Poignant and all-encompassing, Animal Dreams is a breathtaking exploration of emotions and relationships. When Codi Noline revisits her past upon her return to her hometown in Arizona, she learns about herself and her place in the world. Told in Barbara Kingsolver's classic dual narrative, this novel explores the depths of both familial and romantic love, illness, environmental crisis, and community—all tied together by Native American imagery.
A Thousand Acres
Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel is the modern retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear. When aging Larry Cook decides to divide his property among his three daughters and his youngest daughter, Caroline, thinks he is crazy; she is shut out. The turmoil that ensues brings truths to light concerning marriage, loss, abuse and aging. A book that touches us all.
The Secret History
After all the commotion surrounding The Goldfinch, I had to pick up Donna Tartt’s first book. Wow. Count me #5,000,000 of Donna Tartt’s fans. It’s remarkable (and a true test to Tartt’s talents) this this book has held up to today. I don’t even know what to say about it except that it’s astonishing, the characters are real, and you’ll turn the final page with the heaviest of hearts.
A Lesson Before Dying
I consider this one of the most important books of the last 20 years. It takes the core of what we define as humanity and love against a justice system that may not have room for either sentiment. Jefferson is unforgettable and remains with me as a standard for compassion and understanding. You must read this.
This is the first collection by the great humorist and one of the funniest books I have ever read. Before David Sedaris became a household name, before he became a perennial best-selling author and won the Thurber Prize for Humor, he gave us Barrel Fever. His first published work, it is written fresh off a lack of success at several careers and a string of odd jobs. It is perhaps his rawest collection and essential to appreciate his canon.
What an incredible, beautiful little volume. For the entire history of seamanship until just 300 years ago, sailors were unable to measure longitude. Basically, they were lost unless they could see land. John Harrison set out to make a clock that would keep perfect time at sea, ignoring the fact that it hadn’t yet been done with a clock on land. The result was unhindered global exploration.
If you've never read this book, you are missing out on one of the all-time classics of autobiography. The richness of McCourt's language and resiliency triumphs over the almost unimaginable poverty of his Irish childhood. An extraordinary book.
The Perfect Storm
In 1991 a confluence of weather events created a “perfect storm”, generating a tempest of epic proportions in the Atlantic. Junger’s riveting depiction of the Gloucester fishing community before and during the storm is a gripping account of the harsh realities of this dangerous industry. Tragically, the herculean rescue efforts in search of the crew of doomed swordfishing boat the Andrea Gail are not a match for the wrath of nature.
How to Cook Everything
This is it. If you’re going to a desert island that has plenty of fresh food and a fantastic kitchen, this is the one cook book you should bring. The New York Times and almost every culinary award on the planet have decided nobody writes better about food than Mark Bittman. Full of real world, delicious, practical solutions. Indispensable.
Girl with a Pearl Earring
This book is historical romantic fiction at its best. However, don’t let the word “romantic” make you think less of the writing. Johannes Vermeer, the great 17th Dutch master, hires Griet as his new housekeeper. It is not long before things spiral out of control after he paints her portrait wearing his wife’s earrings. A great read that might be Chevalier’s best.
In the Heart of the Sea
This might be my favorite non-fiction book of all time. It has so much I barely know where to begin. It is a history of Nantucket, a history of American whaling, and one of our country’s great adventure stories. The tragedy of the whaleship Essex inspired another book you might have heard of, Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
Tell No One
Whenever anyone wants a recommendation for perfect mystery reading – this is always it! Wonderful writing and a moral dilemma that will absorb you for months. A riveting, exquisite mystery that will fascinate and stun you – Really does it get better than this?
Middlesex is quite possible my favorite book of all time. In 1974, Calliope Stephanides struggles to understand why she feels so different from the other girls her age. The explanation takes us back to Detroit in the 1960s, and even further to Greece in the 1920s, where a rare genetic mutation sets in motion the course of events that brings us to Calliope’s unusually complicate adolescence. This is storytelling at its best – unique plot, colorful characters, satisfying to the end!
The Devil in the White City
A biography of Daniel Burnham, chief architect of the spectacular 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and H.H. Holmes, a kind of architect himself who built a hotel near the fairgrounds—and proceeded to kill as many as 200 people there. As different as they are, the men are fascinating; and Larson's juxtaposition of their stories illustrates both the dreamy and the seamy sides of a booming American city in the 19th century. Vivid, illuminating, and gripping. A must-read.
Gilead is one of the most lauded novels of the 21st century, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Written as the fictional journal and memoir of John Ames, a Congregationalist minister in Iowa. He is dying and is writing an account of his life for his seven year-old son. A character study with rare impact that addresses family, faith, and small town life beauty and pain.
How envious I am of the person who picks it up for the first time and has the incomparable pleasure of meeting Inspector Armand Gamache. As you read, you discover the picturesque village of Three Pines located outside Montreal but oh so many worlds away. And in Three Pines one comes face to face with the many characters who inhabit the village with an alarming amount of murder and intrigue. With all of their flaws, you root for some, chuckle at others and embrace them all like family. Enjoy.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
This is my go to book when a customer needs to laugh. Years ago I embarrassed my entire family by belly laughing on vacation while reading this book poolside. I looked like a total crazy lady. For depression, I always prescribe one Bill Bryson memoir and call me in the morning!
Tatiania de Rosnay’s emotional and gripping novel, Sarah’s Key, sheds light on the actions of the French police in 1942. The story swaps back and forth between two characters, 10-year old Sarah, living through the Vel d’ Hiv’ roundup and Julia, a journalist doing a story on the 60th anniversary of the Vel d’ Hiv’. As Julia discovers Sarah’s story, she is compelled to learn every detail. The closer she gets to Sarah, other connections between the 2 become clear. I couldn’t put this book down and Sarah and Julia stayed with me long after I closed the book.
13 stories revolve around an ordinary costal Maine woman and her harsh yet painfully honest views on life, love, aging family. Struggling with insecurities..there is a small sense of humor and hope throughout. Great discussion book. A Pulitzer Prize Winner.
Cutting for Stone
When I reflect on novels that linger in my mind, it isn’t necessarily the plot or details but the visceral sensation, the sentence, the arc of the story that stays with me. I read this eleven years ago and to this day, I can vividly recall images, the fabric of relationships, and what is ultimately the love and tension of two brothers.
The simple facts: Marion and Shiva Stone are born as conjoined twins at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa, their mother Sister Mary Joseph Praise dies of complications from her hidden pregnancy, and their British surgeon father disappears. From this point, we are propelled into an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home. For me, the soul of the book is the intricacies of the work of healing, its power and its beauty.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
So much more than a science or history book, this ground breaking work and runaway bestseller is already considered a classic. It touches on issues of race, class, healthcare, law, body ownership, genealogy, lineage, medicine, privacy, and information gathering and sharing. Sound like it’s ripped from today’s headlines? The best history books always sounds that way.
Catherine the Great
Bob Massie is one hell of a gifted biographer! He takes the extraordinary story of Catherine, who started life as a minor German princess, and with her intellectual energy, curiosity, and aided by a shockingly ambitious 16 year old mother, becomes the Empress of Russia. Catherine proves herself to be a progressive leader, a shrewd military strategist, a calculating holder of power, and a woman who openly took on 12 lovers during her reign. Leading Russia for 34 years, she left her mark on Russia and Europe and enjoyed friendships and correspondence with the most elite of her time. Massie was blessed with her voluminous journals and his ability to shape a staggering amount of history into a story that feels contemporary and riveting. The history, the evolution of this extraordinary woman, confident and gifted, who as the New York Times said, “Catherine’s ruthless abrogation of any threat to the power she claimed is at least as delicious as it is deplorable.”… Yes— this book is first rate history and first rate delicious!
The Art of hearing Heartbeats
Do you want to be enchanted? Carried off to another time? Another place? Witness an unlikely love story? Add a mystery twist?—Treat yourself to this absolutely stunning story.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
Dark, masterful writing in this debut novel set in war-ravaged Chechnya. Raw, intimate characters unfold in a powerful story of family, love and fate. I savored every word.
All the Light We Cannot See
A blind French girl. An orphaned German boy. A relentless Nazi soldier searching for a rare gem... these are only 3 of the beautifully developed, yet imperfect characters in Anthony Doerr’s WWII historical fiction novel. It has such an emotional depth that weaves simultaneous stories together into a true masterpiece. If you’re a fan, it’s a bit reminiscent of Sarah’s Key. It’s not your typical WWII story. Doerr explores human nature and the inner horror of some difficult choices.
Between the World and Me
Written as a letter to his son and the world, Between the World and Me is a meditation on being a black man in America. It gives insight to his personal experiences and the current frameworks in which we live.
Homegoing is not only a wonderfully written book that has great storytelling, but it is a book that is able to show how issues that still plague us today are routed in evil from long ago. Yaa Gyasi does an incredible job weaving her story through generations. We watch the extremely different paths two sisters are pulled to and how each impacts their family line in ways unimaginable.
Killers of the Flower Moon
This is the best kind of true crime book: the crimes occurred 100 years ago faded into obscurity and you can't believe you never heard a thing about them! David Grann is a wonderful writer. I was engaged from the very first page.
The Great Believers
A beautifully detailed, sweeping saga of the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Chicago and its wide-reaching aftermath. Filled with a palpable sense of fear and urgency, this novel also delivers endearingly flawed characters who will quickly take up residence in your heart with their brilliant moments of love, friendship, and perseverance. A remarkable, heartbreaking, triumphant work.
With the pace of a gripping crime novel, this comprehensive, meticuously researched account of the troubles in Northern Ireland begins with the 1972 abduction of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10. The author interviews several individuals involved in the conflict who candidly discuss years of bombing campaigns, killings, and hunger strikes, getting to the heart of their political and ideological motivations.