Shelf life: Best of '23 and what to read in '24

By Lauri Wilson

It's almost time to wrap up 2023! As with so many things, year's end makes me want to review and I always look back at what I read this year.

With so many choices of reading material out there, it was easy for me to miss a lot of really good books. But here they are-- along with quite a few new ones too.

You may have read this popular author since we have several of her other books. This one has been busy since it arrived. Several friends already have read and enjoyed "The First Ladies" by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. It's the fictionalized account of an unlikely friendship that had powerful consequences back in its time: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune. How they became acquainted and what happened next is the subject of this fascinating true historical fiction.

Even though Louise Penny's "A World of Curiosities" has been out for a while, it's easy to jump back into one of her cozy mysteries. They're usually set around the village and include the townspeople of Three Pines, a charming, friendly and welcoming little place. Still, there's always some aspect of evil for Inspector Gamache to unravel.

If you're looking for a change of perspective, this book should give you some ideas. We take for granted our own view of the world, which can't be compared to the amazing viewpoints of creatures who share the planet with us. Science writer Ed Yong takes readers on a journey to worlds you never knew existed in his book "An Immense World."

From Tesla to Space X to simply X: Read it all in "Elon Musk" by Walter Isaacson. Can one book completely explain the mind of this unconventional businessman-investor? We'll see what this excellent biographer reveals about Musk's unorthodox childhood, his family, his business failures and triumphs and his latest endeavors.

Next on my list are upcoming books that aren't even published or in our library, but that I plan to read soon.

Naturally, I included some giant books which are my favorite, and here are two more: Ken Follett's "The Armor of Light" continues a series I've been reading since 1989 and have recommended to many people through the years.

"The Running Grave" by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike series) is another doorstopper of a book with more exploits of private detective Cormoran Strike. If you didn't already know, Galbraith is a pseudyonym for J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.

I sure don't want to miss "The Exchange" by John Grisham. It's a sequel to the bestselling novel "The Firm," which made John Grisham a household name back in 1991. Did you ever wonder what happened to Mitch McDeere after he exposed a mess of corporate intrigue in his Memphis law firm? And if you're one of the few who haven't read the original novel or need a refresher, we have it along with a whole shelf of other Grisham books.

Another book coming soon (March 2024) that looks very interesting is from one of my favorite authors, Chris Bohjalian. "The Princess of Las Vegas" is about a Vegas nightclub singer whose act is built around impersonating the late Princess Diana, and who performs at none other than the fictitious Buckingham Palace Casino. Only in Vegas, folks. Throw in some political scandal, gangsters, and murder and you've got a weekend to remember.

Another new book coming out in April of next year is "Close to Death" by Anthony Horowitz. Many of you know he's one of my favorites too. These are fun since the author is a character in his own novels, and it's amusing to watch how he spars with PI Hawthorne in every book in the series.

These are just a few of the books I skipped this year, but I think are worthwhile reading and I hope to get to them soon, and some of the ones that I'm really anticipating for the next year. I hope you have a great year of reading in 2024!

Lauri Wilson is the cataloging and digital content librarian at South Arkansas College.

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