Young Babylon by Lu Nei – Book (Trans. by Poppy Toland)

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Take a trip to modern China with Lu Xiaolu. It won’t be a
fancy trip. This young “outlaw” is only nineteen and he is quite poor. He grew
up in New Chemical Village near the chemical factory where his father worked.
He did not push himself in high school, even though he would have chosen to be
a shop assistant over a factory worker, probably because he did not have a
studious or obedient disposition. His parents prepared him for his most
probable destiny which would be a positon at the chemical factory. This factory
is old, dingy, dreary, dirty, dangerous, and rat infested. Some of the
chemicals are volatile and industrial accidents are common. But this novel is
not all doom and gloom. Lu Xiaolu, while hardly always happy with his fate, is
young, handsome, and his audacious behavior entertains some of his coworkers
(and us) and enrages others.

Our peek into a 1990’s era Chinese factory is eye-opening.
There are hierarchies within hierarchies; there are bosses and supervisors,
department level people. There are cadres who often have clerical duties. There
are the laboratory girls. There are the workers who sort themselves out by who
is the biggest hard ass. In fact, Lu Xiaolu is apprenticed to a man called Old
Bad-Ass. There are the aunties, some attractive, some scary and there are women
who are tough but not at all attractive known as tigers.

Our boy gets the name Magic Head because when he hit his head
against a broken water pump that he was trying to remove (because he was in the
formaldehyde room and the fumes made him faint) the pump started working and
all he got was a bump on his forehead. Our hero is young and not one to follow
rules. He chafes against the idea that he will spend his entire life in the
chemical factory and he gets punished often by frustrated supervisors.

For a while he is apprenticed to an electrician and gets to
roam the factory changing light bulbs and chatting up the lab girls and Little
Pouty Lips in personnel. Bai Lan, the young female doctor, starts out being
amused by Lu Xiaolu’s rebellions and physical confrontations but is also
unnerved by them. She becomes his solace.

Lu Nei, who wrote Young
Babylon
(which I am guessing is somewhat autobiographical) gave me a
less-than-depressing experience of a life that might drive some to the edge of
suicide. Any insight into China, as it is such a closed-off society is
valuable, at least to me.

Babylon is a Biblical term for the bare lands that tribes of
Israel were banished to by God and which has been used in literary circles to
describe someone who lives an unruly life and suffers the consequences. Lu Nei
is a talented literary voice from a vast and foreign land. However, if you read
any other books by Chinese authors the people are familiar and quirky, real,
and not so different from people I met in American factories when I worked
there during summers home from college. Yes, yes, thank you Lu Nei. I really
liked your book.
 
By Nancy Brisson

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – Book

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If you want to have someone talk about something as serious
as finding the one person who you will love forever when there are so many ways
for this search to go awry get a comedian to write a book about it. If that
book explores romantic disasters that range from the heartbreaking to the ridiculous,
all the better. If that comedian does his due diligence and confers with
experts who study dating, comparing dating options over several generations the
deal gets even several notches better. We get graphs and jokes and an
illumination of cultural trends in heterosexual pairing (not just in America
but also in some interesting international locations).

Modern
Romance
by Aziz Ansari reads almost like one of those ethnographies
anthropologists used to write about various isolated tribes (á la Margaret
Meade). Fortunately Aziz’s humor is not intrusive, is usually quite hip, and
causes readers to chortle out loud on occasion. The author’s obvious love of
good food and his continual gastronomic observations add to the fun and perhaps
prove that ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’.

Technology changes so fast that there is always the danger
that a book such as this will quickly turn into an ancient artifact. But right
now it is au currant and you probably
shouldn’t procrastinate about reading it, whether or not you are in the
relationship marketplace, because of the sometimes interesting research, both
informal and more academic that Ansari discusses.

Modern
Romance
ends with a discussion of whether a couple, after
experiencing that magical attraction of the first year to year and a half of a
great relationship should move into the less passionate, companionate phase
that follows it, or if an individual should just go from person to person and
peak to peak. Science makes a pretty good argument for growing up and moving
into that second phase apparently. Aziz says “But we want more than love. We
want a lifelong wingman/wingwoman who completes us and can handle the truth, to
mix metaphors from three different Tom Cruise movies.”

If you don’t know what it means to swipe right or swipe left
you should really find yourself a copy of Modern
Romance
and dive right in. If you know what this means this might be
required reading. 
 
By Nancy Brisson

August, 2015 Book List

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Publisher’s Weekly

Incarnations by
Susan Barker

The
American Trail: An American Journey
by Rinker Buck (NF)

A Cure
for Suicide
by Jesse Ball

The
Flicker Man
by Ted Kosmatka

The
Other Son
by Alexander Soderberg

Purity by
Johnathan Franzen

The
Japanese Lover
by Isabel Allende (Nov.)

Avenue
of Mysteries
by John Irving (Nov.)

The
Story of the Lost Child
by Elena Ferrante (Sept.)

A
Strangeness in My Mind
by Orhan Pamuk trans. by Ekin Oklap

Rock,
Paper, Scissors
by Noja Marie Aidt

Collector
of Secrets
by Richard Goodfellow

The
Beautiful Bureaucrat
by Helen Phillips

Mystery and Thriller

The Girl
in the Spider’s Web
(continues Steig Larsson’s Millennium Series) by
David Lagercrantz (Sept.)

Trigger
Mortis
by Anthony Horowitz (Sept.)

Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror

The Fifth
Season
by NK Jemisin (Aug.)

 

Independent Booksellers

The
Secret Place
by Tana French

Go Set a
Watchman
by Harper Lee

Circling
the Sun
by Paula McLain

Wind/Pinball:
Two Novels
by Haruki Murakami

Kitchens
of the Great Midwest
by J Ryan Stradal

The
Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George

Armada by
Ernest Cline

The
Marriage of Opposites
by Alice Hoffman

Our
Souls at Night
by Kent Haruf

Flood of
Fire

by Amitav Ghosh

Dragonfish:
A Novel
by Vu Tran

The
Watchmaker of Filigree St.
by Natasha Pulley

The
Rumor
by Elin Hilderbrand

The
Cartel
by Don Winslow

The
President’s Shadow
by Brad Meltzer

Among
the Ten Thousand Things
by Julia Pierpont

Let Me
Tell You
by Shirley Jackson

The
Festival of Insignificance
by Milan Kundera

Three
Moments of an Explosion
by China Miéville

The
Novel Habits of Happiness
by Alexander McCall Smith

In a
dark, dark wood
by Ruth Ware

Villa
America
by Lisa Klaussmann

Brush
Back

by Sara Paretsky

My
Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
by Fredrick Backman

Uprooted by
Naomi Novik

Naked
Greed
by Stuart Woods

The Dust
that Falls from Dreams
by Louis De Bernieres

The
Night Sister
by Jennifer Mc Mahon

The
Rocks
by Peter Nichols

 

Amazon

Infinite
Home

by Kathleen Alcott

Days of
Awe

by Lauren Fox

Rising
Strong
by Brené Brown (NF)

Barefoot
to Avalon: A Brother’s Story
by David Payne (NF)

Last Bus
to Wisdom
by Ivan Doig

Street
Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim
by Justin Gifford (NF)

Voices
in the Ocean
by Susan Casey (NF) (Dolphins)

Make
Your Home Among Strangers
by Jennine Capé Crucet

The
Bourbon Kings
by JR Ward

In a
dark, dark wood
by Ruth Ware

Kitchens
of the Great Midwest
by J. Ryan Stradal

Biographies and Memoirs

You’re
Never Weird on the Internet
by Felicia Day

Avenue
of Spies
by Alex Kershaw

Barefoot
to Avalon: A Brother’s Story
by David Payne (NF)

Joy:
Poet, Seeker, and the woman who captivated CS Lewis
by
Abigail Santamaria

Street
Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim
by Justin Gifford (NF)

The Last
Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion
by Tracy Daugherty

Undocumented:
A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League
by
Dan-el Padilla Peratta

Kissinger’s
Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s most controversial Statesman
by Greg
Grandin

The
Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family’s Art Treasures Stolen By the Nazi’s
by
Simon Goodman

Literature and Fiction

Kitchens
of the Great Midwest
by J Ryan Stradal

Wind/Pinball:
Two Novels
by Haruki Murakami

The
Marriage of Opposites
by Alice Hoffman

They
Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War
by William T Vollman

Last Bus
to Wisdom
by Ivan Doig

The
Bourbon Kings
by JR Ward

Flood of
Fire

by Amitav Ghosh

Infinite
Home

by Kathleen Alcott

Days of
Awe

by Lauren Fox

Everybody
Rise

by Stephanie Clifford

Make
Your Home Among Strangers
by Jennine Capó Crucet

The
Beautiful Bureaucrat
by Helen Phillips

Barbara
the Slut and Other People
by Lauren Holmes

How to
be a Grown Up
by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

The Girl
Who Slept with God
by Val Brelinski

No. 4
Imperial Lane
by Jonathan Weisman

Best Boy
by

Eli Gottlieb

The Automobile
Club of Egypt
by Alaa Al Aswany and Russell Harris

Science Fiction and Fantasy

The End
of All Things (Old Man’s War)
by John Scalzi

Imperial
Handbook: A Commander’s Guide
by Daniel Wallace

Zeroes by
Chuck Wendig

Mysteries and Thrillers

Badlands by CJ
Box

In a dark,
dark wood
by Ruth Ware

Friction by
Sandra Brown

Devil’s
Bridge
by Linda Fairstein

Black
Eyed Susan: A Novel of Suspense
by Julia Heaberlin

Woman
with a Secret
by Sophie Hannah

The
Beautiful Bureaucrat
by Helen Phillips

Last
Words
by Michael Koryta

Trust No
One: A Thriller
by Paul Cleave

Eileen:
A Novel
by Ottesa Moshfegh

The
Eternal World
by Christopher Farnsworth

The Blue by Lucy
Clarke

Rubbernecker by
Belinda Bauer

Darkness
the Color of Snow
by Thomas Cobb

To preorder

Rogue
Lawyer
by John Grisham (10/20/2015)

NYT Book
Newsletter

Eileen by
Ottesa Moshfegh

Dragonfish by Vu
Tran
 
Compiled by Nancy Brisson

 

 

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum – Book

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“Anna was a good wife mostly.” This kind of equivocation is
at the heart of Jill Alexander Essbaum’s novel Hausfrau. Anna, an American, married to Swiss banker Bruno Benz,
calls her relationship “a version of love.” Anna is living a life she is not
sure she likes. She feels that she has no real desires of her own, although her
indulgence in love affairs suggests otherwise. Anna lives in Switzerland
because her husband was transferred there shortly after they married. Even
after eight years her German is only at an intermediate level and her Schwiizerdütsch, the language spoken
among Swiss people, is almost nonexistent, much like her social life.

Anna says that she and Bruno are, “more or less, in love”.
They have three children: Victor (8), Charles (6), and Polly Jean (an infant)
but Anna says that she “…hadn’t wanted to be a mother. She didn’t yearn for
it.” Yet she got pregnant three times and this is story is not a period piece
set in an age of restraint. This is a contemporary story. Anna is unhappy
living with Bruno in Switzerland but she does not ask for a divorce. Her
passivity is maddening. She asks her husband instead, “[w]hat would you do if I
left?” She convinces herself that she cannot leave because of the children. She
does not act like she would miss her children much, except Charles, perhaps.

Anna sees a shrink Doktor Messerli and is always asking her
for revealing clarifications. “What is the difference between shame and guilt?”
What is the difference between passivity and neutrality?”

I found Anna both familiar and annoying. She reminds me of
the sexually suppressed woman whose hysterical paralysis led Freud to invent a
whole new type of psychotherapy. Except she goes to the opposite extreme and
become “a version of” promiscuous. Anna personifies the frustration women felt
in my mother’s era that we have supposedly escaped. Is she so stuck because she
is in a foreign country? Is she suffering from a mental illness that freezes
her in a place she berates herself for getting trapped in? If she had developed
a career path to go along with being a wife and mother would she be happier?
Why is she unable to make decisive moves?

I cannot tell you Anna’s fate. That is the bargain between
those who write about books and those who read about books. Hausfrau is a well-written book and you find yourself analyzing it
long after the covers have been closed. This is one of my measures for a good
book. If it makes me think, then I value the author’s skill. But I also have to
think about why Jill Alexander Essbaum’s Anna Benz upsets me so. Although my
life is nothing like Anna’s, how much of her do I see in myself? Is she too
flawed as a character or are her flaws what makes her interesting? These are
questions each reader must answer. Read the book.

By Nancy Brisson

Memory Man by David Baldacci – Book

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Cops and spies – do not marry one. Their families are always
dying violent deaths. Amos Decker is no exception. As the book Memory Man (by David Baldacci) begins
we are hit between the eyes with the details of the murders of Amos’s
brother-in-law (throat cut), his wife (shot), his young daughter (strangled).
His life is sent reeling out of control. His first suicide attempt did not
take.

We learn that Amos Decker had a brush with death himself
when he was playing college football. In high school he was an excellent player
but in college he found he was not among the top players. Still he had lots of
experience and he was a hard worker. But he got hit so hard that he died twice
on the field and had to be resuscitated twice.

When Amos Decker woke his mind had been altered in ways he
still finds difficult to deal with. For one thing he remembers everything –
total recall (hypertheymesia). For another he experiences emotions as colors
and numbers and colored numbers (people who do this are called synesthetes). He
has lost his social skills and now people experience him as odd and cold.

These changes were so hard to deal with that he entered a
program to study the changes and to help him come to grips with them. His wife,
now dead, made him feel like he might be able to have a nice, normal life. She
is gone, leaving scenes of horror in his head and he is now homeless; cardboard
box homeless. Memories of his wife and daughter and how much they would hate
that he has given up also bring him back to life with a room at the Residence
Inn and a job as a Private Investigator (self-employed).

That is how we find him when Mary Lancaster, his old partner
on the police force hunts him down to tell him that someone has confessed to
the killings of his family. Enter Sebastian Leopold. Just as Amos goes to the
police station to try to have a chat with Mr. Leopold, he encounters a mass
exodus of police leaving the station with sirens screaming. There are shooters
at the high school.

Amos, with his total recall skills, joins his old partner on
a sort of ad hoc basis and they work with the FBI to find the shooter/s.
Somehow, while Amos works to find this shooter/s he manages to find out who
killed his family and why.

Memory
Man

by David Baldacci is a good murder mystery with clues doled out slowly making
it almost impossible to guess who committed the murders and the executions.
However, I may lay off murder mysteries for a while, although I really enjoy
the puzzle solving aspect of the genre, because, I’m thinking, we have far too
many real life killings to let our hearts be broken by ones that are fictional.

By Nancy Brisson

 

The English Spy by Daniel Silva – Book

 
 
The
English Spy
by Daniel Silva begins with the death of a
British princess on a yacht, a mysterious chef with an accent that is difficult
to place, and a valid Venezuelan passport in the rather global name of Colin
Hernandez.

Although, ostensibly “the Office” in Israel and MI6 in London
decide to cooperate to find the killer of the princess they are far more
interested in finding the man who built the bomb that did the deed. A bomb just
like this one killed the first wife and child of Gabriel Allon, a restorer of
oil paintings, occasionally called upon to help “the Office” in Israel with a
case. Because of his family’s sad fate Gabriel Allon is very easy to recruit
for this case with the ‘blast’ from the past.

An Iranian from Iran’s intelligence service VEVAK also comes
along. It seems that the yacht bomber, believed to have been in the IRA during
the worst hostilities, is also believed to have shared his prodigious bomb
building talents with certain Middle Eastern terrorist groups, thus the Iran
connection. Russian spies, women trained from birth, also increase the
complexity of unraveling these events.

The problem rests on the fact that the guy who once
terrorized Britain and Ireland with car and truck bombs that were far too
effective is supposed to be dead.

In spite of the advanced pregnant state of his new wife
(twins) Gabriel’s past, as predicted, entices him to join the team that MI6 is
putting together.

Who is Eamon Quinn? Is he the good guy from the “Real IRA” or
is he the highly skilled bomber that everyone thought was dead? Who is
Christopher Keller? What’s the connection between the Irish Republican Army and
Middle Eastern terrorism and what exactly does the reappearance of this
particular bomb-maker’s signature explosive mean? What does the bomber hope to
accomplish and why?

This story skips around key parts of the globe and describes
a war this is thankfully, if not dead, at least dormant. It also embraces the hostilities
we live with today. Because there is so much back story to get through the
action is slow in coming and the operation can be difficult to follow at times.
However this villain, robbed of his true cause, has become a shadowy guy who
gets his power from secrecy and saleable skills, and those twins are getting
ready to pop at any moment. Why isn’t Gabriel with his wife? Will this
mercenary bomber take away Gabriel’s second wife?

The
English Spy
is a true thriller, even if a bit cerebral –
read it and see. Most chilling phrase in the book, “the bricks are in the
wall”.
 
By Nancy Brisson

 

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen – Book

Imagine this novel, At
the Water’s Edge
by Sara Gruen, is a smoothie you are mixing up in your
literary blender. The first of our ingredients are two American men medically
unfit for service in World War II, wealthy and privileged but too young to be
in control of their families fortunes. We also have one beautiful young woman,
Maddie, with wealthy parents but no income who marries one of the clueless
pair, Hank and Ellis. We have Ellis’s dad in the recipe, a dad who was shamed
by supposedly faking pictures of the Loch Ness Monster, leading Ellis to decide
to go (while war is raging) across the Atlantic to clear his father’s name. We
have Angus Grant, a Colonel training Commandos and acting as proprietor of the
inn where the three Americans have booked rooms. We have Anna and Meg who help
out at the inn and a number of other villagers. World War II is an ingredient
in our smoothie. Although this Scottish village is distant from the action in
the waning days of the war in Europe, residents are still required to use
blackout shades at sundown, carry gas masks at all times and to shelter when
bombing occurs.
This is definitely an odd set of circumstances around which
to create a novel. The author combines quite a number of genres, including a
war story; a small Scottish village relationships tale; a story line of bad men
and good women, good men and good women, abuse and romance. We have a thread
about the wages of lying, another about finding a monster; magical events and
ancient superstitions which could only be believable in a small Scottish
village. Then we have a commentary about social classes, upper class versus
lower class protocol (both classes have rules), crossing class lines, how war
levels social classes (at least temporarily). And more. That is a lot going on
in one book and yet the author has control over all the characters and all the
story elements throughout and is able to produce a novel that is both as perceptive
as a fine literary publication and as satisfying as a bodice-ripper, with
everyone, pretty much, ending up with the fate they deserve.
By Nancy Brisson

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – Book

 
 
Last year we celebrated the 60th Anniversary of
the D-Day invasion at Normandy. This might explain the small flurry of titles
which cover the German occupation of France and which tell of the relief felt
by Frenchmen everywhere when the Allies invaded at Normandy on June 6, 1944. Some of
these books also mark the day that lives in infamy in French history, the day
when the Jews of Paris were rounded up and forced to stay in the Velodrome d’Hiver
(an indoor winter cycling track) until they could be transported to
concentration camps in Germany.

These stories relate history but they are also personal. They
nurture self-examination. If our country was occupied by an enemy we feared, an
enemy that had already conquered and subdued proud nations which also treasure
their autonomy, how would we behave?

In these novels about occupied France authors show us the
choices. Citizens who don’t have to go out in public except to shop could
perhaps lay low, but this option did not work for many Frenchmen or women. You
could “collaborate” with your occupiers as many business people were
practically forced to do. Some citizens, however, were more opportunistic and
saw “collaboration” as a way to prosper. And with great care and in total
secrecy you could join a resistance movement and find ways to work around your
occupiers, or pass on insider information about them to their enemies, or to harass
and harry them. Some resisters were able to save a small number of Jewish
French citizens or their children but this was very difficult as people had to
be hidden, fed, and clothed, almost impossible to do with aggressive German
troops everywhere.

The
Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah is the story of Isabelle
Rossignol, a fictional French woman, rebellious since she was a girl, who joins
the Resistance in France. She always wanted to do something heroic and she
finds a way to fulfill that dream. She ‘collects’ downed Allied pilots and
hikes with them over the Alps into Spain. Her last name means nightingale and
it became her “tag” of heroism. She becomes famous as the Nightingale and she
puts her life in jeopardy over and over again. Although she is not a real
person, people really did do things just as heroic as Isabelle’s rescues.

She also had a sister, Vianne, who had no heroic
inclinations. She had the life she loved as a mom and wife and a school
teacher, at least she did until Germany marched into France. Her husband left
to go fight with a woefully unprepared French army and was captured and forced to
spend the war in a German work camp and his wife was left to live in a village
that now belonged to her German captors. Vianne eventually found her own way to
be heroic.

Although this story does not have the fine literary qualities of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony
Doerr, Hannah’s story is also well worth reading. Kristin Hannah covers the
same historical events and both stories are set mostly in France. Although The
Nightingale does not represent any one real figure she does remind us that many
French men and women found ways to resist their captors and did so pretty much
right under their noses. Kristin Hannah also gives us a wrenchingly clear view
of the deprivations suffered by the people of France when Germany started to
lose the war and food and clothing and supplies became almost impossible for
the French people to find. Conquered people all over Europe suffered terrible
deprivations and there would have been mass starvations had they not been
rescued just in time. The way the lives of ordinary French people in the
countryside were affected is described well in this novel.

This was an excellent story and I did shed a few tears. We
will never really know if we could resist a fearful foe living right amongst us
until we encounter such a moment and I am sure we all pray that will never
happen.
 
By Nancy Brisson

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Book

 
 
Anthony Doerr is the author of the novel All The Light We Cannot See. Anthony Doerr is not just a
storyteller, although he tells a great story; he is a writer, a literary writer
whose prose has whole other levels that take off from the story. He is a
philosopher. He creates an artful world. There is rich symbolism all over the
place. There is despair at the calumny of man and rapture at the triumphs of
the human spirit. This is a beautifully written book.

Doerr gives us two young people, one French, one German; one
male, one female; one treasured but blind, one with great intelligence but
destined for the coal mines at fourteen. Both children have quite enough to
deal with but into the midst of their lives Hitler arrives and the lives they
might have lived are set on a new trajectory. Marie-Laure, blind, female, a
virtual prisoner in occupied France has more freedom to act then Werner, our
German boy, the occupier, who must dance, against his nature, to Hitler’s tune.

Science plays a fascinating and consuming role in this novel,
both the quest of mankind to understand the physics of the universe and the natural
history of the universe as contrasted with Hitler’s obsessive and horrific
attempts to quantify the universe. Hitler keeps records on everything, he
greedily steals and hides the art and wealth of Europe and yet he doesn’t
really understands the possibility that art gives humans the capacity to
transcend the primitive in our natures. Hitler does not transcend, although he
believes himself to be the most transcendent of all humans.

“It strikes Werner just then as wondrously futile to build
splendid buildings, to make music, to sing songs, to print huge books full of
colorful birds in the face of the seismic, engulfing indifference of the world –
what pretensions humans have! Why bother to make music when the silence and the
wind are so much larger? Why light lamps when the darkness will inevitably
snuff them? When Russian prisoners are chained by threes and fours to fences
while German privates tuck live grenades in their pockets and run?”

Why indeed?

And yet this is not a depressing novel because of the two
children at its center. Here’s Marie-Laure, a true student of nature,
indomitable in spite of her blindness.

“What mazes are there in this world, the branches of trees,
the filigree of roots, the matrix of crystals…Mazes in the nodules on murex
shells and in the textures of sycamore bark and inside the hollow bones of
eagles. None more complicated than the human brain.”

Every time I say that I can’t imagine another book based in the
World War II someone proves once again what a rich mine is in it for human
thought and human error. Anthony Doerr has caught all of that in this bestselling
novel.
 
By Nancy Brisson

April, 2015 Book List

 
 
Here we have the book list for April, 2015 but I am months
back, still reading books from earlier lists. Some of these titles are very
tempting. I am really attracted to a couple of the nonfiction titles. The Essay book by Donald Revell looks
so good that I put in the little blurb from PW to remind me. I am a T.S. Eliot
fan so I think I would enjoy the biography about his early years. Jo Nesbo has
a new book to add to the many I have enjoyed. Romances are hardly ever on
literary best seller lists but PW tells us that Josi S. Kilpack has written a
very good one called A Heart Revealed
which I would like to check out. So many great books, so much dust piled up on
the furniture. Sometimes you have to do housework. Those of us addicted to reading
do the best we can. No white gloves please.

Amazon

Between
You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen
by Mary Norris

Orhan’s
Inheritance
by Aline Ohanesian

The
Harder They Come
by T.C. Boyle

God Help
the Child
by Toni Morrison

The
Sympathizer
by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The
Light of the World
by Elizabeth Alexander

So
You’ve Been Publically Shamed
by Jon Ronson

I Refuse by Per
Petterson

TheChildren’s
Crusade
by Ann Packer

Mysteries,
Thrillers, and Suspense

The
Harder They Come
by T.C. Boyle

The Bone
Tree

by Greg Iles

Blood on
Snow

by Jo Nesbo

Where
They Found Her
by Kimberly McCreight

The Dead
Lands
by Benjamin Percy

House of
Echoes
by Brendan Duffy

The
Invention of Fire
by Bruce Holsinger

The
Winter Family
by Clifford Jackman

All
Involved
by Ryan Gattis

What You
Left Behind
by Samantha Hayes

Independent
Booksellers

At the
Water’s Edge
by Sara Gruen

The
Harder They Come
by T.C. Boyle

The
Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

World
Gone By
by Dennis Lehane

A
Dangerous Place
by Jacqueline Winspear

Leaving
Berlin
by Joseph Kanon

The
Patriot Threat
by Steve Berry

The
Whites
by Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt

The
Fortune Hunter
by Daisy Goodwin

The
Winter People
by Jennifer McMahon

Can’t
and Won’t
by Lydia Davis

Game of
Mirrors
by Andrea Camilleri

Our
Endless Numbered Days
by Claire Fuller

A Little
Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

Cuba
Straits
by Randy Wayne White

The Tusk
That Did the Damage
by Tania James

The Big
Seven
by Jim Harrison

The
Shadows
by J.R. Ward

The
Skull Throne
by Peter V. Brett

Epitaph by Mary
Doria Russell

The
Sculptor
by Scott McCloud

The
Beauty
by Jane Hirshfield

Publisher’s
Weekly

Simon v
The Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli

Odysseus
Abroad
by Amit Chaudhuri

Young
Eliot: A Biography
by Robert Crawford (NF)

A
Scourge of Vipers
by Bruce De Silva

The Lady
from Zagreb
by Philip Kerr

A Heart
Revealed
by Josi S. Kilpack

The
American People: Vol. 1: Search for My Heart
by Larry Cramer

The
Sympathizer
by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Between
You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen
by Mary Norris (NF)

The
Children’s Crusade
by Ann Packer

I Refuse by Per
Petterson

Essay A
Critical Memoir
by Donald Revell

Essay: A Critical Memoir by Donald Revell (Omnidawn) – Revell (Tantivy), in his 12th poetry
collection (which is actually more of a hybrid essay/memoir/prose poem),
reminds readers that “hesitation and delay must never be mistaken for rest.” At
turns memoir and literary analysis, allegory and reenactment, this fragmented and
deeply personal exploration of memory and literature’s place in the soul
resembles a type of scrapbook book that asks, “Who’s crazy? Whose pomp is
prophetic?” Revell’s prose is a contemplative, forceful incorporation of
disparate elements: a dervish at half speed that absorbs and refigures Dante,
Thoreau, Shakespeare, old photographs, the Vietnam War, and more into a love
letter to reading, a pageant of deliberate contemplation and devotion. “Am I
afraid to cross over the river without my Virgil—my allusions, my heralds and
cross-references? I must read more. Am I afraid to die? I must love more.”
Unable to contain itself, Revell’s work challenges and denies more than just
its generic conventions; it takes to task the notion that reading and
storytelling can be anything less than transformative—which therefore makes
them essential.


I Will
Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
by
Cailin Alifirenka and Martin Garda  (NF)

The
Turner’s House
by Angela Flournoy

The
Buddha’s Return
by Gaito Gazdanov

The
Truth Commission
by Susan Juby

The
Fisherman
by Chigozie Obioma

The Dead
Lands
by Benjamin Percy

All the
Rage

by Courtney Summers

The
Stranger Vine
by M.J. Carter

Lulu
Anew

by Etienne Davodeau

The
Cherokee Rose: A Novel of Gardens and Ghosts
by Tiya Miles

So
You’ve Been Shamed
by Jon Ronson

Ordinary
Light
by Tracy Smith (memoir)

Black
Dove, White Raven
by Elizabeth Wein
 
Compiled by Nancy Brisson