Fiction or non-fiction?  That is the question.  And within each category we have such a bounty from which to choose.  Here are my favourites from this past year.  I invite you to share yours with us, too.

PRECIOUS CARGO by Craig Davidson - The author is desperate to find work and accepts the only job offered to him, driving a small school bus for “precious cargo”, the term referring to children with special needs.  The school year is filled with challenges for the driver as well as his charges, and we readers are indeed lucky to be aboard as well.

CALYPSO by David Sedaris - Each short story is a chapter in Sedaris’s life.  It can be sometimes sad, often happy, gritty, graphic, tragic & also truly hilarious.  The first sentence he writes in the first story goes like this, ”Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age.”

LIFE ON THE GROUND FLOOR - letters from the edge of emergency medicine by James Maskalyk - Canadian emergency room physician, teacher & member of Mediciens Sans Frontiers, explains emergency room procedures from A to Z and the contrast between care & equipment available to us & places like Ethiopia, bringing humanity, care & dignity to those who have nothing.

THE GOLDEN HOUSE by Salman Rushdie - Fact & fiction collide in this novel that takes us from India to the USA, where your past will always find you.

THE WEIGHT OF INK by Rachel Kadish - Historical fiction at its best.  Alternating chapters from London in the 1600’s to London in 2000, where a historian of Jewish history discovers ancient documents in an old mansion. This novel has 560+ pages, but not one page too many.

RESCUED by David Rosenfelt - The latest of his many Andy Carpenter mysteries.  Of course this one also features a crime, dogs, a great plot, court scenes, dogs, a reluctant lawyer, love of dogs and hilarious writing!

SUNBURN by Laura Lippman - Psychological suspense novel takes place in a small town in Delaware.  Who is telling the truth?  When someone dies, is it a murder? Twists & turns & revelations right to the end.

UNCOMMON TYPE: Some Stories by Tom Hanks (yes, the actor!) -  Talented 1st crack at writing short stories - very well written:  some are very good, a few are great & all have a typewriter theme!


Listed below are two wonderful books to give as gifts, or even better, to read aloud to your young ones, prompting meaningful discussions on these important & timely issues.

BLOOM by Kyo Maclear - Dazzlingly illustrated picture-book for ages 4 & up - Touches on the bio of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, who dared to be different from the time she was a child & without her family’s support, inspiring the artist & fashionista in all of us.

WISHTREE by Katherine Applegate - book with beautiful illustrations for ages 6 & up - A lovely & gentle story of a very old oak tree in a town where newcomers are not always welcomed. A relevant and dignified tale.

Sometimes I think to myself, “Put down this book & get things done!”  

Then I laugh & turn the page.

June Holmes