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Litchfield MN 55355

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

What should I read this winter?

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

In January we’ve noticed a big increase in the number of books being ordered by our patrons compared to the time around Christmas.  This is a good time of year to read, with cold weather and not as much to do.  I thought I’d take a look at the books that made more than one of the best-of-2016 lists this past month, as well as our library’s most popular books of 2016, to give you some ideas about what to read now.

The book that seems to be on every magazine and newspaper list is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  It won the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction.  This book is unique in being an imaginative take on the historical Underground Railroad.  In the novel, the railroad is a literal network of trains under the ground.  The main character, Cora, is a slave trying to escape while a slave catcher pursues her.  The book has been compared to Gulliver’s Travels in the way Cora encounters different worlds at her different stops, traveling through time as well as space.  This book has been in high demand in our library system.

Another book that’s been praised widely is The Nix by Nathan Hill.  This novel tells the story of a mother and son, as it satirizes our media culture.  A failed writer gets the chance to write a book about the mother who abandoned him when he was a child, digging into the facts of her life after she has committed a crime against a politician which has shocked the nation.  Reviewers describe it as both funny and melancholy.  This one hasn’t gotten as much attention locally, so you won’t have trouble getting your hands on a copy. 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi has been a bestselling memoir and a fixture on those best-of lists.  Kalanithi was a 36-year-old new father who had nearly completed his training as a neurosurgeon when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  In his memoir, he wrestles with what happens when one no longer has a future: when life is not about climbing a ladder to goals, but about living right now.  Entertainment Weekly said that the book, like the author’s life, ended much too early. This one is popular in our library system.

We just got a list of the items checked out the most in Pioneerland Library System in 2016.  The number one spot belongs to the laptops!  Across the system, laptops to check out for use in the library are quite popular. 

When you look at books alone, the one that was checked out the most in Pioneerland was Extreme Prey by John Sandford.  This is the 26th book in the Prey thriller series, set in Minnesota.  This title was checked out 389 times, counting all of the copies but not the large print or audiobook versions, which were also very popular.

The remaining books in the top ten for Pioneerland in 2016 were as follows:
2. 15th Affair by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
3. The Obsession by Nora Roberts
4. The Last Mile by David Baldacci
5. A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber
6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
7. See Me by Nicholas Sparks
8. The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag
9. Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline
10. Off the Grid by C.J. Box


Based on this list, it appears your neighbors like mystery/suspense and romance novels, as well as nationally best-selling authors.  If you do, too, or if you like something entirely different, stop at the library to stock up for these wintry days.