Up until this post, all the titles I have recommended are books I have read. Let’s explore, with anticipation, reviews of new titles we want to read in 2015! Newspapers and magazines print the “best of” lists to remind readers which books are not to be missed.
My favorite review sources include The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the New York Times Book Review. Independent booksellers provide their own “Indie Bound” suggestions. My local library offers a free periodical called BookPage. (Look below for the online URLs.)
The book on the top of many “Best of 2014” lists is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This title is on my Amazon.com wish list and my Goodreads “to-read” shelf. Since it is a second novel for Doerr, I am intrigued to check out his first, About Grace: A Novel, which one personal reviewer compared to the writing of the Japanese author Haruki Murakami. (So many books, so little time.) See the Amazon.com reviews of Murakami’s Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, (2010) or IQ84 from 2011. The NYT Book Review called Murakami “a rare artist and “a magician.” What a comparison for both authors, Doerr and Murakami, two literary authors to read and watch for further masterpieces!
Some friends ask me how I enjoy my 3 Kindles. “Don’t I long for the feel of a physical book and pages to turn and look back upon?” they query. I know what they are saying, still I use my Kindle devices as a virtual library: I can keep my favorites to review and peruse any time. I can also sample books I have seen reviewed or recommended, books I may want to purchase, and I often use my Kindle to search for titles and their reviews by editors and readers on Amazon or Goodreads.
I’m most impressed when the reviews have bylines. One of my favorite reviewers is Tom Nolan who recommends mysteries in the WS Journal every Friday. I also enjoyed reading the author Carolyn See’s mystery reviews in the Washington Post. She is the mother of the prolific Lisa See, although she has now retired. For children’s book reviews, I read Meghan Cox Gurdon’s “Children’s Books” column in WS Journal. Gurdon’s insights are valuable to all who enjoy various genres and many grade levels of children’s book titles. Librarians find Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly, written for professionals interesting sources to check for recommendations each week or month, although they are not always available to the general public. We can all purchase the New York Times Book Review which is available from bookstores and libraries separate from the large daily newspaper.
They chose “10 Best Books of 2014” published December 14, 2014 (our mother’s birthday). Five fiction and five non-fiction titles were chosen. The books reviewers gave us are a cross-section of genres including the highly-rated Doerr’s who writes “brisk chapters and sumptuous language” in All the Light We Cannot See, a metaphorical tale; a historical fiction Euphoria by Lily King about Margaret Mead; and Redeployment, a debut story collection by a former Marine, Phil Klay. The non-fiction list is similarly varied with a biography of Penelope Fitzgerald, a writer who published her first book at 58 (Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life by Hermione Lee); a graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast; and an environmental examination The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. The “Best of” list concludes with a political treatise described as “profound” and “gripping” with “clashing personalities” called Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin and Sadat at Camp David by Lawrence Wright. (I did not write about all from the Times’ list.)
“Oh, my goodness, oh, my goodness!” to parrot Mollie, my favorite character in Annie. I need to stop writing and start reading with so many great titles to consider! I am salivating over the language and creative ideas put forth by the reviewers and the authors of these new books of last year.
Three novels I still have on my own “to-read shelf” include highly recommended books published in 2013: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahri. Mysteries and historical fiction, which are still my favorite genres, which are waiting for me to open are Truth Be Told by Hank Philippi Ryan, the entire “Rei Shimura” series by Sujata Massey I want to read in order (while I await her newest Indian epic), and the newest historical fiction title by Erika Robuck, The House of Hawthorne.
Share the best books and reviews you read this past year so we will all have Happy Reading in 2015!
PS: Don’t forget to savor the advertisements in these magazines and supplements as well as the Best Seller Lists. They will all provide ideas for choosing your next best read.