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Books We Like

Published 4/8/2016 by Lara Luck

Books We Like

April is a time so many people clear out the clutter and start fresh. So my goal for this month’s column is to get you to give something new a try at the Library. If you like to read nonfiction, try fiction or vice versa. Or maybe give a different type of fiction a try. Quite a few novels out there offer reading that appeals to lovers of all sorts of genres, so if you like mystery try romantic suspense or a fantasy novel that is also a mystery, something outside or on the edge of your comfort zone. Trying something new can be your spring reading resolution, so here are a few book suggestions to get you started.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is a sweeping science fiction epic that covers a five thousand year span starting in the near future. The Moon suddenly breaks apart into seven pieces. Nobody is sure why, but it doesn’t seem to be a major concern at first. But then the pieces continue to collide and break into smaller and smaller fragments that will blanket the Earth’s atmosphere causing a global catastrophe.

The race is on to save the human race by sending them into orbital stations, arks, that can keep our species alive until the Earth is habitable again. But what starts as a global effort soon starts to disintegrate into a nightmare and the survival of the human race literally comes down to seven women, “Seven Eves,” who become the mothers of their own race of genetically engineered people. Who will survive to reclaim the Earth? Mix together a little bit dystopian fiction, a lot of human drama, a smidge of romance, some political intrigue, and nearly wipe out the human race, and you’ve got a book that will capture and keep anyone’s attention.

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson is one of my two non-fiction picks for the year. This book is brilliantly written and will appeal to anyone who has an ounce of curiosity about human history. From the title I thought this was going to be about things like phones, computers, plastic, etc., but no! Johnson takes ordinary things that we take for granted like glass, air conditioning, standardized time and pendulum clocks, cleaning and more, and shows how they shaped human history. He cleverly traces these cause and effect connections, drawing the reader into the intriguing world of “how we got to now.”

I picked up The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard because of some of the reviews I read and awards it has won, and believe me I was not disappointed. Aron is a young boy in the Warsaw ghetto who survives only by his wits and ability to lie and steal. He loses his family, but fortunately is rescued by a Jewish doctor who runs the Warsaw orphanage.

Dr. Korczak is somewhat protected by the fact that he was world famous for his advocacy of children’s rights before the war. He uses this recognition to protect the children in his charge, but, with the ghetto being liquidated, can he save Aron and the rest of the orphans? Based on facts about the real Dr. Korczak and the Warsaw orphanage, this fictional account is a great companion piece to Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.

Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson is my other favorite nonfiction read this year. How do you take one of the grimmest chapters of World War II and turn it into a masterpiece? When the Germans surrounded the city of Leningrad, the occupants were cut off for over 2 ½ years, one of the longest sieges in history. Bombings and starvation took hundreds of thousands of lives. Dmitri Shostakovich, a Russian composer living there, wrote his Leningrad Symphony during this time. The Leningrad Symphony was played by the remnants of the orchestra during one of the pushes to take the city. Germans and Russians alike later credited this stirring piece of music for the failure of the Germans to take the city that day. Anderson’s account of this experience is both grim and stirring, and is a great way to learn about Russia during the war.

My final suggestion is something lighter that I read some years ago. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones, the first in a paranormal romantic suspense series, is witty, wild, and a bit naughty. Charley Davidson sees dead people. That’s right dead people. But not in the “arghhh, a ghost” sort of way; more in the “I’m here to guide you to the light” sort of way because Charley is a grim reaper. Okay, more like “The Grim Reaper,” here to help the dead resolve their issues and move on. Helping the dead is not as easy as it seems, even for a private investigator with a supernatural talent. Part romance, part mystery, part paranormal fantasy, but all of it pure fun.

There is a reason why series like Game of Thrones and Outlander do so well and have had such wide appeal. These books offer a bit of everything to their readers. Their far-reaching scope brings in lovers of all book genres. So my suggestion for April is to try out something new and different because you might find something that opens up a whole new world of books for you.