Stars of 2009

This year most of my favorite books are nonfiction titles. I loved reading Good Poems edited by Garrison Keillor. As with any poetry anthology, the poems can be read over the course of one snowy day, or they can be savored one at a time over a month of Sundays. The anthology contains so many of my much-loved poets:  Billy Collins, Robert Frost, Robert Bly, Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Walt Whitman, and Denise Levertov.

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew Crawford has just been listed in the NYT Book Review’s 100 Notable Books of 2009. Crawford holds a PhD in political philosophy, is a fellow at the University of Virginia, and owns his own motorcycle repair shop. Crawford suggests that our modern world has disconnected us from truly understanding the material world. To reconnect, he proposes that we become able to make and repair things, not just to save money, but for the satisfaction of becoming the “master of one’s own stuff.”

Diane Ackerman’s Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day would make a perfect Christmas gift for the nature lover on your list. Her writing is thought-provoking, lyrical, and beautiful.  There are underlying themes of change and suffering, but her focus is truly joy. Joy in being alive. Joy in being a part of this immense universe.

Of the two fiction books that have topped my reading list, one is purely fun and the other is serious with themes of duty and honor. Dog on It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery by Spencer Quinn is the start of a great new series. Chet is the canine narrator of the mystery and is partnered with Bernie, a private investigator. Chet and Bernie have each other’s backs as they hunt for a missing teenage girl. The story is very humorous, but readers will be in suspense until the very end as they worry about Chet’s fate.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd is also the beginning of a series. Charles Todd is the pen name for this mother/son writing team best known for their Ian Rutledge mystery series. Bess Crawford is their new heroine. She is serving England as a nurse during the Great War. As she tends to a dying soldier, he asks her to take a message to his family. After Bess is rebuffed by the family, she begins to probe into the family’s history only to discover a hidden and devastating betrayal. Readers will be fascinated by this brooding and evocative mystery.

~Merry Christmas from Rosemary

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