As we ring in a new year of adventures in reading, Kansas City Public Library staff members look back on their favorite books from the past year – not all of which were published in the past year.
From 19th century classics to modern experimental westerns – nothing was off limits for our staff readers in 2011. Check out 17 picks from our KC Unbound book review bloggers below, and share your favorites from the past year in the comments!
Absalom, Absalom - William Faulkner
More than anything, I am captivated by the nature of narrative and memory, and Faulkner, perhaps better than any other American author, explores this subject deeply and profoundly, coming ultimately to the conclusion (in Requiem for a Nun), ‘The past is never dead. It's not even past.’" – Bernard Norcott-Mahany
Of all the English hymns written in the 18th century, “Amazing Grace” stands out as the most popular and the most performed hymn of all time. The song reaches out across cultures and nations and was translated in various languages.
I recently started to attend a Laotian church in Kansas and was surprised that the congregation sang this song in Lao, not in English. As a native Thai, I am familiar with this hymn in Thai language, which is often sung in churches in my country.
The story behind the song “Amazing Grace” might not be as well-known as the composition itself. Most people know it was composed by John Newton, an English clergyman. Newton was a captain of slave-trading ships, but after his dramatic religious conversion while he was at sea, he forsook the lucrative trade and became a parish priest of the Church of England and later, a staunch abolitionist. It was during his overseeing of the church in Olney that he began penning “Amazing Grace” and other hymns to be accompanied with his sermons at religious and social gatherings.