Treasures on the Shelves: Looking back on 2023

Published 3:55 pm Thursday, December 21, 2023

Treasures on the Shelves

Holly Howze

Every December as the year draws to a close, I like to look back over the books I’ve read (or read about) and see what stands out. 

If there was one book genre that was the most successful in 2023, it was the celebrity memoir. The year began with “Spare” by Prince Harry, which broke sales records internationally, and other blockbuster titles followed by Britney Spears, Barbra Streisand and Sly Stone. There were two books, however, that didn’t get as much press but were excellent offerings nonetheless. Bernie Taupin has written some of the most popular and successful songs of the modern era. His collaborations with Elton John put them on par with Lennon and McCartney and he has also written for, and with, other performers. His memoir “Scattershot” is an absorbing look at his creative life, from his childhood in rural England and his fascination with the mythology of the American West to the phenomenal musical output he and Elton released in the 1970’s and 1980’s. 

Female vocal groups have been part of the musical landscape in nearly every decade and the 1960’s is seen as the golden age. “But Will You Love Me Tomorrow: An Oral History of the 60’s Girl Groups” by Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz explores the pioneering songs and images created by performers such as the Shirelles, the Crystals, the Supremes and the Ronettes. From iconic beehive hairstyles and black eyeliner to the indelible harmonies of their songs, these women, as well as the female songwriters behind some of their biggest hits, not only broke new ground in the pop music arena but were racially diverse in an era that was still largely segregated. Finally they can tell their stories in their own words. 

In the fiction genre, one of the best books of the year was published this month. “The Frozen River” by Ariel Lawhorn is a wintry mystery set in 18th century Maine. Based on real-life events, the story follows midwife Martha Ballard as she tries to solve the murder of a local man accused of assault. 

“Ascension” by Nicholas Binge is a sci-fi story about a mysterious mountain that suddenly appears in the Pacific and the scientists sent to investigate. This is a gripping thriller perfect for those who like mind-bending fiction. 

Happy holidays and good reading in 2024! 

Holly Howze is the branch manager for the Ripberger Public Library located in Kenbridge. She can be reached at lcplsbooks@ gmail.com.