Some favorite reads this year…

I don’t know about you, but the chilly fall air that has finally arrived in Pittsburgh makes me want to spend a Saturday afternoon curled up with a good book and a delicious cup of tea (hot toddy, anyone?!). Managing a six month old doesn’t really allow for much reading time, but I have been able to sit back and relax during naptime on Saturdays (laundry be darned!). 

As a librarian, I feel that it is important that we take time to inhale a good book- our love of reading is probably what brought most of us to this honorable profession. And we should acknowledge that love and share our favorites. I also like to write about what I read, so that I can clearly articulate my thoughts when recommending titles to students and colleagues. So, I am taking some time and space here to share my favorites thus far this year. Please take some time to share yours in the comments. Here goes!

I chose this recent winner of the National Book Award for Fiction as the first title for our Faculty/Staff book club, and it was the perfect choice! It is not only brief, but captivating, and easily devoured by a busy teacher at the beginning of the school year. So many aspects lend themselves to marvelous discussion, and you will find yourself pondering over The Friend for days to come. 

I read this title on a whim after seeing it listed as available on Overdrive, and am seriously glad that I gave it a try. I had not read anything by Emily Giffin, and was skeptical; however, I was immediately caught up in the story. The plot is particularly relevant to independent school librarians. A young scholarship student, who happens to be the daughter of an immigrant from Brazil, becomes the target of a cyber bullying scandal at a prestigious private school in Nashville. The story is told from alternating points of view: the father of the girl, the mother of the alleged perpetrator, and the girl herself. The story moves quickly and appeals to mature teens as well as adults, and would provide for excellent discussion for a faculty book club- which is why I’m considering it as an option for a future meeting!

I realize I am probably late to the game on this one (heh, see what I did there?). It has been recommended to me many times over. It took a student request to read it for our student book club for me to finally pick up the copy, loaned to me by my older brother, that had been languishing on our shelves for months. I did game occasionally with my brothers when young, and reading about the fight for the ultimate prize in the gaming world brought back many happy memories of epic battles and cheering on my brothers after my character saw the words “GAME OVER” on the screen. Reading Ready Player One, you will hope the game never ends.

I absolutely love Lisa See, and she continues to highlight, at least for me, previously unknown yet fascinating stories in the Asian world. While reading about this group of female divers from a small island near Korea, I was continually surprised and challenged by their lives. The role reversals for men and women were fascinating- the men cared for children while the women dove into the chilly waters day after day for coveted sea creatures. The relationships are complicated and real, and the characters experience a diverse range of emotions as war ravages their home. This is a riveting story, and I once again anticipate See’s next novel.

Knowing how our country functions politically and socially, this story was not as surprising as it should have been but still angering nonetheless. It is, quite plainly, abhorent how hard it is for some people to simply exist in our society. Because I was reading this when my son was two months old, and Land has a young child herself, I fought to check my feelings of being overwhelmed at times myself, conceptualizing all of the support I have and the lack of help for so many. This will be my go-to memoir to recommend for the foreseeable future.

I don’t typically read short stories, but this popped up on Overdrive when I was scrolling through available titles. I was pleasantly surprised and instantly intrigued by the various stories that ranged from a young single mother trying to interview a movie star to a couple whose honeymoon is invaded by the wife’s high school mean girl. Curtis Sittenfield’s talent shines through in each story, and I eagerly await her next short story installment. 

So what have you read lately? I am always on the hunt for my next great read, and I look forward to suggestions from my fellow librarians. Happy reading!

5 thoughts on “Some favorite reads this year…

  1. Thanks for so many suggestions!
    I just recently read Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
    Pleasantly satisfying easy read.
    Currently reading The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

  2. Per my last post, recommending as a *reader* and not as a *librarian,” here are a few favorites from this year:
    YA-The Poet X
    Adult Fiction-The Nickel Boys (or Big Little Lies had me totally captivated as well)
    Short Stories-Vampires in the Lemon Grove
    Adult Nonfiction-Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And other lessons from the Crematory
    Professional-Secret Life of the Teenage Brain
    Note that these are books I’ve read in the last year. Most are not new titles.

  3. Great list! Despite having a towering TBR pile, I’m always on the lookout for new titles! Here are some I’ve read and loved recently:
    The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
    Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (this was a re-read for me, loved it more second time!)
    Historians on Hamilton edited by Renee Romano (great collection of essays examining Hamilton, from its role in history education to examining who is missing from the narrative etc)
    The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
    I’m currently reading Bill Bryson’s new book: The Body

  4. Thank you for your book suggestions.
    I just recently read The River by Peter Heller
    A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
    Currently reading The Huntress by Kate Quinn

  5. Great post!
    I just finished THE TESTAMENTS, Atwood. Excellent.
    TBR pile: new poetry collection from Joy Harjo, MAKE IT SCREAM, MAKE IT BURN, new story collection from L. Jamison, and the new collection from Zadie Smith, GRAND UNION. MG/YA- THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE by R. Sepetys

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