Resolve to Read in 2019
Happy 2019, everyone! Let’s start the new year off right with some book recommendations. You won’t find any titles here about getting organized or losing weighh - although the library does have many books on those topics, so don’t hesitate to check us out if that’s your resolution. These are some fun, somewhat fluffy fiction titles, with characters you can root for as they grow, change, meet new people, fall in love and generally open themselves up to glorious possibility. Consider them books about new beginnings for the new year! Also, if you are participating in any sort of 2019 Reading Challenge, these may check one of your boxes! You can find a rather impressive master list of all the various reading challenges floating around the Internet here. Happy reading!
Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles: Fittingly enough, this charmer of a book, an international bestseller that was first published in Spain, opens at the New Year. Our main character is Samuel, a rather introverted and set in his ways linguistics professor. He watches the celebration on television and tells himself that his new year will likely be much like the old (and that he’s perfectly happy with the status quo) ...until a stubborn stray cat sneaks into his apartment and refuses to leave. Trying to find the cat’s owner leads Samuel to meeting and making friends with one of his neighbors, reconnecting with a lost childhood sweetheart and experiencing the joys of “love in lowercase” a phenomenon described as “a small act of kindness that sets off a chain of events that comes back around in the form of multiplied love.” This is absolutely a book to enjoy on one of the miserable cold wet days we’ve been having lately along with a blanket, a cup of cocoa and maybe a loveable stray cat of your own. Reading Challenge Checkboxes: Translated Works, Books with Red Covers, Books Set in a Country Not Your Own, Books Featuring Pets, Books with Alliterative Titles.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons: Flora Poste finds herself in dire circumstances - recently orphaned, overly educated but with no marketable skills or any desire to develop them and, worst of all, she’s broke. Her only option is to move in with her very eccentric Starkadder cousins who live in the wilds of distant Sussex and are a mix of fire and brimstone religious fervor, seething resentment, sexual promiscuity, and varying degrees of mental instability all covered in about 10 years’ worth of grime and rot. But Flora is also practical to a fault and loves managing people so she rolls up her sleeves and decides she’s going to break her relations of all their bad habits and make them the sort of proper people she can live with...and they really have no say in the matter. Originally published in 1932, Cold Comfort Farm parodies the sometimes overly doom-laden pastoral works of such authors as Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence and Gibbons’ contemporary Mary Webb (one reviewer described her works as “soil and gloom”) so if you have any familiarity with those, it takes on a whole other level of absurdity. But don’t worry, even if you don’t get all the inside jokes it’s still a delightfully skewed take on personal growth and character reformation. Who knows? Perhaps reading this book will give you some ideas on how to deal with your own impossible relations or make you grateful yours aren’t as bad! Reading Challenge Checkboxes: Works of Classic Literature, Parodies or Satirical Works, Books that Have Been Featured on Best of Lists (Number 57 on The Guardian’s 100 Best Novels Written in English) and depending on which addition you read, Books with Animals on the Cover.
Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet by Various Authors: This collection of short stories features a variety of how-we-met stories by a diverse group of popular Young Adult authors. Genres range from realistic fiction to those with a touch of science fiction or fantasy (would-be sweethearts separated by a one-way mission to Mars, for example) and the backgrounds of the characters are equally varied with many stories featuring LGBTQ protagonists or characters of color. Noteworthy contributors include Nicola Yoon, author of the YA smash hits The Sun is Also a Star and Everything, Everything and romantic tropes abound including meet-ups that revolve around an overdue library book, missed subway connections, and love across different high school social circles. Overall, the stories share the same core message that genuine human connection is worth it despite the possibility of heartache. A lovely message to take us into the new year! Reading Challenge Checkboxes: Almost too many to name including YA Books, Books Featuring LGBTQ Characters, Characters or Authors of Color, and of course Anthology or Short Story Collection. And the best part is that if you find an author you really like, you can then go back and read all their other works!
Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding: This comedic novel (a modern-day version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice) is the story of a 30-something woman who is convinced her life would be better if she could lose weight, drink and smoke less and develop “inner poise.” Sounds perfect for New Year’s, right? Over one very eventful year, Bridget endures disastrous dinner parties, a cheating cad of a boyfriend, parental drama, and an incident involving a fireman’s pole and accidentally showing her underwear on television. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll delight as Bridget finally discovers a guy who adores her “just as you are.” Maybe try this one as an audiobook so you can listen to it while you’re working out/cleaning your closet/learning a new skill/insert your New Year’s resolution of choice here. At the very least, it might make you feel better about your own occasional lapses on your path to self-improvement. Reading Challenge Checkboxes: Books Written in First Person, Books Written in Diary Format, Books to Films, Adaptations of Classic Works.
Circe by Madeline Miller: Okay, this one is decidedly not fun or fluffy, but it was my favorite book of 2018 and it very much features glorious possibility and characters transforming so, I’m including it. Circe takes an extremely minor character in Homer’s massive work The Odyssey, the enchantress who turns men into pigs (see, told you there would be character transformations!) and gives her a richly detailed backstory that perfectly fits within the larger mythological context with appearances by not only wily Odysseus but also divine figures Hermes and Athena and horrific monsters ranging from the Minotaur to the sea monster Scylla. More than just a mythological Who’s Who, the book traces Circe’s journey from a lonely outsider to a strong confident woman with power even the gods fear while also touching on complex topics of good and evil, motherhood, feminism, love and mortality. Reading Challenge Checkboxes: Books Based on Mythology, Books Featuring a Strong Female Character, Books that Were #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List, Books that Make You Despair You’ll Never Write Anything this Good (this one may just be me.)
And of course, all these titles also check the box for Recommended by Someone Else! Still looking for titles to complete your reading challenge? Ask your friendly librarian!
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