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Current Bloomsbury Favorites

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

 

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

 

evictedEVICTED
Matthew Desmond
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

 

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

 

What We Are Reading

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

 

raymienightengaleRAYMIE NIGHTINGALE
Kate DiCamillo
This is the latest offering from one of my very favorite children’s authors, Kate DiCamillo. This beautiful, inspiring story of three young girls banding together to face their individual problems, is at times both heartbreaking and uplifting. There is no mistaking why DiCamillo has won two Newbery Awards and was selected to be he National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (2014-2015). She writes with such heart, and the reader simply falls in love with her characters. -review by Anita

 

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

 

We Recommend

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

 

Celebrating Shakespeare

shakespearelexiconSHAKESPEARE LEXICON, Vols. 1 and 2
Alexander Schmidt
Still often used today, German schoolmaster and philologist Alexander Schmidt’s (1816-1887) Shakespeare Lexicon is the source for elucidating the sometimes cryptic language of Shakespeare and tracking down quotations. Volume 1 covers A through L, from “a: the first letter of the alphabet” to “Lysimachus,” a proper name. Every word from every play and poem is cataloged, referenced, and defined in this exhaustive two-volume work, the result of arduous research and stalwart dedication. Serious scholars and zealous fans will find the Lexicon the ultimate guide to reading and decoding the Bard.

 

shakespearessonnetsSHAKESPEARE’S SONNETS (Complete Illustrated)
William Shakespeare
The first-ever, fully illustrated collector’s edition of William Shakespeare’s celebrated sonnets. In celebration of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death in April 2016, this enhanced edition of Shakepeare’s Sonnets features gorgeous full-color artwork throughout that brings The Bard’s timeless words to life like never before.

 

womenofwillWOMEN OF WILL
Tina Packer
Women of Will is a fierce and funny exploration of Shakespeare’s understanding of the feminine. Tina Packer shows that Shakespeare started out writing women as shrews to be tamed or as sweet little things with no independence of thought. The women of the history plays are more interesting, beginning with Joan of Arc. Then, with the extraordinary Juliet, there is a dramatic shift. Suddenly Shakespeare’s women have depth, motivation, and understanding of life more than equal to that of the men. As Shakespeare ceases to write women as predictable caricatures and starts writing them from the inside, his women become as dimensional, spirited, spiritual, active, and sexual as any of his male characters. The author observes that, from Juliet on, Shakespeare’s characters demonstrate that when women and men are equal in status and passion, they can and do change the world.

 

shakespeareandthecountessSHAKESPEARE AND THE COUNTESS
Chris Laoutaris
In November 1596, a woman signed a document that would nearly destroy the career of William Shakespeare. Who was this woman who played such an instrumental, yet little known, role in Shakespeare’s life? Lady Elizabeth Russell, the self-styled Dowager Countess of Bedford, has been edited out of public memory, yet the chain of events she set in motion would make Shakespeare the legendary figure we all know today. Never far from controversy when she was alive, she sparked numerous riots and indulged in acts of breaking-and-entering, bribery, blackmail, kidnapping and armed combat. The daughter of King Edward VI s tutor, she blazed a trail across Elizabethan England as an intellectual and radical Protestant. And, in November 1596, she became the leader of a movement aimed at destroying William Shakespeare’s theatrical troupe. Providing new pieces to this puzzle, Chris Laoutaris’s rousing history reveals for the first time this startling battle against Shakespeare and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

 

yearoflearYEAR OF LEAR
James Shapiro
Preeminent Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro shows how the tumultuous events in England in 1606 affected Shakespeare and shaped the three great tragedies he wrote that year “King Lear,” “Macbeth,” and “Antony and Cleopatra.” In the years leading up to 1606, Shakespeare’s great productivity had ebbed, and it may have seemed to some that his prolific genius was a thing of the past. But that year, at age forty-two, he found his footing again. It was a memorable, but grim, year in England. The foiled Gunpowder Plot would have blown up the king and royal family along with the nation s political and religious leadership. The aborted plot renewed anti-Catholic sentiment and laid bare divisions in the kingdom. It was against this background that Shakespeare finished “King Lear,” a play about a divided kingdom, then wrote a tragedy that turned on the murder of a Scottish king. He ended this astonishing year with a third masterpiece no less steeped in current events and concerns. The Year of Lear sheds light on these three great tragedies by placing them in the context of their times, while also allowing us greater insight into how Shakespeare was personally touched by such events as a terrible outbreak of plague and growing religious divisions. For anyone interested in Shakespeare, this is an indispensable book.

 

wilintheworldWILL IN THE WORLD
Stephen Greenblatt
A young man from a small provincial town moves to London in the late 1580s and, in a remarkably short time, becomes the greatest playwright not of his age alone but of all time. How is an achievement of this magnitude to be explained? Stephen Greenblatt brings us down to earth to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life, could have become the world s greatest playwright.

 

shakespearetheworldasstageSHAKESPEARE: THE WORLD AS STAGE
Bill Bryson
William Shakespeare, the most celebrated poet in the English language, left behind nearly a million words of text, but his biography has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts. With a steady hand and his trademark wit, Bill Bryson sorts through this colorful muddle to reveal the man himself. His Shakespeare is like no one else’s the beneficiary of Bryson’s genial nature, his engaging skepticism, and a gift for storytelling unrivaled in our time.

 

thescienceofshakespeareTHE SCIENCE OF SHAKESPEARE
Dan Falk
William Shakespeare lived at a remarkable time a period we now recognize as the first phase of the Scientific Revolution. New ideas were transforming Western thought, the medieval was giving way to the modern, and the work of a few key figures hinted at the brave new world to come: the methodical and rational Galileo, the skeptical Montaigne, and as Falk convincingly argues Shakespeare, who observed human nature just as intently as the astronomers who studied the night sky. In The Science of Shakespeare, we meet a colorful cast of Renaissance thinkers, including Thomas Digges, who published the first English account of the “new astronomy” and lived in the same neighborhood as Shakespeare; Thomas Harriot “England’s Galileo” who aimed a telescope at the night sky months ahead of his Italian counterpart; and Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, whose observatory-castle stood within sight of Elsinore, chosen by Shakespeare as the setting for “Hamlet” and whose family crest happened to include the names “Rosencrans” and “Guildensteren.” And then there’s Galileo himself. As Falk shows, his telescopic observations may have influenced one of Shakespeare’s final works. Dan Falk’s The Science of Shakespeare explores the connections between the famous playwright and the beginnings of the Scientific Revolution and how, together, they changed the world forever.

 

TthemillionaireandthebardHE MILLIONAIRE AND THE BARD
(out in paper in April)
Andrea Mays
The Millionaire and the Bard tells the miraculous and romantic story of the making of the First Folio, and of the American industrialist whose thrilling pursuit of the book became a lifelong obsession. When Shakespeare died in 1616, half of his plays died with him. No one believed that his writings would last or that future generations would celebrate him as the greatest author in the history of the English language. By the time of his death, his plays were rarely performed, eighteen of them had never been published and the rest existed only in bastardized forms that did not stay true to his original language. Seven years later, Shakespeare’s business partners and fellow actors, John Heminges and Henry Condell, gathered copies of the plays and manuscripts, edited and published thirty-six of them. This massive book, the First Folio, was intended as a memorial to their deceased friend. They could not have known that it would become one of the most important books ever published in the English language, nor that it would become a fetish object for collectors. The Millionaire and the Bard is a literary detective story, the tale of two mysterious men a brilliant author and his obsessive collector separated by space and time. It is a tale of two cities Elizabethan and Jacobean London and Gilded Age New York. It is a chronicle of two worlds of art and commerce that unfolded an ocean and three centuries apart. And it is the thrilling tale of the luminous book that saved the name of William Shakespeare to the last syllable of recorded time.

 

In Honor of Taowhywee Agnes Baker Pilgrim

grandmasayswakeuptheworldGRANDMA SAYS: WAKE UP, WORLD!
Agnes Baker Pilgrim
Agnes Baker Pilgrim, known to most as Grandma Aggie, is in her nineties and is the oldest living member of the Takelma Tribe, one of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz. A descendant of both spiritual and political tribal leaders, Grandma Aggie travels around the world to keep traditions alive, to help those in need and to be a voice for the voiceless, helping everyone to remember to preserve our Earth for animals and each other in a spiritual environment. Honored as a “Living Cultural Legend” by the Oregon Council of the Arts, Grandma Aggie relates childhood memories about her tribe and her life as a child growing up in an area that often didn’t allow Indians and dogs into public places, as well as contemporary issues such as bullying, teen suicide, drugs and alcohol, Pope Francis, President Obama, water conservation, climate change, and much more. Her stories will captivate you and provide a blueprint for how all the inhabitants of the earth can live together in harmony, spirituality, and peace.

 

empireofthesummermoonEMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON
S.C Gwynne
In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, this is a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between the Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all. The book spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches. Gwynne’s exhilarating account delivers a sweeping narrative that encompasses Spanish colonialism, the Civil War, the destruction of the buffalo herds and the arrival of the railroads a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being. Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a nine-year-old girl who was kidnapped by Comanches in 1836 and grew to love her captors, becoming the infamous White Squaw who refused to return until her tragic capture by Texas Rangers in 1860. More famous still was her son Quanah, a warrior who was never defeated and whose guerrilla wars in the Texas Panhandle made him a legend. S. C. Gwynne s account is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told.

 

smellofrainondustTHE SMELL OF RAIN ON DUST
Martin Prechtel
Inspiring hope, solace, and courage in living through our losses, author Martin Prechtel, trained in the Tzutujil Maya shamanic tradition, shares profound insights on the relationship between grief and praise in our culture. He explores how the inability that many of us have to grieve and weep properly for the dead is deeply linked with the inability to give praise for living. In modern society, grief is something that we usually experience in private, alone, and without the support of a community. Prechtel explains that the unexpressed grief prevalent in our society today is the reason for many of the social, cultural, and individual maladies that we are currently experiencing. According to Prechtel, “When you have two centuries of people who have not properly grieved the things that they have lost, the grief shows up as ghosts that inhabit their grandchildren.” These “ghosts,” he says, can also manifest as disease in the form of tumors, which the Maya refer to as “solidified tears,” or in the form of behavioral issues and depression. He goes on to show how this collective, unexpressed energy is the long-held grief of our ancestors manifesting itself, and the work that can be done to liberate this energy so we can heal from the trauma of loss, war, and suffering. This “little book” can be seen as a companion of encouragement, a little extra light for those deep and noble parts in all of us.

 

thefirstoregoniansTHE FIRST OREGONIANS
Laura Berg, ed.
In 1991, the Oregon Council for the Humanities published The First Oregonians, the only single-volume, comprehensive history of Oregon’s Native Americans. A regional bestseller, this collaborative project between the council, Oregon tribes, and scholars served as an invaluable reference for teachers, scholars, and general-interest readers before it went out of print in 1996. Now revised and expanded for a new generation of Oregonians, The First Oregonians provides a comprehensive view of Oregon’s native peoples from the past to the present. In this remarkable volume, Oregon Indians tell their own stories, with more than half of the book’s chapters written by members of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes. Using oral histories and personal recollections, chapters examine lifeways and vividly depict not only a history of decimation and decline, but also a contemporary view of cultural revitalization, renewal, and continuity. The First Oregonians includes essays exploring geography, federal-Indian relations, language, and art written by prominent Northwest scholars. This new edition is richly illustrated with almost two hundred photographs, maps, and drawings. No other book offers as wide a variety of views and stories about the historical and contemporary experience of Oregon Indians. The First Oregonians is the definitive volume for all Oregonians interested in the fascinating story of Oregon’s first peoples.

 

blackelkspeaksBLACK ELK SPEAKS
John G. Neihardt
This story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863 1950) and his people during momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century offers readers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time. Black Elk’s searing visions of the unity of humanity and Earth have made this book a classic that crosses multiple genres. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, as a history of a Native nation, or as an enduring spiritual testament, Black Elk Speaks is unforgettable. Black Elk met John G. Neihardt in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and asked Neihardt to share his story with the world. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elk’s experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.

 

Books by Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle will speak on Monday February 22nd at Ashland High School’s Mountain Avenue Theatre as part of the Chautauqua Poets and Writers series. Tickets are $15 and are available at Bloomsbury Books.

 

minkriverMINK RIVER
Brian Doyle
In a small fictional town on the Oregon coast there are love affairs and almost-love-affairs, mystery and hilarity, bears and tears, brawls and boats, a garrulous logger and a silent doctor, rain and pain, Irish immigrants and Salish stories, mud and laughter. There’s a Department of Public Works that gives haircuts and counts insects, a policeman addicted to Puccini, a philosophizing crow, beer and berries. An expedition is mounted, a crime committed, and there is an unbelievably huge picnic on the football field. Babies are born. A car is cut in half with a saw. A river confesses what it’s thinking. Mink River is the tale of a town, written in a distinct and lyrical voice, and readers will close the book more than a little sad to leave the village of Neawanaka, on the wet coast of Oregon, beneath the hills that used to boast the biggest trees in the history of the world.

 

theploverTHE PLOVER
Brian Doyle
Declan O’Donnell has sailed deep into the vast, wild ocean, having had just finally enough of other people and their problems. He will go it alone, he will be his own country, he will be beholden to and beloved of no one. But the galaxy soon presents him with a string of odd, entertaining, and dangerous passengers, who become companions of every sort and stripe. This is the story of their adventures and misadventures in the immense blue country one of their company calls Pacifica. Hounded by a mysterious enemy, reluctantly acquiring one new resident after another, Declan O’Donnell’s lonely boat is eventually crammed with humor, argument, tension, and a resident herring gull. The Plover is a sea novel, a maritime adventure, the story of a cold man melting, a compendium of small miracles, an elegy to Edmund Burke, a watery quest, a battle at sea–and a rapturous, heartfelt celebration of life’s surprising paths, planned and unplanned.

 

martinmartenMARTIN MARTEN
Brian Doyle
Dave is fourteen years old, living with his family in a cabin on Oregon s Mount Hood (or as he prefers to call it, like the Multnomah tribal peoples once did, Wy east). Dave will soon enter high school, with adulthood and a future not far off a future away from his mother, father, his precocious younger sister, and the wilderness where he s lived all his life. And Dave is not the only one approaching adulthood and its freedoms on Wy east that summer. Martin, a pine marten (of the mustelid family) is leaving his own mother and siblings and setting off on his own as well. As Dave and Martin set off on their own adventures, their lives, paths, and trails will cross, weave, and blend. Why not come with them as they set forth into the forest and crags of Oregon s soaring mountain wilderness in search of life, family, friends, enemies, wonder, mystery, and good things to eat? Martin Marten is a braided coming-of-age tale like no other, told in Brian Doyle s joyous, rollicking style.

 

childrenandotheranimalsCHILDREN AND OTHER WILD ANIMALS
Brian Doyle
Novelist and essayist Brian Doyle describes encounters with astounding beings of every sort and shape in this collection of short vignettes. The book gathers previously unpublished work along with selections that have been published in Orion, The Sun, and The American Scholar, among others.

 

howthelightgetsinHOW THE LIGHT GETS IN
Brian Doyle
How the Light Gets In is comprised of sixty prose poems (“proems,” by the author’s reckoning) on matters theological, spiritual, and mystical. Doyle’s “proems” are lyrical creations resemble poetry, but devoid of any meter or typical poetic structure – and yet they are not strictly prose either. These sixty selections will focus on the mundane and the everyday, but with a theological and a spiritual focus/gloss. According to Annie Dillard, Brian Doyle, the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland in Oregon, head up the finest spiritual magazine in America.

 

Other Bloomsbury Staff Picks

 

theportableveblenTHE PORTABLE VEBLEN
Elizabeth McKenzie
This whimsical novel takes the idea of dysfunctional families to a whole new level! Veblen is a serious and sensitive young woman who just happens to converse and communicate with a squirrel. She is also burdened (or not) with an overbearing, hypochondriac mother and an absent, emotionally disturbed father. Her fiance, Paul, a doctor who is involved in the development of a medical device, has family demons of his own, and they take an active part in this clever tale. The dialogue is snappy, quirky, and funny. The unconventional characters are likeable, and the story is ultimately quite touching.
-review by Anita

 

adoubtersalmanacA DOUBTER’S ALMANAC
Ethan Canin
(Release date, February 16th)
A Doubter’s Almanac is a very powerful novel that spans several decades from the 1950s to the present day. Milo Andret grows up as a solitary but gifted young boy, who ultimately turns out to be a mathematical genius. His genius carries a heavy burden, however, as he gradually becomes more and more neurotic, arrogant, and alienated from the world around him. Milo’s abilities, as well as his obsessions, are passed down to the next generation, and the second part of the novel is told through the eyes of his son, Hans. The story reminded me of a A Beautiful Mind, in which despite his brilliance, John Nash suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Ethan Canin has written a fascinating and compelling novel examining the precarious path of genius.
-review by Anita

 

swansoffithavenueTHE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE
Melanie Benjamin
Do you think it’s about Bill? Truman Capote’s swans gather to preen their ruffled feathers as the November 1975 issue of Esquire graces newspaper stands. Aged but still regal they purse painted mouths. He killed her they whisper, indignant, ready to close their doors (and guest lists) against Truman Capote for good. Who did Capote’s pen kill, how and why? Melanie Benjamin chronicles Capote’s rise and fall as a literary star with compassion, wit and an ear for scandal. She reconciles, for the fictional record, two friends who love each other deeply and wound each other mortally. In the end loving Truman Capote is like loving Holly Golightly or a wild thing: “If you let yourself love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky.” The Swans of Fifth Avenue is as fun, salacious and fabulous as Capote himself. -review by Becky

 

The Force Awakens @ Bloomsbury Books

duneDUNE
Frank Herbert
Dune is a novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of Paul Atreides, who becomes the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib and, while avenging the traitorous plot against his noble family, brings to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award and formed the basis of one of the greatest epics of science fiction.

 

PERDIDOSTREETSTATIONPERDIDO STREET STATION
China Mieville
In the sprawling gothic city of New Crobuzon, a stranger has come to request the services of Isaac, an overweight and slightly eccentric scientist. But it is an impossible request–that of flight–and in the end Isaac’s attempts will only succeed in unleashing a dark force upon the city. This novel is a magnificent fantasy rife with scientific splendor, magical intrigue, and wonderfully realized characters, told in a storytelling style in which Charles Dickens meets Neal Stephenson, Perdido Street Station offers an eerie, voluptuously crafted world that will plumb the depths of every reader’s imagination.”

 

lefthandofdarknessTHE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS
Ursula K. LeGuin
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards and groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

 

thewindupgirlTHE WINDUP GIRL
Paolo Bacigalupi
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel. Anderson Lake is AgriGen’s Calorie Man, sent to work undercover as a factory manager in Thailand while combing Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. She was engineered and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but she is now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as souless beings by some, devils by others, the so-called “New People” are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in this chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

 

maninthehighcastleTHE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE
Philip K. Dick
Winner of the Hugo Award and now an Amazon Original series, The New York Times claims this is the single most resonant and carefully imagined book of Dick s career. It is America in 1962, and some twenty years earlier, the United States lost the war and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan. Slavery is legal once again, and the few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. This harrowing novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it, Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.

 

lilithsbroodLILITH’S BROOD
Octavia E. Butler
The acclaimed trilogy that comprises Lilith’s Brood is multiple Hugo and Nebula award-winner Octavia E. Butler at her best. Presented for the first time in one volume, with an introduction by Joan Slonczewski, Ph.D., Lilith’s Brood is a profoundly evocative, sensual and disturbing epic of human transformation. Lilith Iyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali rescue our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures–their own children.

 

abcthreeshortnovelsA,B,C: THREE SHORT NOVELS
Samuel R. Delaney
This volume contains the first three novels of Samuel R. Delany s long and illustrious career. The Jewels of Aptor is a science-fantasy story about a seafaring quest that sets out to find powerful magic jewels on a mystical, forbidden island where unimaginable danger lies. The Ballad of Beta-2 is about a future academic searching for the true story behind an interstellar voyage, a journey over multiple generations that ended in tragedy. They Fly at Ciron is a fantasy about the clash between a marauding army and a peaceful village at the foot of a mountain from which a race of winged people oversees both sides.Presenting these three novels in this omnibus volume for the first time, along with a new foreword and afterword by the author, A,B,C, showcases Delany’s masterful storytelling ability and deep devotion to his craft.

 

ancillaryjusticeANCILLARY JUSTICE
Ann Leckie
Ancillary Justice is the only novel ever to win the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke Awards, and the first book in Ann Leckie’s New York Times bestselling trilogy. On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions and a burning desire for vengeance.

 

handmaidstaleTHE HANDMAID’S TALE
Margaret Atwood
First published in 1985, this is a novel of such power that the reader is unable to forget its images and its forecast. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets, whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke, when she played with and protected her daughter, when she had a job, money of her own and access to knowledge. Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

 

theperipheralTHE PERIPHERAL
William Gibson
The bestselling author of the dystopian thrillers Neuromancer and Zero History presents his first novel since 2010. Flynne Fisher lives in London in a rural near-future America, where she earns what she can by assembling product at the local 3D printshop. She made more as a combat scout in an online game, but she had to it give up. Her brother Burton lives on money from the Veterans Administration, but he is secretly working security in a a virtual world that looks vaguely like London, but a lot weirder. Wilf Netherton, who lives in London, seventy-some years later, is a high-powered publicist and celebrity-minder, fancies himself a romantic misfit in a society where reaching into the past is just another hobby. Flynne and Wilf are about to meet one another. Her world will be altered irrevocably, and Wilf’s, for all its decadence and power, will learn that some of these third-world types from the past can be badass.

 

auroraAURORA
Kim Stanley Robinson
A major new novel from one of science fiction’s most powerful voices, Aurora tells the incredible story of our first voyage beyond the solar system. Brilliantly imagined and beautifully told, it is the work of a writer at the height of his powers. Our voyage from Earth began generations ago. Now, we approach our new home. AURORA.

 

girlwithallthegiftsGIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
M. R. and Mike Carey
Not every gift is a blessing. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh. Melanie is a very special girl. Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, The Girl with All The Gifts is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

 

readyplayerone2READY PLAYER ONE
Ernest Cline
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune–and remarkable power–to whomever can unlock them.

 

hitchhikersguidetothegalaxyTHE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
Douglas Adams
By now the story is legendary. Arthur Dent, mild-mannered, out-to-lunch earthling, is plucked from his planet by his friend Ford Prefect just seconds before it was demolished to make way for a hyper-space bypass. Ford, posing as an out-of-work actor, is a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Together the gruesome twosome begin their now-famous inter-galactic journey through time, space and best-sellerdom. As the Washington Post says, “It’s science fiction and it’s extremely funny…inspired lunacy that leaves hardly a science fiction cliche alive.”

 

radianceRADIANCE
Catherynne M. Valente
Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction, in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

 

 

Bloomsbury Recommends

 

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

 

Our Recommendations for the 2015 Holidays

 

FICTION

 

fatesandfuriesFATES AND FURIES
Lauren Groff
Groff has written a literary sensation that presents the story of a marriage over the course of twenty-four years from both the husband and the wife’s very different points of view. It is deeply layered with flashes of brilliance in perception and writing.

 

TSAROFLOVETSAR OF LOVE AND TECHNO
Anthony Marra
From the best-selling author of CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA, these are dazzling, poignant and connected short stories that move from Stalin’s Leningrad to Siberia to Chechnya with the skill of a writer who has been compared to Chekhov.

 

avenueofmysteries

AVENUE OF MYSTERIES
John Irving
Irving returns to the themes that established him as one of our most admired and beloved authors in this absorbing novel of fate and memory.

 

allthelightwecannotseeALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
Anthony Doerr
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy in Occupied France.

 

purityPURITY
Jonathan Franzen
The author of  THE CORRECTIONS has written another compelling and thought-provoking novel that captures contemporary life with unforgettable characters.

 

numerozeroNUMERO ZERO
Umberto Eco
From the best-selling and internationally acclaimed author of NAME OF THE ROSE comes a novel of the murky world of media politics, conspiracy and murder and a fragile love story between two born losers.

 

awildswanA WILD SWAN AND OTHER TALES
Michael Cummingham
A book of fairy tales for our times from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of THE HOURS. These tales take the myths of our childhood and transforms them into tales that are dark, perverse and true.

 

sladehouseSLADE HOUSE
David Mitchell
Spanning five decades, from the 1970s to the present, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story, as only the author of CLOUD ATLAS could imagine it.

 

gapoftimeGAP OF TIME
Jeanette Winterson
The first of Hogarth Press’s retelling of the stories of Shakespeare by acclaimed modern writers, this is the re-imagined “Winter’s Tale.”  Set in 2008 London and a storm-ravaged American city, it modernizes the story of the power of jealousy and the redemption and enduring love of a lost child.

 

lastbustowisdomLAST BUS TO WISDOM
Ivan Doig
The final novel from a great American storyteller is charming wise and slyly funny–a last sweet gift from a writer whose books have bestowed untold pleasure on countless readers.

 

careerofevilCAREER OF EVIL
Robert Galbraith
When J.K. Rowling morphed into Robert Galbraith, adults got a first-rate mystery writer. This is the third, and best, of the Cormoran Strike private detective series.

 

beloveddogBELOVED DOG
Maira Kalman
This wonderful and wittily illustrated book about how dogs bring out the best in us is the perfect gift for any family of dog lovers or owners.

 

NONFICTION

 

thewitchesTHE WITCHES
Stacy Schiff
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of CLEOPATRA explores a dark period in the early history of our country – the imprisonment of over two hundred persons and the execution of fourteen women, five men and a dog for the practice of witchcraft.

 

themtrainM TRAIN
Patti Smith
From the National Book Award-winning author of JUST KIDS, comes an unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist, told through the prism of the cafes and the haunts she has worked in around the world.

 

mylifeontheroadMY LIFE ON THE ROAD
Gloria Steinem
The writer, activist and feminist leader tells the story of her itinerant childhood with her father and how it began a lifetime of activism. She is witty, moving and always an inspiration.

 

speedkingsSPEED KINGS
Andy Bull
Perfect for fans of BOYS IN THE BOAT, it combines risk, adventure and daring as four American bobsledders race for the gold in the most dangerous competition in Olympic history.

 

hungermakesmeamoderngirlHUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL
Carrie Brownstein
From the guitarist of the pioneering band Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia star, a candid, funny, and deeply personal look at making a life–and finding yourself in music.

 

lafayetteinthesomewhatUSLAFAYETTE IN THE SOMEWHAT UNITED STATES
Sarah Vowell
A humorous and and insightful account of the Revolutionary War hero, Marquis de Lafayette, the Frenchman who ignited our love affair with France–and an insightful portrait of a nation’s idealism.  This is as entertaining and vastly informative as her previous bestseller ASSASSINATION VACATION.

 

betweentheworldandmeBETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME
Ta-Nehisi Coates
One of the talked-about books of the year, a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by a man who has been acclaimed as “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States.”

 

hisforhawkH IS FOR HAWK
Helen MacDonald
Heart-breaking and humorous, this unflinching account of personal bereavement and the practice of falconry, with a unique look at an extraordinary bird, is nature writing at its very best.

 

bigmagicBIG MAGIC
Elizabeth Gilbert
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. The author of EAT, PRAY, LOVE digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity.

 

unfaithfulmusicUNFAITHFUL MUSIC AND DISAPPEARING INK
Elvis Costello
The long-awaited, unconventional but indelible memoir by one of the music world’s greatest and most influential songwriters and performers.

 

findawayFIND A WAY
Diana Nyad
Her mantra was “find a way” and Nyad invoked it continually as she swam from Cuba to Florida, an epic feat of endurance and human will, in fifty-three hours at the age of sixty-four.  It reads like a thriller and will inspire us all to never let go of achieving our dreams.

 

gratitudeGRATITUDE
Oliver Sacks
A deeply moving testimony and celebration of how to embrace life by the late, beloved writer and neurologist. It includes his essays, written before his death, in the New York Times.

 

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

 

waitingFive toys sit on a shelf looking out the window in the delightful book, WAITING. They watch and wait for the magic of nature to change and bring them happy moments. Beautifully illustrated by Caldecott Medalist, Kevin Henkes, this charming story will appeal to 3-7 year olds.

 

thethingaboutjellyfishTwelve year old Suzy can not accept that her friend’s death by drowning can be explained by the words “sometimes things just happen.”  As Suzy sets out to discover exactly what caused Franny’s death, she retreats into silence….partly because she feels that small talk is meaningless, and partly because her last words to Franny were hurtful. THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH, by Ali Benjamin, is a tender and moving story about life, perseverance, friendship and forgiveness.

 

diaryofwimpykidoldschoolIn the brand new DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: OLD SCHOOL, Greg tries to determine whether life was really better in the “good old days.” He is put to the test when his whole town voluntarily “unplugs” for the weekend, and Greg experiences the ups and downs of being electronics-free.  Like Jeff Kinney‘s previous books, this new story is very funny and very clever.

 

dumplinWillowdean, aka Dumplin’, may be overweight, but she is comfortable with who she is as a person. That is until certain events conspire to challenge her confidence and self-acceptance.  DUMPLIN’, by Julie Murphy, is a beautiful, often humorous, look at believing in yourself against all odds.

 

carryonMagic, romance, ghosts and nerds abound in CARRY ON, by Rainbow Rowell. In this thrilling, lusty, and funny story of life at a wizard school, Simon Snow is the unlikely “chosen one” who must stop a villain.  But Simon, who is supposed to be the most powerful, is unable to control his magic.  For teens who loved Harry Potter, this book is a must!  Ages 14 and over.

 

More Bloomsbury Picks

 

mylifeontheroadMY LIFE ON THE ROAD
Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem, activist, journalist and masthead of the women’s movement, examines how a lifetime of traveling has led her to a place she can call home. Steinem, now in her 80s, is still inherently quotable, is no less feminist, but is perhaps less zealous. She encourages readers to live in an on-the-road state of mind every day, and shares the important lesson of talking circles. This autobiography, loosely organized into types of travel, provides a history of the last fifty years that puts people, and their unique stories, first—“people before paper.” This is a powerful book, both for readers whose work brought us right against the glass ceiling, and for younger readers for whom the feminist movement is part of recent history.  -review by Becky

 

goldfamecitrusGOLD FAME CITRUS
Claire Vaye Watkins
This intriguing novel takes place in the near future….a future in which California has become an arid desert totally devoid of water. The borders of the state have been blocked, and survivors like Luz and Ray must get by under devastating conditions. When they happen upon a strange, mysterious child, the three become a family, as they attempt to cross the “dune sea”. But other colonies of survivors are rumored to exist at the foot of the dune. Watkins has written a moving and disturbing novel that gives the reader much food – if not water– for thought. -review by Anita

 

theheartgoeslastTHE HEART GOES LAST
Margaret Atwood
The heart goes last in death, and marriage. So Stan and Charmaine discover when they join the Positron Project, an utopian society with a dark underbelly. Vintage Atwood with a racy twist! I thoroughly enjoyed this examination of marriage, utopia and the future of our planet (sex-bots and all).
-review by Becky

 

thethingaboutjellyfishTHE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH
Ali Benjamin
Twelve year old Suzy Swanson can not accept that her friend’s death by drowning can be explained by the words “sometimes things just happen.” As Suzy sets out to discover exactly what caused Franny’s death, she retreats into silence….partly because she feels that small talk is meaningless, and partly because her last words to Franny were hurtful. This is a tender and moving story about life, perseverance, friendship and forgiveness. -review by Anita

 

dumplinDUMPLIN’
Julie Murphy
Willowdean, aka Dumplin’, may be overweight, but she is comfortable with who she is as a person. That is until certain events conspire to challenge her confidence and self-acceptance. A beautiful, often humorous, look at believing in yourself against all odds. -review by Anita

 

fatesandfuriesFATES AND FURIES
Lauren Groff
In Lotto’s version of how they met she says yes. In Mathilde’s version she says no, which becomes sure, but nothing is ever sure. The decades that follow bring success and failure, luck both good and bad, fate and fury. “Most operas, it is true, are about marriage. Few marriages could be called operatic.” Except for Lotto and Mathilde. Their love is tremendous, consuming, obdurate, yet vulnerable to fate. Still, this novel is about more than the growing pains within a marriage. Lotto’s rise into literary stardom evokes the golden era of theater—Albee, Williams, and O’Neill. Yet, as a playwright in the 1990s, Lotto is part of a generation of activist playwrights and actors, while Mathilde relinquishes her creative spirit to her wifely duties. Separately they tell interesting stories: Woven together, their lives are lightning captured in a jar. -review by Becky

 

luckyusLUCKY US
Amy Bloom
The year is 1939. Two half-sisters are thrown together in an extraordinary way – Iris, the older, beautiful daughter of the irresponsible Edgar, and Eva, the younger, plain but intelligent daughter of Edgar and his mistress. The two girls set out to seek Iris’ fortune, and meet a diverse collection of interesting and enigmatic characters along the way. From Ohio to Hollywood and New York, Bloom skillfully weaves a thread both connecting and separating family through their loves, needs, bonds, and betrayals. The characters are often sad, tragic, but ultimately “lucky.”  -review by Anita

 

onimmunityON IMMUNITY: AN INNOCULATION
Eula Biss
“Immunity is a public space. And it can be occupied by those who choose not to carry immunity.” As a new mother skeptical of vaccinations and modern medicine, Biss set out to discover the truth about vaccinations. The result is a fascinating, well-researched and beautifully written examination of what immunity, and vaccination, means in our society. Biss draws from her experiences as a young mother, from historic and scientific record, from mythology, literature, philosophy and economics to discuss how people conceptualize vaccinations. This book is an inoculation against fear and misunderstanding, and an argument that vaccination is an act of love—for a child, for ourselves, and for our fellow man. -review by Becky

 

myrealchildrenMY REAL CHILDREN
Jo Walton
One woman, two possible lives hinging on one phone call placed in 1949: Now or never, Mark’s voice crackles across the distance. Now, she says and becomes Tricia—a wife, mother, and housemaid. Never, she says and becomes Pat—a lover, mum, and successful writer. One life, or two lives? In 2015, Tricia/Pat remembers both of her lives, even as she spirals into the dementia that took her mother. Walton creates a believable alternative world history for each life, exploring the natures of memory, fate, and the mechanisms that shaped the 20th century. Phenomenal! -review by Becky

 

gosetawatchmanGO SET A WATCHMAN
Harper Lee
The most important thing we can say about this book is that we are not reading a sequel of To Kill a Mockingbird. This is a first draft, which affords readers an unheard of glimpse into the origins of an American classic. Go Set a Watchman carries Lee’s hallmark wit and kernels of her wisdom and can be read as a novel separate from To Kill a Mockingbird; however, this book acts as a companion more than anything else.

 

goodbyestrangerGOODBYE STRANGER
Rebecca Stead
Newbery medal winner, Rebecca Stead, writes a captivating story about friendship, loyalty and betrayal. The changes that come in seventh grade can be overwhelming and scary. But Stead traverses this terrain with skill, compassion and humor. This timely book will appeal to middle grade readers. A wonderful book! -review by Anita

 

greenroadTHE GREEN ROAD
Anne Enright
The 2007 Booker Prize Winner for THE GATHERING has written a flawless, heart-breaking portrait of Irish siblings who reunite for Christmas at their mother’s home in rural Ireland.  Spanning thirty years, beginning in County Clare but including masterful depictions of AIDS-devasted Manhattan and famine-stricken Africa, this is a story of family dynamics, of characters who struggle with anguish, illuminated by occasional glimpses of grace and humor. -review by Sheila

 

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

 

deathdateDENTON LITTLE’S DEATH DATE
Lance Rubin
In the not-too-distant future, due to a scientific development, everybody in the world is born with the encoded information of the exact day they will die. Children are told their deathdates at about age 5. Denton Little, a senior in high school, has arrived at his deathdate, and although he has had years to prepare for this, it remains disconcerting. As is the common practice, he attends his own funeral the day before his death. Then he must participate in the “sitting” where he sits with family and close friends as he waits to die (the method of death is never disclosed). But strange things begin to happen, secrets unfold, and plans are beginning to go awry. One thing that Denton knows, however, is that no one escapes their deathdate. I loved this book and the extremely likable character of Denton Little. A book exploring death, that ultimately explores life. -review by Anita

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

troikaTROIKA
Adam Pelzman
When Perla is a little girl, her elderly neighbor gives her some sage advice.  He tells her that when she is older she should find a man “who protects you, who feeds you first, who won’t take a bite of anything, won’t take a single piece of food or clothing or firewood until you’ve had enough first.”  As a young woman, Perla finds such a man in the passionate, devoted Julian.  But she soon discovers that this wonderful man she has fallen in love with hides a very dark past and secrets of his own.  This is a beautifully crafted and compelling novel.   -review by Anita

delicious!DELICIOUS!
Ruth Reichl
The debut novel by renown food critic and best-selling author Ruth Reichl lives up to the name: Delicious!. I don’t know what part of me loves this book the most: the foodie; the library-lover; or story junkie. Reichl mixes the simplest ingredients to create a word feast that is both decadent and satisfying: an unminted journalist with an unusual flavor palette; a struggling food magazine; a small, family-owned cheese and delicacy shop; a locked library; and letters from a precocious aspiring cook to James Beard during WWII. Lulu’s letters and recipes paint a clear picture of wartime America; and baker-turned journalist Billie Breslin’s experiences at Delicious and the Fontanari’s shop are a fun foray into the flavors and textures in the modern food-world. -review by Becky

 

dorothymustdieDOROTHY MUST DIE
Danielle Paige
This is an exciting return to an Oz gone wrong.  When a tornado transports Amy (from Kansas, of course) to the land of Oz, she discovers a land corrupted by the evil powers of Dorothy.  The tin man, scarecrow and lion (and even Toto the dog) are all villainous participants, and Amy must join forces with those that seek to save Oz and return it to it’s glorious past.  The reader is transported back to the land of Oz to experience this dangerous and thrilling tale. -review by Anita

 

congratulationsbythewyaCONGRATULATIONS, BY THE WAY
George Saunders
The store is full of inspirational titles, but this is the one that made me want to change. Saunders, author of Tenth of December, is critically acclaimed, hip, funny and wise. He has written a book, not just for those starting out, but for anyone who needs to take stock and remember what is really important. I want to give a copy to everyone. –review by Sheila

 

storiedlifeTHE STORIED LIFE OF A. J. FIKRY
Gabrielle Zevin
This is the perfect feel-good-read for bibliophiles & booksellers. Each chapter begins with  short book-review by A.J. Firky, the crochety proprietor of a bookshop on a small island off the Massachusetts coast. Firky is the best kind of persnickety—prickly on the outside and soft in the inside. He rediscovers love & family with the help of an orphaned baby, a quirky publishing rep, & a barrel-chested cop with a hidden gift for reading recommendations. This is a wonderful novel about why we love books, why we love each other, & how the two intersect. Keep a pen & piece of paper handy—this is one entertaining reading list.

 

onsuchafullseaON SUCH A FULL SEA
Chang-Rae Lee
China controls most of the world, including North America. Temperatures increase because of global warming, and cancer runs rampant—a fate generally accepted as unavoidable. Books have all but vanished, along with domesticated animals and outdoor farming. All food is grown in sterile tanks, tended to by working-class citizens living in worker-settlements, while the bulk of the food carted off and sold in the upper-class, wealthy communities. When Fan, a young tank diver, leaves her working-settlement (known as B-Mor) to find her vanished lover, she sparks a thought-revolution among those left behind. Both a folk-tale and an alarming prediction, this remarkable novel reminds me of a Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro. Haunting, devastating and hopeful, this story lives far beyond the confines of the book. -review by Becky

 

knittingyarns
KNITTING YARNS: WRITERS ON KNITTING
Ann Hood, ed.
Don’t miss this fantastic anthology edited by Ann Hood, which includes such notables as: Barbara Kingsolver, Sue Grafton, Elizabeth Berg, Andre Dubus III, Hope Edelman, Alison Lurie, Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve and Jane Smiley. Who knew knitting enjoyed such a literary tapestry… enjoy!
-review by Rebecca

 

barkBARK
Lorrie Moore
These stories, by one of my favorite authors, are laugh-out-loud funny as well as full of pithy commentary on contemporary life. In Moore’s earlier fiction, the protagonists were often young girls or young mothers. Here, they are divorcees. They have teenagers. They’ve variously tried and failed at dating, holding down jobs, being kind or being sane. Perhaps that’s why there’s an undercurrent of sadness – and the book’s relationships, with one desperate exception, don’t end well. Moore’s stories, like Alice Munro’s, will haunt your dreams. -review by Sheila

 

onelastthingbeforeigoONE LAST THING BEFORE I GO
Jonathan Trapper
One could argue that great fiction is not remembered by the plot, but by unforgettable characters. Such is Trooper’s protagonist “Silver.” Frustrating but loveable, Silver is a divorced has-been, forty-something, muscian who is filled with numbness and regret. That numbness is about to explode as he is suddenly faced with a critical heart condition. Despondent, Silver refuses to undergo the imperative heart surgery that will save his life. Despite the profound and dire nature of the narrative, the writing is hilarious. Tropper manages to create a character that is completely original and reminiscent of an unlikely mix of Voltaire’s Candide, Carlos Castenada and David Sedaris. The dialogue leaves the reader hanging on every word for wit, truth, and gasping originality. Surprises and ephiphanies of all sorts abound, as one raptly turns the pages, never knowing if you will laugh or cry. -review by Rebecca

 

thepatriarchTHE PATRIARCH
David Nasaw
Nasaw was granted unrestricted access to the founder of the twentieth century’s most famous political dynasty. The elder Kennedy’s seemingly limitless ambition took him from an East Boston outsider to the first Irish American Ambassador to Britain, where his antiwar position made him the subject of White House ire and popular distaste. The tragedies that befell his family marked his final years with unspeakable suffering. Nasaw addresses the questions that have haunted the legend of the patriarch: Was he an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer? Why did he have his daughter lobotomized? Did he push his second son into politics then buy the election for him? Always fascinating, occasionally repugnant, this is a look at a supremely influential man. -review by Sheila

 

thelowlandTHE LOWLAND
Jumpha Lahiri
The Lowland is another masterpiece by Jumpha Lahiri.  She tells a powerful story involving two brothers, their families, their deep secrets, and — one of Lahiri’s favorite topics – the immigrant experience.  This riveting novel has already been nominated for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award.  A brilliant  novel by an extremely gifted writer. -review by Anita

 

TaleforthetimebeingA TALE FOR THE TIME BEING
Ruth Ozeki
When sixteen-year-old Nao decides to take her own life, she first commits to telling the story of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun. Nao’s diary travels across the Pacific from Tokyo, and is washed ashore on a remote Canadian island. The diary, along with some mysterious letters, are found by a novelist, Ruth, who gets swept up in Nao’s story. This exquisitely told tale ties together the past and the present with intrigue, pathos and humor. -review by Anita

 

 

More Staff Recommendations

goldfinch

THE GOLDFINCH
Donna Tartt
A must read with unforgettable characters and a suspenseful narrative.  Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old, finds his life in turmoil after the sudden death of his mother. With no responsible relatives to care for him, he finds himself isolated physically and emotionally.  This is a book you will not want to put down.  -review by Karen

 

constellationofvitalA CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA
Anthony Marra
Anthony Marra’s first novel and winner of The Pushcart Prize. In Chechnya, a land engulfed in war, eight year old Havaa watches from the woods as her father is abducted by Russian soldiers.  A story about people caught in the middle of a war torn environment  and finding humanity in unexpected places. A powerful novel.  -review by Karen

 

IilluminationsLLUMINATIONS
Mary Sharratt
A fictionalized account of the life of Hildegard von Bingen, one of the most extraordinary women of the Middle Ages. She was given to the Church at the age of eight by her noble family and sequestered with another young girl in a small room for many years.  Her time behind these walls and her much fought for release into the world to ultimately earn her place in history is brought to life in this  well researched and insightful account.  This book is an accessible way to learn more about this saintly woman. I was engrossed from the first page. Historical Fiction at its best.  -review by Karen

 

wonderbookWONDERBOOK
Jeff Vandermeer
Jeff Vandermeer, winner of the World Fantasy Award and teacher of multiple speulative fiction workshops for kids and teens has put together this magnificent repository of images, exercises and essays in a writers manual like no other. Wonderbook contains essays from many of todays best speculative fiction writers, numerous pieces of strange and inspirational artwork and exercise prompts keyed to the ideas in the chapters. Intended for amature and professional writers both its a work that should be on your shelf wether fantastical fiction is your thing or if more realistic paths are what you want to travel. A quick flip through should give you and idea if its your kind of thing.  -review by Greg

 

redshirtsREDSHIRTS
John Scalzi
Winner of the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel from among a group of excellent and  diverse nominees. This book shows the lives of the faceless barely named characters from science fiction TV whom are often the ones not to return from missions. John created his own “TV” SF setting like so many others and simulates the loose writing (to be kind) of the “TVshow” genre with deft skill and goes to unexpected places with the story. Its a fun. light diverting read when you need something on the lighter side among all the dystopic fiction out there.  -review by Greg

 

Books We Are Excited About

 

signatureofallthingsSIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS
Elizabeth Gilbert
In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad.

 

therosieproject2THE ROSIE PROJECT
Graeme Simsion
Bloomsbury’s Staff says: “It was so good that I put off doing everything I was planning to do on Saturday so I could finish it!  Becky, Rebecca, Karen and I all read it and loved it! I think this would qualify as a staff favorite!” -Susan

“This book is a riotous piece of feel-good fiction that had me in stitches and cheering aloud. Don Tillman is a professor of genetics who lives by routines, timetables and a standardized meal system – until he creates a questionnaire to help him find the perfect wife, and meets Rosie. A romantic comedy and coming of age/midlife crisis tale, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that feels so good!” -Becky

 

dogsongsDOG SONGS
Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver has spent most of her life with a mind ripe with poems — and with at least one steadfast dog by her side. It seems fitting then that her latest collection revels in the carrying on of dogs. “Dog Songs,” out from Penguin Press on Tuesday, is a sweet golden retriever of a book that curls up with the reader, with 35 poems and one essay about the dogs who have shared Ms. Oliver’s days.’ (from the NYTimes)

 

wearewaterWE ARE WATER
Wally Lamb
A disquieting and ultimately uplifting novel about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy, from Wally Lamb, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much Is True. After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh—wife, mother, outsider artist—has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets—dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs’ lives.

 

onesummeramericaONE SUMMER AMERICA 1927
Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson captures the outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness that occurred in the epochal summer of 1927 with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. He populates this bustling age with notables including Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Capone, and Herbert Hoover, but also with walk-ons eccentrics, authors, and actors. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order. To put it simply, One Summer is one festive read, a signature Bryson reminder that, rightly told, history brims with interest.

 

Recommended Reading at Bloomsbury Books

 

emperorssoulTHE EMPEROR’S SOUL
Brandon Sanderson
Winner of the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella
Fantasy set in the same world as his first novel Elantris; it is a departure for Brandon who is known for his sprawling huge epics to write a tight exploration of three characters and through them the nature of life, death and art. Though its a tighter format his skill at creating character and magic is not at all dulled. -review by Greg

 

sisterlandSISTERLAND
Curtis Sittenfeld
Twins. Two identical girls. Each one possessing “senses” (which is their euphemism for having psychic abilities.) But while Vi embraces and uses her senses, Kate abhors and rejects her own abilities. When Vi draws media attention by predicting a pending earthquake, Kate becomes drawn into the drama. As adults, the two women have taken very different paths, but their lives remain connected in so many ways. A beautiful story of friendship, family and self-acceptance. –review by Anita

 

A LADY CYCLIST’S GUIDE TO KASHGAR
Suzanne Joinson
This wonderful novel engages the reader from the very beginning. The chapters alternate between two centuries. The first is 1923, where two English sisters are missionaries headed for the city of Kashgar – one sister an etheral religious zealot, and the other sister more interested in her green bicycle and a commission to write a book.  The corresponding story takes place in present day London, where a young woman struggling to find her connection to the world, befriends an illegal immigrant who is fleeing from the law. Suzanne Joinson skillfully ties together eastern and western religions and philosphies, with vivid depictions of different times and places. This is Joinson’s first novel – I look forward to more.  -review by Anita
available at our store

 

LEXICON
Max Barry
Warning: Reading this book may cause elevated heart rate and/or dry-mouth—and cost you a day off and/or a night’s sleep. From the first shocking pages, Lexicon exerts a mind-control on the reader—making us helpless to resist Barry’s warped, alternative reality. Connecting ancient concepts of language and persuasion with modern issues of data mining and privacy, this is a wholly original and smart thriller. Barry rigged explosions in all of the right places and threw plot twists fast and hard over the plate, reminding me of a cross between Chris Cline and Neal Stephenson. -review by Becky
available at our store

 

BURGESS BOYS
Elizabeth Strout
Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout’s “magnificent gift for humanizing characters.” Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature. With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art. available at our store

 

THE EXPATS
Chris Pavone
In the cobblestoned streets of Luxembourg, Kate Moore’s days are filled with playdates and coffee mornings, her weekends spent in Paris and skiing in the Alps. But Kate is also guarding a tremendous, life-defining secret—one that’s become so unbearable that it begins to unravel her newly established expat life. As Kate begins to dig, to uncover the secrets of the people around her, she finds herself buried in layers of deceit so thick they threaten her family, her marriage, and her life. available at our store

 

BEAUTIFUL RUINS
Jess Walter
The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poetsreturns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962…and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later. available at our store

 

 

MR. PENUMBRA’S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE
Robin Sloan
Booksellers and book lovers alike will adore charming Mr. Penumbra and his towering stacks of mysterious, code-filled tomes, as well as the array of eccentric old men that make up the store’s late-night clientele. I now want to keep a log of our bookshop’s customers by Mr. Penumbra’s criteria: ‘You must keep precise records of all purchases. Time. Amount. The customer’s appearance. His state of mind. How he asks for the book. How he receives it. Does he appear to be injured. Is he wearing a sprig of rosemary on his hat. And so on.’ Wonderful!  available at our store

 

BROKEN HARBOR
Tana French
The latest New York Times bestseller from the acclaimed author of In the Woods and Faithful Place. Broken Harbor is quintessential French—a damaged hero, an unspeakable crime, and an intricately plotted mystery—nestled in a timely examination of lives shattered by the global economic downturn. Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy always brings in the killer. Always. That’s why he’s landed this high-profile triple homicide. At first, he thinks it’s going to be simple, but the murder scene holds terrifying memories for Scorcher. Memories of something that happened there back when he was a boy. available at our store

 

ISTANBUL PASSAGE
Joseph Kanon
The New York Times bestselling tale of an American undercover agent in 1945 Istanbul who must navigate a murky world of compromise and betrayal. Leon Bauer is given one last routine assignment. But when the job goes fatally wrong—an exchange of gunfire, a body left in the street, a potential war criminal on his hands—Leon is plunged into a tangle of intrigue, shifting loyalties, and moral uncertainty. How do you do the right thing when there are only bad choices to be made?
available at our store