By Tall Poppy Writer Cathy Lamb

I was asked to review one book for our Tall Poppy blog and write about it.

I knew I would have to break that rule.

(Writers often break rules. At least, we break literary rules. It’s a hazard of the job, I suppose.)

How to choose which book to review? How to choose only ONE?

It’s like standing in a field of magical tulips and you have to choose the most beautiful. Or going to a bakery and choosing only ONE scrumptious treat. Or visiting all the national parks and then being forced to choose the most magnificent of them all.

I couldn’t do it.

Here is a list of some of my favorite reads this year and a short, I promise, very short review of why I loved them:

  1. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, has already won many awards and every single award is well deserved. It’s a brilliant, though provoking, chilling, emotional book. I knew I would have to read it quickly because of the topic. In terms of literary excellence, it’s way, way at the top.
  2. I listened to Geraldine Brooks’ Caleb’s Crossing and loved it.  I loved it because of the history – the history of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Harvard, and the beginning of the U.S. The characters, Bethia, a daughter of a conservative minister who endures one loss after another and continual, infuriating control and limitations because she’s a woman; and Caleb, the intelligent, courageous son of an Indian chief who attends Harvard, were endearing. I like to learn when I read, and this book was filled with learning.
  3. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry was another beautiful book by Fredrik Backman. If someone told me I could have a HUGE box of chocolates if I said which of his books was my favorite, I’d take A Man Called Ove but all of his books are compassionate, quirky, and thoughtful with characters who represent real people, our best sides and our not so best sides.
  4. The BreakdownI read this book, by B.A. Paris, in about three days. I usually don’t whip through books that quickly, either. It’s simply a fun book. Super fast paced thriller. Different turns and twists, the stakes get higher each chapter, etc. It was like watching an action packed movie. You watch the movie, you eat popcorn, you escape from life, you don’t ask too many deep questions, and when you’re done you feel better. It was a book-ride, so to speak. Totally enjoyed it.
  5. I read Mary Kubica‘s book Every Last Lie and listened to Jane Austen’s Persuasion at the same time. (Well, not EXACTLY the same time. I did not read one and listen at the very same second, my brain would have busted.) But I loved both. I could hardly put down Mary’s book. I read it while watching the waves here on the Oregon Coast. She always writes a gripping story, lots of twists and surprises, with grit and raw emotion.
  6. I liked Persuasion, too, but one thing that struck me was how women’s lives have changed in the past 200 years. I would not have wanted to live in Jane Austen’s time period for many reasons.
  7. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan, about a choir, in England, during World War II, is charming and historical and romantic and, of course, sometimes sad, as it’s set during the war. If you like tea, drink it while reading this book.
  8. And, if you need another one…I have almost finished Behold The Dreamers. An Oprah book, and I completely understand why she chose it.

Whew! I knew I couldn’t choose only one…

About Cathy

Cathy Lamb lives in Oregon where she drinks too much coffee and eats too much chocolate. She is working on her twelfth novel. Find out more at