Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Staff Favorites of 2015: 21st in a Series

As we reflect on the start of a new year, library staff members and volunteers look back on the best books they read in 2015. Read on for a few recommendations from Holly Raus, Information Specialist - Youth Services at the Cumming Library.

Of the 85 books I read this year, these were the standouts:

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (Fiction)
Monsieur Perdue is a “Literary Apothecary” who prescribes the perfect book that each reader who visits his floating book barge needs to read at that point in their lives. But Perdue needs to work through his own grief and self-imposed isolation and goes on a journey of healing. I found myself reading this book very slowly, savoring the journey of Perdue as he confronts the past and finds a way to return to life.

The Lake House by Kate Morton (Fiction)
Kate Morton is a master storyteller and what I consider the premier author of Contemporary Gothic Romance. If you like history, mystery, buried family secrets, distinctive old family manor houses, and compelling characters, then you will devour this book and be running to the library shelves for her other titles.

The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg (Read by Rick Bragg on audiobook. Memoir.)
I became enamored with Rick Bragg after meeting him as the featured author of Forsyth Reads Together a few years back. This particular memoir is the third in his family trilogy and focuses on his father and Rick’s own experiences in becoming a stepfather. Listening to Rick Bragg’s own voice describe his family members and interviews with friends and neighbors as he seeks to paint a picture of his father made it more real. What I love most about his writing is the everyman appeal he brings to it. Even though he is writing about his Southern family, I can draw so many parallels between his family and my Northern family. I think most listeners will recognize something of their own people as Rick calls his family and maybe even be inspired to go looking for their own family stories.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Fiction)
This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. The language and prose just flow and pull you right into the story, setting and characters. We meet two very different characters, a German boy and a French girl whose destinies are shaped by the invasion of Paris by the Germans during World War II.

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore  (Memoir)
If you think you are already a fan of Drew Barrymore, you will absolutely adore her and admire the woman she has become as you read these honestly written excerpts about her life and how she grew into the actress, entrepreneur, and mother she is today.

Dead Wake by Erik Larson (Nonfiction)
This is a fascinating depiction of the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania by a German submarine during World War II. Fans of Titanic will be able to relate to the surviving passenger accounts of the tragedy and its aftermath. If you have ever wondered what it was like to live and serve on a German submarine and how they pursued their missions, then you will come away with a clear understanding. The response of Woodrow Wilson as a President and the depiction of him as a grieving widower give interesting insight.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz (Fiction. Thriller.)
Fans of computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist from Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy will enjoy reading this political thriller about murder and cover ups. David Lagercrantz was granted permission by Larsson’s estate to continue the series and he remains true to the characters and delivers a fast paced story.

Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard (Memoir)
Following her first memoir, Lunch in Paris, American Elizabeth Bard picks up with the birth of her first child and her subsequent decision to move with her French husband from Paris to Provence. Their immersion into village life and the delectable recipes of Provencal cooking that she shares will tempt you to contemplate making a big change in your own life perhaps to a small French village.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (Teen High Fiction)
Were you the weird one in high school who totally went their own way with joy and complete disregard for fitting in with the popular crowd? Or did you just admire that person’s courage and individuality? Stargirl is that delightfully strange, ukulele playing girl dancing around in prairie skirts with a pet rat in her pocket. After she and Leo fall in love, will Leo accept her for who she is or pressure her to conform to the rules of popularity?

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming (Teen High Nonfiction)
A compelling portrait of the insular lives of Czar Nicholas and his family as World War I rages and the Russian Revolution explodes. Photographs of the Royal Romanov family bring them to life and this account offers one of the best explanations of how and why WWI began.