Monday, February 23, 2015

looking for a few good books

I was planning on putting together some lists of my favorite art books and art supplies for today's post. I started working on compiling my lists this weekend and then I got distracted looking at online painting tutorials (why did I never think to look for videos on the Internet when I was learning how to paint?). I soon succumbed to the call of the sunshiny living room and snuggled up with a book and my kitty and a mug of tea. After all, isn't that what weekends are for?


But I was having a hard time getting into my book. Maybe I was simply distracted. Or maybe it wasn't the right book for me for the moment. I started thinking about how I go about choosing books. It's a fascinating thing to me. How we choose what to read. As someone who worked for many years in a library and then for a bit in a bookstore, I was constantly witnessing the choosing of books. I was also constantly recommending books. And I was never at a loss for something to read. Looking back, it seems that it didn't always bother me to drag my way through a book that wasn't that great. I don't have the patience for that anymore.

My roundabout point is to ask you for recommendations. What's the best book (or 2 or 3 or 10) that you read in the past year? How do you choose books? What sorts of books do you like?

Me? I like all sorts of books and as long as the story is good and the writing is good I'll overlook genre. (And truth be told, I'm not above reading a good vampire or werewolf story, though I did not like Twilight -- Bella annoyed me to no end). Here are some of the books that I've enjoyed this past year:


I've read far more historical fiction this past year than is usual for me -- it's not my favorite genre -- which I think is due to my scanning the New Fiction shelves at the library... whoever is ordering the books for our branch must enjoy historical fiction.

In any case, I think I need to be a little more deliberate in my choice of books. Dive into Goodreads. Play around on Amazon (I do it for art books, but almost never to help find fiction to read). Get recommendations from friends. So... please, share some of the books you've enjoyed recently in the comments below. Maybe you'll even find your next favorite book in someone else's comment.


17 comments:

  1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell....LOVED! I think the problem I had with the fault in our stars is that I read Eleanor and Park first and by comparison, I felt Hazel and Augustus were boring and I kept comparing them to Eleanor and Park. Although completely different stories, the teen romance aspect is the common theme. It is also a YA book. I don't want to say more, but I really did just love this book. I had heard an interview with the author on NPR and she intrigued me. NPR also has a wonderful website of book recommendations. I have chosen some from this site as well.

    Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty. I am on this facebook group of Peoria-ish area people that post books of what they have read and (in addition to seeing this pop up a couple of times from goodreads friends), this book kept popping up with really good recommendations. It was longer than I realized, like 450 pages, and about 3/4 of the way through I was just ready to be done, but I am really glad I stuck it out and really enjoyed it once finished.

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    1. I love a good YA book so I will have to give Eleanor and Park a read. I always liked the cover (hahaha). Great idea about NPR. I always like hearing their interviews with authors but I rarely go to their site.

      I don't like the idea of being 3/4 of the way through a long book and wishing for it to be done, but I trust your judgement, so maybe I'll have to get Big Little Lies, too.

      Thanks for the recommendations!

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  2. I loved The Forgotten Garden, The Language of Flowers and The Fault in our Stars. Of these three The Language of Flowers was my favorite - I read it two years ago and it has stayed with me.
    My favorites the past year are The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin about Anne Morrow Lindbergh; Left Neglected by Lisa Genova; The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther - I found this in a London bookstore and don't know whether it is available in the US; Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris, a mystery novel set in Saudi Arabia, very fascinating; The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, a story I cannot forget. These were my absolute favorites of 2014.

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    1. I'll have to look for all of those that you've recommended. I haven't read any of them and they look interesting! Thanks so much for the suggestions!!

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    2. I'll second Left Neglected too! I really enjoyed that book. I am curious about Still Alice too, especially after the movie and Oscar winnings.

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    3. With a second vote I put Left Neglected on reserve at the library. A coworker of mine at the library raved about Still Alice when it first came out.

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  3. Last summer I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman and I've been recommending it to everyone I meet. (Also love The Graveyard Book and Stardust, of course)
    Recently, I've been re-reading the Lord of the Rings books as it's the only thing that's keeping my focus which has been so out of whack lately. My husband, who loves SciFi is always trying to get me to read some of the ones he loves and I admit that Arthur C. Clarke's Rendevous with Rama was quite good!

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    1. See, I LOVED The Graveyard Book, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane was a bit of a letdown. I wanted to love it, but I was left wanting more. I haven't read Stardust, so that might be a good one to add to my list.

      I've never made my way through LOTR, maybe I should give them a try again. Also, maybe I should read some of my husband's sci-fi collection. His favorite is the Mars series by Kim Stanley Robinson. I know he has some Arthur C. Clarke, but I don't think he has Rendevous with Rama... might be a fun for us to read together.

      Thanks for the recommendations! (They weren't at all what I was expecting for you to recommend!!).

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  4. I love Susan Branch :-))
    I like all kinds of books. I just read Paris Letters, that was a fun book and an adventure for this young lady that made me say WOW! She travels to Paris and falls in love, but she can not speak French very well. So it is funny how she communicates with the love of her life.

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    1. Ah, a book set in Paris... sounds like fun. Have you read A Year in Province? I really enjoyed that and all of Carol Drinkwater's books about her olive farm.

      Thanks for the recommendation!

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  5. I have not read many books recently - I get too easily distracted. I do like the look of what you have suggested though Anne particularly 'The Language of Flowers'. I will have to look at what the other commenters suggest too! :-)

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    1. I know what you mean about being too distracted to read. Happens to me, too. I go through phases where I can devour books and want to do nothing else and times when I can't sit down and read more than a few pages. Sometimes I think it has less to do with the book than it does with me. Maybe that's the same for you?

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  6. Thumbs up for The Light Between the Oceans, The Language of Flowers, and Susan Branch!

    Some you might like...
    The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
    Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
    The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (all about PLANTS)
    and one of the best...Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

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  7. I LOVED The Forgotten Garden and recently read The Memory Keeper also by Kate Morton which was brilliant! I have The Fault In Our Stars on my "to read" list. But I have a load more to put on my list after seeing all of these great recommendations! :)

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  8. Oops I meant The Secret Keeper NOT The Memory Keeper LOL!

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    1. Glad you're inspired by my discussion! I'm going to have to do this again!

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