Magazine article American Libraries

Rousing Reads: It's That Time of Year

Magazine article American Libraries

Rousing Reads: It's That Time of Year

Article excerpt

For compiling best lists, that is. I either make or participate in the making of at least three different kinds of best-book lists every year. First, there's the Booklist Editors' Choice list, published in our January double issue, but I'm only one voice among many in putting together that annual compendium. Then there's my Back Page list of favorite personal reading, in which Booklist staff members select their top off-the-clock reading experience (books not read to review). And finally, there's this list, which we could call my most Arousing Reads (on second thought, maybe not). New or old, read to review or not, these are simply the titles I most enjoyed over the past 12 months. Drum roll, please.

American Boy, by Larry Watson

I've been reading Watson since his wonderful first novel, Montana 1948, was published in 1993. His latest, like much of his work, is a coming-of-age story with bite, as much about failure as it is about growth. The fact is, he had me with the first sentence: "I was 17 years old when I first saw a woman's bare breasts ... and when you consider that I also saw my first bullet wound on that same body, you have a set of circumstances truly rare."

Winston's War: Churchill, 1940-1945, by Max Hastings

A recent trip to the Cabinet War Rooms in London (an absolute must-see, by the way) prompted me to pick up Hastings's fascinating account of Winston Churchill's management of the British armed forces during World War II. Hastings gives Churchill his due as an inspirational leader and master speechmaker ("We shall fight on the beaches . …

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