Editor’s note: Several of our regular blog writers have looked back at the books they read in 2017, and they’ve each written their own “Year in Review.” This is the first installment. Enjoy!
My Year in Books: Literary Travels
One of my favorite things to do in December is reflect on the books I’ve read over the past year. Reading is a bit like traveling, and it’s really nice remembering all the places I’ve been able to visit over the past year. In my “real life” I was blessed with trips to Hawaii and Colorado this year, but thanks to the books I’ve picked up this year, I’ve been able to travel to many other places and times. Here are some of the highlights:
I journeyed to Australia in the twisty domestic thriller “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty. This book recently inspired an award-winning miniseries on HBO, but the book is even better, offering a darkly humorous and suspenseful tale of how friendships and lies can lead to murder. Continue reading “A Year in Review: Travels and “Best of””
The year is almost over, and the staff here at the library want to share their favorite book of 2017 with you! I hope you enjoyed the first installment. Here are the rest of the best books read in 2017 by your DBRL staff:
“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch
“Fast-paced and suspenseful, this novel is page-turner from the get-go. While categorized in the sci-fi genre, it invokes universal questions regarding the choices you make, the paths-not-traveled and what you would endure for those you love.”
“Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult
“I laughed, cried, and was forced to bear with some very ugly personal truths. ‘Small Great Things’ reads as a fantastic work of fiction, but also as a primer for fundamental conversations about race, privilege, inequality and basic human experiences. This book will grab you by the shoulders and shake you to the core.”
~Mitch C. Continue reading “Best Books Read in 2017, Part 2”
The year is almost over, and the staff here at the library want to share their favorite book of 2017 with you! These books might not have been published this year, but they all were enjoyed during it. Without further ado, here’s the first batch of the best books read in 2017 by your DBRL staff:
“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman
”Ove is a grumpy neighbor who still has a warm heart. ‘A Man called Ove’ will make you laugh and cry. It reminds us how caught up we can get in our daily routines, and how unwilling we are to change; but sometimes, someone comes along and change is okay.”
“At first I thought it was going to be depressing, but it quickly took a comedic and touching turn as Ove learns to keep on living without his wife.”
~Mitzi Continue reading “Best Books Read in 2017, Part 1”
The Arabic name for Jerusalem is Al-Quds, and the Arabic name for Temple Mount is Haram al-Sharif. (I could have begun, “The Hebrew name for….”) The double-naming underscores the confusion and complexity that is Israel-Palestine.
The so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict confounds policymakers, diplomats, government officials, citizens. The situation, if this is the appropriate word, resists simplicity because, to put this simply, historical consensus—what happened and who is at fault—is impossible.
But what, if not their land, do Israelis and Palestinians share?
Heartbroken by the conflict, Nathan Englander investigates the failure of solution in his second novel, “Dinner at the Center of the Earth.” Unlike his previous short story collections (“For the Relief of Unbearable Urges” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank”) and novel (“The Ministry of Special Cases”), Englander’s latest work, not unlike his subject, defies categorization or genre. A plot-driven political and spy thriller, a love story, a farce—this novel is an admirable literary combination but fails to compel. The humor falls flat: what’s the joke and where’s the punchline, I thought. The dialogue, despite a few enticing passages, is stilted, wooden, even cliché. The discontinuous timeline and various threads Englander attempts to interweave are strained, rushed. The fits and starts, so to speak, never resolve. Continue reading “Staff Book Review: Dinner at the Center of the Earth”
Tragedies scatter about our lives, usually. If a decade or more separates one loss — a job, a parent, a home, a pet — from another, is what’s lost a tragedy?
For others, losses accumulate, completely warping their understanding of the world. In her articulate tragicomic memoir, “The Rules Do Not Apply,” Ariel Levy recounts the dissolution of her marriage, her miscarriage and her move from what she thought her permanent home — all lost over three months. Reading this challenges one’s sense or definition of tragedy. Continue reading “Staff Book Review: The Rules Do Not Apply”
Book I Listened To: “NOS4A2” by Joe Hill
Why I Checked It Out: I’ve listened to a couple of other books by Hill and enjoyed his storytelling — a blend of fantasy and suspense, with a touch of horror. I also recently listened to his book “The Fireman,” which was also narrated by Kate Mulgrew and I fell in love with the way she reads a story (more on that later!). Continue reading “Staff Book Review: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill”
Book I Read: “Company of Liars” by Karen Maitland
Why I Checked It Out: I regularly read from a variety of genres and had a craving for something historical. I hadn’t visited the Middle Ages lately during my literary travels, so it seemed like I was due for a visit. The mix of religion and superstition that were such driving factors in people’s lives during that time period fascinates me, and I’m also intrigued by the day-to-day challenges people faced in a world that lacked the modern day conveniences I take for granted. In my search for a Medieval tale, I stumbled across Karen Maitland’s book, which was billed as a take on Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.” It seemed like just the thing to cure my reading craving. Continue reading “Staff Book Review: Company of Liars by Karen Maitland”
“Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead and pulled the trigger.
This is the story of how we got there.”
I have said it before, but I will say it again: Fredrik Backman has become one of my favorite authors! And he definitely does not disappoint with “Beartown.” I have to admit that I was a little hesitant with this one: the story is set in a hockey town and centered around the sport. I’m not a huge sports fan to begin with, and I grew up with football, not hockey. But the story is more about the community of a sports town and what that means, both the good and the bad. Continue reading “Staff Review: Beartown”
Book I Read: “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue
Why I Checked It Out: The author already has one critically-acclaimed book under her belt (“Room”) so I was curious to see if she had created another. The story features a nurse who trained under Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, so it promised to deliver a strong female protagonist, which is another factor that drew me to it. And lastly, it contained an element of mystery, which I figured would be sure to pull me in. Continue reading “Staff Book Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue”
Book I Read: “Jade Dragon Mountain” by Elsa Hart
Why I Checked It Out: I’m always up for a good mystery, and I occasionally dabble in historical fiction, so this seemed like a good choice. It also didn’t hurt that the main character, Li Du, is a librarian. Continue reading “Staff Book Review: Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart”