52. Queen of Flowers and Pearls by Gabriella Ghermandi. Translated by Giovanna Bellesia-Contuzzi and Victoria Offredi Poletto.
Came across this interesting gem just browsing in the library. It's a series of interpolated stories, compiled by the narrator, set during Italy's occupation of Ethiopia. Embarrassingly, I didn't even know that Italy had occupied Ethiopia, so it was very informative for me. The author lives in Italy and was born in Ethiopia, and the book is translated from the Italian, so this was a Women in Translation (WIT) read for me this year. Highly recommended if, like me, you want to learn about this moment in history.
53. Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
This well-regarded biography of President James Garfield was an appropriate read during the election. Millard starts with Garfield's rise to the presidency and chronicles the assassination attempt and its aftermath. She compellingly argues, based on contemporary medical evidence including the autopsy, that Garfield's death was the result of his doctors' treatment and not the bullet in his back. She spins a fascinating tale, with major players surprisingly including Alexander Graham Bell. Although nonfiction sometimes takes me longer, I flew through it in just a few days. Highly recommended for American history buffs, but really just anyone. The most amazing part of the book, however, comes early on. After Garfield is unexpectedly nominated at the 1880 Republican National Convention, he replies to a congratulator, "I am very sorry that this has become necessary." He does, luckily, have a brief reprieve during the campaign since "asking for votes was considered undignified for a presidential candidate." Just imagine.
54. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley
A longtime TBR lister, origin of the word "librocubicularist" (a person who likes reading in bed), and found serendipitously at my local Little Free Library. It's a quirky little tome, set in a Brooklyn secondhand bookshop, post World War I, aimed at younger, perhaps middle-grade readers. Its 1919 copyright is evident in its portrayal of women and the cartoonish German (natch) villains, but worth reading for the quixotic vocabulary. Also worth it for me, as I was about to start a NaNoWriMo novel set in the time period. Adults may want to read it for fun, or recommended for children perhaps with some caveats about stereotyping.