The great thing about books is that they never go out of style. You can read them on your own accord and I can guarantee you that no one will approach you on the streetcar, in the park or the coffee shop and say “that book was so last year”. Many times book bloggers (myself included) are reviewing books that are current and once a book has come and gone, you’ll be hard pressed to find it on a blog or in your local paper. So I thought it would be fun to point you in the direction of some great reads that came out in 2014. Yes, I know, it’s still 2014. The books I want to chat about are some of the books that hit the shelves in the first six months of 2014. They are books that will make you cry, make you laugh and books that will make you think. So let’s get started,
Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese – I’ve been a fan of Richard Wagamese’s since I read Keeper ‘N Me when I was in University. The ideas and the messages he infuses in his novels are important and relevant. The same can be said of his most recent book that was published in early April. Medicine Walk is the story of sixteen year old Franklin Starlight who is called to visit his father, Eldon. They don’t have a great relationship, but his Father needs him and he feels an obligation to be there for him. When they’re reunited, Franklin see that years of drinking have crippled his Father knows the end is near. He begs his son to take him into the mountains to be buried in a traditional Ojibway manner.
This is a story of love, family and the lengths that a son will go to ensure his Father wishes are met. It’s a story of courage and love and it’s not one to be missed.
Crimes Against My Brother by David Adams Richards – I made it my mission to let everyone know how much I enjoyed David Adams Richards newest book, but if didn’t see my enthusiasm, you’ve come to the right post. I’ve been meaning to read DAR for quite some time. Of course as an English Major, we were required to read some of his work in University, but I didn’t. I hope my English professors aren’t reading this… Needless to say, my colleague Shona was really excited about this book, so I took the plunge finally and WOW. Just wow. I couldn’t stop reading this novel about Howard, Evan and Ian. Three boys who are inseparable as children take very different paths as adults. To quote Random House Canada, “Crimes Against My Brother is a tale of such force, gravitas, complexity, universality, and compassionate understanding that he reaffirms his status as a master storyteller who has, book by book, used his rare genius to create an entire, teeming universe alongside a river in a small northern part of the world.” If your interested in this book (and you should be), check out this blog post on Retreat by Random House that contains an excerpt, a reading from DAR and an audio book club starring yours truly (and my fabulous pal Shona).
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull – This book may have been marketed towards managers, but don’t let that deter you from picking up this extraordinary book, because it’s for anyone who wants to showcase their creativity in the workplace. It’s for anyone who’s part of a creative team who are keen to contribute ideas (good and sometimes bad) with the understanding that their hands have a part in the final product. Ed Catmull is the co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, so he knows a thing or two about what it means to be creative, but he also knows the importance of relying on his team to create ideas and garner creativity.
You’ll become inspired, you’ll want to nurture your creativity and you’ll learn so much – so make sure you have a notepad, a pen and a highlighter handy while reading!
One More Thing by B.J. Novak - I got the chance to read this book before it’s publication and I devoured it on a chilly November afternoon. I feel like it’s necessary to point out that although this is Ryan from The Office, B.J. Novak’s One More Thing is not a memoir. You’re not going to get behind the scenes look at The Office or The Mindy Project and you’re not going to read about how he got his start in Hollywood. But you will read some of the best stories I’ve ever read. Straight forward, funny, well written stories.
Some are short and some are longer, like the hilarious (and I mean hilarious) No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg. The story of a seventy year old man who recently passed and arrived in heaven only to realize that his Grandmother is much too busy in the afterlife to make any concrete dinner plans with him. Do you and your funny bone a favour and pick up this book… now!
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – I was all for temporary tattoos that read “A.J. Fikry is my homeboy” but it didn’t happen. A.J. Fikry is having a rough go at life, his beloved wife has passed and it’s sent him into a spiral of unhappiness. He gets agitated easily, especially when he has to encounter other people. Of course, this poses a problem when you’re the owner of a New England bookstore named Island Books; their motto being, “No Man is an Island; Every Book is a World”. Things take a whole new direction when not only does he get a new sales representative from Knightley Press who’s determined to try to get him to try new books, but he wakes up one morning to discover that there has been a baby left in his bookstore. Filled with ups and downs of emotions; happiness, sadness, aggravation, this story not only hits you right in the feelings, but it has so many references to that feeling of being a book lover. What more could you want!?
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews – I’ve yet to meet a person that has read this book and hasn’t cried their eyes out. Yet, somehow Miriam Toews can make you laugh out loud while you’ve got tears streaming down your face. I want to do the description justice, but I think the publisher says it best, “All My Puny Sorrows, at once tender and unquiet, offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. In her beautifully rendered new novel, Miriam Toews gives us a startling demonstration of how to carry on with hope and love and the business of living even when grief loads the heart.”
Be sure to check out the fabulous book trailer of the book too!
I Don’t Know What You Know Me From by Judy Greer – What do 13 Going on 30, The Wedding Planner and 27 Dresses all have in common? They all feature Judy Greer as the loveable, yet quirky BFF role! Judy Greer has honed her skills at playing the role of the co-star and she knows it. It only made sense that she’ write a memoir and call it, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions from a Co-Star. Judy takes us back to her early days of bad hair and really bad hair (no judgement… I could haul out some pictures that would have you laughing out loud), to a time when she had aspirations to make it in Hollywood. With her parents support and a license plate that literally read “star 2 be”, she notes that in reality, it should have read “co-star 2 be”, she packed her bags and headed to the big city. The memoir is a collection of essays filled with stories, insight and advice that makes you feel like you’re hearing stories and getting tips from a best friend. And as noted, she plays that best friend role oh so well.
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff – I have yet to review this book on my blog having just read it on vacation, but let me tell, this is one memoir you won’t want to miss! This is a book for book lovers, because it’s the tale of Joanna Rakoff in the early 90′s when she work for a literary agency. Oh but that’s not it. She works for J.D. Salinger’s agency, so when her boss tells her to direct all calls from Jerry to her, she freaks out. Since I’ve yet to review it, here’s what Random House has to say about it, “Joanna Rakoff paints a vibrant portrait of a bright, hungry young woman navigating a heady and longed-for world, trying to square romantic aspirations with burgeoning self-awareness, the idea of a life with life itself. Charming and deeply moving, filled with electrifying glimpses of an American literary icon, My Salinger Year is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer. Above all, it is a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives and awaken our true selves.”
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez – Oh the tears. So, so many tears. This is one of those books that will stay with you for years to come. What happens when a Panamanian teenage boy and a Mexican girl fall in love in America? This story. Told with a haunting and captivating voice, Cristina Henriquz examines the life of two immigrant teenagers struggling with the hurdles of trying to navigate a new country while holding on to their heritage. Confronted with language barriers, society acceptance and adolescence, The Book of Unknown Americans is a heart-breaking page turner.
Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly – I was in a coffee shop when I finished this book and I remember audibly gasping so loud that people looked over at me as I closed the book. This is the story of Natty and Sean Wainwright and Natty’s best friend, Eve Dalladay. Due to an emergency, Natty leaves their home for two weeks and it’s in those two weeks that Eve moves in to take her place. Then the unthinkable occurs. Sean and Eve fall for each other and Natty is mystified and appalled. Things take a whole other turn when she receives a note in the mail that reads, Eve has done this before, more than once. Don’t let her take what’s yours.
Smart, gripping and on the edge of your seat reading, Paula Daly has a knack for writing thrillers. You won’t be able to put this one down!
Jennifer, Gwyneth and Me by Rachel Bertsche - What woman hasn’t seen pictures of Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Beyoncé and wished she had their clothes, their abs, their seemingly flawless lives? For Rachel Bertsche, these celebrities are the epitome of perfection—self-assured and effortlessly cool. So it only makes sense that she spends a year emulating their lifestyles to feel more put together. Eating like Gwyneth, making pregnancy look cool like Jessica Alba or channeling Julia Roberts inner piece, Rachel sets a budget and works to live like a star. This was a fun book for anyone that types http://www.tmz.com into their browser at least once a week. As the Chicago Tribune notes, “Written with verve, insight, and humor … Bertsche writes cleverly, but not glibly, about the challenges young women face today.”
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey – Emma Healey is in her early twenties, yet somehow she’s able to articulate the voice of an 80 year old woman named Maud in her debut novel. Maud is slowly losing her memory and her pockets and home is filled with notes with constant reminders about things she needs to do. The worst part is that the she can’t contact her friend Elizabeth. She believes that she’s disappeared and because of her current state, no one will listen to her, not her daughter and certainly not Elizabeth’s son. Her search starts to uncover memories of another unsolved disappearance–that of her sister, Sukey, who vanished more than 50 years ago, shortly after the Second World War. Smart with a touch of thriller components, Elizabeth is Missing is a fantastic read you won’t want to miss!
If I’ve missed one of your 2014 (so far) favourites, share with me below in the comments!