Because it’s worth it. Worth the risk and the pain. Of all the glorious enchantments of the world – spring, snow, laughter, red roses, dogs, books – love is by far the best
~ Jon Cohen, Harry’s Trees
~ Jon Cohen, Harry’s Trees
The 2010s have been a formative year for me as a reader. I’ve always loved books but I haven’t always been a reader. It wasn’t until I graduated from high school and was able to choose the books I wanted to read that I truly became a voracious reader. Then in 2011, I got a part-time job at my local library. Through that job, I discovered new authors, new series, and even genres I’d never really considered before. I also met many book lovers like myself. One of those booklovers, a fellow librarian, introduced me to Goodreads.com and even though I had to leave the job when life intervened, I continued to make discoveries. In 2015 I started this blog for a couple of reasons but mainly because I missed sharing my passion for good books with the patrons and librarians at work. It has been a joy share the ups and downs of the reader’s life. As the decade comes to a close, I thought I’d take the time to review some of the best and most important books I’ve read over the past 10 years. I’ve tried to narrow it down, but I’ve read a lot of great books during the decade so bear with me.
Romance: Sometimes you just need the comfort and escape of the modern fairytale quality of a good Rom/Com. I discovered, however, that not all books that can be categorized as Romance fit into the mold of that stereotype.
Historical Fiction: I love learning about history and while I understand that Historical Fiction takes liberties with the facts, it is a gateway to learning the true stories behind the fictionalized versions. And who doesn’t love being transported to another place and time?
Fantasy: Of all of the genres I read, this is the one about which my feelings have changed the most. As a child, while I loved a good fairytale story, I tended to gravitate toward the wit and realism of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby series and then the young adult fiction of Judy Blume where the characters and their situations were recognizable. Then came Harry Potter. Ever since reading that seminal series, I’ve been searching for more Fantasy fiction that captivates me as Harry’s world did.
Children’s Literature: It’s okay to look back when it comes to reading. Whether it’s revisiting an old favorite or discovering a classic I’d missed when I was younger, there is nothing to warm the soul like reading a good children’s story.
Western: Since reading Lonesome Dove in college, I’ve been on the lookout for another as transporting as that classic. Plus, when I find a good one, I get to share it with my father and sharing a good book is always fun.
Mystery/Thriller: Mystery is another genre I don’t read too much of though I do enjoy the occasional cozy mystery, particularly one set in Britain. There are a few exceptions though. I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan.
Chick-Lit: This is another genre that gets a bad rap but it is my favorite genre so it hurts when people put it down based a few crappy wannabe Chick-Lit novels. I know about those; I’ve read more than my fair share of them.
Women’s Fiction: Women’s Fiction, to me, is basically the Judy Blume books I loved as a teen all grown up, dealing with issues that all women face from the mundane to the extraordinary.
Fiction: Some books just don’t fit into the mold of any one genre but I had to mention them.
Classic Literature: These are the books that have endured in our hearts and minds for generations and make their way onto every must-read list ever compiled.
It’s that time of year again, time to review my year of reading. Honestly, it hasn’t been my best reading year. I don’t want to complain about receiving free books and ARC editions but thanks to my discovery of NetGalley, reading started to feel like a chore. And that’s never a good thing. So I’m determined to cut down on the number of books I sign up for and focus more on the books on my own shelves. Even though I wouldn’t count 2018 as the most enjoyable, any time spent reading is to be appreciated and there are always a few standouts books.
There are the highlights of my year. I read some great books but there wasn’t even a competition for my favorite read this year. I pretty much knew what it would be back in March. Harry’s Trees is just so full of hope and love and a darn good story that I knew it was destined to be one of my favorites. Since finishing it, I’ve recommended to everyone and even wrote it in for a Goodreads choice award.
These are just a few of the books I’ve read this year. To see the full list and read the reviews, check out My 2018 Year in Books on Goodreads!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am so thrilled to have received a copy of Jon Cohen’s novel, Harry’s Trees from Goodreads.com. This book will be hard to beat as my best read of 2018. It has so many wonderful qualities that it is difficult to figure out where to start gushing about it (which is why it has taken me over a week after finishing to write my review).
Harry’s Trees is the extraordinary story of how Harry and Amanda and Oriana learn to live again after two separate tragedies. As the novel explores how each person copes differently as they attempt to come to terms (or not) with their losses, it also shows that if we look hard enough we can find fairy tale elements in everyday life. At its heart, Harry’s Trees is a love letter to some of my favorite things – books, libraries, reading, and nature (For those who know me and know that I’m a major indoor cat, that last part may come as a surprise). Cohen’s writing lovingly, and with a devilish sense of humor, depicts the feelings evoked by reading and just being in among the trees while telling a darn good story that has everything you could want in a good read.
The book is packed with a lovable cast of three-dimensional, relatable, fun characters. I especially loved Oriana for her spunk, conviction, and fearlessness, and Olive for her strength, devotion, and her quirkiness. And now I long to live in a gorgeous treehouse in the middle of the woods with a stack of fairy tales and Sibley’s guides to keep me company.
If you enjoy Harry’s Trees (and I really think you will!) you’ll probably enjoy one of last year’s best reads, The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman with which it shares some thematic similarities. Both also have a great sense of humor.
~ Jon Cohen, Harry’s Trees
Happy Library Week!