2016 was a slow year for me as a writer. Because I couldn’t cope with the writing side of life, I read. A lot!
I read a total of 119 books. As usual, I read a number of writing books as well as memoirs, the genre I am writing now. The balance was filled with historical fiction and a mix of contemporary fiction, YA, mystery, and romance.
My absolute favorites out of the 119 books read are, in particular order, the following:
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
by Atul Gawande
Being Mortal was selected by a book group I take part in often. While preparing this post, I realized I never reviewed the book here or anywhere else. That will be rectified soon.
Atul Gawande writes eloquently about how medicine can improve not only life but also the end of life. Dr. Gawande interviewed several terminally ill patients and their family members about end of life issues, and he makes a good argument for changes in our current medical system.
Sarah McCoy is an excellent purveyor of historical facts in her fiction writing. In The Mapmaker’s Children, McCoy fascinated me with her detail and accuracy in telling the story of abolitionist John Brown’s daughter, Sarah, and her artistic talents put to use for the Underground Railroad.
Based on the life of New York socialite, Caroline Ferriday, Martha Hall Kelly’s début novel grabs the reader at the first page. The author never lets go! Although some details are hard to read, the knowledge gained in Kelly’s novel is an eye opener for many.
Paul Kalanithi’s memoir is gripping, heartbreaking, and filled with love. While finishing his medical residency, Kalanithi is diagnosed with cancer. In When Breath Becomes Air, Kalanithi shares the frustrations as a doctor trying to deal with what he treats others for every day. A moving story filled with humanity.
The first Miranda Beverly-Whittemore novel I read was Bittersweet, and then I read June. Thank Goodness they were read in different years so I could claim each as an annual favorite. Beverly-Whittemore’s writing is enchanting, mysterious, and rich. Since reading June, I set out on a quest to find some of the author’s first works to get an overall picture of her growth as a writer. It doesn’t matter when she wrote something; they are all great!
The first paragraph from my review says it all:
The list of adjectives descriptive of Kelli Stuart’s debut novel, Like a River from Its Course, is lengthy. Really lengthy: grim, heartbreaking, intense, gripping, raw, brutal, evocative, and many more. Too many to list here.
Kelli Stuart is another of those talented young women who takes into a part of history most of us like never knew about–the history of Ukraine during World War II. Another eye-opening book.
In writing Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult presented the literary world with a game changer. Picoult tackles a racially driven criminal case involving a couple involved with white supremacists and an African-American nurse at a local hospital. The tension, drama, hatred, and racism literally pulse on the page.
I haven’t come across too many Alice Hoffman books I don’t like. The Marriage of Opposites sits at the top of the list of what I’ve read so far. Hoffman is a talented and lyrical writer, and in this novel she has written a story rich in texture and culture. This is a family saga centered around the mother of artist Camille Pissarro. If you haven’t read Hoffman, you should.
Gayle Forman writes the story that could be about any one of us. Fed up with work, burned out at home, and a heart attack you didn’t know you had. This is the story of Maribeth Klein who decides to leave home to heal. And in the course of events, we all learn about facing our fears. Alternately, funny and sad, this is a good look at modern-day motherhood and its hills and valleys.
Once I reached this point, it was becoming harder and harder to make the next choice. Therefore, I decided to end on an odd number.
A word of thanks to the publishers and authors who asked me to review their books, to the publicists, and to the blog tour organizers. Most of all, my thanks to those of you who follow my reviews and keep Puddletown Reviews alive and well.
A side note: Up until now Puddletown has been a hanger-on at my Twitter account (@sherrey_meyer). As of January 1, 2017, Puddletown has its own spot on the Twitter site, @PtownReviews. Visit me there or here at the blog.