“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”
Books are gifts of entertainment, education and inspiration. They provide insight into the lives of others and excite the imagination. My co-workers and I have chosen the following books as some of the best we have read in 2018.
Maggie O’Farrell is a well-traveled Irish author who writes about her 17 brushes with death in her book I am, I am, I am. O’Farrell vividly describes her near-death experiences, captivating the reader with her concise, no-nonsense writing style. At the end of the book, I had a renewed appreciation for the fragility of life.
American Neuroscientist Lisa Genova is one of my favourite authors. This year she published a novel about Richard, a famous pianist diagnosed with ALS. Every Note Played describes how Richard struggles with losing the ability to play his beloved piano. As the disease progresses, Richard must eventually rely on the care of his ex-wife, with whom he has a strained and complicated relationship. Genova’s book gives the reader insight into the life of a man who must learn to cope with a horrific disease that is gradually paralyzing him.
Another of my top picks for this year is The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by British author Phaedra Patrick. Arthur Pepper is 69 and recently widowed. Arthur is struggling with grief and loneliness and he rarely strays from his daily routine. While Arthur is going through his wife’s belongings, he finds a beautiful charm bracelet that he had never seen his wife wear. The mystery of the bracelet opens up a new world of adventure and self-discovery for Arthur. Patrick’s book is charming and humorous and I look forward to reading her new book in 2019 titled The Library of Lost and Found.
Colleen’s favourite books this year are by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. Colleen says, “I loved the quirkiness of A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises. The two part series of Beartown and Us Against You has the brilliant character development of his other books but takes on a very serious story — an act of violence that threatens the life of hockey in a small town. These books were hard to read at times and brought me to tears more than once. I highly recommend these books!”
Forgiveness: A Gift from my Grandparents is a moving memoir by Mark Sakamoto and it is Elspeth’s number one choice of 2018. The book is also this year’s winner of Canada Reads. One of Sakamoto’s grandparents was Japanese Canadian and interned during the Second World War. Another was a prisoner of war in a Japanese-run camp in Hong Kong. This is a story about the resilience of humanity and moving on after deeply horrifying experiences.
Caroline recommends Lidia Bastianich’s memoir entitled My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family and Food. Bastianich is a chef and restaurateur who at 10 years old fled a communist regime. She spent two years in a refugee camp. She eventually made her way to New York City with her family. Bastianich tells the story of how she achieved her American dream. Bastianich’s positive attitude towards life and her love of family and food has played a big part in her success.
The 57 Bus: The True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater is Dana’s pick for 2018. Richard is not thinking when he lights Sasha’s skirt on fire on the 57 bus. The aftermath is devastating for both of them. Dana says, “Slater tells the story with compassion and it is well- researched.”
Kristine’s top choice is Sweep by Jonathan Auxier. Kristine says “This fantastic children’s novel is moving and well-written enough to also appeal to adults. The main character is a resourceful, caring young girl in Victorian England. She encounters just enough magic to make this book a fantasy, but it is also rooted in the tragic inequality between rich and poor that still afflicts our society.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published on Wednesdays. Lori Nick works at the Terry Fox Library in Port Coquitlam.