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Check It Out: Favorite books from 2019 are all natural wonders

By Jan Johnston
Published: December 22, 2019, 6:00am

A new year is knocking at the door, which means it’s time for a “best of” review.

When I have so many great titles cross my desk during the year, it can be hard to choose my favorites. But ’tis the season for annual lists and reviews, so I’ll join along with 10 library books that engaged, tickled and charmed me.

Not surprisingly, four of the titles are picture books because I find this format to be just as enjoyable for adults as for children. I’m so glad the adult-me and the inner-child-me are such good companions when it comes to reading.

As far as themes go, you will notice a strong preference for books about animals. In the list below you’ll find dogs, beavers, lambs, kittens, goats and ravens (even a pterodactyl), and since we’re talking about the natural world, you’ll also find seashells and vegetables. In fact, there is only one title that has nothing to do with nature — “The Little Book of Lost Words” — although I can report that “love apple” means tomato, and a “grimalkin” is a cat, so there you go: every book in the list is a natural wonder.

I’ll be taking some time off, so happy holidays to all, and to all a good read!

• “The Beachcomber’s Companion: An Illustrated Guide to Collecting and Identifying Beach Treasures,” by Anna Marlis Burgard, illustrations by Jillian Ditner.

• “Dog Songs: Thirty-Five Dog Songs and One Essay,” by Mary Oliver.

• “Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter,” by Ben Goldfarb.

• “The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes From My Cabin in the Woods,” by Erin Gleeson.

• “Lambslide,” by Ann Patchett, illustrations by Robin Preiss-Glasser.

• “The Little Book of Lost Words: Collywobbles, Snollygosters, and 86 Other Surprisingly Useful Terms Worth Resurrecting,” by Joe Gillard.

• “The New Kitten,” by Joyce Carol Oates, illustrations by Dave Mottram.

• “Once Upon a Goat,” by Dan Richards, illustrations by Eric Barclay.

• “P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever,” by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter, illustrations by Maria Tina Beddia.

• “The Ravenmaster: My Life With the Ravens at the Tower of London,” by Christopher Skaife.