Best Books: From the Expected to the Overlooked

The winners of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards were just announced. Since this is basically a people’s choice award, the titles tend to reflect best seller lists and offer few surprises (with the possible exception of the Best History & Biography award which went to Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith, RH; a somewhat surprising choice, given the rich outpouring of titles in that category this year. But then, it was the subject’s Jubilee Year).

For those looking for the unexpected, the Slate Book Review critics suggest “20 Great Books You Never Heard About — But Should’ve.” Indeed, they surprised us; one of the few titles we recognize is City of Women by David Gillham, which was featured in our “Penguin First Flights” program (listen to our interview with the author and read the online chat with program participants). We’re happy it’s getting recognition, but sorry that it’s considered “overlooked.” Slate’s critic Claire Lundberg writes:

Do we really need another World War II novel? This jaded reader sure did, because David Gillham’s City of Women is great. Set in Berlin in 1943, it’s about Sigrid, a bored German housewife who starts an affair with a Jewish man she meets in a movie theater, then quickly finds herself helping her lover smuggle his wife and children out of the country. The writing is a great mix of the literary and commercial, page-turning and suspenseful, with a morally complex, intelligent heroine at its center. If you’re a fan of well-written historical novels in the vein of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, this one is for you.

Leave a Reply