By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Favorite books

GAYS MILLS - At this time of year I like to look back at the books I’ve read during the year and share my favorites with you. It’s hard to pick books for others, but here are 10 that you might like. All of them are available at the Gays Mills or Soldiers Grove Libraries or through the inter-library loan system.

‘Butcher’s Crossing’ by John Williams 2007

This is a unique and gritty western adventure novel. Young Will Andrews, inspired by the writings of Emerson to seek “an original relation to nature“, drops out of Harvard and heads west in 1877. Will hooks up with a buffalo hunting party and spends a harrowing winter snowed in in the mountains and barely survives.

‘The Fifth Risk’ by Michael Lewis   2018

I wanted to read this book after I heard Lewis interviewed on the radio. He attempts to answer the question: “What are the consequences if the people given control of our government have no idea how it works?” It’s an eye-opening account of much that is going on right now.

‘84 Charing Cross Road’ by Helene Hanff  1990

A charming love story between the author, a free-lance writer in New York, and a used book dealer in London. The story is told entirely by the trans-Atlantic correspondence between the two, who never actually met. It was made into a pretty good movie of the same name. 

‘Solar Bones’ by Mike McCormack  2017

This amazing book by the renowned Irish writer surprised me. The story is a first-person rumination on the protagonist’s life but it is done in a unique way: The entire book reads like one long sentence! I’ve never read a book quite like this before and the stream of consciousness swept me away.


‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari  2018

Recommended to me by a friend and I’m glad she did. (Thanks, Judy.) A fascinating perspective on how we evolved and where we are headed. I read most books quickly. This one should be read slowly with lots of time between short readings to allow you to digest what has been revealed.

‘Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century’ by Jessica Bruder  2018

This is a well-researched book that tells many personal stories. The focus is on the low-cost labor pool made up largely of older Americans. These transient “work campers” are the invisible casualties of the Great Recession.

‘Educated’ by Tara Westover  2018

This inspiring book has spent a ridiculous amount of time on the New York Times bestseller list. It’s still there after 43 weeks. It tells of the author’s upbringing by survivalist parents in the wilds of Idaho. She first set foot in a classroom at the age of 17 and went on to earn a PhD.

‘Nutshell’ by Ian McEwan  2017

A re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as witnessed from the womb by a mother’s unborn son. You can’t make this stuff up, but McEwan did, masterfully.

‘A Geologist’s Journey’ by Brian McKnight  2018

Dr. Brian McKnight, born and raised in Gays Mills, became a well-known and widely respected geologist. He wrote and self-published this story of his professional life as a record for his family, but decided to make it available to others. There are copies of it at the Gays Mills and Soldiers Grove Libraries.

‘Electric Dreams’ by Caroline Kettlewell  2006

A great story about a young science teacher in a disadvantaged North Carolina high school. With his students and some local adult supporters, a team was assembled to build an electric car and compete, successfully, against several elite schools in a contest sponsored by regional utility companies.