Whatever else you have to say about 2018, there certainly were a lot of good things to read. And 2019 offers even more provocative selections for your To Be Read pile. See the list below of the books I’m most excited about for this year; I know you’ll be excited about them too.
This 2002 National Book Award-winning novel brings us into the lives of Paul, Fenno, and Fern over the course of three different summers. Their lives are woven together in different ways, but the story isn’t necessarily about their relationships with one another, but about each of their struggles to come to terms with the deaths of loved ones. A slow-mover, for me, but a nonetheless fascinating look at families, love, and how death and the things learned in the aftermath can define the lives of those left behind. Read More.
In Commonwealth, Ann Patchett brilliantly weaves together flawed families who fail one another over the decades but keep trying and trusting in spite of the failures. Where you would expect villains, she instead presents complicated characters struggling with their own hopes, inadequacies, and feelings about the past and how to move forward. Where you would expect broken, bitter relationships, she shows the enduring power of loyalty, love, and forgiveness. This is not an action-packed novel, but one where the subtle emotional tensions will resonate. Highly recommended, along with all of her other books. Read More.
If I’d read it in time, Beartown would have made my best of 2017 list. But it was worth the wait and was the perfect wintery read. In the declining Swedish town of Beartown, hockey is the one bright spot. The talented junior team–and one player in particular–have the potential to win it all and revitalize the town. But a brutal event at an after-game party could be the downfall of the team, the players, and the future of the town itself. As the residents grapple with their loyalties and their own morality, each one is forced to answer for themselves how much they are willing to sacrifice for the love of a town and game. Backman veers away from the quirkiness that readers loved about A Man Called Ove, and instead brings sharp observations about small town relationships, family, and the saving grace of team and sport. I’ll repeat many other readers on this point: you don’t have to love or know hockey to love this book. Read More.