Staff Picks: The Best Books We Read in December

The words: "Best Books We Read in December 2016" in front of a cozy, calm living room with a warm cup of coffee and a book resting on a coffee table.

The Books SJPL Bloggers Loved Last Month

Looking for a good book to dig into this weekend? We surveyed our bloggers and pulled together this list of eight titles we read and loved last month from the San José Public Library. Enjoy!

A Gift From Bob book cover A Gift From Bob by James Bowen

"I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the sweet books about Bob, the street cat of London. James Bowen, a struggling drug addict, found an orange tabby named Bob who was injured outside of his flat. James nursed Bob back to health and adopted the street cat. James and Bob’s adventures of recovering from addiction and making a living on the streets have been recounted in two previous stories, a picture book, and a movie (where Bob plays himself!).

A Gift From Bob brings us into the roughest winter that James and Bob spend together trying to earn money for heat and electricity by busking on the streets of London during one of the coldest, snowiest Christmases in the city’s history just before they became celebrities. Bowen's Bob books are perfect for those interested in true stories of how two seemingly different beings are actually very similar and mutually help each other succeed in the unlikeliest of ways." - Megan H.

Paris For One & Other Stories Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

"Paris for One & Other Stories carefully captures the 'in a rut' feeling perfectly. Each story in this collection is about someone stuck in a rut, wanting a change, and taking on a new persona to actually change their life. Each story felt different, not repetitive as I had thought they might be after a while. The longest story of the set, Paris for One, is a delightful love story. Escaping to Paris, finding true love, finding ourselves.

I liked the smaller stories in this set as well, especially Crocodile Shoes. It's very silly, but literally (and figuratively) putting yourself in somebody else's shoes really can change your perspective on life. I like Jojo Moyes because her work reminds me of other character-driven books like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry as well as A Man Called Ove. I borrowed the audiobook from Overdrive and enjoyed each of the different narrators for each story. The ensemble reading really brought the book to life and gave each protagonist their own story and background." - Nari F.

Closed Casket book cover Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

"Hercule Poirot returns in Sophie Hannah's second novel featuring Agatha Christie's little Belgian detective. The time is 1929ish, the place: Ireland. Poirot and his neighbor and friend Inspector Catchpool have both been invited to a house party hosted by a much-loved children's author. What is her motive for inviting them? Can they get to the bottom of it before tragedy strikes? Hannah doesn't quite have that 'certain something' that Christie had, but her latest book is fun and inventive. Closed Casket can stand alone, but you should start with The Monogram Murders." - Stacy T.

Commonwealth book cover Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

"It's a hot summer day in southern California in the 1960s. A father of four shows up uninvited to a family party and kisses the hostess—who is already married with two children of her own. Throughout this beautifully written novel, we get to learn about the six children and their parents as they grow up, move away (or stay put), lose touch (and find each other again), and experience love and loss.

This book is an excellent read for fans of character-driven stories, but the plot is also masterful in its subtle mysteries and underplayed drama. This was my first Ann Patchett novel, but I am definitely looking forward to reading more. (Psst: This book is quite popular, so check our Lucky Day collection if you just can't wait to read it!)" - Megan T.

Hillbilly Elegy book cover Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

"J.D. Vance’s harrowing memoir about growing up poor in Kentucky is both shocking and strangely inspirational. I picked up this book seeking insight into some of those who voted for Donald Trump. The outlook his family and neighbors had towards life in general was understandably defeatist and yet they still managed to make a life for themselves.

Vance was mostly raised by his scarily tough grandmother because his mother struggled with addictions. He ended up going to Yale Law School and now lives in San Francisco—talk about a culture shock! As someone who grew up in the suburbs, this was a fascinating and almost unimaginable view into another world." - Charmaine C.

Wedding Night book cover Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

"Lottie is expecting her boyfriend Richard to propose to her at a fancy restaurant. She even bought him an engagement ring. When he doesn’t propose, she breaks up with him. After every breakup, Lottie’s older sister, Fliss, is there to keep her younger sister from making 'unfortunate choices' like getting a tattoo or joining a cult or in this case getting married—to Ben.

Who’s Ben? Well, he is an ex-boyfriend that Lottie met on vacation on the island of Ikonos 15 years ago. Fliss, who is still recuperating from her messy divorce, finds out from her lawyer that if Ben and Lottie don’t consummate their marriage, they can get an annulment. She tries to talk her sister out of marriage; when that doesn’t work she tries to sabotage the honeymoon with laugh out loud results." - Monique M.

Inferno book cover Inferno by Dan Brown

"This gripping thriller takes Robert Langdon, a professor on ancient symbolism, to the city fraught with symbols—Florence, Italy. The same hero from Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code is back and seeking a way out of a dangerous situation. The thing is, he does not remember who exactly is chasing him or why. The answers to these questions are hidden in the statues, paintings, and landmarks of this ancient city.

The book has many turns and unsuspecting developments with short chapters to keep one engaged the whole way through. As with other books by Dan Brown, there is a wealth of accurate information behind the symbols detailed in this book. And one may find themselves hoping to soon visit these attractions ... hopefully under better circumstances than our hero." - David F.

Summer Knight book cover Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

"Harry Dresden is Chicago's only private detective/wizard-for-hire. Depressed over the loss of his girlfriend turned vampire, Harry gets suckered into taking on a case that gets him involved with the affairs of Faerie. Specifically, he must clear the faerie Winter Queen of the murder of her enemy's right-hand man, the Summer Knight. It's no big deal, really. Only his soul and the fate of the entire world hang in the balance, and the faerie realm is much more powerful than a mere wizard.

Typical for the Dresden files, multiple plot lines are intertwined to push Harry to his limits. Though number four in the series, some consider this book to be the start of the saga because it's in this volume that Jim Butcher's sense of humor really starts to kick in. If you choose to listen to the audio version, you'll get to have James Marsters (Spike of Buffy fame) read to you." - Teresa B.

What's the best book you read in December? Let us know in the comments!


I'm always interested in what everyone is currently reading and what people find interesting! I have definitely picked books from San Jose blog posts in the past and loved everything that was recommended! Can't wait for next month's picks!

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