December 27, 2019

End-of-year Recommendations 2019

We asked BAPL staff members the question: “What was the best book you read this year?” and got a wonderful range of answers. See their responses below and maybe you’ll find your next great read!

David recommends: IF CATS DISAPPEARED FROM THE WORLD by Genki Kawamura, trans. by Eric Selland. When a young postman is given a grim prognosis by his doctor, and, as he and his faithful cat Cabbage ponder his future, the devil appears, to offer him an extra day of life, provided he agrees to the total elimination of something (telephones, movies, etc.). When, on the third day, the devil proposes the elimination of all cats from the world, the postman is confronted with a painful choice. — This book is about recognizing one’s own mortality, taking responsibility for one’s decisions, and determining what, exactly, it is that gives a life value and meaning. (Sounds heavy…but it’s not! It’s amazingly delightful.)

Valerie recommends: RESERVOIR 13 by Jon McGregor. A beautifully written book that gives new meaning to concepts of time, community, and nature itself.

Julia recommends: NICE DRAGONS FINISH LAST by Rachael Aaron. The first in the Heartstriker. series, this follows Julius, the nicest dragon in a clan full of bloodthirsty and scheming dragons. Julius gets punished by his equally bloodthirsty mother and forced to live as a human in one of the biggest supernatural cities in America! He teams up with a witch who is a very entertaining character, I loved this book and its series due to its urban fantasy elements and of course, dragons, they’re always entertaining to read about. A refreshing narrative about a protagonist not dealing with internal struggle, but rather dealing with people like his mother who refuse to accept his goodhearted nature.

Matthew R recommends: THE PUBLIC LIBRARY: A PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY by Robert Dawson. This recent collection of photographs chronicles American public libraries, big and small, bustling and vacant, from the small town to the big city. Dawson’s vibrant photographs capture just how varied this nation’s libraries are, and just how integral they are to their communities. The photographs are supplanted by an ample serving of library-centric essays from well-known authors such as Barbara Kingsolver and Amy Tan and tibbits and anecdotes about unique public libraries that will fascinate Americana enthusiasts.

Bethany recommends: SLOW: SIMPLE LIVING FOR A FRANTIC WORLD by Brooke McAlary. A terrific guide/reminder to slow down enjoy people and experiences around us without acquiring more stuff! The philosophy of simple living is about finding the freedom to be less perfect and taking time to enjoy the pure joy of life.

Janine recommends VAPOR: poesía selecta/selected poems by Javier Ávila.  Ávila explores themes of identity, family, mortality, faith, love, lust, and professorship within his own life. His poems, written in English and Spanish, captivate the reader in intense and beautiful ways. A truly brilliant collection of poetry!

Kate recommends: EMPTY MANSIONS: THE MYSTERIOUS LIFE OF HUGUETTE CLARK AND THE SPENDING OF A GREAT AMERICAN FORTUNE by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. A page-turning historical biography–and catalogue of fortune–that spans from the Gilded Age to the present, exploring the very unusual life (and death) of one of the last surviving daughters of the age of robber barons, and how tremendous wealth can shape a life.

Brad recommends: ANNIVERSARIES by Uwe Johnson. The daily life of an immigrant single mother and her daughter in NYC in 1967-8 is interspersed with the story of her German family before, during, and after the Nazi catastrophe. An unbelievable feat of writing, newly translated. It’s long, so requires commitment, but very rewarding.

Matt W recommends: THE NEW CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN by John Perkins. Former economic hit man John Perkins shares new details about the ways he and others cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. Then he reveals how the deadly EHM cancer he helped create has spread far more widely and deeply than ever in the US and everywhere else—to become the dominant system of business, government, and society today. Finally, he gives an insider view of what we each can do to change it. Economic hit men are the shock troops of what Perkins calls the corporatocracy, a vast network of corporations, banks, colluding governments, and the rich and powerful people tied to them.

Libby recommends: SLOAN KRAUSE MYSTERIES (SERIES) by Ellie Alexander. These books appeal to the next generation of cozy mystery readers. Sloan Krause, who works in a brewery in a town similar to our cozy Bethlehem, finds herself investigating strange murders during peak season in this quaint Beervaria village.

Sarah recommends: SPACE BOY #1 by Stephen McCranie. Fun, fresh story line and fully absorbing graphics. A quick, engaging read with a satisfying conclusion, yet intriguing questions remain to be answered. Luckily, binge-worthy volumes 2-4 are found in BAPL’s collection!

Stephanie recommends: CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER by Phaedra Patrick – One of the most heartwarming love notes I have stumbled upon! ( And I hate romance books!) A lonely widower discovers his late wife’s charm bracelet that she assembled before her marriage. Who was this woman he loved for 40 years before she was Mrs. Pepper?

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