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Ferndale Library Lists - Darlene's Favorite Reads of the Year

Note: These are not the "Best Books of 2013" -as picked by our Reference Librarian Darlene Hellenberg. This list is simply the books that she read inside the calendar year of 2013! 

Nonetheless, you should take-note! Firstly, since newness is overrated. Secondly, since Dar has impeccable taste. Besides, sometimes you should try waiting a year or two after these hipper, hotter titles come out, to see if they do, in fact, sustain their hype (and subsequently live up to it). 

Darlene's Picks


According to my Goodreads account, I read 44 books this year. Some of them were okay, some were disappointing, and some were wonderful. I experimented with books in genres I don’t normally gravitate to. I read a few thrillers (Night Film by Marisha Pessl and  Into the Woods by Tana French), historical fiction (The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson), and even a romance (Me Before You by Jojo Moyes) but I remain hopelessly devoted to literary fiction and magical realism. These are the books I enjoyed reading the most this past year. (Most weren’t published in 2013).





1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
FIC DIAZ

I’m a sucker for sweeping family sagas. Please tell me all about Oscar’s grandfather, his mother, and his aunt. I want to know all about his sister and what she did when she was sent to live with her aunt in the Dominican Republic. Oh, and that terrible dictator? Sure, tell me all about him too. Can’t get enough. This book is all about Oscar’s family and how they came to be the people they are. I also love a book that will make you laugh out loud on one page and cry on the next. If you haven’t read this, please do.



2. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
FIC LAHIRI

            An observation piece about the Ganguli family and the life they make for themselves in America. Lahiri writes about the family’s ups and downs, culture clashes, and family traditions preserved and broken. Not much happens but Lahiri pulls you into their world and you can’t help but follow Gogol from birth to marriage and everything in between.



3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
YA SMITH

            Francie Nolan lives in Brooklyn. Her family doesn’t have much but four walls and a few dollars between them. But they are determined. Francie’s tale, also a coming-of-age story, follows her family as they move from one corner of Brooklyn to another, from job to job, and tale after tale. It’s lovely and sad, romantic and hopeful, and sometimes brutally unfair. You’ll find yourself cheering for Francie and her family every step of the way.



4. Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
306.87  L

This will be our 2014 Ferndale Reads book. (Good thing I really liked it, eh?). I have a hard time getting into non-fiction, and an even harder time picking it up in the first place. However, this book pulled me right in. It follows the author’s quest to learn about an aunt he never knew he had. We’ll kick off Ferndale Reads 2014 in mid March. It’s going to be a very interesting program.



5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
FIC GAIMAN

            The thing about magical realism is that magic is present in everyday things. I’m putting this book under that umbrella. You could probably call it an everyday fairytale and that would be fine too.  A little boy’s parents take in a renter because they can’t afford their house payments. A terrible thing happens to the renter that sets into motion things that no one but the women at the end of the lane could have predicted.



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