Each year during the holiday season, staff members at Westford’s J.V. Fletcher Library recommend a list of books for gift-giving. Here are this year’s picks. The content was submitted by India Nolen, assistant director of the library. If you have news, email [email protected].
The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood. Ava, a college professor, is feeling lonely and blue after the collapse of her long term marriage. Looking for an opportunity to connect with others she begs a dear friend for the coveted last spot in a Book Discussion Group. Once in, Ava learns that each member must choose the book that matters most to them and facilitate a discussion at one of their monthly meetings. Most of the members choose classics but Ava selects a book no one else has heard of. Ava’s quest to find the book and what she learns from the other members and their chosen books helps her face up to the cracks in her life and the life of her daughter Maggie.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. At the christening party for baby Franny, her mother begins an affair that will break up two marriages and forge two separate families together. The novel follows the unfolding and reshaping of these families over the course of many years. Jump to the future, where after dropping out of law school, Franny begins an affair with a well-known author who takes her family’s story and spins it into a hugely successful novel once again forcing them to revisit all that has happened to them.
Faithful by Alice Hoffman. Shelby Richmond is leading a typical adolescence growing up on Long Island until she and her best friend are in a tragic auto accident with Shelby at the wheel. Shelby walks away physically unhurt but emotionally shattered by guilt as her best friend will never recover from her injuries. She considers herself unlovable and unforgiveable and pushes away all attempts to bring her back from the brink. Through a series of unlikely allies – three rescue dogs, an unexpected “angel” and an unconventional relationship – Shelby finds a way to overcome her personal demons.
The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin. Four year old Noah gives his single mother Janie a run for her money. He is convinced he lived another life and is so insistent about “going home” that Janie turns to a child psychologist (who studies children who believe they have been reincarnated.) Guskin’s debut novel is about what a mother will do for her child, holding on and letting go and remembrance and forgetting; it is both a page turner and a beautiful meditation on life.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles. In the aftermath of the Civil War in Texas, retired army Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd makes his living travelling from town to town reading the news of the world to paying audiences. Along his travels, he is paid to return a young orphan girl named Johanna to her relatives in San Antonio. Johanna’s parents and sister were killed by Kiowa raiders who captured her and raised her as one of their own for over four years. Although she has been rescued by the U.S. army, she feels she is being torn away from her home and tries to run away every chance she gets. Along the journey, Johanna eventually begins to trust the Captain and although she has forgotten the English language, they find ways to communicate; slowly the two unlikely travelers form a strong friendship. Upon arriving in San Antonio, the Captain is faced with the moral dilemma of turning Johanna over to relatives that she does not know or taking her with him. This exquisitely rendered novella is a finalist for the 2016 National Book award.
Winter Storms by Elin Hildebrand. The third book in Hildebrand’s popular Christmas trilogy continues to follow the Quinn family on the island of Nantucket. Kelly Quinn is the patriarch of the family and runs the Winter Street Inn known for its elaborate Christmas celebrations. Kelly’s estranged wife, Mitzi, has returned after running away with the Inn’s old Santa Claus impersonator and it looks like their son who was captured in Afghanistan may be released for Christmas. His son Patrick is about to get out of prison and his daughter Ava may finally have to choose between the two loves of her lives. Middle son Kevin is planning a Christmas Eve wedding and all of their family and guests are about to descend on the island when a blizzard threatens to destroy their happy Christmas. This is a light and fun holiday story.
Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen’s best-selling autobiography is sure to be a hit with fans of “The Boss.” Detailing his thirty plus year career as one of rock and roll’s most beloved performers, Bruce shares anecdotes of his personal life and gives us a candid view of what makes him tick as an artist.
Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Forester and author, Peter Wohlleben makes the case that trees are actually part of a great social network. Through his scientific research, he demonstrates how trees form families and communicate with each other. Nature lovers will be intrigued this international best seller.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. What makes life worth living? At the age of thirty six, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. This moving memoir of a young doctor and new father grapples with the challenge of making the most of life when your life is suddenly assigned expiration date.
The Illustrated Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter fans rejoice! The glorious illustrations will charm slightly younger readers into routing for Harry, while giving die-hard fans another avenue into the captivating world at Hogwarts.
Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies. A young panda is determined to convince his father that pandas should wear pants. After all, they serve so many useful purposes. How great are pockets? It’s a funny battle of wills between father and son until an episode with a menacing snow leopard proves that pants are invaluable to pandas.
Dog Rules by Jef Czekaj. What is more fun than an interactive picture book? This story will have kids barking, growling, chirping, laughing and most importantly enjoying a good book.
The Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. Twelve year old Emily and her friends are obsessed with an online game called Book Scavenger, where books are hidden in cities throughout the world and gamers must use clues in puzzles to find them. When the creator of the game is attacked and slips into a coma, no one knows anything about the new game he was about to launch. Emily and her friend James discover an odd book that just may hold the secret that reveals the mysterious new game.
Time Fetch by Amy Herrick. An engaging fantasy novel about three friends who are pulled into a time warp after discovering what appeared to be an odd rock. They must join forces to repair the time rip before the two Universes collide and change history forever.