Around the holidays at the book store, we are asked to make some recommendations. In the past, it's been in verbal form at a staff meeting. This year, our beloved manager tried something different. Just write it down. I embraced it, even though I don't usually like writing these things!
Having put a bit of effort into this, I thought I'd share them here.
Non-Fiction: The Moth Presents All These Wonders, edited by Catherine Burns. This is my book of the year. As I wrote on my shelf talker, I laughed, I cried, and for the brief time I was reading it I felt that the world was really wonderful once more. I’ve bought several copies for gifts.
Christmas: Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares. Red and Lulu’s Norway spruce home is cut down and Lulu is trapped in the tree as it is transported to Rockefeller Center. Red follows and there is a happy reunion. Some of the most beautiful illustrations I’ve seen all year.
Picture: The Bad Seed by Jory John (illustrated by Pete Oswald) and Escargot by Dashka Slater (illustrated by Sydney Hanson.) These are delightfully illustrated stories of spunky characters.I’m a sucker for talking seeds and snails and these characters are fun to read aloud.
Literary Fiction: The North Water by Ian McGuire and My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. The subject matter of these two couldn’t be more different: an ill-fated whaling voyage and a young girl’s abuse. Both are brutal and disturbing stories, but so beautifully and compellingly written that I had to finish and rated them both 5 stars.
Feel-Good Fiction: Especially lately, people are looking for books that make them feel good rather than disturbed. High on the list, of course, are books by Fredrik Backman, Fannie Flagg, Jan Karon, Jojo Moyes, etc. A few lesser-known gems I have enjoyed are: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper and Rise And Shine, Benedict Stone, both by Phaedra Patrick.
Historical Fiction: Caroline: Little House Revisited by Sarah Miller. In Laura Ingalls Wilder’s famous little house series, Ma was a saint. Here is Ma’s story. You don’t have to be a Laura fan to like this book.
Cooking: Opa! Healthy Greek Cookbook by Theo Stephan and Christina Xenos. I’ve bought a lot of cookbooks for fun this year, but this is one I’ll actually use. These Mediterranean recipes look both simple and delicious. Theo Stephan is the owner of Global Gardens in Los Olivos.
Biography: Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly. What a singular life story he has!