Staff Picks

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

I loved this book!  Lillian is a funny, sassy older woman who has lived and worked in New York City since college.  On New Year’s Eve 1984 she decides to don her mink coat and walk to a young friend’s party in Chelsea.  On the way she talks to strangers and reminisces about her life as an advertising executive, wife and mother. The novel, like Lillian’s life, is filled with lots of humor and heartbreak.

This Was a Man by Jeffrey Archer

The seventh and last in a series of novels by Jeffery Archer about the Clifton and Barrington families beginning in 1920’s England. Fun, addictive reading with soap-operish plot and multi-layered characters.  I’ve loved following all the characters, good and evil…and there are many evil ones.  Archer manages to tell a great story while his characters live through all the historical events of the 20th century.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

“One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.”

Wonderful novel by Ann Patchett about the two families and the aftermath of the divorce.  Patchett gives us a glimpse into the lives of the six children as adults as she weaves in memories of their childhoods.  The book is like a puzzle.  Characters and memories all jumbled up in a box.  Patchett picks each piece up and fits them into a narrative that is completed by the end of the book.  I found this such a moving novel..full of heartbreak, humor and memorable characters.  I didn’t like “State of Wonder” by Patchett for many reasons, so was hesitant to pick this one up.  Glad I did.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Not a book for everyone.  I thought it was so beautifully written and the characters so believable and sympathetic.  Four college friends and graduates go to New York to find their way.  Their friendship and strong bond helps them through their hardships and their successes.  Jude is a troubled soul and his early sad life is revealed to us a little at a time.  It’s a hard and sad book to read but one that you will remember always.  Highly recommended.

When Books Went To War: The Stories that helped us win World War II by Molly Guptill

Manning is the fascinating story of how the introduction of paperback books helped the morale of our soldiers overseas.  The War Department and the Publishing industry combined efforts to provide the military with books of all genres.  This story is an interesting look into an aspect of war not usually covered

…also fun to see what books the soldiers preferred such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. 

The Son by Jo Nesbo

Fans of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series won’t be disappointed in this new stand-along mystery.  Sonny Lofthus is in prison accepting blame for crimes he didn’t commit in exchange for supplies of heroin.  When he learns from another prisoner that his police officer father did not commit suicide as he had been led to believe, he plans his escape and vengeance.  A bit graphic like Nesbo’s other books but nonetheless suspenseful, fast-moving with twists and turns along the way

End of your life book club

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. Starting with a son’s simple question to his mother…”What are you reading?” Will Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Anne, embark on a journey of rediscovering their connection to literature and to each other as they deal with Mary Ann’s terminal cancer.  With each chapter we are immersed in their lives, their books and their thoughts.  A heartwarming book that is a love letter to each other and literature.

15507958Me Before You
and The Girl You Left Behind   by JoJo Moyes.  Both of these books, though entirely different, are wonderful.  In Me Before You, a young English girl down on her luck, Louisa Clark, takes a job tending to a handsome, wealthy and adventurous businessman who was sadly struck down and is in a wheelchair.  His disability has caused him to be depressed, demanding and gruff.  Realizing that the end of her six-month work contract coincides with his planned assisted-suicide propels her to dream up adventures that Will can enjoy and hopefully make him want to continue to live.  Through their relationship, both Will and Lou are transformed in this heartwarming, but not maudlin, story.
o-LIFE-AFTER-LIFE-KATE-ATKINSON-facebookLife After Life by Kate Atkinson is an engrossing read about a woman born in the early 20th century who dies over and over only to be reborn in a new life.  It may sound far-fetched or confusing, but in the skillful hands of Atkinson the story is mesmerizing.

Ursula’s first death occurs at childbirth…the story changes and she lives.  She has many deaths over the course of the book and the most interesting part is during the second World War when she befriends Hitler.  Of course, she dies in Germany but then is reborn and again living in her childhood country English home.

It is a book that will engage you on many levels…just think if you could rewrite Anna Karenina’s life after her fateful death!