Most of this booklist was compiled from the picks of the independent booksellers except where noted. The summaries are from the public library card catalogue, unless there is another attribution. Some of these books are more appealing to me than others and since it will be difficult to read them all I have placed a star next to the books I have given priority on my list. My priorities could change as I hear more feedback about these books.
*Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (who wrote The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet)- “Mitchell weaves history, science, humor, and suspense in six separate but related narratives, each set in a different time and place.”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – “Standing on the fringes of life… offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.”
Bared to You by Sylvia Day –
“Full of emotional angst, scorching love scenes, and a compelling storyline.”– Dear Author THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness… He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I’d never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily… Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other’s most private wounds…and desires. The bonds of his love transformed me, even as i prayed that the torment of our pasts didn’t tear us apart…’’
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller –“ Patroclus, an awkward young prince, follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Set during the Trojan War.”
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – “WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims–a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming. With its taut, crafted writing,Sharp Objectsis addictive, haunting, and unforgettable. From the Hardcover edition.”
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived-and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her. The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details-proof they hope may free Ben-Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members-including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started-on the run from a killer. From the Hardcover edition.”
*Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck – From Library Journal Review – “Mariella Bennet is a survivor who knows how to cope with the extreme poverty that is a fact of life in Depression-era Key West, FL. Born of a Cuban mother and an Anglo father, the teenage Mariella works odd jobs in order to support her mother and two younger sisters after her father’s sudden death. Her feistiness attracts celebrated author Ernest Hemingway, and she is soon working as his maid, privy to the inner workings of his home life. But she is also attracted to Gavin Murray, a World War I veteran who puts the needs of others before his own, unlike the egotistical and selfish Hemingway. As a hurricane threatens the Florida Keys, Mariella realizes that she stands to lose even more than she already has. Verdict Robuck (Receive Me Falling) skillfully incorporates obscure historical facts to craft a fictional tale of grief, loss, and survival that seemingly continues the story of Hemingway’s life where Helen Simpson’s best-selling The Paris Wife ends.”
*I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck – “Throughout Lily Tuck’s career, she’s been praised by critics for her crisp, lean language and sensuous explorations of exotic locales and complex psychologies. From Siam to Paraguay and beyond, Tuck inspires readers to travel into unfamiliar realms, and her newest novel is no exception. Slender, potent, and utterly engaging, I Married You For Happiness combines marriage, mathematics, and the probability of an afterlife to create Tuck’s most affecting and riveting book yet. “His hand is growing cold, still she holds it” is how this novel that tells the story of a marriage begins. The tale unfolds over a single night as Nina sits at the bedside of her husband, Philip, whose sudden and unexpected death is the reason for her lonely vigil. Still too shocked to grieve, she lets herself remember the defining moments of their long union, beginning with their meeting in Paris. She is an artist, he a highly accomplished mathematician-a collision of two different worlds that merged to form an intricate and passionate love. As we move through select memories-real and imagined-Tuck reveals the most private intimacies, dark secrets, and overwhelming joys that defined Nina and Philip’s life together.”
*NW by Zadie Smith – “A boldly Joycean appropriation, fortunately not so difficult of entry as its great model… Like Zadie Smith’s much-acclaimed predecessor White Teeth (2000), NW is an urban epic.” –Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books This is the story of a city. The northwest corner of a city. Here you’ll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all. And many people in between. Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds. And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwell’s door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation… Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners – Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan — as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end. Depicting the modern urban zone — familiar to town-dwellers everywhere — Zadie Smith’s NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.”
*Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walker – “A novel that spans fifty years. The Italian housekeeper and his long-lost American starlet; the producer who once brought them together, and his assistant. A glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.”
*The Dog Stars by Peter Heller – “Leave it to Peter Heller to imagine a postapocalyptic world that contains as much loveliness as it does devastation. His hero, Hig, flies a 1956 Cessna (his dog as copilot) around what was once Colorado, chasing all the same things we chase in these pre-annihilation days: love, friendship, the solace of the natural world, and the chance to perform some small kindness. The Dog Stars is a wholly compelling and deeply engaging debut.” –Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted.”
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin – ”At the turn of the 20th century in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a gentle solitary orchardist, Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots. Then two feral, pregnant girls and armed gunmen set Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect but to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.”
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – “Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.”
*The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers – A novel written by a veteran of the war in Iraq, The Yellow Birds is the harrowing story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive. “The war tried to kill us in the spring.” So begins this powerful account of friendship and loss. In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. Bound together since basic training when Bartle makes a promise to bring Murphy safely home, the two have been dropped into a war neither is prepared for. In the endless days that follow, the two young soldiers do everything to protect each other from the forces that press in on every side: the insurgents, physical fatigue, and the mental stress that comes from constant danger. As reality begins to blur into a hazy nightmare, Murphy becomes increasingly unmoored from the world around him and Bartle takes actions he could never have imagined. With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic.
*The Bartender’s Tale by Ivan Doig – ”From a great American storyteller, a one-of-a-kind father and his precocious son are rocked by a time of change. The pair make an odd kind of family, with the bar their true home, but they manage just fine until the summer of 1960 when two new women enter their lives.”
*Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis – “An exuberant, acidic satire of modern society and celebrity culture–by a renowned author at the height of his powers.”
The Tombs by Clive Cussler – “Husband-and-wife team Sam and Remi Fargo are intrigued when an archaeologist friend requests their help excavating a top secret historical site. What the find will set them on a hunt for a prize greater than they could ever imagine. The clues point to the hidden tomb of Attila the Hun, the High King who was reportedly buried with a vast fortune of gold and jewels. The Fargos find themselves pitted against a group of treasure hunters, a cunning Russian businessman, and a ruthless Hungarian.”
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – “In 1957 Barcelona, Daniel Semper and his close friend Fermin Romero de Torres find their lives violently disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious stranger who threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city’s dark past.”
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian – “In his fifteenth book, the author brings us on a very different kind of journey. This tale travels between Aleppo, Syria, in 1915 and Bronxville, New York, in 2012, a sweeping historical love story steeped in the author’s Armenian heritage, making it his most personal novel to date…”
Creole Belle by James Lee Burke – “Languishing in a recovery unit on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Dave Robicheaux is fighting an enemy more insidious than the one who put a bullet in his back a month earlier in a shootout on Bayou Teche. The morphine meant to dull his pain is steadily gnawing away at his resolve, playing tricks on his mind, and luring him back into the addict mentality that once threatened to destroy his life and family. With the soporific Indian summer air wafting through the louvered shutters of his hospital room, and the demons fighting for space in his head, Dave can’t be sure whether his latest visitor is flesh and blood or a spectral reminder of his Louisiana youth…”
*The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison – “Benjamin Benjamin has lost virtually everything-his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. With few options, Ben enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he is instructed in the art of inserting catheters and avoiding liability, about professionalism, and on how to keep physical and emotional distance between client and provider. But when Ben is assigned to tyrannical nineteen-year-old Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he soon discovers that the endless mnemonics and service plan checklists have done little to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated adolescent with an ax to grind with the world at large…”
*The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen – “New York Times bestseller Jussi Adler-Olsen returns with the second book in his electrifying Department Q series. In The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen introduced Detective Carl Mørck, a deeply flawed, brilliant detective newly assigned to run Department Q, the home of Copenhagen’s coldest cases. The result wasn’t what Mørck or readers expected, but by the opening of Adler-Olsen’s shocking, fast-paced follow-up, Mørck is satisfied with the notion of picking up long-cold leads. So he’s naturally intrigued when a closed case lands on his desk: A brother and sister were brutally murdered two decades earlier, and one of the suspects; part of a group of privileged boarding-school students confessed and was convicted…”
Lord of Mountains by S.M. Stirling – “Rudi Mackenize, now Artos the First, High King of Montival, and his allies have won several key battles against the Church Universal and Triumphant. But still the war rages on, taking countless lives, ravaging the land once known as the United States of America. Artos and his Queen, Mathilda, must unite the realms into a single kingdom to ensure a lasting peace. If the leaders of the Changed world are to accept Artos as their ruler, he will need to undertake a quest to the Lake at the Heart of the Mountains, and take part in a crowning ceremony–a ceremony binding him to his people, his ancestors, and his land. Then, once he has secured his place and allegiances, Artos can go forward, and lead his forces to the heart of the enemy’s territory…”– Provided by publisher.
*City of Women by David R. Gillham – ”1943, in the height of World War II. With the men taken by the army, Berlin has become a city of women. While her husband fights on the Eastern Front, Sigrid Schroder is the model soldier’s wife. She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind the facade is an entirely different Sigrid. She dreams of her former Jewish lover, who is lost in the chaos of the war.”
*The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty – “Accompanying a future famous actress from her Wichita home to New York, chaperone Cora Carlisle shares a life-changing five-week period with her ambitious teenage charge during which she discovers the promise of the 20th century and her own purpose in life.”
*One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper – “The bestselling author of This Is Where I Leave You returns with a hilarious and heart-rending tale about one family’s struggle to reconnect. You don’t have to look very hard at Drew Silver to see that mistakes have been made. His fleeting fame as the drummer for a one-hit wonder rock band is nearly a decade behind him. He lives in the Versailles, an apartment building filled almost exclusively with divorced men like him, and makes a living playing in wedding bands. His ex-wife, Denise, is about to marry a guy Silver can’t quite bring himself to hate. And his Princeton-bound teenage daughter Casey has just confided in him that she’s pregnant–because Silver is the one she cares least about letting down…”
Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub – “The enchanting story of a midwestern girl who escapes a family tragedy and is remade as a movie star during Hollywood’s golden age…”
*The St. Zita Society by Ruth Rendell – ”From three-time Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Ruth Rendell comes a captivating and expertly plotted tale of residents and servants on one block of a posh London street–and the deadly ways their lives intertwine…”
The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo – “Meet the Keller family, five generations of firstborn women-an unbroken line of daughters-living together in the same house on a secluded olive grove in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California. Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 and determined to become the oldest person in the world. An indomitable force, strong in mind and firm in body, she rules Hill House, the family home she shares with her daughter Bets, granddaughter Callie, great-granddaughter Deb, and great-great-granddaughter Erin. Though they lead ordinary lives, there is an element of the extraordinary to these women: the eldest two are defying longevity norms. Their unusual lifespans have caught the attention of a geneticist who believes they hold the key to breakthroughs that will revolutionize the aging process for everyone. But Anna is not interested in unlocking secrets the Keller blood holds. She believes there are some truths that must stay hidden, including certain knowledge about her origins that she has carried for more than a century. Like Anna, each of the Keller women conceals her true self from the others. While they are bound by blood and the house they share, living together has not always been easy.”–Dust jacket.
A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama – “A powerful new novel about an ordinary family facing extraordinary times at the start of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1957.”
From amazon.com for Parade Magazine
*The Round House by Louise Erdrich – “Likely to be dubbed the Native American To Kill a Mockingbird Louise Erdrich’s moving, complex, and surprisingly uplifting latest tells of a boy’s coming of age in the wake of a brutal, racist attack on his mother. (due out Oct. 21)
Sutton by J.R. Moehringer – When Willie Sutton left Attica in 1969, the Brooklyn born bank robber reemerged as a folk hero for an American public fed up with the financial system. In his first novel, J.R. Moehringer (The Tender Bar) presents an epic tale that rivals The Shawshank Redemption. (due out Sept. 25)
*Phantom by Jo Nesbo (a new Harry Hole book out October 2)
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens – a collection of essays from this recently deceased writer-critic – a smart, irreverent, and moving analysis of his end-of-life journey through “Tumorville”. Brave and powerful stuff says amazon.com to Parade Magazine.
*Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe – a wonderful setting and a diverse cast of characters in this funny, thought-provoking, high-energy novel, which does for Miami what his 1987 best-selling The Bonfire of the Vanities did for New York (due October 23) amazon.com for Parade Magazine
The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson – “The international publishing sensation–over two million copies sold A reluctant centenarian much like Forrest Gump (if Gump were an explosives expert with a fondness for vodka) decides it’s not too late to start over… After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant). It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world. Jonas Jonasson is a former journalist and media consultant. He lives in Sweden.” (card catalogue)[Rushdie’s code name] is the story of how the author
*Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie – In February 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie, sentencing him to death for writing The Satanic Verses. Joseph Anton [Rushdie’s code name] is the story of how the author, who was forced underground, managed to live and fight, not just survive. (due out Sept. 18)
These were taken from, I believe, The Daily Beast.
*The Innocent by David Balducci – “America has enemies, ruthless people that the police, the FBI, even the military can’t stop. That’s when the U.S. government calls on Will Robie, a stone cold hitman who never questions orders and always nails his target.” (card catalogue)
*Every Love Story is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max (about David Foster Wallace) – “The first biography of the most influential writer of his generation, David Foster Wallace David Foster Wallace was the leading literary light of his era, a man who not only captivated readers with his prose but also mesmerized them with his brilliant mind. In this, the first biography of the writer, D. T. Max sets out to chart Wallace’s tormented, anguished and often triumphant battle to succeed as a novelist as he fights off depression and addiction to emerge with his masterpiece, Infinite Jest. Since his untimely death by suicide at the age of forty-six in 2008, Wallace has become more than the quintessential writer for his time–he has become a symbol of sincerity and honesty in an inauthentic age. In the end, as Max shows us, what is most interesting about Wallace is not just what he wrote but how he taught us all to live. Written with the cooperation of Wallace’s family and friends and with access to hundreds of his unpublished letters, manuscripts, and audio tapes, this portrait of an extraordinarily gifted writer is as fresh as news, as intimate as a love note, as painful as a goodbye. “– Provided by publisher.
The Rapture of the Nerds: A tale of singularity, posthumanity, and awkward social situations by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross – ”A tale set at the end of the twenty-first century finds the planet’s divided hominid population subjected to the forces of a splintery metaconsciousness that inundates networks with plans for cataclysmic technologies, prompting an unwitting jury member to participate in a grueling decision.” (card catalogue)