The end of the year really is a wonderful time for people who love to read!
There are more annual “best of” lists than you can shake a (very large) stick at, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Each year, I ask Winnipeg Public Library staff to name the book which made the biggest impression on them in the last twelve months, and each year I’m enthralled by the variety of titles they send me.
Fiction of all genres
Derek chose The Wonder by Emma Donoghue because it’s richly told, exploring the moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding care and sickness.
Erica enjoyed Robin Sloan’s endearing books, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and Sourdough for delving into seemingly small things that can nonetheless elicit great passion (aka geeking out), whether that be books, computers, baking, cheese, or riddles.
Joanne “raced” through The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker, the post-apocalyptic story of an unlikely hero who sets out on a 500 mile run through the devastated countryside, desperate to be reunited with his family before it’s too late.
Lori sums up the reasons Mira Grant’s Rolling in the Deep became a top read for her in two words: “Killer. Mermaids.”
Madeleine loved Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver for the heroine’s gradual realizations about the way she has treated other people as she relives one day in her life over and over.
Mauri says The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg is a “sweet (but not sappy) story about love, hope, second chances, and the small acts of kindness that can turn friends into family.”
Ann Patchett is one of Toby‘s favourite authors and her writing just seems to get better and better; Commonwealth, the story of two families over five decades, is insightful and beautiful and brilliant.
It took Rémi over 17 years to discover Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books, but this year he finally read Storm Front, the first in the series, which is “a great mix of a detective thriller and a fantasy that’s gritty, witty and just plain fun.”
All varieties of non-fiction
Aileen found that Michael de Adder’s You Might Be From Canada If… brought back memories from childhood as well as, surprisingly, tears to her eyes.
Although The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee can be difficult to read at times, Alan highly recommends it to anyone who has been touched by this pernicious disease.
Brittany found Susannah Cahalan’s memoir Brain on Fire does an excellent job of reconstructing the author’s ‘month of madness’ while suffering from a very rare disease in which the brain attacks itself.
Bryan chose The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen, a “disturbing but also entertaining” tour through the planet’s turbulent history of mass extinctions.
Chris enjoyed Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork, which shows the evolution of all of our cooking ‘gadgets’ and educates the reader in a fun way on how things have truly changed over the last 2000 years.
What struck Darragh about Kelle Hampton’s Bloom (a brutally honest and emotionally provoking memoir by a mother whose second daughter was born with Down Syndrome) was the power of perspective.
Elke picked Following Atticus by Tom Ryan: the story of a dog and a man who, as friends and equals, conquer both mountains and life’s challenges.
And We Go On [ebook only] by Will Bird was Hugh‘s choice – a memoir of trench warfare on the Western Front that is not for the faint of heart.
Lauren found the collected letters in Letters of Note (edited by Shaun Usher) hilarious to heartbreaking, but every one was a beautiful and authentic piece of writing.
Mary-Ann chose Will Ferguson’s Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, a collection of fun, entertaining, and educational pieces about interesting places across Canada.
According to Melissa, Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina, a member of ‘Pussy Riot’ the Russian collective famous for their political activism, captures the emotional process of being jailed and successfully advocating for change in the Russian penal system.
Randy says of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen: “This little book is an inspirational powerhouse with its simple, but profound ideology.”
Waiting For First Light, Romeo Dallaire’s powerful first person narrative about dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brings the experience to life and helped Steve to understand what trauma can do to a person.
For younger readers
Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi was Andrea‘s most memorable book of 2017. The tale of two boys who become connected by a line, it is a story of friendship, struggle and forgiveness–told without a single word.
Jacquie chose the beautiful picture book The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo, as a great book to share with a child to gently introduce topics of mindfulness and appreciation of silence and stillness in our busy, noisy lives.
Lori thought that she knew a fair amount about Van Gogh, but Deborah Heiligman’s YA biography Vincent and Theo: the Van Gogh Brothers provided some surprising and touching insights about his life, his art, and his premature death.
Terri couldn’t put down Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin – a funny, touching read that tells the story of Riley, a teenager who is coming to terms with what it means to be gender fluid.
And a special mention to Larisa, who published a book of her own this year! Since she had to read it more than 365 times, it definitely became her top read. Berries: 210 Thoughts and Photographs on Life, Love and Light is a book-meditation intended to be the reader’s silent friend, with laconic language and stunning black-and-white photographs.
Happy holidays, and may you never run out of great books to read in 2018!