Tag Archives: favorite books

Favorite books of 2016: a top 10 list

Can you judge a book by its cover? In my case, yes! Many of these books that “sparked joy” for me in 2016 have wonderful covers and titles that drew me in – and delivered!


*Light between oceans : a novel / by M.L. Stedman. This author’s first novel, set on an island and coastal community in Western light-between-oceansAustralia, is so well written, with great characters and an interesting setting. I’m eager to see the movie!


*The little Paris bookshop : a novel / by Nina George. This is totally my kind of book – a pilgrimage of sorts for the characters in the book, with delicious descriptions of Paris and the French countryside. And a happy ending!litte-paris-bookshop



*Pastrix: the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner and saint / by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  Nadia’s photo on the front, showing her tattoos, would hardly make you believe she was a Lutheran minister – I loved her story, a wonderful mix of sacred and profane.pastrix


*Mary Coin: a novel / by Marisa Silver. This novel, based on the famous photograph of a migrant mother taken by Dorothy Lange during the Depression, is elegant and beautifully written. And it will make you run to your computer to find out more about the real people and story (which to me is always the sign of a good book).mary-coin


*The ditchdigger’s daughters: a black family’s astonishing success story / by Yvonne Thornton. This is a wonderful story about an amazing family – the six daughters of Donald Thornton, who had dreams for his daughters to be the best they can be, including being a part of a music group, and going to college. Yvonne, the author, became an obstetrician, ditchdiggers-daughtersbeating many odds. This book is entertaining and inspirational.

*Coming home / by Rosamunde Pilcher. This classic was published over 20 years ago, but I reread it this past year and truly loved it all over again. Taking place in 1940s Cornwall, it follows the story of Judith, and the Carey-Lewis family who absorb her into their family. The very British details make for a perfect book to read with a cup of tea next to you.coming-home

*The Kashmir Shawl / Rosie Thomas. I read this book on our train ride to and from Washington D.C. I was enthralled with the setting of this book, as I’ve always wanted to go to kashmir-shawlKashmir, as well as the story and characters.


*Hotel on the corner of Bitter and Sweet : a novel /  by Jamie Ford. Mostly taking place in Seattle, this story of a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl, alternating during World War II and present times, is entertaining while telling a story of a period of time in history that will hopefully never be repeated, of hotel-on-the-corner-of-bitter-and-sweetputting American citizens into internment camps, just because of their ethnic background.


*Me before you / by JoJo Moyes. Initially I dismissed this book as “chick-lit” but I have to admit I really loved this book – so much that I would wake up in the middle of the night me-before-youthinking of the characters. While the characters didn’t do what I wanted them to do, I forgave them, and understood why they did what they did. The dialogue and interior lives portrayed in this book are excellent (and full of humor, despite the serious subject).


*Without a map: a memoir / by Meredith Hall. I remember when this book, by a Maine author, came out and received good reviews, so when I saw it at the Long Island Community Library book sale, I grabbed it. This is one of the best-written books I’ve read in a long time – I had a hard time putting it down. Meredith becomes pregnant at 16 during a time in that her family land hometown in New Hampshire shunned her – how far we’ve come, and how fortunate we are that Meredith wrote this book.without-a-map



Happy New Year from the Long Island Community Library – may 2017 bring you many wonderful books!

Favorite books of 2015: a top 10 list

Amidst all the wonderful books I read last year, here are some of my favorites (in somewhat chronological order)


A fine romance: falling in love with the English countrysidefine romance

By Susan Branch

Lent to me by my friend, coworker, and kindred spirit, Melissa, reading this book was a great way to start the New Year. This wonderfully illustrated and told story of Susan Branch’s love affair with not only the English countryside but also her husband who she met in her home town on Martha’s Vineyard.

The good braider : a novel

By Terry Farishgood braider

I read this young adult novel for the Maine Historical Society book group about “Home.” This book, written in free verse, tells the story of a young refugee woman from Sudan who is adjusting to life in Portland, Maine. A must read for anyone who lives or works in Portland, to appreciate what some of our fellow Portlanders have gone through to call our fair city home.


Under the wide and starry sky: a novel

By Nancy Horanunder the wide and starry sky

This lyrical story, mentioned several times in previous blogs in 2015, about Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny educated me about this author of “Treasure Island” and “Kidnapped” in an entertaining way. “Louis” and Fanny travel the world in search of good health (and fodder for stories) for Louis before his early death at the age of 44 in the Samoan Islands.


To bless the space between us: a book of invocations and blessings

By John O’Donohueto bless the space between us

I really loved this man’s poetry – so much that I shared “For a new father” with a coworker who had his first child last spring, and “For a new position” with friends who started a new job. Other favorites are for a new home, for the traveler, for marriage, and for work.


Hawaii: a novel

By James MichenerHawaii book

This book, which I bought for myself on my birthday at an antique store, took up several months of my summer, in anticipation of a cruise to Hawaii that Michael and I took with my mom. While quite a tome it kept my interest and was great historical background for our trip. It was a wonderful book for reading on Long Island’s beaches, as well as on the cruise ship with my mother, while enjoying our afternoon tea.


Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking

By Susan Cainquiet

Lent to me by a fellow introvert, this book was encouraging for those of us who fall into that spectrum.


For all of us, one today

By Richard Blancofor all of us

I recommended this for my book group without reading any of Richard Blanco’s work, and promptly fell in love with his words – while he is a poet his prose was just as joyous. This book, about his journey as the inaugural poet for President Obama’s second term, inspired me to read some of his poetry books.


Broken for you

By Stephanie Kallosbroken for you

Another book group selection, I really loved this book. The book is full of quirky characters – my fellow book group participants thought it too unreal, but I said, “oh no, this is just like living on an island where quirky characters abound!” I loved the setting (Seattle), the characters, and the story. I was sad when it ended.


From holidays to holy days: a Benedictine walk through Advent

By Alfred Holtzfrom holidays to holy days

This was my Advent reading, which was a wonderful way to ease into the Christmas season. Written by a Benedictine monk in New Jersey and his observations of the street scenes in the light of the Benedictine philosophy and way of life, I was uplifted and inspired.


A week in winter: a novel

By Marcia Willetteweek in winter

Finally, another wonderful author introduced to me by Melissa (see the first book in this list) – Marcia Willette, a British writer who sets many her novels in Cornwall. I loved this book with the setting and great ending (although a bittersweet love story amidst, which is where the title came from). Fortunately Marcia Willette has written many books so I’m eager to enjoy her books for years to come.


What were some of your favorite books in 2015?

Favorite books of 2013: a top 10 list

BooksHappy last day of the year! Most people reflect on their year, and while I do too, I also like to review the books I’ve read. It’s hard to decide on my favorites, but here are a few that I particularly enjoyed:

Gone with the wind / by Margaret Mitchell.

Several years ago I picked up a copy of “Scarlett” a sequel written Alexandra Ripley over 50 years after the classic by Margaret Mitchell. Before I could read the sequel, however, I decided that I really needed to read “Gone with the wind.” Given the length I knew I would want to own a copy, instead of renewing it from a library over and over again. I found a copy at a used book shop in Rockland on my birthday, and this fall I plunged in. Despite the length (over 800 pages), it was a really good read, with humor and passion. I always think that one can learn a bit of history from reading fiction, and this is a good case in point, if you want the perspective of the South after losing the Civil War, and how it affected the people, no matter who you were before the war. In this anniversary year of the Civil War, with all sorts of events going on, this is my kind of Civil War reading.

Good poems / selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor.

I’m not usually a serious poetry reader, but I have enjoyed a variety of poetry books this past year, such as ones I’ve written about in this blog. This is a wonderful anthology of poems – I read one every night. First I read through the poem, then I read the biographical note about the poet, and then re-read the poem. Great stuff.

Pub theology: beer, conversation, and God / by Bryan Berghoef.

Pubs and coffee shops are an excellent place for folks to gather to talk about God and religion in a less intimidating and casual atmosphere. I liked this book so much that I e-mailed the author afterwards and received a very nice note from him. Bryan and his wife, also an author, lead a faith community in Washington D.C.

White dog fell from the sky / by Eleanor Lincoln Morse.

Morse, a Peaks Island author, has written novels that take place in various places such as Poland, Vinalhaven, and now Botswana. The characters, including a white dog, are unforgettable, and the writing mesmerizing.

Daphne du Maurier at home / by Hilary Macaskill.

My friend Jane, in England, is a du Maurier scholar and gave us a wonderful tour of Cornwall’s du Maurier sites several years ago (see earlier blog), and continues to update my Daphne du Maurier library, including this latest addition. Great escapism into Daphne’s world, including gorgeous Fowey, Cornwall.

Language of flowers: a novel / by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

The setting (San Francisco Bay Area), the characters (including flower sellers and foster care parents), the story (including young love and finding home), and mostly the writing really drew me into this novel.

Celtic prayers from Iona / by J. Philip Newell.

This slim volume contains beautiful prayers and liturgy from the Iona Abbey on the island of Iona in Scotland, a pilgrimage site. I read some of these prayers at night before I go to bed, to put me in a higher plane and erase the cares of the world away.

People of the book : a novel / by Geraldine Brooks.

Geraldine Brooks is turning into one of my favorite authors. I loved Caleb’s Crossing, and this is another lyrical book, written about a Haggadah throughout the ages, up to modern day Australian conservator, Hanna’s voice, as she restores this mysterious codex.

The dog who wouldn’t be / by Farley Mowat.

Farley Mowat is one of our most loved authors – we have many of his books. This very funny story is about Farley’s childhood in Canada, and the family’s pet dog, Mutt, the hero of this story.

Help, Thanks, Wow : the three essential prayers / by Anne Lamott.

Another writer I am drawn to, Anne Lamott, writes of religious topics on a human scale. This one is a short and accessible book about the three prayers that help us get through this messy world of ours.

What have been some of your favorite books this past year? We’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, Happy New Year to everyone, especially those fans of the Long Island Community Library!