More often than not, when I tell someone I am a librarian, I get asked one of two questions. The first normally goes something like “what is your favorite book” or “can you recommend something for me to read?” I love these types of questions because it lets me have an opportunity to tout recent books that I have liked or to recommend something that they might like based on a person’s interests after I ask a few follow up questions. There is a myriad of ways these conversations go and can either extend the conversation as this person and I find out we have similar book interests or it can be slowed as someone might not be up for an in depth book conversation.
The second question I usually get is “well, have you read (insert any book title here)?” Now this question, while related to the first question I am used to getting, is dramatically different, because now, the shoe is on the other foot. And for someone who usually spends a lot of time making recommendations, I have found out how much fun it is to be the person getting a recommendation. So here are a few of the books, in no particular order, that were suggested reads for me that turned into some of my best reads of 2022.
The first is The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, a book that was originally published back in 2006, that I have almost picked up on several occasions but have never made the jump into the realm of Sanderson’s books. After being convinced by fellow Herrick librarian, Annaka, I plunged head first into what has now quickly become one of my favorite authors that I have read recently!
Set in an empire that has been ruled for a thousand years by an all-powerful ruler, a motley crew of the criminal underground, led by a survivor of the worst possible prison the Lord Ruler could imagine, plan the impossible; overthrow the Final Empire. As they are assembled and plan the most daring of heists, the crew all use their varying types of allomancy, which gives each of them enhanced abilities by “burning” metals, to try to topple the despot who has dominated for centuries. Filled with characters you will care deeply about, a landscape peppered with turmoil, and twists throughout, I now highly recommend Mistborn to anyone who likes a good thieving heist or a break from the standard mold of medieval style fantasy.
Another recommendation I got this year was from one of my coworkers, Rachel, who, after finding out that we had read some of the same books recently suggested trying out Sistersong by Lucy Holland. Having gone through several books like City of Brass, Circe, and The Bear and the Nightingale, I have read quite a few folklore and mythology retelling type books this year and Sistersong is among the best of them.
Set in the ancient Kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador had been blessed by the magic of the land that had always provided to the needs of his people and to the protection of his domain. But his power wanes and in turn calls to his three daughters. Each of them too deals with their own internal struggles and as the land’s call becomes stronger, outside forces seek to destroy the magic that has held against strong against enemies in the past. Each sister must forge their own path, and as they do, they will help shape the future of Britain.
After finally breaking down under the pressure of continued endorsement by a former colleague, I pulled Jade City by Fonda Lee off my To Be Read list and took a chance on a book slightly out of my normal realm of reading. Now having finished the trilogy, I have no clear understanding as to why it took me so long other than sheer stubbornness.
Set on the small fictional island of Kekon, two criminal organizations fight a multigenerational blood feud that impacts many aspects of society. Whether street fighting over territory or trying to out maneuver one another in business or politics, two things are constant, their tactics are brutal with dire consequences and jade is the key to it all. Because the jade on Kekon is different than the jade we all know. Kekonese jade has bioenergetic properties that enhance physical and mental attributes, and only the Kekonese people are able to wield it. With lots of criminal activity, an urban setting, and enhanced street fighters and well written characters, Jade City and its sequels are fantastic.
As a librarian that mostly works with adults finding books, assisting with technology questions, and providing programs that are aimed for older audiences, I rarely get into books that are meant for younger audiences that come to the library. The suggestion that my manager, Rob, gave me on this next book is the exception.
The Last Cuentsita by Donna Barba Higuera is an amazing science fiction novel targeted towards middle graders and young teens. As humanity prepares to vacate Earth after it has been struck by a comet, Petra and her family, alongside a few hundred scientists are hoping to restart anew on a planet that will take centuries to get there. In that time, Petra and others will be in stasis as they travel and the knowledge from Earth will be downloaded into her mind. When she wakes up, she soon discovers that those that were meant to monitor those that were in stasis have been replaced by a group called the Collective, who are intent on eradicating all the differences between people by dictating what is remembered of Earth and what is forgotten. Captivating from beginning to end, Rob has convinced me that there is some great reading available in the middle grade fiction.
The final of the books that were recommended to me that became one of the better books I have read this year was recommended to me by Erin, another coworker, who steered me towards Silvia Moreno-Garcia and her book, Mexican Gothic. While horror/gothic/supernatural thriller is not a large aspect of my reading repertoire, Erin’s reading preferences have been something we have talked about on and off so her suggestion had to at least be given a shot. She turned out to be right on the money and I have since picked up several more books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and have not been disappointed.
When Noemí receives a desperate letter from her cousin who was recently married to an Englishman, she sets off to come to aid her cousin. Arriving at High Place in the Mexican countryside, during the 1950s, she is quick to discover that things are not as they seem. As Noemí begins to dig into some of the oddities that her cousin had described to her, she slowly unravels the secrets of High Place and its tenants, who have done well to hide those secrets behind their wealth and fading mining company. A book that had me at the edge of my seat as I read, only to have me be startled more than once, I can say that Erin’s recommendations are ones that I can count on going forward.