Reading for Pleasure "Life without literature is death." Latin proverb
NOVELS THEN WE CAME TO THE END by Joshua Ferris Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Joshua Ferris brilliantly depicts is family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks. With a demon's eye for the details that make life worth noticing, Joshua Ferris tells a true and funny story about survival in life's strangest environmentâ€”the one we pretend is normal five days a week.
ROOM by Emma Donoghue To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him and she devises a bold escape plan. Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing. The Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village.
CROOKED LETTER, C ROOKED LETTER by Tom Franklin A powerful and resonant novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells the riveting story of two boyhood friends, torn apart by circumstance, who are brought together again by a terrible crime in a small Mississippi town. An extraordinary novel that seamlessly blends elements of crime and Southern literary fiction.
STILTSVILLE by Susanna Daniel Susanna Daniel weaves the beauty, violence, and humanity of Miami's coming-of-age with an enduring story of a marriage's beginning, maturity, and heartbreaking demise.
THE LONELY POLYGAMIST by Bradley Udall The title character of Udall's second novel, The Lonely Polygamist, is 45-year-old Golden Richards, husband of four and father of 28. With such an army to support, Golden, a Utah contractor, can't afford to turn his nose up at a lucrative job, so he's ignoring his Christian convictions and building a brothel in the neighboring state of Nevada. He lets his devout wives and church friends believe that the project is a home for seniors. The Lonely Polygamist is a story of an American family - with its inevitable dysfunctionality, heartbreak, and comedy - pushed to its outer limits.
ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING by Janelle Brown When Paul Miller’s pharmaceutical company goes public, making his family IPO millionaires, his wife, Janice, is sure this is the windfall she’s been waiting years for — until she learns, via messengered letter, that her husband is divorcing her (for her tennis partner!) and cutting her out of the new fortune. Janice and her two daughters wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, mean girls, country club ladies, evangelical neighbors, their own demons, and each other, and in the process they become achingly sympathetic characters we can’t help but root for, even as the world they live in epitomizes everything wrong with the American Dream.
STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova Alice Howland is a Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children. One day, Alice sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home. After a few doctors' appointments and medical tests, Alice has her diagnosis, and it's a shocker -- she has early-onset Alzheimer's disease. A hauntingly accurate portrayal of a young woman's descent into Alzheimer's Disease from the prime of life and the loftiest of cerebral heights.
EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY C LOSE by Jonathan Safran Foer Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, and correspondent with Stephen Hawking & Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way.
STRAIGHT MAN by Richard Russo Russo's protagonist is William Henry Devereaux, Jr., the reluctant chairman of the English department of a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt. Devereaux's reluctance is partly rooted in his character--he is a born anarchist-- and partly in the fact that his department is more savagely divided than the Balkans. In the course of a single week, Devereaux will have his nose mangled by an angry colleague, imagine his wife is having an affair with his dean, wonder if a curvaceous adjunct is trying to seduce him with peach pits, and threaten to execute a goose on local television. All this while coming to terms with his philandering father, the dereliction of his youthful promise, and the ominous failure of certain vital body functions. in short, Straight Man is side-splitting, true-to-life, witty, compassionate, and impossible to put down.
NOVELS WITH A TWIST THE UNNAMED by Joshua Ferris Disease is at the book's center, where it defines character, controls the narrative, and even dictates this novel's settings. Tim Farnsworth, a successful Manhattan litigator, finds himself suddenly compelled to walk -- out of his office, out of conversations, away from home. He can't anticipate an onset, can't choose where the walk will take him, stops only when exhausted, sleeps outdoors wherever he stops, and calls his wife to come get him when he wakes. This curious affliction has baffled medical experts around the globe and come perilously close to ruining what should be a happy life. Tim has a loving family, a successful law career and a beautiful suburban home, all of which he maintains spectacularly well until his feet start moving again.
THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE by Aimee Bender On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemonchocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she’s privy to secrets that most families keep hidden. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can’t discern.
GENTLEMEN AND PLAYERS by Joanne Harris For generations, privileged young men have attended St. Oswald's Grammar School for Boys, groomed for success by the likes of Roy Straitley, the eccentric Classics teacher who has been a fixture there for more than thirty years. This year, however, the wind of unwelcome change is blowing, and Straitley is finally, reluctantly, contemplating retirement. As the new term gets under way, a number of incidents befall students and faculty alike, beginning as small annoyances but soon escalating in both number and consequence. St. Oswald's is unraveling, and only Straitley stands in the way of its ruin.
DOUBLE BIND by Chris Bohjalian Nothing is what it at first seems. Not the bucolic Vermont back roads college sophomore Laurel Estabrook likes to bike. Not the savage assault she suffers toward the end of one of her rides. And certainly not Bobbie Crocker, the elderly man with a history of mental illness whom Laurel comes to know through her work at a Burlington homeless shelter in the years subsequent to the attack. A box of photographs and negatives discovered among Bobbie's meager possessions after his death lends credence to his tale of an earlier life as a successful photographer. Becoming obsessed with uncovering Bobbie's past, Laurel studies his photographs, tracking down every lead they provide into the mystery of his life before homelessness -- including links to the rich neighborhoods of her own Long Island childhood and to the earlier world of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, with its larger-thanlife characters, elusive desires, and haunting sorrows.
HISTORICAL FICTION WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
MARCH by Geraldine Brooks From Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic Little Women, Geraldine Brooks has animated the character of the absent father, March. Brooks follows March as he leaves behind his family to aid the Union cause in the Civil War. His experiences will utterly change his marriage and challenge his most ardently held beliefs. A lushly written, wholly original tale steeped in the details of another time.
SKELETONS AT THE FEAST by Chris Bohjalian The Emmerich family has been farming on their vast estate in Germany for hundreds of years. After World War I, their land became part of Poland, so when Hitler reunites their part of the world with Germany, they are thrilled. But none of the family members realize the extent of evil the Nazis have wrought until they are forced to flee their land and a journey through the ravaged countryside leads them to confront the horrors of the Nazi realm. Listeners will be captivated by these unforgettable characters who struggle to find hope and a reason to believe in the fundamental goodness of people in the waning years of World War II.
ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin Part love story, part literary mystery, Melanie Benjamin’s spellbinding historical novel leads readers on an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole, to tell the story of a woman whose own life became the stuff of legend. Her name is Alice Liddell Hargreaves, but to the world she’ll always be known simply as “Alice,” the girl who followed the White Rabbit into a wonderland of Mad Hatters.
THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake American radio gal Frankie Bard is the first woman to report from the Blitz in London. She sends dispatches that crackle across the Atlantic ocean imploring listeners to pay attention as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Meanwhile, in a small town on Cape Cod, Iris James hears Frankie's broadcasts and knows that it is only a matter of time before the war arrives on Franklin's shores. In charge of the town's mail, Iris believes that her job is to deliver the mail and keep people's secrets.
THE GUERNSEY LITERARY & POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society begins in January 1946, when popular author Juliet Ashton, much like her fellow British citizens, is emerging from the dark days of World War II. As Juliet exchanges a series of letters with her publisher and her best friend, readers immediately warm to this author in search of a new subject in the aftermath of war. Drawn together by their love of books and affection for each other, the unforgettable characters of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society collectively tell a moving tale of endurance and friendship. Through the chorus of voices they have created, the authors have composed a rich tale that celebrates the power of hope and human connection in the shadows of war.
THE HELP by Kathryn Stockert Miss Eugenia Phelan ("Skeeter" to her friends) is a young woman of privilege who enjoys her fellow Junior Leaguers but sometimes finds their ways at odds with her own principles. She plays the part of her station in 1960s Mississippi but can't help feeling dissatisfied with keeping house and acting as recording secretary at league meetings, and yearns for something more. Minny, Miss Celia, Aibileen, and Yule May are maids employed by Skeeter's friends. Each woman cooks, cleans, and cares for her boss's children, suffering slights and insults silently and sharing household secrets only among themselves. Skeeter contacts a New York book editor with an idea. Soon she's conducting clandestine meetings with "the help" to capture their stories for publication. It is a daring and foolhardy plan, one certain to endanger not only the positions but the lives of the very women whose stories she transcribes -- as well as her own.
THE IRRESISTIBLE HENRY HOUSE by Lisa Grunwald In a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. From his earliest days as a “practice baby” through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney’s Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles’ London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored—and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust.
MEMOIRS THE TENDER BAR by J. R. Moehringer In a place that inspired Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby, young J. R. Moehringer lives with his single mother and mercurial grandfather in a cramped home with a rather-too-colorful cast of strident aunts, down-on-their-luck uncles, and their various offspring. It is 1970s Manhasset, Long Island, and J.R. is lonely and adrift. Desperate to escape, J.R.'s mother takes him on long drives, where his dreams are fueled by the sight of the deep, plush lawns and dazzling, gated mansions that served as Fitzgerald's East Egg. But it is J.R.'s introduction to the local pub and its vibrant constellation of characters that would have the greatest effect on him.
THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeanette Walls Gossip columnist Jeanette Walls dishes the dirt on her own troubled youth in this remarkable story of survival against overwhelming odds. The child of charismatic vagabonds who left their offspring to raise themselves, Walls spent decades hiding an excruciating childhood filled with poverty and shocking neglect. But this is no pity party. What shines through on every page of this beautifully written family memoir is Walls's love for her deeply flawed parents and her recollection of occasionally wonderful times.
A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY by Haven Kimmel When Haven Kimmel was born in 1965, Mooreland, Indiana was a sleepy little hamlet of three hundred people. In her family, Zippy has the ideal supporting cast: her beautiful yet dour brother, Danny, a seeker of the true faith; her sweetly sensible sister, Lindy, who wins the local beauty pageant; her mother, Delonda, who dispenses wisdom from the corner of the couch; and her father, Bob Jarvis, who never met a bet he didn't take. Kimmel treats readers to a heroine as appealing, naive, and knowing as Scout Finch as she navigates the quirky adult world surrounding Zippy.
SCI-FI/FANTASY NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro One of Kazuo Ishiguro's greatest novelistic skills is his restraint. A writer who never reveals more than we need to know, he doles out details in small, carefully rationed increments, like delicacies too rich to squander -- leaving readers craving more. Nowhere is this skill more apparent than in this dark, dystopian tale of three former friends, all alumni of a British boarding school, who unravel a horrifying secret about their alma mater.
THE EYRE AFFAIR (THE THURSDAY NEXT SERIES) by Jasper Fforde In Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of BrontĂŤ's novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career.
BOOKS GEARED FOR TEENS (but a good read for adults) THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zukas Set during World War II in Germany, this groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist-books. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
THE HUNGER GAMES (A TRILOGY) by Suzanne Collins In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survived.
MYSTERIES /THRILLERS THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael Connelly
IN THE WOODS by Tana French
CHILD 44 by Tom Rob Smith
IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER (THE CLARE FERGUSSON SERIES) by Julia Spencer-Fleming
THE LAST CHILD by John Hart
CASE HISTORIES (THE JACKSON BRODIE SERIES) by Kate Atkinson
THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE (THE FLAVIA DE LUCE SERIES) by Alan Bradley
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (THE MILLENNIUM TRILOGY) by Stieg Larsson
THE TOURIST by Olen Steinhauer
STILL LIFE (THE CHIEF INSPECTOR ARMAND GAMACHE SERIES) by Louise Penney
MAISIE DOBBS (SERIES) by Jacqueline Winspear
JAR CITY & (THE REYKJAVIK THRILLER SERIES) by Arnaldur Indridason