I’m looking forward to The Great American Read, hosted by PBS beginning on May 22. 100 books and series have been selected, and viewers will be asked to vote for their favorite book or series. Plenty of classics are on the list, as well as contemporary books, popular series for all ages, and some contemporary books. Viewers will remember much-loved books you read as a child, assigned reading titles that you actually enjoyed (or not), books familiar only because of their movies, and books you might like to read for the first time. There may be books you’ve never heard of, and books that make you wonder how they got on this list. For me, the list contains all of these categories. The only types of books I don’t see are picture books, non-fiction, plays, and biographies. Did you enjoy The Martian, or have fond memories of Charlotte’s Webb? Find out you enjoyed mysteries when assigned to read And Then There Were None in junior high? Have trouble putting down The Da Vinci Code? Cry over The Notebook? Wonder why your favorite book isn’t listed?
Here’s the list. Look for copies of the list on my June book display of The Great American Read.
I’m in the middle of so many books that I’m not sure what to review next.
I’ve just finished reading Lake Silence, by Anne Bishop. This is a paranormal novel set in the world of the Others, but with a new setting and characters. Vicki DeVine has just reopened a rustic resort in the Finger Lakes, and her first tenant is Aggie Crowe, one of the shapeshifting Crowguard. Vicki has some anxiety issues and is learning to stand up for herself, with help from some very unusual characters.
I’ve also read Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann, a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award. Excellent investigative reporting about a series of murders in the 1920s of Osage who owned mineral rights on land where oil was discovered. The pacing was leisurely, and it’s an important but very sad true story.
I recently listened to the audiobook of Raspberry Danish Murder, by Joanne Fluke, featuring Minnesota cookie baker and amateur sleuth Hannah Swenson, whose family and friends are helping her solve a murder and find a missing person who’s very important to Hannah. If you need to find a new cozy mystery series with recipes, start with Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.
I’m currently reading four books I’m considering for future book discussions:
Anatomy of a Miracle, by Jonathan Miles is about a Cameron Harris, a paraplegic vet living with his sister in Biloxi, Mississippi, when he suddenly stands up and walks.
Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng is a contemporary novel set in Shaker Heights, Ohio that’s been getting lots of good reviews.
The Milk Lady of Bangalore: an Unexpected Adventure, by Shoba Narayan, is a memoir by a writer who moves back to southern India with her husband and two daughters after years in New York City, and Sarala, their milk lady, and her cows.
I’ve just started reading Rocket Men : the Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon, by Robert Kurson, and I think I’m going to enjoy it.
For fun, I’m reading Other People’s Houses, by Abbi Waxman, a novel about a carpool mom and her neighbors. I read her first novel, The Garden of Small Beginnings.
Also, I’ve been slowly reading and savoring Craeft: An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts, by Alexander Langlands, an English archaeologist and historian who’s worked on several British television series, including Victorian Farm and Tudor Monastery Farm.
On my e-reader, I have digital review copies of two forthcoming books:
The Shipwreck Hunter, by David Mearns, and Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy by Anne Boyd Rioux. These books will be published in June and August.
What are you reading and enjoying, and what should I read next?
Happy Spring Reading, Brenda
I’m in the middle of so many books that I haven’t reviewed any for a while. Spring is usually peak time for new books to be published, but there are several winter gems here, along with some older titles. Enjoy!
What I’m Reading Now:
Clement, Blaize & John. The Cat Sitter and the Canary.
A cozy mystery set on Siesta Key, on Florida’s gulf coast.
Hambly, Barbara. Patriot Hearts: A Novel of the Founding Mothers.
Kline, Cristina Baker. A Piece of the World.
I was familiar with some of American artist Andrew Wyeth’s work, but not Christina’s World, which is the inspiration for this historical novel set in Maine. Kline is the author of The Orphan Train.
Mack, Doug. The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA. From the U.S. Virgin Islands to American Samoa, the author explores our territories. Fans of Ken Jennings’ Maphead or Bill Bryson’s humorous travelogues may enjoy.
Norton, Andre. Lord of Thunder, sequel to The Beast Master. A classic science fiction writer I’m reading for another 50th anniversary post. A Navajo who can communicate with animals is caught up in adventure and intrigue on another planet.
Ryan, Jennifer. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.
Historical novel set in WWII England, on the home front. Narrated by several characters, including a young teenager, a mother who’s just sent her only son off to war, a conniving midwife, a seductive young woman, a choir director, and others.
Stewart, Mary. The Ivy Tree.
Another book I’m reading for a 50th anniversary post; currently getting neglected because of all these other excellent books.
Flanders, Judith. A Cast of Vultures. The third mystery novel featuring a book editor as amateur sleuth.
Gaiman, Neil. Norse Mythology. The award-winning dark fantasy author has fun retelling Norse myths.
Saunders, George. Lincoln in the Bardo. A grief-stricken Abraham Lincoln visits his son’s grave; ghosts are present.
New and Forthcoming Books from Authors We’ve Discussed
We’re not having book discussions in August. If you’re looking for some reading ideas, try one of these, or reserve a not-yet-published title.
Chevalier, Tracy. At the Edge of the Orchard. 3/16
Diffenbaugh, Vanessa. We Never Asked for Wings. 2015
Doig, Ivan. Last Bus to Wisdom. 2015
Erdrich, Louise. LaRose. 5/16
Hashimi, Nadia. A House Without Windows. 8/16
Hill, Lawrence. The Illegal. 1/16
Hood, Ann. The Book That Matters Most. 8/16
Ivey, Eowyn. To The Bright Edge of the World. 8/16
McLain, Paula. Circling the Sun. 2015
Semple, Maria. Today Will Be Different. 10/16
Shapiro, B.A. The Muralist. 2015
Smiley, Jane. Early Warning, Golden Age. 2015
Stewart, Amy. Lady Cop Makes Trouble. 9/16
Weisgarber, Ann. The Promise. 2014
Winters, Ben. Underground Airlines. 7/16
Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better. 3/16
Krist, Gary. Empire of Sin. 2014
Kurson, Robert. Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship. 2015
Lahiri, Jhumpa. In Other Words. 2/16
Millard, Candice. Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill. 9/16
Philbrick, Nathaniel. Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. 5/16
Streever, Bill. And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind. 7/16
Happy Reading! Fall book discussion titles will be announced soon.
These are a few of the advance reading copies I brought back from BookExpo America in Chicago last month, and shared with my book discussion groups. A few books will be prizes in the children’s summer reading program. I met several authors, got a preview of big books for fall, and attended two programs. Some of the authors I talked with include Brandon Mull, Candice Millard, Robert Hicks, and Mary Robinette Kowal. I enjoyed a panel discussion of What’s New in Young Adult, moderated by author Veronica Roth. Five authors of teen fiction, Lauren Oliver, Alyson Noel, Kendare Blake, and Melissa de la Cruz, along with Roth, talked about the writing process, what inspires and challenges them, and how their new books are going to be a little different. Veronica Roth, who I didn’t expect to be funny, is coming out with a science fiction book next January, Carve the Mark.
After meeting more authors, it was time for Book Group Speed Dating, sponsored by ReadingGroupGuides.com. I was assigned a round table, with dozens of advance reading copies on the table. Several publishers’ reps took turns spending 5-10 minutes telling the people at my table about their new and forthcoming books that they think will be great for book discussion groups. Afterwards, we could take the books that interested us, which I later shared with the library’s book groups. I have a lengthy handout listing all of the books, and several ideas for future book discussion titles. One expected highlight of my day at McCormick Place: I got to meet Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi, who was signing posters for a forthcoming children’s book.
After 10 years, The Big Read has become ReDiscover, and the theme for 2015 is Celebrating Home. Instead of focusing on one book, the nine public libraries in Chicago’s southwestern suburbs are focusing on a theme, and reading and discussing a variety of books. The featured books include At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson, Howard’s End by E. M. Forster, Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai, and Home by Marilynne Robinson. There will be 44 different programs for adults, several book discussions, and programs for teens and kids during March and April. The Woodridge Public Library will be hosting six programs for adults, and we will be discussing At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24. To learn more, visit the ReDiscover website, the library’s website, or visit the library to pick up a ReDiscover brochure and check out a featured book and other related titles. Book discussion sign up has begun; registration for all of the other programs begins on Monday, March 2. As we look forward to spring, it’s time to Celebrate Home. Enjoy!
LibraryReads is a monthly list of the top ten new books nominated by librarians around the country. As a librarian I can request digital copies of books before they are published, and I am one of the librarians who read and nominated Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
The September Library Reads booklist is here :
Finally, a hard to put down post-apocalyptic novel that isn’t bleak and violent. I don’t always enjoy books with multiple points of view that also move back and forward in time, but I loved this book. The main characters are all connected to Arthur Leander, who is performing as King Lear in Toronto as a flu epidemic is spreading around the globe. Later, we encounter the Symphony, a traveling orchestra and Shakespeare troupe traveling around western Michigan.
Lists from the last year are also available, making LibraryReads a great place to look for reading suggestions.