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Chapter 29 - The Best and The Brightest

As we get closer to the end of December I always think about the best books I've read this year. Last year, hands down, it was A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I read it when it first came out based on a recommendation from a friend. A Gentleman in Moscow was on the bestseller list for 62 weeks (just fell off in October of this year) so, if you have not read it, it is well worth the time you will invest.

This year there are a few books that stand out for me as the best I have read this year. They may not necessarily have been on the bestseller list, although some were. They also may not even be new - a few I read when they came out in paperback. When I look over a year's worth of reading, the books below are the ones I enjoyed most this year.

The Frozen Hours by Jeff Shaara - I am a history buff both fiction and non-fiction, so this novel of the Korean War got me very excited when it first came out. At 560 pages, it is not a small book and still in hardback, not a light one but Shaara does a good job of taking historical information and incorporating it into a novel. His research is impeccable and his novelization assures that the reader cares about the characters involved.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell - Suspense books have been dominating the bestseller list this year and while I can't remember if this one made it, it was definitely one of the more intriguing books I read. The story centers around a man found on a beach on the coast of England. He has no identification, has no jacket, and no idea of how he got there. A local woman takes him in and so the story begins.

The Little French Bistro by Nina George - A woman stuck in a loveless marriage leaves her home and rediscovers life on the coast of Brittany. Not only does she meet a cast of strange but lovable locals but she finds her tribe. The descriptions of Brittany alone make this book worth reading.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn - This is a book that goes back and forth between World War I and World War II. A young American women goes to Europe to find her French cousin after World War II. She links up with a woman who was part of The Alice Network in World War I, a group of women who risked their lives and freedom to spy for the allies. This novel is based on historical fact as the spy network actually existed.

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly - Another historical novel of World War II (do you see a pattern here?), The Lilac Girls is based on the story of a socialite, Caroline Ferriday, and her work to aid woman who were Nazi experiments in World War II. The story goes back and forth between Ferriday, the women involved, and the female Nazi doctor, Herta Oberheuser, who operated on them. Parts of the story are novelized but were taken from records of those impacted.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Gann - In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. As more and more of the Osage died, J. Edgar Hoover recruited some Texas rangers and other lawmen to investigate the murders.

This book was a great historical crime read.

What was your best book of the year?

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