We all love to do a favorites list. Here’s mine. Many good books are not on this list. I didn’t read them. I wish I had read more books. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures. So from the 40-50 books I did read this year, here are my picks for the best reads, listed in no particular order.
Shotgun Lovesongs: A Novel by Nickolas Butler. This book might be described as realistic fiction set in the Midwest. The story is narrated by a male character who tells about himself and his friends navigating early adult life.
The Secret Place by Tana French. Fiction/mystery. The Dublin murder squad investigates a death at a local girls’ school. Readers see the mystery unfold from two viewpoints: the young detective and the adolescent girls involved in the incidents.
Sous Chef by Michael Gibney. This book is nonfiction, memoir. It takes the reader inside a restaurant kitchen. Perhaps the most riveting book on the list.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Memoir. A young woman recounts her hike over the thousand-mile Pacific Coast Trail while negotiating not only the hike, but also the hairpin curves life has thrown her way.
Lila by Marilyn Robinson. Fiction. Readers return to the Iowa town of Gilead and learn more about the minister’s unlikely wife and her earlier life. It is a thought-provoking book with much wisdom.
Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen. Fiction. Probably the most charming story I read this year.
Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business by Christopher Leonard. Non-fiction. This book presents the magazine-expose type story of the industrial system that brings meat to the people of our country.
Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe. Non-fiction. A compelling story of women in combat and the tremendous sacrifices they make in the service of our country.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This critically acclaimed historical fiction tells an unusual story giving readers new knowledge about World War II.
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikrey by Gabrielle Zevin. Fiction set in a bookstore. It vies with Still Life for the charming book of the year award.
The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot. This is a very enjoyable piece of historical fiction. It addresses the age-old question. Who is our neighbor?
The New Midwestern Table by Amy Theilen An interesting and readable cookbook with so much information about food. There’s never been a cookbook like it, or so it seems to me.
A Place in Time by Wendell Berry. A collection of short fiction. More stories about the people in the fictional community of Port William, Kentucky.
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny. This mystery/thriller combines beauty and enjoyment. The story takes readers to the countryside outside of Montreal.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz. This gripping story written for young readers is special in any genre.
Why did some books make this list and not others? I judge all the books on this list to be well written. I admit to being influenced by critics and other opinions. I found these books interesting and enjoyable, a personal choice. These are also books I feel others would enjoy if inclined to the topic or genre of the book. Each book delivers something important. Probably, personal enjoyment weighs most heavily in adding a title to the list.
Many of these books have been reviewed in this blog. Type the title in the search box if you wish to find the review. The review for Esperanza Rising was posted on the Reading page and is not longer available. The review for Still Life With Breadcrumbs is on the Writing page.