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Category Archive for 'Book Club Suggestions'

A few days ago, I listed the most popular reviews on this site for 2019. These reviews reflect the number of hits a review receives when a reader searches for a particular review on this site. They are not necessarily reviews of my personal favorites. Here are some of my own favorite books of special interest, books with unique points of view, with links to the full reviews. The list begins with a book that I have found the most inspiring book of the year, one written by a man in prison for life for something he did not do, but in which, amazingly, he maintains his good humor and does not descend into self-pity.

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A few days ago, I listed the most popular reviews on this site for 2019. These reviews reflect the number of hits a review receives when a reader searches for a particular review on this site. They are not necessarily reviews of my personal favorites. Here are some of my own favorite books of special interest, books with unique points of view, with links to the full reviews. The list begins with a book that I have found the most inspiring book of the year, one written by a man in prison for life for something he did not do, but in which, amazingly, he maintains his good humor and does not descend into self-pity.

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NOTE: Each year I like to see which reviews are the most popular on this website, and each year I find some surprises. Because the site ranks books and reviews by their total number of hits, older books which have been on the site for a long time have had more opportunity to accumulate many hits. Newer books tend to be far down in the list, with a few lucky ones eventually making it to the Top 25 as the years pass. Here is the list some of the old favorites which have been in the Top 25 for five or more years. Newer books which are performing particularly well and may one day become Top 25 Books are listed separately following the “oldies.” #1 overall: Favel Parett’s PAST THE SHALLOWS, a family drama set in Tasmania. On the list since 2014 when the review was posted, this book seems to be the #1 book every time I check the DAILY stats, and it makes me wonder if this family drama cover-ru-197x300set on the southernmost island at the end of the Australian continent is being taught in the schools in Australia andTasmania. It has more than seven times the number of hits of any other book listed here, including all the books and reviews here for Jo Nesbo’s work! Other surprises appear. #9. Jo Nesbo’s latest (and I think best) thriller, THE KNIFE, concerns the death of someone close to Harry Hole, with beautifully developed themes, flawless pacing, intriguing and repeating subordinate characters, imaginative plotting, unrelenting dark atmosphere, and plot twists – one after another – after another. From August 2019. (#20 on the overall list, though the review has been posted for only four months. Look for this one to be in the Top Ten overall next year.)

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From the opening story of the same name, Up in the Main House entertains and enlightens the reader with stories of life in modern day Bangladesh which recall the tales of servants and their privileged employers from colonial England years ago. Here, however, author Nadeem Zaman focuses on the lives of domestic employees in the capital city of Dhaka, most of them working for families of wealth that they have worked for during all or most of their lives. As in the typical British “upstairs” and “downstairs” stories, the servants often have clearer visions of what really matters and closer relationships with each other than what the reader usually sees from the often absent “upstairs” owners of these houses and their friends. As the servants share their daily lives and do their daily work, they reveal their genuine emotions and insights into real life. Vividly described and more casual than the formal stories of upperclass British servants, the lives of these Bangladeshi workers and their values become far more intimate and genuinely real than what most readers will expect, their lives complicated primarily by their sense of position regarding their employers.

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Bridging the gap between a novel and a novella, Space Invaders by Nona Fernandez is, in fact, as short as a novella, but it feels more like a much larger novel in the grandeur of its themes, its well-developed controlling ideas, the world-changing historical events which give it drama, and the intense, literary style which brings it all to life and makes it work. This powerful story takes place in Santiago de Chile during the years of the Pinochet regime from 1980, when the children who are the main characters here are ten years old, and extends to 1994 and later, when they are in their twenties and middle age. Eight school children from Santiago who are close friends tell this story, which never succumbs to “cuteness” or patronizing simplicity here, as these bright, curious, and observant children react to conflicts around them, the military presence, and the sometimes bloody events which erupt and affect their lives as they grow up. Dreams, memories, and imagination form their visions of the past here and become even more clearly defined as this story develops. Time flips back and forth and around throughout the short sections, and the narrative develops dramatically and quickly. An important, unusual, and sensitive story of a tumultuous time in Chile.

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