Of the many fantastic gifts I have received this year, some of the greatest have to be my wonderful coworkers, whose passion for reading leads to frequent fun book conversations. I love the diversity of tastes here at NVCL – from those who read Zombie mass market paperbacks to those who read high-brow nonfiction tomes. Here are a few of the NVCL staff’s best books they read in 2011:
(Click on the titles to view availability and place holds in our catalogue)
The CD-book version of The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, as read by Graeme Malcolm, (children’s fiction).
“Graeme Malcolm has a voice that makes me want to curl up with a blanket and dream of castles and clouds. This is how you recover from the holidays.” -Cara
Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson, (adult fiction).
“Why, you ask? Because I love Kate Atkinson – she is a very quirky writer and this book is no exception. Meandering plot and wonderful dialog.” -Dee
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements; by Sam Kean, (adult nonfiction).
“Artful , informative transformation and transition of scientific facts through memorable stories. A conversation piece.” -Fereshteh
Chocolate Wars: the 150 Year Rivalry Between the World’s Greatest Chocolate Makers, by Deborah Cadbury, (adult nonfiction).
“This is the story of how one product, chocolate, evolved as a consumable, and the extent to which it influenced the population during the Industrial Revolution. It is also the story of how the Kraft takeover in 2009 unravelled the traditions that had been 170 years in the making.” -Glennys
Jamrach’s Menagerie, by Carol Birch, (adult fiction).
“Why? It’s a historical fiction adventure about a street urchin named Jaffy Brown who is recruited to go on a voyage to catch a real live dragon. It’s a page turner, it’s emotionally resonant and it’s completely memorable. (With apologies to Julie Orringer and The Invisible Bridge, my #2 pick).” -Patricia
Alone in the Classroom, by Elisabeth Hay, (adult fiction).
“Very evocative writing in this story of family secrets, switching between the past in a rural Saskatchewan school room to the present day in Ottawa.” -Phyllis
The True Meaning of Smekday(electronic resource), by Adam Rex, (children’s fiction).
“It’s easy to see (hear?) why this hilarious book won the 2011 Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. Eighth-grader “Tip” Tucci and alien J.Lo (whose language sounds like bleating sheep walking on bubble wrap) go on a wild road trip to find Tip’s mother after the Boov takeover of Earth.” -Randi
The Poem and the Journey: 60 Poems for the Journey of Life, by Ruth Padel, (poetry).
“Provides very accessible directions for reading even ‘inaccessible’ poetry, and by inference tells how to write it as well.” -Sandy
And my best book this year would have to be:
Half-Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan, (adult fiction).
The story of a group of black jazz musicians’ attempted escape from the Nazis in 1940s Paris and Berlin. This book has it all — a mesmerizingly original voice, intriguing setting and plot, and a fantastic underdog publishing story (from the book’s original publisher folding, to Esi’s Giller Prize win). Most importantly, it is one of those books that resonates with you long after you’ve finished the last page.
Happy holidays and New Year, readers! May 2012 be flush with as many great reads as 2011 has been.