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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Our Favorite Books this Year...So Far!

Candice - What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

My favorite book so far is Zinzi Clemmons's debut novel "What We Lose". The novel tells the story of Thandi, a young woman struggling to deal with the aftermath of her mother’s death, through a series of haunting, beautifully written vignettes. Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love.



Cary - Finely Tuned: How To Thrive As A Highly Sensitive Person or Empath by Barrie Davenport

For those of us who are sensitive to our environment, or live with someone who is, this book is extremely valuable. About 20% of the population make up this large minority -- those humans who have to live in a majority world of outgoing, more active people who thrive in groups and energetic activity. For adults who have adjusted, this book confirms our so-called "quirks" but reminds us that our feelings and intuitive observations provide very positive antidotes in society's varied arenas. For young people who struggle to fit in to the cookie-cutter activities of school and "norms" of our high-octane society, this book will provide immediate relief that they are not alone and that their innate nature is a blessing (albeit in disguise by majority standards). I believe this book can really benefit those of us who may struggle to find our own way in this whirlwind world. 

 Amanda - The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I'm actually still reading it. I'm trying to savor this one as I've been enjoying it so much. Very atmospheric Russian landscape with many nods to Russian folklore. Just a great, engaging story.


Megan J. - Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

As a long-time John Green fan, I felt like this story was a bit of a departure from his previous works, but in the best way possible. The book still stars a group of smart and funny teenagers that we all wish we'd been a part of in high school, but his achingly honest portrayal of OCD adds a new depth to the story. Green does not shy away from showing the worst parts of mental illness, and one particular scene near the end was actually difficult for me to get through. But his trademark humor and hopefulness keep the story from becoming too bleak, and the extra layers of honesty add a new flavor to the "exestential teenager" brand that fans have come to love.

Kelcey - To All the Boys I've Loved Before Trilogy by Jenny Han

My favorite thing I've read this year is actually a trilogy. "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" trilogy by Jenny Han. This series had been sitting on my TBR shelf for several years. I had heard really great things about it but was typically in the mood to read fantasy novels instead of contemporary novels. School had just let out for winter break and I was looking for something light and fun to read. I picked these up and flew threw them in just a few days. The character development and writing style is great and kept me wanting more. I was also excited to find out that its going to be a Netflix moving coming out this August! I'm definitely looking forward to that.



Jake -  Contact by Carl Sagan 

I'm in the process of reading it right now and it is a fascinating read. It comments on so much. Humanity, morality, religion, politics, but it never talks down to anyone on any of these subjects. It provides an insightful and hopeful message about humanity and what we could achieve if we all worked together. The story of humanity's potential is uplifting to anyone who believes in the hope of the human spirit.


Jason -  All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries Volume 1) by Martha Wells 

This is about a combat Android who loves binge-watching TV shows and has anxiety about dealing with the Humans she is supposed to protect. I really enjoyed the concept of an Android who calls herself Murderbot but gets nervous talking to people. Highly recommend it.


Sally - I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh 

If you are looking for a moody mystery that takes place in England and Wales, this is the book for you. The characters are memorable and the author does a wonderful job of capturing the eccentricities of a small, Welsh community. A woman is haunted by witnessing a hit and run accident and tries to rebuild her life in Wales. The investigation of the crime takes disturbing twists and turns up until the end. I really enjoyed this book.


Tirzah - Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Set in 1940s South Africa, this book follows the journey of pastor Stephen Kumalo as he sets out to find his wayward son in Johannesburg where Kumalo witnesses the destructive effects of what would eventually lead to apartheid. Alan Paton’s writing style is simple yet expressive so that I truly empathized with the characters and their situations. The story has heavy themes, but the element that makes me like the story so well is that many of the characters rise above life’s deep wrongs and crushed dreams by choosing to look to God for strength and hope. It was a story that stayed with me for some time after I read it.


Dawn -  Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty 

I liked what this author had to say about having a positive relationship with death and not being so afraid of it.

Joyce - The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders by Stuart Kells

This is a fascinating look not only at libraries throughout history but at the people who developed them. The interaction of physical materials, the buildings that house them, the methods used to retrieve a desired work and how the librarians and patrons use the materials has constantly changed over time. I don't wonder if there will be libraries in the future; I do wonder what they will be like.


Katherine - A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
I loved this book because it has everything in it that I look for in a novel. It is a very moving story, the characters are so well-developed that I feel like I really know them, and it's extremely well written. I highly recommend this one.

 Mary - Liar's Candle by August Thomas

It's a spy thriller type novel, a first book for this author, and is reminiscent of John LeCarre books. It takes place in Turkey, mostly in Ankaara, and the main character is a 21 year old female intern at the American Embassy who we soon find out "knows too much." I found it fascinating for the characters, the scenery, and the speed with which it all took place. It was definitely a book that kept my interest! 

Lisa - The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (audiobook) 

It was recommended by a co-worker and although the subject matter is heartbreaking, I found it to be beautifully written. I felt like I was in the head of the main character during the downward spiral and recovery. I also felt like maggie Gyllenhaal gave perfect voice to the novel.

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