Last January, The Meaford Independent (TMI) publisher (my good friend) Susanne Wussow approached me with a project. She had received copy of a book by a local author in the office and asked me about reading and reviewing it for the newspaper. And with that, this monthly book review began. That first book, A Love To Last by Kendra Slee, is a romance novel set in the Meaford area, with many local references. From there I moved on to State of Terror. It was quite a jump from local romance to international intrigue written by the dynamic duo of Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton. And now, at the close of the year, I find myself thinking about the 11 books I have reviewed this year. I have always been a reader, and this opportunity to write is a new venture for me.
I am often asked how I pick the books. Other than the two books by local authors, the books were all of my choosing. In each case, the book is one I have recently read that really stood out to me, for its literary value or general interest, or, in the case of State of Terror, its thrill factor. Also, I have tried to vary the genre of book from month to month.
The most colourful and whimsical book all year is certainly House In The Cerulean Sea, a fairy tale with lessons about love and acceptance. The most scientific book was without a doubt Apollo Murders, with author-astronaut Chris Hadfield taking us on a wild ride through space. I was fascinated to read about Katie Couric’s life in Going There, and gain insight to the treatment of women in the media. The Personal Librarian also highlighted the role of women and women of colour in the early 20th century.
There is so much life experience to be gained from reading! A seasoned author like Lisa Moore in This Is How We Love can keep you turning the pages of her thrilling novel, all the while addressing the big questions of family and relationships and love. Even in the lighthearted Fortunes of Jaded Women, the author probed ideas of culture and family.
Picking a favourite read of the year seems a bit like picking a favourite child! Even if you secretly harbour ideas of one, you wouldn’t want to share it. Having said that, the one that still resonates is The Sentence by Louise Erdrich. I read it twice in a span of a couple of months and even hosted a discussion with one of my book clubs about it. For me, it hit all the right notes. I loved the characters. I loved the timeliness of including Covid and the George Floyd murder. I loved the insight into Indigenous life in a modern American city. I loved the humour. (There is a ghost in the bookstore!)
On to 2023, a new year full of new reads and reviews. There are several new books I am looking forward to. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng, Fayne by Ann Marie McDonald, to name a few. Thanks for reading along with me. Thanks to TMI for the opportunity and Stephen Vance for the editing. It’s going to be a great year!