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Friday, December 25, 2015

Baldwin Library Staff Recommends Best Books of 2015

For Adults  Fiction

The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer. - This absorbing, beautifully written and poignant family saga spans five decades of the life of a Northern California family complete with a beloved physician father, free spirited mother and four children each harboring their own desires and secrets. –Lisa

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. - Atkinson provides a wild ride of a reading experience in this sweeping post-war follow-up to Life After Life, which follows the Todd family through the first half of the 20th century. –Denise

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by  J. Ryan Stradal. - This book weaves the main character’s life story by pulling narrative strands from other characters - some who have impacted her life directly, others indirectly, into a sweet, sad, sometimes funny story.—Linda

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. - The best and saddest book I’ve read in a decade is profoundly tragic, but the characters are so beautifully drawn that by the end of the novel I felt like they were my family. –Maria

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. - Hoffman always creates a unique plot featuring complicated characters who draw you quickly into their world.—Barby

Station ElevenMy Struggle, Book Four by Karl Ove Knausgaard. - It is difficult to explain the Knausgaard phenomenon to the uninitiated, but Book 4, covering Karl Ove's teenage years, stands out by blending Knausgaard's straightforward yet mesmerizing narrative style with a substantial dose of humor, to create another hard to put down volume in his epic autobiographical series of novels.  –Josh

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. - Haruf's final novel gets right to the heart of what makes us human by exploring a late-in-life love affair that seems so simple to those in the relationship—but not so to the people around them. –Carol

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. - This brilliant novel uses an apocalyptic story line to portray a world of artistic endeavor, violence, humor and most of all, hope. –Karen

Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar. - With journal entries, letters, notes, and various methods of early 20th century correspondence, Parmar plumbs the complicated relationship between the artist Vanessa Bell and her more famous sister, Virginia Woolf, along with their siblings, lovers, and friends, all members of the artsy Bloomsbury Group. –Liz

When the Mood is Low by Nadia Hashimi. - This book made me truly feel immersed in its Middle Eastern setting and culture. –Lauren

Biography & Non-Fiction

Dead Wake by Erik Larson - History comes to life as Larson recreates the events leading up to the German military attack on the Lusitania in 1915. –Rebekah
Furiously Happy: a funny book about horrible things by Jenny Lawson. - I've never laughed as hard as I have at stories in this book (and in the author’s first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened); however, there are also very poignant sections on mental illness that made me re-evaluate and re-interpret my own life experiences. –Kristen
Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann. - In her prose, as in her photography, a bold artist catches the heavy shadows of the past and the fleeting light of the moment. –Ethan

NOPI: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. - This glorious cookbook from the London restaurant, NOPI, is filled with mouthwatering images, unique combinations of flavors, and magnificent presentations. Be warned: these recipes are not for beginners. –Vicki

For Children & Teens Fiction
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. - This book incorporates two of my favorite hobbies: reading and working on puzzles. –Caroline

Illuminae:  Illuminae Files_01 by Amie Kauffman & Jay Kristoff. - A creative collection of emails, instant messages, and interstellar reports tell the engaging story of two teenagers fighting for survival in deep space of a second universe. –Susan

My Cousin Momo by Zachariah OHora. - The retro drawings and sweet details in this picture book illustrate a funny and sweet story about accepting people for who they are and trying things in new ways.  –Stephanie

Somewhere There is Still a Sun:  Memoir of the Holocaust by Michael Gruenbaum. - Gruenbaum's sensitively-written memoir gives the reader a real sense of what the Holocaust was like for those who lived it, and is a standout in the genre of Holocaust literature.  –Donna

The Baldwin Public Library is located in downtown Birmingham at 300 W. Merrill Street. The Library’s hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. The Library’s website has information on how to register for a Library Card and access all of the Library’s services.

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