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Virginia Woolf wants you!

Join the Bloomsbury Book Club!
Share your passion for books with like-minded people. Meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month, 7 pm on the Mezzanine at Bloomsbury Books. Limit: 25 participants.

IBDlogo

Bloomsbury Books’ Independent Bookstore Day Party

Saturday, April 29 is Independent Bookstore Day (IBD), an annual nation-wide celebration honoring independent bookstores and the unique communities who support them. We are throwing an all day party for the community with libations, a story hour, arts and crafts, live music, a raffle with prizes and an open mic story hour.

IBD is an opportunity to celebrate the fact that our community has supported an independent bookstore for 37 years. Please, let us thank you and come party with us.

Party Schedule:

9:00am-10:00am Free coffee
10:00am-11:00am Free mimosas
11:00am-12:00pm Story Hour
1:00pm-2:00pm Make your own Little Golden Book
2:00pm-3:00pm Live music
3:00pm-4:00pm Watercolor demonstration with Katrina Meister
5:00pm-6:00pm Free beer
6:00pm-7:00pm Free wine
7:00pm-8:00pm Open-mic storytelling
(Theme: books that changed your life)

Download FREE audiobooks, available on April 29th only, through our new partners Libro.fm

Visit our craft table! Make your own bookmark or bookcover
Play our literary Mad-Libs
Visit our selfie station
Enter our raffle for cool prizes, 4 ways to enter:
Complete our store scavenger hunt
Spend $10 in the bookstore
Share a selfie on social media with the hashtag #BloomsburyAshland
Purchase food or drink in the Bloomsbury Coffeehouse

Prizes include an advanced copy of Paula Hawkin’s new book, Into the Water, free digital downloads from Blackstone Audio, a gift basket of literary goodies, autographed books, frameable prints of Mary Oliver poems signed by the poet, and more.

 

Audiobook memberships are now available at BLOOMSBURY BOOKS!

Powered by our audiobook partner Libro.fm, your first audiobook is $0.99 and then $14.99 per month. The monthly fee equates to one audiobook credit which you can use at anytime, for any of the 70,000+ audiobooks available on our Libro.fm site. You can easily listen on any device (phone, tablet, PC) as all Libro.fm audiobooks are DRM-free.

Learn More

 

Books to Celebrate National Poetry Month

angeloupoemsMAYA ANGELOU: THE COMPLETE POETRY
Maya Angelou
Throughout her illustrious career in letters, Maya Angelou gifted, healed, and inspired the world with her words. Now the beauty and spirit of those words live on in this new and complete collection of poetry that reflects and honors the writer’s remarkable life. Every poetic phrase, every poignant verse can be found within the pages of this sure-to-be-treasured volume—from her reflections on African American life and hardship, to her revolutionary celebrations of womanhood. This collection also includes Angelou’s tribute at President William Jefferson Clinton’s inauguration, and the never-before-published poem “Amazement Awaits,” commissioned for the 2008 Olympic Games. -from Publisher Marketing

 
cohenoemsLEONARD COHEN
Leonard Cohen
This is a magnificent selection of song lyrics and poems from across the storied career of one of the most daring and affecting poet-songwriters in the world. In the more than half century since his first book of poems was published, Leonard Cohen has evolved into an international cult figure who transcends genres and generations. This anthology contains a cross section of his five decades of influential work, and searingly memorable poems from his many acclaimed poetry collections. Encompassing the erotic and the melancholy, the mystical and the sardonic, this volume showcases a writer of dazzling intelligence and live-wire emotional immediacy. -from Publisher Marketing

 
felicityFELICITY
Mary Oliver
“If I have any secret stash of poems, anywhere, it might be about love, not anger,” Mary Oliver once said in an interview. Finally, in her stunning collection, Felicity, we can immerse ourselves in Oliver’s love poems. Here, great happiness abounds. Our most delicate chronicler of physical landscape, Oliver has described her work as loving the world. With Felicity she examines what it means to love another person. She opens our eyes again to the territory within our own hearts; to the wild and to the quiet. In these poems, she describes—with joy—the strangeness and wonder of human connection.
-from Publisher Marketing

 
raininportugalRAIN IN PORTUGAL
Billy Collins
The element of surprise is one of poetry’s many provocations and pleasures, and Collins accomplishes it with ripple-effect finesse, wit, and pathos. In his eleventh collection, he reports on life as a wandering poet, contemplating landscapes and encounters in Ireland, Greece, and Moscow. Collins’ poems deliver painterly images of poignant juxtaposition and cinematic scenes alive with the slink of a cat or the clangorous simultaneity of a busy street, and lush with soundtracks evoking the siren songs of an ordinary day. Collins’ jazz-inspired meter makes reading his poems feel utterly natural and effortless, but then he ambushes us with wry exultation. -review by Booklist

 
riverflowRIVER FLOW
David Whyte
River Flow contains over one hundred poems selected from five previously published works, together with 23 new poems, including a tribute to an Ethiopian woman navigating her first escalator, a mediation of love and benediction for a young daughter and a cycle of Irish poems that convey a deep love of the land and a lifelong appreciation its wisdom. –from jacket

 
atwoodselectedpoemsSELECTED POEMS II
Margaret Atwood
Celebrated as a major novelist throughout the English-speaking world, Atwood has also written eleven volumes of poetry. The evolution of Margaret Atwood’s poetry since she began writing it twenty-five years ago illuminates one of our major literary talents. Houghton Mifflin is proud to have published Selected Poems, 1965-1975, a volume containing seventy-three poems, some of them extensive, drawn from her work since 1975, and a number of poems never previously published in the United States. As in her fiction, Atwood ruminates on oppression and injustice and on the genders and their discontents, but beyond these surface dissonances we hear the music of compassion and fellowship and love. –from Publisher Marketing

 
transferTRANSFER
Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye has spent thirty-five years traveling the world to lead writing workshops and inspire students of all ages. In her newest collection, Transfer, she draws on her Palestinian American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her extensive travel experiences to create a poetry collection that attests to our shared humanity. William Stafford calls Nye’s work “one of the most heartening influences [in] the current literary scene…Her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.” –from Publisher Marketing

 

Bloomsbury Picks for April

evictedEVICTED
Matthew Desmond
Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction
Evicted chronicles the evictions of eight families in Milwaukee, families of different sizes and backgrounds with a shared circumstance. Arlene is a struggling single mother. Scott is a nurse whose back injury led to an opiate addiction. Lamar is a war veteran, recovering addict, double amputee and resident father-figure to the boys of the neighborhood. Desmond tells complex stories that explore poverty not as a structural or cultural force, but as an interaction between rich and poor. He details the business of eviction, from landlords to eviction courts to the moving crew and the storage facilities. Housing is “too fundamental a human need” to be treated as just a business, Desmond argues. He proposes solutions, including increasing funding to eviction courts and a universal voucher program, but also declares, “If our cities and towns are rich in diversity—with unique textures and styles, gifts and problems—so too must be our solutions.” I couldn’t stop reading. –review by Becky

 
womeninthecastleWOMEN IN THE CASTLE
Jessica Shattuck
Marianne von Lingenfels, a widow in war-torn Germany at the height of World War II, valiantly continues her husband’s valuable work in the resistance after he is executed for his participation in in a failed assassination attempt on Hitler. Following the war, Marianne joins with two other “resistance widows” to form a makeshift family. As her once black-and-white world turns to rubble, Mariane must come to terms with not only her own political history, but that of her loved ones and fellow countrymen as well. Through the three very different lives and paths of these women, Shattuck explores how war turns ordinary people into both heroes and villains, pitting the best and worst aspects of human nature against each other as survival becomes more and more difficult. –review by Becky

 

Books to Celebrate Womens History Month

dear-ijeaweleDEAR IJEAWELE
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The latest book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, activist and author of We Should all be Feminists and Americanah, offers fifteen suggestions for raising a feminist. Suggestions include teaching girls they don’t have to be likeable, that “gender roles” is an absurd notion, and to question language. We love the fifth suggestion: “Teach her to love books.” Adiche’s latest manifesto is an important piece in a crucial dialog about human rights and the future of the womens movement.

 

whywemarchWHY WE MARCH
On January 21, 2017 over 5 million women (and men) in 673 cities around the world carried their signs high and proud protesting gross human rights violations, misogyny, and hate in all forms. Why We March presents 600 of the most powerful and creative signs from the Womens March. The pictures in this collection capture the urgency and celebrate the unity of that day, and preserve a landmark moment in history.

 

dustbowlgirlsDUST BOWL GIRLS
Lydia Reeder
In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, a womens basketball team from a small Presbyterian college in Oklahoma became unlikely national champions. Former magazine editor Lydia Reeder tells the story of her great-uncle, Sam Babb, who led an under-dog womens basketball team to victory, and explores the challenges and stereotypes women athletes faced at that time.

 

hiddenfiguresHIDDEN FIGURES
Margot Lee Shetterly
This book, based on the true story of the black women mathematicians who helped send NASA astronauts to space, inspired the Golden Globe winning film of the same name. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were known as the “Human Computers;” their calculations, performed with slide rules, pencils, and adding machines, made the flights of John Glenn and Neil Armstrong possible. Unforgettable.

 

inthecompanyofwomenIN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN
Grace Bonnie
These profiles of 100 influential women in business provides inspiration and practical tips for women entrepreneurs. Bonney, founder of the website Design*Sponge (designsponge.com), tells the incredible stories of women around the globe who overcome adversity to achieve their dreams. “A joyful book that celebrates both the diversity of beauty and the beauty of diversity: in race, age, size, sexuality, and ways of thinking,” said Hanya Yanagihara, New York Times bestselling author of A Little Life.

 

Bloomsbury Picks for March

strangerinthewoodsSTRANGER IN THE WOODS
Michael Finkel
A young man parks his car and disappears into the forest in Maine. For three decades he manages to survive through freezing winters with no contact with anyone. A fascinating true story of survival. –review by Karen

 

edgarandlucyEDGAR AND LUCY
Victor Lodato
From the very first pages, young Edgar captures the reader’s heart. He is so fragile and so vulnerable. While his bond with his grandmother is strong and loving, his relationship to his mother, Lucy, is distant and complicated. And with a father long dead and gone due to curious, unspeakable circumstances, Grandmother Florence is Edgar’s lifeline. When she dies, he finds himself gravitating toward another pair of welcoming arms – those of the man in the green truck. A troublesome entanglement ensues, and lives are shattered and rebuilt. The story brutally, yet tenderly, examines the ties, lies and secrets between parents, children, lovers and the lonely. This is an absolutely beautifully written and compelling novel. –review by Anita

 

eggshellsEGGSHELLS
Caitriona Lally
Vivian keeps her great aunt’s ashes in a box rather than an urn because “death in a box is more real than death in a jar.” She doesn’t like verbs because they expect too much. She always checks wardrobes for Narnia, and spends her days searching for the portal to take her back to her real world—wherever that may be. At the novel’s onset Vivian is advertising for a friend named Penelope (so that she can eventually ask her friend why her name doesn’t rhyme with antelope). When Penelope answers the ad, Vivian’s quest to find her rightful place in the physical world may actually begin. Hailed in Ireland for an unusual voice and creative plot, Lally’s novel is charming, quirky, and full of literary allusions. –review by Becky

 

exitwestEXIT WEST
Moshin Hamid
This is a beautiful and sensuous love story, told against the backdrop of war and devastation. In an unnamed city, Nadia and Saeed meet and fall in love. But as conditions in the city deteriorate, they plan their escape. In fact, “all over the world people were slipping away from where they had been, from once fertile plains cracking with dryness, from seaside villages gasping beneath tidal surges, from overcrowded cities and murderous battlefields”. The story has a mystical element where in order to escape these refugees must pass through a magic door to another location. Hamid captures the spirit, despair and longing of those forced from their homeland to places unknown. “…everyone migrates, even if we stay in the same houses our whole lives, because we can’t help it. We are all migrants through time.” –review by Anita

 

A Reading List For Uncertain Times

whatwedonowWHAT WE DO NOW: STANDING UP FOR OUR VALUES IN TRUMP’S AMERICA
Valerie Merians
The election of Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States of America shocked and dismayed progressives across the country. What We Do Now, a collection of passionate manifestos by some of the country’s leading progressives, aims to provide a blueprint for how those stunned progressives can move forward. Its powerful contributions — from economists, environmentalists, activists, artists, politicians, and novelists — will offer encouragement and guidance to practicing constitutionally protected acts of resistance throughout the unprecedented upcoming administration. Among the contributors are Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Gloria Steinem, Paul Krugman, Robert B. Reich, George Saunders and Dave Eggers as well the heads of the ACLU, the NAACP, the Sierra Club, the Arab American Association, the National GLBTQ Task Force, the Freedom of the Press Association and other prominent activists.

 

eleanorrooseveltELEANOR ROOSEVELT, VOL. 3: THE WAR YEARS AND AFTER, 1939-1962
Blanche Wiesel Cook
Historians, politicians, critics, and readers everywhere have praised Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt as the essential portrait of a woman who towers over the twentieth century. The third and final volume takes us through World War II, FDR’s death, the founding of the UN, and Eleanor Roosevelt s death in 1962. It follows the arc of war and the evolution of a marriage, as the first lady realized the cost of maintaining her principles even as the country and her husband were not prepared to adopt them. Eleanor Roosevelt continued to struggle for her core issues economic security, New Deal reforms, racial equality, and rescue when they were sidelined by FDR while he marshaled the country through war. These years the war years made Eleanor Roosevelt the woman she became: leader, visionary, guiding light. FDR s death in 1945 changed her world, but she was far from finished, returning to the spotlight as a crucial player in the founding of the United Nations.

 

firebrand and first ladyTHE FIREBRAND AND THE FIRST LADY: PORTRAIT OF A FRIENDSHIP
Patricia Bell-Scott
A finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and longlisted for the National Book Award, The Firebrand and the First Lady is the riveting history, two decades in the making, of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist and the first lady of the United States forged an enduring friendship that helped to alter the course of race and racism in America. In 1938, the twenty-eight-year-old Pauli Murray wrote a letter to the President and First Lady, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, protesting racial segregation in the South. Eleanor wrote back. So began a friendship that would last for a quarter of a century, as Pauli became a lawyer, principal strategist in the fight to protect Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and a co-founder of the National Organization of Women, and Eleanor became a diplomat and first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

 

goodgirlsrevoltTHE GOOD GIRLS REVOLT
Lynn Povich
On March 16, 1970, the day Newsweek published a cover story on the fledgling feminist movement entitled “Women in Revolt,” when forty-six Newsweek women charged the magazine with discrimination in hiring and promotion. It was the first female class action lawsuit–the first by women journalists–and it inspired other women in the media to quickly follow suit. Lynn Povich was one of the ringleaders. In The Good Girls Revolt, she evocatively tells the story of this dramatic turning point through the lives of several participants. With warmth, humor, and perspective, she shows how personal experiences and cultural shifts led a group of well-mannered, largely apolitical women, raised in the 1940s and 1950s, to challenge their bosses–and what happened after they did. For many, filing the suit was a radicalizing act that empowered them to “find themselves” and fight back. Others lost their way amid opportunities, pressures, discouragements, and hostilities they weren’t prepared to navigate. The Good Girls Revolt also explores why changes in the law didn’t solve everything. Through the lives of young female journalists at Newsweek today, Lynn Povich shows what has–and hasn’t–changed in the workplace.

 

how to win at feminismHOW TO WIN AT FEMINISM: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO HAVING IT ALL–AND THEN SOME!
Beth Newell, Sarah Pappalardo and Anna Drezen
Feminism is about demanding equality and learning to love yourself. From the writers of Reductress, the subversive, satirical women’s magazine read by over 2.5 million visitors a month, this ultimate guide to winning feminism–filled with four-color illustrations, bold graphics, and hilarious photos–teaches readers how to battle the patriarchy. Readers will learn how to be a feminist at work and at home. With this book as your wo-manual, you’ll shatter that glass ceiling once and for all (but you’ll still need to clean up the mess).

 

it can't happen hereIT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE
Sinclair Lewis
It Can’t Happen Here is the only one of Sinclair Lewis’s later novels to match the power of Main Street, Babbitt, and Arrowsmith. A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America. Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press. Called “a message to thinking Americans” by the Springfield Republican when it was published in 1935, It Can’t Happen Here is a shockingly prescient novel that remains as fresh and contemporary as today’s news.

 

plot against americaTHE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
Philip Roth
In an astonishing feat of empathy and narrative invention, our most ambitious novelist imagines an alternate version of American history. In 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected President. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial understanding with Adolf Hitler, while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism. For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh s election is the first in a series of ruptures that threaten to destroy his small, safe corner of America and with it, his mother, his father and his older brother.

 

rad women worldwide

RAD WOMEN WORLDWIDE: ARTISTS AND ATHLETES, PIRATES AND PUNKS, AND OTHER REVOLUTIONARIES WHO SHAPED HISTORY
Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl
Writer Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl tell tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing biographies with cut-paper portraits. The book features an array of diverse figures from Hatshepsut–the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades–and Malala Yousafzi, the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize, to Poly Styrene–legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex–and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft, polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica.

 

ugly americanTHE UGLY AMERICAN
Eugene Burdock and William J. Lederer
In the episode that lends the book its title, the “ugly American” is Homer Atkins, a plain and plain-spoken man, who has been sent by the U.S. government to advise the Southeast Asian country of Sarkhan on engineering projects. When Atkins finds badly misplaced priorities and bluntly challenges the entrenched interests, he lays bare a foreign policy gone dangerously wrong.First published in 1958, The Ugly American became a runaway national bestseller for its slashing expose of American arrogance, incompetence, and corruption in Southeast Asia. In linked stories and vignettes, the book uses gripping storytelling to draw a devastating picture of how the United States was losing the struggle with Communism in Asia.

 

Bloomsbury Favorites

lithiapark2LITHIA PARK
John Enders
The history of Ashland’s jewel in a beautiful gift book, with contemporary and historic photographs, and a narrative by long-time Ashland resident, John Enders.

 

hillbillyelegyHILLBILLY ELEGY
J.D. Vance
“You will not read a more important book about America this year.”  –The Economist

 

undergroundrailroadTHE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Colton Whitehead
A magnificent tour-de-force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. A National Book Award finalist and an Oprah Pick.

 

theselloutTHE SELLOUT
Paul Beatty
The first American novel to with the Man Booker Prize, this is a blistering satire on race. Available in paperback.

 

thenixTHE NIX
Nathan Hill
What do a a failed writer (turned college professor), his estranged (and possibly terrorist) mother, an obese video game addict, and a serially-cheating college student have in common? Their lives are about to connect in unexpected and far reaching ways. In his ambitious, funny, and provocative debut novel Hicks probes Nordic folktales, the history of political unrest in the second half of the 20th century, and the impacts of social media and video games on the psyches (and empathy) of modern Americans. Hill has the knack for writing characters readers feel like we’ve known our entire lives, and his dialog is funny, wise, and alive. Be prepared to suck in your breath, to laugh helplessly, and to lose yourself in brilliant commentary (in the guise of an engaging novel) about the state of today’s world. –review by Becky

 

artofrivalryTHE ART OF RIVALRY
Sebastian Smee
Who knew how crucial friendship and rivalry have been in contributing to the formation of modern artistic genius? Smee writes with a vividness that places you in the studio with these extraordinary artists and their inspiring relationships. You can almost smell the paint! Smee’s writing is compelling – rich with intelligence and understanding. This provocative and informative book sheds light on the complexities of competition, inspiration, and daring ambition. A must read for art lovers and anyone seeking a fresh and exciting approach to biography. –review by Rebecca

 

cleancakesCLEAN CAKES
Henrietta Inman
Is there such a thing as delicious baking without refined sugar, dairy, gluten, or gluten-replacements? Yes! Henrietta Inman shows us how. Her recipes, both sweet and savory, are full of incredible flavors and textures that highlight the naturally wholesome and delicious qualities of whole foods. Her tips for a seasonal pantry make stocking an amazing arsenal a snap, and show how easy it can be to bring these healthful and delicious creations to every table. This cookbook is a MUST for bakers of every level. –review by Becky

 

mothersMOTHERS
Brit Bennet
This brave, brilliant debut novel explores territory that is both highly personal deeply politicized. This is a novel about race, but it is also a novel about another hot-button topic. When Nadia Turner finds herself in a particular type of trouble her senior year of high school, she must make a decision which will ripple throughout her adult life. –review by Anita

 

razorgirlRAZOR GIRL
Carl Hiaasen
Raucous, raunchy, and fabulous, Hiaasen’s latest revolves around two true news blurbs: first is the eponymous Razor Girl, whose niche calling in life is that she enjoys driving around South Florida rear-ending drivers while shaving her lady bits and kidnapping the smitten and stunned drivers. Second is a massive infestation of goat-sized rats in the Keys. These premises plus a handful of rednecks and a few effete Californians provide the ingredients for a spicy read indeed. As usual, Hiassen’s writing is witty (at one point requiring the reader to translate “whore beach” from Spanish to get a travel agent’s joke), and the dialog does not disappoint.
review by Janna

 

thelastpolicemanTHE LAST POLICEMAN, COUNTDOWN CITY, WORLD OF TROUBLE
Ben H. Winters
In this trilogy by Edgar Award winner Ben H. Winters, a man is dead. Is it murder or suicide? All the other detectives on the squad have quit – because an asteroid is going to destroy the earth in just six months. But Detective Hank Palace is determined to find the truth – as society crumbles around him. An unusual and fascinating series of a detective trying to find the truth in the pre-apocalyptic United States. –review by Susan

 

commonwealthCOMMONWEALTH
Ann Patchett
As a child, Franny’s life is changed when her parents divorce, her mother remarries, and she is suddenly part of a blended family of siblings and situations. This is a tender and heartbreaking novel about the dissolution of families, the creation of new relationships, and the effect this has on the children involved. Beautifully written in Ann Patchett’s gifted style. –review by Anita

 

nordictheoryofeverythingTHE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Anu Partanen
In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Anu Partanen, a Finnish-born journalist who married an American, explores how many policies and ideals Americans believe make us more free actually do the opposite. The Nordic theory of love states that authentic love and friendship are only possible between people who are independent and equal. According to Partanen, this mentality dictates policies that support the freedom of individuals, such as equal access to health care and education. She explains how current American policies create unequal relationships between parents and children, romantic partners, and employees and employers. Far from advocating a switch from democratic to socialist values, Partanen expresses admiration and affection for her new country, and simply explores ways to make her beloved new home a “well-being” state. –review by Becky

 

darkmatterDARK MATTER
Blake Crouch
This is a thriller of quantum proportions based on the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics, which states that every possible outcome can and does occur. When Jason Dessen, a physics professor at a small Chicago college, is violently attacked, drugged and kidnapped, he wakes to a world that is not his own. His wife doesn’t know him, his son never existed, and Jason has just won a prestigious scientific prize for research he stopped decades before. Or did he? The harrowing journey home will test Jason in every conceivable way, including his understanding of the universe. This is a smart, fast-paced, consuming book that gives Schroedinger’s cat a refreshing twist. Becky and Susan highly recommend this read. –review by Becky

 

TEXTBOOKAMYKROUSEROSENTHALTEXTBOOK AMY KROUSE ROSENTHAL
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Creative and free-flowing, Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal is like visiting with a good friend, or visiting with your own thoughts (when you’re feeling a bit bizarre!). There are even automated texts and a website that allow the reader to cleverly interact with segments of the book. If you loved Nora Ephron, you’ll most likely be a fan of Amy Krouse Rosenthal – who says “Just look at us, all of us, quietly doing our thing and trying to matter. The earnestness is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.” -review by Anita

 

More Bloomsbury Favorites

sportofkingsTHE SPORT OF KINGS
C.E. Morgan
“We are Kentuckians first and Virginians second and Christian third,” Henry Forge tells his young daughter. The Forges are more than a family, and they are more than horse breeders. They are a legacy of true-blue blood running back 250 years. Henrietta Forge is no ordinary Southern girl, just as Hellsmouth is no ordinary racehorse, both bred for greatness and born into destinies they cannot control. Likewise, Allmon is an extraordinary groom who pulls himself from poverty only by suffering exceptional loss. Henry, Allmon and Henrietta carry the heavy burdens of the generations before them; their blood binds them to this landscape, and their futures to the fate of one horse. This Southern Gothic is a great American novel—wide in scope and alive with the ghosts that haunt our nation. The writing is sure, evocative without being overbearing. The story and characters are unforgettable. –review by Becky

 

lilyandtheoctopusLILY AND THE OCTOPUS
Steven Rowley
“A heart is judged not by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”
Lily loves ice cream, chicken and rice, tofurky, her red ball, and her dad, Ted. She loves the beach, but dislikes being wet. On Thursdays Lily and Ted discuss which boys they think are the cutest, and when they play Monopoly she likes being the cannon. Lily and Ted are more than best friends, more than dachshund and man, and together they undergo the adventure of a lifetime hunting an octopus on the open sea. This is a charming and quirky story that gives us permission to love our animals in the consuming, over-the-top, bizarre ways that we do. Lily is the Hobbes to Ted’s Calvin, the Enzo to his Denny, the Richard Parker to his Pi, and with one slow tug of a shoelace Lily bursts Ted’s heart open, and marks herself indelibly inside of a reader’s. –review by Becky

 

thelastgoodnightTHE LAST GOODNIGHT
Howard Blum
This is a sexy story of espionage and life lived on the edge. Betty Thorpe Pack, American socialite turned MI6 spy, had a successful career trading in pillow talk and secrets during WWII. A restless spirit, not unlike Holly Golightly’s “mean reds,” made her first marriage to British diplomat Arthur Pack a necessity, and her subsequent recruitment to MI6 at the onset of the Spanish Civil War seem inevitable. Pack, loyal to nothing and no one but her cause and herself,  led an unconventional life punctuated by tragedy. She refused to be defined by her gender or her lineage, by society or the conventions of motherhood and marriage. THE LAST GOODNIGHT pays homage to the fascinating life and tragic death of an unsung heroine in the intelligence world, and a complicated woman who never stopped searching for her true place. –review by Becky

 

monstersalovestoryMONSTERS: A LOVE STORY
Liz Kay
Part-time poet and recent widow Stacy Lane is a bit lost. She is raising two boys on her own in Nebraska, and she hasn’t published or written anything new in a long time. Her lull is broken when she is asked to help adapt her book, a feminist retelling of Frankenstein, into a film. She flies to Hollywood to meet with the notoriously troubled and brilliant Hollywood actor, Tommy DeMarco. However unlikely a romance between them may seem, there is something there, no matter how hard they try to deny it. But they need to figure out what they want before they tear each other apart. This unflinching romance does have a healthy dose of escapism, but it also paints a funny, painful, and complex picture of love – in all its messy glory. –review by Skye

 

crooked heartCROOKED HEART
Lissa Evans
I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with the two main “unlovable” characters in this wonderfully engaging novel. Noel, an orphan good at hiding his intelligence, is evacuated from London during the WWII Blitz and lands in a suburb NW of the city. Vee, his new caretaker, is an unscrupulous, bitter woman.  –review by Karen

 

thetroublewithgoatsandsheepTHE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP
Joanna Cannon
After their neighbor, Mrs. Creasy, goes missing, precocious 10-year-olds Tillie and Grace spend the summer of 1976 hunting for Jesus, believing he can keep their sleepy English village safe. Jesus is everywhere after all, at least according to the vicar, but God sometimes shows himself in unexpected ways (and places). At the beginning of their quest the girls believe wholeheartedly in the existence of goats and sheep—those who fit in and those who do not—based on the Gospel of Matthew, but they discover that most of us are a little of both. Where is Mrs. Creasy, and why do the grownups of neighborhood suspect Walter Bishop? This charming and quirky debut novel is part coming-of-age tale, part mystery, and part examination of small-town politics. Delightful!  –review by Becky

 

thecourseofloveTHE COURSE OF LOVE
Alain De Botton
Rabih and Kirsten meet, fall in love, marry and have children.  Simple?  Not so.  De Botton follows their relationship over the course of 13 years, examining love and marriage with all its beauty and all its warts.  Interspersed within the novel, the author offers his philosophical musings on the subject of love and relationships.  It all flows together beautifully, and De Botton’s thoughts are insightful and meaningful. –review by Anita

 
homegoingHOME GOING
Yaa Gyasi
Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the North to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Gyasi has written a modern masterpiece that is unforgettable. This is one of my favorite novels of the year.  –review by Sheila

 

loveandlemonsLOVE & LEMONS COOKBOOK
Jeanine Donofrio
(Based on loveandlemons.com)
Mystified by kohlrabi? Overwhelmed with squash? Curious about garlic scapes? Love & Lemons makes seasonal, plant-based cooking easy with a collection of delicious, vegetarian recipes organized by vegetable. The recipes are full of flavor and texture, and can easily be converted into vegan, pesceterian, gluten-free, or carnivorous meals. Donofrio includes great tips for stocking a pantry that facilitates healthy, satisfying, delicious everyday cooking. I love the eggplant, mushroom, and millet meatballs (pg. 141) over simple zucchini pasta. The butternut squash risotto makes an incredible arancini the following day (pg. 263). Black beans show off the flavors of squash in enchiladas (pg. 259), while peas enhance sweet potatoes in samosas (pg. 196). This cookbook is a staple in my kitchen. –review by Becky

 

marrowislandMARROW ISLAND
Alexis M. Smith
“I forgive them for trying to kill me.”
Lucie was just a child when an earthquake shattered her idyllic world on a remote island. They thought the big one was upon them, but the hardest was still to come; surviving and learning to live without—her father, her best friend, and the islands she loved so much. Decades later a letter from her childhood best friend, Katie, pulls Lucie back to the islands, where a colony has risen from the rubble. Katie’s letter piques both Lucie’s heart and her journalist’s  instincts. What she finds is terrifying and beautiful, surreal and disturbing, yet undeniably real. The story unfolds in two time-lines—Lucie on the island visiting the colony, and Lucie living in the woods with her park ranger boyfriend—and slowly reveals the truth about Marrow Island. Smith’s second novel is haunting, suspenseful, and acts as an elegy for the planet and friendship. –review by Becky

 

littlenothingLITTLE NOTHING
Marisa Silver
When Pavla is born a dwarf, she is initially despised by her elderly mother. But this beautiful child ultimately wins the hearts of her parents, who eventually take her to a quack doctor in their misguided attempts to “fix” their beloved daughter. What transpires is part fairy tale, part love story….a magical tale where things are not always as they appear to be, and the line between human and animal forms are fluid and metamorphic. An extraordinary novel! –review by Anita

 

redpartsTHE RED PARTS
Maggie Nelson
“Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be, hereafter. A red part.” Sometimes, in life, something happens that is so dreadful, so horrifying and painful, that all we can do is bear witness, all we can do is be there and later say Yes, this awful thing happened. The Red Parts reinvents literary true crime as Nelson explores the 1969 murder of her aunt, Jane, set against the backdrop of the 2004 murder trial of Jane’s alleged murderer, a trial which hinges on one drop of blood. Once again, Nelson produces prose which is shockingly public and yet deeply intimate. She explore grief, forgiveness, and the ways which the two have shaped her life, the lives of her loved ones, and the landscape of modern humanity. –review by Becky

 

labgirlLAB GIRL
Hope Jahren
Questions are the heart of science. You don’t have to be a mathematician to be a scientist; “what comes first is a question.” Lab Girl is the incredible story of one woman who dared to ask why not me, determined to carve a career in a world dominated by men. This is also an enduring, unconditional friendship between two lab partners, and a breathtaking exploration of the natural world from the perspective of trees. Jahren touches on the political aspects of science as she battles bosses who ban pregnant women from the lab, and fights for the ever-shrinking funding available for scientists—“science for war will always make more money than science for knowledge.” This is a story of academia and laboratories, of friendship and marriage and motherhood, of dancing next to glaciers and taking detours to monkey zoos. This is a story that asks the all important question: “Did the first flower make the dinosaurs sneeze?” –review by Becky

 

alittlelifeA LITTLE LIFE
Hanya Yanagihara
There are so many books about men, their careers and relationships and interior lives, but none quite like this. Jude, Willem, JB, and Malcolm meet in college. Over the following decades their friendships endure, deepen and change, wane and renew, until what appears to be a story about families and coming-of-age develops into something more complex, a story that lives within the very marrow of our bones, and is both more intimate and wider in scope than we could ever imagine. The writing is beautiful. The time line folds over, weaving around and through, in a deliberate way that slowly reveals the landscape of humanity. A finalist for both the Man Booker and National Book Award, this brilliant novel should have won the Pulitzer. –review by Becky

 

greenroadGREEN ROAD
Anne Enright
The 2005 Booker Prize winner for The Gathering has written a beautifully rendered, 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 and including the brilliant depictions of AIDS-devastated Manhattan and famine in Africa, it is a story of family dynamics and characters who struggle with anguish, illuminated with grace and humor. –review by Sheila

thehourscountTHE HOURS COUNT
Jillian Cantor
Humidity, electricity, clings to New York City the summer of 1953—the summer the Rosenbergs are executed for conspiracy to commit espionage. Millie Stein is a young mother living just doors away from the Rosenbergs in Kickerbocker Village in Cantor’s mesmerizing novelization. That summer, for Millie, is a maelstrom of secrets, fears, and the desperate desire to help her friends—because to Millie Jules is her husband’s former employer, and Ethel her neighbor and only female friend. Through Millie’s eyes readers feel hysteria building across America: the Hollywood Ten behind bars, the small-pox outbreak, the killer fog, and the first Soviet bomb-test. Fear lives in every home. Cantor gives new life to the tension of the period with taut writing, rich historic detail, and characters (real and imagined) who are flawed, sympathetic, and defy all expectations. This unforgettable novel is a smart, incisive, affecting look at a dark period in American history. –review by Becky

 

janesteeleJANE STEELE
Lyndsay Faye
Reader, I killed him. Jane gives her admission freely, her chin hard and defiant, but a glint in her eyes hints at the depths of her humanity. Murder is not the whole story. Jane Steele, an orphan who bases her sense of self on the beloved fictional feminist Jane Eyere, is as sharp and deadly as a blade of the metal she’s named for. Steele’s story, a wild thrill ride through the streets of London and beyond, also explores womens rights, issues of class, and the politics of the period. Be careful—this Victorian heroine will capture your heart. This is smart, fast paced historical fiction and a Bloomsbury favorite. –review by Becky

 

struckbygeniusSTRUCK BY GENIUS
Jason Padgett
If you think you understand how the mind works, or the trait of intelligence, this book will turn your preconceptions upside down. Jason Pagett’s journey is astounding. Pagett is the only known case of adult onset savantism and synesthesia. Both of these abilities were created by a brutal mugging from which Pagett arose a changed man and extraordinary genius. Pagett’s abilities to perceive the world in three-dimensional mathematical fractals brings the reader new and beautiful perspectives, along with his exquisite drawings. Pagett recounts his challenging story with humility and a clarity that will beguile the reader as it awakens greater compassion and discovery. – review by Rebecca

 

uprootedUPROOTED
Naomi Novik
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

 

mynameislucybartonMY NAME IS LUCY BARTON
Elizabeth Strout
A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including “Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all the one between mother and daughter. Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself–keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

 

alivealifeohALIVE, ALIVE OH!
Diana Athill
The author charmed readers with her prize-winning memoir Somewhere Towards the End, which transformed her into an unexpected literary star. Now, on the eve of her ninety-eighth birthday, Athill has written a sequel every bit as unsentimental, candid, and beguiling as her most beloved work. Diana reflects on the things that matter after a lifetime of remarkable experiences and the memories that have risen to the surface and sustain her in her very old age. In warm, engaging prose she describes the bucolic pleasures of her grandmother’s garden and the wonders of traveling as a young woman in Europe after the end of the Second World War. As her vivid, textured memories range across the decades, she relates with unflinching candor her harrowing experience as an expectant mother in her forties and crafts unforgettable portraits of friends, writers, and lovers. A pure joy to read, Alive, Alive Oh! sparkles with wise and often very funny reflections on the condition of being old. Athill reminds us of the joy and richness of every stage of life and what it means to live life fully, without regrets.

 

davidfosterwallacereader1THE DAVID FOSTER WALLACE READER
David Foster Wallace
Wallace’s explorations of morality, self-consciousness, addiction, sports, love, and the many other subjects that occupied him are represented here in both fiction and nonfiction. Collected for the first time are Wallace’s first published story, “The View from Planet Trillaphon as Seen In Relation to the Bad Thing” and a selection of his work as a writing instructor, including reading lists, grammar guides, and general guidelines for his students. A dozen writers and critics, including Hari Kunzru, Anne Fadiman, and Nam Le, add afterwords to favorite pieces, expanding our appreciation of the unique pleasures of Wallace’s writing. The result is an astonishing volume that shows the breadth and range of “one of America’s most daring and talented writers” (Los Angeles Times Book Review) whose work was full of humor, insight, and beauty.

 

thedoorTHE DOOR
Magda Szabo
One of The New York Times Book Review‘s “10 Best Books of 2015,” The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship to Hungary s Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda s housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda s household, becoming indispensable to her, and Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love at least until Magda s long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation. Len Rix s prizewinning translation of The Door at last makes it possible for American readers to appreciate the masterwork of a major modern European writer.

 

alexanderhamiltonALEXANDER HAMILTON
Ron Chernow
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author author of Titan, vividly recreates the whole sweep of Alexander Hamilton’s turbulent life. A New York Times Bestseller, andthe inspiration for the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” this is a landmark biography of the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation. Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America s birth seen through its most central figure

 

bettyvilleBETTYVILLE
George Hodgman
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

 

mybrilliantfriendMY BRILLIANT FRIEND
Elena Ferrante
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

 

language artsLANGUAGE ARTS
Stephanie Kallos
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

 

thejustcityTHE JUST CITY
Jo Walton
“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

 

savageharvestSAVAGE HARVEST
Carl Hoffman
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

 

buriedgiantTHE BURIED GIANT
Kazuo Ishiguro
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

 

leavingbeforetherainscomeLEAVING BEFORE THE RAINS COME
Alexandra Fuller
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

mausMAUS
Art Spieglman
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.

 

clanofthecavebearCLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR
Jean Auel
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.

 

indianinthecupboardINDIAN 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?

 

metaphorswelivebyMETAPHORS WE LIVE BY
George Lakoff
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.

 

alightintheatticA LIGHT IN THE ATTIC
Shel Silverstein
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

 

ofwolvesandmenOF WOLVES AND MEN
Barry Lopez
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.

 

colorpurpleTHE COLOR PURPLE
Alice Walker
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.

 

confederacyofduncesA 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.

 

johnnygothisgunJOHNNY GOT HIS GUN
Dalton Trumbo
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.

 

tracksTRACKS
Robyn Davidson
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.

 

Recommended Reading

weshouldallbefeministsWE 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.

 

howtobeaherioneHOW TO BE A HEROINE
Samantha Ellis
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

 

descentDESCENT
Tim Johnston
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

 

howtheirishsavedHINGES 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.)
Thomas Cahill
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

 

womeninclothesWOMEN 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

 

familylifeFAMILY LIFE
Akhil Sharma
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.

 

Banned Books

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” —Harper Lee

tokillamockingbird1TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Harper Lee
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.

 

drzhivagoDOCTOR ZHIVAGO
Boris Pasternak
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.

 

colorpurpleTHE COLOR PURPLE
Alice Walker
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.

 

egyptgameTHE 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.

 

nativesonNATIVE SON
Richard Wright
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.

 

farewelltoarmsA FAREWELL TO ARMS
Ernest Hemingway
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.

 

asilaydyingAS I LAY DYING
William Faulkner
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.

 

belovedBELOVED
Toni Morrison
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

 

thesatanicversesTHE SATANIC VERSES
Salman Rushdie
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.

 

weWE
Yevgeny Zamyatin
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.

 

ladiesparadiseTHE LADIE’S PARADISE
Emile Zola
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.

 

thereoncelivedamotherTHERE ONCE LIVED A MOTHER WHO LOVED HER CHILDREN, UNTIL THEY MOVED BACK IN
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
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.

 

metamorphosesMETAMORPHOSES
Ovid
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

 

longwalktofreedomLONG WALK TO FREEDOM
Nelson Mandela
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.

 

zhivagoaffairTHE 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.

 

josephantonJOSEPH ANTON
Salman Rushdie
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.

 

malcomxMALCOLM X: A LIFE OF REINVENTION
Manning Marable
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.

 

motorcyclediariesTHE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
ErnestoChe’ 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.

 

bullypulpitTHE 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

boneclocksBONE CLOCKS
David Mitchell
The author of Cloud Atlas tells a story about alternate realities, immortality and a feud more ancient than time. Entertaining, thrilling and absolutely unique.

 

bookofstrangenewthingsBOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS
Michael Faber
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.

 

lilaLILA
Marilynne Robinson
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.

 

norawebsterNORA WEBSTER
Colm Toibin
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.

 

stonemattressSTONE MATTRESS
Margaret Atwood
A collection of highly imaginative short pieces that speak to our times with deadly accuracy. Vintage Atwood: think Alias Grace.

 

bluehorsesBLUE HORSES
Mary Oliver
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.

 

 

notthatkindofgirlNOT THAT KIND OF GIRL
Lena Dunham
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.

 

warsoftherosesTHE WARS OF THE ROSES
Dan Jones
The next chapter in British history from the best-selling author of The Plantagenets. Jones makes history exciting and relevant.

 

theboysintheboatTHE 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.

 

weareallcompletelybesideourselvesWE 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.

 

howwegottonowHOW WE GOT TO NOW
Steven Johnson
Unlocking tales of unsung heroes and unexpected scientific revolutions, this is the fascinating story of the six essential innovations that changed the modern world.

 

justmercyJUST MERCY
Bryan Stevenson
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.

 

INTHEKINGDOMOFICEIN THE KINGDOM OF ICE
Hampton Sides
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.

 

STATIONELEVENSTATION ELEVEN
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.

 

assasinationofmargaretthatcherASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER
Hilary Mantel
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.

 

soanywaySO, ANYWAY
John Cleese
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.

 

whatif?WHAT IF? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Randall Munroe

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.

 

theinnovatorsTHE INNOVATORS
Walter Isaacson
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.

 

beingmortalBEING MORTAL
Atul Gawande
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.

 

mybrilliantfriendELENA 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

 

wearenotourselvesWE ARE NOT OURSELVES
Matthew Thomas
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.

 

edgeofeternityEDGE OF ETERNITY
Ken Follett
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.

 

zealotZEALOT
Reza Aslam
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.

 

  

Middle Grade Readers

 

rainreignRAIN REIGN
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.

 

revolution2REVOLUTION
Deborah Wiles
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.

 

wimpykidlonghaulTHE LONG HAUL ( Diary of a Wimpy Kid #09 )
Jeff Kinney
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!).

 

Teens

 

BELZHARBELZHAR
Meg Wolitzer
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

ahouseintheskyA HOUSE IN THE SKY
Amanda Lindhout
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

 

 

lifeandloveofdogsTHE LIFE & LOVE OF DOGS
Lewis Blackwell
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

 

girlwithallthegiftsTHE 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

 

ancillaryjusticeANCILLARY JUSTICE
Anne Leckie
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

 

floraandulyssesFLORA AND ULYSSES
Kate DiCamillo
“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

 

astoriaASTORIA
Peter Stark
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