We asked a simple question: What was your favorite book reading experience of the year? And we received a variety of answers, from short story collections to science fiction and mysteries. Self help books, memoirs, and nonfiction.
Some readers submitted brand new books like The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, The Institute by Stephen King, The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele, Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, Arabs by Tim Mackintosh-Smith, The 19th Christmas by James Patterson, Say Nothing by Patrick Keefe, Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell, The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad, How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals by Sy Montgomery, Little Faith by Nickolas Butler, The Invited by Jennifer McMahon, Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman, Titan and the Wild Boards: The True Cave Rescue of the Thai Soccer Team by by Susan Hood and Patthana Sornhiran, and Sherwood by Meagan Spooner.
Other readers answered with their favorite reads regardless of publication date, The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene, The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena, Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, Don Quixote de La Mancha, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Benjamin Franklin an American Life by Walter Isaacson, Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson, and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.
Two books stood out from the rest with multiple votes were Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and Educated by Tara Westover.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
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Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.
Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.
When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
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