By Laura Cummings
One thing that we can count on when we head into a new year is year-end best of lists. For books, there are always the best-selling lists, the critic’s lists and now, the White Birch Books Local Top Ten list. Let’s dig right in!
A perennial favorite and annual chart topper, Following Atticus by Tom Ryan, holds the top spot again this year. For a book that was originally published four years ago, this is a pretty amazing feat. For those who do not know the book, it is the story of Tom, an unlikely hiker, and Atticus, a miniature schnauzer, and their attempt to climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4000-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. I’m sure Following Atticus will always sit at one of our top spots, but we are expecting it to be bumped in 2016 when Tom’s second book comes out.
Our next author is always in the annual top ten, too. Lisa Gardner has the number two spot for 2015 with Crash & Burn, a thriller where memory cannot be trusted. Is Nicole Frank a grieving mother or does she suffer from a rare brain injury that causes delusions? This a fast-paced page turner that keeps you guessing until the final page, which is kind of a Gardner trait. Gardner’s next book is Find Her. White Birch Books will once again collaborate with Horsefeathers for the debut book event. This year it is scheduled for Monday, February 8, starting at 7 p.m. I suspect we will see Lisa Gardner on the list next year, too.
Further down our list we find a couple books that are not really local, but they sure feel like it. God’s Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher is a look at Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom as told by young Jim Kinneson. The book is a family history, as well as the history of the place, as told by a master storyteller. Although Mosher is a Vermonter through and through, I think we have adopted him and consider him one of our own.
Another book on our list is The Murder at Barclay Meadow, set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We can’t even pretend that’s local, but it makes our list because the author, Wendy Sand Eckel, is related to one of our former employees. This debut murder mystery, which features sleuthing by facebook, was given the thumbs up by our Mystery Book Club. We are all patiently awaiting the second book in the series, Death at the Day Lily Café, which is due this July.
A surprise fourth-quarter bestseller was Cats on the Job by Lisa Rogak. We consider this on the local list because the book came to our attention because it featured Marty, the hard-working cat atop Mount Washington. After seeing the popularity of this book, I have learned to never underestimate cats!
Desperate Steps: Life, Death, and Choices Made in the Mountains of the Northeast, written by Peter Kick, was also a late addition to the list. The book only hit our shelves in December, but it was so popular we sold out of it many times. Desperate Steps recounts 20 true tales of backcountry misadventure and misfortune, including incidents along the Appalachian Trail, and seeks the lessons to be learned. Weather is unpredictable and even the best laid plans go awry – sometimes, the best decision is to just read the book!
The hot book from 2014, Retro-Ski by Greg Morrill, shows its staying power by remaining in the top ten this year. This nostalgic look back at skiing is a collection of 50 Retro-Ski columns and will have readers remembering the early days of skiing – wooden skis, leather boots, knickers, wind shirts and poma lifts. Are you a retro-skier?
White Mountain Poems by Jeffrey Zygmont was another surprise addition to the list this year. A slim and attractive book, it combines Zygmont’s poetry with beautiful photography from all over the White Mountains. The book follows a seasonal path and makes a great keepsake of the area, as well as a nice reminder of how lucky we are to live here.
Rounding out our top ten list are two of the staples of the local book section – Tom Eastman’s The History of Cranmore Mountain and Not Without Peril by Nicholas Howe. These books may not be new, but if you haven’t read them, then they are new to you. Plus they are the mainstay of our collection and I would expect them to hit this list every year.
So that’s it – the first annual White Birch Books Local Top Ten List for 2015. What will 2016 bring in the way of local favorites? Only time will tell!