TPL Staff Picks 2023 – Jennifer!

Jennifer’s Top 5 of 2023

The Secret Hours by Mick Herron – For those of you who love Slow Horses (book one in the series written by Herron and also an award-winning TV series in its third season), this is a prequel that works well as a stand alone novel. This series delves into the lives of MI5 spies who have made career-ending mistakes, but one must wonder if they were really in the wrong. Herron writes with humor, intelligence, and insight that always leaves me looking forward to the next book.  

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead – This is the first book in a trilogy that tells the story of Ray Carney, a furniture store owner in New York during the 60s. Carney is a husband, father, and upstanding business man who may from time to time be involved in some shady deals and perhaps a heist or two. The second in the trilogy is Crook Manifesto, which is also just as good. I listened to both and the reader, Dion Graham, makes the stories sing. This book, this trilogy, is not just a story but a work of art.

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin – Goodwin, a well-known historian, is also an avid baseball fan. This book is her memoir not only of her family but also their unwavering support for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I can’t say I’m much of a baseball fan, but this story and how Goodwin and her father shared their joy of baseball is entertaining and a fun, informal history of baseball.

A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines – In 1970s Louisiana a white farmer is found murdered and a black man is automatically suspected, but a white woman and a gathering of old men all claim that they killed the farmer. The dialogue throughout was real and got to the heart of matters. Though much is happening in a short period of time, the story unfolds in a quiet but purposeful way that makes the story seem more real. But probably the real reason I love the book as much as I do is that, and I’m not exactly sure why, I kept thinking of my father as I read it. Many of what the gathering of men said are things that he said when he was old and thinking over the life he had lived. This is a book that will stay on my bookshelf for many years to come.

Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed by Dashka Slater – Slater delves behind the scenes of a group of friends who are torn apart by racism and out of control social media. Slater does an excellent job presenting all sides in a tragic unraveling of relationships.