Best reads of the year

Books are my favorite gifts to give and receive. Here are my picks from the year in books.

Nonfiction

1776 – David McCullough

A stirring account of the most famous year in America. It’s an account you’ve never seen before, with intensely human close ups of General George Washington and those who marched with him-and against him. If you thought you didn’t like history, McCullough will change your mind.

Cleopatra: A Life – Stacy Schiff

Get past the mythology and be astonished that Cleopatra is not known for being a shrewd monarch and a much more interesting woman than the stereotyped seductress as (mostly) men have portrayed her. A luminous, fascinating work.

Story Engineering – Larry Brooks


Here is not a rigid template, but a classic blueprint.

Fiction

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantell





Tongues of Serpents – Naomi Novik

Temeraire and Lawrence banished to Australia. If you haven’t tried this wonderful series, then you aren’t in love with the dragon Temeraire – yet. Start with the first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, and luxuriate in the inner and outer worlds of these fascinating characters trying to navigate war and class and a mutual devotion seldom seen in fiction.


This intense read is a tightly-plotted time-travel story that plays with the idea of a love affair between Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann. Historians from the future travel back in time on an ostensible musicology mission which soon turns dark and harrowing. Reminiscent of Willis’s Doomsday Book, this story offers a dramatic plot and fabulous historical detail.

Troubled Waters – Sharon Shinn


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