There’s nothing like a good read. Perfect for a cold day when you want to do nothing but snuggle under a blanket or a warm sunny day at the beach. (Although I read predominately using my Nook, when it comes to the beach, I always have a used paperback ready to go so that if it gets sandy or wet, I’m not at a loss. Yes, that’s a shameless plug for the Thrift Shop at First Presbyterian Church in Verona where you can get five paperbacks for a dollar!)
I read a lot. You might remember that in 2016, I finished what I called the Pulitzer Project, a nearly two-year effort to read EVERY piece of fiction that won the Pulitzer Prize. Virginia Citrano, who edits MyVeronaNJ.com, and I are both members of GoodReads, and we’ve traded a lot of book recommendations over this past year. Just after Christmas, she let me know that she was getting a list from the Verona Public Library of the books that had been checked out the most in 2017 and asked me for my top 10 reads. Here they are, with links to the catalog page at the Library if you want to put them on hold or check out an e-book:
- Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Eleanor seems to be an aloof, possibly autistic woman, but there’s so much more to her than first meets the eye. I was pleasantly surprised by Gail Honeyman’s first novel and look forward to reading more from her.
- The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve. Anita Shreve never disappoints. This tale of a young wife in Maine during a horrible fire takes you back to life in the 1940s.
- Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. New Year’s Eve 1984 in New York City brings reflections of Lillian’s life from the 1920s to the 1980s as she visits various locations. Perfect for learning about what life was like in the NYC area during that time frame as well as what it was like to be a working woman.
- Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King. A young adult novel, but I’d recommend to any young or “old” adult. A strange and fascinating tale of Sarah (or should I say multiple Sarahs)
- Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. Recommended to me by retired Verona High School English teacher Fran Young–the teacher who inspired my love of literature–this was a wonderful and yet painful novel inspired by the Georgia Tann adoption scandal in the middle of the last century.
- My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. If you read Olive Kitteridge, which won the author a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2009, you’ll want to read this, a short and quick which takes place as Lucy recovers from an operation.
- The Secret History of Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost. Two books, but I’m counting as one since they really bookend the series that entranced me and made Sunday nights breathtaking for me from May to September. If you are a Twin Peaks fan, you MUST read both. If you are not, but want to find more about it, read them.
- Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. Jodi Picoult stories always make me think and I love that nothing in ANY of her stories is clean cut and black and white (particularly in this novel). This breathtaking and heartbreaking novel will really make you think about race and race relations.
- Britt-Marie Was Here by Frederik Backman. I have still not read this author’s best known book A Man Called Ove but I will after reading this. Imperfect characters and a realistic setting make for a good read.
- Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank. Ms Frank is from the South, but resides in our area. My summer would not be complete without a novel from her. Although not my favorite of her (that would be her first novel Sullivan’s Island), she never lets me down. I have never been to the Low Country or any of the South Carolina islands, but her novels make me feel like I have.
Virginia’s top 10 book list for 2017 had both fiction and non-fiction, by the way. She liked H Is For Hawk, by Helen Macdonald; Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Hariri; The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen (I read it. I disagreed.); Tears We Cannot Stop, by Michael Eric Dyson; The Flight, by Dan Hampton; The Woman Who Smashed Codes, by Jason Fagone; The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough; Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Tell Me How It Ends, by Valeria Luiselli; and Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire, by Peter Stark.
And that report on the most circulated Verona Public Library books? We’ll be rolling that out soon. Happy reading to all for 2018!
Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For five years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog.
Although I didn’t get to read as many books as usual in 2017, two that I would recommend are Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende and LaRose by Louise Erdrich. I did close out 2017 with The Whistler by John Grisham which I also recommend but is totally different from the other two.