Shelf Life: New year, new reading list

Published 3:29 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy 2018! Every year, I make a reading goal. It’s been the same the past few years: 26 books (one every two weeks). I succeeded in 2017 and plan to again this year! Here are some new releases I’m looking forward to checking out in the months to come.

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive was an instant New York Times bestseller, the bestselling debut novel of 2015, and one of my favorites from that year. So I am eagerly anticipating her second novel, a thriller about a fictional reality TV series called Goal Diggers starring two sisters whose secrets and lies result in murder.

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Varina by Charles Frazier

Charles Frazier is one of my favorite local-ish authors; in fact, Cold Mountain is the only one of his books I haven’t read (hard for me to read a book after watching the movie). Varina, his first book in seven years, is set during the Civil War and explores the tragic life of the wife of the Confederacy’s president.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Ware, who is one of the most popular psychological thriller authors right now and has been dubbed “the Agatha Christie of our time,” has churned out a novel a year since 2015. Her latest centers around Hal, a tarot card reader who mistakenly receives a large inheritance but decides to try to claim it anyway.

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

I love all of Sittenfeld’s books; in fact, her novel American Wife is what inspired me to become a librarian. You Think It, I’ll Say It is a collection of short stories about class, gender roles, and relationships in modern day America.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

This book is the work of the late wife of comedian Patton Oswalt. Published two years after her death (completed by a close colleague), it is subtitled One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer and centers on a mysterious and brutal serial killer from the ’70s and ’80s.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Adeyemi’s debut is a young adult fantasy novel, set in the magical land of Orïsha. After her mother’s death, Zélie Adebola sets out to defeat the crown prince who wants to eradicate the magic that gives people hope.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I have not yet read any of Hannah’s international blockbusters such as The Nightingale and Firefly Lane, but plan to soon as she is stopping at Malaprop’s on her book tour in February. The Great Alone is the story of 13-year-old Leni, whose family goes off the grid in Alaska and is forced to survive both the winter elements outside and the deteriorating mental state of her father inside their home.

What are you looking forward to reading in 2018? If you’re looking something different, come by the Columbus or Saluda Library to pick up a 2018 Reading Challenge card. We will challenge you to read outside your comfort zone this year! And you get a prize if you complete the challenge. Good luck!

Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call 828-894-8721.