By Heidi Simmons

Reading is a blast! 

At the end of the year, it’s very rewarding to take a look back and remember the books that made an impression on me.  From my CVW 52 columns, here are the books I most enjoyed and remember.


a-life-in-parts-by-bryan-cranstonLife in Parts by Bryan Cranston – Cranston is a brilliant actor and a regular guy.  His memoir is well written, honest and entertaining.  With little self-analysis, Cranston shares his life as an actor and the events and roles that shaped him.



When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi  –  A powerful narrative on life as author Kalanithi writes about his impending death.  His wife finished the book and it was published posthumously.

shoe-dogShoe Dog by Phil Knight –  Nike founder Knight relates his experience starting and growing one of America’s greatest companies.  Knight shares the challenges and close calls in business and life. 



the-voyeurs-motelThe Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese  – Reminiscent of Psycho’s Norman Bates, author Talese writes about a man who buys a hotel to fulfill his weird obsession with voyeurism. 


H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald – Author Macdonald delves into the world of falconry and reveals the great love for her amazing bird.

at-the-ex-cafeAt The Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell – This book was a load of fun.  Bakewell brings great philosophical characters to life and shows how they became the thinkers of the last century.



last-bus-to-wisdomLast Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig – A coming of age story, this narrative moved me to tears as a young boy is sent off to live with distant relatives.  On the road, the boy learns a great deal about life and people.


Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo –  Small communities can be a blessing and a challenge to live in, and author Russo captures life and relationships when difficulties arise.

barkskinsBarkskins by Annie Proulx –  Epic stories allow the reader a greater understanding of the literary narrative in books.  Proulx delivers a story that begins with the earliest settlers as America is takes shape.


Maestra by L. S. Hilton –  This is a debut novel by Hilton and it is a doozy.  This is women empowerment but not necessarily in a good way.  I didn’t love the book, but it and its characters have stuck with me.  It is the first in a trilogy.


The Marauders by Tom Cooper – In this debut book, the setting plays a significant part and author Cooper captures the lives of Louisiana shrimpers and ne’er-do-wells brilliantly. 



the-fat-artistThe Fat Artist by Benjamin Hale – A wonderful cast of characters who more often than not find themselves in trouble rather than with things going their way.  Author Hale delivers short stories where the universe appears to align itself almost literally to wreak havoc on desperate folks just trying to maintain.

somepossiblesolutionsSome Possible Solutions by Helen Phillips – author Phillips takes the reader to places where relationships and timeless roles (spouse, mother, siblings, etc.) are explored through the lens of an outsider, or alien who finds the customs and rituals, unfamiliar and jarring.  Sometimes the outsider is you in your own home.

It is always a challenge to read a book a week for this column.  And there are times I just can’t figure out where or when I can just sit with a book.  But it does happen.  And it’s worth making the time.  I find there is something provocative in every book. 

I encourage you, dear reader, to put reading books on the top of your list of resolutions. 

I’m looking forward to a new year exploring unseen worlds and crazy characters in the pages of books.  Life is never dull when you read.  My wish for you is to find an entertaining, interesting or intriguing book that engages you!  Happy New Year!

Questions or comments?