Our first comes from Diana Pepall, the Manager of Collection Development Services. Then scroll down to see Teen Librarian Allison Hall-Murphy's picks of teen books that are also great to recommend to adults.
Diana's Favourite Reads of 2009:
The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens
Mary Gooch is 300 lbs, lives in small town Ontario, and works in a pharmacy. When her husband leaves her on their 25th wedding anniversary she embarks on a road trip of self-discovery that ends up in California. Lansens is an excellent storyteller and her books are filled with likeable and sympathetic characters.
The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British by Sarah Lyall
Lyall is a New York Times reporter who moved to England in the 1990’s to be with her now husband. Each chapter of The Anglo Files is on some amusing aspect of British life. Her chapters on Parliament and the British press are particularly hilarious.
The Secret River by Kate Grenville
A multi award winning historical novel about the settling of New South Wales by British convicts.
Searching for the Secret River: A Writing Memoir by Kate Grenville
The Secret River started out as a nonfiction book about Grenville’s ancestor. When she could not find enough details about him she turned it into a work of fiction. This book charts that process and gives a fascinating insight into the writing and researching of a novel. You share her delight when she discovers documents in both large and obscure little libraries in England and Australia.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Traces the lives of a number of enthralling characters as they live through the Biafran civil war in Nigeria. Winner of the 2006 Orange Prize. A very gripping story.
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
The only mystery on my list. A woman who is arrested for leaving the scene of an accident claims she is one of the two sisters who were kidnapped thirty years earlier. A real page turner that makes you not want to do anything else but read it.
Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby
The always hilarious Nick Hornby does not disappoint in his latest book. The lives of an obsessed fan of an obscure 80’s musician and his girlfriend, who live in an English seaside town that has seen better days, are juxtaposed with the life of the 80’s musician who lives in the US. Nick Hornby writes frequently about popular music. He is a huge fan and it shows.
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Another novel revolving around music. This one shows the redemptive power that music can have even in the midst of such appalling conditions endured during the siege of Sarajevo.
Lucky Girl: A Memoir by Mei-Ling Hopgood
Hopgood is an American journalist who was adopted from Taiwan when a baby. Here she recounts her reunion with her birth family and the shocking events of their lives.
That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
A new Richard Russo is always a treat. This one takes place during 2 weddings a year apart and contains lots of flashbacks. The main character is a dissatisfied college professor who is hounded by his mother and carries the ashes of his father around in the trunk of his car.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
I never really thought of myself as a fan of historical novels and yet I have four on my list. The Lacuna is the story of a young man who has an American father and a Mexican mother. He spends time in both countries. While in Mexico he works as a cook for artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and maintains a lifelong friendship with Frida. Kingsolver is a wonderful, original, writer and this maintains her very high standard.
Allison's Favourite Reads of 2009:
Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
Karl “Psycho” Shoemaker has 5 jobs, an irresponsible party girl for a Mom and a reputation as a bunny murderer. This hilarious and sad book chronicles a year in the life of Karl and his circle of friends who are brought together by their participation in a school therapy group. Colourful 1970s details abound but don’t distract from the story. I’m giving this to my 22-year-old brother for Christmas.
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
A thoughtful portrait of a young woman questioning her faith in god and the world as she faces both her parents’ weaknesses and a community tragedy.
Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Micah’s secret boyfriend was just murdered in Central Park and she doesn’t have a clue who did it or why. You can’t trust a thing she says, though, because Micah has a habit of lying about everything…
Diary of a Chav by Grace Dent
Shiraz Bailey-Wood is the funniest fictional teen diarist since Adrian Mole. Includes handy glossary of British slang!
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Hundred of years after the zombie apocalypse, what’s left of humanity is still under siege. This book has gory zombie action, it’s set in a religious dystopia and there are love triangles galore--complex love polyhedrons, really. You should read it, and buy it for the Twilight lover in your family.
Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman
Andromeda Klein is hard of hearing, brittle of bone and a devoted scholar of the occult. She has just lost her only friend to cancer and her older boyfriend has cut off all contact. When Andromeda realizes that her local library is weeding the rare occult books she loves and selling them on ebay she realizes she must come up with a plan to save them. This is a weird and wonderful book.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
This book reads like a combination of Norma Klein and Madeline L’Engle. The year is 1979. Miranda, age 12, lives in New York City with her Mom, who is training to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid. After school one day, Miranda finds the first in a series of mysterious notes that seem to predict the future and provide a list of instructions for her to follow. This book explores the mundane difficulties of friendship in the middle grades as well as some pretty mind-blowing metaphysical questions.
The Secret Lives of Great Authors by Robert Shnakenberg
We’ve probably all heard about the debaucherous exploits of Lord Byron, and maybe even the excesses of Balzac, but were you aware that Louisa May Alcott was an opium fiend and Shakespeare cheated on his taxes? Amusing cartoon-style illustrations and a breezy, salacious tone make this a hard book to put down.