I had another fabulous reading year filled with new authors and old standbys, and I am excited to wrap up 2020 by sharing one more set of my favorite books published this year.
Since moving to Oregon in 2018, I have been trying to catch up on regional authors. Confession: I still haven’t read “Honey in the Horn” by H.L. Davis, the only Oregon book that has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I promise to read and talk about it in 2021.
In the meantime, one of my favorite Oregon books was “Storm Beat: A Journalist Reports From the Oregon Coast” by Lori Tobias. As a newspaper reporter, mostly for the Oregonian, Tobias covered many of the Coast’s biggest stories of the 21st century. Storm Beat provides the inside scoop on some of those cases, but it is just as much about Tobias’ adaptation to a remote, rugged landscape and the changes in the newspaper world on her career.
Another nonfiction book I highly recommend is “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson, the award-winning author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” In Caste, Wilkerson uses research and anecdotes to explore the similarities between the caste systems of the United States, India and Nazi Germany.
This is a difficult book that challenged me to better understand how our country’s hierarchical system creates extraordinary divides among Americans and informs my privilege. I was pleased when she ended on a hopeful note by discussing how we can move beyond our past to a more equitable future.
My favorite escapist read was “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner, a debut novel set just after World War II in the idyllic English village of Chawton. A group of villagers bands together to save the estate where Jane Austen spent the last years of her life. Along the way, there are miscommunications, humor, long-held secrets revealed and romance. If you liked “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” I recommend immersing yourself in this society devoted to Austen.
Finally, I will wrap up this year’s picks with my favorite debut mystery, “The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman. The setup is simple: A group of four mature adults living in a retirement community in the English countryside meets weekly to review cold cases from real police files.
Before long, one of their investigations leads to a murder in the present day, and their detective skills are put to the test. This is a crew I have no doubt will run into an enormous amount of trouble, and I cannot wait to tag along on their cases.
All of these books are available at the library; place holds at roseburg.biblionix.com. Happy reading!