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There are one million new books published each year. With so many books and so little time, where do you begin to find your next must-read? There’s the New York Times Bestseller list, the Goodreads app, the Cape Library’s Staff picks shelf and now Martin’s Must-Reads.Every Wednesday at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m., and Sunday at 8:18 a.m., Betty Martin recommends a must read based on her own personal biases for historical fiction, quirky characters and overall well-turned phrases. Her list includes WWII novels, biographies of trailblazers, novels with truly unique individuals and lots more. Reading close to 100 titles a year, Betty has plenty of titles to share.Local support for "Martin's Must Reads" comes from the Cape Girardeau Public Library and the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library.

Martin's Must-Reads: 'The Armor of Light'

“Amos Barrowfield realized something was wrong as soon as he came within sight of Badford. There were men working in the fields, but not as many as he expected. The road into the village was deserted but for an empty cart. Amos was a clothier, or “putter out.” To be exact, his father was a clothier but Obadiah was fifty and often breathless, and it was Amos who traveled the countryside, leading a string of packhorses, visiting cottages. The horses carried sacks of raw wool the sheared fleece of sheep.”

Those are some lines from the second chapter of Ken Follett’s newest historical novel The Armor of Light. It is the fifth title in his Kingsbridge series that began with Pillars of the Earth. It spans the years between 1792 and 1824, ending shortly after Napoleon’s Waterloo battle.

Kingsbridge has become known for its cloth and most of the people who live there are involved in this industry. The book follows several specific families — some who work in the factories and others who own them. It’s interesting to read how, over time, machines were invented that helped with the efficiency of the trade and how it affected the workers who were often replaced by those machines.

Follett also gives us a glimpse into the mechanics of local government and how punishment was often unjust and unnecessarily severe. When some of the Kingsbridge men join the fight against the French world invasion, we get a glimpse into the life of a soldier and how the English and the Prussians finally managed to defeat Napoleon. As the book jacket says, “It is through each character that we are given a new perspective to the seismic shifts that shook the world in nineteenth-century Europe.”

If you’re a fan of Ken Follett, then you must read The Armor of Light.

Betty Martin was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a Lutheran pastor and his organist wife. Betty’s love of books was inspired by her father who read to all four children each night.