Working in a library it is only natural to have a love of reading and, when asked, to share that love of reading with others. People often come into the library asking for a recommendation for a great book to read. Often people have an idea about the type of book they are looking for i.e. a good mystery, latest book by James Patterson, etc. But not always. Just as often a customer will have no requirement for the book other than it be “good”. I know. I know. “Good” can mean so many different things to different people. But, over time, I’ve developed a list of some reliable titles to suggest for just these requests. Some new. Some old(er). All good!
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurin
The president of France accidentally leaves his hat in a restaurant. The gentlemean who picks up the hat proudly wears the hat and it somehow transforms him. He, in turn, loses the hat. When it is discovered by someone else her life also takes on new meaning. Until, inevitably it blows into someone else’s life. Sometimes a hat (or a new pair of shoes or anything else) is just a hat. But sometimes, it is something much more.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A.J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, though large in weight–an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
A classic screwball romance about a handsome but awkward genetics professor and the woman who is totally wrong for him A first-date dud, socially awkward and overly fond of quick-dry clothes, genetics professor Don Tillman has given up on love, until a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire–a sixteen-page, scientifically researched questionnaire–to uncover the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver. Rosie is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent, strangely beguiling, and looking for her biological father a search that a DNA expert might just be able to help her with.
Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State–and she would do it alone.
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends–and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society–born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island–boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
About the Author by John Colapinto
Just how did Cal Cunningham — a twenty-five-year-old bookstore stockboy who is new to Manhattan and who has never written anything — publish a bestselling novel that sells to the movies for a million dollars? A mysterious roommate, a timely bike accident, and the rapacious literary agent Blackie Yaeger all play a role in Cal’s success. Deception, blackmail, and murder all play a role in his desperate bid to hold on to it.
City of Thieves by David Benioff
Set in a World War II Leningrad, the persistent Nazi siege is slowly starving the inhabitants. Lev, a seventeen-year-old Jew living in Leningrad, gets arrested for looting, a crime punishable by death. He shares a cell with Kolya, a strong and handsome deserter. All seems lost until they are summoned by a respected Soviet colonel for an odd request. Their task: find two dozen eggs for the colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake. The quest for the eggs leads them all over the city and eventually behind German lines.
The Book Thief by M. Zusak
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist-books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life by Trevor Cole
Toronto stage actor Norman Bray has renounced all responsibility in the name of his “art.” Now, middle-aged, teetering on the edge of financial ruin, and clinging to the faded light of his career, Norman must answer to the bank, to the adult children of his recently deceased common-law wife, and, most of all, to his own illusions about himself. Making matters worse, Amy, his stepdaughter-of-a-sort, discovers her late mother’s journals and the unhappiness they contain. Meanwhile, Norman finds himself embroiled in the affairs of an attractive neighbour, with unexpected consequences.
– – Christine B.