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Favorite books, 2021

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, March 2021; written by Amie Toepfer.

Recently, I was asked the one question that all librarians fear. You know the one. It’s the big one. It’s the one that for so many of us has such a complex and ever changing answer. Can you guess which question I am referring too? Its, what our favorite book is. For book lovers this question is ever changing and will vary by who we are speaking with, the mood we are in, our latest read and/or the season in which this question was asked. For example, if I am chatting with someone’s grandmother and she asks me this question, I might reply, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, which came to me at a pivotal time in my life and has stuck with me to this day. But if I was chatting with a kid in the children’s library, I might tell them, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling because this was the first book series that made me LOVE reading. Or if it is fall and Halloween is just around the corner, I might say The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for its spookiness and story that will keep you thinking long after you turn the last page. Now, I am not telling you this because I want you to know what an unfair question this is for booklovers, instead I am telling you this because it made me think about what my top books are (notice, I didn’t say favorite book, as in one) and I wanted to share them with you.

One book that I have went back to multiple times throughout my life is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This book is the first “big” book that I can remember reading (I was a poor reader as a child) and remember feeling so proud of myself for reading it on my own. As the years have passed I have read my tattered second-hand copy multiple times always finding something new to love. In my most recent reading, March 2020, I remember loving it for its gothic romance. The language, characters, and themes transports me to another time and place, so much so that I will step into this story and not emerge for hours and then only half way. Really there is no pulling me out of the gothic world Bronte has created until I am ready to come out.

A more modern favorite is A Discovery of Witches series by Deborah Harkness. This series has it all; romance, suspense, mystery, fantasy, and history all set with in Oxford and academia. I love the author’s use of setting to influence plot. I love her mix of history and fantasy and I love that readers can visit the Bodleian Library and Oxford through her pages. This book is pure comfort. Every time I pick it up it is like resuming a conversation with an old friend. There is also The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas lumped into my “Modern Favorites” category. It is an unusually timely book about ingrained racism and one young girl’s fight against it after witnessing her friend’s murder at the hand of a police officer. It is a moving, raw, brutal read that is a must for everyone who wishes to understand the effects of racism on society.

For younger readers, or those of us who are young at heart, I absolutely love Wink by Rob Harrell. It follows a middle school boy as he learns that standing out might not be such a bad thing. Funny, realistic, relatable, honest, and touching this book is amazing and will capture your heart. I also love Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney for its sweet tale of one little llama’s antics about going to bed. It is absolutely related to every parent and every child.

Now dear reader, do you understand why I dread having to answer what my one favorite book is? My favorites list is expansive and this doesn’t even begin to touch the tip of it. I challenge you to pick up one of the books that I wrote about and give it a try. You never know, it might become one of your new favorites as well. As always, I would love to hear about your favorite books and tell you more about mine. I hope to see you in the library soon so we can chat! Be safe. Read well.

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