By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Books reviewed
Drift from a Driftless place
JOHN GIBBS is a resident of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. He is an award-winning weekly columnist for the Crawford County Independent newspaper in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

GAYS MILLS - As you may remember, I’ve mentioned before that each year I try to read an average of a book a week. I didn’t quite make it this year even though I spent much of the year sheltering at home like most other people. Luckily, my place allows me plenty of space to work outside the actual house and  that has cut into my time with books. 

I did wind up reading 35 books in 2020 and the books were all good. If a book doesn’t have me hooked within 50 pages or so, I move on and I didn’t feel the need to do that much this year. It’s difficult to recommend a book to others but I would like to share a few of my favorite reads of the year..


First, the fiction.

‘Any Other Name’ 

by Craig Johnson

We watched the entire Longmire series last year and this is a Longmire book. I always wondered why most Longmire episodes on TV took place in the summer in Wyoming. In this story, Walt deals with a harsh Wyoming blizzard as he unravels an interesting mystery.



by Don Winslow

I discovered Winslow on the New Books shelf at the library. Liked it so much, I read three of his books in rapid succession. Could be that the stories all take place in Southern California, near where I grew up. This is a book of six short novellas.



by Richard Powers

I read this amazing book since it was being read and discussed by the book group at the library. Could put it down, but didn’t, as it kept me reading for 512 pages. It’s an epic and ambitious book that may change the way you think about the world and our environment. The many threads of the story all center on trees.


‘Squeeze Me’ 

by Carl Hiassen

Hiassen is an entertaining writer and this book proves the point. It’s centered in Florida as all of Hiassen’s books are. The book deals with current issues and personalities in the news, some very colorful and quirky characters, as well as the problem of the real-life invasion of Boa Constrictors in south Florida.


‘Farewell Summer’   

by Ray Bradbury

This is a follow-up book to Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, 50 years after the publication of his classic story of life in a typical small Midwest town, Green Town, Indiana. It tells of a simpler time as a group of young teens do battle with the city fathers and attempt to stop the clock on the courthouse to hold on to the glorious days of summer.


‘In the Lake of the Woods’

by Tim O’Brien

O’Brien tells a story of a Vietnam vet who rises to the point of running for Congress. Details of his activities in Vietnam surface and cause he and his wife to retreat to a lakeside cabin in northern Minnesota, where she disappears.


‘The Resisters’    

by Gish Jen

An interesting dystopian story about a time in the future when people are divided into the Netted and the Surplus. To a Surplus family is born a girl with a golden arm, and is amazing baseball pitcher. A thought provoking and somewhat chilling book.


‘Blood Meridian’   

by Cormac McCarthy

I wanted to read a western. Robert E Lee, my barber and friend, recommended this book but warned me it was ‘dark.’ And it was. McCarthy paints a picture of the violence and depravity that attended the America’s westward expansion.

Next week: non-fiction books