As we near the end of the year, we see Favorites of 2016 lists everywhere and we didn’t want to finish the year without a look back at what we loved. Here is our 8th Day of Christmas and we hope you find a new book or two from your PPB Readers’ favorites from the past 12 months.
On Living by Kerry Egan
What does a hospice chaplain do? In her touching and inspiring new book, On Living, Kerry Egan shares incredible stories of people she has listened to and comforted as they confronted their own deaths. This book reminds us all of the larger story or our lives: to dance more while you still can! Absolutely loved this book!
The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama
Who knew the Dalai Lama was so wise? Wow. I underlined half the book. He and Desmond Tutu share important truths, and both are so full of joy. There's much to glean from these pages!
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
This is a great story! Such a fun read. The characters are unique and memorable, the descriptions scrumptious, and a book that will stay with you long after you close the book.
The Girls by Emma Cline
Awesome book. Fascinating and thought-provoking story about a girl who becomes friends with some girls who are part of a cult. The novel reminds us all of our own adolescent insecurities and vulnerabilities in our journeys to understand ourselves and the world around us. This book is definitely one you will want to talk about.
Sing for your Life by Daniel Bergner
Fantastic biography. At the age of 12, Ryan Speedo Green was placed in solitary confinement in one of Virginia's worst juvenile detention centers. At 24, Ryan won America's most prestigious contest for young opera singers that led to his subsequent career at The Met. Today he is starring in LaBoheme there. Such an inspiring story of how he did it and the people who helped him.
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Look, I had everyone in my family read this book. Must read for everyone about the power of passion and perseverance and how anyone can become grittier.
When Dr. Paul Kalanithi is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at the age of 36, it appears that all he has worked for in becoming a neurosurgeon is about to evaporate into thin air. He distills his experiences in When Breath Becomes Air through prose that affirms the profound depth of life, even while he wraps his mind around the undeniable approach of death. Beautiful in every way.
Hope Jahren weaves the natural order of nature, trees in particular, to the lessons she has learned from her own life as a female scientist navigating through academia in her amazing memoir, Lab Girl. This book breathes life out of every page in a way I never imagined a scientist could explain it to me. Simply put - SUPER! The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben makes a genuine companion to Lab Girl! This book gives you the nitty gritty of how trees communicate, think, feel, and protect one another. Absolutely amazing information that will change the way you look at our leafy shade givers forever!
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli presents an overview of the science behind the natural world we live in through 81 fascinatingly brief pages of pure enlightenment for anyone with a curiosity about physics! No science background required!
Homegoing by Yaa Glass
This novel traces the path of two sisters, (unknown to each other) in Ghana and America over a 300 year span. It is a tale of slavery, sadness, power and redemption.
Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
Donal Cameron is living in Montana 1951 with his grandma until she has medical issues. The precocious Donal is sent alone on a bus to Wisconsin. An adventure, coming of age story and the bonds of family.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
A thought -provoking tale of four college buddies through the years. One in particular is Jude, a survivor, loyal friend and deeply troubled soul.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, this is a suspenseful novel of a double agent from Vietnam. After the fall of Saigon, he travels to L.A. to build a new life. A brutal tale of espionage, love, betrayal and friendship.
In Bookland, it’s actually pretty rare that a book is perfect for readers of any age and gender but I am wild for three of them this year. My book of the year is Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, a 32-year-old Yale Law grad, born and raised in Kentucky and Ohio. In telling his life story, he brings a fresh outlook and rare understanding of the culture and families in the Rust Belt, which was the area that so impacted our recent presidential election. Read it, read it, read it!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and News of the World by Paulette Jiles are books of historical fiction with charming and event delightful male protagonists. The dashing gentleman of Gentleman handles decades of house arrest in the magnificent Hotel Metropol, beginning during the Bolshevik Revolution. In News, a 70-year-old undertakes to return a 10-year-old to her family after Indians kidnapped her four years prior, even those she does not want to go. Set in the 1870’s Texas, this magnificently written, slender novel is my fiction book of the year.
The Guineveres by Sarah Domet tells the story of four girls named Guinevere, all abandoned by their parents during wartime at a convent-run orphanage. The bonds of friendship, the desire to be adults and how our childhood impacts us – great book club read.
Last Days of Night by Graham Moore is a historical fiction that both men and women will enjoy. Follow the true story of the fight for the rights to the light bulb, featuring many names we recognized – Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, Morgan. I found it fascinating.
The Queen of the Night by Alexandre Chee focuses on the most sought after opera singer of Europe at the turn of the century. She is approached with an opera written just for her but quickly recognizes that it is the story of her highly guarded past and the reader then follows her on the hunt to see who has sold her story. Rich, deep and well worth the length.
Today will be Different by Maria Semple is a gem. As a huge fan of Where’d You Go Bernadette, I eagerly awaited this book and was not disappointed. Follow the protagonist throughout one day of her life where she vows that “today will be different.” Delightful.
Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is my mystery of the year. Agatha Christie fans will love this book that features a luxury yacht that loses power on the water, the sounds of a murder but no body, and suspicious characters abound.