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Book Discussions January 2016

December 25, 2015 by Reader's Connection

We have inspirational fiction, inspirational nonfiction, true crime, a murder mystery, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, the return of the Duncan family and more.

And this isn’t even the whole list. When I quit fooling with the eggnog and dust myself off, notices will be posted about a monthly book discussion at Spades Park (as opposed to the weekly shared reading there).

Until that time:

On Monday, January 4th, from 6:00 to 7:45 p.m., eggs will be the subject of Glendale Library‘s Cooking Chats.

The Perfect Egg: A Fresh Take on Recipes for Morning, Noon, and Night

 

The Perfect Egg: A Fresh Take on Recipes for Morning, Noon, and Night by Teri Lyn Fisher & Jenny Park

 

Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient

Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient by Michael Ruhlman

Egg is also available as a downloadable e-book.

 

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites

 

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque

 

 

Joanne Huist Smith’s The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle will be discussed at the Franklin Road Library on Monday, January 4th at 6:30 p.m.

The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas MiracleFor readers of Richard Paul Evans and Greg Kincaid comes The 13th Gift, a heartwarming Christmas story about how a random act of kindness transformed one of the bleakest moments in a family’s history into a time of strength and love. After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children–especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their “True Friends.” As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season. — Baker & Taylor

The 13th Gift is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and an audiobook on CD.

 

 

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans will be discussed at the Wayne Library on Monday, January 4th at 6:30 p.m.

The Walk
Evans’ latest inspirational novel is the first in a planned series about a man who sets out to walk across the country in the wake of a personal tragedy. At 28, Alan Christoffersen is the head of his own successful ad company, and madly in love with his wife, McKale. His life seems truly charmed, until McKale has an accident while horseback riding. She is left paralyzed, and to stay by her side, Alan leaves his business in the hands of his partner, Kyle, which proves to be a terrible misstep when Kyle cruelly betrays him. Then McKale dies. Bereft, Alan throws off the trappings of his old life and, with little more than a backpack and a tent, sets out to walk from his home in Bellevue, Washington, all the way to Key West, Florida. The idea of a man leaving on a soul-searching cross-country trek is an intriguing one, and the pages turn quickly. Future installments will prove whether Evans’ concept holds up, but this initial offering is definitely a journey worth taking. — Booklist

The Walk is also available as a downloadable e-book and an audiobook on CD.

 

 

Central Library will host a discussion of David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers on Tuesday, January 5th at 6:00.

The Wright BrothersTwo-time Pulitzer Prize winner McCullough exhibits his artist’s touch in re-creating the lives of the Wright brothers, their father, and their sister Katharine from historical documents. Mining their letters, notebooks, and diaries, McCullough shows the Wright brothers (snubbed by the British as mere bicycle mechanics) for the important technoscientists they were. With only high school educations, they personified self-reliance and ingenuity, making their own calculations and testing their mechanical skills as they experimented with gliders. Their solution to controlling the gliders’ flight was wing warping, enabling the gliders to bank like a bird’s wings. As early engine designers and mechanics, when they couldn’t find a light enough engine, they designed one that their mechanic built in six weeks. A few days after Langley’s $70,000 failure, the Wright brothers made several powered flights–for less than $1,000–to prove that humans could fly. When the US military rejected their services, the Wrights signed a contract with a French syndicate. From 1910 on, the brothers were much occupied by business and patent infringement lawsuits. Wilbur contracted typhoid and died in 1912, but Orville lived until 1948. The brothers were remarkable for their analytical minds, their skiIl as early pilots, and their brilliance as experimental scientists. This work is their great, eminently readable story. — Choice

The Wright Brothers is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.

 

 

Still Life, a mystery by Louise Penny, will be discussed at the Warren Library on Thursday, January 7th at 10:30 a.m.

Still LifeThe residents of a tiny Canadian village called Three Pines are shocked when the body of Miss Jane Neal is found in the woods. Miss Neal, the village’s retired schoolteacher and a talented amateur artist, has been a good friend to most of the townsfolk, so her loss is keenly felt. At first, her death appears to be a tragic accident–it’s deer-hunting season, and it looks a stray hunter’s arrow killed her. But some folks are suspicious, and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Montreal Surete is called in to investigate. Accompanying Gamache are his loyal assistant Beauvoir and Yvette Nichol, a new addition to Gamache’s team. The trio soon finds that the seemingly peaceful, friendly village hides dark secrets. The truth is both bizarre and shocking, even to the jaded Gamache and his team. This is a real gem of a book that slowly draws the reader into a beautifully told, lyrically written story of love, life, friendship, and tragedy. And it’s a pretty darn good mystery too. — Booklist

Still Life is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and in large print.

 

 

The Portrait of a Lady

I announced about a month ago that the Shared Reading Group at Spades Park Library  had finished what they were reading, and would begin something new in January.

Come and listen to the group members read from The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James on January 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

If you wish to read aloud, you’ll probably get a chance. If not, not. Refreshments are served.

 

 

 

The Family Business 3

 

The Flanner House Library will host a discussion of Carl Weber’s The Family Business 3 on Monday, January 11th at 6:30 p.m.

The aforementioned Duncan family makes its third appearance, and reviews on GoodReads are enthusiastic.

The Family Business 3 is also available as a downloadable e-book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gilead will be discussed at the Irvington Library on Thursday, January 14th at 1:30 p.m.

GileadThe wait since 1981 and Housekeeping is over. Robinson returns with a second novel that, however quiet in tone and however delicate of step, will do no less than tell the story of America-and break your heart.A reverend in tiny Gilead, Iowa, John Ames is 74, and his life is at its best-and at its end. Half a century ago, Ames’s first wife died in childbirth, followed by her new baby daughter, and Ames, seemingly destined to live alone, devoted himself to his town, church, and people-until the Pentecost Sunday when a young stranger named Lila walked into the church out of the rain and, from in back, listened to Ames’s sermon, then returned each Sunday after. The two married-Ames was 67-had a son, and life began all over again. But not for long. In the novel’s present (mid-1950s), Ames is suffering from the heart trouble that will soon bring his death. And so he embarks upon the writing of a long diary, or daily letter-the pages of Gilead-addressed to his seven-year-old son so he can read it when he’s grown and know not only about his absent father but his own history, family, and heritage. And what a letter it is! Not only is John Ames the most kind, observant, sensitive, and companionable of men to spend time with, but his story reaches back to his patriarchal Civil War great-grandfather, fiery preacher and abolitionist; comes up to his grandfather, also a reverend and in the War; to his father; and to his own life, spent in his father’s church. This long story of daily life in deep Middle America-addressed to an unknown and doubting future-is never in the slightest way parochial or small, but instead it evokes on the pulse the richest imaginable identifying truths of what America was.Robinson has composed, with its cascading perfections of symbols, a novel as big as a nation, as quiet as thought, and moving as prayer. Matchless and towering. — Kirkus Reviews, August 2004

Gilead is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and in large print.

 

 

Joe McGinniss’s true crime book Blind Faith will be discussed at the Lawrence Library on Tuesday, January 19th at 10:15 a.m.

Blind FaithRob Marshall, member of the country-club set of Toms River, N.J., led a freewheeling life of casino gambling, parties and astronomical debt. But Rob was also a civic leader and family man, so his three teenaged sons couldn’t believe it when their father was put on trial for having their mother, Maria, murdered in order to collect $1.5 million in insurance and pursue a sexual affair with a neighbor’s wife. This true-crime book is about the three boys’ crumbling faith in their smooth-talking, high-flying father; on that level, it is often moving and heart-wrenching. It also concerns a suburban coterie’s faith in a you-can-have-anything-you-want philosophy and the social and class tensions within one community. Rob’s mistress was a friend of a high-ranking New Jersey political figure; drug dealing, loansharking and conspiracy were elements in the unfolding courtroom drama that McGinniss skillfully re-creates. — Publishers Weekly, November 1988

Blind Faith is also available as a downloadable e-book.

 

 

portalPortal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group, will begin its 2016 discussions at Glendale Library on Sunday, January 24th at 1:00 pm.

As is usually the case, there is not a specific book to be discussed. Instead, there is a theme: “Drugs, Booze, and Science Fiction: From weak beer to exotic thionite, science fiction and fantasy stories about substances that alter the mind in strange and surprising ways.”

 

 

Cookbooks about soups and stews will be discussed at the Nora Library on Monday, January 25th at 6:00 pm

Fine Cooking Soups & Stews : No-Fail Recipes for Every Season1. Find a cookbook from the library that fits this month’s theme. (The book pictured here is just one possibility. You can search our catalog for soups or stews.)
2. Read the cookbook and sample a few recipes.
3. Pick up a review form, fill it out, and bring it with you to the meeting.
4. Optional: make a recipe from the cookbook and bring samples to the meeting.
5. Join us for an enjoyable discussion of the cookbooks and some delicious taste testing.

Special Guests: Chefs Brad Nehrt and Karen Williams, Culinary Arts Instructors at the J. Everett Light Career Center

Don’t forget to register for the program by calling 275-4472 or by coming into the library and signing up at the Information Desk.

 

 

Jane Smiley’s novel Some Luck will be discussed at the Pike Library on Monday, January 25th at 6:30 p.m.

Some LuckIn her new work, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Smiley (A Thousand Acres) moves from the 1920s to the 1950s as she unfolds the life of Iowa farmers Rosanna and Walter Langdon and their five children: brilliant, mercurial Frank; animal-loving Joe, the real farmer of the bunch; sweet Lillian, who enters into a happy marriage that has repercussions for the rest of her family; iconoclastic, bookish Henry; and baby Claire. As the children grow up and sometimes move away, we get a wide-angle view of mid-century America; a cousin’s experiences with radicals in Chicago and San Francisco also take us beyond the hardscrabble life of the farm, as does the advent of World War II, which leads to Frank’s enlistment and eventually to Cold War rumblings. Told in beautiful, you-are-there language, the narrative lets ordinary events accumulate to give us a significant feel of life at the time, with the importance and dangers of farming particularly well portrayed. In the end, though, this is the story of parents and children, of hope and disappointment, with Frank’s prickly and uncomfortable story the fulcrum. — Library Journal

Some Luck is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.

 

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LibraryReads December 2015 – January 2016

December 21, 2015 by Reader's Connection

libraryreads_2016_1_maybedone
LibraryReads has left ten gifts at the foot of our holiday map. May everyone’s holidays be safe, sane, happy. May your journeys be without serious mishaps, may peace be with you.

My Name Is Lucy BartonMy Name Is Lucy BartonSet in the mid-1980s, Lucy Barton, hospitalized for nine weeks, is surprised when her estranged mother shows up at her bedside. Her mother talks of local gossip, but underneath the banalities, Lucy senses the love that cannot be expressed. This is the story that Lucy must write about, the one story that has shaped her entire life. A beautiful lyrical story of a mother and daughter and the love they share. — Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Sara arrives in the small town of Broken Wheel to visit her pen pal Amy, only to discover Amy has just died. The tale of how she brings the love of books and reading that she shared with Amy to the residents of Broken Wheel is just a lovely read. Any book lover will enjoy Sara’s story and that of the friends she makes in Broken Wheel. If ever a town needed a bookstore, it is Broken Wheel; the healing power of books and reading is made evident by this heartwarming book. — Barbara Clark-Greene, Groton Public Library, Groton, CT

 

 

 

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Benjamin transports readers to 1960s Manhattan. This story gives us the chance to spy on Truman Capote’s close friendship with Babe Paley and his society “swans,” and the betrayal and scandal that drove them apart. I loved the description of the Black and White Ball. — Emily Weiss, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Ashley Bell

This is a thrilling novel that caught me by surprise. Bibi Blair was diagnosed with brain cancer and astounds her doctor by being cured the day after her diagnosis. Why was she saved? A girl named Ashley Bell can provide the answers she seeks. Reality and dreams mix together in this unique narrative. Readers will be compelled to rush through to get to the ending. — Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, CA

 

 

 

 

 

American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis

American Housewife: Stories

In a series of short stories, Helen Ellis picks up the rock of American domesticity and shows us what’s underneath. While it’s not always pretty, it is pretty hilarious, in the darkest, most twisted of ways. The ladies in these stories seem to be living lives that are enviable in the extreme, but then slowly, the layers are pulled away, and the truth is revealed. — Jennifer Dayton, Darien Library, Darien, CT

 

 

 

 

 

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson (A print version of The Road to Little Dribbling will go on order soon.)

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain

A slightly more curmudgeonly Bill Bryson recreates his beloved formula of travel writing and social commentary. This book is a lovely reminder of all the amazing natural beauty and historically significant sites found in the United Kingdom. Even though Bryson extols the virtues of his adopted homeland, he never lets up on the eccentricities and stupidity he encounters. Bryson’s still laugh-out loud funny and this book won’t disappoint. — Susannah Connor, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ

 

 

 

 

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

The Things We Keep

A sweet story of love and loss set in a residential care facility. Two of its youngest residents, a man and a woman both diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, fall in love. Their story is intertwined with the stories of other residents and employees at the facility, including a recently widowed cook and her seven-year-old daughter. A moving and improbably uplifting tale. — Elizabeth Eastin, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton, NY

 

 

 

 

 

Ornaments of Death: A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery by Jane K. Cleland

Ornaments of Death

The Josie Prescott mystery series–featuring likable characters and fascinating facts about antiques–continues to please in this latest entry. Josie is dealing with her annual Christmas party while trying to unravel the mystery of a missing relative and the disappearance of two valuable seventeenth-century miniatures. A nicely twisted mystery in a fun and festive setting. — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

 

 

 

 

Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin

Even Dogs in the Wild

Readers rejoice! John Rebus has come out of retirement. Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox are working an important case and ask for his help. Then an attempt is made on the life of his longtime nemesis, Big Ger Cafferty. Are the cases connected? A top notch entry in a beloved series. — Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC

 

 

 

 

 

 

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

What She Knew

Rachel Jenner is out for a walk with her son Ben when, after allowing him to run ahead to a swing, he vanishes. The investigation focuses on Rachel due to her recent divorce, and as a result, Rachel becomes undone. This is a psychological thriller full of suspense that will have you guessing until the very end. When all is revealed, the characters and action of the crime will stay with you long after you read the final page. I recommend this book to every fan of the genre. — Annice Sevett, Willmar Public Library, Willmar, MN
 

 

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If my career as a blogger falls through, can I earn a living eating other people’s sins?

December 18, 2015 by Reader's Connection

The Sin-eater: A BreviaryPoet, essayist, story-writer and funeral director Thomas Lynch shares a quotation from a history of funeral directing, about

a curious functionary, a sort of male scapegoat called the “sin-eater.” It was believed in some places that by eating a loaf of bread and drinking a bowl of beer over a corpse, and by accepting a six-pence, a man was able to take unto himself the sins of the deceased, whose ghost thereafter would no longer wander.

In The Sin-eater: A Breviary, Lynch offers a series of poems about an Irish sin-eater named Argyle. Two of them are reprinted here.

“The Sin-eater” and “Argyle’s Ejaculations”
from The Sin – Eater: A Breviary
By Thomas Lynch with photographs by Michael Lynch
©2011 by Thomas Lynch
Used by permission of Paraclete Press
www.paracletepress.com
The Sin-eater

Argyle the sin-eater came the day after–
a narrow, hungry man whose laughter
and the wicked upturn of his one eyebrow
put the local folks in mind of trouble.
But still they sent for him and set him down
amid their whispering contempts to make
his table near the dead man’s middle,
and brought him soda bread and bowls of beer
and candles, which he lit against the reek
that rose off that impenitent cadaver
though bound in skins and soaked in rosewater.
Argyle eased the warm loaf right and left
and downed swift gulps of beer and venial sin
then lit into the bread now leavened with
the corpse’s cardinal mischiefs, then he said,
“Six pence, I’m sorry.” And the widow paid him.
Argyle took his leave then, down the land
between hayricks and Friesians with their calves
considering the innocence in all
God’s manifest creation but for Man,
and how he’d perish but for sin and mourning.
Two parishes between here and the ocean:
a bellyful tonight is what he thought,
please God, and breakfast in the morning.

 

Argyle’s Ejacualations

Argyle’s preference in sins was legend.
The best of them were those the priests invented:
broken fasts or abstinence in Lent,
a tithe unpaid or Sunday morning passed
in honest, gainful labor or in bed.
He feasted full on Easter Duties missed
or some bad-mouthing of a Jesuit.
He relished churchly sins that had no flesh
or blood or bones, but only upset
some curate’s dictate on moral etiquette.
“God bless His Holiness in Rome, O Lord!”–
Argyle often ejacualated–
“And all Right Reverend Eminence & Graces,
and all the idle time they have to kill
concocting new sins for my evening meal.”
But then he’d dream that girl-child again,
defiled by some mannish violence who threw
herself to death, despairing, down a bog hole.
And when the parish house refused her requiems,
her people sent for Argyle to come
and undo by his dinner what the girl had done.
But Argyle knelt and wept and refused the bread,
and poured the bowl of bitters on the ground
and prayed, “God spare my hunger till that churchman’s dead.”

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Atomic science in ancient Rome: The Swerve

December 15, 2015 by Reader's Connection

The Swerve: How the World Became ModernThe Italian scholar Poggio Bracciolini (1380 – 1459) was a great book scavenger. He wandered into Germany and France, searching for manuscripts that might be valuable or significant. In 1417, something amazing fell into his hands while he rummaged at a monastery.

Earlier, he had encountered references to the epic poem On the Nature of Things, by the Roman author Titus Lucretius Carus (circa 99 – circa 55 B.C.E); but Bracciolini hadn’t known that any copies existed. And one was here.

Stephen Greenblatt won the 2012 Nonfiction Pulitzer Prize for his book The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, which tells the story of how Bracciolini discovered and made use of the manuscript; and how the re-emergence of that poem helped to trigger the Renaissance.

Even if you think Greenblatt’s subtitle is a bit overreaching, and even if you think he does too much speculating on where Bracciolini was at such and such a time–and even if you’re not likely to read On the Nature of ThingsThe Swerve is still a blast.

What did Lucretius (as the poet is commonly known) say in his poem?

1. The gods exist, but they don’t care much about us.

2. Praying to the gods is a waste of time.

3. There’s no reason to fear death, because there is no afterlife. No one suffers for having failed to pay attention to the gods.

4. Everything in the world is made up tiny particles that the Greek philosopher Epicurus and others had called “atoms.” This includes human beings and their souls. We’re atoms. Our world came into existence not because of divine activity, but because atoms “swerved” in a certain way.

5. Epicurus (341 – 271 B.C.E. ) was, according to Lucretius, “the first to lift that light whose beam illumines the good in life,” and was the “glory of Greece.” You can click on the yellow icon to watch a School of Life summary of Epicurus’s philosophy. He talked some atomic science, but this was mostly used as a support for his philosophy, whereas Lucretius talked some philosophy, but his greatest pleasure was to “work man’s heart free of religion’s garrotte-knot” by talking science.

On the Nature of Things
atom
In his preface to The Swerve, Stephen Greenblatt writes that when he first read Lucretius, “On the Nature of Things struck me as an astonishingly convincing account of the way things actually are. To be sure, I easily grasped that many features of this ancient account now seem absurd. What else would we expect? How accurate will our account of the universe seem two thousand years from now?”

The library owns a number of translations of On the Nature of Things. I’m a little over halfway through Frank O. Copley’s translation (© 1977 by W. W. Norton & Company) from which the following is reprinted with the publisher’s permission. Lucretius is discussing the elements that make up the souls of humans and other animals.

Heat, now, the soul does have, and puts to use
when wrath boils up and eyes flash hot with fire;
wind it has, too, cold comrade of our fears,
that makes us shiver and unstrings the knees.
And then there’s air, pacific, static thing,
that comes with tranquil mind and smiling face.
But they have more of heat whose hearts burn high
and with slight cause flare up and seethe with fury.
High among these we rank the savage lion,
who often roars to burst his lungs, and snarls,
and can’t contain the wrath that floods his breast.
But in the deer’s chill heart there’s more of wind;
it sends swift icy currents through his flesh,
and causes a trembling motion in his limbs.
But cattle are governed more by placid air;
the touch of wrath is never touched too close,
spreading its clouds of black and blinding smoke,
nor are they numbed by terror’s icy shafts:
they stand midway twixt deer and savage lions.
Just so with man, though education give
whole groups a like high gloss, still there remain
in each man’s heart marks of his basic nature.
Never imagine all vice can be uprooted.
One man too readily flies to wrath and rage,
one is too quickly troubled by fear, a third
takes things a bit more calmly than is right.
In other ways, too, the natures of men must vary,
each having its consequent traits of character.
I cannot now expound their hidden cause
nor find a name for each configuration
of atoms, from which these varying traits arise.
This one thing, though, I see I can affirm:
in human nature, the problems that remain
insoluble by reason are so petty
that nothing prevents our living as gods should live.

Lucretius’s account of our world rubbed some people the wrong way in his own time, and some religious authorities in Poggio Bracciolini’s time weren’t happy about it. But this rediscovered work had its influence on philosophers and scientists down through the years, and it influenced Thomas Jefferson when he was helping to write our Declaration of Independence.

In my experience, On the Nature of Things is most enjoyable when read aloud, emphatically, flamboyantly, which may not go over well at Starbucks. As I say, you don’t have to read Lucretius–and you certainly don’t have to be a Lucretian–to enjoy Greenblatt’s book.

The Swerve is also available as a downloadable e-book and an audiobook on CD.

 

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Cream of the Crop: Best Books of 2015

December 12, 2015 by Reader's Connection

From Selector Emily Chandler: 2015 has been a fantastic year for literature. As the year closes out, the best of 2015 lists have been rolling including such illustrious resources as the New York Times Top 100, Amazon Best Books of the Year, and Kirkus. With such a numerous variety of titles on these lists, readers will not be hard-pressed to find something that will appeal to them! And for a look at some of the best of the best, check out some of these titles below that have made multiple best books lists and available for reserve in our catalog in multiple formats!

 

Beatty, Paul The Sellout

The SelloutRaised in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens–improbably smack in the middle of downtown L.A.–the narrator of The Sellout resigned himself to the fate of all other middle-class Californians: “to die in the same bedroom you’d grown up in, looking up at the crack in the stucco ceiling that had been there since ’68 quake.” Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist at Riverside Community College, he spent his childhood as the subject in psychological studies, classic experiments revised to include a racially-charged twist. He also grew up believing this pioneering work might result in a memoir that would solve their financial woes. But when his father is killed in a shoot out with the police, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral and some maudlin what-ifs. Fueled by this injustice and the general disrepair of his down-trodden hometown, he sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident–the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins, our narrator initiates a course of action–one that includes reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school–destined to bring national attention. These outrageous events land him with a law suit heard by the Supreme Court, the latest in a series of cases revolving around the thorny issue of race in America. The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the most sacred tenets of the U.S. Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality–the black Chinese restaurant– Provided by publisher.

The Sellout is also available as a downloadable e-book.

 

 

Berlin, Lucia A Manual for Cleaning Women

A Manual for Cleaning Women

“In the same arena as Alice Munro” (Lydia Davis) “In the field of short fiction, Lucia Berlin is one of America’s best kept secrets. That’s it. Flat out. No mitigating conditions.” (Paul Metcalf) A Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With her trademark blend of humor and melancholy, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday–uncovering moments of grace in the cafeterias and Laundromats of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Northern California upper classes, and from the perspective of a cleaning woman alone in a hotel dining room in Mexico City. The women of Berlin’s stories are lost, but they are also strong, clever, and extraordinarily real. They are hitchhikers, hard workers, bad Christians. With the wit of Lorrie Moore and the grit of Raymond Carver, they navigate a world of jockeys, doctors, and switchboard operators. They laugh, they mourn, they drink. Berlin, a highly influential writer despite having published little in her lifetime, conjures these women from California, Mexico, and beyond. Lovers of the short story will not want to miss this remarkable collection from a master of the form.– Provided by publisher.

A Manual for Cleaning Women is also available as a downloadable e-book.

 

Ferrante, Elena The Story of the Lost Child

The Story of the Lost ChildThe … saga of two women: the brilliant, bookish Elena and the fiery, uncontainable Lila. In this book, both are adults; life’s great discoveries have been made, its vagaries and losses have been suffered. Through it all, the women’s friendship, examined in its every detail over the course of four books, remains the gravitational center of their lives–Amazon.com.

The Story of the Lost Child is also available as a downloadable e-book and a downloadable audiobook.

Glenn, the regular Reader’s Connection blogger, enjoyed Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels.

 

Franzen, Jonathan Purity

PurityYoung Pip Tyler doesn’t know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she’s saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she’s squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother–her only family–is hazardous. But she doesn’t have a clue who her father is, why her mother chose to live as a recluse with an invented name, or how she’ll ever have a normal life. Enter the Germans. A glancing encounter with a German peace activist leads Pip to an internship in South America with The Sunlight Project, an organization that traffics in all the secrets of the world–including, Pip hopes, the secret of her origins. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic provocateur who rose to fame in the chaos following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now on the lam in Bolivia, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn’t understand, and the intensity of her response to him upends her conventional ideas of right and wrong. Purity is a grand story of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder. The author of The Corrections and Freedom has imagined a world of vividly original characters–Californians and East Germans, good parents and bad parents, journalists and leakers–and he follows their intertwining paths through landscapes as contemporary as the omnipresent Internet and as ancient as the war between the sexes. Purity is the most daring and penetrating book yet by one of the major writers of our time. — Dust jacket.

Purity is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD, in large print.

 

Groff, Lauren Fates and Furies

Fates and FuriesFrom the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia, an exhilarating novel about marriage, creativity, art, and perception. Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation. Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated andremarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart — Provided by publisher.

Fates and Furies is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook and an audiobook on CD, and is on order in large print.

 

Hallberg, Garth Risk City on Fire

City on Fire

The all-too-human individuals who live within this extraordinary first novel are: Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s biggest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Sam, two Long Island teenagers seduced by downtown’s nascent punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter; his spunky, West Coast-transplant neighbor; and the detective trying to figure out what they all have to do with a shooting in Central Park. From post-Vietnam youth culture to the fiscal crisis, from a lushly appointed townhouse on Sutton Place to a derelict squat on East 3rd Street, this city on fire is at once recognizable and completely unexpected. And when the infamous blackout of July 13th, 1977 plunges it into darkness, each of these entangled lives will be changed, irrevocably. — Provided by the publisher

City on Fire is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and an audiobook on CD.

 

Hannah, Kristin The Nightingale

The Nightingale

An epic love story and family drama set at the dawn of World War II”–Provided by publisher.
“Viann and Isabelle have always been close despite their differences. Younger, bolder sister Isabelle lives in Paris while Viann lives a quiet and content life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. When World War II strikes and Antoine is sent off to fight, Viann and Isabelle’s father sends Isabelle to help her older sister cope. As the war progresses, it’s not only the sisters’ relationship that is tested, but also their strength and their individual senses of right and wrong. With life as they know it changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Viann and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions”–Provided by publisher.

The Nightingale is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.

 

Hawkins, Paula The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning, flashing past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stopping at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. Their life, as she sees it, is perfect … until she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but now everything is changed. Rachel goes to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? — Provided by publisher.

The Girl on the Train is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.

And if you like The Girl on the Train, you might be interested in The Infatuations, by Javier Marias. A woman gets used to watching a couple eat breakfast at a café in Madrid, and something horrible happens.

 

Johnson, Adam Fortune Smiles: Stories

Fortune Smiles: StoriesWinner of the National Book Award! In six masterly stories, Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal. “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine” follows a former warden of a Stasi prison in East Germany who vehemently denies his past, even as pieces of it are delivered in packages to his door. “Nirvana,” portrays a programmer whose wife has a rare disease finding solace in a digital simulacrum of the president of the United States. In “Hurricanes Anonymous” a young man searches for the mother of his son in a Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And in the unforgettable title story, Johnson returns to his signature subject, North Korea, depicting two defectors from Pyongyang who are trying to adapt to their new lives in Seoul, while one cannot forget the woman he left behind– Provided by publisher.

Fortune Smiles is also available as a downloadable e-book and a downloadable audiobook, and is on order in large print.

 

Stradal, J. Ryan Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine, and a dashing sommelier, he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club. — Provided by publisher.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and an audiobook on CD.

 

Yanagihara, Hanya A Little Life

A Little Life

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever. — Provided by publisher.

A Little Life is also available as a downloadable e-book.

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