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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Books We Loved Reading in 2019

Welcome to our annual roundup of our staff's favorite books! Every year we take a little time to reflect on the books that brightened our year and made us laugh, the ones that made us think, question, and even cry. Early next week we'll present a few ideas to get your 2020 reading started, but today, sit back and enjoy our list of books that we enjoyed.

collage of book covers of the 52 books listed below

Adult Fiction

Fleishman is in Trouble
Taffy Brodesser-Akner (2019)
Recommended by T. Carr

This Is How You Lose the Time War
Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (2019)
Recommended by K. Gill
Two time-travelling operatives on different sides of a war spanning all of time and space write letters to each other, get to know each other better, and fall in love. This is a quick, short read that leans into the inherent chaos and goofiness of time travel but comes out with something intensely poetic & romantic.

Leopard's Run
Christine Feehan (2018)
Recommended by L. Myers

Vengeance Road
Christin Feehan (2019)
Recommended by L. Myers

The Guardians
John Grisham (2019)
Recommended by H. Bivens
If you live in Mississippi, the reader must maintain knowledge of the writing of John Grisham and my choice reading from his pen this year was The Guardians which tells the story of an injustice done to one person that was ignored by many. Like many of Grisham’s books, this story is loosely based on a real event.

The Dressmaker
Rosalie Ham (2015)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

Exit, West
Mohsin Hamid (2017)
Recommended by N. Dunaway

The Kiss Quotient
Helen Hoang (2018)
Recommended by L. Myers

My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man's Best Friend
Matthew Inman (2013)
Recommended by C. Simpkins

The Broken Earth trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky
N.K. Jemisin (2015, 2016, 2017)
Recommended by E. Scott
I've been meaning to try N.K. Jemisin for a while and I'm so glad I finally did. Her Broken Earth trilogy was rough and beautiful and otherworldly. Somehow I found myself identifying strongly with almost all of the characters, even those with whom I seemingly have nothing in common. 

The Lost Girls of Paris
Pam Jenoff (2019)
Recommended by H. Bivens
A period story is told about three women operating as part of a spy ring during World War II. Their heroics play out as the central theme of this work.

Devil's Daughter: The Ravenels meet The Wallflowers
Lisa Kleypas (2019)
Recommended by L. Myers

The Great Believers
Rebecca Makkai (2018)
Recommended by T. Carr

Elizabeth McCracken (2019)
Recommended by T. Carr

Ann Patchett (2016)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

Splintered: A New Orleans Tale
Brandi Perry (2018)
Recommended by S. Frazier

Daisy Jones and the Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid (2019)
Recommended by M.R. Beal, K. Gill, and L. Whitfield-Smith
I highly recommend listening to this one as an audiobook. I honestly felt as though I was listening to an interview of an actual band. (MRB)
This oral history of a fake 1970s rock band details the creation of the best album you’ve never heard. The book does an amazing job capturing the time period and creating fleshed-out characters as delightfully messed up as real people. (KG)

The Highlander's Promise
Lynsay Sands (2018)
Recommended by L. Myer

Lincoln in the Bardo
George Saunders (2017)
Recommended by N. Dunaway

One Day in December
Josie Silver (2018)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

My Brother's Husband, volumes 1 and 2
Gengoroh Tagame and Anne Ishii
Recommended by E. Scott
I know next to nothing about Japanese culture, but Tagame's characters, narration, and scenery gave me a joyful and thought-provoking introduction. 

Adult Nonfiction

Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504
Laurence Bergreen (2011)
Recommended by D. Arrington

The Book Lovers' Anthology: A Compendium of Writing about Books, Readers and Libraries, second edition
Bodleian Library, editor (2016)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Dee Brown (1970)
Recommended by D. Arrington

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir
Thi Bui (2017)
Recommended by E. Scott
Like many Americans, my knowledge of the Vietnam War is woefully lacking. Thi Bui's muted palette underscored the years of conflict and deprivation in Vietnam even before the USA joined the fracas and painted a heartbreaking and hopeful story of the past and future.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
Casey Cep (2019)
Recommended by H. Bivens
A surprise quality read is Furious Hours by first-time author Casey Cep who appeared at the 2019 Mississippi Book Festival. This book is something of a non- fiction / fiction story. The non-fiction part concerns the actions of a minister in south Alabama, the multiple family members he is suspected to have killed, the life insurance collected on multiple suspicious deaths, the attorney that represents the minister at trial, the family member who kills the minister as he is in trial, and the change of course for the attorney who then defends the killer of the minister in court. The fiction part of the story begins with the fact that To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee attended the trial of the minister and the trial of the family member who killed the minister. The, author Cep weaves her story around the guess that Harper Lee was going to write another courtroom novel using the facts of the minister’s life. Providing a story of maybes moving toward the belief that Harper Lee was going to write her own In Cold Blood novel, this book is most intriguing.
Southern Lady Code
Hellen Ellis (2019)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
Steven Johnson (2006)
Recommended by T. Carr

Ariadne's Threads: The Construction and Significance of Clothes in the Aegean Bronze Age
Bernice R. Jones (2015)
Recommended by K. Kelly

Deaf Republic
Ilya Kaminsky (2019)
Recommended by H. Bivens
A finalist for the T.S. Elliot prize, this work of poetry looks at political unrest, its affects, and the potential atrocities that may result. It is a most unusual read that many readers in today’s USA will probably find interesting. Something of a combination of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC rolled together, this book gives a different look at the politics of mankind...

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
Manning Marable (2011)
Recommended by D. Arrington

The Amazons: Lives & Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World
Adrienne Mayor (2014)
Recommended by K. Kelly

Souls of America
Jon Meacham (2018)
Recommended by D. Arrington

Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You
Lin Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun (2018)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

Michelle Obama (2018)
Recommended by M.R. Beal

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
Issa Rae (2015)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians
David Rubenstein (2019)
Recommended by D. Arrington

Clothing of the Ancient Latvians
Anna Zariņa (1970)
Recommended by K. Kelly

Juvenile Fiction

The Black Cauldron
Lloyd Alexander (1965)
Recommended by K. Gill
Don’t judge a book by it’s dubious Disney adaptation! This book & it’s accompanying series are well-written, classic, beautifully paced staples of the fantasy genre that can delight both kids and adults.

Sanity & Tallulah
Molly Brooks (2018)
Recommended by L. Whitfield-Smith

New Kid
Jerry Craft
Recommended by C. Simpkins

How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine
Amy Guglielmo, Jacqueline Tourville, and Giselle Potter (2018)
Recommended by C. Simpkins

Nobody Likes a Goblin
Ben Hatke (2016)
Recommended by E. Scott
Ben Hatke is one of my new favorite author-illustrator discoveries. This particular book rethinks the role of an adventuring party and totally fed my new addiction to all things fantasy and D&D. Who really is the hero of our tale?

Hey, Kiddo
Jarrett J. Krosoczka (2018)
Recommended by L. Whitfield-Smith

What Do They Do With All That Poo?
Jane Kurtz and Allison Black (2018)
Recommended by C. Simpkins

Julián Is a Mermaid
Jessica Love (2018)
Recommended by E. Scott
The love the grandma feels for her grandson and the way she expresses it made my heart squeeze. The illustrations are gorgeous and the little boy is simply amazing. I adore everything about this picture book.

Yuyi Morales (2018)
Recommended by E. Scott
Based on the author's own experiences, this picture book about moving to the US, starting a new life, and discovering a new community at the local public library is a beautiful tribute of immigrants who add to the vibrancy and richness of our country.

Lupita Nyong'o and Vashti Harrison (2018)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

Patron Saints of Nothing
Randy Ribay (2019)
Recommended by L. Whitfield-Smith

The Hate U Give
Angie Thomas (2017)
Recommended by C. Simpkins

On a Sunbeam
Tillie Walden (2018)
Recommended by E. Scott
This YA graphic novel hit all the right spots: there's a little romance, a little mystery, and a lot of space. I liked it so much I asked for it for Christmas!

The Day You Begin
Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López (2018)
Recommended by A. Ruffin

We hope you've enjoyed our list of books we liked and found a few interesting reads you'd like to try. Join us early next week for our 2020 Reading Challenge, but until then, happy reading!

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