Monday, December 24, 2012

Best Books of 2012 - Staff Picks, Part I

It probably comes as no surprise that people who work in libraries love to read. While we don't have time to read at work, sadly, we do manage to squeeze reading into our schedules. Our interests cover a wide range - from history to sci-fi, graphic novels to young adult. We've picked out the best books that we've read in 2012 and listed them here. Some are new, some are old, but each are memorable in their own ways. Enjoy!

Mike, Adult Services:
My favorite book this year was a 1948 Penguin paperback edition of W. Somerset Maugham's novel, Cakes and Ale. The flimsy copy I found by chance is inscribed, "Don T. Anderson, August, 1948, London." The story is a roman à clef about English writers at the turn of the century. While I didn't understand all of the allusions, Rosie, a married woman who dates a lot of men, was a very compelling character, and I especially enjoyed the chapters in which the narrator Ashenden returns to his childhood village on the Kentish coast:
It was cold and cheerless in the commercial room where I ate my dinner alone at a large table laid for six.
I was served by the slatternly Katie. I asked if I could have a fire.
"Not in June," she said. "We don't 'ave fires after April."
"I'll pay for it," I protested.
"Not in June. In October, yes, but not in June."
Lisa, Circulation:
I think I will probably have to say (my favorite is) Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Even though it is a work of fiction, the author's experience and research in the field of Alzheimer's disease gave a very believable and valuable perspective. As someone who has a person close to me living with this disease, I really found it valuable to hear an account from the diseased person's point of view. The narrative, while heart-breaking, gave much insight as to how the progression of Alzheimer's disease affects the person, and sheds light on how the person copes with the daily struggles, from minor, to debilitating in the later stages. I chose this book because of its lasting value and relevance.

Sarah, Adult Services:
Lauren Beukes' Zoo City has wormed its way into my imagination. Months after reading it, I'm still thinking about the strange, yet familiar world Ms. Beukes created. The Zoo City of the title is a slum region of Johannesburg, South Africa inhabited primarily by the animalled. The plot is a hard-boiled mystery with twists, betrayals, muti, and a flawed, reluctant detective. (Read Sarah's full review here).




Abbey, Technical Services:
Letters from Berlin : A Story of War, Survival , and the Redeeming Power of Love and Friendship, by Margarete Dos and Kerstin Lieff . When Kerstin Lieff encouraged her mother to speak about the past, she had no idea what an epic story she would uncover. This book provides a fascinating and unsettling glimpse of life in Germany during the Third Reich and World War II, as well as the uncertain times immediately following the war.






Amy, Youth Services:
The best book I read this year was Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It’s definitely not a new book, but it was so good. It’s a time travel, action packed, historical, and steamy love story set during the 1700’s in Scotland. I’ve never read anything like it, and couldn’t wait to read the sequels. I really fell in love with the characters in this story. There are 5 books in this series and they are all about 900 pages each, so you need to read these when you have some time. They are worth it.




Andrew, Adult Services:
Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon. Beautiful, intelligent, and moving, Dillon's graphic novel tells a quiet and honest story of modern life intercut with an intriguing fable of magic and war. Read my longer review here, but even that doesn't manage to spell out all the things that made this book my hands-down favorite of the year.






Becca, Circulation:
I just read The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. It was very good, but I hate cliff hangers and this one ended in a literal cliff hanger. So now I am impatiently awaiting the next book in the Heroes of Olympus series.








Jackie, Circulation:
Mystic City by Theo Lawrence. If Hunger Games and Matched had a baby, it would be Mystic City!









Amy, Adult Services:
G.A. Aiken's Dragon Kin series is a paranormal romance series about - you guessed it - dragons! Dragons who can take on the form of human beings and live in an alternate reality future (or possibly past, hard to tell) where there are all kinds of wars going on and battle hardened generals with really horrible names (like Annwyl the Bloody). There is magic, a lot of bloody battles and really strong female characters. What I loved most about this series is the laugh-out-loud funny dialogue. I'm not kidding, I really did laugh out loud in all of the books. Make sure you read them in order because there are some really crazy character names and somewhat complicated family relationships that won't make much sense if the books are read out of order.

Come back next Monday when we'll have more of our favorite books of 2012! In the meantime, what was your favorite read of 2012? Tell us in the comments below, or on FacebookG+ or Pinterest!

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