MY LIFE ON THE ROAD
Gloria Steinem, activist, journalist and masthead of the women’s movement, examines how a lifetime of traveling has led her to a place she can call home. Steinem, now in her 80s, is still inherently quotable, is no less feminist, but is perhaps less zealous. She encourages readers to live in an on-the-road state of mind every day, and shares the important lesson of talking circles. This autobiography, loosely organized into types of travel, provides a history of the last fifty years that puts people, and their unique stories, first—“people before paper.” This is a powerful book, both for readers whose work brought us right against the glass ceiling, and for younger readers for whom the feminist movement is part of recent history. -review by Becky
GOLD FAME CITRUS
Claire Vaye Watkins
This intriguing novel takes place in the near future….a future in which California has become an arid desert totally devoid of water. The borders of the state have been blocked, and survivors like Luz and Ray must get by under devastating conditions. When they happen upon a strange, mysterious child, the three become a family, as they attempt to cross the “dune sea”. But other colonies of survivors are rumored to exist at the foot of the dune. Watkins has written a moving and disturbing novel that gives the reader much food – if not water– for thought. -review by Anita
THE HEART GOES LAST
The heart goes last in death, and marriage. So Stan and Charmaine discover when they join the Positron Project, an utopian society with a dark underbelly. Vintage Atwood with a racy twist! I thoroughly enjoyed this examination of marriage, utopia and the future of our planet (sex-bots and all).
-review by Becky
THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH
Twelve year old Suzy Swanson can not accept that her friend’s death by drowning can be explained by the words “sometimes things just happen.” As Suzy sets out to discover exactly what caused Franny’s death, she retreats into silence….partly because she feels that small talk is meaningless, and partly because her last words to Franny were hurtful. This is a tender and moving story about life, perseverance, friendship and forgiveness. -review by Anita
Willowdean, aka Dumplin’, may be overweight, but she is comfortable with who she is as a person. That is until certain events conspire to challenge her confidence and self-acceptance. A beautiful, often humorous, look at believing in yourself against all odds. -review by Anita
FATES AND FURIES
In Lotto’s version of how they met she says yes. In Mathilde’s version she says no, which becomes sure, but nothing is ever sure. The decades that follow bring success and failure, luck both good and bad, fate and fury. “Most operas, it is true, are about marriage. Few marriages could be called operatic.” Except for Lotto and Mathilde. Their love is tremendous, consuming, obdurate, yet vulnerable to fate. Still, this novel is about more than the growing pains within a marriage. Lotto’s rise into literary stardom evokes the golden era of theater—Albee, Williams, and O’Neill. Yet, as a playwright in the 1990s, Lotto is part of a generation of activist playwrights and actors, while Mathilde relinquishes her creative spirit to her wifely duties. Separately they tell interesting stories: Woven together, their lives are lightning captured in a jar. -review by Becky
The year is 1939. Two half-sisters are thrown together in an extraordinary way – Iris, the older, beautiful daughter of the irresponsible Edgar, and Eva, the younger, plain but intelligent daughter of Edgar and his mistress. The two girls set out to seek Iris’ fortune, and meet a diverse collection of interesting and enigmatic characters along the way. From Ohio to Hollywood and New York, Bloom skillfully weaves a thread both connecting and separating family through their loves, needs, bonds, and betrayals. The characters are often sad, tragic, but ultimately “lucky.” -review by Anita
ON IMMUNITY: AN INNOCULATION
“Immunity is a public space. And it can be occupied by those who choose not to carry immunity.” As a new mother skeptical of vaccinations and modern medicine, Biss set out to discover the truth about vaccinations. The result is a fascinating, well-researched and beautifully written examination of what immunity, and vaccination, means in our society. Biss draws from her experiences as a young mother, from historic and scientific record, from mythology, literature, philosophy and economics to discuss how people conceptualize vaccinations. This book is an inoculation against fear and misunderstanding, and an argument that vaccination is an act of love—for a child, for ourselves, and for our fellow man. -review by Becky
MY REAL CHILDREN
One woman, two possible lives hinging on one phone call placed in 1949: Now or never, Mark’s voice crackles across the distance. Now, she says and becomes Tricia—a wife, mother, and housemaid. Never, she says and becomes Pat—a lover, mum, and successful writer. One life, or two lives? In 2015, Tricia/Pat remembers both of her lives, even as she spirals into the dementia that took her mother. Walton creates a believable alternative world history for each life, exploring the natures of memory, fate, and the mechanisms that shaped the 20th century. Phenomenal! -review by Becky
GO SET A WATCHMAN
The most important thing we can say about this book is that we are not reading a sequel of To Kill a Mockingbird. This is a first draft, which affords readers an unheard of glimpse into the origins of an American classic. Go Set a Watchman carries Lee’s hallmark wit and kernels of her wisdom and can be read as a novel separate from To Kill a Mockingbird; however, this book acts as a companion more than anything else.
Newbery medal winner, Rebecca Stead, writes a captivating story about friendship, loyalty and betrayal. The changes that come in seventh grade can be overwhelming and scary. But Stead traverses this terrain with skill, compassion and humor. This timely book will appeal to middle grade readers. A wonderful book! -review by Anita
THE GREEN ROAD
The 2007 Booker Prize Winner for THE GATHERING has written a flawless, heart-breaking portrait of Irish siblings who reunite for Christmas at their mother’s home in rural Ireland. Spanning thirty years, beginning in County Clare but including masterful depictions of AIDS-devasted Manhattan and famine-stricken Africa, this is a story of family dynamics, of characters who struggle with anguish, illuminated by occasional glimpses of grace and humor. -review by Sheila
When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself an unlikely caretaker (and lethal cook) to his 90 year-old mother, Betty, who has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay. This laugh aloud, cry aloud story of growing up “different” in a small town in the Midwest in the sixties is a portrait of a bygone world – which the breakup of the family farm, the advent of Walmart and prevalence of meth destroyed.- and a snapshot of two generations who have struggled to understand each other. It is also big-hearted, funny and heart-rending. I want to adopt George Hodgman. -review by Denise Harnly
DENTON LITTLE’S DEATH DATE
In the not-too-distant future, due to a scientific development, everybody in the world is born with the encoded information of the exact day they will die. Children are told their deathdates at about age 5. Denton Little, a senior in high school, has arrived at his deathdate, and although he has had years to prepare for this, it remains disconcerting. As is the common practice, he attends his own funeral the day before his death. Then he must participate in the “sitting” where he sits with family and close friends as he waits to die (the method of death is never disclosed). But strange things begin to happen, secrets unfold, and plans are beginning to go awry. One thing that Denton knows, however, is that no one escapes their deathdate. I loved this book and the extremely likable character of Denton Little. A book exploring death, that ultimately explores life. -review by Anita
MY BRILLIANT FRIEND
Every summer reading list should include Ferrante’s wonderful Neapolitan Trilogy. Hailed by the “NY Times” as “the best novel ever written about female friendship, MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, the first novel, introduces Elena and Lila, two young girls whose lives are on the brink of tremendous change in 1950s NAPLES. The two girls and their neighborhood, Naples and Italy are so vibrant and richly depicted that you will never want to stop reading about them. The trilogy is available in paperback and a fourth novel, continuing the story, will be available this fall. -review by Anita
This beautifully written novel centers around a family drama that is both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. Charles Marlow, a high school teacher, struggles to connect with his current, “split-apart” family, as the trauma of his childhood also unfolds. There is a cast of extremely interesting characters in addition to the main protagonist: Cody (autistic son), Alison (divorced wife), Sister Giorgia (an Italian nun with dementia), and Dana (childhood friend). Kallos has created an exquisite story centered around alienation and letting go. And all this exists under the umbrella of handwriting…yes, you read correctly….handwriting. The flowing and graceful penmanship of the Palmer Method is a central theme in the book, and will make you yearn for the solace and beauty of this lost art. A wonderful book with a fascinating twist at the end. -review by Anita
Living in an oppressive Korean-American household in Queens, dominated by a traditional Korean uncle, Jane seeks her escape by becoming an au pair for an eccentric family in Brooklyn (think Jane Eyre). All does not go as planned, however, and after a romantic fling with her male employer, Jane flees to Korea, desperately searching for a connection and an understanding of her past. A coming of age story of a young woman shifting between two cultures….neither of which is an exact fit….and ultimately finding her own inner strength. -review by Anita
This is an incredible adventure story—a tale of friendship, romance, twisted allegiances and the struggle for power. Agnieszka always has mud on her skirts and she never expects the wizard to pick her as his tribute. Choose her he does however, setting off a chain of magical reactions that sends Agnieszka into the darkest recesses of the royal court, and deep into the heart of the magical forest that surrounds them all. I just want to climb inside this world and live there: the characters feel like old friends, and the magic is believable. Dragon reminds me of Howl (from Howl’s Moving Castle), and Agnieszka shows the heart and humor of a Tamora Pierce heroine. Novik draws from the Polish fairytales of her childhood to explore forgiveness and the subjective nature of truth in this unforgettable work of fantasy. -review by Becky
The writing in this searing debut novel is sheer poetry—evocative, and descriptive yet discerning. Ocean stretches as far as the eye can see relegating most of our known world to aquatic subterranean ruins. Land means food, and food means power. For the performers on the Excalibur, a floating circus run by ringmaster Red Gold, land is also a shackle—something to avoid except when performing. North, the young bear tamer, can’t imagine life anywhere but at sea, though circumstances beyond her control slowly reel her to the shore. Callanish, in charge of interning the dead, wears bonds of her own—latched to the land by obligation and a secret that threatens her role in society. The aftermath of a sudden storm remakes the world for these two extraordinary girls in unexpected and far-resonating ways. I read this book in one night and honestly considered starting all over again when I finished. -review by Becky
THE JUST CITY
“Nothing Mortal can last. At best it can leave legends that can bear fruit in later ages.” The Just City is an experiment in mixing genres: Greek mythology, science-fiction, fantasy, history, and philosophy collide in this fast-paced and thought-provoking novel about Plato’s Republic. Apollo, jilted and confused, decides to try mortality for a while in an effort to learn more about “equal significance and volition.” His sister, Athene, suggests he live as a mortal inside her experimental world—the first known attempt to create Plato’s Republic. However, even a goddess cannot foresee what will happen if Plato’s blueprints for justice are too theoretical to put into practice. Told in alternating voices, this literary mash-up is both entertaining and challenging, and affirms Walton’s place as an innovative storyteller. -review by Becky
A mystery has always surrounded the 1961 disappearance of Michael C. Rockefeller, the twenty-three-year-old son of Nelson Rockefeller. Michael was on a collecting expedition in New Guinea for the Museum of Primitive Art when he disappeared. Sensational stories circulated, fueling speculation and intrigue for decades. Hoffman retraces Michael’s steps traveling to the jungles of New Guinea and immersing himself in a world of former headhunters and cannibals. -review by Karen
THE BURIED GIANT
This beautiful, haunting novel is a departure from Ishiguro’s usual fare. A combination of fantasy and myth, this compelling tale, which takes place right after the reign of King Arthur, is complete with knights and dragons. A strong theme throughout the book is of fading memories, perhaps hidden or taken by the mists that surround the countryside. Struggling behind a thin veil of confusion, an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, leave their village and set out on a journey to find their son who they can barely remember. Their deep love for each other proves to be tender and moving, as their adventure unfolds. So gently and alluringly written, even if you are not a lover of legends, this book may win your heart. -review by Anita
Timberg clarifies today’s realities for the those who work in creative fields in the wake of big corporations and the Internet. He explains how “freedom” on the Internet translates into the creative class working for free. Timberg’s cascading investigative journalism reveals the plummeting paid status for artists in all disciplines. It has always been tough for artists, of any kind, to support themselves and their families, but now that margin has shrunk to a short list of super-stars, akin to the 1%. Despite the sobering facts, understanding can bring clarity and even empowerment. Culture Crash helps one appreciate, even more, the sustainable success of our own OSF. This is a must read for anyone trying to make sense of our evolving creative culture. It reveals current ramifications to artists in these challenging times driven by technology and profit. -review by Rebecca
OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS
“Dates only make us aware of how numbered our days are, how much closer to death we are for each one we cross off.” He calls her “Punzel,” a special shortening of “Rapunzel,” and swings her around to make her laugh. “Our days will be endless.” Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her father stops time—when he brings her to the isolated German mountains and declares the rest of the world destroyed. The date is August 20th, 1976. Nine years later Peggy is back in England with her mother, Ute. The story alternates between those lost nine years at die Hütte, and Peggy’s painful return. The truth about what happened on the mountainside is like switching keys while playing piano— the resonance and tone of the piece forever altered. The writing is alive, but subtle. Fuller slips around and between things, creating a world of implied connections and meanings. Peggy’s coming-of age is both tender and horrifying, and makes an incredible read. -review by Becky
LEAVING BEFORE THE RAINS COME
This engaging book is proof that the meandering anecdotal style can create a direct path to that slippery destination called “truth.” Fuller’s free-wheeling writing is chock full of humor, fearless insights, and originality. This page-turning journey into her personal history and long-term marriage offers a unique perspective and considerable shock. She holds up the flawed mirror. Unflinchingly, Fuller examines not only her unusual family of origin, but also her own shortcomings and those of the elusive American Dream. -review by Rebecca
Best Books from 1980
Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in “drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust.” Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors.
CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR
Twenty years ago “The Clan of the Cave Bear” became a blockbuster, launching a bestselling saga. This is the first novel in Jean M. Auel’s epic of life 35,000 years ago when two kinds of human beings, Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon, shared the Earth. It follows the story of Ayla, a young girl who is adopted by a group of Neanderthal.
INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD
Lynn Reid Banks
It’s Omri’s birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian brave. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Little does Omri know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real live man from an altogether different time and place! Omri and the tiny warrior called Little Bear could hardly be more different, yet soon the two forge a very special friendship. Will Omri be able to keep Little Bear without anyone finding out and taking his precious Indian from him?
METAPHORS WE LIVE BY
This now-classic book changed our understanding of metaphor and its role in language and the mind. Metaphor, the authors explain, is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of countless other subjects. Because such metaphors structure our most basic understandings of our experience, they are “metaphors we live by”–metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them. In this updated edition of Lakoff and Johnson’s influential book, the authors supply an afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.
A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC
First published in 1981–the first children’s book ever on the “New York Times bestseller list”–this beloved classic is back in a special edition that features 12 never-before-published poems by Silverstein. Accompanied by his iconic black-and-white line art, these new poems reflect Silverstein’s signature humor and timeless style.
Books We’ve Loved
OF WOLVES AND MEN
Of Wolves and Men reveals the uneasy interaction between wolves and civilization over the centuries, and the wolf’s prominence in our thoughts about wild creatures. Drawing on an astonishing array of literature, history, science, and mythology as well as considerable personal experience with captive and free-ranging wolves, Lopez argues for the necessity of the wolf’s preservation and envelops the reader in its sensory world, creating a compelling picture of the wolf both as real animal and as imagined by man.
THE COLOR PURPLE
Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.
A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES
John Kennedy Toole
After more than three decades, the peerless wit and indulgent absurdity of A Confederacy of Dunces continues to attract new readers. Though the manuscript was rejected by many publishers during Toole’s lifetime, his mother successfully published the book years after her son’s suicide, and it won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. This literary underdog and comic masterpiece has sold more than two million copies in twenty-three languages.
JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN
Few American novels are genuine classics, with a permanent place in our literature. This is one of them. First published in 1939, the story of an average American youth who “survives” World War I armless, legless and faceless with his mind intact was an immediate bestseller. Its anti-war message had a profound effect on Americans during the Vietnam era.
A cult classic with an ever-growing audience, Tracks is the brilliantly written and frequently hilarious account of a young woman’s odyssey through the deserts of Australia with no one but her dog and four camels as companions. Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous heroine driven by a love of Australia’s landscape, an empathy for its indigenous people, and a willingness to cast away the trappings of her former identity. Tracks is the compelling, candid story of her odyssey of discovery and transformation.
WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“My own definition of a feminist is a man or woman who says, ‘Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better.’ All of us, women and men, must do better.” In this personal, eloquently-argued essay–adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now–and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.
HOW TO BE A HEROINE
As big girls it’s easy to recall the novels that moved us as little girls, and the heroines we tried to emulate. Samantha Ellis, an Iraqi-Jew growing up in London, revisits some of her favorite heroines, often to discover how her views have evolved or changed. Only as an adult can she recognize the moralizing in Little Women, and the strength of Melanie over Scarlet in Gone With The Wind. As she ties her new found wisdom to events in her own life, she realizes how many of her heroines were commended for being weak women, rather than strong and independent. Some heroines do, however, stand the test of time! It’s fun and interesting to think about the wonderful classics mentioned in this book, and remember the strong emotional ties we all have to books that we read as children and young adults. -review by Anita
The Rocky Mountains, with their mysterious and terrible beauty, are the perfect backdrop for this literary thriller. When a routine morning run turns into a dizzying descent into the terrifying unknown the Courtands’ already fractured lives shatter: One teenager is in the hospital, the other is missing—abducted. The story unfolds in alternating perspectives, revealing the truth about what happened on the mountain that morning as well as starling insights into the Courtland’s lives, before and after the accident. The writing is well-paced and rich with adjectives. The characters are flawed and wonderfully alive. The writing is well-paced and rich with adjectives. The characters are flawed and wonderfully alive. The Courtlands will keep you up all night. -review by Becky
A BAD CHARACTER
She is a college student, motherless with an absent father. He is older, experienced and worldly. She loses herself in love, but she finds herself there too—when she rises from the rubble. The writing is evocative and aromatic—like the subtle bend of spices found in the rich flavor of curry. The narrative moves back and forth in time and switches from first to third person creating both urgency and distance—a poetic dissonance in memory. This is a romance—a story of intoxication and obsession. This is also a portrait of a city: “the teeth of the skyline eating the sun;” minarets erupting in prayer; “the mountains of cheap bright junk that Delhi consumes.” Kapoor describes the rapid growth in India, the “economic sleight of hand” that has cities teetering on the edge of garbage heaps, that makes the Ganga a “river that flows backward.” Beautiful, intense, an intoxicating ride through first love and the streets of New Delhi. -review by Becky
HINGES OF HISTORY SERIES
(Includes: HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION, THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS, DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS, SAILING THE WINE-DARK SEA, MYSTERIES OF THE MIDDLE AGES, HERETICS AND HEROES, plus one additional volume still in progress.)
These fascinating books will not only inform the reader of both old and new themes, but also bring them to life through Cahill’s brilliant, fresh, and entertaining perspectives. Because of Cahill’s insights and wide grasp of history, the reader can discern connections and cross-currents. These multi-layered events flood and flow through both the past and present world. Any reader who is fortunate enough to read these exceptional volumes will find illumination and inspiration in the brilliant fortitude and originality of individuals. Perhaps one will come to better understand the shattering, shocking, and awe-inspiring forces and persons that have altered and shaped our world. -review by Rebecca
WOMEN IN CLOTHES
Heti, Julavits, Shapton, & 639 Others
Fashion is not about what’s new on the runway, or “hot” this season. We unconsciously build our sense of style as we watch our mothers, interact with friends, interpret the media, take and lose lovers, and find our place in the world. This is a frank discussion between real women about real fashion. What is the difference between style and taste? Why does our favorite ratty t-shirt (or jeans, cowgirl boots, etc) make us feel sexy? What is the surprising freedom of a Burka? How are the constraints of gender reflected in fashion? This is a gorgeous portrait of modern women, and the clothing they live in, created through essays, surveys, and correspondence between the editors. This is the slumber party conversation we all wish we had as teenagers, no ouija board required. Real talk, by real women, about what really matters. -review by Becky
Three minutes can change everything. Ajay is eight-years old when his family emigrates from India to America in the late 1970s. In India Ajay and his brother, Birju, are frugal in a way that means they are “sensitive to the physical reality of our world.” They split matches in half and save the cotton batting from pill bottles. In America they live in an apartment in Queens with 24-hour television programming and indoor plumbing. Birju adjusts well in America while Ajay struggles to assimilate. Then Birju suffers a terrible accident and everything changes. Ajay’s narrative is simplistic, honest and authentically childlike—but his observations are startlingly adult. He subtly compares and contrasts Indian and American customs, reveals the immigrant experience, and sheds light into the murky world of living with disabilities. This is the story of a generation of Indian immigrants and of hope in the face of despair.
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” —Harper Lee
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, served as the basis of an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father — a crusading local lawyer — risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
First published in Italy in 1957 amid international controversy, Doctor Zhivago is the story of the life and loves of a poet-physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Taking his family from Moscow to What he hopes will be shelter in the Ural Mountains, Yuri Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the White Army and the Bolshevik Reds of the Russian civil war. Set against this backdrop of cruelty and strife is Zhivago’s love for the tender and beautiful Lara, the very embodiment of the pain and chaos of those cataclysmic times.
THE COLOR PURPLE
Winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1983, The Color Purple is the story of two sisters–one a missionary to Africa and the other a child wife living in the South–who remain loyal to one another across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.
THE EGYPT GAME
Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The deserted storage yard and shed behind the A-Z Antique and Curio Shop becomes the Land of Egypt for April and Melanie, who spend every available moment playing the Egypt game. Eventually other children, entranced with the study of Egypt, are drawn into the game, where they are visited by a secret oracle and become involved in a murder. An increasingly captivating story, which builds to a risky and daring climax.
Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.
A FAREWELL TO ARMS
Written when Ernest Hemingway was thirty years old and lauded as the best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield-weary, demoralized men marching in the rain during the German attack on Caporetto; the profound struggle between loyalty and desertion-this gripping, semi-autobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep.
AS I LAY DYING
Long recognized as one of William Faulkner s greatest works, As I Lay Dying is the harrowing, darkly comic tale of the Bundren family’s trek across Mississippi to bury Addie, their wife and mother, as told by each of the family members–including Addie herself.
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
Books by Exiled Authors
“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.” ―Salman Rushdie
THE SATANIC VERSES
One of the most controversial and acclaimed novels ever written, The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie’s best-known and most galvanizing book. Set in a modern world filled with both mayhem and miracles, the story begins with a bang: the terrorist bombing of a London-bound jet in midflight. Two Indian actors of opposing sensibilities fall to earth, transformed into living symbols of what is angelic and evil. This is just the initial act in a magnificent odyssey that seamlessly merges the actual with the imagined. A book whose importance is eclipsed only by its quality, The Satanic Verses is a key work of our times.
We is the classic dystopian novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin. One thousand years after the One State’s conquest of the entire world and the start of a New World Order, the spaceship Integral is being built in order to invade and conquer extraterrestrial planets. The story is told through the eyes of the project’s chief engineer, D-503. This book is generally considered to be the grandfather of the satirical futuristic sci-fi dystopia genre and is often favorably compared to George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It takes the totalitarian and conformative aspects of modern industrial society to an extreme conclusion, depicting a state that believes that free will is the cause of unhappiness, and that citizens’ lives should be controlled with mathematical precision by the state.
THE LADIE’S PARADISE
Emile Zola was of the most important, and controversial, French novelists of the late nineteenth century. In 1871, Zola began his “Rougon-Macquart Novels,” a series that relates the history of a fictional family under the Second Empire. As a strict naturalist, Zola was greatly concerned with science, especially the problems of evolution and heredity vs. environment. However, unlike Honoré de Balzac, whose works examined a wider scope of society, Zola focused on the evolution of one, single family. The Ladies’ Paradise is the eleventh novel in this series, wherein Octave Mouret has married and now owns a department store where twenty year old Denise Baudu, who has come to Paris with her brothers, takes a job as a saleswoman. The novel reflects symbolically on capitalism, the modern city, changes in consumer culture, the bourgeois family and sexual attitudes.
THERE ONCE LIVED A MOTHER WHO LOVED HER CHILDREN, UNTIL THEY MOVED BACK IN
After her work was suppressed for many years, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya won wide recognition for capturing the experiences of everyday Russians with profound pathos and mordant wit. Among her most famous and controversial works, these three novellas—The Time Is Night, Chocolates with Liqueur (inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”), and Among Friends—are modern classics that breathe new life into Tolstoy’s famous dictum, “All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Together they confirm the genius of an author with a gift for turning adversity into art.
Metamorphoses is an epic-style, narrative poem written in hexameters. Original, inventive and charming, the poem tells the stories of myths featuring transformations, from the creation of the universe to the death and deification of Julius Caesar. The poem defies simple genre classification by its use of varying themes and tones. One of the most influential works in Western culture, Metamorphoses has inspired such authors as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante and Boccaccio. Numerous episodes from the poem have been depicted in masterpieces of sculpture and painting by artists such as Titian. Although interest in Ovid faded after the Renaissance, towards the end of the twentieth century there was a resurgence of attention to his work; today, Metamorphoses continues to inspire and be retold through various media.
Champions of Free Speech
LONG WALK TO FREEDOM
Nelson Mandela is one of the great moral and political leaders of our time: an international hero whose lifelong dedication to the fight against racial oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency of his country. Since his release in 1990 from more than a quarter-century of imprisonment, Mandela has been at the center of the most compelling and inspiring political drama in the world. As president of the African National Congress and head of South Africa’s antiapartheid movement, he was instrumental in moving the nation toward multiracial government and majority rule. He is revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. Long Walk to Freedom is his moving and exhilarating autobiography, destined to take its place among the finest memoirs of history’s greatest figures. Here for the first time, Nelson Mandela tells the extraordinary story of his life–an epic of struggle, setback, renewed hope, and ultimate triumph.
THE ZHIVAGO AFFAIR
Peter Finn and Petra Couvée
In May 1956, an Italian publishing scout took a train to a village just outside Moscow to visit Russia’s greatest living poet, Boris Pasternak. He left carrying the original manuscript of Pasternak’s first and only novel, entrusted to him with these words: “This is Doctor Zhivago. May it make its way around the world.” Pasternak believed his novel was unlikely ever to be published in the Soviet Union, where the authorities regarded it as an irredeemable assault on the 1917 Revolution. But he thought it stood a chance in the West and, indeed, beginning in Italy, Doctor Zhivago was widely published in translation throughout the world. The CIA, which recognized that the Cold War was above all an ideological battle, published a Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago and smuggled it into the Soviet Union. Copies were devoured in Moscow and Leningrad, sold on the black market, and passed surreptitiously from friend to friend. Pasternak’s funeral in 1960 was attended by thousands of admirers who defied their government to bid him farewell. The example he set launched the great tradition of the writer-dissident in the Soviet Union. In The Zhivago Affair, Peter Finn and Petra Couvée bring us intimately close to this charming, passionate, and complex artist. First to obtain CIA files providing concrete proof of the agency’s involvement, the authors give us a literary thriller that takes us back to a fascinating period of the Cold War—to a time when literature had the power to stir the world.
How do a writer and his family live with the threat of murder for more than nine years? How does he go on working? How does he fall in and out of love? How does despair shape his thoughts and actions, how and why does he stumble, how does he learn to fight back? In this remarkable memoir Rushdie tells that story for the first time; the story of one of the crucial battles, in our time, for freedom of speech. He talks about the sometimes grim, sometimes comic realities of living with armed policemen, and of the close bonds he formed with his protectors; of his struggle for support and understanding from governments, intelligence chiefs, publishers, journalists, and fellow writers; and of how he regained his freedom. It is a book of exceptional frankness and honesty, compelling, provocative, moving, and of vital importance. Because what happened to Salman Rushdie was the first act of a drama that is still unfolding somewhere in the world every day.
MALCOLM X: A LIFE OF REINVENTION
Of the great figures in 20th-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Marable’s biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Years in the making, this is the definitive biography of the legendary black activist. Hailed as “a masterpiece” (“San Francisco Chronicle”), the late Manning Marable’s acclaimed biography of Malcolm X finally does justice to one of the most influential and controversial figures of twentieth-century American history. Filled with startling new information and shocking revelations, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America. Reaching into Malcolm’s troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents’ activism as followers of Marcus Garvey through his own work with the Nation of Islam and rise in the world of black nationalism, and culminates in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X is a stunning achievement, the definitive work on one of our greatest advocates for social change.
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara
Che Guevara, the legendary Latin American guerrilla fighter who joined the Cuban revolutionary movement that toppled the Batista dictatorship, played a leading role in the early years of the Cuban Revolution and made an extraordinary and original contribution to Marxist theory. He eventually died at the hands of CIA assassins in Bolivia in 1967. The Motorcycle Diaries is the young Che Guevara’s lively and highly entertaining travel diary. This new, expanded edition features exclusive, unpublished photos taken by the 23-year-old Ernesto on his journey across a continent, and a tender preface by Aleida Guevara, offering an insightful perspective on the man and the icon. As his journey progresses, Guevara’s voice seems to deepen, to darken, colored by what he witnesses in his travels. He is still poetic, but now he comments on what he sees, though still poetically, with a new awareness of the social and political ramifications of what’s going on around him.
THE BULLY PULPIT
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Chosen by the New York times to be one of the Best Books of the Year, The Bully Pulpit is a dynamic history of the first decade of the Progressive era, that tumultuous time when the nation was coming apart at the seams and reform was in the air. The story is told through the intense friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft–a close relationship that strengthens both men before it ruptured in 1912 when they engage in a brutal fight for the presidential nomination that divides their wives, their children, and their closest friends and cripples crippling the progressive wing of the Republican Part. The Bully Pulpit is also the story of the muckraking press, which arouses the spirit of reform that helps Roosevelt push the government to shed its laissez-faire attitude toward robber barons, corrupt politicians, and corporate exploiters of our natural resources. The Bully Pulpit, like Goodwin’s brilliant chronicles of the Civil War and World War II, exquisitely demonstrates her distinctive ability to combine scholarly rigor with accessibility. It is a major work of history–an examination of leadership in a rare moment of activism and reform that brought the country closer to its founding ideals.
More Recommended Reading
The author of Cloud Atlas tells a story about alternate realities, immortality and a feud more ancient than time. Entertaining, thrilling and absolutely unique.
BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS
Fans of Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow will particularly love this monumental novel about other worlds, faith, family, the environment and love. This is a complex novel that merges the future of technology with the history of faith.
One of the most highly acclaimed American novelists returns to the setting of her Pulitzer Prize-winning GILEAD to tell the story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe and wonder.
Widowed at forty in a small town in Western Ireland with not enough money and four children, Nora is one of contemporary fiction’s most memorable female characters. Toibin’s ability to capture the intricacy and drama of ordinary lives is reminiscent of the work of Alice Munro.
A collection of highly imaginative short pieces that speak to our times with deadly accuracy. Vintage Atwood: think Alias Grace.
A new collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. With stunning imagery she depicts everyday life and the unaffected beauty of nature. A book to cherish and to share.
WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE
George R.R. Martin
Every fan of Martin’s masterpiece, A Song of Ice and Fire, will want this lavishly illustrated, incredibly informative and comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms.
NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL
For readers of Tina Fey, Nora Ephron and David Sedaris, comes a hilarious, wise and fiercely candid collection of essays that establishes Dunham as one of the most original talents writing today.
THE WARS OF THE ROSES
The next chapter in British history from the best-selling author of The Plantagenets. Jones makes history exciting and relevant.
THE BOYS IN THE BOAT
Daniel James Brown
Now in paperback, a best-seller and a staff favorite, this book traces the story of an American rowing team that defeated elite rivals at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics.
WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES
Karen Joy Fowler
This is an excellent novel, now in paperback, and was the 2014 Pen/Faulkner Winner. Fowler is the first American writer to be a finalist for the British Man Booker Prize.
HOW WE GOT TO NOW
Unlocking tales of unsung heroes and unexpected scientific revolutions, this is the fascinating story of the six essential innovations that changed the modern world.
This is one of the most relevant, powerful and moving books in years. A true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice. Reviewers are already calling for a Pulitzer.
IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE
The year’s white-knuckle, true story adventure book is the long-forgotten voyage of the USS Jeannette, which set out in 1879 to discover and explore the North Pole. A spellbinding tale of heroism and disaster in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.
Emily St. John Mandel
A spell-binding novel, set in the eerie days of civilizations’s collapse, about a nomadic group of actors roaming the remaining scattered outposts, performing Shakespeare and risking everything to preserve art and humanity. A 2014 National Book Award Finalist. Perfect for those who believe in the power of art to transcend.
ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER
Family, relationships, fragility and the human condition are all written about with great wit and intelligence in this collection of short stories by the winner of the Man Booker Award for Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies.
Who doesn’t need to laugh this winter? Cleese, the mind behind “Monty Python” and “Fawlty Towers” gives us a memoir that is as silly, clever and laugh-aloud funny as the best of his very British comedy.
WHAT IF? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Serious scientific answers to absurd, hypothetical questions make a terrific and entertaining way to obtain a lot of fascinating information. This is a great, smart book for the whole family.
Following his block-buster biography of Steve Jobs, Isaacson gives us the story for our time – the invention of the Digital Age. It reveals the mathematicians and engineers, some of them unrecognized and unrewarded women, who created the computer and the internet.
This may be the most life-changing book that you will read or give this year. Gawande argues that medicine must improve life as we age, giving comfort and enhancing our experience even to the end. It is disturbing but ultimately hopeful, full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling.
ELENA FERRENTE TRILOGY
The “New Yorker” called these novels (MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, THE STORY OF A NEW NAME and THOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO STAY) “the best books about female friendship, ever.” Set in Naples, translated from the Italian, they constitute a masterpiece. In Paperback
WE ARE NOT OURSELVES
This multi-generational debut novel about an Irish-American family is so poignant and exquisitely written. It reminds us that we live to love and be loved and not to let the moment slip away. It heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction.
EDGE OF ETERNITY
This finishes Follett’s extraordinary historic epic THE CENTURY TRILOGY. Baby boomers will particularly enjoy this concluding volume, as it focuses on the sixties and the vast political changes that take place in the lives of the five intertwined families in Europe and the U.S.
Now in paperback and one of the most talked-about books of the year, this meticulously researched biography challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.
LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG CITY
Being small poses many challenges for Elliot, a very small, polka-dotted elephant who lives in a big city (circa 1940s NYC). But when he is able to help someone even littler than himself, he discovers the rewards and delights of friendship. In LITTLE ELLIOT, BIG CITY, Mike Curato has drawn beautiful illustrations to accompany this very sweet story. Ages 4-8.
Young children ages 4-8 will be inspired to use their imagination when they read DRAW! by Raul Colon. This wordless picture book tells the story of a young boy who reads about Africa and then proceeds to take an imaginary safari where he draws beautiful paintings of numerous wild animals. Colon has rendered incredibly vibrant and exquisite watercolor and colored pencil drawings.
Middle Grade Readers
Ann M. Martin
A young girl + a beloved dog = a sweet and tender story. In RAIN REIGN, by Ann M. Martin, twelve-year-old Rose/Rows has Asperger’s syndrome and is obsessed with homonyms. She lives alone with her father until one day he brings home a stray dog—Rain/Reign. When the dog goes missing in a storm, the girl must learn to cope with her loss. A lovely, poignant novel about love, acceptance, and honesty that will tug at your heart strings.
For young people who are curious about Freedom Summer, the civil rights movement that took place in the south during the 1960s, REVOLUTION is a wonderful documentary novel depicting that time period. Author Deborah Wiles writes an engaging novel from the perspective and different worlds of a white girl and a black boy living in Mississippi, interspersed with actual photos, quotes and news clips. These two young people’s paths cross, as they try to understand these turbulent times. Although this book is the second book in a trilogy about the 60s, it stands alone. Wiles’ first book in the trilogy-–COUNTDOWN–is available in paperback.
THE LONG HAUL ( Diary of a Wimpy Kid #09 )
It’s here! The 9th book in the series, THE LONG HAUL. In this latest installment, Greg and his family take a road trip, with all the ups and downs of a typical family trip. Author Jeff Kinney writes with wit and insight, as he continues to attract 8-12-year-old readers. This book, and any book in this beloved series, would be the perfect gift for a reluctant reader (or an enthusiastic reader!).
The setting for Meg Wolitzer’s BELZHAR, is a therapeutic boarding school for teens faced with personal tragedies that leave them unable to function in society. A transformative experience occurs for a small group of students who are chosen for a special class studying the works of Sylvia Plath. While writing in their journals, the students are magically transported to Belzhar, where their troubles are temporarily suspended as they relive their lives prior to their individual tragedies. This amazing novel is riveting, moving, and life confirming. Ages 12-17.
More Favorites from our Staff
A HOUSE IN THE SKY
Amanda tells her story of being held captive for 460 days in Somalia by a terrorist group. A suspenseful well written account of her experiences traveling the globe and becoming a free-lance reporter only to be drawn to Somalia, the most dangerous place in the world to report on the conditions in that country. Kept in chains in a small room, she draws on her inner resources for survival. -review by Karen
THE LIFE & LOVE OF DOGS
This is a beautiful coffee table book about the love we have for dogs and the love they have for us. “Why do humans and dogs have a love for each other unlike that of any other relationship?” The photography is outstanding from photographers from all over the world. Think Christmas. This book would make any dog lover happy. -review by Karen
THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
M. R. Carey
Given Carey’s history as a writer of chilling urban fantasy novels and horror comics it’s no surprise he wrote a dread inducing realistic take on zombies with The Girl With All The Gifts. Mainly told from the viewpoint of a ten year old plague survivor he reveals the horrors of his concept of the infestation and its ramifications through her oddly wonder filled eyes. As the reality of this story unfolds and predictably goes from bad to oh so much worse the story really focuses on the characters inner struggles not just mere survival giving its various ending all the more strength. I can say this is one of the grimmer apocalyptic novels I have read but it also manages to be the most oddly hopeful and uplifting. -review by Greg
This 2014 Nebula and Hugo Award Winner harkens back to the social science fiction of Asimov, Heinlein and Herbert while pushing the envelope link Banks and Elizabeth Bear in terms of consciousness, gender and self. Leckie’s story about a quest for vengeance tale told by a very unconventional heroine who’s perceptions may just challenge the way that you think. -review by Greg
What We’re Reading
FLORA AND ULYSSES
“Holy bagumba!” Kate DiCamillo has written yet another fabulous story for children of all ages…so fabulous that it won this year’s Newbery award! DiCamillo often writes of friendship and devotion between children and animals. This time the protagonists are a 10-year-old girl named Flora and a squirrel named Ulysses. When Flora saves Ulysses from a terrible accident, they become fast friends. Flora, a self-proclaimed cynic, becomes convinced that Ulysses has superhero powers. Her mission is to protect Ulysses from evil forces that would destroy him. This book is hilariously funny, as well as touching and tender. My favorite children’s book of the year! – review by Anita
A riveting true story of a modern-day homesteading family in the deepest reaches of the Alaskan wilderness – and of the chilling secrets of the maniacal, spellbinding patriarch. – review by Karen
The harrowing tale of the quest to settle a James-town-like colony on the Pacific coast. Just 2 years after the Lewis and Clark expedition concluded, John Jacob Astor funded two advance parties to settle the wild, unclaimed Pacific NW His plans were to establish a global trade network. More than half of his men died violent deaths. The others survived starvation, madness and greed. Astor’s dreams were not realized, but this expedition established to route for the Oregon trail. A riveting true adventure story. I couldn’t put it down. - review by Karen
When Perla is a little girl, her elderly neighbor gives her some sage advice. He tells her that when she is older she should find a man “who protects you, who feeds you first, who won’t take a bite of anything, won’t take a single piece of food or clothing or firewood until you’ve had enough first.” As a young woman, Perla finds such a man in the passionate, devoted Julian. But she soon discovers that this wonderful man she has fallen in love with hides a very dark past and secrets of his own. This is a beautifully crafted and compelling novel. -review by Anita
WHERE THE MOON ISN’T
The voice of the narrator, Matthew Homes, is both clever and endearing. And yet this same voice is also tragic and poignant, as a family tragedy becomes the catalyst for Matthew’s descent into madness. Filer has written an original novel with a vulnerable and very likeable protagonist. A fantastic book that you won’t want to put down! –review by Anita
The debut novel by renown food critic and best-selling author Ruth Reichl lives up to the name: Delicious!. I don’t know what part of me loves this book the most: the foodie; the library-lover; or story junkie. Reichl mixes the simplest ingredients to create a word feast that is both decadent and satisfying: an unminted journalist with an unusual flavor palette; a struggling food magazine; a small, family-owned cheese and delicacy shop; a locked library; and letters from a precocious aspiring cook to James Beard during WWII. Lulu’s letters and recipes paint a clear picture of wartime America; and baker-turned journalist Billie Breslin’s experiences at Delicious and the Fontanari’s shop are a fun foray into the flavors and textures in the modern food-world. -review by Becky
DOROTHY MUST DIE
This is an exciting return to an Oz gone wrong. When a tornado transports Amy (from Kansas, of course) to the land of Oz, she discovers a land corrupted by the evil powers of Dorothy. The tin man, scarecrow and lion (and even Toto the dog) are all villainous participants, and Amy must join forces with those that seek to save Oz and return it to it’s glorious past. The reader is transported back to the land of Oz to experience this dangerous and thrilling tale. -review by Anita
CONGRATULATIONS, BY THE WAY
The store is full of inspirational titles, but this is the one that made me want to change. Saunders, author of Tenth of December, is critically acclaimed, hip, funny and wise. He has written a book, not just for those starting out, but for anyone who needs to take stock and remember what is really important. I want to give a copy to everyone. –review by Sheila
THE STORIED LIFE OF A. J. FIKRY
This is the perfect feel-good-read for bibliophiles & booksellers. Each chapter begins with short book-review by A.J. Firky, the crochety proprietor of a bookshop on a small island off the Massachusetts coast. Firky is the best kind of persnickety—prickly on the outside and soft in the inside. He rediscovers love & family with the help of an orphaned baby, a quirky publishing rep, & a barrel-chested cop with a hidden gift for reading recommendations. This is a wonderful novel about why we love books, why we love each other, & how the two intersect. Keep a pen & piece of paper handy—this is one entertaining reading list.
ON SUCH A FULL SEA
China controls most of the world, including North America. Temperatures increase because of global warming, and cancer runs rampant—a fate generally accepted as unavoidable. Books have all but vanished, along with domesticated animals and outdoor farming. All food is grown in sterile tanks, tended to by working-class citizens living in worker-settlements, while the bulk of the food carted off and sold in the upper-class, wealthy communities. When Fan, a young tank diver, leaves her working-settlement (known as B-Mor) to find her vanished lover, she sparks a thought-revolution among those left behind. Both a folk-tale and an alarming prediction, this remarkable novel reminds me of a Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro. Haunting, devastating and hopeful, this story lives far beyond the confines of the book. -review by Becky
KNITTING YARNS: WRITERS ON KNITTING
Ann Hood, ed.
Don’t miss this fantastic anthology edited by Ann Hood, which includes such notables as: Barbara Kingsolver, Sue Grafton, Elizabeth Berg, Andre Dubus III, Hope Edelman, Alison Lurie, Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve and Jane Smiley. Who knew knitting enjoyed such a literary tapestry… enjoy!
-review by Rebecca
These stories, by one of my favorite authors, are laugh-out-loud funny as well as full of pithy commentary on contemporary life. In Moore’s earlier fiction, the protagonists were often young girls or young mothers. Here, they are divorcees. They have teenagers. They’ve variously tried and failed at dating, holding down jobs, being kind or being sane. Perhaps that’s why there’s an undercurrent of sadness – and the book’s relationships, with one desperate exception, don’t end well. Moore’s stories, like Alice Munro’s, will haunt your dreams. -review by Sheila
ONE LAST THING BEFORE I GO
One could argue that great fiction is not remembered by the plot, but by unforgettable characters. Such is Trooper’s protagonist “Silver.” Frustrating but loveable, Silver is a divorced has-been, forty-something, muscian who is filled with numbness and regret. That numbness is about to explode as he is suddenly faced with a critical heart condition. Despondent, Silver refuses to undergo the imperative heart surgery that will save his life. Despite the profound and dire nature of the narrative, the writing is hilarious. Tropper manages to create a character that is completely original and reminiscent of an unlikely mix of Voltaire’s Candide, Carlos Castenada and David Sedaris. The dialogue leaves the reader hanging on every word for wit, truth, and gasping originality. Surprises and ephiphanies of all sorts abound, as one raptly turns the pages, never knowing if you will laugh or cry. -review by Rebecca
THE GRAVEDIGGER’S DAUGHTER
Joyce Carol Oates
I cried my heart out at the end of this book – something I have done seldom in my long reading life…Oates goes deeply into the characters’ psychology and does not flinch from her wrenching insights. Rebecca Schwarts is born on a ship in New York harbor to Jewish parents who fled Germany in 1936. Her father, once a math professor becomes the gravedigger in the small town of Milburn, New York. The portrait of the de-based immigrant family and subsequent events remains an indelible literary experience. But at the core of the novel is the unlikely hero – Rebecca Schwart. As the story follows her courage, fortunes, and will to persevere, the reader is drawn into her destiny ultimately life’s deepest questions of purpose and meaning. Hang on to your hat and your heart, as you read this book – the journey will throw away the map, and bring you to unforgettable and uncharted territory. -review by Rebecca
Nasaw was granted unrestricted access to the founder of the twentieth century’s most famous political dynasty. The elder Kennedy’s seemingly limitless ambition took him from an East Boston outsider to the first Irish American Ambassador to Britain, where his antiwar position made him the subject of White House ire and popular distaste. The tragedies that befell his family marked his final years with unspeakable suffering. Nasaw addresses the questions that have haunted the legend of the patriarch: Was he an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer? Why did he have his daughter lobotomized? Did he push his second son into politics then buy the election for him? Always fascinating, occasionally repugnant, this is a look at a supremely influential man. -review by Sheila
The Lowland is another masterpiece by Jumpha Lahiri. She tells a powerful story involving two brothers, their families, their deep secrets, and — one of Lahiri’s favorite topics – the immigrant experience. This riveting novel has already been nominated for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award. A brilliant novel by an extremely gifted writer. -review by Anita
A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING
When sixteen-year-old Nao decides to take her own life, she first commits to telling the story of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun. Nao’s diary travels across the Pacific from Tokyo, and is washed ashore on a remote Canadian island. The diary, along with some mysterious letters, are found by a novelist, Ruth, who gets swept up in Nao’s story. This exquisitely told tale ties together the past and the present with intrigue, pathos and humor. -review by Anita
by Rivka Galchen
The cover caught me first—a precocious tabby perched precariously on a haphazard pile of household objects. The writing held me however: concise, yet expansive and unexpected; much like a feline—both predatory and cuddly, capable of cunning and economical movement. The literary and philosophic references highlight both the author’s formal education and her deeper grasp of the innovations humans hang their lives on. I will never again taste key-lime without thinking “Kantian sublime.” The quip about Walter Mitty is a stronger character reference than a paragraph of prose. Her vocabulary is extensive, but not over-reached. She knows this somehow, which makes her writing feel both studied and instinctual. I kept reading sentences aloud to anyone who would listen and, when I finished, I had the strange urge to start again from the beginning. -review by Becky
More Staff Recommendations
A must read with unforgettable characters and a suspenseful narrative. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old, finds his life in turmoil after the sudden death of his mother. With no responsible relatives to care for him, he finds himself isolated physically and emotionally. This is a book you will not want to put down. -review by Karen
A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA
Anthony Marra’s first novel and winner of The Pushcart Prize. In Chechnya, a land engulfed in war, eight year old Havaa watches from the woods as her father is abducted by Russian soldiers. A story about people caught in the middle of a war torn environment and finding humanity in unexpected places. A powerful novel. -review by Karen
A fictionalized account of the life of Hildegard von Bingen, one of the most extraordinary women of the Middle Ages. She was given to the Church at the age of eight by her noble family and sequestered with another young girl in a small room for many years. Her time behind these walls and her much fought for release into the world to ultimately earn her place in history is brought to life in this well researched and insightful account. This book is an accessible way to learn more about this saintly woman. I was engrossed from the first page. Historical Fiction at its best. -review by Karen
Jeff Vandermeer, winner of the World Fantasy Award and teacher of multiple speulative fiction workshops for kids and teens has put together this magnificent repository of images, exercises and essays in a writers manual like no other. Wonderbook contains essays from many of todays best speculative fiction writers, numerous pieces of strange and inspirational artwork and exercise prompts keyed to the ideas in the chapters. Intended for amature and professional writers both its a work that should be on your shelf wether fantastical fiction is your thing or if more realistic paths are what you want to travel. A quick flip through should give you and idea if its your kind of thing. -review by Greg
GIDEON SMITH AND THE MECHANICAL GIRL
David Barnett has written a distinctly unique feeling Steampunk novel using all the usual clockwork, steam powered and airship kitch but tells a story more akin to the genre’s penny blood and scientific adventure roots. The story is at times wryly funny in ways only British writers achieve, hits highs of chase and fisticuffs fun, yet still manages to be very honest about the ills of the Victorian Era and the realities of class warfare. Its titular hero is a idealistic young man whose hero worship lead him to action when tragedy befalls him and expose him to the realities of “heroes” and leads to discoveries about himself and the people around him. Vampires, mummies, mechanisms and monsters abound … great great fun all well told. -review by Greg
Winner of the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel from among a group of excellent and diverse nominees. This book shows the lives of the faceless barely named characters from science fiction TV whom are often the ones not to return from missions. John created his own “TV” SF setting like so many others and simulates the loose writing (to be kind) of the “TVshow” genre with deft skill and goes to unexpected places with the story. Its a fun. light diverting read when you need something on the lighter side among all the dystopic fiction out there. -review by Greg
Books We Are Excited About
SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS
In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad.
THE ROSIE PROJECT
Bloomsbury’s Staff says: “It was so good that I put off doing everything I was planning to do on Saturday so I could finish it! Becky, Rebecca, Karen and I all read it and loved it! I think this would qualify as a staff favorite!” -Susan
“This book is a riotous piece of feel-good fiction that had me in stitches and cheering aloud. Don Tillman is a professor of genetics who lives by routines, timetables and a standardized meal system – until he creates a questionnaire to help him find the perfect wife, and meets Rosie. A romantic comedy and coming of age/midlife crisis tale, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that feels so good!” -Becky
Mary Oliver has spent most of her life with a mind ripe with poems — and with at least one steadfast dog by her side. It seems fitting then that her latest collection revels in the carrying on of dogs. “Dog Songs,” out from Penguin Press on Tuesday, is a sweet golden retriever of a book that curls up with the reader, with 35 poems and one essay about the dogs who have shared Ms. Oliver’s days.’ (from the NYTimes)
WE ARE WATER
A disquieting and ultimately uplifting novel about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy, from Wally Lamb, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much Is True. After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh—wife, mother, outsider artist—has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets—dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs’ lives.
ONE SUMMER AMERICA 1927
Bill Bryson captures the outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness that occurred in the epochal summer of 1927 with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. He populates this bustling age with notables including Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone, and Herbert Hoover, but also with walk-ons eccentrics, authors, and actors. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order. To put it simply, One Summer is one festive read, a signature Bryson reminder that, rightly told, history brims with interest.
Recommended Reading at Bloomsbury Books
THE EMPEROR’S SOUL
Winner of the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella
Fantasy set in the same world as his first novel Elantris; it is a departure for Brandon who is known for his sprawling huge epics to write a tight exploration of three characters and through them the nature of life, death and art. Though its a tighter format his skill at creating character and magic is not at all dulled. -review by Greg
Twins. Two identical girls. Each one possessing “senses” (which is their euphemism for having psychic abilities.) But while Vi embraces and uses her senses, Kate abhors and rejects her own abilities. When Vi draws media attention by predicting a pending earthquake, Kate becomes drawn into the drama. As adults, the two women have taken very different paths, but their lives remain connected in so many ways. A beautiful story of friendship, family and self-acceptance. –review by Anita
A LADY CYCLIST’S GUIDE TO KASHGAR
This wonderful novel engages the reader from the very beginning. The chapters alternate between two centuries. The first is 1923, where two English sisters are missionaries headed for the city of Kashgar – one sister an etheral religious zealot, and the other sister more interested in her green bicycle and a commission to write a book. The corresponding story takes place in present day London, where a young woman struggling to find her connection to the world, befriends an illegal immigrant who is fleeing from the law. Suzanne Joinson skillfully ties together eastern and western religions and philosphies, with vivid depictions of different times and places. This is Joinson’s first novel – I look forward to more. -review by Anita
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Warning: Reading this book may cause elevated heart rate and/or dry-mouth—and cost you a day off and/or a night’s sleep. From the first shocking pages, Lexicon exerts a mind-control on the reader—making us helpless to resist Barry’s warped, alternative reality. Connecting ancient concepts of language and persuasion with modern issues of data mining and privacy, this is a wholly original and smart thriller. Barry rigged explosions in all of the right places and threw plot twists fast and hard over the plate, reminding me of a cross between Chris Cline and Neal Stephenson. -review by Becky
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Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout’s “magnificent gift for humanizing characters.” Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature. With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art. available at our store
In the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg, Kate Moore’s days are filled with playdates and coffee mornings, her weekends spent in Paris and skiing in the Alps. But Kate is also guarding a tremendous, life-defining secret—one that’s become so unbearable that it begins to unravel her newly established expat life. As Kate begins to dig, to uncover the secrets of the people around her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten her family, her marriage, and her life. available at our store
The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poetsreturns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962…and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later. available at our store
MR. PENUMBRA’S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE
Booksellers and book lovers alike will adore charming Mr. Penumbra and his towering stacks of mysterious, code-filled tomes, as well as the array of eccentric old men that make up the store’s late-night clientele. I now want to keep a log of our bookshop’s customers by Mr. Penumbra’s criteria: ‘You must keep precise records of all purchases. Time. Amount. The customer’s appearance. His state of mind. How he asks for the book. How he receives it. Does he appear to be injured. Is he wearing a sprig of rosemary on his hat. And so on.’ Wonderful! available at our store
The latest New York Times bestseller from the acclaimed author of In the Woods and Faithful Place. Broken Harbor is quintessential French—a damaged hero, an unspeakable crime, and an intricately plotted mystery—nestled in a timely examination of lives shattered by the global economic downturn. Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy always brings in the killer. Always. That’s why he’s landed this high-profile triple homicide. At first, he thinks it’s going to be simple, but the murder scene holds terrifying memories for Scorcher. Memories of something that happened there back when he was a boy. available at our store
The New York Times bestselling tale of an American undercover agent in 1945 Istanbul who must navigate a murky world of compromise and betrayal. Leon Bauer is given one last routine assignment. But when the job goes fatally wrong—an exchange of gunfire, a body left in the street, a potential war criminal on his hands—Leon is plunged into a tangle of intrigue, shifting loyalties, and moral uncertainty. How do you do the right thing when there are only bad choices to be made?
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