December and January are fantastic months for readers, in that everyone produces a “Best Books” of the year list. Several great sources separate by fiction and non, or even by audience of genre. I’ve read some of the titles on these lists (pats self on back), but more importantly, it gives me ideas on what to read next, too. Here are some of the lists available, and my thoughts on them so far.
Publisher’s Weekly is a source that has multiple lists – since I’ve mostly read literary fiction, I’ve reviewed their Fiction list. (To see other categories, just click on the tabs across the top.) Of these titles, I’ve read two. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker is an imaginative and engaging read. In this fascinating take on the apocalypse, days are getting longer – first by seconds, then minutes, then hours – until sunrise to sunset is 50+ hours. The protagonist is an 11-year old girl, who witnesses this remarkable worldly change affect the behavior of all those around her. Another notable title, coincidentally also with an apocalyptic theme, is The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. This novel has been selected as our One Book for 2013. It features a pilot in Colorado who survives a flu epidemic that kills nearly everyone. His need to reach other people and his consistent will to survive make this “the world’s most poetic survival guide.” One other that is on my reading list? Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
Amazon offers up a top 20, which is a mix of both fiction and non. On this list, I truly enjoyed Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl is a flawed protagonist, who after the loss of her mother, bouts of self-destructive behavior, and her consequential divorce, decides to tackle the Pacific Coast Trail by herself. She is hilariously ill-equipped for the journey, but her story is delightful. I am looking forward to reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain – all of which have been selected by our Kiva Book Club for 2013. Our book club meets the third Thursday of every month at the Central Library at 6:30 pm. Join us!
Some other good lists to look at? Try the New York Times Best 10. I have yet to read any! NPR also has several categories of lists. Of their “10 Best Book to help you recover from a Tense 2012″, I am very much anticipating Elsewhere: a Memoir by Richard Russo. Russo is a prolific author, and one whose titles I always enjoy. If you haven’t read him yet, pick up Empire Falls or Nobody’s Fool. You won’t regret it. In his memoir, he writes of his childhood, his transition from blue-collar kid to college professor and novelist, and especially of his mother.
Start the New Year off right by checking out these titles! Happy holidays and happy reading.