It is the time of year when we are awash in “Best of” lists, and many worthy publications have put forth their recommendations for the best books of the year that is about to pass us by. A friend of mine professed herself overwhelmed by the lists, and asked me if I would curate them for her. Here, for Julie and for the rest of you, is my “best of the best,” a list of books I think you should find a time and a place for in your busy schedule.
Jayne Anne Phillips
I'll admit that up until a couple of weeks ago, I had fallen out of the habit of reading for pure enjoyment. Being in school and having one to two books to read a week for classes has made it difficult for me to find the energy in my spare time to sit down and pick up yet another book, even though prior to college, it was rare for me to not be reading a book on my own time. Over the past couple of years, my just-for-me reading had been reduced to a few books read over summer vacations, and it has been an issue weighing upon my mind that I have intended to fix for a while, but I have struggled to find the motivation.
If you're doing what many Americans do this month, you're spending at least some of your time sitting on the beach reading a book. The "beach read" is an essential element of vacation planning, and we publishers work hard to get our books in those suitcases or on those not-quite-sand-proof ereaders. I suppose the quintessential beach read is a "trashy" novel, but for many it's just a good work of fiction, a compelling non-fiction read, or perhaps a trip back to the classics. Middlemarch, anyone?
Oh, my feet, my poor, poor feet… (Extra points to anyone who knows that’s a lyric from the 1956 musical “The Most Happy Fella”!). Which is to say, another busy day travelling around the gigantic Javits Center!One of the highlights on Thursday was the Fourth Annual BookExpo American Librarians Lunch. A room packed with, I’d estimate, about 400 to 500 people was treated to the appearance of five authors with forthcoming books, some known names, some debut authors. Lee Smith, Koethi Zan, Jayne Anne Phillips, Bill Bryson and Louise Penny spoke about what inspired their new works, did short readings, and took questions from the passionate (mostly female) community of librarians.