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A Quick Look Back

January 11, 2018

At the beginning of a new year, I can never resist a look back over the year just past. One of the ways I do that is to review the books I read that year. Was 2017 a good year for BOAN booksbooks for me? Oh, yes! Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad year in that respect.

The first book I read in 2017 was The Image Men by J. B. Priestley. I posted a review of that here (Feb. 13, 2017) so I won’t go into details, but will reiterate how much I enjoyed re-visiting this old friend. Next up was The Question of the Missing Head by E. J. Copperman & Jeff Cohen. Don’t worry, I don’t intend to list every book I read in 2017, but this was an especially good one. The protagonist is a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome and the author handled the subject with a deft wit, creating a mystery that is engaging and puzzling, a character you will admire and respect. This was the first book I’d read by an author I’d been curious about for a while. Recommend.

Moving on: Stories from the Hearts of Harmony, compiled and edited by Cindy Louden,  is a collection of stories by individuals with special needs who participate in musical productions. To say it is inspiring doesn’t begin to cover it. Equally inspiring A Woman of Worthbook is A Woman of Worth, a memoir by Laura Mitchell Keene. Ms. Keene is an African American woman who lived through an ugly period of American history and relates her experience without bitterness, but also without sugarcoating the ugliness. Another book that takes a hard look at racial prejudice is small, great things by Jodi Picoult.

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester is about the making of the dictionary. As I writer, I love dictionaries, but had never thought about how complex it is to actually make one. I was fascinated and will never take these remarkable volumes for granted again. (Actually, I probably will, but not for a while.)

I re-read a couple of Agatha ChrisitiesThe Murder at the Vicarage and Murder on the Orient Express.  Another re-read was Pearl S. Buck’s Peony (an interesting look at the Jewish population in China). I also read Ms. Buck’s biography of her father, Fighting Angel. I’ve never read about a more complex person than he was. I defy anyone to invent a most complicated character. The book provided real insight into her life and her writing.

This could go on forever, but there are a few truly outstanding books I have to mention: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towels, The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama, The Snowchild by Eowyn Ivey, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. You’ve probably heard of  these books. If you haven’t read them, they are well worth your time. They could not be more different in subject matter or setting, but all offer insight into the human condition.

As usual, I read books by some of my friends: Classic Death by Beate Bouker, A minor Deception by Nupur Tusten, Dry Spell (Two Southern Shorts) by Ellis Vidler, The Sense of Death by Matty Darymple, Wrong Beach Island by Jane Kelly, The Last Heist by Polly Iyer. I enjoyed them all and love that I have friends who write in such a variety of styles and genres.

Forgive me, but I can’t resist mentioning my own latest release, An Uncertain Path. I don’t even know how many times I read that one. Sometimes I loved it; sometimes not so much.

I hope all of you had a great reading year in 2017 and an even more exciting, enlightening one in 2018.

Happy reading!

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