As we all prepare to gather with friends and family – eating black eye-peas, singing Auld Lang Syne and watching a glistening ball drop to ring in the New Year – we librarians though we’d reflect on the best parts of 2014. Most specifically, we thought we’d share our favorite books, movies, and other media that we added to the Pryor Public Library in 2014.
5) And Then There Were Nuns by Jane Christmas. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy this combination of humor and reflection. Jane decides to spend a year trying out the life of a nun in four different convents just as her long-time boyfriend proposes to her – will she choose a life of religious contemplation or the partnership of marriage?
4) Gulp by Mary Roach. Here’s a science writer who isn’t afraid to take on the tough questions, like: who taste-tests pet food? This is a book that’s both funny and informative, and answers questions you never would have even thought to ask.
3) The Ice Dragon by George R R Martin. Is this a fairytale, a children’s book, a fable…? I can’t figure it out and I don’t care. This is simply a lovely story of a young, sad girl and her impossible ice dragon. Although not directly related, it’s set in the same world as A Song of Ice and Fire, and it’s beautifully illustrated.
2) Personal by Lee Child. “Action-packed” doesn’t even begin to describe the Jack Reacher series, and this latest book is no exception. I have to be careful when I start reading one of these books, because I know I won’t want to do anything else until it’s done!
1) Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Maybe you know her from the Dresden Dolls. Maybe you know her as Neil Gaiman’s wife. Maybe you just know her as that lady with the drawn-on eyebrows who sometimes takes off her clothes in public. But I can guarantee that whatever you think you know about Amanda Palmer, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here she talks about her art, her marriage, and how she both longs for and fears asking for help.
5) Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman. Anne Hillerman has done a fascinating job in taking up her father’s pen and finding her own voice as a writer. The novel still features Officer Chee and Detective Leaphorn, but is told from the perspective of Officer Bernadette Manualito. A must read for Tony Hillerman fans, or anyone who likes plot-twisting mysteries with strong female protagonists.
4) Attack on Titan (manga written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama). I love this series because it pulls from post-apocalyptic science fiction and ancient Greek mythology. What a seemingly juxtaposed mash-up, right? The story focuses on three cadets, the Titans they set out to kill, and the scientific mystery that shrouds the Titans.
3) August Osage County (movie). I have to preface that I am a little biased, since this story takes place near my home. But I can also strongly attest that the film – based on the internationally acclaimed play by Tulsan playwright Tracy Letts – has totally got Osage County’s number. A broken family is brought together by the painfully offhanded suicide of their father. In their dysfunctional gathering, the family has to sort through the histories of the past and grapple with the honesty of the present. Meryl Streep and Julia Robert have astonishing mother-daughter chemistry on screen.
2) I’m a Frog! by Mo Willems. Just introduced to Mo Willems this year, I instantly fell in love with his clever and charming characters. His books can be enjoyed by parents as well as kids! In this book, Piggie uses her pluckiness and ample persistence to convince Gerald its okay to play and pretend. Memorable lines: Piggie: “Everyone pretends.” Gerald: “Even grown-up people?” Piggie: “All the time.”
1) Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell. This book is an incredible jaunt that everyone should go on. Now! Tomorrow? It really doesn’t matter; time is subjectively objective, or objectively subjective. Part sci-fi, part post-apocalyptic fantasy—and all time travel—this book goes beyond blending genres and becomes something all its own. The protagonist, jaded from observing all of human history, discovers that his own life is a perplexing mystery – one that he will spend the rest of his life (or lives?) trying to unravel. Ferrell writes with the sharpness of Kurt Vonnegut and the foreboding of Cormack McCarthy. I’ve never read anything quite like this book.
Susan, our director, focused a lot on Young Adult literature this Year. Here is her Top Five for Teens List:
5) Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick. Music fans everywhere are going to appreciate this time travel young adult novel, especially when the time travel includes going back to Woodstock! Rich pulls out a guitar that has been hidden from him (he thinks it’s because of its extreme value) and plays it in defiance. It could be that Rich will meet not only his father as a young man, but the great guitar player of his father’s era: Jimmy Hendrix! Not for the meek and merry, but this book brings another look at the great historical concert from a different perspective.
4) Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Cinder does to Cinderella Tales what Twilight did to Vampire stories in this true science fiction book. Like Twilight, Cinder is the first in a series and the characters are unbelievably attractive even though the horror exists and surrounds them. Like Twilight the moment I finished the first (and the second) book, I wanted to begin the next. I’m not saying that only people who like Twilight will love Cinder! No, not at all! Even those die-hard vampire fans will want to put down their wanna-be Twilight novels and read about Cinder the cyborg mechanic.
3) Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge. Written in prose, Walker offers up prayers to Jesus because he questions why his brother, Noah, died. Interestingly enough, Jesus answers in this controversial book that will have adults frowning. I expect this one to enter the banned books for the upcoming season.
2) Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers. Loved this Britain 15th-century historical fiction about a female assassin who must fight her way though deadly palace deceptions, sickening sexual servitude, and baffling assignments. Action packed seat-burner and nail-biter. Those who love King Arthur books will enjoy this as well.
1) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. This is the perfect love story. There is no place to sit when Eleanor steps onto the bus on her first day of school. No one will let her sit. Just as she’s about to think she has to stand for the trip, Park slides over to let her sit with him. This book has all the components and I’m guessing they are scrambling to make the movie! It’s not about perfect people by no means, but this one is not to miss.
Basically, 2014 was full of awesome! What were your favorites this year?