Summer 2015 Reading List
THE HOTTEST BOOK CLUB BOOKS OF THE YEAR
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .” So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue — in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.
When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family — Hannah — who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.
A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
The Children Act by Ian McEwan
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.
At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital — an encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.
Euphoria by Lily King
Lily King’s new novel is the story of three young, gifted anthropologists in 1933 caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens theirs bonds, their careers, and ultimately their lives. English Anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field for several years, studying a tribe on the Sepik River in the Territory of New Guinea with little success. Increasingly frustrated and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of suicide when he encounters the famous and controversial Nell Stone and her wry, mercurial husband Fen. Bankson is enthralled by the magnetic couple whose eager attentions pull him back from the brink of despair. Set between World War I and II and inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is an enthralling story of passion, possession, exploration and sacrifice from award-winning novelist Lily King.
Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move…
Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of Trace Italian — a text-based, role-playing game played through the mail — Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America.
Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.
Brilliantly constructed, Wolf in White Van unfolds in reverse until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax: the event that has shaped so much of Sean’s life. Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle’s audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling brio and genuine literary delicacy.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.
Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.
CURRENT FICTION AND LITERARY NON-FICTION
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”
A fiery and provocative novel, God Help the Child — the first book by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment — weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.
Girls I Know by Douglas Trevor
In the winter of 2001, in his favorite café in Boston, Walt Steadman witnesses a shooting that leaves four people dead. In the wake of this event, Walt is left to consider what — if anything — he has made of his life. Girls I Know is a novel about Boston and its many neighborhoods, about the challenges that arise when people try to help others, and about what it means for three very different people when their lives change, irrevocably.
A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson
“He had been reconciled to death during the war and then suddenly the war was over and there was a next day and a next day. Part of him never adjusted to having a future.”
Kate Atkinson’s dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again.
A God In Ruins tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy — would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather-as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have.
An ingenious and moving exploration of one ordinary man’s path through extraordinary times, A God In Ruins, proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.
The Green Road by Anne Enright
From internationally acclaimed author Anne Enright comes a shattering novel set in a small town on Ireland’s Atlantic coast. The Green Road is a tale of family and fracture, compassion and selfishness — a book about the gaps in the human heart and how we strive to fill them. Spanning thirty years, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigans, a family on the cusp of either coming together or falling irreparably apart. As they grow up, Rosaleen’s four children leave the west of Ireland for lives they could have never imagined in Dublin, New York, and Mali, West Africa. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold. A profoundly moving work about a family’s desperate attempt to recover the relationships they’ve lost and forge the ones they never had, The Green Road is Enright’s most mature, accomplished, and unforgettable novel to date.
The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard
Small and sullen, Aron is eight years old when his family moves from a rural Polish village to hectic Warsaw. At first gradually and then ever more quickly, his family’s opportunities for a better life vanish as the occupying German government imposes harsh restrictions. Officially confined to the Jewish quarter, with hunger, vermin, disease and death all around him, Aron makes his way from apprentice to master smuggler until finally, with everyone for whom he cared stripped away from him, his only option is Janusz Korczak, the renowned doctor, children’s rights advocate, and radio host who runs a Jewish orphanage. And Korczak in turn awakens the humanity inside the boy.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
A landmark novel by Harper Lee, set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch — “Scout” — returns home to Maycomb, Alabama from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past — a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience.
Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of the late Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.
My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh
In the summer of 1989, a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom is rocked by a violent crime when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson — free spirit, track star, and belle of the block — is attacked late one evening near her home.
For such a close-knit community, the suspects are numerous, and the secrets hidden behind each closed door begin to unravel. Even the young teenage boy across the street, our narrator, does not escape suspicion. It is through his eyes, still haunted by heartbreak and guilt many years later, that we begin to piece together the night of Lindy’s attack and its terrible rippling consequences on the once-idyllic community.
Both an enchanting coming-of-age story and a gripping mystery, My Sunshine Away reveals the ways in which our childhoods shape us, and what happens when those childhoods end. Acutely wise and deeply honest, this is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.
H Is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald
The instant New York Times bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald’s story of adopting and raising one of nature’s most vicious predators has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel’s temperament mirrors Helen’s own state of grief after her father’s death, and together raptor and human “discover the pain and beauty of being alive” (People). H Is for Hawk is a genre-defying debut from one of our most unique and transcendent voices.
The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime by Harold Bloom
Pairing Walt Whitman with Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson with Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne with Henry James, Mark Twain with Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens with T. S. Eliot, and William Faulkner with Hart Crane, Bloom places these writers’ works in conversation with one another, exploring their relationship to the “daemon” — the spark of genius or Orphic muse — in their creation and helping us understand their writing with new immediacy and relevance. It is the intensity of their preoccupation with the sublime, Bloom proposes, that distinguishes these American writers from their European predecessors.
As he reflects on a lifetime lived among the works explored in this book, Bloom has himself, in this magnificent achievement, created a work touched by the daemon.
The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak
In her latest novel, Turkey’s preeminent female writer spins an epic tale spanning nearly a century in the life of the Ottoman Empire. In 1540, twelve-year-old Jahan arrives in Istanbul. As an animal tamer in the sultan’s menagerie, he looks after the exceptionally smart elephant Chota and befriends (and falls for) the sultan’s beautiful daughter, Princess Mihrimah. A palace education leads Jahan to Mimar Sinan, the empire’s chief architect, who takes Jahan under his wing as they construct (with Chota’s help) some of the most magnificent buildings in history. Yet even as they build Sinan’s triumphant masterpieces — the incredible Suleymaniye and Selimiye mosques — dangerous undercurrents begin to emerge, with jealousy erupting among Sinan’s four apprentices.
A memorable story of artistic freedom, creativity, and the clash between science and fundamentalism, Shafak’s intricate novel brims with vibrant characters, intriguing adventure, and the lavish backdrop of the Ottoman court, where love and loyalty are no match for raw power..
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds” — the fastest liner then in service — and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.
Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small — hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more — all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.
It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love.
Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.
Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott
A beautifully wrought story of an ad hoc family and the crisis they must overcome together…
Edith is a widowed landlady who rents apartments in her Brooklyn brownstone to an unlikely collection of humans, all deeply in need of shelter. Crippled in various ways — in spirit, in mind, in body, in heart — the renters struggle to navigate daily existence, and soon come to realize that Edith’s deteriorating mind, and the menacing presence of her estranged, unscrupulous son, Owen, is the greatest challenge they must confront together.
Faced with eviction by Owen and his designs on the building, the tenants — Paulie, an unusually disabled man and his burdened sister, Claudia; Edward, a misanthropic stand-up comic; Adeleine, a beautiful agoraphobe; Thomas, a young artist recovering from a stroke — must find in one another what the world has not yet offered or has taken from them: family, respite, security, worth, love.
The threat to their home scatters them far from where they’ve begun, to an ascetic commune in Northern California, the motel rooms of depressed middle America, and a stunning natural phenomenon in Tennessee, endangering their lives and their visions of themselves along the way.
With humanity, humor, grace, and striking prose, Kathleen Alcott portrays these unforgettable characters in their search for connection, for a life worth living, for home.
Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back by Janice P. Nimura
In 1871, five young girls were sent by the Japanese government to the United States. Their mission: learn Western ways and return to help nurture a new generation of enlightened men to lead Japan.
Raised in traditional samurai households during the turmoil of civil war, three of these unusual ambassadors―Sutematsu Yamakawa, Shige Nagai, and Ume Tsuda ― grew up as typical American schoolgirls. Upon their arrival in San Francisco they became celebrities, their travels and traditional clothing exclaimed over by newspapers across the nation. As they learned English and Western customs, their American friends grew to love them for their high spirits and intellectual brilliance.
The passionate relationships they formed reveal an intimate world of cross-cultural fascination and connection. Ten years later, they returned to Japan ― a land grown foreign to them ― determined to revolutionize women’s education.
Based on in-depth archival research in Japan and in the United States, including decades of letters from between the three women and their American host families, Daughters of the Samurai is beautifully, cinematically written, a fascinating lens through which to view an extraordinary historical moment.
There’s Something I Want You to Do: Stories by Charles Baxter
“There’s something I want you to do.”
This request — sometimes simple, sometimes not — forms the basis for the ten interrelated stories that comprise this latest penetrating and prophetic collection from an author who has been repeatedly praised as a master of the form. As we follow a diverse group of Minnesota citizens, each grappling with their own heightened fears, responsibilities, and obsessions, Baxter unveils the remarkable in what might otherwise be the seemingly inconsequential moments of everyday life.
BOOKS FOR THE BEACH
Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner
For readers of The Paris Wife and Z comes this vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel — the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman’s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and become one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century.
Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to orphanage after their mother’s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.
Transforming herself into Coco — a seamstress and sometime torch singer — the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.
Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her.
An enthralling novel of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel explores the inner world of a woman of staggering ambition whose strength, passion and artistic vision would become her trademark.
The Rocks by Peter Nichols
Set against dramatic Mediterranean Sea views and lush olive groves, The Rocks opens with a confrontation and a secret: What was the mysterious, catastrophic event that drove two honeymooners apart so suddenly and absolutely in 1948 that they never spoke again despite living on the same island for sixty more years? And how did their history shape the Romeo and Juliet–like romance of their (unrelated) children decades later? Centered around a popular seaside resort club and its community, The Rocks is a double love story that begins with a mystery, then moves backward in time, era by era, to unravel what really happened decades earlier.
Peter Nichols writes with a pervading, soulful wisdom and self-knowing humor, and captures perfectly this world of glamorous, complicated, misbehaving types with all their sophisticated flaws and genuine longing. The result is a bittersweet, intelligent, and romantic novel about how powerful the perceived truth can be — as a bond, and as a barrier — even if it’s not really the whole story; and how one misunderstanding can echo irreparably through decades.
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
In this brilliant new novel — her first for adults since Summer Sisters — Judy Blume takes us back to the 1950s and introduces us to the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey, where she herself grew up. Here she imagines and weaves together a vivid portrait of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed during one winter. At the center of an extraordinary cast of characters are fifteen-year-old Miri Ammerman and her spirited single mother, Rusty. Their warm and resonant stories are set against the backdrop of a real-life tragedy that struck the town when a series of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving the community reeling. Gripping, authentic, and unforgettable, In the Unlikely Event has all the hallmarks of this renowned author’s deft narrative magic.
Early Warning by Jane Smiley
It’s 1953, and the Langdons are at a crossroads. Walter, their stalwart patriarch, has died unexpectedly, and his wife must try to keep their farm going. But of their five children, only one will remain to work the land. The others scatter to Washington, DC, California, and everywhere in between.
As the country moves into the Cold War, through the social revolutions of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and into the unprecedented wealth — for some — of the early ‘80s, the Langdon children have children of their own: twin boys who are best friends and vicious rivals; a girl whose rebellious spirit takes her to the notorious Peoples Temple in San Francisco; and a golden boy who drops out of college to fight in Vietnam — leaving behind a secret legacy. Capturing a transformative period through characters we come to know and love, this second volume in Jane Smiley’s epic trilogy brings to life the challenges — and rewards — of family and home, even in the most turbulent of times.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Paris Wife, now returns with her keenly anticipated new novel, transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman — Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.
Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.
Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.
Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.
Re Jane by Patricia Park
For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she’s been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle’s grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, she’s thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops and nineteenth–century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer’s feminist lectures and Ed Farley’s very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed’s blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.
Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is. Re Jane is a bright, comic story of falling in love, finding strength, and living not just out of obligation to others, but for one’s self.
Journeying from Queens to Brooklyn to Seoul, and back, this is a fresh, contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre and a poignant Korean American debut.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France — a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.
Girl Underwater by Claire Kells
Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. A sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked swim team, she finally feels popular and accepted — especially by Lee, her kind and outgoing boyfriend.
But everything changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. There are only five survivors: Avery, three little boys, and Colin Shea — the teammate Avery has been avoiding since the first day of freshman year. Faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on their talents, willpower, and each other in ways they never could have imagined.
Yet when Avery emerges from her ordeal alive, terrified of the water, conflicted by her emotions, and evasive of her memories, she must face the harrowing realization that rescue doesn’t necessarily mean survival.
The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits
Rereading her childhood diaries, Heidi Julavits hoped to find incontrovertible proof that she was always destined to be a writer. Instead, they “revealed me to possess the mind of a phobic tax auditor.” Thus was born a desire to try again, to chronicle her daily life — now as a forty-something woman, wife, mother, and writer. A meditation on time and self, youth and aging, friendship and romance, faith and fate, and art and ambition, in The Folded Clock one of the most gifted prose stylists in American letters explodes the typically confessional diary form with her trademark humor, honesty, and searing intelligence.
The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
As editor in chief of Glossy magazine, Imogen Tate is queen of the fashion world… until Eve, her conniving twenty-something former assistant, returns from business school with plans to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and re-launch Glossy as an app.
Suddenly, the Louboutin is on the other foot; Imogen may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she doesn’t know Facebook from Foursquare and once got her phone stuck in Japanese for three days. But Imogen will do anything to reclaim her kingdom—even if it means channeling her inner millennial and going head to head with a social-media monster.
IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
The serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Woolf constructs a remarkable, moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflict between men and women.
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.
Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
An instant bestseller when it was first published, The Shell Seekers is an enduring classic which has touched the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. A novel of connection, it is the story of one family ― mothers and daughters, husbands and lovers ― and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. This magical novel ― the kind of reading experience that comes along only once in a long while ― is the perfect read, whether you are returning to it again, or opening the cover for the first time.
At the end of a long and useful life, Penelope Keeling’s prized possession is The Shell Seekers, painted by her father, and symbolizing her unconventional life, from bohemian childhood to wartime romance. When her grown children learn their grandfather’s work is now worth a fortune, each has an idea as to what Penelope should do. But as she recalls the passions, tragedies, and secrets of her life, she knows there is only one answer…and it lies in her heart.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.
As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father — a crusading local lawyer — risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver…
In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl — her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house — is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they’ve ever known. From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together—their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.
Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos
With a riotous energy that recalls the works of John Irving and Anne Tyler, Broken for You is a debut novel of infinite charm and tremendous heart that explores the risks and rewards of human connection, and the hidden strength behind things that only seem fragile. When we meet septuagenarian Margaret Hughes, she is living alone in a mansion in Seattle with only a massive collection of valuable antiques for company. Enter Wanda Schultz, a young woman with a broken heart who has come west to search for her wayward boyfriend. Both women are guarding dark secrets and have spent many years building up protective armor against the outside world. But as the two begin their tentative dance of friendship, the armor begins to fall away and Margaret opens her house to Wanda. Along the way, a famous mosaic artist is born, a Holocaust survivor is reunited with her long-lost tea set, and a sad-eyed drifter finds his long-lost daughter. Funny, heartbreaking, and alive with a potpourri of eccentric and irresistible characters, Broken for You is a testament to the saving graces of surrogate families, and shows how far the tiniest repair jobs can go in righting the world’s wrongs.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
The deliriously entertaining Cold Comfort Farm is “very probably the funniest book ever written” (The Sunday Times, London), a hilarious parody of D. H. Lawrence’s and Thomas Hardy’s earthy, melodramatic novels. When the recently orphaned socialite Flora Poste descends on her relatives at the aptly named Cold Comfort Farm in deepest Sussex, she finds a singularly miserable group in dire need of her particular talent: organization.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
In The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood weaves together strands of gothic suspense, romance, and science fiction into one utterly spellbinding narrative. The novel begins with the mysterious death — a possible suicide — of a young woman named Laura Chase in 1945. Decades later, Laura’s sister Iris recounts her memories of their childhood, and of the dramatic deaths that have punctuated their wealthy, eccentric family’s history. Intertwined with Iris’s account are chapters from the scandalous novel that made Laura famous, in which two illicit lovers amuse each other by spinning a tale of a blind killer on a distant planet. These richly layered stories-within-stories gradually illuminate the secrets that have long haunted the Chase family, coming together in a brilliant and astonishing final twist.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona, 1945 — just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.