January 2, 2019

Happy 2019 and a Request, Fictional Cafe Coffee Lovers!

Happy 2019 and a Request, Fictional Cafe Coffee Lovers!

OK, OK, Happy New Year to all you tea lovers, too. Hey, I just wanted to send out a personal best-wishes message and thank you for being members of our Coffee Club. And to mention that 2019 is going to be an exciting year for FC. We’ll turn six years old in May, and even before that our first annual Fictional Cafe Anthology will be published. Yes, friends, all of this is a labor of love for us, and we love you for loving what we do here.

The featured photo above is your faithful head barista, taken this afternoon. My wife and I have a tradition of riding our bikes on New Year’s Day, no matter the weather, no matter how cold. Last year was sub-zero and we only lasted as long as our fingertips and toes remained un-frostbitten. It wasn’t bad today, maybe around 35-40 when we finally got our wheels spinning, which followed taking our grandsons to see the new Spiderman movie [excellent!]and a yummy Chinese dim sum luncheon. All in all, a pretty fine way to kick off 2019.

But what truly inspired me to write you was a story in the New York Times by Alexandra Alter that stated 2018 was a “blockbuster year” for publishers. Many books sold out their print run. Even some on Amazon were out of stock.

So, if it was such a great year, I ask you: What was the best book you read in 2018? Drop us a note in the Comments section at the end of this post and let us know what your favorite read was last year and in a few sentences why you read it. A micro-review, if you will. We’ll collect everyone’s reviews and post them with each barista’s pick.

We wish you a most happy, creative and productive 2019!!

Jack B. Rochester

Founding Barista and Editor-in-Chief

About theJack B. Rochester
  • Kathryn says:

    Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik! It was absolutely fantastic, published in July. It was a blend of Beauty and the Beast, Rumpelstiltskin and something completely new. It features 3 self reliant young women who use the hand they are delt with wit and an unending resilience. It was by far my favorite this year. I was cheering for the girls at the finale.

  • Melissa says:

    “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” Matthew Sullivan.
    Mystery, suspense, psychological fiction.
    I bought it because Matt is in my writing group and a wonderful writer. I read the whole thing in a weekend because I was captivate.

  • Laurie Skiba says:

    SUMMER HOURS AT THE ROBBER LIBRARY by Sue Halpern. A librarian with secret failures, a teenager who has stolen a dictionary and must do community service in a library, a Wall Street investor who has lost everything come together at the Robbers Library in a small New Hampshire town. Favorite quote: “‘So the dictionary,’ I said [to Kit, the librarian], “it was this thing I read someplace, and it really got to me. It said that a dictionary is every book written and every book that will be written, just in a different order. And it seemed magical. You could own every book just by owning one book. I loved that. And I just had to have it.”

  • Sarah Kersey says:

    OK! This book is old, but because I read it in calendar year 2018, I’m mentioning it…Music for Chameleons (short stories) (which the collection also included Handmade Coffins) by Truman Capote. Such engrossing, vivid, weird, bold, outlandish reads with real human beings at the center. If you’re a writer, you will learn a great deal about craft from reading these writings.

  • Jason Brick says:

    Absolutely THE MARROW THIEVES, I’M AFRAID OF MEN, and THE GHOST KEEPER. Three very different books by amazing authors.

  • Mike Mavilia says:

    Sadly, I only got to read one book this year: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I loved finally knowing the original vision for what has become a oft-replicated character.

  • Joanne W. James says:

    Anne Waldman’s TRICKSTER FEMINISM. I love Anne Waldman and have followed her work for decades. Her last 3 books have been book-length pomes, a very favorite of mine. It’s energetic like a volcano, has the consciousness of a blue whale, the largest mammal on earth. There’s so much to learn here. To celebrate. Shamanic, acute intelligence, a journey we all need to take.

  • Anonymous says:

    Happy New Year, head barista Jack!
    – Andrew & Maria on Penghu Island

    • Jack B. Rochester says:

      Great to hear from my good friends in the Penghu Islands, off the coast of Isle of Taiwan. For others reading this, Andrew is an accomplished filmmaker who conceived and directed the documentary “Scotch: The Golden Dream” last year. It earned an 8.6 score on IMDB. Hoping it makes the rounds here in the States sometime soon! ~ Jack

  • Mark Greenside says:

    Hi Jack–Hope all is well. Best books: Americanah and Milkman; the first, a Nigerian woman’s view of America; the second, an Irish girl’s view of ‘The Troubles.’ the first, amusing and illuminating; the second, shocking and mesmerizing.

    Question: do you still want to print an excerpt from The Night at the End of the Tunnel, or Isaiah Can You see? It came out about 6 weeks ago.

    Getting ready for France?

    • Jack B. Rochester says:

      Good to hear from you, Mark! Yes, I’m doing finger exercises and priming my computer to write the first draft of the fourth Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers novel, “Thick of It,” at your maison in France come October! ~ Jack

  • Dan Coleman says:

    A Tidewater Morning, William Styron. Boring story, as usual from him, but excellent writing that keeps you with it. From the same neighborhood, so it was always interesting to see how he viewed the rest of us(not too kindly), but his father and stepmother, especially she, were polite and ever present.

    • Jack B. Rochester says:

      Yep. Up close and personal. The very reason that author biographies make such good reading. A good one is far more interesting – and valuable – to a writer than a MFA! Thanks, Dan, for your sustained loyalty to the Fictional Cafe. ~ Jack

  • Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. Combines excellent writing with a compelling story. Through education, Tara escapes the torments of an on-the-edge, home schooling no-doctors, physically abusive childhood in a survivalist family in rural Idaho. Yet relates the events with compassion and balance.

  • Judy Wood says:

    Mary Oliver’s Devotions – heartwarming and inspiring collection.

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