Monday Night Page Turner Previous Book Selections
Dear Life: Stories
Presents a collection of stories which illuminate the moments that shape a life, from a dream or a sexual act to simple twists of fate, and is set in the countryside and towns of Lake Huron.
News of the World
On the Same Page community read. A live news reader traveling the antebellum south is offered $50 to bring an orphan girl, who was kidnapped and raised by Kiowa raiders, back to her family in San Antonio.
Louisa May Alcott
Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn't be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they're putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there's one thing they can't help wondering: Will Father return home safely?
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today - an Orwellian world that is not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, and where displays of affection are punished; a police state where informants are rewarded and where an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life. Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see average North Korean citizens fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival.
Salt to the Sea
World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety. Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people--adults and children alike--aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Carol Rifka Brunt
1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.
Never Let Me Go
As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
The executive director of a social advocacy group that has helped relieve condemned prisoners explains why justice and mercy must go hand-in-hand through the story of Walter McMillian, a man condemned to death row for a murder he didn't commit.
Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to an Ojibwe tribe tradition for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and his wife will give their son, LaRose, to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them.
Code Name Verity
In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.
Follows a young Italian innkeeper and his almost-love affair with a beautiful American starlet, which draws him into a glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.
The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places, From Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley
An acclaimed travel writer examines the connection between surroundings and innovative ideas, profiling examples in such regions as early 20th-century Vienna, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens and Silicon Valley.
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in Civil War
Drawing from primary source material and interviews, the author weaves together the adventures of four courageous women who risked everything to become spies during the most tumultuous years of the war.
After his parents are arrested and imprisoned for robbing a bank, 15-year-old Dell Parsons is taken in by Arthur Remlinger who, unbeknownst to Dell, is hiding a dark and violent nature that interferes with Dell's quest to find grace and peace on the prairie of Saskatchewan.
A successful lawyer remembers his boyhood in Nebraska and his friendship with an immigrant Bohemian girl.
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell
Adopting the custom of bacha posh in 2007 Kabul, which allows her to dress and be treated as a boy, attend school and chaperone her sisters until she is of marriageable age, Rahima, the daughter of a drug-addicted father, discovers that she is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom.
The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream
A cultural history of mid-20th-century Chicago traces the emergence of mass-marketing practices, technological advances and artistic development that profoundly influenced modern America, offering additional insight into the role of racial divisions, housing projects and migration.
Where Things Come Back
John Corey Whaley
Losing touch with everything he believes in the wake of a cousin's overdose, his younger brother's disappearance and his Arkansas community's obsession with an extinct bird, high school senior Cullen struggles to hold his family together, while a disillusioned missionary searches for meaning. A first novel.
Hold Still: A Memoir With Photographs
A renowned photographer tells her family's history in photos and words, after sorting through a box of old papers that revealed scandals, alcohol and domestic abuse, affairs, family land ownership, large amounts of money earned and lost and racial complications.
The Rosie Project
A socially awkward genetics professor who has never been on a second date sets out to find the perfect wife, but instead finds Rosie Jarman, a fiercely independent barmaid who is on a quest to find her biological father.
A Spool of Blue Thread
The changing needs of aging parents impact a family gathering during which Abby Whitshank relates how her husband and she fell in love during the summer of 1959 and shares decades of marriage impacted by children and long-held secrets.
The Coast of Chicago
Explores the world of paradox and the borders between the known and the unfamiliar, in a collection of stories. Our annual On the Same Page selection.
H is for Hawk
Recounts how the author, an experienced falconer grieving the sudden death of her father, endeavored to train for the first time a dangerous goshawk predator as part of her personal recovery.
The Book of Unknown Americans
Moving from Mexico to America when their daughter suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras confront cultural barriers, their daughter's difficult recovery and her developing relationship with a Panamanian boy.
The Dog Stars
The National Book Award-winning author chronicles the ordinary life of a woman named Marie, from her childhood to old age, as she experiences the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn, in this novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived.
A Star for Mrs. Blake
Meeting for the first time for a shared pilgrimage to France to visit the graves of their World War I soldier sons, an Irish maid, a chicken farmer's wife, a Boston socialite, a former tennis star and a librarian meet a brutally scarred journalist before confronting a shocking secret set against a lesser-known historical event.
After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story
Traces the GQ deputy editor's decade-long investigation into the mystery of his father's sudden death, describing his father's achievements as a dynamic reporter, the author's examination of inconsistencies in his father's medical records and the honor code of secrecy that challenged his research.
2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas
Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Growing up in a wealthy Nigerian home under the domain of a harsh, demanding, and tyrannical father, Kambili and her brother, Jaja, find new happiness during a visit to their Aunty Ifeoma outside the city, but as Kambili enjoys her newfound freedom and falls in love for the first time, the country begins to fall apart under a military coup.
Everything I Never Told You
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet...So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and widely considered to be Edna Ferber's greatest achievement, So Big is a classic novel of turn-of-the-century Chicago. It is the unforgettable story of Selina Peake DeJong, a gambler's daughter, and her struggles to stay afloat and maintain her dignity and her sanity in the face of marriage, widowhood, and single parenthood.
Frequently mistaken for one another in spite of very different natures, brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue respective lives in rebellion-torn 1960s Calcutta until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.
Three close families living in the middle-class and upper-middle-class areas of Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood find their lives and friendships impacted by world events from 1979 to 1981, including the Iran hostage crisis, Reagan's election, and the deaths of famous musicians.
A collection of short stories by a former Marine captain and Iraq veteran focuses on the complexities of life for soldiers on the front lines and after, exploring themes ranging from brutality and faith to guilt and survival in such stories as "After Action Report" and "Money as Weapons System."
Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better
Shows how every technological advance, from the printing press to the Internet, has been disparaged, caused hand-wringing and has generated anxious predictions of doom, but actually has augmented human life for the better.
The Round House
When his mother, a tribal enrollment specialist living on a reservation in North Dakota, slips into an abyss of depression after being brutally attacked, 14-year-old Joe Coutz sets out with his three friends to find the person that destroyed his family.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
A first novel by a Pushcart Prize-winning writer is set in a rural village in December 2004 Chechnya, where failed doctor Akhmed harbors the traumatized 8-year-old daughter of a father abducted by Russian forces and treats a series of wounded rebels and refugees while exploring the shared past that binds him to the child.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Karen Joy Fowler
Coming of age in middle America, 18-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and who Rosemary loved as a sister.
The End of Your Life Book Club
A Hyperion editor-in-chief and journalist recounts how his mother and he read and discussed books during her chemotherapy treatments, describing how the activity involved a wide range of literary genres, furthered their appreciation for literature and strengthened their bond.
The Light Between Oceans
Moving his young bride to an isolated lighthouse home on Australia's Janus Rock where the couple suffers miscarriages and a stillbirth, Tom allows his wife to claim an infant who has washed up on the shore only to witness a rift in their marriage that is further complicated by a search by the baby's desperate mother.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore
After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret.
Rules of Civility
A chance encounter with a handsome banker in a Greenwich Village jazz bar on New Year's Eve 1938 catapults witty Wall Street secretary Katey Kontent into the upper echelons of New York society, where she befriends a shy multi-millionaire, an Upper East Side ne'er-do-well and a single-minded widow.
Travels with Charley
The acclaimed author records his emotions and experiences during a journey of rediscovery in his native land, accompanied by his French poodle named Charley.
Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.
A Good American
The Meisenheimer family struggle to find their place among the colorful residents of their new American hometown, including a giant teenage boy, a pretty schoolteacher whose lessons consist of more than just music and an spiteful, bicycle-riding dwarf.
Where'd You Go Bernadette
When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Documents the story of how scientists took cells from an unsuspecting descendant of freed slaves and created a human cell line that has been kept alive indefinitely, enabling discoveries in such areas as cancer research, in vitro fertilization and gene mapping.
The World According to Garp
T.S. Garp, a man with high ambitions for an artistic career and with obsessive devotion to his wife and children, and Jenny Fields, his famous feminist mother, find their lives surrounded by an assortment of people including teachers, whores, and radicals.
Forging a deep friendship with a Wampanoag chieftain's son on the Great Harbor settlement where her minister father is working to convert the tribe, Bethia follows his subsequent ivy league education and efforts to bridge cultures among the colonial elite.
The Night Circus
Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.
Daphne du Maurier
A classic novel of romantic suspense finds the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter entering the home of her mysterious and enigmatic new husband and learning the story of the house's first mistress, to whom the sinister housekeeper is unnaturally devoted.
A story about a man's deception, a family's complicity, and two teenage girls caught in the middle. Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon's two families, the public one and the secret one.When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters, the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle, she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another's lives. At the heart of it all are the two lives at stake, and like the best writers--think Toni Morrison with The Bluest Eye--Jones portrays the fragility of these young girls with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women, just not as their mothers.
Stumbling upon the drowned body of Nouf, the teenage daughter of a prominent, wealthy Saudi Arabian family, Nayir, a desert guide hired by her family to search for her, feels compelled to discover what really happened to her, working with Katya Hijazi, a lab technician at the coroner's office, to find out what life is really like for women in a rigidly segregated Middle Eastern society.
The Liar’s Club: A Memoir
A trenchant memoir of a troubled American childhood from the child's point of view describes growing up in a an East Texas refinery town, life in the midst of a turbulent family of drunks and liars, a schoolyard rape, and other dark secrets.
The author traces the boyhood enthusiasm for rockets that eventually led to a career at NASA, describing how he built model rockets in the family garage in West Virginia, inspired by the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik.
The Tiger’s Wife
Struggling to understand why her beloved grandfather left his family to die alone in a field hospital far from home, a young doctor in a war-torn Balkan country takes over her grandfather's search for a mythical ageless vagabond while referring to a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.
The Weird Sisters
Unwillingly brought together to care for their ailing mother, three sisters who were named after famous Shakespearean characters discover that everything they have been avoiding may prove more worthwhile than expected.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
After a family tragedy orphans her, Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I., moves into her grandmother's mostly black community in the 1980s, where she must swallow her grief and confront her identity as a biracial woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white.
Story of Lucy Gault
A novel set in Ireland in the 1920s charts the progress of a young girl whose entire life seems to be falling apart when the threat of arson drives the family from their country home.
The Language of Flowers
Discovering the symbolic meanings of flowers while languishing in the foster-care system, 18-year-old Victoria is hired by a florist when her talent for helping others is discovered, a situation that leads to a romantic prospect and the confrontation of a painful secret from her past.
A tale based on a true story follows the experiences of Irish immigrant Vera Krone,who emerges from poverty to become a nurse only to be wrongly accused of assisting a black doctor with illegal surgeries, a charge that prompts a racially driven court case and media firestorm.
In 1946, Laura McAllan tries to adjust after moving with her husband and two children to an isolated cotton farm in the Mississipi Delta.
By Fire, By Water
Mitchell James Kaplan
Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the Spanish king, is a Jewish convert to Christianity, however, when he is implicated in the murder of an official of the Spanish Inquisition who executed a Jewish associate of his, Luis and his family become the next targets of the feared institution.
Christy Hurley, a young gypsy in 1950s Ireland, is treated as an outsider after his father tries to settle in a single town and the boy finds himself questioning who he is and where he belongs after discovering a family secret.
The Somerset Maugham Award-winning author of Incendiary presents a tale of a precarious friendship between an illegal Nigerian refugee and a recent widow from suburban London, a story told from the alternating and disparate perspectives of both women.
The Invisible Wall
In an evocative memoir of forbidden love and social divide set on the eve of World War I, the author describes growing up in a mill town in northern England, in a working-class neighborhood in which the Jewish families were strictly divided from the Christian families on the other side of the street, until his older sister fell for a boy across the street.
Parrot and Olivier in America
A tale loosely inspired by the life of Alexis de Tocqueville is set in the early nineteenth century and follows an unlikely friendship between a survivor of the French Revolution and an itinerant English engraver's son.
Marrying into a candy conglomerate family that is struggling with differences over the company's eventual succession, Alice investigates the family's rags-to-riches story from a slave ancestor's efforts to flee the cacao plantations in Cote d'Ivoire to a Hungarian immigrant's inspiration from a stolen library book.
A Gate at the Stairs
A latest work by the PEN/Malamud-winning author of Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? is set on a small midwestern farm just after the September 11 attacks and finds a twenty-year-old woman coming of age amid such challenges as racism, the War on Terror, and cruelty in the name of love.
This fictionalized biography of Frank Lloyd Wright, the media hungry publicity hound, is cast aside while the women take center stage. It is told from the point of view of the four women in his life. It is an interesting look into the bazaar life of Wright.
Let the Great World Spin
This story spans twenty years, beginning with the tightrope walk in 1974 by Philippe Petit, and reveals details of the lives of several varied and remarkable characters: a renegade priest & his brother a mother-daughter prostitution team, women who lost their sons in Vietnam. What could they possibly have in common? A National Book Award winner.
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
An American western with a most unusual twist, this is an imaginative fictional account of the participation of May Dodd and others in the controversial "Brides for Indians" program, a clandestine U.S. government sponsored program intended to instruct "savages" in the ways of civilization and to assimilate the Indians into white culture through the offspring of these unions. May's personal journals, loaded with humor and intelligent reflection, describe the adventures of some very colorful white brides, their marriages to Cheyenne warriors, and the natural abundance of life on the prairie before the final press of the white man's civilization.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Hang on for the ride: with characteristic poetry and pluck, Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Their good-humored search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that's better for the neighborhood and also better on the table.
Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life, and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.
One Second After
New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real...a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages...A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP). A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies.
Months before publication, One Second After has already been cited on the floor of Congress as a book all Americans should read, a book already being discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a truly realistic look at a weapon and its awesome power to destroy the entire United States, literally within one second. It is a weapon that the Wall Street Journal warns could shatter America. In the tradition of On the Beach, Fail Safe and Testament, this book, set in a typical American town, is a dire warning of what might be our future...and our end.
Cutting for Stone
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.
Alice Howland is proud of the life she has worked so hard to build. A Harvard professor, she has a successful husband and three grown children. When Alice begins to grow forgetful at first she just dismisses it, but when she gets lost in her own neighborhood she realizes that something is terribly wrong. Alice finds herself in the rapid downward spiral of Alzheimer's disease. She is only 50 years old. While Alice once placed her worth and identity in her celebrated and respected academic life, now she must re-evaluate her relationship with her husband, her expectations of her children and her ideas about herself and her place in the world. Losing her yesterdays, her short-term memory hanging on by a couple of frayed threads, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.
"Abandoning her worldly life, traveling to a remote Wisconsin town in the dead of winter, trusting her future to a man she had never met - such was Catherine Land's new beginning. But there was an ending in sight as well, an ending that would redeem the treachery ahead, justify the sacrifice, and allow her to start over yet again. That was her plan." For Ralph Truitt, the wealthy businessman who had advertised for "a reliable wife," this was also to be a new beginning. Years of solitude, denial, and remorse would be erased, and Catherine Land, whoever she might be, would be the vessel of his desires, the keeper of his secrets, the means to recover what was lost. That was his plan. Set just after the turn of the twentieth century, A Reliable Wife is the story of these two people, each plagued by a heart filled with anger and guilt, each with a destiny in mind. But neither anticipates what develops between them - the pent-up longings that Catherine discovers in this enigmatic man and the depth of her own emotional response; the joy Ralph experiences in giving Catherine the luxuries she has never known, his growing need for her, and a desire that he thought was long buried.
The Little Stranger
The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline - its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
In 1925, Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon to find an ancient civilization, vowing to make one of the most important archeological discoveries in history. For centuries Europeans believed the world's largest jungle concealed the glittering kingdom of El Dorado. Thousands died looking for it. Over time many scientists came to view the Amazon as a deathtrap that could never support a complex society. But Fawcett, whose daring expeditions helped inspire Conan Doyle's The Lost World, had spent years building his scientific case. Captivating the imagination of millions around the globe, Fawcett embarked with his 21-year-old son & his son's best friend, determined to prove that this ancient civilization, dubbed Z, existed. Then he & his expedition vanished. Fawcett's fate & the tantalizing clues he left behind became an obsession for hundreds who followed him into the uncharted wilderness. For decades scientists & adventurers have searched for evidence of Fawcett's party & the lost city. Countless have perished, been captured by tribes or gone mad. As David Grann delved ever deeper into the mystery surrounding Fawcett's quest & the greater mystery of what lies within the Amazon, he found himself, like the generations who preceded him, drawn into the jungle's green hell. His quest for the truth & his discoveries about Fawcett's fate & Z, form the heart of this narrative.
Patsy MacLemoore, a history professor in her late twenties with a brand-new Ph.D. from Berkeley and a wild streak, wakes up in jail—yet again—after another epic alcoholic blackout. “Okay, what’d I do?” she asks her lawyer and jailers. “I really don’t remember.” She adds, jokingly: “Did I kill someone?” In fact, two Jehovah’s Witnesses, a mother and daughter, are dead, run over in Patsy’s driveway. Patsy, who was driving with a revoked license, will spend the rest of her life—in prison, getting sober, finding a new community (and a husband) in AA—trying to atone for this unpardonable act. Then, decades later, another unimaginable piece of information turns up.
For the reader, it is an electrifying moment, a joyous, fall-off-the-couch-with-surprise moment. For Patsy, it is more complicated. Blame must be reapportioned, her life reassessed. What does it mean that her life has been based on wrong assumptions? What can she cleave to? What must be relinquished?
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb.
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island.
Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.
The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls's father always called her "Mountain Goat" and there's perhaps no more apt nickname for a girl who navigated a sheer and towering cliff of childhood both daily and stoically. In The Glass Castle, Walls chronicles her upbringing at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents--Rose Mary, her frustrated-artist mother, and Rex, her brilliant, alcoholic father. To call the elder Walls's childrearing style laissez faire would be putting it mildly. As Rose Mary and Rex, motivated by whims and paranoia, uprooted their kids time and again, the youngsters (Walls, her brother and two sisters) were left largely to their own devices. But while Rex and Rose Mary firmly believed children learned best from their own mistakes, they themselves never seemed to do so, repeating the same disastrous patterns that eventually landed them on the streets.
The Quiet American
The Quiet American is a short novel, but it packs a punch, both emotionally and politically. A masterful study of male rivalry and political engagement set in 1950s Vietnam, it pits against each other two very different men: Thomas Fowler, a jaded, world-weary, ageing British war correspondent, and Alden Pyle, an earnest and idealistic American who has just arrived in Vietnam to work at the Economic Aid Mission and hardly knows anything about the country except what he's read in a book. Early on in the story, in a scene whose absurdity belies the increasingly dark tone of the rest of the book, Pyle informs Fowler that he's in love with Fowler's mistress Phuong and intends to have her for his bride, since, let's face it, he has more to offer her than does Fowler. Amazingly, Pyle then goes on to insist on being Fowler's friend, seemingly unaware that the other man sees him as a rival and doesn't really want anything to do with him. So their stories keep weaving in and out of each other, until Pyle is found dead. The question is, who killed him, and why?
The White Tiger
Balram Halwai is a complicated man. Servant. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Murderer. Over the course of seven nights, by the scattered light of a preposterous chandelier, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life -- having nothing but his own wits to help him along.
Born in the dark heart of India, Balram gets a break when he is hired as a driver for his village's wealthiest man. From behind the wheel of their Honda City car, Balram's new world is a revelation. While his peers flip through the pages of Murder Weekly ("Love -- Rape -- Revenge!"), barter for girls, drink liquor (Thunderbolt), and perpetuate the Great Rooster Coop of Indian society, Balram watches his employers bribe foreign ministers for tax breaks, barter for girls, drink liquor (single-malt whiskey), and play their own role in the Rooster Coop. Balram learns how to siphon gas, deal with corrupt mechanics, and refill and resell Johnnie Walker Black Label bottles (all but one). He also finds a way out of the Coop that no one else inside it can perceive.
The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story
When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.
A Severed Head
Martin Lynch-Gibbon is serenely enjoying both a beautiful wife and a delightful lover. But when his wife, Antonia, suddenly leaves him for her psychoanalyst, Martin is plunged into an intensive emotional re-education.
On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”
A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.
As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes President, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek–one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility. As Charlie’s tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?
The Sun Also Rises
The quintessential novel of the Lost Generation, The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful writing style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions. First published in 1926, The Sun Also Rises helped to establish Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
As vividly as Jon Krakauer put readers on Everest, John Vaillant takes us into the heart of North America's last great forest, where trees grow to eighteen feet in diameter, sunlight never touches the ground, and the chainsaws are always at work.
When a shattered kayak and camping gear are found on an uninhabited island, they reignite a mystery surrounding a shocking act of protest. Five months earlier, logger-turned-activist Grant Hadwin had plunged naked into a river in British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands, towing a chainsaw. When his night's work was done, a unique Sitka spruce, 165 feet tall and covered with luminous golden needles, teetered on its stump. Two days later it fell.
The tree, a fascinating puzzle to scientists, was sacred to the Haida, a fierce seafaring tribe based in the Queen Charlottes. Vaillant recounts the bloody history of the Haida and the early fur trade, and provides harrowing details of the logging industry, whose omnivorous violence would claim both Hadwin and the golden spruce.
Tom Rob Smith
It is a society that is, officially, a haven for its citizens. Superior to the decadent West, Stalin's Soviet Union strives to be a paradise for its workers, providing for all of their needs: education, health care, security. In exchange, all that is required is their hard work, and their loyalty and faith to the Soviet State.
Leo Demidov knows this better than most. A rising, prominent officer in the State Security force, Leo is a former war hero whose only ambition is to serve his country. To defend this workers' paradise--and to guarantee a secure life for his parents, and for his wife, Raisa--Leo has spent his career guarding against threats to the State. Ideological crimes--crimes of thought, crimes of disloyalty, crimes against the revolution--are forcefully suppressed, without question.
And then the impossible happens. A different kind of criminal--a murderer--is on the loose, killing at will. At the same time, Leo finds himself demoted and denounced by his enemies, all but sentenced to death. The only way to salvage what remains of his life is to uncover this criminal. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the state to suggest that a murderer--much less a serial killer--is in their midst. To save his life and the lives of his family, Leo must confront the vast resources and reach of the security forces with only Raisa remaining at his side, to find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists.
August: Osage County
One of the most bracing and critically acclaimed plays in recent Broadway history, August: Osage County is a portrait of the dysfunctional American family at its finest and absolute worst. When the patriarch of the Weston clan disappears one hot summer night, the family reunites at the Oklahoma homestead, where long-held secrets are unflinchingly and uproariously revealed.
The Quiet Girl
Kaspar Krone is a world-renowned circus clown, and a man in some deep trouble. Drowning in gambling debt and wanted for tax evasion, Krone is drafted into the service of a mysterious order of nuns who promise him reprieve in return for his help safeguarding a group of children with mystical abilities--abilities that Krone also shares. When one of the children goes missing, Krone sets off to find the young girl and bring her back, making a shocking series of discoveries along the way.
To the Lighthouse
One of the greatest literary achievements of the 20th century and the author's most popular novel. The serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, together with their children and assorted guests are holidaying on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Virginia Woolf constructs a remarkable and moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life, and the conflict between male and female principles.
A Walk Across America
Twenty-nine years ago, a disillusioned young man set out on a walk across America. This is the book he wrote about that journey -- a classic account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country.
Water for Elephants
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town.
A Passage to India
A group of English visitors want to see the “real” India, and in Dr. Aziz they find a highly civilized companion. During a visit to the Marabar caves, one of the women accuses Dr. Aziz of sexually assaulting her, triggering a chain of events that will change the lives of people on both sides of this complex conflict.
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