7 Best-Reviewed Books in December 2018

  • January 3, 2019

We came, we read, we gushed. Here’s a recap of the titles that left us especially warm and swoony this past month.

7 Best-Reviewed Books in December 2018

Milkman by Anna Burns (Graywolf Press). Reviewed by Robert Allen Papinchak. “Milkman vibrates. It is energized with a perspective that immerses the reader in a setting that commands attention. It resonates because of the symbiotic interplay of its characters. Its language soars. It would be the same story if it were written in blood. And, in some ways, it is.”

John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court by Richard Brookhiser (Basic Books). Reviewed by Talmage Boston. “Brookhiser properly concludes his biography by asking the right questions about where the nation is going now in the context of knowing where it’s been. Will Marshall’s commitment to the Constitution’s words and history be maintained by future generations of Supreme Court justices? Will the court preserve its preeminent position in evaluating the constitutionality of increasingly rapid-fire actions taken by the person currently in the Oval Office?”

House of Gold: A Novel by Natasha Solomons (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). Reviewed by Denny S. Bryce. “I am not a student of the Great War, international banking, or gardening — an integral element of the story, by the way — but this book offers a wealth of historical information without taking the reader out of the story. But what I enjoyed most was how much I grew to love these characters (some, desperately).”

The Bigfoot Files by Lindsay Eagar (Candlewick Press). Reviewed by Theresa Graham. “The Bigfoot Files celebrates differences in lifestyle and demonstrates how emotionally healthy it can be to keep an open mind and maintain childlike wonder when faced with the inexplicable. Miranda experiences a true coming-of-age transformation as she realizes that things are not always as they appear within the natural world, nor within the hearts of the people closest to her, and that we all struggle with distorted perceptions sometimes.”

Everything Under: A Novel by Daisy Johnson (Graywolf Press). Reviewed by Bob Duffy. “If you read no further, hold on, at least, to this: Everything Under is capital-B Brilliant, capital-V Virtuoso. It’s supremely worthy of its Man Booker honors and heralds the emergence of a significantly talented British writer.”

The Western Wind: A Novel by Samantha Harvey (Grove Press). Reviewed by Katy Bowman. “The novel is divided into four sections, one for each of the four days leading up to the start of Lent — from Shrove Saturday through Shrove Tuesday. The sections are ordered from end to beginning, with the first section covering the events of Shrove Tuesday and the last covering Shrove Saturday, the day of Newman's death. It's an intriguing structure and not at all expected for this kind of story, but Harvey is a brilliant writer, and the framework only strengthens the plot.”

Newcomer: A Mystery by Keigo Higashino; translated by Giles Murray (Minotaur Books). Reviewed by Art Taylor. “More fascinating is the detective who brings all the stories together, helps fill them with such intimacy and warmth, and eases the people of Nihonbashi toward their small moments of grace or atonement or relief — not simply with a sense of questions answered, but with some higher order restored, with humanity itself reaffirmed.”

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