LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Literary Suspense from Joss, Kolbert on Extinctions, The Age of Amazon According to Stone | Audiobook Reviews

redstarJoss, Morag. Our Picnics in the Sun. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN . $59.99; 2 MP3-CDs. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Joss (Among the Missing) conjures a brooding tale from a Our picnics in the sunfailed back-to-nature venture and familial regret. Long married, their dreams of a self-sustaining lifestyle blighted, Howard and Deborah Morgan stoically offer bed and breakfast accommodations at their isolated cottage on the English moors. Son Adam decamped early on but emails weekly and is a pervasive presence by virtue of absence and maternal longing. With Howard incapacitated by a stroke, vulnerable Deborah seeks affirmation where she may: first, in glimpses of a phantom figure; later, through a young guest whose plight sparks her protective instincts. Joss’s keen prose alternately unpacks the family’s memories and mines Deborah’s psyche, subtly building tension in this engrossing read. Disclosed alternately by Deborah, Howard, and Adam, the narrative is intensified by the readings by Rosalyn Landor, Michael Page, and Ralph Lister. VERDICT Highly recommended for listeners of literary, psychological, and suspense fiction. Also, owing to Joss’s remarkable depiction of the stroke victim’s viewpoint, this work may be of interest to families and caregivers of people in that state.—Linda ­Sappenfield, Round Rock P.L., TX

redstarKolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. 8 CDs. unabridged. 10 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781442369450. $34.99; digital download. SOC SCI

the sixth extinctionIn this deeply felt and well-researched report, Kolbert (Field Notes from a Catastrophe) argues that, unlike prior mass extinction events that were caused by natural disasters, the current accelerated disappearance of animal and plant species can be blamed on human activities. Adopting the term Anthropocene, as first coined by Eugene F. Stoermer, Kolbert contends that the advent of humans as the dominant species on Earth marks a distinct geologic age during which the environment is shaped not by nature but by humans. She further explains that environmental changes are happening at a rate faster than that which can be accommodated by normal evolutionary processes, hastening the demise of species ranging from amphibians to bats to coral reefs. The narration by Anne Twomey is solid, if occasionally robotic. verdict An important book, highly recommended. [“This solid, engaging, multidisciplinary science title should appeal to a broad range of science enthusiasts, particularly those interested in environmental conservation,” read the starred review of the Holt hc, LJ 2/15/14.]—Forrest E. Link, Coll. of New Jersey, Ewing Twp.

redstarStone, Brad. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 13 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781619690295. $30; Playaway digital; digital download. BUS

Stone (Gearheads) delivers a fascinating history of the rise of the everything storeonline retailing giant Amazon.com and its founder, Jeff Bezos. The book is more corporate history than personal biography, and business readers will find much to learn from the case studies that fill the narrative. It serves as a primer on corporate strategy in a radically changing industry and positions the determined, bull-headed Bezos as the dynamo behind Amazon’s striking growth. Narrator Pete Larkin performs clearly, and fans of Amazon’s high efficiency will no doubt appreciate the multitasking potential of this audio edition. verdict Highly recommended to business readers. Even those with less interest in corporate strategy will be captivated by the story of the company that now dominates so much of American retail.—Mark John Swails, Johnson Cty. Community Coll., Overland Park, KS

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Abani, Chris. The Secret History of Las Vegas. 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 9¼ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. ISBN 9781490609461. $123.75; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; digital download. F

Boyne, John. This House Is Haunted. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452617428. $42.99; 7 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Connolly, Michael. The Gods of Guilt. (Mickey Haller, Bk. 5). 10 CDs. 12 hrs. retail ed. unabridged. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781600247262. $40; 10 CDs. library ed. Blackstone Audio; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Doctorow, E.L. Andrew’s Brain. 4 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 4 hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. ISBN 9780804127776. $30; 4 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Flagg, Fannie. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385367196. $40; 9 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Griffiths, Elly. Dying Fall. (Ruth Galloway, Bk. 5). 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470378424. $102.75; digital download. F

Hannah, Sophie. The Orphan’s Choir. 5 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 6½ hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 9781629333758. $59.99; 5 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Hoffman, Alice. The Museum of Extraordinary Things. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 18½ hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781442367616. $39.99; digital download. F

Kenyon, Sherrilyn. Dark Bites: A Short Story Collection. 16 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 20½ hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781427229311. $49.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F

Lee, Chang-Rae. On Such a Full Sea. 10 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Penguin Audio. ISBN 9781611762211. $39.95; digital download. F

Smith, Martin Cruz. Tatiana. (Arkady Renko, Bk. 8). 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781442364363. $29.99; digital download. F

Talbert, David E. Baggage Claim. 8 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 9½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452616674. $37.99; 8 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F


Cramer, James J. Jim Cramer’s Get Rich Carefully. 15 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 16 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781611762495. $39.95; digital download. ECON

Fraser, Antonia. Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11¾ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470395100. $123.75; digital download. HIST

Hart, Matthew. Gold: The Race for the World’s Most Seductive Metal. 7 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452617718. $39.99; 7 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. retail ed.; digital download. HIST

Riffenburgh, Beau. Pinkerton’s Great Detective: The Amazing Life and Times of James McParland. 16 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 18¾ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470392444. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. retail ed.; digital download. BIOG

Sixsmith, Martin. Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search. 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 15½ hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470392802. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. SOC SCI

Strathern, Paul. The Venetians: A New History. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 13½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781452619477. $39.99; 11 CDs. library ed.; digital download. HIST


redstarHalevi, Yossi Klein. Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation. 19 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 23½ hrs. Tantor Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781452618753. $59.99; 19 CDs. library ed.; 2 MP3-CDs. retail ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST

Like DreamersHalevi (At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden) describes the divergent personal lives and politics of seven paratroopers—a songwriter, a soldier-turned-radical, a brilliant economist, and religious revolutionaries—from the 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade who in 1967 liberated Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. Each man believed strongly in building the State of Israel, but their methods were poles apart. Mel Foster does an exceptional job reading this fascinating history. His Hebrew pronunciation is excellent, as are the various accents he uses when he reads direct quotes from historical figures who played prominent roles in the narrative. Verdict An excellent purchase for history and Middle Eastern conflict collections of academic and public libraries.—Ilka Gordon, Aaron Garber Lib., Cleveland

Shavit, Ari. My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. 17 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 21 hrs. Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 9780385359610. $45; 17 CDs. retail ed. Random Audio; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST

Shavit’s (Does This Mean War?) retelling of important events in Israeli history is written from a personal perspective and includes his great-grandfather’s first visit to the area, discussions of the lives of immigrant Holocaust orphans, and a look at recent dot-com entrepreneurs. The author uses taped interviews, historical documents, letters, and diaries of both well-known Zionist personalities and little-known early immigrants to tell the fascinating stories. Paul Boehmer reads the book with an Israeli accent that makes the listener feel that the author himself is narrating the book. Boehmer’s tone and voice convey the Shavit’s emotions and deep feelings for his beloved country. ­Verdict For those interested in a personal account of past and present Israel. [“Shavit’s case for a more inclusive 21st-century Israel will interest all those following Israel’s struggles,” read the review of the Spiegel & Grau hc, LJ 8/13.]—Ilka Gordon, Aaron Garber Lib., Cleveland

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