Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What Should Your Book Group Read Next?

One of my favorite resources for uncovering interesting and off-the-beaten-path book discussion titles is a list published annually called Great Group Reads. The 2015 Great Group Reads list was just released and contains 21 recently published titles that were chosen for their potential to promote lively discussions about timely and provocative topics. Take a look at the list below and see if one or more of these titles might just be the perfect fit for your next book discussion. Click a link to get a short description of the book and to check for availability.

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

All Who Go Do Not Return: A Memoir by Shulem Deen

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Call Me Home by Megan Kruse

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

Dietland by Sarai Walker

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

Henna House by Nomi Eve

Landfall by Ellen Urbani

Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine CapĆ³ Crucet

Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man by Thomas Page Mcbee

Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell

No. 4 Imperial Lane by Jonathan Weisman

Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

A Perfect Crime by A Yi

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton

A Sister to Honor by Lucy Ferriss

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim

The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015 Shortlist Revealed

I recently wrote a blog about the Man Booker Prize Longlist. On Tuesday, September 15, the shortlisted authors were announced. The judges remarked on the variety of writing styles, cultural heritage and literary backgrounds of the writers on the shortlist, which includes new authors alongside established names. Two authors come from the United Kingdom, two from the United States and one apiece from Jamaica and Nigeria.
The six novels are:
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (Jamaica)
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (UK)
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota (UK)
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (US)
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (US)

My interest really lies with the two US novels and I'd like to share a little bit about each of them.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
About the book: A saga that unfolds through three generations of middle-class Baltimore family, the Whitshanks.
About the author: This is Tyler's 20th novel. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941, her first book, If Morning Ever Comes, was published in 1964. She won the Pulitzer prize for Breathing Lessons (1988). Her novel The Accidental Tourist (1985) was adapted into a film. A Spool of Blue Thread was also nominated for this year's Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.
The judges said: "She demonstrates once again her supreme powers of observation, and the stylistic brilliance that have marked her work through 50 extraordinary years."
The reviews said: "Tyler never mocks her characters. Even when she's having fun with their weird peculiarities and transparent short-sightedness, she's usually a benevolent goddess. And yet it's her surprising brutality that kills off any germs of sentimentality in her work" Washington Post

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
About the book: The story of four college friends who have moved to New York seeking fame and fortune. At the center of the tale is the enigmatic Jude, an orphan with a painful past.
About the author: Born in Los Angeles in 1975, Yanagihara is the author of The People in the Trees, which was shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for debut fiction. She is an editor-at-large at Conde Nast Traveller and lives in New York.
The judges said: "A Little Life is a work of lasting emotional impact, often larger than life itself, as (Yanagihara) delicately balances the horrors of a traumatic childhood with the story of selfless enduring tenderness and devotion."
The reviews said: "Somehow, against all the odds, just like its protagonist, this book survives everything its author throws at it and if it doesn't quite triumph, it has far outplayed the odds."
The Guardian

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Midlist Books

When your favorite bestsellers are checked out or have long hold lists, give a midlist book a try. What's a midlist book? It's a publishing industry term for books that are not heavily marketed and not expected to hit the "bestseller" list. A "midlist" author can be described as any author who does well, but not spectacularly for a publisher: someone who is well-reviewed, will often be nominated for book awards, but will not, or doesn't yet have a large readership or hit the bestseller list. In other words, "midlist" describes many talented authors and novels. Check out one of these great titles.

Etta and Otto and Russel and James by Emma Hooper
82-year old Etta has never seen the ocean. Early one morning she takes a rifle, some chocolate, and her favorite boots, and begins walking the 3,332 kilometers from rural Saskatchewan to Halifax. Her husband wakes to a note left on the kitchen table; his brother, who has loved Etta from afar for 60 years, insists on finding her, wherever she's gone.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan J. Stradal
This novel is creative and imaginative. The story revolves around chef Eva Thorvald and the people who influence her life and her cooking. With well-drawn characters and appetizing descriptions of food, Kitchens of the Great Midwest will charm readers who like vivid storytelling.

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement
Born in a rural Mexico region where girls are hidden as boys to avoid the attentions of traffickers, Ladydi dreams of a better life before moving to Mexico City, where she falls in love and ends up in a prison with other women who share her experiences.

A Muder of Magpies by Judith Flanders
The acrimonious narrator is 40-year old British book publishing editor Samantha, whose best author goes missing after writing a tell-all book about a famous French fashion designer who died under suspicious circumstances. Hilarious, and great secondary characters as well.

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
A modern day woman with psychic capabilities helps uncover the origin of a small wooden carving, tracing it all the way back to eighteenth century Scotland and Russia.

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
Jack Delton (not his real name) is a nonentity who lives off the grid and spends his time on the move, and tidying up after heists. But a bungled job in his past puts the guy who planned it hot on his trail--along with the FBI and a rival conman. This time, it's going to take all of Jack's skills and and some luck to escape. Tons of action, well-realized characters, a remarkable amount of research, and a complex plot will keep readers engrossed to the very last page.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Longlists Announced for the National Book Award

Earlier this week, longlist titles were announced for the National Book Award. The shortlist will be announced October 15 and the winners will be announced on November 18. Fiction and nonfiction titles are listed below, For more information including the Young People's longlist and the Poetry longlist, see

A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball

Refund: Stories by Karen E. Bender

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Fortune Smiles: Stories by Adam Johnson

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson

Honeydew by Edith Pearlman

A Little Life  by Hanya Yanagihara

Mislaid by Nell Zink


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Mourning Lincoln by Martha Hodes

Ordinary Light: A Memoir by Tracy K. Smith

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why Read a Graphic Novel?

Graphic novels? Aren’t those Japanese comic books? And, I’m a grown-up now. I’m too old for comics.

While some still think of graphic novels as only manga or Japanese comics, there are now graphic novels with sophisticated themes like the Holocaust, the revolution in Iran, and all types of memoirs. Graphic novels regularly show up on best book lists and win book awards, even the Pulitzer Prize.

If you haven’t yet, you owe it to yourself to read some of these outstanding works of literature and art. Avid readers all have their favorites, but here a few to get you started.

Maus by Art Spiegelman
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction in 1992.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The author’s childhood in revolutionary Iran.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel.
A musical adaptation of this story is now on Broadway.

Blankets by Craig Thompson
A beautiful story of love and loss.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
The problems of three young Chinese Americans

by Roz Chast
A portrayal of Chast’s aging parents in their final years.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Western State of Mind

Ever been curious about Westerns but don't know where to begin? From the lone lawmen to the crazy outlaws, there is a sunset for all to ride into.
Book Jacket

Paradise Sky-Joe R. Lansdale
On the run after an infamous landowner murders his father, Willie becomes an expert marksman before turning Buffalo Soldier, befriending Wild Bill Hickok and earning the nickname "Deadwood Dick.".

Hondo-Louis L'Amour
In the aftermath of an Apache uprising, Hondo Lane, a U.S. Cavalry dispatcher, tries to convince Angie Low and her son, Johnny, to leave their isolated ranch and flee with him to safety.

Book Jacket

Fine Just the Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3-Annie Proulx
A collection of nine western-themed tales features an array of pioneer country inhabitants from different backgrounds.
Book Jacket

The Ox-Bow Incident-Walter Van Tilbury Clark
When cattle rustlers murder a citizen of Bridger's Gulch, others form a posse and illegally lynch them.

Book Jacket

The Outcasts-Kathleen Kent
It's the 19th century on the Gulf Coast, a time of opportunity and lawlessness. After escaping the Texas brothel where she'd been a virtual prisoner, Lucinda Carter heads for Middle Bayou to meet her lover, who has a plan to make them both rich, chasing rumors of a pirate's buried treasure. Meanwhile Nate Cannon, a young Texas policeman with a pure heart and a strong sense of justice, is on the hunt for a ruthless killer named McGill who has claimed the lives of men, women, and even children across the frontier.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Forthcoming Fiction for October

Here are some new Fiction titles coming out in October You can reserve them by searching our Online Catalog, or give us a call at 847-729-7500.

Bittersweet Dreams by V.C. Andrews
The Immortal Nicholas: The Untold Story of the Man and the Legend by Glenn Beck
Blotto, Twinks and the Heir to the Tsar by Simon Brett
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
Gatefather by Orson Scott Card
Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini
Parchment and Old Lace by Laura Childs
Host by Robin Cook
Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell
Undead and Unforgiven by MaryJanice Davidson
Naughtier Than Nice by Eric Jerome Dickey
The Survivor: a Mitch Rapp Novel by Kyle Mills (Vince Flynn continuation)
Front Runner: A Dick Francis Novel by Felix Francis
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George
Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen
Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham
A Fool for a Client: A Stanley Hastings Mystery by Parnell Hall
Ghost to the Rescue by Carolyn G. Hart
The Grave Soul by Ellen Hart
Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand
Fear the Dark by Kay Hooper
The Theory of Death by Faye Kellerman
Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella
Closer to the Heart by Mercedes Lackey
Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
The Diamond Caper by Peter Mayle
The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith
The Lake House by Kate Morton
The World of Poo by Terry Pratchett
Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell
Saturn Run: a Novel of 2066 by John Sandford
Wrath of the Furies by Steven Saylor
Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline
Golden Age by Jane Smiley
Golden Lion: a Novel of Heroes in a Time of War by Wilbur Smith
See Me by Nicholas Sparks
The Silent Boy by Andrew Taylor
All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani
Foreign Affairs by Stuart Woods