I like to take a moment or two at the beginning of each year and look back at the books I read during the past year and think about what I would recommend (and maybe what I wouldn’t). I felt like 2016 was a little bit better year than 2015 had been, but I am not concretely sure of that. But the MamaT awards for 2016 are:
1. Book I would recommend to my book club:
The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood. I was completely sucked into this story about a 104 year old woman, an odd little boy who becomes her friend, and his mother and father. It’s death, it’s life. Joy and sorrow. This book would be such a hit with my book club girlies.
2. Book I recommended to Micki, who loves horror and suspense:
The Bird Box by Josh Malerman. This book grabbed me by the front of my shirt and forced me to read it as fast as I could. Stayed up late one night, finished at lunch the next day. This book has energy to spare. It’s not perfect, but Lordy it’s creepy and frightening and claustrophobic and creepy (again!). If you don’t like dystopian/end of the world stuff, this is not for you. But it really was one of the surprises of the year.
3. Best author I had never read any of before and am now ready to read everything:
Michael Perry. This year I read his Population 485, Truck, Visiting Tom, and From the Top. Yes, I’d say I like his style.
4. Best non-fiction not written by Michael Perry:
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. Frost and Steketee have done major work on hoarders and hoarding. Interesting look at how we invest our feelings in our things and how that can make it difficult to deal with them. Really, really good. And no, I’m not a hoarder. It’s just interesting. I read it while I was doing my Lenten purge/organization project.
Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books by Nick Hornby. A collection of the essays he wrote over a ten year period for The Believer magazine, all about books, both purchased and read, and a million other things. Completely enjoyable and sometimes laugh out loud funny.
5. Best books that I normally wouldn’t read:
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry (yes, that Dave Barry) and Ridley Pearson. A clever origin story for the Disney type Peter Pan. A kid’s book, I was reading to see if it would be a good thing to add to the kids’ bookshelves. I thoroughly enjoyed it – taking into consideration its target audience. Held my attention. Special shout out to the illustrator, Greg Call, who did a fantastic series of black and white drawings for the book.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman. My granddaughter (who is 14) and I share a love for dystopian future type novels. I read this because she recommended it and one of my challenges this year was to read a book someone else had recommended. This is another one of those novels with great narrative drive – a trait I find lacking in many modern novels. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good character study. But sometimes you want a book where things start happening and just keep on happening. This is one of those books. Oddly pro-life, to my way of thinking. Doesn’t tie up completely at the end of the book – but I assume that the author knew he was writing a series, so it wasn’t necessary. I liked this a LOT better than I anticipated.
6. Other recommendations for book club:
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh – my favorite kind of narrator – unreliable.
The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell – both frustrating and memorable. About half way through I was ready to throw the book against the wall, but the characters made me keep on reading. Those poor, damaged, vulnerable, grieving, sad people. It would make for some good discussions, I think.
7. Most disappointing book of the year:
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. I wanted to like this so much. It’s a book about books, for heaven’s sake! But it was simply too predictable and pat. I love a happy ending, but you could see this one coming from page 1.
Here’s hoping for good reading in 2017!