about a storyteller from the cold land of Nord, and his travels to find the missing piece of his soul.  References to ancient cultures and their myths abound.  This is such a rich, rewarding story (or set of stories)!
–Marie

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
This real and very raw book is hard hitting from the beginning!  It is a no holes barred story in the trenches of the inner city projects in Chicago.  It involves gangs, police injustice, discrimination and a fuel to use words to make change happen.  The language is rough, but it was a story so relevant to today’s world and I loved Starr and her family! A must read for teens and adults in the world we live in today, where we must remember to treat everyone with respect, even when we disagree!
–Miss Amy

Revolution Downeast: The War for American Independence in Maine by James S. Leamon
It explains a lot about the place of Maine in the British Empire, how the end of the French and Indian War finally allowed Camden and the Penobscot area to be settled, how the new settlements were not yet on their feet when the Revolution arrived, how Maine got little support from Massachusetts, even though we were part of Massachusetts, how and why Maine eventually separated from Massachusetts. The “two Maines” are present right from the very beginning and in all the politics of the era.
–Ken

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandrai Marzano-Lesnevich.
As recent law-school graduate, the author was working for an anti-death-penalty program when the case of a child murderer hit her desk.  The perpetrator’s story compelled her to dig deeper into his history and, to her unhappy surprise, stirred up her own childhood memories.  A true-crime/personal-story balancing act, The Fact of a Body leads readers into sometimes uncomfortable terrain to explores the ways in which society often fails both victims and criminals.
–Diane

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.
I revisit Virginia Woolf’s brief masterpiece every couple of years, reveling in the brilliance of the prose and the depth of Woolf’s grasp of the wonders and horrors of everyday experience.
–Diane

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater.
It was gorgeous. Fiction woven with legend, this is a tall tale that seems like it could really happen. Stiefvater has a gift for character-writing that makes everyone just so HUMAN. There is Beatriz Soria, “the girl with no feelings”, who turns out to have some very deep ones. Pete Wyatt, the boy with a hole in his heart searching for a future. Joaquin Soria who dreams of being a radio DJ and reaching the hearts of his listeners.

Daniel Soria is The Saint of Bicho Raro, who is able to call hidden darkness out of pilgrims and make it visible. The problem, then, is what the pilgrims do about the visible darkness. Some live with it for years – the girl with a constant rain cloud over her head, the twins bound together by a fierce black snake, the priest with a coyote head. For as long as anyone can remember, the Soria family has been warned that they cannot interfere with the pilgrims while they struggle to solve their problems. But now, Daniel has been claimed by the darkness in the name of love, and the Soria cousins are determined to find a better way and save him. The book is shot through with fantastic details of the desert, owls, black roses, and the trials of love in all forms – romantic and familial. Above all, it is about learning to forgive yourself and trust hope.

–Cayla

TBR Challenge Update #11

Only a little over a month to go in 2017, and there are 715 books still on my To Be Read List.  I managed to eliminate quite a few just by ruthlessly trimming the titles which no longer held interest.  There were a surprising number that, on closer investigation, I realized I’d already started and then discarded.  Off the list they went!

Here are three I actually managed to read:

Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville.  A strange yet moving novel, about two very different young women in two time periods.  In 1899 Vienna, a psychiatrist is drawn to a girl with a mysterious past.  In 1940’s Germany, a troubled little girl lives with her doctor father at the “hospital” where he works.  At the end, the two narratives converge in a surprising way.  Deeply influenced by fairy tales, and very much about the power of storytelling and the way the stories we tell shape us and allow us to cope with life.

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier.  I picked this up on a whim and then realized it was on my TBR list!  Probably from back when I read Rebecca.  Anyway, these were fun.  Dark and creepy to varying degrees.  du Maurier is great with atmosphere.

The Lives they Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic by Darby Penny and Peter Stastny.  I’m not sure where I heard about this, but I’m glad I picked it up.  Hundreds of suitcases filled with patients’ belongings were found when Willard Psychiatric Center closed in 1995 after 125 years of operation.   They’d been abandoned in the attic, never reclaimed.  This is a really sad, moving look at the very real lives which usually ended at Willard.

When I began this challenge back in March, I had 831 books on the old to-read list. 116 eliminated, yay!

Only 32 of those actually read.  Heh.  I suppose I’m doing pretty well when judged according to the letter of the TBR Challenge, if not the spirit.

Let’s see how many I can read for real by the end of the year!

–Marie