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More fiction in 2017

GAYS MILLS - Late each December, I reflect back on the books I’ve read during the year.  It’s hard to recommend books to people, we all have our individual likes and tastes, but these are some fiction books that you might like. I did.

‘News of the World’

by Paulette Jiles

I judged this book at first by its cover (a beautiful western scene), which is a no-no, I know, but I’m glad I did.  An itinerant newsreader after the Civil War, an elderly man, agrees to deliver a young Kiowa girl back to her people. He reads the news to paying audiences wherever he can draw a crowd in a young and wild west that is hungry for information about “the world” back east. Even a month’s old newspaper was news to his audiences. The arduous 400-mile trip includes many hazards, natural and human, fascinating characters, and a developing bond between this odd pair of unlikely survivors.

‘Full Dark, No Stars’

by Stephen King

The sheer size of King’s books often scare some people off, let alone the scary stuff he writes about.  This book contains four “short stories,” which by King’s standards qualify as novellas, and it is still weighs in at over 500 pages. Good stories, every one a page-turner, exploring the darker side(s) of human nature.

‘The Locals’

by Jonathan Dee

A post 9/11 story of a small town in the Berkshires. A wealthy New York financier and his family move to Howland for the safety and the slower pace it promises. The influence of his wealth on the town and the locals makes for an interesting story.

‘Underground Railroad’

by Colson Whitehead

A Pulitzer winner, an Oprah book selection, and many other awards, give clues to just how good this powerful novel is. Slavery in the south comes under the microscope with the story of Cora, a young slave woman who escapes her grim plantation situation and  several other villains on her way north in her quest for freedom.

‘The Relive Box and Other Stories’

by T.C. Boyle

It’s a short story collection by a wonderful, inventive author.  It’s a little more sci-fi than I usually like but once started, I couldn’t not read them all. Boyle’s fertile imagination helps to stretch the reader’s mind and offers much food for thought.

‘Camino Island’

by John Grisham

I recently saw a list of “The top best selling book of the year” going back to the 1920’s. John Grisham was the man with more titles on the list than anyone. So, I decided to read his current best seller, ‘Camino Island.’ It’s easy to see why he’s so popular. This one tells the tale of rare and valuable stolen manuscripts. Grisham is a great storyteller and masterfully weaves a fascinating yarn.

‘A Gentleman in Moscow’

by Amor Towles

I enjoyed this book as much or more than any book I’ve read in years.  It was read on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Chapter-a-Day and I caught snatches of it here and there, enough to know I would like it. It covers several decades beginning in 1922. Protagonist Count Rostov is sentenced by a Bolshevik Tribunal to house arrest in a luxury hotel in Moscow, in a small attic room in that hotel. Some of the most tumultuous decades of Russian history take place outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, Rostov’s reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Reading season is upon us. Get thee to a library or bookstore and find yourself a good book. There’s not much on TV anyway.

Next week, my nonfiction favorites.