What You Are Looking For Is in the Library - Michiko Aoyama
Are you in need of a mindset reboot? This novel, so positive, delightful and inspiring, did the trick for me, moving me to see my life in a way I tend to forget: how fortunate I am in my work and personal life and what I add to my community. A rather odd librarian in Tokyo presents life-changing choices for the visitors who come to her requesting book recommendations, but . . . the last book she adds to the list is not exactly what they're looking for. What they discover about themselves in that added book is a treasure to read about. This is a charming and poetic read that wreaks of Japanese wisdom . . . a feel-good book for anyone at an impasse in their life and looking for a book that grants a sense of calm. I am grateful for what this book gave me.
Chenneville - Paulette Jiles
It didn't seem possible that Paulette Jiles could write a novel more beautiful than her bestselling "News of the World" about post-Civil War America and its aftermath, and the admirable and honorable Captain Jefferson Kidd. But she has done it again and "Chenneville" is even an more exquisite example of her writing expertise. This novel's honorable Civil War survivor is John Chenneville, a grief-driven man whose travels and travails through the shattered post-war country are written in a language that is thoughtful, profound, and as fluid as poetry. I highly recommend this novel, whether or not you are familiar with Paulette Jiles, though once you do read it, I guarantee you'll want more.
American Childhood - Todd Brewster
A collection of over 200 photographs of Civil War to the present children that depicts children through American history. This absolutely important collection of photos come from the Library of Congress, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and the Magnum Photo Agency as well as dozens of other archives, flea markets, and antique shops and is a photo essay dedicated to the youth of our country through photographic history.
None of This is True - Lisa Jewell
Ready yourself to pull a few all-nighters so you can get to the truth of this perfect page-turner of a thriller: either none of it is true or all of it is true, or the truth is really a complete lie — it just depends on who is telling the truth in this mind-boggling new gem by Lisa Jewell.
The Learned by Heart - Emma Donoghue
The true story of two boarding school girls, Eliza Raine and Anne Lister, who fall fiercely in love while students at the Manor School for young ladies in York, England in 1805 and the ensuing one-sided emotional destruction that love besets on Eliza. Emma Donoghue spent years researching their story, and, with the aid of Anne Lister's five-million-word secret journal, published in 2020, makes public their passionate relationship in this love story of all love stories.
The Invisible Hour - Alice Hoffman
An enchanting story centered around a very famous book and its very famous author (Nathaniel Hawthorne — "The Scarlet Letter") is always a win-win for me. Alice Hoffman has created yet another love story/magical mystery tour that takes us back and forth in time, taking place in the beautiful surroundings of the Berkshires.
The Comfort of Crows - Margaret Renkl
For plant, wildlife, and nature lovers this book is a loving respite from the natural world in its current state of duress. Renkl shares fifty-two chapters that touch on the creatures, plants, birds, and weather in her backyard over a year's time, moving from one season to the next. She writes, “radiant things are bursting forth in the darkest places, in the smallest nooks and deepest cracks of the hidden world.” Ann Patchett calls it "a luminous book that traces the passing of seasons, personal and natural" and I couldn't agree more. This book is a sheer delight to read.
American Fantastica - Tim O'Brien
Set in 2019 in the middle of Trump's administration, Tim O’Brien’s first novel in two decades is a conviction that the country has become unmoored from truth, descending rapidly into conspiracy and delusion, bigotry, and the mighty hand of greed. What could be satire is anything but . . . it's the truth and the whole truth of the demise of our great country. The fairly off-the-wall story is about a rather crazy bank robbery conducted by a defrocked and humiliated journalist who goes on a cross-country chase from one end of the country to the other, spending the $80,000 robbery haul, as we ride the ride with deceitful and despicable people we hope we never have to encounter in our own life story.
Leaning Towards Light - Edited by Tess Taylor
A beautiful anthology of poetry about plants and gardening and all that soothes our hearts and souls in the celebration of nature. Including recipes using pickings from the garden, each season in the garden is honored. Including the works of notable poets Mark Doty, Ross Gay, Ada Lion, Naomi Shibag Nye, and more, this is a joyous addition for both poetry and gardening collections for those who have a fondness for words spoken lovingly about the natural world.
The Heaviness of Things That Float - Jennifer Manuel
This is a story that breaks ones heart but also forces the reader to look at both sides of the story to decide where empathy should be given. Bernadette, a Caucasian nurse from the Pacific Northwest, is retiring after spending 40 years living alone in a cabin where she has served as the nurse for a First Nations community in a very remote part of the West Coast. Her imminent departure becomes complicated, and emotional, when the young man she virtually raised from childhood goes missing and her attachments to him and to the community she has given medical care to for all those years, don't understand her grief and admit that they have never, through all those decades, seen her as one of their kind, despite her embracing their rituals, their daily lives, and their friendships. This is a story that breaks ones heart but also forces the reader to look at the four decades that have slipped by in their own lives and question the value and where to go from here, with barely a wave goodbye after those 40 years.
North Woods - Daniel Mason
A house in the New England woods — and the apple orchard that grew on its grounds — bears witness to centuries of the lives who inhabited the house and the shocking stories it held. The house is born as a modest, humble cabin, when a couple escape a Puritan colony they don't fit in to. A mere apple seed becomes the house and land's livelihood and legacy . . . and it's story continues, next when an English soldier, decades later, discovers the lone property and fertile orchard and expands the house. Unmarried twin sisters live for and die for those apple trees during war and famine, years after the cabin was enlarged, over time, into the formidable house in which they lived. Many years later a crime reporter discovers a mass grave whose secrets are hidden beneath the ancient apple trees. I could go on with the inhabitant's tales, but it's for the reader to discover the rest and ponder over those first apple seeds and what they built . . . and the secrets they held through time. An engaging novel with a big question mark that can only be answered when the reader reaches the last page.
Of Time and Turtles - Sy Montgomery
She's written about octopus, hawks, hummingbirds, pink river dolphins, tigers . . . and many many more animals. She is, to me, Nature Writer Supreme, and she never lets me down. Sy Montgomery's latest book is about turtles. It's an eye-opener to their existence and the population's extinctions, their brilliant minds and to the hardships they endure to stay alive, to reproduce, and to be left alone in a world that really hasn't any respect for them. The book is also about the people who have dedicated their lives to rescuing turtles and the work they do to increase the population of an animal that is sorely misunderstood and that they have each fallen in love with.
The River We Remember - William Kent Krueger
William Kent Krueger has a way of dropping his readers into a place that is familiar, despite most likely never having been there. Rife with local conflict and old wounds, his novels take place in small Minnesota communities, along a river or by a Great Lake, during post WWII, in an America moving forward despite the recent battle-inflicted memories of the men who live in Krueger's stories. His stories include a conflict between hardened old-timer local Native Americans and the hardened old-timers of the community. "The River We Remember" is so tender, it's easy to forget that the story is about hatred of the other and the struggle to change that hatred into compassion. Krueger knows these people and does beautiful justice to each and every character who become part of our psyche while we are engrossed in the gentleness of his storytelling.
DAY - Michael Cunningham
A character-driven story told in three parts over three years, in the before and after of the pandemic, about two families who are deeply connected as siblings and in their marriages and partnerships and in their children, as well as being connected by their dysfunctions and dissatisfactions with life. Don't expect a joyful story but know that you can't help to not take a look at your own life and family relationships and find hope and healing through this novel. In Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham's first book in a decade, survival is the bottom line.
True North - Andrew J. Graff
A new novel from the author of the heart-pounding thriller "Raft of Stars" takes us to the business, lifestyle and culture of whitewater rafting on a beautiful wild and gnarly river in northern Wisconsin. Betting all their financial and emotional resources, former whitewater rafting guide, Sam Brecht, purchases and moves his wife and their three young kids to his uncle's formerly successful whitewater camp, in hopes of turning his life around. When historic floods literally change the river, the rafting businesses connected to it, and their new home, Sam and his wife are faced with larger-than-life decisions that become make-it-or-break-it, in this heartfelt nod to the power of Mother Nature and the struggles of marriage.