As usual, I read very few recent books last year. (In fact, one of my favorite reads was the Tao Te Ching, so that shows you how far back I sometimes reach for reading material.) So here, regardless of original release date, are a few more of my favorite reads of the year, along with excerpts from my reviews:
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A sweeping novel set before and during the Nigerian-Biafran war of 1967-1970. “Each of the point-of-view characters, who differ in age, race, gender and class, traces a believable and human arc….Adichie tells a complex and disturbing story with a large, vivid cast, and draws it to an ending that feels true. A remarkable book.”
Breath Eyes Memory by Edwidge Danticat: “This book started out as a quiet little story, and ended up thundering so loud I had to fall to my knees. It has similar extremes of gentleness and brutality, sometimes intermixed in a way that is so, so human.”
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic by Steven Johnson: Perhaps my most timely read. I took it off the ‘to-read’ list because it was the Multnomah County Library’s “Everybody Reads” book — for once, I was a joiner and I liked it! “A fascinating nonfiction book about cholera, Victorian London, epidemiology, scientific breakthroughs, social patterns, and more. As that suggests, this book ranges quite a bit in topic and scope, but the transitions are excellently accomplished, so that the reader’s mind happily follows the author from bacteria to waste removal systems and back again, forging unexpected connections and learning as it goes.”
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America by Timothy Egan: Seeing him speak at Wordstock made me finally heed my family’s call for me to read this book. “Come for the amazing stories of survival and inferno, stay for the perspective on the history of the American West, the Forest Service and conservationism!”
None of the books I read this year bowled me over sufficiently to join my list of all-time favorites, but these were solid, finely crafted books I enjoyed reading. I hope I read even more next year — I have such a stack to enjoy!