This week I thought I would share with you a selection of our favorite books from 2011. While most of the books were not newly published, they were read by staff in 2011 and are among our favorites. The books can all be found in our collection either on the shelves or as downloadable titles on Overdrive. The following are reviewed and recommended by Tiffany.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer : A young boy of eleven suffers from grief at his father’s death in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He is convinced that a piece of paper containing the word “Smith” found with a key in the bottom of a vase in his father’s closet is a puzzle his father left for him to solve. To do so, he personally searches out anyone in New York City with the last name of Smith to see if they know what the key may open. Addition stories are skillfully layered into the main plot, adding interest and intrigue as the story progresses.
This book is a magnificent riddle with poetry scrawled across each and every page. Beautiful charcters, beautiful metaphors, beautiful dialog, beautiful excessive punctuation and lack there of, beautiful photos. Beautiful to the infinite power. I cried when the book ended, but not because it was sad. I cried because it was over. One of the best books I have ever read. Ever. Available in our collection at FIC SAN and on Overdrive in ebook format.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Imaginary Children by Ransom Riggs : This book has it all – mysterious monsters, supernatural happenings, creepy old houses, mist enshrouded bogs, strange children with special powers, time travel and, of course, the fabulous collection of vintage and antique photos. Top that off with a full powered plot that keeps the pages turning and you have yourself a book that will be finished in one sitting. Available in our collection at YA RIG and on Overdrive in audio and ebook format.
“Scribbling Women” : True Tales from Astonishing Livesby Marthe Jocelyn : Scribbling Women by Marthe Jocelyn provides brief yet enlightening biographies of several women whose lives had no real impact on history, but rather history had an impact on their lives. The book was arranged chronologicaly beginning with Sei Shonagon, who lived during the end of the 8th century as a courtesan in Heien Japan, all the way to Doris Pilkington Garimara, a woman who is still living and was a victim of Australia’s attempt to “integrate” any aboginies who were not considered full blood into white society.
The lives in this book are well researched and intriguing, offering the reader a glimpse into the hardships of those who lived through extraordinary times in history. Although the biographies are short and often leave the reader wanting just a little bit more, they present delightful and unique situations that otherwise would remain locked in library archives. Marthe Jocelyn kept the biographies light and airy, despite the rather grim situations endured by many of the women, making this the perfect non-fiction book for people who don’t read non-fiction. Available in our collection at 808.8 JOC.
Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell : In Winter’s Bone, Woodrell possesses a stark, crisp and informed writing style that compliments every part of this hauntingly beautiful story. From his dialogue to his narration, Woodrell paints such a complete and cohesive reality that the reader finds himself moving from the page and into the heart of the poverty and crime stricken Ozarks where family blood is stronger than whiskey and stints in the state penitentary are prepared for the way most high schoolers prepare for college. His characters are so vividly realized that the story becomes not just words on paper, but flesh and bone. Highly recommended. I will be looking to read more of Woodrell’s work. Available in our collection at FIC WOO.
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott : This is the story of a 15 year-old girl who was kidnapped at the age of 9 and forced to live as “Alice” with her captor out of fear that should she run or try to get help, he would murder her and her real family. Alice knows this is not just a threat, as he did the very same thing to the “Alice” that came before her. He saved the newspaper clippings from the event as proof. The novel walks through the emotional, physical and sexual abuse that Alice must endure. She considers herself a “living dead girl” and a “hollow shell” and is desperate to find an escape from her excrutiating circumstance. As she ages, she begins to wonder if she will be killed, and soon finds herself looking for a new, younger Alice intended to take her place at the command of her captor.
This story is gripping, raw, disturbing and deeply moving. The characters have been written to life, and while a lot of the content is emotionally hard to handle, the reader can’t help but continue with the hope that Alice will not only be free, but will choose the morally sound path despite her fears and her desperation. Not for the faint of heart, but highly recommended. Available in our collection on Overdrive in audio format.
A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean : A beautiful story filled to the brim with astounding metaphor the way a river is filled to the brim with words, movement and life.
A few of my favorite quotes:
“One of life’s quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch something beautiful, even if it is only a floating ash.”
“I sat there and forgot and forgot, until what remained was the river that went by and I who watched. On the river the heat mirages danced with each other and then they danced through each other and then they joined hands and danced around each other. Eventually the watcher joined the river, and there was only one of us. I believe it was the river.”
“All there is to thinking,” he said ” is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.”
And the last paragraph, which is perhaps the “more perfect” last paragraph ever written:
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timelss raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
Highly recommended. Available in our collection at FIC MAC, on audio at PA MAC and the movie at DVD RIV.