Whoosh! That’s the sound of 2010 racing past. With 2011 nearly here, let’s take some time to remember our favorite books of the past year. Follow us this week as our Blogging Librarians once again give us their personal Best Book and why. These books weren’t necessarily written in 2010, just read this year. You’re sure to find some great titles to add to your list!
Lynn gets things started with her favorite : “The last (sadly) book in the Izzy Spellman series is The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz. All the members of the Spellman family are eccentric, and uniquely eccentric. They pursue their own ends aggressively and obsessively but ultimately act in the best interests of the family and the family-owned private investigation business. It’s one of those books that is truly hard to put down once you start.” Read Lynn’s full description here.
Tana‘s pick is one of the biggest books of 2010 : “My favorite book for the year was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. (Ann blogged about this book here) I thought the author did an excellent job of evoking time and place, ie, Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960′s. I think I also enjoyed it from a personal perspective. Since I still have aunts who live in the South, I have memories of visiting them when they all had “help” of their own.”
It’s not very often that a new genre comes down the pike for arts and literature. You may have heard the term “steampunk” bandied about but didn’t investigate. It’s kind of like Goth only without the sad faces, black (the only color fit to adorn a tormented soul) and boo-hoo defeatist music.
Also in a Victorian setting, what sets steampunk off is an emphasis on advanced modern technologies utilizing non-transistor and vacuum tube methods. Think Phinneas Fogg cross-pollinated with Q from James Bond. Like a more elegant cast of the short lived television series Wild Wild West sans stagecoaches.
Steampunk has proven quite popular melding with Internet culture as evidenced by this sweet modded computer at left.
Here are what Library Journal considers the top ten steampunk novels.
This Sophie Kinsella novel is much better than the Shopoholic series, IMHO. Samantha Sweeting is an ambitious lawyer in a cutthroat London law firm. One day she makes an incredibly costly mistake and starts wandering the city and, eventually, the countryside blindly. She ends up outside an English manor house where, it happens, they need a housekeeper.
Samantha, hilariously, pretends to be an expert cook, laundress and housecleaner when she is really completely clueless, or, as the title says “undomestic.” Her attempts to bluff her way through the most basic of tasks are described with typical English deadpan absurdity. The unusual couple that she works for and the gardener who turns out to be her accomplice round out an appealing cast of characters.
Undomestic Goddess has it all – humor, romance, plot, and a satisfying resolution. Put your feet up and take a break from all that housework.
The 2010 All Iowa Reads book was announced at the annual Iowa Library Association conference at the end of October. Praised as a “quiet masterpiece,” Driftless is the newest novel by David Rhodes.
Rhodes has an interesting back story, so to speak. He was a rising young writer at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, and had several books published in the 1970′s.
A motorcycle crash in 1977, which partially paralyzed Rhodes, ended his publishing career till Driftless came out this year.
“Driftless shares a rhythm with the farming community it documents, and its reflective pace is well-suited to characters who are far more comfortable with hard work than with words,” according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Watch the Davenport Public Library newsletter for announcements of events and discussions concerning Driftless throughout 2010.
Catcher in the Rye was a pivotal book for me. It was one of the first books that I read that seemed to speak the Truth… about phoniness and superficiality and adult hypocrisy.
As a preteen, I didn’t probe into the actual copyright date; I thought it had just been written about my generation - actually about ME specifically.
Up until that point, I’d mostly read series like Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew, both admirable but neither of whom were very introspective.
I remember sprawling on my bed for an entire Sunday afternoon – not being able to put the book down, yet not wanting to let my new soulmate, Holden Caulfield, out of my life, either.
David Ulin says in the LA Times, “We possess the books we read, animating the waiting stillness of their language, but they possess us also, filling us with thoughts and observations, asking us to make them part of ourselves.”
Here’s an opportunity to give yourself a little pre-Christmas bonus. November is going to be a huge month for fiction. The biggest names are going to hit the shelf with what I assume is what they intend to be everyone’s stocking stuffers.
Nothing says you can’t get your hold in right now on DPL’s copy. Here’s a taste. Hit the forthcoming fiction page for a full look at what’s to come as things start to chill out outside.
Clive Cussler — The Wrecker
John Grisham — Ford County
James Patterson — I, Alex Cross
Sue Grafton — U is for Undertow
Robert Jordan — Gathering Storm
Sandra Brown — Rainwater
Stephen King — Under the Dome
Dean Koontz — Breathless
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn is by far the weirdest book I have ever read. My good friend who read this for his book group described it which immediately appealed to my fondness for the extreme and freaky.
Geek Love is about the Binewski family of sideshow carnival freaks. The parents decided it would be truly special (and lucrative) to produce their own freaks. Lil, the mom ingests different toxic substances (ie. arsenic) during pregnancy to get the best all around results. The first Binewski child came in the form of Arturo the Aqua Boy who was born with flippers instead of limbs. Second and or third in the birth order is/are the Siamese piano playing twins Electra and Iphigenia. Next comes our narrator, Olympia who is a bald albino humpback dwarf. Lastly, is Furtunato aka “Chick” who at first appeares devastatingly normal. Chick eventually exhibits extraordinary telekinetic abilities and is wonderfully good hearted. Need I say more?
Only that the plot and story lines are as weird and compelling as the characters. Oh, and amazingly very well written.
In Chicago, truth is truly stranger than fiction, but the fiction is awfully good, too!
Scott Simon’s Windy City: A Novel of Politics was published in a very timely manner, this last year. The comic novel involves a poisoned mayor and the exploits of the 50 Chicago alderman who want to determine the next mayor. Simon grew up in Chicago and is a long time National Public Radio host.
“I think politics is a local specialty in Chicago, the way that blues and improvisational comedy is a local specialty,” Simon says.
Scott Turow is generally acknowledged as the best legal fiction writer in the business. Presumed Innocent was one of the first really big legal blockbusters and is a classic in the genre. Turow’s Kindle County is a thinly disguised Cook County, As s a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, he’s had first hand knowledge of fraud and corruption. If you want insight into the Chicago way of doing politics check him out.
Sara Paretsky‘s books immerse the reader in the South Side setting. The heroine, V.I. Warshawski, is a whiskey-drinking private eye who grew up among the steel mills.She first appeared in 1982, and was groundbreaking as a tough female p.i., in a male dominated genre.