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Fredrik Backman’s latest book is small yet carries a lot of weight. The story of a grandson and son dealing with a grandfather’s dementia. Every word cuts right to the heart. Sincerely moving and endearing. A book all should read!
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer (A Novella) by Fredrik Backman ($18, Atria Books), recommended by Melanie, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.
This collection of essays dips into so many genres I can't even explain it. Passarello tells the stories of 16 famous animals immortalized by humans and examines how their stories shape our understanding of humanity. It is witty, informative, and she even takes the perspective of Darwin's tortoise. Yes.
Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello ($16.95, Sarabande Books), recommended by Halley, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.
I don’t read many biographies, but I love memoirs and this is one of my all-time favorites.
Journalist Steve Luxenberg discovers that his mother had a sister, Annie, who was disabled and institutionalized. She had kept it a secret for over 50 years.
His search for the truth about is a story of family, the depression, the Holocaust and the nation’s treatment of disabled adults.
Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg (Hachette) Recommended by Allison at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC
Do not be fooled by the length of this book. It is short but powerful.
It brought me right into the world of a young African-American girl and her friends in language that is both compact and lyrical. Publishers Weekly gave Another Brooklyn a well-deserved star review and said: Woodson…combines grit and beauty in a series of stunning vignettes, painting a vivid mural of what it was like to grow up African-American in Brooklyn during the 1970s…Woodson draws on all the senses to trace the milestones in a woman’s life and how her early experiences shaped her identity.
It is a book that will stay with me for a long time.
Another Brooklyn by Jaqueline Woodson (Amistad Press) Recommended by Rene at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC
If you’ve ever been interested in what your dog or your cat really thinks about your tuxedo t-shirt (or whether they think at all), then Frans de Waal’s new book is a must-read for you.
De Waal is the renowned primatologist and writer of The Bonobo and the Atheist, as well as other essays on morality and intelligence in the animal kingdom. And in this book de Waal argues that certain animal intelligence–though different—is not inferior or superior to others (including us human folk).
De Waal makes it clear that we should examine animals in relation to their own specific traits and capabilities in order to understand their true intelligence, rather than comparing them to the things that we humans excel it.
By trying to get us to embody a point of view outside of our own species', this book will forever change the way we look at animal intelligence and consciousness.
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal, F. B. M. De Waal (W. W. Norton) Recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books Tampa FL
We usually think of 'all men are created equal' when considering the start of our country. Ashes, which completes Anderson's Seeds of America trilogy set during the Revolutionary War, reminds us jarringly that this was not the case. Through the trilogy, we experience the hardships, hypocrisies, and always-cherished bonds of friendship from the perspective of Isabel, an escaped slave. Anderson always writes compelling, complicated characters for whom we care deeply. Ashes brings deep satisfaction to the trilogy. Ages 9+.
Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy $16.99), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books. Raleigh, NC.
In the 1970s, Joan is a professional ballerina. Her company features the Russian breakout star, Arslan Ruskov. Joan is the reason he is in the United States--she even drove the get-away car. Despite the fact that she loves Arslan, he is engaged to another woman and Joan knows she will never be a soloist, so she decides to leave the ballet world. Joan marries her high school boyfriend and they live a nice life, but when their son begins to study dance, Joan is forced back into the lifestyle. Will her secrets be exposed or will her son be able to follow his dreams?
Astonish Me is written with a style similar to a performance. It is divided into different acts and the narration sets the scene as the events unfold. Several different topics are broached in this book, ranging from parenting styles to marriages to work ethics. This is a book that you will want to read with someone else, as the ending will leave you desperate to discuss with a friend who understands.
Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.
Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark
After John Jacob Astor makes a fortune in New York, he plans Astoria, a trading post on the Pacific coast.
His explorers face storms, mutinies, shipwrecks, starvation, murders and insanity, and finally give up. Astor's vision of Pacific Rim trade is put on hold for a couple of centuries. Astonishing history!
Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival By Peter Stark ($27.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Helen, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton
This isn’t a $35 travel book so much as the best, cheapest coffee table book you could ever buy. A gorgeous encyclopedia of the coolest sights on the planet. It is so large, and so thorough, that there literally is something in it for everyone. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton (Workman Publishing, $35.00), recommended by Tristan at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.
We are still licking our chops from the dinner we did with this author a while back! Steven Raichlen, America's "master griller" (Esquire), has completely updated and revised his bestselling encyclopedia of chile-fired rubs, lemony marinades, buttery bastes, pack-a-wallop sauces, plus mops, slathers, sambals, and chutneys. It’s a cornucopia of all the latest flavor trends, drawing from irresistible Thai, Mexican, Indian, Cajun, Jamaican, Italian, and French cuisines, as well as those building blocks from America’s own barbecue belt.
Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades--Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too by Steven Raichlen ($17.95, Workman Publishing), recommended by Kelly, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.
This is one of those books that sounds utterly ridiculous when you try to describe it: talking elephants in space! But the author creates such wonderful characters and builds such a unique, dynamic universe, that I totally fell under the spell of Barsk. This beautifully written adventure is full of heart and wonder as well as complex concepts of morality, science and spirituality. Talking elephants in space: yes!
Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen ($16.99, Tor ), recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
Reading Jonathan Carroll can seem like waking from a particularly strange dream. Random details that seemed so vital at the time can prove challenging to explain afterwards.
While cloaked in the guise of a fairly straightforward science fiction tale of alien "mechanics" battling chaos, Bathing the Lion is also a meditation on life and death, on memory and illusion, and yes, on dreams. It is a small window on the genius of Jonathan Carroll.
Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC
When Alice is sent from her desk job at a New York publishing house to the Bel Air mansion of M.M. Banning, a reclusive one-hit wonder in the literary world, she relishes the idea of doing something new and helping Mimi write her next great novel.
But it turns out, she's mostly wanted to take care of Frank, Mimi's 9-year-old son, a precocious genius who loves old Hollywood movies and dresses better than anyone you've ever met, but who can't seem to bring himself to socialize with other kids.
As Alice is charmed by Frank, she starts to wonder about the life Mimi has built for the two of them and whether she actually has a place in it, however temporary. Fans of Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project will be drawn to Frank and his social awkwardness that somehow manages to also be endearing.
Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (William Morrow) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC.
Beachhead is a suspense novel with lots of action, twists and turns. Hess brings the 1980’s Tampa to life with a descriptive narrative that is well-written and kept me guessing. With its interesting plot and realistic characters this is a must read for anyone wanting to learn a little bit of Florida history. Beachhead by Jeffery Hess ($16.95, Down & Out Books), recommended by the staff at Bookswap of Carrollwood, Tampa, FL.
In the fictional world of Sofarende there is war, and it is getting closer to home for 12-year-old Mathilde and her best friend Meg. Perfect for 4th or 5th graders who are ready for something more advanced but aren’t ready for YA content yet.
Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur (Wendy Lamb Books, $16.99), recommended by Catherine at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.
Amidst all the noise and anger in society, Krista Tippett offers a refuge, an oasis where we can learn the value of listening, and learn to respect and appreciate people and the world around us. In her latest book, she offers a message of hope. The Peabody Award-winning radio host of On Being, Krista is a master of what she terms "generous listening," with a strong curiosity, and a "willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity." What better model could we ask for?
Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living (Penguin $28), recommended by René at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
Quail Ridge Books is hosting Krista Tippett at the UU Fellowship of Raleigh for the paperback release of the book on Friday, March 3.