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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Books and Trees

maple branches against blue sky

Today you get two of my favorite things, trees and books. The picture above is a maple tree against the sky taken Thursday. Any blue-sky day is a good one!

You are also going to get a list of books. This blog has become mostly nature stuff, and I do love that, but somehow my love of books has been been neglected a bit. It's also January, and I like to list some of the "bests" of the previous year. I didn't do a very good job of keeping a list for 2011, but I'll be sharing some things this week.

Here are the 10 11 best books I read this year in no particular order. I choose my reading materials mostly based on piles of free books from the library or gifts, so don't try to read much into the selection.

Brief Review
The Light in the ClearingIrving BachellerPeriod Fiction
Bacheller was a best-selling author in the early years of the 20th Century. His ability to describe a scene from a time period that is quite foreign to us is amazing. This book is a fictional recounting of the life of Silas Wright, a New York statesman, through the eyes of a boy as he grows to manhood.
Encounters with AnimalsGerald DurrellAnimals
This is an enchanting look at animals Durrell comes in touch with during a lifetime as an animal collector. Keep in mind that the regulations were much more lax when the book was written, but the tales are charming.
East of EdenJohn SteinbeckLiterary Fiction
I like Steinbeck, but I'd never read this one. It's spectacular. It traces the life of two brothers, and then the children of one of them. Steinbeck considered it his best work. The symbolism is staggering.
The Down East MurdersJ. S. BorthwickMystery
This is a light mystery, set in Port Clyde, Maine, and on a fictional island. I'm fairly familiar with Port Clyde, and this book is everything that I hope the Anastasia Raven mysteries can be. It's got all the small town stuff, a good plot, lots of twists and turns. I read a lot of light mysteries, but this one stood out.
Berlin Tunnel 21Donald LindquistHistorical Fiction
This is based on one of the many tunnels that was dug under the Berlin Wall to bring people out to the West. It's a nail-biter, and I won't give anything away.
In His StepsCharles M. SheldonChristian Fiction
I think this is the third time I've read this book. It's very old, and really changed my life as a teen. The premise is that the congregation of one church decides to live completely the way Jesus would want them to. For example, the owner of a newspaper decides he can no longer run any ads for tobacco or bars, etc... but can a paper survive that way?
Final PaymentsMary GordonLiterary Fiction
This one was a shocker. I thought I hated it and was going to finish only because I try not to give up on books. But it kept twisting and turning and made me think. Not many books do that any more. A young woman is released from the care of her invalid father when he dies, and her emotions and actions run the gamut because she never went through any of that as a teen. You can see more of my thoughts about it at Selfishness and Sacrifice
With a VengeanceEileen DreyerMystery
Maggie is a nurse who has things to prove to her father. She becomes the first female member of the city SWAT team. In her dual role she begins to realize that people are dying without any good reasons. When a mentally deranged patient of hers tries to tell her how they are connected, he becomes the next victim.
The Glorious CauseJeff ShaaraHistorical Fiction
I'm a Revolutionary War buff, and this is a readable and gripping account by the same man who wrote the better known Gods and Generals (Civil War)
The Detroit Electric SchemeD.E. JohnsonMystery
Johnson came to our writer's group An Evening with D.E. Johnson when this, his first book, was just coming out. I bought one, just because I liked what he said. But the book is really good. He's now on the third in the series. It's a mystery set in Detroit in the era when electric cars were in serious contention with gasoline-powered ones. There is lots of action, and history. I think he's headed for a best seller.
Home Before MorningLynda Van DevanterWar Memoir
This poignant memoir by a nurse who served in VietNam will impact you, no matter what you think of that war. She recounts her journey from a carefree college kid who enlisted on the promise of easy certification to her dehumanization by the carnage, to advocate for women veterans.

OK- Those are the best books of the year. It was supposed to be 10, but I forgot one, so you get 11!

How about some nice trees from today to close us out. This is the clump of quaking aspen by the railroad tracks.

quaking aspen

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Karen and Gerard said...

I enjoyed your book list; all new to me!

Secondary Roads said...

Love those blue skies. Yesterday was particularly nice.

Ann said...

Now that I have that kindle I've been doing a lot more reading. I've got a pile of free books that I've downloaded and I've got yours bookmarked on amazon.
Now I just need one of those trees to go sit under and read :)

Rick (Ratty) said...

I like trees and books too so the books are a welcome addition for me. My book preference has been narrowing in the last few years, so I've been thinking of broadening my selections. Maybe I'll try one or two of these.

Sharkbytes said...

Karen- You guys are real readers! I'm surprised you haven't stumbled across a couple of them

Chuck- It was lovely!

Ann- It would be a little chilly, even without the snow!

Ratty- Good stuff! What kinds of books do you like?

Rick (Ratty) said...

I mostly read fantasy. My favorite is The Wheel Of Time series. I read other stuff, but recently I've just been sticking to the fantasy. It's been hard to keep interested in anything more unfamiliar since my car accident. I'm trying to change that.

sir rob said...

Are those did trees or part of that fall thing in your country?

Happy New Year again. Visiting from EC.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Ratty- I like some fantasy, but I prefer the classic kind like Tolkien to some of the modern stuff

borris- They aren't dead, just "sleeping" for the winter!

RNSANE said...

Very interesting book list. I've only read a couple of those...but I have read many of Eileen Dreyer's books, especially her forensic novels. Eileen is a friend, a former practicing forensic nurse colleague, who started out writing romance novels and then began doing forensic stuff. That is exactly what I would like to try...but I just don't think I have the talent.