Best Books: New books or old favorites that make the list

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Best Books: New books or old favorites that make the list

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Nov 11, 2016, 10:19am

I never know whether a book is a Best Book until a lot of time has passed, and I still vivid remember what I read or--mainly--I can still feel what it did to my insides. How quickly do others know when a good book is a Best Book.

Nov 17, 2016, 8:36am

The National Book Award Winners have been announced:

Fiction: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
Nonfiction: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (Nation Books)
Poetry: The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky (Brooklyn Arts Press)
Young People's Literature: March, Book 3 by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell (Top Shelf Productions)

Sorry -- I can't find the right touchstone for that last one.

Nov 17, 2016, 10:10am

I was really thrilled that The Underground Railroad won. It's a great book, easily one of the best of 2016.

Nov 17, 2016, 10:19am

It's the first NBF Award since Lisa Lucas took over, I think, and it does seem to reflect the concerns of our current cultural climate. I was glad to see all the selections, although I haven't read the poetry book, and Kendi's book is still in my TBR stack.

Here's an account of the ceremony:

Nov 17, 2016, 1:51pm

I read the first two March books and they were both sensational, book two is even better than book one so I'm really looking forward to Book three. A great accomplishment.

Nov 18, 2016, 11:24pm

I've been eyeing that. You liked it, so I will check it out as soon as I can read again.

Nov 20, 2016, 12:24pm

Lab Girl is a daily deal on Kindle, along with a lot of other good nonfiction books. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Sapiens, Notorious RBG, etc.

Nov 20, 2016, 5:17pm

Thanks, Julie!

Nov 21, 2016, 4:41pm

Here's a bit of feel good.

John Lewis's acceptance speech at the National Book Awards:

Read, my child, read.

Nov 22, 2016, 11:31pm

Nov 24, 2016, 8:28pm

I'm so glad you liked that Cindy. I reviewed it and thought it was fantastic.

Nov 26, 2016, 12:43pm

Will there be interest in a guardian swap this year?

Editado: Nov 26, 2016, 6:43pm

Sure. Tho isn't it kinda late?...

Nov 26, 2016, 7:16pm

Is it out yet? I saw part one, but not part two?

Nov 26, 2016, 8:53pm

>12 laurenbufferd: Lauren, while I enjoyed it, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head, questioning believabilty, whether that plot of revenge wouldn't have been discovered, or that prisoners such as these would have been having these discusions, That at some point at the end, I suddenly didn't hear their voices, just Atwoods. Which is fine - I was fascinated by it all, and honestly that whole last section was a master class on the play. There was just a touch of doubt, enough to give it 4/5. But its good enough that I put it in my sister's hands on Thanksgiving; can't wait to hear her reaction.

Nov 27, 2016, 9:02am

I'm up for Guardian swap. As for lateness: it takes two minutes to order a book and send it! It's not like Pa Ingalls has to go to town and get it! Get with it, Cindy! :)

Nov 27, 2016, 9:41am

>17 DG_Strong: I meant that it would be late getting shipped b4 Christmas day. But I suspect most readers will just be happy for the books no matter when they come!

Nov 27, 2016, 11:59am

Sana Krasikov's The Patriots. Even if you don't like historical fiction.

Nov 27, 2016, 12:25pm

I'm looking forward to that one. Library won't have it in for a while yet, and I haven't seen any copies floating around work, but the anticipation only makes it better...

Nov 27, 2016, 12:56pm

I'm in this year for the swap. Lauren usually organized us so I volunteer her.

If she's willing, of course.

Nov 27, 2016, 4:08pm

Delighted. Let me wrap up the Thanksgiving business and I'll get on it.

Editado: Nov 27, 2016, 5:40pm

Count me in!

For any new group members, the Guardian swap is a round-robin book exchange based on the Guardian lists linked above. BookBalloon has been doing it for years and it's a lot of fun. If you want to participate, you let >23 laurenbufferd: know your mailing address and whether you already have or have read any books on the list. Then, according to her patented matching algorithm (I'm guessing) she matches everyone and when you receive your book, you come here and share.

Suggestion: LT has a private messaging thingy, if you don't want to make your info made public. Perhaps anyone who wants to join in could let Lauren know that way. Just click on her name, and scroll down to post a message and click "private comment." The little number next to your user name at the top right turns yellow when you have a message.

Nov 27, 2016, 9:07pm

well, I do love historic fiction, and I'll add that to the wish list!

Nov 27, 2016, 9:22pm

>24 SPRankin: For any new group members, the Guardian swap is a round-robin book exchange based on the Guardian lists linked above.

Might deserve its own topic where the guidelines would be easy to find, people could chime in if they want to play, and even let everyone know when their books arrive?

Nov 27, 2016, 9:31pm

Count me in this year! Lauren, I'll need to get you my new address since the post office isn't forwarding our mail anymore since we've been here over a year.

Nov 28, 2016, 5:49pm

I go through phases of favourite authors. In the past few years it has been:
Hilary Mantel
Kate Atkinson
Bill Bryson
Haruki Murakami
Stuart Maconie

There's enough there to keep reading for a long long time. I suppose perhaps I need a few more on that list...?

Nov 28, 2016, 7:45pm

It may be a small list, but it's mighty!

Dic 1, 2016, 3:25pm

Ho ho ho, it’s Guardian Swap time!

What it is:
Each participant chooses, purchases, and orders/mails a book carefully selected from the Guardian Best Books of 2016 lists (see below) to another participant, round-robin style. This is a long-standing BookBalloon tradition, full of ritual and mystery. Not really! It’s just lots of fun!

How it works:

1.Indicate your interest in participating in the designated thread OR

2.Send a message to me, the Designated Swap Organizer (DSO). I have a highly scientific method of matching gifters to giftees. You can reach me via private comment or email me at fufferdatcomcastdotnet. I need your email address and shipping address.

3.Once you receive your person, peruse the Guardian lists, make your choice, and send it along. Keep it secret; keep it safe. Feel free to gloat privately. Since many of the books on the list are British, it’s often the case that they arrive after the holiday season is over and call potato chips “crisps.” This is not a big deal.

4.Once you receive your book, rush back to this thread to report what you got and how excited you are to read it. This won’t be hard, because you will be very excited!


The Guardian Best of 2016 list:
Part I:
Part II:

Dic 3, 2016, 8:58pm

I always love this but it'S too difficult for me. I already bought 18 books from these lists and I own some already and hate others. But I'll play because I love to send books to others.

Dic 3, 2016, 9:02pm

It's stupid here. How do I email you?

Dic 4, 2016, 9:58am

Kat, click on Lauren's name and that will take you to her profile page. If you scroll down a little there's a window labeled "Post to laurenbufferd's wall." You can write you message to her there, and if you don't want it to be visible to anyone else who visits her page check the box for "Private comment."

Dic 4, 2016, 1:27pm

Or you can email her at fufferdatcomcastdotnet.

Dic 4, 2016, 1:49pm

>32 Kat.Warren: Kat, just email me at above. If you can make a list of what you've got, great, that helps. If not, don't worry. I can think of a few people who don't mind taking a chance.

Or if you want to forego being a recipient and just want to send a book to someone on the list, you can do that too. Some lucky unsuspecting soul would get two packages.

But that rule is only for you, because you are special.

Dic 8, 2016, 10:48am

Penultimate day for the Great Good Guardian Book Swap 2016!

Participants are: Lauren B, April, Cindy, DG, SP, Julie, SouthernBookLady, LuAnn, MKUnruh

Someone special is getting something extra from Kat.

I have not heard from Teep or Lynn.

If you have a change of mind and want to participate, please let me know asap.

Look tomorrow for an email from me. Yay.

Editado: Dic 9, 2016, 6:35pm

I'm working on my Best of the Year list now -- the rest of December is always spent re-reading A Christmas Carol and Rock Crystal and now I always read a few things from that fantastic Big Book of Christmas Mysteries.

But one thing is clear looking over my book notes for the year -- I spent a LOT of time reading about how OTHER people experience the outdoors. Maybe it was the NPS centennial, I dunno, but there were a LOT of books published in this area. And I apparently bought all of them.

Dic 11, 2016, 2:17pm

Christodora: A Novel by Tim Murphy Christodora: A Novel
by Tim Murphy

Dic 11, 2016, 9:40pm

Kat, you liked Christodora? I've had my eye on that one.

Dic 11, 2016, 10:51pm

I did, indeed, Nancy. Not without flaws yet an engaging read and interesting chronology of the epidemic.

Editado: Dic 12, 2016, 1:05pm

The Last of Us by Ewing

Dic 22, 2016, 9:26am

Just saw the LT newletter list of best books of 2016. Set up similar to the Gaurdian list, LT managers list their five favs. has some books that I ever heard of and am eager to read.

Dic 22, 2016, 9:26am

Speaking of best books - is it time to put in our list for this year?

Dic 23, 2016, 2:07pm

Yes! I was just coming here to ask about that. New place, but I'm perfectly happy to keep up with all the members' "Best of 2016" list!

SO....If you would like to, please share the best books you read in 2016. They do NOT have to be released in 2016. Feel free to share as many as you like, in any order you like. After the beginning of the new year, I'll go back and put everyone's picks in a spreadsheet and figure out which books "won" for the Book Balloon readers. If you have any questions, please ask. Otherwise, please share your lists any time! Looking forward to finding out what everyone loved this year!


Editado: Dic 23, 2016, 6:32pm

My Top Ten -- top five in order, the rest random:

Winter/Christopher Nicholson
Trials of the Earth/Mary Hamilton
The North Water/Ian McGuire
And Soon I Heard a Roaring Wind/Bill Streever
On Trails/Robert Moore

Ninety-Nine Stories of God/Joy Williams
St. Marks is Dead/Ada Calhoun
The Year of the Runaways/Sunjeev Sahota
Daredevils/Shawn Vestal
Ice Diaries: An Antarctic Memoir/Jean McNeil

and I also mention

Ten Restaurants that Changed America/Paul Freedman -- it's not really well-written and it's irritatingly repetitive in ways that an editor should have caught -- the same fact repeated three different ways on one page, that sort of thing -- but it's so full of interesting information that I had to put it on the list. It really was the most fun I had reading a book all year.

Dic 23, 2016, 7:28pm

I'm on a bit of a reading roll so I'm not going to tally my best until the last minute. But I did want to ask, DG—lacking the old Bookballoon's search engine, fallible as it was—did you read Peter Geye's Wintering? I know you said good things about Nicholson's Winter (and Ice Diaries) and I think at this point I have all of them. I probably need to wait for August to read them, considering how terminally cold I am this winter, but enquiring minds need to know.

Dic 23, 2016, 11:19pm

I did not read Wintering.

Editado: Dic 24, 2016, 7:35pm

Best Books 2016

The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman
The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell
Mercury by Margot Livesy
Maud's Line by Margaret Verble
Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton
Miss Jane by Brad Watson
Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend
Commonwealth by Anne Patchett
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
The Gloaming by Melanie Finn
Darktown by Thomas Mullen
The Last of Us by Rob Ewing
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Underground Airlines by Ben Winter
Lab Girl by Hope Jahrens

Editado: Dic 24, 2016, 6:26pm

Trials of the Earth is in the lead!

Miss Jane just missed my top ten.

Dic 24, 2016, 6:44pm

My list in no particular order. Difficult enough to make a list never mind ordering it. Books are as cats; they will not be ordered.

Dic 24, 2016, 7:06pm

I read a number of, for lack of a better term, "westerns" this year and four of them are on my year's best list:

Trials of the Earth
Maud's Line
Miss Jane
News of the World

Dic 24, 2016, 7:25pm

Author discovery of 2016: Olaf Olaffson

Especially worthy reads:

Walking into the Night: A Novel
by Olaf Olafsson

The Journey Home by Olaf Olafsson The Journey Home
by Olaf Olafsson

Editado: Dic 24, 2016, 7:35pm

Another 2016 Author Discovery: Allison Amend

Enchanted Islands: A Novel
by Allison Amend

Stations West: A Novel (Yellow Shoe Fiction)
by Allison Amend

Dic 24, 2016, 10:01pm

Unquestionably my best book of the year was Knucklehead by Matt Lennox. Found the book on a remainder table and was completely blown away. Totally unknown newish Canadian novel which would have remained lost had it not been placed on the long list for Canada Reads last week. Gave it to my partner who teaches high school English,he put it on his book list this year and the kids went wild. Just a wonderful,endearing novel.

Dic 25, 2016, 9:34am

Kat, your News of the World and Miss Jane links go to other books, but they're funny results.

Editado: Dic 25, 2016, 11:03am

Who was it who read Wintering, then? All these cold-weather books are blurring together in my mind.

Anyone who does the Amazon thing, News of the World for Kindle is on sale for $2.99 today.

(Other good Kindle sales on books that made my favorites lists over the years: Us Conductors, Beasts and Children, Undermajordomo Minor. Get yourselves something nice!)

Dic 26, 2016, 4:19pm

My list:
The Wonder/Emma Donoghue
Underground Airlines/Ben Winters
Jane Steele/Lindsay Faye
The Tsar of Love and Techno/Anthony Marra
And the Band Played On/Randy Shilts (I'd never read it before--now I can't believe that I hadn't)
The Girls/Lori Lansens (the one about the conjoined twins, not the one by Emma Cline)
Mischling/Afifnity Konar

Editado: Dic 26, 2016, 10:42pm

My list in no order except for the top two:

The Plover by Brian Doyle
Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The Lightkeepers: A Novel by Abby Geni
Galore: A Novel by Michael Crummey
Barkskins: A Novel by Annie Proulx
Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
Grace: A Novel by Natashia Deon
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

>47 DG_Strong: DG, Santa gave me The North Water for Christmas.

>48 lisapeet: Lisa, I haven't read it, yet, but I got Wintering for Christmas.

Editado: Dic 26, 2016, 10:49pm

>59 jjaylynny: Jjaylynny, I saw your review of spill simmer falter wither and wanted to tell you that the audio book narration is absolutely beautiful. John Keating is the narrator. I ended up returning the audio book because the story was so intimate in the narrator's beautiful Irish voice that I couldn't handle the intimacy, so I purchased the book and read it. That seemed to give me some emotional space between my heart and the story. This book has completely burrowed its way into my heart. I will never sell that book, but I probably will never read it again.

A link to a review in the Irish Times:

Dic 26, 2016, 10:44pm

I really want to read was it?

Editado: Dic 27, 2016, 11:41am

alans-- It felt like a strange private peek into the lives of children in concentration camps, and Mengele's work, two things I knew little about (and didn't really want to know much about.) The writing was effective because it was pretty matter of fact, in that way that realistic childrens' voices can be because they describe their lives, not their overwrought interpretations of their lives. It was bleak but beautiful. The plotting is satisfying but a little hard to believe (many coincidences).

I'm going to have to check out the audio version of spill simmer falter wither, aren't I? I'm going to be wrecked, aren't I?

I'm in the middle The North Water right now and loving it.

I feel like the only human to have hated A Man Called Ove.

Dic 27, 2016, 12:14pm

>61 AprilAdamson: Hello April. Thank you for these comments about spill, simmer, falter, wither. I stumbled upon the book earlier this year and read the first page, which certainly pulls you in. However, I never read the whole thing. I will be adding it to my 2017 list.

Dic 27, 2016, 2:12pm

I'm a little scared of that one because of the old dog factor, but I've heard such good things about it I might bite the bullet anyway.

Dic 27, 2016, 7:20pm

What she said 🔝

Dic 27, 2016, 8:49pm

>63 jjaylynny: No you are not. I hated it as soon as I saw that the 'old man' was 59 (my age!) and it just didn't get better the more I read. We are discussing it for a book group; I'll have a few things to say about over repeating themes that bring nothing new to the topic.

Dic 27, 2016, 9:35pm

:) I told my book group it was a nice portrait of grief in someone with a personality disorder who lives in a neighborhood filled with twee stereotypes. They did not agree.

Editado: Dic 28, 2016, 9:20am

Well Ive been taken to task for not liking The Strange Pilgrimage of Harold Frye so suspect they might react the same way for this one. I just hate twee, esp when it adds nothing to the whole 'old person gets a heart' meme. The movie Up in my humble opinion is probably the best take on this; I actually cried after about 15 minutes. I also have trouble with stories that take themselves just too seriously - a bit of humor and irony add much to my enjoyment of a book. Olive Kitteridge is an excellent example of how it can be done well - good writing, complex characters, interesting ending. I don't think its too much to ask.

Speaking of Eliz Strout, and back on topic, her book My Name is Lucy Barton is one of my fav for this year. Think its time to get my list up.

Dic 28, 2016, 6:07pm

I loathed Harold of my most distasteful reads of that year. Just torture. Killed me with sweetness. Blech!

Editado: Dic 28, 2016, 7:53pm

2016 was not a great reading year for me. I read a lot of "meh" books... not bad/not sorry I read them... but only a few I'd describe as stellar. I'll have to backtrack to gather my list.

One book I absolutely loved, and I think would be a big hit with this crowd was Golden Hill by Francis Spufford. Just check out the blurbs. They are right on the money. Not sure if it's out yet in the U.S. It's one of several I ordered from across the pond. But don't miss it.

Edit: Okay. Well that didn't go well. Linkage led to Huckleberry Finn.

Editado: Dic 28, 2016, 8:05pm

Ohhh, that looks good. I'll keep an eye out for it come (sigh) next summer.

As far as the linking goes, always check under "Touchstones" to the right of the posting field, and if the book listed isn't the right one click on "(others)" and pick what you want from the list. Sometimes you have to scroll down it a bit, because the LT algorithm can be funky. And I'm not sure if it's searchable. ETA: looks like you probably figured that out, since your link works now.

I'm waiting to post my favorites until the very end of the year because I'm on a really good roll all of a sudden. Stay tuned, radio fans.

As far as the above-listed books, (67-70) I haven't read any of them, frightened away as I usually am by the word "heartwarming." Which is not to say I don't like heartwarming books... just not the kind that are described as such in the initial blurb.

Dic 28, 2016, 8:19pm

Golden Hill was on one of the Guardian lists and was one of the reasons I managed to spend too much money on myself doing the Guardian swap this year.

Dic 28, 2016, 8:25pm

Thanks for the tip, Lisa.

Have you read it, yet, deeg?

I ordered both "Winter" and "Wintering" after reading Lisa's and your post.

Dic 28, 2016, 8:34pm

Not yet; it hasn't arrived yet

Editado: Dic 28, 2016, 9:04pm

Golden Hill looks soooo good.

I didn't have a great reading year either but I'll post my list soon.

Dic 28, 2016, 9:27pm

Golden Hill looked very good. I'm sorry I didn't ship a copy to LuAnne now.

Dic 28, 2016, 9:41pm

Golden Hill does look good - wish it came out earlier!

Dic 28, 2016, 10:35pm

Well, you're all in luck. Lookee here:

Golden Hill in PB is available now at Book Depository for $8.24.

Dic 29, 2016, 12:09am

>63 jjaylynny: Yes, but not in the way you expect. I'm glad to hear you're liking The North Water.

>64 brodiew2: Yes, add it to your 2017 list.

>79 Pat_D: Clickety click!

Dic 29, 2016, 6:23am

Dic 29, 2016, 11:13am

Thanks for the suggestions! I'm going to look these up right now. I'll return the favor by suggesting Cottage Cheese Thighs - best book I read this year.

Dic 29, 2016, 11:26am

I'm going to go ahead and add my best books, but I may have used a couple of them last year. For some reason, my spreadsheet doesn't have my own favorites listed. Oh well, you don't know!
Also, this was a terrible, terrible reading year, yet again. I am trying to make an effort to improve, so that I don't say this every year. So, 2016....In order of reading, not merit.

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Katherine Carlyle by Rupert Thomson

Dic 29, 2016, 9:42pm

>83 JulieCarter: I need to get to The Sympathizer soon.

Dic 30, 2016, 4:50pm

My best of the year * if they were actually published in 2016)

The Past by Tessa Hadley*

The Golden Age by Joan London*

The Patriots by Sana Krasikov (to be published in 2017)

Filaree by Marguerite Noble (blurbed by Lily Tomlin and Nelson Rockefeller - how often does that happen?)

Swing Time by Zadie Smith *

Georgia by Dawn Tripp *

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray

Muslim Girl by Amani Al-Khatahtbeh *

I also loved

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett *

Behold the Dreamers by Mbolo Imbue *

A Lady and her Husband by Amber Reeves + The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman by HG Wells

The Last Painting of Sarah de Vos by Dominic Smith *

Mercury by Margot Livesey*

Dic 30, 2016, 9:06pm

I read 54 books this year, about average the last few years.

My top 10 in order read:


Infinite Home Kathleen Alcott
Speak Louisa Hall
My Name is Lucy Barton Eliz Strout
The Life Before us by Romain Gary
Americanah chimamanda ngozi adichie
Bone Clocks David Mitchel
Darker Shade of Magic
Station Eleven
Hag Seed Margaret Atwood

non fiction

Love Like Salt
You will not have my hate
no one told me not to go Emily Hahn
China to me Emily Hahn
Day of Honey

discovered authors:

Emily Hahn
Romain Gary
Chitra Adiche

Dic 31, 2016, 2:33pm

I'm going to add one last one, a very short one (definitely not from 2016!): Reunion by Fred Uhlman. It was mentioned multiple times on the Guardian lists. A novella recently reissued, about the friendship between two teenage boys in Stuttgart, and how they became friends and how they stopped being friends (hint: Nazi Germany!).

Editado: Dic 31, 2016, 6:29pm

My list, in no order. 5 star only:

This Must be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Ballroom by Anna Hope

Dodgers; A Novel by Bill Beverly

Books published earlier but first read in 2016:

Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Dic 31, 2016, 6:54pm

>88 lynn_r: I also read This Must Be the Place - loved the concept and really fell for the main characters. But the last third or so just fell apart for me, lik she wasn't sure how to put it all back together. Still, an enjoyable read.

Ene 1, 2017, 10:17am

Hmmm, best books. Normally I'd consult my past commenting history on BookBalloon to see what I've been talking about, but since I've forgot how to get there, here's what ended up really sticking with me after a long, very fraught year:

First off, because I finished it on the plane ride home from visiting my parents:

My Katherine Mansfield Project by Kirsty Gunn, a gift from SP in the BookBalloon Guardian Swap and oh, is it phenomenal. I am now on a mission to read Katherine Mansfield. Also, on a mission to make my mother read Katherine Mansfield.

Also, in the order of where they caught my eye on my bookshelves:

Nine Island by Jane Alison
The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
My Father, the Pornographer by Chris Offut
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
The Home Place by J. Drew Lanham
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Lights of Pointe-Noire by Alain Mabankou
Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor
The Funeral Party by Ludmila Ulitskaya
Midnight and Other Poems by Mourid Barghouti
On Elizabeth Bishop by Colm Toibin
Belonging A Culture of Place by bell hooks
The House of Twenty Thousand Books by Sasha Abramsky
Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau
Darktown by Thomas Mullen
Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
A Natural History of North American Trees by Donald Culross Peattie
Zinky Boys by Svetlana Alexievich
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn
The Year of Lear by James Shapiro
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth
Buffalo Dance The Journey of York by Frances X. Walker

It's funny, because if asked I would have said I didn't have such a good reading year -- too much work, too many distractions. But looking at the list I really did have a good year. I think what I am missing and will have to find a way to fix is the time to actually think about all the books I've read and liked and loved (or hated). A big part of reading for me is what comes after I close the book. The ruminating, considering, the arguing in my head with myself and the author. If I don't get a chance to do that, then I feel like I haven't really finished, or at least finished with, the book.

Ene 1, 2017, 1:37pm

That Khun is such a necessary book.

Ene 1, 2017, 3:54pm

>91 Kat.Warren: Yeah. I can't believe it took me this long to read it.

Editado: Ene 2, 2017, 9:27am

My list for the year, in no particular order:

Strange as this Weather Has Been Ann Pancake
The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner
My Name is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout
Miss Jane Brad Watson
News of the World Paulette Jiles
Mercury Margot Livesey
The Stargazer's Sister Carrie Brown
Edited (forgot one)
Another Brooklyn Jacqueline Woodson

Editado: Ene 5, 2017, 1:34pm

>90 southernbooklady: if you liked the Kuhn book you might want to check out The Conduct of Inquiry by Kaplan. Like the Kuhn book I've read and re-read that book several times. Another good book along those lines is Innovation, the Basis of Cultural Change by Barnett. For some reason I much prefer the first half of Barnett's book to the second half - don't know why. for best books for 2016 I guess my two would be Weapons of Math Destruction and Under a Flaming Sky.

Editado: Ene 6, 2017, 12:31pm

ohymygod, the Mary Astor book. Mary Astor's Purple Diary.

It's a funny combo of non-fiction and the author's own strage obsession with Astor and it's just a deeply weird, wonderful book. More than anything, it reminds me of Wayne Koestenbaum's Jackie Under My Skin and also Koestenbaum's earlier book on opera, The Queen's Throat. Sorel's never been my favorite NYer cartoonist/illustrator, but this does make me like him quite a bit more.

Usual suspects, line up, this is one for you.

Ene 6, 2017, 8:22am

>94 alco261: The Kaplan book looks wonderful! I'm going to track down a copy.

Ene 7, 2017, 1:27pm

Is it too late to add A Gentleman in Moscow to my 2016 best of list? I started it in 2016 but only read a few pages but just picked it back up again and read it all so legally I think it should qualify.

Ene 7, 2017, 10:17pm

First best book of 2017:

by Helen Dunmore

Editado: Ene 7, 2017, 11:29pm

OK, here's my top 13 for 2016:

The Faraway Nearby - Rebecca Solnit
News of the World - Paulette Jiles
Nine Island - Jane Alison
Commonwealth - Ann Patchett
Before the Feast - Sasa Stanisic
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos - Dominic Smith
Work Like Any Other - Virginia Reeves
The Door - Magda Szabó
You Should Pity Us Instead - Amy Gustine
The Tsar of Love and Techno - Anthony Marra
There's Something I Want You To Do - Charles Baxter
Us Conductors - Sean Michaels
Mr. Splitfoot - Samantha Hunt

Eight by women, two in translation, if you're keeping track of that kind of thing.

Ene 8, 2017, 11:41am

Ok, I've got everyone's 2016 list that has posted (yes, including your addition, Lynn). If anyone else is wanting to share their favorite reads of 2016, please get them posted soon!

Editado: Ene 8, 2017, 2:32pm

Above all others The Door by Szabo, was my favourite read of the year. Pnin was my first Nabokov, and was so much fun that I am sorry I haven't been reading and re-reading him for years.

Books that reminded me why I read
The Door - Magda Szabo
Pnin - Vladimir Nabokov
Brazaville Beach - T. C. Boyle
Shake Loose My Skin - Sonia Sanchez (poetry)
A Brief History of Seven Killings - Marlon James
N-W - Zadie Smith
A Field Guide to Getting Lost - Rebecca Solnit (essays)
My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante
The Sympathizer - Viet Thanh Nguyen

Books that called to me until I was done or gave me something new to think about:
Commonwealth - Ann Patchett
A Spool of Blue Thread - Anne Tyler
The Homecoming - Carson Stroud
Uprooted - Naomi Novik
The Undoing Project - Michael Lewis (non-fiction)
Mr Splitfoot- Samantha Hunt
Fairyland - Alysia Abbot (biography)
Mernik Dossier - Charles McCarry

The book that confounded me — I hated it, loved it, hated it, and couldn’t stop reading. It would be a really interesting book to use as a part of cultural/social study of the early 21st century.
A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara

And, I will follow Lisa's lead
11/18 were written by women
but only 4/18 were by writers of colour
2 were in translation (The Door & My Brilliant Friend)
3 were non-fiction

Ene 8, 2017, 6:48pm

On a roll: another 2017 Best read candidate.

Work Like Any Other: A Novel
by Virginia Reeves

Ene 9, 2017, 5:27am

Work Like Any Other was on my 2016 best list. Such a great book.

Ene 9, 2017, 6:50am

Mine too.

Ene 9, 2017, 11:36am

I don't know how this happened, because he's basically my favorite living author, but I must add Nutshell by Ian McEwan to my list for 2016. Not sure how I left it off!

Ene 20, 2017, 12:28pm

OK, there haven't been any lists posted in the last couple of weeks, so I guess it's about that time! Let me get this list together, and I'll get it posted as soon as I can. (IF anyone has a last minute submission, please share right away! Thanks!)

Ene 20, 2017, 12:43pm

Well, that was easy. Not so many submissions this year! And...drumroll, please....

Book Balloon's Best Books of 2016

Winner (Tie-4 votes):
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Underground Airlines by Ben Winter
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Second Place (3 votes):
The Lost Painting of Sarah de Vos by Dominic Smith
The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni
Mercury by Margot Livesey
Miss Jane by Brad Watson
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Nutshell by Ian McEwan
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell

Third Place (2 votes):
Darktown by Thomas Mullen
The Door by Magda Szabo
Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
Nine Island by Jane Alison
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves

Fiction books (1st through 3rd place): 18
Nonfiction books (1st through 3rd place): 0 (WHAT? Guess we're all reading different non-fiction or not liking it.)
Books by Women (1st-3rd): 10
Books by Men (1st-3rd): 8
Published in 2016 (in the US) (1st -3rd): 15

My hope for this new year: We all read more. We all read lots of great books. We all knock our TBR stacks down to the size of small mountains. We survive.

Thanks everyone! Have a great reading year!

Ene 20, 2017, 1:46pm

It's wild that no nonfiction made the list. I read a ton of nonfiction this year, much of it fantastic.

Ene 20, 2017, 4:42pm

Start off to The New Reading Year would feel weird without Julie's computations. Thank you.

Ene 20, 2017, 4:56pm

But but but, I know Kat and I both put Trials of the Earth on our lists, which would put it in a tie for 3rd AND put a non-fiction book on the list...

Ene 20, 2017, 5:02pm

Oh, geez. And here I am trying to purge.


Editado: Ene 21, 2017, 7:46am

The highlight of my reading last year was something I'd wanted to do for a long, long time. I'd been thinking of revisiting Sharon Kay Penman's English Historical novels for quite a while. I kept putting them off as I barely had time to read my unread books, plus I didn't want to ruin the memory of them should they not hold up after all this time.

However, I read a reviewer's suggestion that they might be better read in chronological order (they weren't written that way, and I'd originally read them as they were first released). So, I took his recompiled list, updated it with her newer books, and read them all, one after another, in chronological order.

Not only were my fears unfounded, but I think I actually appreciated and enjoyed them more this time 'round (and that's saying a lot, because I loved them the first time). It was an immersive and riveting reading experience (and such a balm during a rotten time of my life). I know it sounds corny, but it was one of those rare (and rarer) reading journeys that reminded me why I became such a bookworm as a kid.

My only criticism was that reading them in that manner involved some repetition. Even though several of them comprise loose trilogies, she wrote them so they could be enjoyed as stand alones, also. That's a minor quibble, though, because the repetitive material does not occur often and is brief.

So, over the course of a couple of weeks, I read them as the events occurred in a linear timeline, all nine books, 6,186 pages, and they were easily My Best Books of 2017.

Here's the chronological list for any who may be interested:

1101-1154 When Christ And His Saints Slept (Vol 1 of Trilogy)

1156-1171 Time And Chance (Vol 2 of Trilogy)

1192-1199 Devil's Brood (Vol 3 of Trilogy)

1189-1192 LionHeart

1192-1204 A King's Ransom

1183-1232 Here Be Dragons (Vol 1 of Welsh Trilogy)

1231-1267 Falls The Shadow (Vol 2 of Welsh Trilogy)

1271-1283 The Reckoning (Vol 3 of Welsh Trilogy)

1459-1492 The Sunne In Splendour

The last one is considered her magnum opus and almost single-handedly turned the myths (Shakespearean and otherwise) about Richard III on their heads. As time progresses, her depiction has received much validation... although still controversial... not to mention she writes a walloping great story. There's also a terrific background to her writing of that book about her stolen manuscript, etc., but this post is already too long.

This is historical fiction at its best: the battles, the adventures, the Crusades, the sieges, the jealousies, the deceits, the epic loves and vengeance, the righteous and brave, and the cowardly evil, the religious fanatics, the staunch traditions, the brutal class systems, and some of the most unforgettable characters ever to populate pages (Maude, Harry, Simon, Eleanor, Richard, Salah ad-Din, both Welsh Princes Llewelyn, and Joanna) all come to life in the hands of a truly gifted writer.

Nothing else compared last year. I have no idea why HBO, or BBC/PBS, etc. hasn't snatched these books for cable series. G. R.R. Martin is a huge fan of Penman's, and after re-reading these books post "Game of Thrones," there are scenes and character names and attributes he's clearly lifted from these books' pages, but supposedly they are friends, so it's all good.

Editado: Ene 21, 2017, 10:16am

Pat I did that a few years ago while recovering from my broken leg. Agree with you about the repetition but that couldn't be helped. Loved them all over again - I remembered so much, but managed to make connections I couldn't have by reading it as they were published. And I still sobbed at the end of The Reckoning, perhaps more because I had so much background covering the centuries. And yes, what an amazing series this would make!

BTWI did this too with Elz Chadwick's books about Wm Marshall - and came away with the same feeling. And she just finished her Eleanor of Aquitane series; I have the first two summer queen and winter crown. They'll be different from Penman's take, but she's also a marvelous story teller so it will be interesting to read those and compare.

Ene 21, 2017, 10:35am

Wm Marshall was a great character from Penman's take. I'll definitely have to check out a whole book about him.

Ene 22, 2017, 10:49pm

Pat, thanks for the chronological list. I've owned The Sunne in Splendor for decades. If I read them in order it will take me decades more to get to it! Is there a way to save your post?

Ene 23, 2017, 1:42am

When I made up the chronological reading list, I saved it to a file. Just let me know when you need it.

Editado: Ene 23, 2017, 10:44am

For Kat and Julie:

Germ Wars: The Politics of Microbes and America's Landscape of Fear

Amazon's "Z: The Beginning of Everything" starts Jan. 27th.

Ene 23, 2017, 3:31pm

DG, you are correct!
Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton also had two votes.

(Sorry, in my spreadsheet, only one of you put the subtitle, so when I sorted, I did not notice that they were the same book.)

Ene 23, 2017, 3:35pm

Thanks, Pat! For the Penman list and the Germ Wars rec.
I have been wanting to read my nice copy of When Christ and His Saints Slept, so I will move it up the stack. I found that period of time to be very interesting.

Feb 19, 2017, 10:47pm

The Strays: A Novel
by Emily Bitto

Feb 20, 2017, 3:09pm

Not on my years best, but I did enjoy that very much, Kat.

Feb 22, 2017, 10:28am

Human Acts. Incredible. Immediately upon finishing, I began reading it again.

Mayo 12, 2017, 4:25pm

I really liked the new Elizabeth Strout Anything is Possible. Read in one sitting.

Mayo 12, 2017, 11:54pm

>123 LuRits: good to know; NYT gave it a rave review this week

Mayo 23, 2017, 3:45pm

LuAnn, do you need to read I am Lucy Barton first? I probably will, since I have it. But I saw that she's a character in the new one, so just curious.

Mayo 23, 2017, 7:46pm

Im not luAnn, but imho, you probably want to read that first because she is referenced many times and is the link between stories (only half way through, not sure if that will be the case in the later half)

Mayo 25, 2017, 2:46pm

Thanks, Cindy!

Jun 1, 2017, 1:39pm

Loved Where All Light Tends to it in a day...very beautiful and very sad..what an ending. First time I've read what they are calling Appalachian noir.Dark dark read.

Jun 2, 2017, 6:21am

Just finished The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. Certainly the best novel I've read the past 2 or 3 years.

Jun 2, 2017, 10:02am

I loved it as well Tid. At 50, I think I was the perfect reader for it. Plus I like Barnes' novels to begin with.

Jun 3, 2017, 9:32am

It was my first by him - what else by him do you particularly recommend?

Jun 5, 2017, 11:22am

Jun 5, 2017, 1:52pm


Jun 6, 2017, 7:57pm

LIked that one too; my all time fav of his tho is England England. Ive given so many copies of this book to various friends that they Barnes should give me commission - really quite a brilliant take on what happens with a copy becomes reality.

Jun 7, 2017, 1:12pm

Some good ideas here!

Jun 7, 2017, 3:04pm

I really liked Sense of an Ending as well. Not fiction, but his Nothing to be Frightened of pairs well with that noval. I read it right before I read the novel.

Jun 8, 2017, 5:39am


Editado: Jul 27, 2017, 11:12pm

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

Editado: Jul 31, 2017, 5:58pm

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

As a consequence of Best-Book status, I order her first two novels:

Tolstoy Lied and From a Sealed Room

Ago 5, 2017, 10:17pm

Exceptional novel, so well written in the ethos and language of its characters. Just finest kind. It will take you back to times still worthy of evaluation.

A Catalog of Birds
by Laura Harrington

Ago 6, 2017, 4:41pm

I have that on my bookstore list for this week, thanks to a gift card I found in a dusty drawer. I wonder who gave it to me! Thanks, whoever!

Sep 15, 2017, 10:18pm

The National Book Award Long Lists have been announced:

Lots of good stuff here -- I was really pleased about Jesmyn Ward and Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, both of whom actually happen to be here at the SIBA Discovery Show in New Orleans. I actually got to talk to Sexton for a little while, what a thrill that was. It was hard not to be intimidated. I'm also very pleased for Timothy B. Tyson, because he's a local boy, I've been a fan since before his first book came out, Blood Done Sign My Name.

But the book I especially wanted to mention was Layli Long Soldier's WHEREAS. I was really gratified to see that on the long list for poetry. I picked up a copy based on a bookseller friend's recommendation, and I still go back to it often, because it helps me to think about and navigate so many things -- what it is to live as a stranger in your own land, the insidious nature of hostile language, what an "apology" really is and what it does, how to exist in a state of occupation. It is a phenomenal book.

The same bookseller has also been talking about Don't Call Us Dead so now that's on my list.

Editado: Nov 22, 2017, 6:54pm

Improvement by Joan Silber. Book of the year for me and the book I'll be giving this season, so be prepared for that if I get your name!

It is not unlike Ghachar Ghochar in scale, which was my OTHER favorite book this year, so that's funny in the year of big-themed books like Lincoln in the Bardo or whahaveyou that I like two books with about as much plot as the copyright page of the Saunders book. That's not really true; the Silber book has quite a lot of plot. But some of the plot is a big shaggy dog.

Nov 22, 2017, 7:44pm

Noted. I liked her last collection, Fools, a lot.

Nov 23, 2017, 7:15am

I think she is one of those authors who has managed to bat a thousand so far; there's not a dud.

Nov 29, 2017, 12:53pm

Ho ho ho, it’s Guardian Swap time!

What it is:
Each participant chooses, purchases, and orders/mails a book carefully selected from the Guardian Best Books of 2017 lists (see below) to another participant, round-robin style. This is a long-standing BookBalloon tradition, full of ritual and mystery. Not really! It’s just lots of fun!

How it works:

1.Indicate your interest in participating in the designated thread OR

2.Send a message to me, the Designated Swap Organizer (DSO). I have a highly scientific method of matching gifters to giftees. You can reach me via private comment or email me at fufferdatcomcastdotnet. I need your email address and shipping address. Please include books that you have already read or authors that you really have zero interest in. For me, this year, it would be Joshua Ferris.

3.Once you receive your person, peruse the Guardian lists, make your choice, and send it along. Since many of the books on the list are British, it’s often the case that they arrive after the holiday season is over and call potato chips “crisps.” This is not a big deal.

4.Once you receive your book, rush back to this thread to report what you got and how excited you are to read it. This won’t be hard, because you will be very excited!


The Guardian Best of 2017 list:

Nov 29, 2017, 8:19pm

Wow, Ive only read one of those books - pretty sad! Will be contacting you soon...

Nov 29, 2017, 9:01pm

Where have I been that I missed a new Banville novel?

Nov 29, 2017, 9:36pm

I know! Reservoir 13, which is also on the Booker long list (short list too?) is mentioned a lot and I hadn't heard of it either (or if I did, it didn't register).

I'm avoiding marking (I don't hate marking, but getting started is always a bit of a running jump) so I made lists of the Guardian Best Books 2017 on Goodreads* Reading the commentary in the Guardian is much of the fun, but I thought that making a list of wants and don't wants for Lauren would be easier if the books are all in a row.

*Goodreads only allows people to add 100 books to a list, so I made two lists following the part one/two format.

Nov 30, 2017, 9:47am

Thanks ladies. I just got that Banville novel - it looks really interesting. I am a fan of Portrait of a Lady.

Nov 30, 2017, 3:00pm

I have a galley of Reservoir 13--I love the publishing choices Catapult Books makes, and have picked up a huge chunk of their catalog from this year. It got big kudos around LJ.

Editado: Dic 4, 2017, 2:52pm

I am dying to read the new history of New York magazine-but its 54.00 and my library doesn't have it on order yet.

Dic 5, 2017, 11:34am

NPR has just published their 2017 Book Concierge:

which also prompts me to add that one of the projects sprankin has been doing in her spare time for SIBA is creating a similar concept of all the "staff picks" books from Southern indie bookstores:

she's been at it for awhile now, because she's a saint like that. I think there are well over 500 books in the list at this point.

Dic 8, 2017, 4:58am

>147 cindydavid4: Lauren did you get my message?

Editado: Dic 8, 2017, 7:36am

>154 cindydavid4: Oh that's fantastic, Nicki and SP! Nothing more fun than a good faceted book list—I'll be coming back to play with that when I have a little time. I think it's going to get me pulling out a lot of stuff that I'd forgotten about on my shelves/iPad.

Dic 8, 2017, 10:19am

Cindy, I did. Will be sending out list early next week.

Dic 8, 2017, 8:55pm

ok good, there was nothing on my end saying it went through. Thx

Dic 11, 2017, 2:28pm

Good to hear about Joan Silber. I liked fools but really enjoyed her connected story collection, ideas of heaven.

I’m not linking. Broke my wrist yesterday and sprained the other hand so what I can do via voice, ain’t getting done. Have been nice pity party today, watching Hallmark Christmas movies. Better on meds.

Dic 11, 2017, 6:34pm

Ideas of Heaven is an alltime top ten book for me. And her earlier In the City is close. She's up there with Joy Williams in my favorite-living-writer derby.

Broken wrist! OH NO!

Dic 12, 2017, 10:32am

The Best Adult Book list from Shelf Awareness:


A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman (Knopf)
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (Morrow)
Exit West by Mohsin Ahmed (Riverhead)
Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan (Tin House)
Since I Laid My Burden Down by Brontez Purnell (Amethyst Editions/Feminist Press)
So Much Blue by Percivel Everett (Graywolf Press)
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang (Lenny/Random House)
South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby (Picador)
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo (Knopf)
The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (Del Ray)
The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne (Putnam)
The Year of the Comet by Sergel Levedev (New Vessel Press)
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nnneka Arimah (Riverhead)
White Tears by Hari Kunzru (Knopf)


A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand by Jim Harrison (Grove Atlantic)
Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene by Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan and Nils Bubandt (Univ. of Minnesota Press)
Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. by Danielle Allen (Liveright)
Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption by Benjamin Rachlin (Little, Brown)
Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen (Clarkson Potter)
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (Harper)
Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me by Bill Hayes (Bloomsbury USA)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Doubleday)
No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron Powers (Hachette)
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead Books)
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (Abrams ComicArts)
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston (Grand Central)
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury Circus)
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown)

Dic 12, 2017, 3:06pm

Sour Heart is the only overlap from my own list!

Editado: Dic 15, 2017, 6:34pm

I was reviewing the Guardian lists and was struck (ouch) by this which likely is, um, a nightmare for some and a triumph for others:

"As a Vladimir Nabokov completist, I could not resist Insomniac Diaries: Experiments with Time (ed. Gennady Barabtarlo, Princeton). Over a period of a few weeks in 1964 Nabokov wrote down his dreams, nightly. Here they are – not random narcoleptic scribblings but direct pellucid access to the great man’s unconscious. Utterly fascinating." -- William Boyd

Besides gotta love "pellucid."

Editado: Dic 22, 2017, 8:31pm

Dic 28, 2017, 7:36pm

So is it time to start thinking of our best reads for the year?

Dic 30, 2017, 5:31pm

Just a damn good read:

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley: A Novel
by Hannah Tinti

Dic 30, 2017, 8:43pm

That book is a Kindle special today on Amazon.

Dic 30, 2017, 9:41pm

Get thee clicking, hon.

Dic 30, 2017, 9:50pm

That was a fun book. She probably could have stopped at nine or ten lives, but I'm not going to quibble.

Editado: Dic 31, 2017, 2:30am

Best Books 2017

Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York by Francis Spufford

Improvement: A Novel by Joan Silber

Exposure by Helen Dunmore

Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

Quiet Until the Thaw: A Novel by Alexandra Fuller

A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

In a Lonely Place (New York Review Books) by Dorothy B. Hughes

A Legacy of Spies: A Novel by John le Carré

A Book of American Martyrs: A Novel by Joyce Oates

Germ Wars: The Politics of Microbes and America's Landscape of Fear by Melanie Armstrong

Dic 31, 2017, 8:31am

Neat list, Kat. I also really liked The Weight of Ink and Work Like Any Other (which I read last year). I've got Improvement waiting for me at the library and Golden Hill on my iPad, plus we just saw the film of In a Lonely Place, with Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame—definitely worth a watch, and a neat performance by Bogart that moves outside of his hardboiled persona-with-a-heart-of-gold. I've got that book on my wish list.

Folks who are OK with Amazon and/or ebooks, The Weight of Ink is on sale today, along with The Leavers, another favorite of mine this year, and a bunch more (I finally clicked on Magpie Murders).

Editado: Dic 31, 2017, 5:12pm

Fantastic list, Kat. I'm putting all of them on my list except for the le Carré.

(I intentionally mentioned the le Carré in order to playfully annoy anyone who might be annoyed by my (and Kat's) elegant use of accent aigu.)

I'm not making a list because I read very few books this year. But I have a huge resolution for 2018 to read some or all of a book every single day. Just like in the old days. I have amassed a small collection of fiction that are ripe and waiting. I am unsubbing from WaPo and maybe NYT. I might un-resubscribe from the NYer, but probably not.

Can't wait to see others' lists.

edited for typo

Dic 31, 2017, 5:41pm

Thanks, Nancy. FYI, "Catalog" is a deeply sorrowful book. As for the quality of my reading year, I think this is my shortest best list ever.

Editado: Dic 31, 2017, 6:25pm

Dic 31, 2017, 6:25pm

Oh man, that subscription question. I wrestle with that one. I'm currently re-subscribed to the NYer after about a year's lapse, and will probably keep it on. I'm thinking about our NYRB subscription now—I love having it around when I do feel like reading it, but it's SO expensive. One Story renewal, no question—it's more than worth the (very reasonable) price. I was tempted by Granta's $8 for a year of digital access that just popped up this week, but a) I don't have time to read everything I already subscribe to/follow and b) the sub is set to auto-renewal, so Granta will automatically bump you up to a full-price sub in another year unless you have the presence of mind to set a reminder on your calendar.

Anyway, here are my year's top reads. It wasn't the greatest year all told, but the books were excellent.

The Loved Ones - Sonya Chung
Stephen Florida - Gabe Habash
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
Jesus’ Son - Denis Johnson
The Weight of Ink - Rachel Kadish
Human Acts - Han Kang
The Leavers - Lisa Ko
The Patriots - Sana Krasikov
Mothering Sunday - Graham Swift
The Animators - Kayla Rae Whitaker

Being Mortal - Atul Gawande
Explorers' Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure - Kari Herbert
The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures - ed. Library of Congress
Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process - John McPhee
The Faraway Nearby - Rebecca Solnit

Dic 31, 2017, 10:26pm

I had a really good reading year. My top reads in no particular order:

Pachinko--Min Jin Lee
The Gustav Sonata--Rose Tremain
Alexander Hamilton--Ron Chernow
Martin Marten--Brian Doyle
Ethan Frome--Edith Wharton
Lincoln in the Bardo-George Saunders
The Patriots--Sana Krasikov
The Weight of Ink--Rachel Kadish
Manhattan Beach--Jennifer Egan
The Bear and the Nightingale--Katherine Arden
No One Would Listen--Harry Markopolos
The Plot Against America--Phillip Roth

Ene 1, 2018, 12:45pm

Mine were -- in order --

Improvement, Silber
Ghachar Ghochar, Vivek Shanbhag
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, Jeff Guinn
Because It Is So Beautiful: Unraveling the Mystique of the American West, Robert Leonard Reid
Sour Heart, Jenny Zhang

Editado: Ene 1, 2018, 6:53pm

I didn’t read a lot this year. But enjoyed most of what I did read. Among my favorites were:

All grown up: Jamie Attenberg
Idaho: Emily Roskovich
Anything is possible: Elizabeth Strout
On tyranny: Timothy Snyder
The fire next time: James Baldwin
Evicted: Matthew Desmond
Butchers crossing: John Williams
The last of summer: Kate O’Brien
A Christmas memory: Truman Capote
A gentleman in Moscow: Amor Towles

(Not not linking because it’s too hard to do one handed linking!)

Ene 1, 2018, 6:52pm

And I just am finishing up JIan Silber’s Improvement so that’s going on the 2018 list for sure.

Ene 1, 2018, 10:18pm

I just posted mine on FB. But I forgot about In a Lonely Place. Sheesh, I loved that, too.

With links, it looks like this:

My best of best were The Leavers and We Wear the Mask

In no order.............

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Human Acts by Han Kang
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Have the Men had Enough? by Margaret Forster
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Go Went Gone and The End of Daysby Jenny Erpenbeck (Erpenbeck and Charles Baxter were my best discoveries for 2017. Read them now!)
So Big by Edna Ferber
Woody, Cisco and Me by Jim Longhi
Being Mortal by Atul Gawunde (I may not finish it by tonight but I think I can count it for this year.)

Special Mentions : Oak, Ash and Thorn by Peter Fiennes who reminded me to look at trees more, The Autocracy of Mr Parham by HG Wells for it's eerie political prescience and Salt Houses by Hala Alyan for the Palestinian novel I’ve been waiting for.

Ene 2, 2018, 3:47pm

My reading year was not great, but I should stop saying that because I say it every year! This was the year of audiobooks for me, especially celebrity memoirs, thanks to an obnoxious commute (we don't have much public transportation, so I have to drive at least 2-3 hours a day for work). Still, every year there are some gems! (In no particular order)

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
The Sun is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon
My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante
All Grown Up - Jami Attenberg
A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles
The Nix - Nathan Hill
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics - Carlo Rovelli
March - John Robert Lewis (all 3 volumes)
Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

The best celebrity memoirs (mostly audio) other than Trevor Noah (because his was excellent, and I think transcends the celeb memoir genre):
You're Never Weird on the Internet - Felicia Day
Scrappy Little Nobody - Anna Kendrick
Tough Shit - Kevin Smith
The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher
Digging Up Mother - Doug Stanhope

Ene 4, 2018, 8:51pm

Had a decent year of reading, both in good books, and in finding new authors (this whole site has been a bonanza for me!) Completed 50 books which is about my speed

Fiction that were my 5 star books:

Johannes Cabal The Fear Institute

Alive alive oh


Bear and the Nightingale

The Kindness of Enemies

The First Fifteen LIves of Harry August

After the Parade

Non fiction 5 stars

Founding Brothers

Known and Stranger Things

(I read lots of others but for some reason negleted to inlude them in my journal, ah well)

New to me authors:

Katherine Arden

Claire North

Teja Cole

Jonathon Howard

most pleasant surprise

Bear and the Nightingale

biggest disappointment


Heres to more time for more reading more books by more authors!

Ene 21, 2018, 11:37am

If anyone would like to add their "Best Books Read in 2017," please do! The number of contributors dwindles each year, so I'm just compiling now. :)

The "Winners," with 3 whole votes each!
A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles
The Weight of Ink - Rachel Kadish

Here are the books that had at least 2 mentions as "best reads" this year:
All Grown Up - Jami Attenberg
The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden
Being Mortal - Atul Gawande
Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process - John McPhee
Human Acts - Han Kang
Improvement - Joan Silber
The Leavers - Lisa Ko
My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante
The Patriots - Sana Krasikov

Ene 21, 2018, 11:53am

SBL, Eveningland was a book I left off my list by accident, but it did make my list.

Ene 21, 2018, 2:01pm

That's right—I've had Eveningland on my list for a while because of your rave. NYPL has yet to get the ebook, though, so I'm holding off...

Ene 21, 2018, 5:07pm

Julie thanks for doing this every year! Yeah our numbers to seem to have dropped - its too bad but there we are Tho its obvious our reading hasn't!!!

Feb 1, 2018, 6:42pm

Certain to be on the 2018 Best list.
Four Frightened People (Virago Modern Classics)
by E. Arnot Robertson

It's also a movie: directed/produced by Cecile B. DeMille starring Claudette Colbert and Herbert Marshall.
Four Frightened People
DVD ~ Claudette Colbert

Feb 2, 2018, 2:57pm


Feb 2, 2018, 3:23pm

I confess I did have you in mind, DG.

Feb 2, 2018, 7:39pm

It's on the way!

Feb 2, 2018, 7:52pm

It's a great title.

Feb 6, 2018, 2:47pm

Honeydew by Edith Pearlman is a Kindle deal today (I checked and it's on sale on the .com site as well). Not for you Kat, because short stories, but there are others here that like her, I think.

Editado: Jul 25, 2018, 6:01pm

Book. Of. The. Year. - Life in the Garden; Penelope Lively

Jul 25, 2018, 7:25pm

Just read that - it will certainly on the top of my non fiction list. Just lovely. Kept going to google to get the images of the gardens and homes she talks about.

Jul 25, 2018, 7:37pm

Oh goody.

Editado: Oct 24, 2018, 7:31pm

Who remembers THIS! from Readerville. It's being re-released. At last, all can read it.

EDIT: S--t. Screwed up the linking. This is it:

Oct 25, 2018, 9:26am

I saw your post on FB and clicked instantly! Looking forward to finally reading it.

Oct 25, 2018, 6:45pm

I was never in the loop for that book. Guess I can read it now.

Oct 26, 2018, 9:59am

I was in the loop for that, great fun. (would love to know how Michell Furphy (sp) is doing. So enjoyed her posts)

Nov 30, 2018, 6:34pm

Here's that LJ Best Books feature that I helped work on. Click on "Short Stories" for my contribution, but they're all really interesting.

Dic 1, 2018, 11:05am

Will have to check that out, LP!

My darlings, it's that time of year. The Guardian book list is out (at least the first part). Is anyone interested in a swap this year? If so, I'm glad to be the organizer of said swap. I know this has been a tough year for some of us but old traditions die hard. I'd welcome the chance to dive in to this treasured expression of generosity and gift giving.

Just let me know.

Dic 1, 2018, 1:28pm

Thanks Lisa-really looking forward to reading this.

Dic 1, 2018, 5:14pm

Went through the L J list and wrote out all of the titles I want. Great list and so happy the magazine includes World lit. Thanks!

Editado: Dic 2, 2018, 10:06pm

Lauren! I've been wondering if you wanted to do it this year. So glad you do! I am in.

edit: I can't find the first part of the Guardian list--looked in both the US and the UK Guardian.

Dic 12, 2018, 11:02am

The Guardian lists seems different this year but I'm willing to go with it if everyone else is.

The two lists we use are:

So far, we have Nancy, Miriam, LuAnn and myself. Is this correct? I'll give it to the end of the week and then send out the list over the weekend. It can be the Epiphany book swap this year.

Dic 12, 2018, 10:39pm

Oh I’m in, sorry, yes

Dic 13, 2018, 4:30am

Im in

Dic 13, 2018, 11:54am

YAY--DG and Cindy are back in!

Dic 16, 2018, 7:36am

You got my note but I'm still in.

Editado: Ene 1, 2019, 2:30am

Still Life with Monkey by Katharine Weber

Four Frightened People by E. Arnot Robertson

The Melody by Jim Crace

Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

Great Granny Webster by Caroline Blackwood

The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen

The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

God's Fury, England's Fire: A New History Of The English Civil War by Michael Braddick

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenreich

Dic 16, 2018, 10:42pm

Miriam, Nancy, LUAnn,Cindy, DG, if you don't get an email from me in the next 24 hours, I don't have your correct contact info so please get it to me asap.

If anyone else wants to participate in the Guardian Epiphany swap this year, let me know, please.

Editado: Dic 18, 2018, 8:49pm

Seattle Times (via WaPo) 50 best works of fiction of 2018

Dic 17, 2018, 12:49pm

Email sent Lauren!

Thanks for the links Kat. I plan to read The Library Book and French Exit over the break. And I think The Last Cruise will be on my best list too.

Dic 18, 2018, 8:03pm

Thats a cool way of doing it. Lots to add to my list! Glad Circe and Transcription was high on lists

Dic 18, 2018, 8:49pm

I could not get through Transcription. Droned out by boredom somewhere mid-novel.

Dic 19, 2018, 5:19am

Just finished Rachel Joyce The Music Shop which will certainly appeal not only to those of a certain age who browsed often in record shops, or just to those who enjoy a wide variation of music genres, but to those who like a good love story and well rounded characters.

Dic 19, 2018, 8:37am

Despite it being such a crazy year -- I think I basically lost the last five months to one thing or another -- I read quite a few books this year that were very good and would make my "best of" list if I can ever get around to compiling it. But unlike many years filled with lots of good books of all different kinds, this year there was one that outshone everything: The Overstory. So much so that this has become in my mind "the year I read The Overstory." And when people ask me what I am reading it takes an act of will not to say "I read The Overstory, have you?"

I easily fall in love with books so it is rare for one to dominate my thoughts like this. To be honest, the last time I felt like this was when I read Moby Dick, a comparison I know will be read as a reason to skip over Richard Powers, but that would be a mistake. The two are nothing alike except in their ambition, their vision, their grasp of the vastness of existence, and yet their almost unbearably intimate perspective and voice. They both thrum.

So yeah. The Overstory. Hands down the best book I read this year. Maybe this decade.

Dic 19, 2018, 4:15pm

OK, southernbooklady, I clicked. Trees!

Dic 19, 2018, 5:48pm

Cindy, I need to hear from you, please.

Dic 19, 2018, 7:24pm

I was blown away by his Time of our Singing, still vividly haunts me. This was a book I had heard about but somehow my radar skipped it so thanks for reminding me! I'll get it this weekend!

Dic 20, 2018, 1:56pm

I also love Richard Powers. I own The Overstory but have not yet read it. I think it will be my holiday reading.

Dic 20, 2018, 6:53pm

My three best of the year were (in order):

Heart: A History

French Exit

Life in the Garden

The Overstory is ready for me to crack open on the night table; I am up and down on Powers historically (I do love Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, though) but it does seem like a very DG book.

Dic 20, 2018, 7:48pm

That Heart book is calling to me.

Dic 20, 2018, 9:00pm

Loved Life in the Garden; lots of history I did not realize, lovely descriptions of gardens and gardening, and just great writing that Prose is so good at.

Dic 20, 2018, 9:30pm


Dic 21, 2018, 2:55am

sorry, Lively.

Dic 26, 2018, 2:37pm

If anyone would like to submit their "Best of the Year" lists (I see Kat and DG's above), please put them here! I haven't read much this year, but I will take a look at my list/Goodreads and list mine soon. I love to see what everyone read this year and loved, so please share! (Remember, it doesn't have to be published this year, just read by you this year.) If there are more than a couple of lists, I'll compile them all as I have in years' past and let you know who the "winners" here are!

Editado: Dic 26, 2018, 9:11pm


Song of Achilles

The Overneath

I am I am I am

The 6:41 to Paris

A Gentleman in Moscow

Mary B (a fascinating take on the third Bennett sister. Some folk too attached to the characters were upset by how this author wrote them, but I found it very realistic)

The Library Book Susan Orlean


Not in my top list but a delightful surprise, about a little known part of our valley Alligators in the baby pool, about the Tempe Beacj. Long gone by the time I came around, but her stories about that time were hilarious and as a desert rat, could relate!

Dic 29, 2018, 2:11pm

Julie, here is my list for 2018. I'm glad you're compiling the list again.

In no particular order:

1. Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914, McCullough

2. Our Mutual Friend, Dickens

3. The Underground Railroad, Whitehead

4. 1 Dead in Attic, Rose

5. As Close to Us as Breathing, Poliner

6. One Summer: America 1927, Bryson

7. The Woman in White, Collins

8. The Feather Theif, Johnson

9. The Thirteenth Tale, Setterfield

Wow, I didn't realize that there is only one book on this list that was actually published in 2018. I did manage to move some books off my shelves that have been there for a while, though.

Ene 4, 2019, 1:55pm

Another not-so-great reading year in the books! My favorites:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Start-up by John Carreyrou

Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Hunger: A Memoir of My Body by Roxane Gay

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Confessions of a Heretic by Adam Nergal Darski

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Editado: Ene 4, 2019, 3:39pm

My favorite books of the year, or books that have stuck with me in one way or another:

Circe by Madeline Miller
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
French Exit by Patrick deWitt
The All of It by Jeannette Haien
Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey
Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg
Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt
The Game of Kings (Lymond Chronicles, 1) by Dorothy Dunnett
Improvement by Joan Silber
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall by Tim Mohr
Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Painter
Mean by Myriam Gurba

A few disappointments, but no true stinkers.

Editado: Ene 4, 2019, 3:08pm

My father-in-law was a Dunnett fan.

Ene 5, 2019, 1:10pm

I have the first book in that series, Kat. I keep meaning to get to it because I often see Dunnett likened to Sharon Kay Penman. I also have the Arimah, Lisa, of which I read a bunch of rave reviews. I'm a big deWitt fan, but I really disliked his last one, Under Major Domo Minor, so I've been holding off on French Exit. Then I read all the positive posts about it here, so I'm definitely adding that to the Kindle soon.

Ene 5, 2019, 1:11pm

I didn't like Under Major Domo Minor at all, Pat, but French Exit is a great rebound book.

Ene 5, 2019, 1:18pm

I know, deeg, I read the posts here and that's all I needed.

Ene 5, 2019, 1:23pm

I can't remember a single thing about Under Majordomo Minor, even though I know I read it, so that says something. Just reread my review, where I said I liked it well enough but damned it with pretty faint praise, and didn't really say anything about the book itself. French Exit was terrific, though.

Editado: Ene 21, 2019, 12:11pm

Well, it's time for our little "best books" list again. We didn't have a ton of people posting their lists, so there were only a few that had multiple votes. You're all winners, books! So, here is the list of our favorite reads of 2018!

French Exit - Patrick deWitt
The Library Book - Susan Orlean
Mean - Myriam Gurba
Circe - Madeline Miller
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup - John Carreyrou
The Fifth Season - N.K. Jemisin
Heart Berries - Terese Marie Mailhot
Improvement - Joan Silber
Less - Andrew Sean Greer
The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life - David Quammen

Ene 21, 2019, 3:15pm

I've read Circe and have French Exit. Undecided on the Orlean book.

Thanks for doing this, Julie.

Ene 21, 2019, 6:00pm

Ditto. Thanks for doing the list again!

I read and liked Improvement quite a bit, in fact I told my mom to read it, but it wouldn't stick. Every time someone raved I'd look it up again, go 'oh right, that one' and then forget it all over again. The last time I looked it up, the book cover had a carpet on it, and that worked as a prompt. So now, I just think carpet and I'm off. It was the one with aunt who was married in Turkey (and came home with/sent? a carpet) and the niece with the boyfriend who was arrested? Do I have it now?

Editado: Ene 21, 2019, 6:28pm

You do! That was one of my favorites, as were the first five on the list. It was a book that kind of had to settle in, though.

It was a good reading year—thanks for putting the list together, Julie.

Ene 21, 2019, 6:33pm

I always enjoy this list, Julie.

Editado: Ene 21, 2019, 8:49pm

>239 Pat_D: I have French Exit next on my reading list. Oh and btw Pat, just finished Little - loved it! Hoping I can convince my book group to read it (in May when its in paperback) Need to reread his other two, its been a while.

Ene 22, 2019, 2:06pm

You're welcome, everyone! Glad you enjoy it!

So, I'm flying from Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale next Tuesday. Which of the books on the list could I reasonably expect to finish on that flight (which is probably 2-2.5 hours, as is basically every flight from Dallas to anywhere else in the contiguous US)? I've already read Bad Blood, Less, Mean, and The Fifth Season. I own Improvement and Circe.

Ene 22, 2019, 7:27pm

Don't have my own list, but did any of you happen to see the program on PBS a while back that found America's favorite book? It was really good and got me wanting to read more from that list. Here's the link if anyone wants to check it out!

Ene 22, 2019, 7:50pm

Julie, you might want to try Theory of Bastards -- excellent read, plus apes!

Ene 22, 2019, 7:51pm

EH2304 -- thanks for that link.

Editado: Ene 22, 2019, 8:24pm

>244 JulieCarter: deleted by me

Editado: Ene 23, 2019, 1:23am

I missed this, but thanks to your link, we can still watch the episodes on the Web site.

They had some huge participation in that vote (and a read-a-long community of 50,000!). I followed some other links on the site, and I thought it was interesting that a similar vote took place in the U.K. (4 million voted), several years back, and their #1 was To Kill a Mockingbird, also.

Ene 23, 2019, 6:25am

>246 Kat.Warren: Not sure you can read Theory of Bastards in a 2-1/2 hour plane ride (unless you read a lot faster than I do, which probably everyone does, so take my thoughts with a healthy dose of salt). But it looks really good—been on my pile for a while and I want to get to it this year.

>249 Pat_D: Not surprised at the To Kill a Mockingbird win. Did they rank runners up? I'd love to know what were the top five. The one from that list I really want to get to before I die is Lonesome Dove.

Ene 23, 2019, 8:04am

Lisa, have you read Fever Dream? That would be a good plane read -- short and intense. Or, if you will read SF, the Murderbot Diaries -- the first is All Systems Red -- it is fun and short.

Ene 23, 2019, 1:34pm

I have Theory of Bastards on my nightstand, but I don't think I want to take it on the plane. But I should read it soon! Apes!

Ene 23, 2019, 2:52pm

Sorry Julie, I don't know why I wrote Lisa. Muderbot diaries are short and under $10 on Kindle, so good options for the plane ride.

Ene 23, 2019, 5:16pm

I was going to answer anyway! I haven't read Fever Dream, but I have a galley of her newest one, Mouthful of Birds. She looks like an interesting one.

Feb 11, 2019, 11:48am

I didn't really end up reading a lot on the plane. Restarted Pig Island by Mo Hayder on the way out, but I still haven't finished it. I was exhausted on the trip back, so I mostly slept (which is hard in a middle seat!). Oddly, I got excited to get back into reading a couple of days ago because I was watching that series You on Netflix, and the creeper manages a bookstore and the creepee is a writer. So I wanted to start a "real" book, and decided on The Essex Serpent. I'm still sick, so I didn't get too far into it, but I'll keep trying!

Nov 29, 2019, 3:36pm

Have y'all seen this? It's WaPo's Year's Best lists. The overall best list is, IMO, unremarkable, although I haven't read the genre-best lists, yet. But that's not why I came here to bring attention to the articles. Check out the graphics. Those are actual embroideries done by Sarah K. Benning. They are book-nerd drool-worthy. I want all of them.

Nov 29, 2019, 4:46pm

>256 Pat_D: My embroidery days ended with high school, but I was tempted by her DIY kits

Nov 29, 2019, 7:05pm

I get impatient just threading a needle, so, yeah, that craft is not for me. The book ones sure are pretty, though.

Nov 29, 2019, 8:45pm

Those illustrations were the best part of that list. Kudos to whatever art director greenlighted that idea.

Editado: Nov 30, 2019, 6:01pm

Embroidery makes me antsy. At Colegio de las Esclavas del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, we had embroidery class twice a week. If memory serves, it was my worst “subject.” Lots of blood spots.

Also, we learned to pray the rosary really really fast so we could go out to play. No cooking classes, though. Servants for that, right?!

Dic 6, 2019, 8:18am

When we lived in SE Asia, we had servants, too. That's what my parents called them, anyway. To me, they were the best of friends and partners in crime.

This is the first year, in a long, long time that The Guardian's Year's Best List is chock full of click-worthy recommendations. I can't wait to get my hands on the new Joseph O'Connor book.

Dic 6, 2019, 1:28pm

Is anyone interested in a Guardian best of swap or shall we give it a rest this year?

Dic 6, 2019, 11:37pm

Lauren, I'm game, but I also would be good with giving it a rest. I'm thinking that it might be nice for you to take a break since you've done yoemen's service for a crap tonne of years. With that in mind, If the crew want it, I'm willing to take over the wrangling for this year. Let me know.

Dic 7, 2019, 12:36am

I prefer to rest but will play should that be majority sentiment.

Dic 7, 2019, 7:43am

I pretty much never play, and wouldn't have played again this year, so I'm no fun either way.

Dic 7, 2019, 1:10pm

I could let it go this year, but could be convinced otherwise.

Dic 10, 2019, 1:53pm

Lisa, you are always fun!

Some of you have already sent me your guardian lists so I guess the 2019 swap is a go.

Please check out the following lists.

Send me your address, email, a list of what you've already read and anything you absolutely do not want, including, if need be, a genre. Like for me it would be no true crime or cookbooks specializing in pork or shellfish. Please restrict yourselves to books from the Guardian lists.

Send me all your info by December 14, I'll send out instructions by Monday evening, December 15th.

There were a few snafus last year with people not sending their info to my home email. If you do not hear back from me, assume that I've have not received anything from you. I will not be checking the Library Thing mail box.

My home address is

Let's swap, y'all.

Dic 11, 2019, 5:08pm

OK. I'm in.

Dic 11, 2019, 9:57pm

mine has been sent

Dic 14, 2019, 10:16am

So far, I've heard from dg, Cindy, Pat, Miriam, and Nancy. Anybody else?

Y'all will hear from me on Monday.

Editado: Dic 17, 2019, 11:40pm

Best Books of 2019
Books read in 2019, not all published this year

The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine
Less about grammar and beaucoup more about love of words and language.

The Vexations by Caitlin Horrocks
I was destined to love this brilliant novel; Satie lover.

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
Urrea is a favorite novelist and this novel is finest kind.

There, There by Tommy Orange
Grim, uncomfortable and prodigiously worth reading.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher
Dystopia, doom, dog — loved it.

Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir and Me: A Memoir by Deirdre Bair
Bair is brilliant, an exceptionally inviting writer.

Georgia O’Keefe: A Biography by Roxana Robinson
Lengthy and worth every single page.

The Innocents by Michael Crummey
This writer is worlds of incandescence, whatever that means and it’s all too the best good.

Dic 18, 2019, 7:19am

I have the Tommy Orange but haven't read it, yet. "A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World" looks right up my alley.

Dic 18, 2019, 9:04am

I spent the last half of the year reading Zola books, so my list is screwy this year but the best non-Zola books I read, in order:

Collected Stories of Machado de Assis
Trust Exercise / Susan Choi
Bangkok Wakes to Rain / Pitchaya Sudbanthad
Nomadland / Jessica Bruder

Dic 19, 2019, 4:29pm

I really liked Trust Exercise although I know many who couldn't get through it. I thought Choi really pushed fiction as far as she could.

I am reading Five wives thanks to Miriam and it'd for sure going on my years best.

Editado: Dic 20, 2019, 11:20am

I'm so glad you're enjoying Lauren. It's on my list as well.

I just finished America is not the Heart which was excellent and I learned a lot about the Philippines -- more to say, but I need to process a bit -- and I celebrated its conclusion by making Pancit for the first time (also excellent).

Now I'm finishing off The Infidel Stain which is fun is the best way, and continuing to read Up in the Old Hotel. Next is Mostly Dead Things because it's a library book and has a kajillion holds.

Editado: Dic 20, 2019, 4:02pm

Click on “Infidel Stain.” Her “ Strangler Vine” was yummy.

Dic 20, 2019, 7:28pm

It was super yummy. I was sad to leave India, but Infidel Stain is yummy in its own right. Her history background really stands her in good stead.

Editado: Dic 20, 2019, 11:45pm

I’m so thrilled you liked A Boy and His Dog and the End of the World, Kat. I loved it and I get way too happy when a book I love is a hit with a good friend.

I have another one to recommend - Things in Jars and I would bet the bank you and Pat will like that one. *as well as the usual suspects here*

(Pat, can you send me another email?)

Hope everyone is doing well.

Dic 21, 2019, 3:54am

lynn! On the way.

Dic 21, 2019, 2:40pm

That is a bountiful list. Maybe we should start using that for Secret Santa?