All the clichés about “a breath of fresh air” apply: this memoir was fresh and unexpected and utterly surprising. I didn’t know that “pastrix” was a word before I sat down to read, but it’s a term used by some Christians to describe female pastors they don’t recognize as such. A wildly irreverent, profanity-filled spiritual memoir, filled with humor, f-bombs, and grace. Not everyone’s cup of tea.More info →
A brilliant, difficult book—easy to read, but the content will make you want to weep for humanity. This meticulously researched, journalistic account of what went down in the aftermath of Katrina reads like a novel and won the Pulitzer to boot. So good and so readable, but so very sad.More info →
I devoured all the Outlander books this fall. I hate picking favorites, but this might just be my most-loved of the eight so far, if only because at page 1 I couldn’t understand how Gabaldon could possibly resume her story where book 2 ended and take it in any direction at all that made me not hate her. It works. I’m impressed.More info →
I enjoyed this book at the time, yet I didn’t expect it to end up on my Best Of lists. But the story and characters have stuck with me for months. Spanning 30 years, told from 4 different viewpoints, this novel swept me into the world of classical ballet—a world I didn’t know I’d been longing to enter. The Times hated it, but nevermind that.
(A warning: check all your preconceptions about good girl ballerinas. There’s lots of language, and so much cocaine.)More info →
Speaking of books that make you cry: Goodwin brings history to life in the (800+!) pages of this historical narrative. The first hundred pages or so are slow-going, but those who hang with it will be rewarded.
I had no idea how much I didn’t know about Lincoln and the Civil War, and I’m grateful for my new deeper, richer appreciation of the near-miraculous Lincoln administration and the unspeakable tragedy of his assassination. I cried like a baby at the end: for the man, for his family, for the South, for our country. “Now he belongs to the ages.”More info →
Claims to fame: this is the “original YA novel,” with one of the best narrators in English literature. We hear the story of this eccentric 1930s English family—struggling to make ends meet in a tumbledown castle—through the eyes of 17-year-old Cassandra—bright, witty, and wise beyond her years. Replete with love, magic, writer’s block, and bear costumes.More info →