Reviewed by Ellsworth Public Library Staff
As 2022 comes to a close we wanted to ask a few of our staff members what their top 5 media (books, movies, music, audiobooks, etc.) choices were for the year. Click on any title to place a request through Minerva.
1. Strangers No More by Bill Griffeth
A sequel to Mr. Griffeth’s groundbreaking DNA story, “Stranger in my Genes,” this book completes his search for his father’s family. Learning through a simple home DNA test that the father he had grown up with was not actually his father was a shock. Dealing with the feelings and fear of rejection led to his giving up the search of his biological father. In this second book, he chronicles finding father’s family and how it affected his life.
2. Always Remember Your Name by Andra & Tatiana Bucci
The story of an Italian family imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II told 70 years later. The girls were 5 & 7 when they were interned with their mother. Her repeated warning to “always remember your name” and the strength she instilled in the girls was the reason for their survival. When the family was reunited after the war’s end, the mother insisted that they move forward with their lives and forget the horror they had seen. Only later in their lives did they chose to go public with the story to make prevent the recurrence of the same type of tragedy.
3. A History Lover’s Guide to Bar Harbor by Brian Armstrong
While many books have been written about the “summer visitors” with the huge mansions in Bar Harbor, Mr. Armstrong has chosen to focus instead on local people who worked for the summer people, who built stores, hotels, and other businesses to keep the visitors provide jobs for local people and keep the visitors well supplied with the necessities of life.
4. The Story of Mount Desert Island Maine by Samuel Eliot Morrison
Mr. Morrison, long known as one of the best historians on Naval history, turned his attention to his beloved Island and tells an extremely readable story of the Island’s history from the early Abnaki tribes, the European explorers landing and mapping the Islands, to the rusticators and local residents. While first written as a speech for area libraries, he expanded the story and published the book in 1960.
5. The Gathering Room by Michelle Shores
Ms. Shores has written a purely fictional historical novel set in 1799 Franklin, Maine, that is based on the Nellie Butler hauntings believed to be the first confirmed sighting of a ghost or spirit in the United States. While the story is fictional, she has used the reports of the sightings as a part of the story. A really good read.
1. Two Truths and a Lie by April Henry
2. The Plot and the Pendulum by Jenn McKinlay
3. Disaster at Bar Harbor Ferry: Maine’s Worst Maritime Tragedy by Mac Smith
4. Marry Me (Film)
5. Top Gun Maverick (Film)
1. The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
At first glance this is the story of a killer, his cat, and the child he kidnapped, but not all is what it seems. This was one of the first books I read this year, and it’s still rattling around in my head! At the end of each chapter I thought I had figured out what was buried in the woods only to turn the page and realize I was completely wrong. If you enjoy stories that keep you guessing, then I can’t recommend this book enough.
2. A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers
It has been 300 years since the robots of Panga mysteriously gained consciousness and disappeared into the wilderness. In the passing centuries humans have adapted to life without automated assistance and robots have become mythical creatures. That is, until a human named Dex who is in search of purpose meets the robot Mosscap. This story follows the unlikely pair as they explore the wilds and discuss the question, “what do humans need?”
3. At Night all Blood is Black by David Diop
Alfa Ndiaye, a Senegalese man, has been drafted into the French army as a “Chocolat” soldier during World War I along with his childhood friend Mademba. After Mademba is fatally injured on the battlefield, Alfa finds that he cannot bring himself to end his friend’s misery. Wracked with guilt, Alfa copes by crossing over enemy lines at night only to return to his platoon each time with a single severed hand. At first his actions are celebrated by his French compatriots, who encourage the African soldiers to act as “savages”, but soon they start to believe that Alfa is a sorcerer collecting talismans for nefarious purposes. This is a fairly grisly read, but I would recommend it if you were interested in the psychological effects of war. At Night all Blood is Black was originally written in French and won the 2021 International Booker Prize.
4. The Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard
This is a graphic novel collection of short horror stories. Abby Howard’s art and understanding of horror reminds me of a combination of Edward Gorey and Junji Ito, with fine line work and a creepy eye for detail. My favorite story follows an elderly woman who lives at the edge of a bog and the ensuing events after she finds companionship with strange visitors.
5. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
Cooper’s Chase appears to be an idyllic retirement village in the English countryside at first glance, that is until the developer of the property is found bludgeoned to death in his home. Four residents who discuss cold cases once a week (the titular Thursday Murder Club) use their unique skills to assist the local police in solving the case. I greatly enjoyed the balance of humor and suspense that Osman struck in this debut novel, and I look forward to continuing the series.
1. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Film)
2. Stories We Tell (Film)
3. Certified Copy (Film)
4. The Return (Vozvrashchenie) (Film)
5. Ida (Film)
I have an eclectic taste in books and read broadly, but I gravitate toward fantasy. I also love a good memoir narrated by the author. Matthew Perry’s new book is at the top of my reading list.
1. The Shadow of the Gods (The Blood Sworn Saga #1) by John Gwynne
2. A Deadly Education (The Scholomance series #1) by Naomi Novik
3. Hello, Molly! A Memoir by Molly Shannon
4. Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci
5. All Creatures Great and Small (TV Series)