Thursday, May 18, 2017

On the Bestseller List

Reprinted from the Citizen:

There are many places to find bestselling books list- The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and Amazon- just to name a few. This month’s Book Report is a rundown on some of the books on bestsellers lists, in a variety of genres.

George Saunders is known for his brilliant short story collections, “The Tenth of December” being his most recent one loved by critics. He tackles historical fiction in his first novel, “Lincoln in the Bardo”, which is a tour-de-force in literary fiction. 
Lincoln in the Bardo

“Lincoln in the Bardo” takes a real event- the death of Abraham Lincoln’s young son Willie- and creates a masterful novel, posturing what happens after death. Saunders has multiple characters speaking here, most of them residing someone between death and the afterlife, and they tell the stories of their own lives and how they came to be “in the bardo”.

His Lincoln is a father torn asunder by grief, mourning not only his own son, but all the sons he has sent to death in war. Interspersed is dialogue from people who knew Lincoln, some real excerpts and some Saunders himself has written. It is unique and inventive.

Angie Thomas’s debut novel, “The Hate U Give” has also gained critical acclaim. Her novel tops the Young Adult bestseller list but I found it to be just as appealing to adults who don’t necessarily read YA fiction. 
The Hate U Give

Starr is a sixteen year-old young woman who lives in with her parents in an inner city but attends a private suburban school. She straddles both worlds, and has a boyfriend from school that her parents don’t know about. When Starr sees a friend from her neighborhood killed by a police officer during a traffic stop, her family’s life is turned upside down.

I loved Starr’s family- her hardworking mother, her father who is dedicated to bettering his part of the world, her half-brother, her policeman uncle who is also torn by this incident. They love each other fiercely and work hard to get what we all want- a good life for our families. I highly recommend “The Hate U Give” for teenagers on up.

Anne LaMott writes fiction, but is better known for her nonfiction works, like “Grace (Eventually), Thoughts on Faith”. Her latest work is a slim book, “Hallelujah Anyway”, a book about mercy, a timely topic as Pope Francis has spoken and written extensively on this issue as well. 
Hallelujah Anyway

LaMott works hard to be be a better person daily, but she often falls short, as do we all. She asks us all to show mercy to each other, even to those with whom we don’t seem to share much in common, and in today’s divided nation her words are a welcome reminder.

It’s baseball season, and former Atlanta Braves superstar Chipper Jones’ memoir, “Ballplayer” has broken through to hit a Nonfiction bestseller list that is filled mostly with political books. Jones was a mainstay player for the Braves, the only team he played for in his nearly twenty-year Major League Baseball career, which doesn’t happen often in today’s world of free agency. 

Jones was part of the 1995 Atlanta Braves World Series champions, MVP in 1999, and certainly will be a Hall Of Famer in 2018. He shares stories of his baseball journey, as well as his personal life, which had a few missteps. This one is for baseball fans of any team.

Alyssa Mastromonaco grew up in a small town in upstate New York, and although she didn’t attend an Ivy League school like most of her coworkers, her hard work and intelligence paid off as she rose to become President Obama’s deputy chief of staff and chronicles her life in “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?” 
Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?

Mastromonaco’s book gives an insider’s view of working in the White House, and I admired how she worked hard at every job- whether a cashier at her local grocery store in Rheinbeck while in high school or her job at Sotheby’s in New York City. This is a wonderful book to give to a college graduate, a how-to on how to get where you want to go.

As today is Mother’s Day, I’d like to thank all the moms who gave their children the gift of of a lifelong love of reading, including my own Mom, who read me “Miss Suzy” until I could recite it word for word. Happy Mother’s Day!

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