Arts and Entertainment

Off the Shelf: Some good reads for a new year

The beginning of a new year can be a time of reflection. The staff at the Sequim Library recently spent some time reflecting on some of the best books they read in 2013.


Lindy recommends “The School of Essential Ingredients,” by Erica Bauermeister. This was a stunning break-out novel, arranging its character vignettes like a good recipe. Each ingredient stands out on its own, but when mixed together, they make something beyond the whole. Revolving around a cooking school and its students, food is the element that drives the characters’ evolution – a sweet and savory healing full of friendships and hope. Be prepared for mouthwatering prose!


Ann suggests “Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn. When Nick’s wife Amy disappears there are signs of struggle in the house and Nick quickly becomes the prime suspect, though he claims he is innocent. It doesn’t help that Nick hasn’t been completely honest with the police. Told from alternating points of view between Nick and Amy, Gillian Flynn creates an untrustworthy world that changes chapter-to-chapter. Calling “Gone Girl” a psychological thriller is an understatement. As revelation after revelation unfolds, it becomes clear that the truth is far more dark, more twisted and more creepy than you can imagine.


Ambur recommends “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls,” by David Sedaris. Anything David Sedaris writes is hilarious, and if it comes out in audio with Sedaris as narrator, it’s even better. This is yet another book full of his life experiences put into essays that are sometimes so funny and sometimes so moving that you may shed a tear, with or without hysterical laughter.


Patti suggests “Maze Runner,” by James Dashner. When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade — a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up — the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind. The first book in the New York Times bestselling “Maze Runner” series — “The Maze Runner” is perfect for fans of “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent. “


Lauren suggests “The Light in the Ruins,” by Chris Bohjalian. During World War II the wealthy Rosati family believes that they are safe from the ravages of war in their idyllic villa south of Florence. Ten years later, when a serial murderer targets the members of the family, a policewoman begins digging into a past that involves the victims, their tragic history and her own demons from the same period.


All of these books are available at the North Olympic Library System. Go to, or the next time you’re in the library, ask any staff member for help finding them.


Ask us what we’re reading now – we’ll probably have more great recommendations for you.
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