• Top 5: Books that keep you guessing

  • One of the classic signs of a great book is the author’s ability to keep readers guessing until the final pages are turned.

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  • One of the classic signs of a great book is the author’s ability to keep readers guessing until the final pages are turned.
    This trait united this week’s edition of Mid-Continent Public Library staff members’ Top 5 favorite reads in 2012. Reader beware: Pick up one of these titles, and you might find it difficult to continue your Christmas shopping or baking for the holidays.
    1. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
    On Morgenstern’s website, the following synopsis is offered for the author’s debut novel: “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements.”
    Nicole Pye, a librarian archivist at the Midwest Genealogy Center, said she enjoyed “The Night Circus” for its example of magical realism.
    “The story was engrossing, and the author’s characters were well-written,” Pye said. “I couldn’t wait to find out how the story would end.”
    2. “Defending Jacob” by William Landay
    Family man Andy Barber is a senior prosecutor who finds himself in a bind when his 14-year-old son, Jacob, is accused of murdering another teenage boy. Jacob and his father alike defend his innocence, only to find their lives unraveling as a consequence.
    “This book has an interesting twist and makes you think about family loyalty and what you would do to keep your children safe and out of trouble,” said Sheri Justice, a library clerk at MCPL’s Boardwalk Branch. “It kept me guessing until the end.”
    3. “The Beginner’s Goodbye” by Anne Tyler
    This novel’s opening line hooks the reader instantly: “The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted.”
    Aaron and Dorothy had a happy marriage until a tragic accident takes Dorothy’s life. Middle-aged and alone, Aaron finds comfort and peace in Dorothy’s post-death visits. The result is a “beautiful and memorable story,” said Peyton Jenkins, assistant branch manager of MCPL’s Buckner Branch.
    “Reading this book, you will feel certain that Anne Tyler has been spying on you and your neighbors,” Jenkins said. “These characters are so real, so familiar, and the twists they take and lessons they learn will feel like pages out of your own life.”
    4. “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs
    A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs.
    These three short sentences provided on Riggs’s website are likely all it will take to convince readers to pick up this fantasy for adults, teens “and anyone who relishes an adventure on the shadows.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “Ransom Riggs did a fantastic job of keeping me on my bed with pages open on this one,” said Beth Farley, a library assistant at the Boardwalk Branch. “I loved the way he brought in illustrations. Although they were somewhat disturbing, they added a flare to the story and a very peculiar story, indeed.”
    5. “Wife 22” by Melanie Gideon
    Alice Buckle is in the midst of a mid-life crisis, and in today’s fast-paced technology-driven world, she turns to the Internet for anonymous marriage counseling. Wife 22, Alice’s pseudonym, answers the questions in the online study “Marriage in the 21st century” and maintains correspondence with a caseworker (Researcher 101).
    “I liked the twists in this book. It didn’t turn out the way I thought it was going to,” said Tobi Knight-Daiss, a library assistant at the Antioch Branch. “I think many wives could identify with the main character, Alice. I liked that she was real and insecure. The family in the book is likable, and you are rooting for them as you read.”

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