Nancy Redfield: Plenty of good reads available this time of year

By Nancy Redfield

December 2015 Reporter Column


Nancy Redfield:  Plenty of Good Reads Available This Time of Year


This is such a hectic time of year. There’s so much to do and it’s easy to get caught up in the shopping and parties and bustle. It’s also a great time take advantage of the cold days and long nights by curling up with a good book. This time of year it’s easy to find great reads – the best books of 2015 lists are out and both the National Book Award and Man Booker Prize winners have been announced. I’m always being asked for book recommendations. Friends, family, strangers in line for coffee, as soon as someone hears that I’m a librarian he or she asks me for the title of a good book. Talk about pressure! I love talking about books, and I spend a lot of my time reading books and reading about books. Even so, sometimes it is can be a challenge to come up with a book suggestion off the top of my head. But this time of year it is easy for a librarian to come up with good recommendations. 2015 was a good year for good books and so I thought I would share some of the best I read this year with you.


 “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins is a fast-paced, edge of your seat thriller that keeps the reader guessing right to the end.


“H Is for Hawk” by Helen McDonald is a slow-paced, introspective memoir about loss, grief and growth as well as being the story of the author training a hawk.


Erik Larson’s “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania” is another of Larson’s engrossing nonfiction books. Larson is brilliant at taking historical events and creating fascinating stories out of them. His books are incredibly detailed and he somehow manages to create a sense of drama and suspense even though the reader already knows how the story ends.


 If award winners are your thing, Adam Johnson is this year’s National Book Award winner for fiction with his short story collection “Fortune Smiles.” Johnson is local to San Francisco and is a professor at Stanford. His stories are funny and strange and disturbing but still wonderfully written. He previously won the Pulitzer for his novel “The Orphan Master’s Son.”


The Man Booker Prize was announced in October and this year’s fiction winner is Marlon James’ “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” Award winners are always interesting to read. If you challenge yourself to read the award winners, you are likely to read a book you might not have otherwise have chosen, but you’re very likely to enjoy it.


I’ll wrap up my recommendations with a couple of books that I really enjoyed this year but that didn’t quite make the best of 2015 lists. Ruth Ware’s “In a Dark Dark Wood” is a fast paced psychological thriller with a twisting plot that I read through in an afternoon. It’s a good book to lose yourself in for a few hours. I also really enjoyed “Rubbernecker” by Belinda Bauer. This mystery’s narrator is a young man with Asperger’s syndrome who has enrolled in a university anatomy course. He becomes convinced that the cadaver he is dissecting was murdered, and he then sets out to prove it. He is a wonderfully unique protagonist.


When you need some downtime this holiday season, find a great book and lose yourself in it for a while. If none of my suggestions above appeal to you, come by the library and ask your favorite librarian for a recommendation. We’re always ready to talk about good books.


If you are looking for something to do this December, come see what the library has scheduled. Vacaville Public Library Cultural Center at 1020 Ulatis Drive has the puppet show Frosty’s Magic Hat scheduled for Tuesday December 8 at 3:30 p.m. The Vacaville Town Square Library at 1 Town Square is going to host a Gingerbread House Workshop on Thursday, December 17 at 4 p.m. For many more programs, visit our online calendar at


Nancy Redfield is the supervising librarian at the Vacaville Public Library-Cultural Center.




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