Wow. So I put out a call for reader recommendations, and you guys had some awesome picks — lots of ‘em.
So today, my BookLoving friends, we start a new occasional series in this column, called “BookLovers Recommend...”
Just like our “Local Author Roundup,” this will be an occasional column rounding up what books SouthCoast BookLovers are loving.
Anytime you read a great book that you want to recommend to your fellow SouthCoast BookLovers, e-mail me, and I'll add it in to the next series.
Simply email me with your name, where you live, your books title(s), and a sentence or two for why you like it/them. You will automatically be added. Boom.
Because there were so many submissions for this kick-off, we’ll save part two for next week.
That means if you have a good book to recommend, just e-mail me by Monday at noon, and you’re in next week's column.
I also invite all of you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and keep our conversation going there, or recommend books through comments there. My info is at the end of this column.
And now [trumpets sound!], we commence with our first-ever “BookLovers’ Recommend…”!
Mario E. Pimental from New Bedford writes:
"First off, I want to say thank you for writing this column. I frequently check in for any upcoming book events and recommendations… Through the years, reading has been a major part of my life…Thank you, Ms. Daley, for doing this article and keeping the spirit of reading alive in the Southcoast!”
No, thank you for reading, Mario!
A member of the 2017 Half Century Club, Mario said a few favorite novels he’s read that have stuck with him in recent years include:
“The Book Thief,” by Markus Zusak (2005)
“House of Leaves,” by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)
“Moby-Dick,” by Herman Melville (1851)
“Looking for Alaska,” by John Green (2005)
“The Name of the Wind,” by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)
“Pet Sematary," by Stephen King (1983)
I love the variety here, Mario. I also want to add that both "BookThief" and “Looking for Alaska” are examples of YA at its best. Green, especially, is brilliant.
Monica Robitaille of New Bedford writes:
“My first time writing to you, but I have to write to say congratulations on your 10th birthday column. I just finished David Sedaris' ‘Calypso’ and I felt like an insider somehow, since I attended his lecture last year, and some of his chapters in the book, were from his New Bedford speech… Thank you for your column. I look forward to it every week.”
Monica, thank you for reading.
And yes, you nailed it with the “insider” feeling. I was also at Sedaris’s Zeiterion reading last fall, and with “Calypso,” (2018) seeing in print the stories we heard, I felt like someone who’d seen an early screening of a movie before it released.
Whether or not you were there, “Calypso” it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Sedaris at his driest.
Standard-Times Editor Emeritus Ken Hartnett said he read “a “wonderful book” called “A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War,” by Amanda Foreman (2010.)
A New York Times bestseller, “World on Fire” was named one of the Best Books of the Year in 2011 by The Washington Post, NPR, and the New Yorker.
Turns out there’s a local hook:
“Did you know that the British were ready to bombard New Bedford anew…during the Civil War? In fact, New Bedford was one of the ports targeted in the admiralty plan to strike the federal government had President Lincoln not decided to mollify the crown in the uproar created after the US Navy plucked two Confederate envoys off a British ship headed for England,” Ken writes. “No wonder Fort Taber was on a war alert; England was the threat back then.”
Must-read for history buffs.
Howie Galitsky of New Bedford writes: “This winter I read six books by Kent Haruf, from ‘The Ties That Bind’ to ‘Our Souls at Night.’ Loved every one and you can imagine how sad I was when I went to the library and found there were no more.”
Howie, thanks for bringing him up.
Haruf, who died in 2014, was a Master. A brilliant novelist, a supreme storyteller of small-town life. If you don’t know him, start with his 1999 bestseller “Plainsong.”
Howie adds that his “two favorite books of all time are very different. My favorite is "The Slave" by Isaac Bashevas Singer. Written in Yiddish in 1962 and translated to English, it is a love story that takes place in 17th century Poland. I have read it many times and read it to my wife and also listened to the book on audio. The other favorite is ‘Where the Red Fern Grows,’ by Wilson Rawls. I have read that book a few times and... had the opportunity to read it to a fourth grade class in Fall River.”
Oh my God. That brings back memories. “Where the Red Fern Grows” had every girl in my sixth-grade class crying, silently, when Mrs. Kirschner read it aloud. Dog-lovers, read with tissues. A brilliant middle-reader book.
John Magnan, a wildly talented Mattapoisett artist, says “as of late, I’ve been ‘binge-reading’ David Foster Wallace, both his fiction and non-fiction. I just finished ‘Infinite Jest,’ which is indescribable, and also love his non-fiction magazine essays. Brilliance, humor and insight don’t begin to describe his work. I am in awe.”
Heavy read, solid pick.
For the uninitiated, the late Wallace cut something of a cult figure on the literati scene. "Infinite Jest,” (1996) was listed by TIME as one of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005. His last novel, "The Pale King," (2011), was a Pulitzer finalist.
Dr. Laurie Dias-Mitchell of Westport says she’s recently been drawn to “nonfiction by such maestros as Paulo Freire, Jonathan Kozol, Howard Zinn, Terry Tempest Williams, Jamaica Kincaid, Viktor Frankl, Simon Wiesenthal… Their books took over my shelves and led me to donate my fiction collection a few years ago to the Westport Friends Meeting House’s annual book sale. I was running out of room.”
(Side note: donating to that sale is a great idea. Perusing those tables is a SouthCoast summer tradition.)
“Most recently, I read Mitch Landrieu’s ‘In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History’" (2018), Laurie writes. “It left me winded and yearning for a better version of America.”
Peggy Fellouris of New Bedford recalled: “In the library, in 1948, I selected ‘The Big Fisherman,’ by Lloyd C Douglas. (1948.) That book changed my feelings about reading,” she said of the Christian historical novel, set during Biblical times. “I think Mr. Douglas not only wrote a wonderful book but helped many through life.”
Books have that special power. Thanks for sharing, Peggy.
Alan Spirlet says his favorite book of all time is “Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas,” by James Patterson (2001.)
Patterson fans, and there are millions, may be surprised at this change of pace from the Edgar Award winning thriller master. This romance-with-a-twist set on nearby Martha’s Vineyard is more in the vein of Nicholas Sparks than Patterson.
“It’s very atypical of Patterson,” Alan said. “I like a good story, and this is a wonderful story.
David R. Macomber of Westport recommends “Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea,” by Melinda M. Ponder (2017.) about the woman who wrote the patriotic song, “America the Beautiful.”
Turns out, Bates was from just down Rt. 6, in Falmouth.
“It is an interesting and rewarding read,” David writes. "Bates is from Falmouth, so her story has some local ties…There are many mentions of her interacting with other writers of that era also which makes this book very enriching for the reader. I highly recommend it.”
Rachel Thomas of Fairhaven says Harper Lee’s 1960 classic "To Kill A Mockingbird” is “just the finest piece of work I have held — and has held me.”
I’ll add here that if you haven’t read that one in awhile, reread it. It’s one of those books that you’ll read differently over time, gleaning something new in each read.
Rachel says, “I tend to read by author, once I find a good one, so there's John Irving, Elizabeth Berg, Alice Hoffman, Pat Conroy, Agatha Christie, M.L. Worthington… And Stephen King's ‘Duma Key’ was riveting.”
Debbie Viveiros, of New Bedford, writes that she voted on PBS’s Great Read for her favorites:
“To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Lee
“The Stand,” by Stephen King
“A Separate Peace,” by John Knowles
“Gone With the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell
“The Godfather,” by Mario Puzo
“Wuthering Heights,” by Emily Bronte
“And Then There Were None,” by Agatha Christie
The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
Classics all, Debbie.
“I was disappointed that one of my favorite books last year— ‘A Man Called Ove’ — was not on the list,” she writes.
Yup, Fredrik Backman’s lovable curmudgeon Ove has been a Century Club Most-Read book for two years running. #MustRead.
Part II coming next week, BookLovers. Got a good book? Tell me about it.
Lauren Daley is a freelance writer and book columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @laurendaley1. Read more at https://www.facebook.com/daley.writer.