My friend Sara recently launched a reading initiative via Facebook offering to send or deliver in person a book to each of the first five people who responded.
I’m pretty sure I was the first to respond and I’m anxiously awaiting my book and planning to pay it forward by issuing the challenge on my own Facebook page. The books don’t have to be new or even anything I’ve read; just something selected for each of those five individuals.
I gleaned the list below from the comments on Sara’s post about what people are reading this year and added a few from my own to-read list. Here are the ones I’ve selected.
1.Placemaker by Christie Purifoy
“Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty and Peace” is at the top of my list and has already been preordered for months (it’s scheduled for release in March). My friend since second grade is the author. Her debut novel, “Roots and Sky” was fabulous, so I can’t wait to dig in to the follow-up. Her prose is written almost like poetry, and while it’s spiritual and has elements of nature and faith, it’s got something for everyone. Can’t. Freakin’. Wait.
2.The Martian by Andy Weir
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS, this is the book based on astronaut Mark Watney, one of the first to walk on Mars. It’s also a movie starring Matt Damon. I haven’t seen the movie or read the book, but typically you can’t walk away from a good astronaut story without feeling inspired. The loneliness, despair and fear that occurs when, for example, your car runs out of gas or GPS tells you the address you plugged in does not exist must be compounded by about 1,000 when you’re hanging out on ANOTHER PLANET. I can’t even imagine. Sounds like a good read, and I’m looking forward to it.
3.Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
I like Jodi Picoult. I’ve read several of her books including “Vanishing Acts,” “The Tenth Circle,” “Plain Truth” and “The Pact.” Thanks, Goodreads app, for reminding me of what I’ve read, want to read and what all my friends are reading. These novels are well thought-out, have interesting plots and good character development. They’re not short, but they’re not too long and I can burn through them pretty quickly. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll know what I mean when I say they’re good for the airplane or the beach or getting a few pages in while the significant other is watching a basketball game. “Spark” is about a hostage situation at a women’s reproductive center. It sounds interesting and is probably considered “chick lit,” but I’m always down for some good fiction, and readers can count on Picoult to deliver it.
4.Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
The author of “Salvage the Bones,” winner of the 2011 National Book Award, is back with “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” which was published in 2017 but is just now gaining traction in the world of readers and book clubs. Author Jesmyn Ward tells the story of a black woman and her two children on a road trip to pick up their white father from prison. The story has tones of racism, abuse and drug use. It sounds as though readers may be sympathetic toward each of the flawed characters simply because they’ve been dealt a raw deal and they’re trying to exist the only way they know how. It’s one of those books where the point of view switches from character to character, which are sometimes hard to follow, but I’m looking forward to this one.
5.Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
I’m not sure what this says about my intellect, but this is the kind of book I can read in a couple of days. The novel tells the story of 15-year-old Ellie Mack, who was basically a golden child beloved by her family friends and boyfriend, the most popular girl in school, you get the picture … And then she was gone. So cut to 10 years later as Ellie’s mother is trying to put together the pieces of a missing child and a broken marriage. She begins dating a man and his youngest daughter looks oddly like her Ellie. So did Ellie run away? Was she kidnapped by this mystery man and brainwashed? Yeah, I’m gonna read that for sure.
6.Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
I liked “Big Little Lies,” the Liane Moriarty book that was made into an HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. So I then read “What Alice Forgot,” which was good but not great. So now the latest from the Australian author is about – you guessed it – nine perfect strangers who meet up at a health spa and encounter an unusual guru-style director who appears to know more than he should about them. Sounds interesting.
7.I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillan
I like this author; I read her book “What She Knew” and enjoyed it. Her work is sort of along the lines of the thriller-mystery, which is definitely what I’m into, but the books are also a little formulaic. In “I Know You Know,” a guy goes back to his hometown to investigate the 20-year-old murders of his childhood friends. First of all, what’s up with these people just playing private detective and flying cross country to solve a crime decades later? I mean, don’t they have jobs or families or obligations? Also I’m pretty sure if I started digging up graves or rifling through treehouses on private property, I’d be shut down pretty quickly. I’ll give it a chance, but it’s not at the top of my list.
8.The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This one is not doing a whole lot for me but a whole lot of my reader friends are saying it’s the greatest book ever. It’s set in France in 1939, so you’ve already pretty much lost me there. Zzzzzz. But I have hope for a good story of war, survival, love and resilience. You can’t go wrong with that.
9.Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt
This book, billed as a five-step plan for achieving goals, sounds like a pretty good motivator for the first of the year.
“We all want to live a life that matters,” states the synopsis on Amazon. “We all want to reach our full potential … Our big goals get pushed to the back burner and then, more often than not, they get forgotten.”
I tend to think that these books offer common-sense advice: Drink more water, exercise, work hard but not too hard, get eight hours of sleep, create a productivity schedule and stick to it. Yeah, we know those things – but sometimes we need a little nudge and maybe this guy has some new tricks up his sleeve. I probably won’t purchase this one but I’d read it if someone gave it to me (hint, hint).
10.The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
This is a psychological thriller about a woman who lives “the perfect life” as a painter living with her husband in London. One evening her husband comes home and she shoots him in the face five times. But she never says another word. This one could be totally boring – I mean, there’s not much dialogue if the lady ain’t talking – but it could be an intriguing journey into how psychotherapists glean clues from their patients, even when they’re not being truthful or not speaking at all.