Still Life - Sarah Winman
An epic character-driven love story to the city of Florence, Italy and the captivating bohemian stars of Sarah Winman's new novel, a saga spanning 40 decades. Good luck not falling in love with each and every one of them, to wish you were seated at their table dining on every delicious meal they cook together, and to fantasize that these are the people you get to call "family." If you aren’t already a fan of her writing, Sarah Winman’s "Still Life" will win you over! This novel is my Literati Bookstore 2021 Book of the Year pick.
These Precious Days - Ann Patchett
I don't think it's possible for me to not be moved beyond measure by anything written by novelist and essayist Ann Patchett. Her latest collection of personal essays, some of which have been previously published in various periodicals, is a precious unzipping from moments in Patchett's life and a precious privilege for her readers to come away with a much deeper understanding of her. The most profound is her laying bare her admiration for and friendship with Tom Hanks' assistant Sooki, an elusive woman who is at the heart of this collection, a friendship that explores “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self.” Moving and utterly worth the exploration into the private Ann Patchett.
The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water - Erin Bartels
The quiet setting in an old rustic cottage on a small Michigan inland lake will appeal to anybody who has summered in Northern Michigan. This heart-wrenching story of childhood friendship, found and lost, is told through the voice of a writer struggling to begin her next book, which she can’t write until she comes to terms with that friendship and the ravages her first novel caused to her friend and her friend’s family across the lake. Really good writing and really good storytelling, and really nice to spend time up north while immersed in this story.
These Silent Woods - Kimi Cunningham Grant
The bond between father and daughter and their loving dependence upon each other, their means of survival in isolated Appalachia, the beautiful descriptions of their woods and surrounding wilderness, the entangled truth and ultimate mystery made this a two-day can't-put-down page-turner for me. Every detail of how they made a life in an utterly remote place was poetically described, including the seasonal hardness and hardships of living off the grid. I highly recommend this compelling novel.
Three Sisters - Heather Morris
Heather Morris’ “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” is an historical novel, written in 2018, that has to be remembered through time. It wasn’t until the end of her newest book “Three Sisters” that I was fully able to grasp that YES! this is another true story, narrated by three Jewish sisters who, miraculously together, survived the death camps. Morris documented their childhood Slovakian lives and the lives they endured while imprisoned for three years: how they were deathly ill and starving and petrified and constantly on guard, yet determined to survive. The novel ends with a lifeline update on each sister, their spouses and their extended families. How remarkable these victims of Nazi persecution were able to recount the brutality of Birkenau and Auschwitz to Morris and the “happy-ending” story that the hell they endured eventually led them to their freedom and lives in Israel.
Vivian Maier: The Untold Story of the Photographer Nanny - Ann Marks
Street photographer/nanny Vivian Maier was an unknown artist until 2007, when her body of work was discovered in a Chicago storage locker. That discovery opened up a mystery: who was Vivian Maier and why did she shoot 140,000 images over her 85 years and not do anything with them? Through meticulous research and interviews, writer Ann Marks has brought Vivan’s history and story to light in a most fascinating read, complete with explanations for the 400 photos included in the book. If you’re not familiar with this world-class photographer whose work and keen eye are compared to those of Robert Frank, Weegee Lisette Model, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, introduce yourself to her photographs with the knowledge that every picture she shot were kept to herself until after her death, and be grateful that we now have access to see what she saw behind her camera lens.
The Violin Conspiracy- Brendan Slocumb
A young virtuoso violinist from rural North Carolina, being Black as that violinist, and the violin he was gifted by his grandmother that turns out to be a Stradivarius. This captivating read about the world of classical music and musicians develops into a head-scratching twister when the Strad, valued at $10 million, is stolen early on in the novel. Was it the wealthy Southern descendants of the man who enslaved his great-great grandfather who claim the violin as theirs or his own greedy family who feel contempt towards his rising career? Shameless racism is as much a part of the story as is the violinist’s outstanding skill and his passion for the exquisite music he performs. I highly recommend this genuinely original story.
The Christie Affair - Nna de Gramont
A scintillating historical novel that brings to life the famous unsolved mystery of Agatha Christie’s eleven day disappearance by creating it into a love story and murder mystery, a la Agatha Christie herself. A fun read!
Beethoven Variations - Ruth Padel
“Darwin: A Life in Poems” poet Ruth Padel presents another poetry collection about a larger-than-life person, this one about composer Ludwig von Beethoven. She reveals Beethoven’s life and his lore in four movements, touching on the man behind the music. I enjoyed this unique biographical method, in the form of poetry, and Padel’s honoring the man whose work is music to many ears.
The Conference of Birds - Peter Sis
Author/illustrator’s delightful adaptation of the classic 12th century Persian epic poem is, simply, a joy and a treasure of a book. The Sufi poem is the story of a flock of birds in search of the “true king” Simorgh who lives on the mountain of Kaf. The birds that make it learn a profound lesson that this king is, in fact, each of and all of them. This edition is full of charming illustrations that add to the beauty of the lyrical poem.