N Magazine’s resident bookworm Tim Ehrenberg gives his ultimate winter reading list.
HAMNET by Maggie O’Farrell
This novel might just end up being my favorite book of the year. Winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Hamnet is a fictional account of William Shakespeare’s family, an intimate portrait of his marriage to Agnes and the grief of losing their son, Hamnet, to the plague in 1596. It’s a stunning story for the senses, one in which you can see the characters, feel their grief and hear the wind and rain. It’s so expertly written, I would sometimes read pages twice just for the beauty of the prose. I will never forget Hamnet.
MAGIC LESSONS by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman casts another magic spell with Magic Lessons, a standalone prequel to her bestselling Practical Magic. Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby, falls in love and follows a man to Salem, Massachusetts, where she is accused of witchcraft and learns the lessons of magic and love.
THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS by Jodi Picoult
There are no “two ways” about it. I love Jodi Picoult books! She always manages to come out with issue-based stories that deal with something I am intimately experiencing in my own life. The Book of Two Ways is a riveting novel about the choices that alter the course of our lives and dives deeply into Egyptian history. It’s also about death, which I feel we don’t discuss enough as a society. No stranger to losing loved ones, I found this book healing and therapeutic as well as entertaining and educational.
ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Fredrik Backman
Who is feeling anxious these days? From the No. #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beartown and Us Against You comes a charming, poignant novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air and eight extremely anxious strangers. Backman’s books always manage to make me laugh out loud, tear up toward the end and give me hope that people will someday realize we are much more alike then we are different.
LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND by Rumaan Alam
A quick read with a lasting impression, Leave the World Behind is a novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend. Amanda and Clay and their children rent a beautiful home in Long Island for a vacation. Ruth and GH ring the doorbell, claiming to be the owners of the home, who need shelter from a sudden blackout in New York City. This is a novel for our times, a thriller, but also a sensitive look at trust, parenthood, race and class.
THE SEARCHER by Tana French
Crime novel aficionados, your search is over! I have always been an avid fan of Tana French’s Dublin murder novels, and this stand-alone book delivers the same great writing, rich characterization and thrilling crime solving as that detective series. Cal Hooper retires to an Irish village after a bad divorce and twenty-five years on the Chicago police force. Almost immediately, a local kid asks him to investigate what happened to his missing brother and all of the secrets of his new community come out in the search.
Support your Island Indies. All books are available at Mitchell’s Book Corner & Nantucket Bookworks!