Good reads to while away the holidays

Oak Bay librarian offers her top 10 picks for December reads

From dark humour to dark history, moving love stories to the thrill of the chase, here are 10 page-turners perfect for December.

A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power, by Paul Fischer – I have been fascinated by this story ever since I heard it on NPR’s podcast This American Life. It’s a nonfiction thriller packed with tension, passion and politics; author Paul Fischer offers a rare glimpse into a secretive world, illuminating a fascinating chapter of North Korea’s history that helps explain how it became the intensely stage-managed country that it remains today.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan – This fascinating memoir by long-time New Yorker staff writer Finnegan pays tribute to the ancient art of surfing as he chases waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia and Africa.

• Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Through thoughtful and brilliant letters to his son, Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis of identity and race.

• Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson – The acclaimed author tells the enthralling and important story of the sinking of the Lusitania and captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

• The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma – This haunting mythical story is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990s Nigeria and the four brothers whose lives are changed forever when they encounter a madman who predicts that one of the brothers will kill another.

• God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison – The first novel by Morrison to be set in our current moment weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.

• The Light of the World: A Memoir, by Elizabeth Alexander – After the sudden death of her husband at just 49, Alexander channels her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid prose, telling  a love story that is, itself, a story of loss.

• Some Luck, by Jane Smiley – Smiley, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, creates an epic novel that spans 30 years in the lives of a farm family in Iowa, telling a parallel story of the changes taking place in America from 1920 through the early 1950s.

• Sweetland, by Michael Crummey—This unforgettable novel, both darkly comic and heartbreakingly sad, is a deeply suspenseful story about one Newfoundland man’s struggles against the forces of nature and the ruins of memory.

• Undermajordomo Minor, by Patrick deWitt – Undermajordomo Minor is a triumphant ink-black comedy of manners by the Governor General’s Award-winning author of The Sisters Brothers. It is an adventure, and a mystery, but above all it is a love story.

Sarah Isbister is the Children & Family Literacy Librarian at the Oak Bay Branch Greater Victoria Public Library. She writes twice a month in the Oak Bay News, about both children’s and adult books.

 

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