The Bookworm of Edwards names best books of 2015 for kids, adults | VailDaily.com

The Bookworm of Edwards names best books of 2015 for kids, adults

Leigh Horton
Special to the Daily
“All the Bright Places,” by Jennifer Niven.
Special to the Daily |

Holiday happenings

The Bookworm of Edwards, located in the Riverwalk at Edwards, will host the Dickens Carolers at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12. The store will stay open until 6 that evening for shoppers to enjoy the festivities. The Bookworm also will close at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve and remain closed for the entirety of Christmas Day. Call 970-926-7323 with questions.

EDWARDS — With millions of books — which one will do?

Each year, the staff at local bookstores, media outlets and review sources create their lists for the absolute best books of the year. The categories and criteria are often dominated by what reviewers say, rather than what readers are reading. Locally, Nicole Magistro, owner of The Bookworm of Edwards, has a different set of rules.

“Really, our Best Books list is always about what we love and what we love to recommend,” she said. “It has nothing to do with whether the book received awards or accolades. Instead, it reflects the true and unique nature of our reading community.”

For the kids

“All the Bright Places,” by Jennifer Niven, is the best teen pick and will please readers of John Green and Sarah Dessen. Complex characters and realistic portrayals of the emotional and social trials of being a teenager will draw teens into this important story.

Sarah Taylor, The Bookworm’s program manager and teen fiction fan, said Niven created a relatable world full of social posturing, internal conflict and unexpected friendships. But she warns that “All the Bright Places” does require 20 boxes of tissues at times, so don’t forget to add those to the shopping list.

Katherine Applegate crafts another winner for elementary schoolers in “Crenshaw.” Fans of her previous books, including Newbery Medal winner “The One and Only Ivan,” love Applegate’s large, imaginary cat and the message that good friendships can have lasting influences.

This quirky novel awakens an imaginary friend — an overweight, over-opinionated cat — to help a young boy through the trials of poverty and is perfect for kids who are either experiencing a difficult holiday season or who are fascinated by the connection between humans and animals.

“Elephantastic!” is a charming picture book for younger children created by Michael Engler and Joelle Tourlonaise.

“It’s an imaginary adventure that inspires kids to think about how remarkable the everyday can be, and it teaches amazing vocabulary and cultural literacy,” said Magistro, who is also the mother of a 4-year-old.

She also mentions, without any hint of regret, that her son recites lines from the book and wants to read it every night. It’s perfect for parents looking to add stories they won’t tire of and for children curious about the world around them.

Harry Potter is back as The Bookworm’s family read-a-loud favorite, but this year, Harry and his friends come to life in a beautifully illustrated version of this beloved tale. For children too young to remember the original release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” this is a magical introduction to the stories.

The depiction is so enchanting that even booksellers were setting aside copies for themselves as early holiday gifts. Taylor admits “the illustrations are so incredible gorgeous I had to step off the floor and look through the whole book when we got it in!”

For adults

The home cook generally has one go-to volume, usually splattered with batter or sauce. Here is the new classic.

“100 Recipes,” from America’s Test Kitchen, fleshes out the absolute best ways to make the true essentials, from vinaigrette and roast chicken to Cuban-style black beans and rice and Italian almond cake. Full of technique critiques and notes on why the recipe works, this is more than a basic cookbook. It’s a bible.

Photographer Ian Shive showcases America’s legacy in his book “The National Parks,” The Bookworm’s best coffee-table pick for 2015. Karin Barker, longtime bookseller and literary concierge program facilitator, said she loves how this book highlights our greatest natural treasures and the breathtaking photography.

Shive’s images are interspersed with essays that exemplify the beauty and importance of nature. Gift this to the naturalist in your life, or plan your next vacation through the national parks with this incredible book.

Andy Bull’s “Speed Kings” wins the title for best narrative nonfiction because of the fast-paced and politically charged depiction of bobsledding in the 1920s and ’30s. This book, which describes the political and athletic tensions between European and American teams, will thrill anyone who enjoys the drama of sport.

“Mix ‘Boys in the Boat’ with ‘The Great Gatsby,’ and you have a good idea of the flavor of this one,” Magistro said. “There are Colorado connections throughout this entertaining piece of history.”

Forget dusty bonnets and Native Americans attacking wagon trains, Rinker Buck’s “The Oregon Trail” describes brotherly antics on the historic trail. The Buck brothers traverse the United States in a covered wagon, dodging modern roads and property rights and discovering how America has changed since the Western expansion.

Rinker tied in history of the people who traversed the trail and the reasons they risked so much to head West with his own personal experiences, many of which were funny or insightful,” Barker said.

Historical fiction is often a difficult genre for which to decide a winner, but Paula McLain’s “Circling the Sun” is the best of the year for the local bookshop.

“It’s so well written you will be immediately transported to early 20th century Africa. Beryl Markham will amaze you and your heart will break for her,” Barker said. “I absolutely love this book.”

The final selection of the year — best contemporary fiction — was decided unanimously. Jonathan Evison’s “This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!” received the top honor for “great storytelling, a character you will love and root for, humor and wisdom, dysfunctional relationships, redemption and forgiveness,” Barker said. “Harriet is not only an enjoyable read but cements Evison as one of the best writers of our time.”

This article was commissioned by The Bookworm of Edwards for publication in the Vail Daily.