Gotta-buy books of 2016

by Patty Templeton

It ain’t always easy to find time in a day to read. But man, the bright light that pours outta an open book is reason enough to have a sit-down in a comfy chair and turn some pages. To help wade through the ba-zillions of books published this past year, we talked to the perfictionistsat Maria’s Bookshop.

“The Girls,” by Emma Cline

Picked By: Jeanne

“The Girls” is Cline’s debut novel. It’s a fictionalized character in the periphery of the Manson Family event. The main character is 14. It’s the beginning of the women’s revolution … The female voices in here – they have an unfulfilled longing and a vulnerability towards a sense of being seen. It is first person from the girl, but it goes from now to casting back in time. It was a pretty quick read, I thought, but has some complexity in the sense of the era.”

“The Soul of an Octopus,” by Sy Montgomery

Picked by: Clint

“This is the kind of book I appreciate because it shows us how amazing animals really are. That they are not these underlings that are lesser than us in regard to intelligence or emotional complexity. This author interned at a New England Aquarium. She didn’t know anything about the octopus … She found that this octopus built a relationship with her … Some people the octopus didn’t like and it would squirt water at them . Others the octopus would come right to the surface and reach out a tentacle to have contact … It’s an unexpectedly enlightening read.”

“A Gentleman in Moscow,” by Amor Towles

Picked by: Suzy

“This book is the history of Russia through the eyes of an imperialist who has been under house arrest in a really fancy hotel in Moscow … It starts in the 1920s and ends in the 1960s. It’s the history of Russia as people come through the doors of this grand hotel. I dog-eared so many pages … It’s kind of slow, but it is really lush. There were paragraphs that were so stunning … The character is seeing the people that come into this grand hotel. He eavesdrops on Stalin and other Soviet leaders … It’s a grand Russian style that is such a beautiful read.”

“The Underground Railroad,” by Colson Whitehead

Picked by: Roger

“Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” is one of the most cleverly written books I’ve read in my life. It’s pre-Civil War. Slaves are escaping through a real underground railroad with actual conductors and stops. Each stop, there is something going on in the state or community that is a representation of the fears that slaves had or it’s an analogy for something that actually happens in the future in regard to race … It is riveting.”

“The Tsar of Love and Techno,” by Anthony Marra

Picked by: Caleb

“This is a friendship story between brothers … It’s the duality between a good kid and a not-there-yet one. It goes from communist Russia to present day Russia … Each chapter is a different story but they each connect to each other … It’s one of those books that you can stop at the end of a chapter, come back to it a week later, and still remember what’s in there. People that are into kind of depressing books that don’t necessarily have a happy ending will like this.”

“Morning Star,” by Pierce Brown

Picked by: Meaghan

“Morning Star” is the third book in the Red Rising trilogy … It’s “Star Wars” meets “Hunger Games.” People are separated in society by color – not skin color – basically a class system. Golds are the highest class. Everyone lives on Mars … The main character [is] part of the Reds which are the slaves. They live underground. Reds think that they are preparing Mars to be terraformed and the main character finds out that higher classes have been living on Mars for centuries … There are these elements of examining democracy and when it fails. It looks at the idea of only a small amount of people being able to be happy in a given society.”

“To the Bright Edge of the World,” by Eowyn Ivey

Picked by: Andrea

“Eowyn Ivey lives in Alaska and she does historical fiction with this mythological, sometimes mystical realism twist. This one happens to be about a woman who was one of the first photographers. She photographed birds … The character follows her husband who is leading an expedition to the Alaskan territories … The landscape that she describes makes me want to go travel. It’s one of those books that makes you want to go find out more … It was lovely as an audiobook, as well.”

“The Trespasser,” by Tana French

Picked by: Molly

“The Trespasser” involves a detective team, a man and a woman who have been in other books. It’s about a young woman who is found dead in her apartment … The author’s sense of setting and character development is unreal … One thing she’s good at is shades of gray within her characters. On the surface they are one person and then underneath they have secrets that they don’t even admit to themselves. It goes from the cops trying to figure out what happened to the victim to the storyline of who the victim is. All of French’s books are page-turners; this is definitely one of the more suspenseful ones for sure.”

“The Mechanical Horse,” by Margaret Guroff

Picked by: Peter

“I really enjoyed learning about how cutting edge technology of the time built what are now these antique bicycles…To see how they were embraced by the society to varying degrees and how it started off as an affluent activity…Who would’ve thought that the original high-wheeler would try to replace the world of a horse as a means of travel?”

This interview has been edited and condensed for space and clarity.

By Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer


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