Today is the perfect day to look back on the best books I read in 2018. Who can resist a list? Here are Book Club Mom’s 5-bookmark reads:
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry – 2/4/18
Thomas McNulty and John Cole are just boys in the 1840s when they meet under a hedge in a Missouri rainstorm. A strong friendship develops during their early days and later as soldiers in the Indian and Civil Wars. Questions of morality, faith, and fate run through this poetic narrative. It’s an impressive feat that a writer can take a piece of ugly American history and throw a moving balance between love, friendship, honor and duty and the brutal violence that comes with following orders.
Sometimes you need a feel-good book, a story in which realistic characters face many challenges, but are able to overcome them through love and faith. That’s what you get in Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt, a wonderful inspirational romance that promises just what the title suggests.
Classic children’s books don’t get any better than this story about a spoiled, but frail and lonely ten-year-old orphan girl, sent to live on a vast English moorland manor, with a reclusive uncle she has never met. In a delightful transformation, fresh air, exercise, surprise friendships, returned health and the newfound wonders of a secret and neglected garden are the springtime magic that brings Mary Lennox and her new family together.
Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder by Claudia Kalb – 8/18/18
Excellent collection of mini biographies of twelve famous personalities and a look at their known or likely battles with mental illness. In addition to a compassionate explanation of the problems these entertainers, artists, musicians, leaders, writers and groundbreakers suffered, Kalb wonders how many would have fared had they been accurately diagnosed and treated with modern methods.
The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov – 9/1/18
There’s a lot of great literature on the public domain and I found this terrific collection of nine short stories by Anton Chekhov for free at the Kindle store. Chekhov (1860-1904) was a Russian playwright and writer of short fiction and is considered one of the all-time greatest masters of the short story.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett – 10/15/18
I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading a hardboiled detective novel from the 1930s. But one page in and I understood why Dashiell Hammett is considered a master of this genre. It’s a tightly written story about detective Sam Spade, three murders, a valuable falcon statue and an assortment of shrewd characters on both sides of the law.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – 11/4/18
Here’s a great family saga that begins in the 1960s with six kids from two different families, thrown together because of an affair, a divorce and then a marriage. As the four parents establish their new lives, the kids are left to figure things out for themselves. Until one summer when tragedy changes everything.
A great story about being different and making it anyway. In some ways, it is a classic success story about perseverance, but mostly, it’s a shout-out to anyone who’s not mainstream. Through a rambling, often irreverent and always hilarious “where is this story going?” narration, with plenty of colorful vocabulary, Lawson tells you about her childhood, depression, anxiety and illness, her family, early jobs, marriage, motherhood and how she became a blogger and writer.
Blue Monday by Nicci French – 12/9/18
First in a series of eight mystery thrillers featuring Frieda Klein, a highly regarded psychoanalyst who, in this story, becomes entangled in a kidnapping investigation. One of the things I enjoyed about Blue Monday is that it is a character-driven mystery. The authors’ characters are both interesting and complex, with their own sets of problems.
Have a Nice Day is a play, but this version is a live script-reading. In addition to Billy Crystal, Kevin Kline and Annette Bening, the cast is full of stars, including Rachel Dratch and Darrell Hammond. Kline plays President David Murray, who has just received a visit from the Angel of Death, played by Billy Crystal. Murray learns that this is his day to die and he makes a deal with the Angel to give him until one second before midnight so he can finish strong.
What did you read this year? Coming next, more excellent reads from 2018. Meantime, check out all my 2018 reviews here.
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