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What are the best books you've read this year? (Also add in non-fiction?)

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You may also like Giants in the Earth by OE Rolvaag. It’s set in the same general time period and area. 

Another excellent novel for life lessons/relationships. I tell my high schoolers that their young adult years and especially when they are engaged should include this work along w/The Good Earth and That Printer of Udell's.

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I enjoyed Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Fluff but fun. For a more serious read, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn was a favorite. I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba was interesting. 

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15 hours ago, Liz CA said:

I would like to add more biographies and need some good authors suggestions, please.

Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark by Jane Fletcher Geniesse

Jack Weatherford's books about Genghis Khan & also the Mongol Queens probably straddle biography/history, but I'll mention him because I loved both books & his writing.

Actually probably all of these straddle biography/history...

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone by Martin Dugard

 

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5 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

This was my hands down favorite book the year it came out--I think 2016.  I got my book club to read it the following year, and everyone loved it.  I enjoyed rereading as well.  My husband did not enjoy it as much--I think he took it personally because his dad is from Ohio and his parents were from Appalachia.  He kept saying, We weren't this bad off.  Which was true.

This is interesting.  My family is also from Appalachia, deep in the mtns in NC.  Our immediate family wasn’t bad off either.  Although my grandparents struggled and were definitely poor, I don’t think they developed some of the hardness that some in this book developed.   I don’t know why though. 

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2 hours ago, Pawz4me said:

We traveled and spent a LOT of time in parts of Appalachia and southern Ohio when I was a kid (my parents' business took them through those areas on an almost weekly basis for many years), and the book didn't ring very true for me, either. I'm still puzzled that so many people think it's so great. There was a lot of it that seemed really wrong based on what I remember, and on the people we met. But I was a kid, so maybe my memory or perception was off. 

I didn’t grow up in Appalachia either but I live near it now. My husband’s family grew up in that area and we know many people who have as well. The book didn’t ring true to me either, it felt like full of stereotypes.

I found out the author’s major professor in law school was Tiger Mom and felt like that explained a lot to me. It was a very well written book though and I can understand why people enjoyed it, especially those don’t read many memoirs.

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I have been enjoying the Poldark saga by Winston Graham. I still have two more to go, but they are well written and it's fun to watch the characters grow across a lifetime.

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3 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

 

The other author was Rod Dreher, starting with The Benedict Option.  It is often mis-cast as Chicken Littleism and a call to withdraw from the world, but that casting is by people who read the premise of the book and write a review without reading the book.  it is *really* a call to people of faith (whether in God or in ecology or whatever) to *act* like you really believe what you say you believe.  It's a good one to straighten and strengthen the spine. 

The other book, How Dante Can Save Your Life, is autobiographical, about finding his way through a lifetime of family dysfunction through Dante's Commedia--Inferno, Purgatoio, Paradiso.  I am not a poetry reader (as he is not, either) and yet this book proved to be the way to healing for him, and he tells a good story, and I got some Dante instruction along th way, and some new ways of thinking about. my own life. 

 

Like Dreher as well.  Read How Dante Can Save Your Life which was excellent and much food for thought.  Great particularly after reading Inferno.  Purgatorio is in my stacks for 2019 as well as The Benedict Option which has been a favorite among the 52 BAWer’s.  

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Best fiction: Cutting for Stone

Best children’s: House of Sixty Fathers, The War That Saved My Life (beautiful support of a traumatized child - made me cry to see her guardian hold her, give her what she needed to handle her panic), Inside Out and Back Again. 

I have to check my booklist for other category winners. 

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On 12/26/2018 at 3:35 PM, madteaparty said:

Would I like this one if I couldn’t at all get into Rules of Civility (admittedly I don’t try hard). 

I read A Gentleman in Moscow first and loved it. I thought Rules of Civility was just okay and if I had read that one first I probably wouldn't have read the other.

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Best fiction (in no particular order):

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Augustown by Kei Miller

Shantytown by César Aira, trans. from the Spanish by Chris Andrews

The Illustrious House of Ramires by Eça de Queirós, trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa

Comemadre by Roque Larraquy, trans. from the Spanish by Heather Cleary

Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue, trans. from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer

 

Runner-up (fiction):

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A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman, trans. from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen

 

Non-fiction (in no particular order):

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Fire in a Canebrake: The Last Mass Lynching in America by Laura Wexler

The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston

Morning in Serra Mattu: A Nubian Ode by Arif Gamal

 

Odd addendum:

And on a completely different note, here's a book I read this year that actually mentioned meat trucks (or in this case, a meat bus). Figured it might be of interest since meat trucks are a topic of conversation here on the boards. 😉 (Caveat emptor: Probably only for fans of bizarro fiction.)

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The Convalescent by Jessica Anthony

Edited by Stacia
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Favorite Fiction:

- Circe by Madeline Miller
- The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa 
- Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař
- Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo 

I also really loved the latest books by Philip Pullman (La Belle Sauvage) and Katherine Arden (The Girl in the Tower) and am looking forward to the next installments.
I am also really enjoying a longer-term read-through of the behemoth Story of the Stone (aka Dream of the Red Chamber) by Cao Xueqin, but that's a bit off the beaten path.  I'm two of five volumes in so far - to be continued next year.

Favorite Non-Fiction: 

- Notes on a Foreign Country by Suzy Hansen
- Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright
- We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Also really liked Killers of the Flower Moon that others have mentioned, and Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas.

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I love these type threads as it helps me fill out my hold and wish list on Overdrive for my kindle and audio books.  So many I never heard of before.

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Best Fiction: Revolutionary Road, Cloud Atlas, Grapes of Wrath, Great Gatsby, Augustown, The Goblin Emperor, Circe, When the Emperor was Divine, Ghostwritten, The Bone Clocks, Sing Unburied Sing, and several Ursula Le Guin short story collections

Best Nonfiction: On Tyranny, How Democracies Die, The Blood of Emmett Till, Conflict is Not Abuse, So You Want to Talk About Race, Notes on a Foreign Country, The Half that has Never Been Told, We Were Eight Years in Power.

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The most engrossing books I read this year (not including rereads):
Behold the Dreamers (Imbolo Mbue; 2016. Fiction.)
An American Marriage (Tayari Jones; 2018. Fiction.)
The Third Hotel (Laura van den Berg; 2018. Fiction.)
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (John Carreyrou; 2018. Non-fiction.)
Euphoria (Lily King; 2014. Fiction.)

Honorable mention:
Killers of the Flower Moon (Dan Grann; 2017. Non-fiction.)
An Abbreviated Life (Ariel Leve; 2016. Non-fiction.)
After the Eclipse (Sarah Perry; 2017. Non-fiction.)
The Hole (Hye-young Pyun; 2017. Fiction.)
Bel Canto (Ann Patchett; 2001. Fiction.)
Things We Lost in the Fire (Mariana Enriquez; 2017. Fiction.)

Even better on rereading:
Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro; 2005. Fiction.)
Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke; 1953. Fiction.)
Daytripper (Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá; 2011. Graphic fiction.)
Mrs. Caliban (Rachel Ingalls; 1983. Fiction.)

Forgot how wonderful this writer is:
Memento Mori (Muriel Spark; 1959. Fiction.)

For those who loved The Elementals (Michael McDowell; 1981):
The Reapers Are the Angels (Alden Bell; 2010. Fiction.)

Fabulous story for a long car trip:
American Kingpin (Nick Bilton; 2017. Non-fiction.)

Honorable mention:
The Idealist: Aaron Swartz and the Rise of Free Culture on the Internet (Justin Peters; 2016. Non-fiction.)

Cannot stop talking about the ideas in these books:
Janesville: An American Story (Amy Goldstein; 2016. Non-fiction.)
Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America (Alissa Quart; 2018. Non-fiction.)
Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century (Jessica Bruder; 2017. Non-fiction.)
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth (Sarah Smarsh; 2018. Non-fiction.)

Even better than War and Peace:
Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath (Sigrid Undset; 1920. (Trans. Tiina Nunnally; 1997.) Fiction.)
Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wife (Sigrid Undset; 1921. (Trans. Tiina Nunnally; 1999.) Fiction.)
Kristin Lavransdatter: The Cross (Sigrid Undset; 1922. (Trans. Tiina Nunnally; 2000.) Fiction.)

Best graphic work I read this year:
The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt (Ken Krimstein; 2018. Graphic non-fiction.)

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I loved: You Don't Have to Say You Love Me a Memoir by Sherman Alexie.  But right after I read it he was accused of wrong doing and it feels funny to recommend it.

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Adult biography/adventure:  Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea, Tami Oldham Ashcraft

Nonfiction: Rethinking School, Susan Wise Bauer

Juvenile: Snow Treasure, Marie McSwigan (WWII)-suspenseful 

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On 12/31/2018 at 8:37 PM, happi duck said:

I loved: You Don't Have to Say You Love Me a Memoir by Sherman Alexie.  But right after I read it he was accused of wrong doing and it feels funny to recommend it.

 

I am/was a huge fan of Sherman Alexie, heard him discuss this book on NPR, and read the book as well. I guess it is another reminder that people are complex are capable of both good and bad acts. 😞

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On 12/27/2018 at 1:40 PM, Patty Joanna said:

I tend to binge-read an author or a topic.  This year, two authors caught my attention.  For some reason, there wasn't a lot of biography on the list this year, but my "holds" list at the library indicates that 2019 will amend that.  It has typically been my wheelhouse.

This year I read Tom Wolfe for fiction and cultural commentary.  His book The Right Stuff is ... the right stuff.  Such a wonderful book--history, biography, and a ripping good yarn with fantastic writing.  I also very much liked and learned a lot from his cultural commentaries From Bauhaus to to Our House, and The Painted Word, which are commentaries on modernism in architecture and art. Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test still eludes me, and Bonfire of the Vanities has not held up over time--I read it a long time ago, and it was excellent in observation of the Roaring 80s, but ... just doesn't hold up.  Something weak in the plot, I think, not the cultural observation.

The Right Stuff put me on a binge of reading about the Space Program and that was interesting, but no one else's book measured up to Wolfe's.  Believe it or not, the movie Apollo 13 tells that story better than 5 books put together.  I didn't proceed past the Apollo program.  Factoid:  my former boss worked on the Apollo 8 program, writing the code that brought the capsule back through the atmosphere.  Very dicey.  He told me one time that the pocket calculator I had on my keychain was actually more capable than the rooms-and-rooms of computers they had at their disposal, and yet, they went to the moon.  So I had an interest in reading about this from a personal angle.  

The other author was Rod Dreher, starting with The Benedict Option.  It is often mis-cast as Chicken Littleism and a call to withdraw from the world, but that casting is by people who read the premise of the book and write a review without reading the book.  it is *really* a call to people of faith (whether in God or in ecology or whatever) to *act* like you really believe what you say you believe.  It's a good one to straighten and strengthen the spine. 

The other book, How Dante Can Save Your Life, is autobiographical, about finding his way through a lifetime of family dysfunction through Dante's Commedia--Inferno, Purgatoio, Paradiso.  I am not a poetry reader (as he is not, either) and yet this book proved to be the way to healing for him, and he tells a good story, and I got some Dante instruction along th way, and some new ways of thinking about. my own life. 

 

 

The bolded, wow!  I love the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon if by chance you haven't seen it. (but I'm sure you have, it's hard to miss).

 

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I had to go back and check my Amazon history to see if it was really all this year, but it is true - we have only read Agatha Christie this year.  ! As far as I can tell I got the first one around the first of the year and we never looked back.  We've read all the Poirots and most of the Marples.  My favorites are the Tommy&Tuppence ones.

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28 minutes ago, moonflower said:

 

The bolded, wow!  I love the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon if by chance you haven't seen it. (but I'm sure you have, it's hard to miss).

 

I had indeed missed it.  Thank you for mentioning it!  

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46 minutes ago, NorthwestMom said:

 

I am/was a huge fan of Sherman Alexie, heard him discuss this book on NPR, and read the book as well. I guess it is another reminder that people are complex are capable of both good and bad acts. 😞

I had a similar experience with the book A World without Heroes.  A shining book but written by a man with feet of clay.  😕

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10 minutes ago, Patty Joanna said:

I had indeed missed it.  Thank you for mentioning it!  

 oh, lucky you 🙂  it is a treat.  free on amazon prime!

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