The Best Books We Read in 2015
Here is a list of the best (or favorite) books the reference and readers advisory staff at the Woodridge Public Library read or listened to in 2015. Not every book was published in 2015, but most of them are. Happy Reading! Brenda
Fink, Joseph and Jeffery Cranor. Welcome to Night Vale (Denise)
Tahir, Sabaa. An Ember in the Ashes. Read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West (Beth)
Atkinson, Kate. A God in Ruins (Pam)
Brennan, M.L. Dark Ascension (Denise)
Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See (Brenda)
Gaiman, Neil. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances (Chris)
Haruf, Kent. Our Souls at Night (Brenda)
Laurenston, Shelly. The Unleashing (Denise)
Mandel, Emily St. John. Station Eleven (Pam)
Mitchell, David. The Bone Clocks (Brenda)
Morrison, Toni. God Help the Child (Chris)
Thorpe, Rufi. Dear Fang, With Love (Denise)
Tyler, Anne. A Spool of Blue Thread (Chris)
Fraction, Matt. Hawkeye. Vol. 3, L.A. Woman (Denise)
Flanders, Judith. A Murder of Magpies (Brenda)
Hart, Elsa. Jade Dragon Mountain (Brenda)
Penny, Louise. The Nature of the Beast (Pam)
Pulley, Natasha. The Watchmaker on Filigree Street (Brenda)
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Butcher, Jim. Working for Bigfoot: Stories from the Dresden Files (Denise)
Gibson, William. The Peripheral (Denise)
Koch, Gini. Alien Separation (Denise)
Novik, Naomi. Uprooted (Chris)
Robinson, Kim Stanley. Aurora (Brenda)
Schwab, V.E. A Darker Shade of Magic (Chris)
Green, Sally. Half Bad (Beth)
Rowell, Rainbow. Fangirl (Denise)
Beard, Mary. S.P.Q.R.: A History of Ancient Rome (Chris)
Bock, Laszlo. Work Rules! (Chris)
Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in the Boat (Brenda)
Buck, Rinker. The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey (Brenda)
Chapman, Bob & Raj Sisodia. Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family (Chris)
Gawand, Atul. Being Mortal (Beth)
Grazer, Brian. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (Chris)
Langguth, A. J. After Lincoln : How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace (Joel)
Larson, Erik. Dead Wake (Brenda)
McCullough, David. The Wright Brothers (Brenda)
Murphy, Brian. 81 Days Below Zero (Brenda)
As the library’s renovations are coming to the end, I’m looking forward to January and the start up of both our Tuesday Morning and Tuesday Evening Book Groups. We will be meeting regularly in the front half of the 2nd floor Meeting Room, which is still being remodeled as I write. Due to lack of meeting space we didn’t have our usual Joint Book Group Gathering in December, but I will bring cookies to our January discussions, and offer building tours.
On January 19 at 10:00 am, the Tuesday Morning Book Group will discuss Dead Wake by Erik Larson, about the last voyage of the Lusitania in May, 1915. Here’s my earlier review of Larson’s gripping real-life adventure story.
On January 26 at 7:00 pm, the Tuesday Evening Book Group will discuss Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, set in the New York City offices of a food magazine, and with a mystery in the form of letters written to chef James Beard during World War II. Here’s my earlier review.
The Crime Readers are meeting at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien on Thursday, January 21 to discuss Grave Mistake, by Ngaio Marsh. The discussion begins at 7:00 pm, with optional dinner at 6:00 pm. The Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library.
After You by Jojo Moyes
Lou Clark, featured in the very popular novel Me Before You, is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life. After some travel in Europe and a longer stay in Paris, she’s bought a flat in London but has barely furnished it, and is working at an Irish pub at an airport. Lou is still smart-mouthed and there are a few funny scenes, but her life is pretty blah. Then troubled teen Lily breezes into her life, and Lou has a bad accident. This leads her to reconnect with her parents, and finally start going to a support group. Then she meets a cute paramedic named Sam, who she confuses with his brother. I would definitely recommend reading the poignant Me Before You first. Not a lighthearted book, I’m glad I read this mix of humor, sadness, family life, and romance.
Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor
The poet Emily Dickinson comes to life in this novel set in 1860s Amherst, Massachusetts, which also features her (entirely fictional) maid, recent Irish immigrant Ada Concannon. Emily writes her short poems, gardens, bakes, and occasionally visits with her sister-in-law Susan, who lives nearby with Emily’s brother Austin. Increasingly reclusive, Emily decides to wear only white, and rarely travels beyond her home. In contrast, Ada, 18, is hard-working, outgoing, and friendly. Ada first lives with her uncle, then with the Dickinsons. Her beau, Daniel Byrne, cannot protect her from a stalker, and Emily seeks her brother Austin’s reluctant help for Ada. Except for the stalker, this is a charming story told from two very different points of view, and it made me want to learn more about Emily Dickinson’s life. Several of Emily’s poems are included, a nice touch. Nuala O’Connor is an Irish author, and part of the book is set in Dublin, Ada’s hometown. An unusual and memorable historical novel.
Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence, and Emperor Penguins by Gavin Francis
This isn’t the sort of book I usually read in December, but I’m glad I did. Gavin is a young Scottish doctor who is thrilled at the chance to spend 14 months on the Antarctic ice shelf at British research station Halley. He takes passage on a freighter headed there with supplies, via South America. 60 scientists and engineers spend the short Antarctic summer at Halley, along with those there to resupply it and haul away the waste. The station, the fifth at the same location, needs jacking up every summer above the level of the snow. The fourth Halley station is buried under snow, and another eventually fell into the sea. I was interested to learn that a newer Halley station can move horizontally across the snow and ice as needed on skis. Gavis was at Halley from the end of 2002 to the beginning of 2004, as station doctor. Only 14 crew spend the seemingly endless winter together, where time alone on the small station is at a premium and contact with the outside world is rather limited. Gavin is fascinated by emperor penguins, and a colony is wintering nearby. He is also well-informed on the history of Antarctic exploration and shares just enough of this with the reader, allowing more space for observations on the penguins, and on life in the beautiful Antarctic. One of the crew members trades duties to avoid going outside in the frigid winter, but Gavin rather likes shoveling snow into their water tank and watching the stars and the Aurora Australis. I found this to be an absorbing, thoroughly readable memoir.