The Friend really cracks open the world of modern literature with so many revelations about the culture, secrets, choices, sacrifices and mythos of those living the “dream” of being full-time writers. The self-awareness of this novel is what amazed and intrigued me but equally beautiful is the author’s exploration of grief as well as the bond between human and pet. A stunner in a tiny package, I am looking forward to reading this one again in a few years and appreciating new angles and perceptions. (Those with elderly pets as well as those with writing ambitions should proceed with caution – this book will probably hit too close to home.)
Take a look at the National Book Award site to see other winners in finalists in more categories. It’s very very well laid out and easy to click through.
I have often noticed the books that stay in my memory the longest are well-written narrative nonfiction. Here are 3 recent publications that were excellent.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
This book was a fascinating true-crime tale that connects the worlds of natural history and fly-fishing, or more specifically the tradition-laden art of fly-tying. This would be a terrific one for discussion.
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals
Sy Montgomery’s account of her life as a scientist and writer, told by reflecting on her connections with 13 amazing animal companions is a true jewel. Those border collies! The octopi! The emu! A gem to share with anyone who loves animals or memoir.
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees
This work created an absorbing portrait of the developments in Syria that led to the diaspora. This book was a terrific way to tune into a world crisis. It’s a short graphic work that leaves an impressive impact.
At AAS many students love reading science fiction, fantasy and dystopian novels and I do too. Some new and wonderful options are Dry, The Wicked King and Trail of Lightning. Here’s more info about each.
Dry: The residents of Southern California were warned to conserve water but almost no one was prepared for the day that the water taps were turned off. This harrowing survival story feels all too possible.
|The Wicked King: The sweet and horrifying splendor of the world of faerie is back in book 2 of the Folk of the Air, but alas it was such a scintillating read that I finished it in one day. I’m considering reading the Cruel Prince again and then this one a second time. It was a brief but rich dalliance and I can’t wait for more.
|Trail of Lightning: Packed full of action with mysterious characters both human and from Pueblo mythology. I thoroughly this enjoyed this fast-paced dystopian adventure.
This podcast I heard about from the Reply All podcast, one of my favorites. Reply All delves into techie things, and they have a great segment called Yes Yes No. They take a Twitter message and break down all the information about it into digestible moments, explaining all the inside jokes of the interwebs.
Conviction, this other podcast, follows a bounty hunter-type-man who is trying to solve the trouble of this young man who was wrongly imprisoned for his crimes. There’s drama, some serious matter, but the storytelling is just stellar.
I highly recommend this podcast.
Recently the fourth and fifth grade classes have both begun literature units exploring historical fiction with a special focus in the fourth grade on refugee stories. These two new books are both excellent choices in the genre. A Story Like the Wind begins with 9 people on a boat on the open waters of most likely of the Mediterranean Sea. The refugees are all sharing the small supplies that they have managed to bring such water or a bit of food, however one boy has nothing to share but the story of a white horse that through his refusal to be tamed brought about the end of a despotic tyrant. It’s an especially lovely book with a scattering of beautiful drawings along with the story-within-a-story text. The Night Diary is set in 1947 at the time that Pakistan was established as a separate state from India. This is a problem for young Nisha and her family as her father is a Hindu and must now relocate the family. Because he is a doctor, Nisha’s father delays the move until another doctor can come to replace him at the hospital. This means that when the family finally begins their journey ethnic tensions and conflict have become quite dangerous. The perilous trip is also complicated by drought conditions and the health of both Nisha’s elderly grandmother and twin brother. The text of the story is recorded in diary entries from Nisha to her mother who died during childbirth. It is quite a heartfelt and memorable tale.
K took a break from the thrillers and lit of the average day into poetry.
Atticus gained fame and recognition as an Instagram star, and his(?) most recent book was on the Goodreads top of the year.
I enjoyed this poetry and would recommend it, particularly to teens. Half the book is in photographs, and it is beautiful and atmospheric.
Find this book in 811 ATT.
K just read River Bodies, in the quest for getting back into the school year and the habits of reading.
It’s a thriller with a lot of juicy parts: a motorcycle club and their drug running, a woman escaping her cheating boyfriend, and a father on his sick bed.
The book solves two gruesome murders 20 years apart in a small town, and it was an enjoyable and quick read.
Are you looking for some good nonfiction books? Two great ones that I read over winter vacation are Tara Westover’s memoir, “Educated,” and Priya Parker’s guide to creating optimal events, “The Art of Gathering.” In Educated: a memoir, Westover recounts her riveting life story of growing up off the grid, largely homeschooled and unsupervised. In spite of so many obstacles, she goes on to seek her own education and even more important her survival. In The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters Priya Parker supplies the reader with many tips on how to throw a wonderful and inclusive gathering whether it is a birthday party, a dinner party or a less ceremonial event. The last section of the books is perhaps the most interesting when she describes the work she does in worlds of business and world politics.