I share 5 fantastic favorite books of 2019
As a year comes to its close, I always like to look back and review my favorite books from the past year. For me, that’s a combination of audiobooks and books. I also enjoy hearing about what books my family, friends, coworkers, and library users discovered over the course of the year. If that kind of discussion sounds fun to you too, join us for Best Books of 2019 at the Williamsburg Branch on Tuesday, January 7, at 6:30 p.m. We’ll all chat about our favorite books from 2019 and go home with a list of ideas for our 2020 reading.
I read and enjoyed these authors for the first time this past year.
Late in 2018, I kept hearing about Martha Wells’ series of four novellas, The Murderbot Diaries. As soon as I read the first story early in 2019, I plowed through them all. Action-packed, suspenseful and snarky, the series is a fun, quick read. From Novelist: Our flawed, snarky, but likable hero is an AI developed to serve and protect, who has freed itself from control. Now it just has to figure out what to do with itself. Its journey to personhood involves complications by action-packed intergalactic conspiracies and growing human connections (ugh!). It wants to watch TV – alone. You’ll definitely want to read the books in order: All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy. I’m looking forward to the first full-length entry in the series, Network Effect, scheduled to be released in May 2020.
In the case of Becky Chambers, her book titles sucked me in. Her Wayfarers trilogy includes: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A Closed and Common Orbit and Record of a Spaceborn Few. From Novelist: This is a joyous, imaginative space opera series set in the Galactic Commons, a sprawling interstellar confederation made up of many alien species. While the stories feature engaging plots, they are character-driven, starring likable and well-developed humans and non-humans. The novels delve into big questions like the nature of human and alien, and how diversity can make for strength. Star Trek fans are likely to enjoy Chambers’ positive, adventurous spin on the future. For a small taste of Chambers’ work, try her 2019 standalone novella, To Be Taught, If Fortunate, about a group of astronaut explorers conducting ecological surveys on four habitable planets.
I’m late to the game, because I only read Diane Setterfield for the first time this year. Her earlier books, particularly 2006’s The Thirteenth Tale, were widely-read, book club favorites. Setterfield’s newest is Once Upon a River. Set in the late 19th century, it’s a sprawling, atmospheric story with a large cast of characters. The publisher’s description: One midwinter night a stranger stumbles into the Swan Inn, near death from unexplained injuries. But he’s less astonishing than the bundle in his arms, a drowned little girl. Local nurse Rita tends to the stranger and confirms to the assembled people that the child is already gone. But when the child wakes up only a few hours later, the inn’s patrons start talking about the miracle child who died and then lived. As the story spreads from house to house, claims are made for the child. The parson’s housekeeper believes it’s her sister; the young and wealthy couple cry that it’s their kidnapped daughter, and a scoundrel says she’s the daughter his wife took away from him. What is the truth? Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.
It’s not often that a book receives three starred reviews in the professional review journals, but that’s the case with Diane Les Becquets adult fiction debut, Breaking Wild. From Novelist: Searching for a mysterious mother of two who has gone missing during an outdoors adventure in a remote area, ranger Pru Hathaway makes unexpected discoveries about the woman, who she believes is still alive in spite of dangerous weather conditions. In chapters that rotate between the perspectives of the ranger and the missing woman, Les Becquets delivers a compelling survival story with a strong sense of space. The author’s most recent release, The Last Woman in the Forest, is at home on my to-be-read pile.
As suggested by my previous recommendation, I’m a sucker for mysteries set in the great outdoors. Recently, I’ve been enjoying listening to Christine Carbo’s Glacier Mysteries series: The Wild Inside, Mortal Fall, The Weight of Night and A Sharp Solitude. The series kicks off with an investigation involving a victim tied to a tree and mauled by a grizzly bear. The main character in these mysteries is Glacier National Park, with different investigators featuring prominently in different installments. This series is a good fit for fans of Paul Doiron and Nevada Barr.
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