City of God: Faith in the Streets, Sara Miles
My friend Kari loves Sara Miles, but this is the first book of hers I’ve read – a meditation on finding God in San Francisco, as Miles offers ashes to people on the streets on Ash Wednesday. She captures some tender, moving human moments, though some of the other themes (the gentrification of the Mission neighborhood, for example) felt repetitive. Messy, hopeful and sometimes lovely. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Feb. 4).
The House of Hades, Rick Riordan
Seven demigods are racing toward the Doors of Death – five of them on a flying ship, the other two from inside Tartarus. If they don’t seal the Doors, the earth goddess Gaea will wreak havoc on the world, but can they complete the quest and survive? A fun installment in Riordan’s fast-paced Heroes of Olympus series, jam-packed with entertaining mythological references. Lots of slapstick and adolescent humor, but some moments of self-awareness too: the demigods are growing up.
Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher
My friend Julie gave me this book years ago, and I read it every December. It’s a gentle story of love, loss and new beginnings, of Christmas in a tiny Scottish village and unlikely friendships. The familiar scenes make me smile and the ending makes me teary. Rereading it is one of my favorite Advent rituals.
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett
I love Patchett’s novel Bel Canto and adored this collection of essays on marriages (failed and successful ones), the writing life, the genesis of the bookstore Patchett co-owns (Parnassus Books), and her friendship with an elderly nun. Witty, wise and beautifully written. Now I’m debating which of Patchett’s other novels to read next.
To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing, Simon Garfield
I loved Garfield’s On the Map, and he tackles the subject of letter writing with his signature gusto. He traces the evolution of letters’ role in society, the development of the postal service, and provides excerpts – some touching, some scandalous – from great letter writers. Woven throughout are a series of World War II love letters, which are romantic, frustrating and endearingly human. A fabulous book on a wonderful subject.
Shepherds Abiding, Jan Karon
It’s almost Christmas in Mitford and Father Tim Kavanagh has a secret – he’s restoring a lovely old Nativity scene as a surprise for his wife, Cynthia. Several of his fellow townspeople have Christmas secrets, too. Sweet and heartwarming and funny, like all the Mitford novels.
The Nine Tailors, Dorothy L. Sayers
A stalled car brings Lord Peter Wimsey to a remote East Anglian village with a beautiful set of church bells, and a set of dark secrets. Murder and floods follow, but of course our intrepid detective solves the mystery. Moody and fascinating, with an unusual solution to the case.
This post contains IndieBound affiliate links.
What are you reading, as the year winds down?