Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Apr26

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance I might know a thing or two about being a hillbilly. Much of my growing up was in the Ozarks of Arkansas catching crawdads and eating black-eyed peas at school lunch, and my parents live in the mountains of rural Tennessee. So, when I had dinner recently with a longtime friend in New York City, and one of the first things she said was, “I read this great book not long ago and I think you would love it,” I...

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Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Feb15

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly I am always on the lookout for a great new book – whether it’s at the bookstore, through a Goodreads email, or when friends talk about books they love. This time around for my recommendation here at GNB, I have gone back and forth on several books, especially one that is an important recent book, which I read, but honestly did not love. For weeks I have scoured shelves and lists to find a book to...

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The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter
Nov09

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

I love finding a book that is impossible to put down, especially when it’s fun to read and the story sweeps me into the pages. But it is rare to find a book that is not only unputdownable, but also beautifully written, each word and scene carefully wrought. This is the case with The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter. From the opening page of The First Time She Drowned, the clean, meaningful writing combined with the compelling...

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To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
Oct19

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey I became a fan of Eowyn Ivey’s fiction after Jessica Vealitzek recommended The Snow Child here, which also became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. When I heard about Ivey’s second novel, To the Bright Edge of the World, I picked it up soon after its August release. I expected a novel like The Snow Child, but from the first page, Bright Edge is clearly quite different. The...

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The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro
Jul27

The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro

The Muralist A few years ago, I read B.A. Shapiro’s bestselling novel The Art Forger, and loved it. Earlier this year, Shapiro’s next novel, The Muralist, came out on shelves, and of course I knew I had to read it. It’s that way with writers whose work we enjoy once, we usually enjoy again. Like The Art Forger, The Muralist is set in the past but also contains a character trying to solve a current day mystery. In The Muralist,...

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It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario
Jun29

It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario

It’s What I Do Sometimes, in all the fiction reading, I need to seek out something real–a true-to-life story, one that inspires me, gives fresh perspective, and reminds me of the wider world beyond my current Ohio town. Though it fixed itself upon my reading radar many months ago, I finally picked up a copy of Lynsey Addario’s new photographic memoir, It’s What I Do. It’s a book I now count as one of my...

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Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Apr27

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Circling the Sun Years ago, I fell in love with a movie called Out of Africa. It starred Robert Redford and Meryl Streep and was about the relationship of safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and author Karen Blixen, who wrote under the name Isak Dinesen in 1920s colonial Kenya. A woman on their periphery was Beryl Markham, the heroine of a new novel, Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. The cover alone had me, but when I found out it was an...

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Georgia by Dawn Tripp
Mar09

Georgia by Dawn Tripp

Georgia I remember the first time I came across Georgia O’Keeffe in high school art class. Her paintings of Southwestern-themed landscapes and cow skulls made an impression, but the color-saturated forms of her flower close-ups were the ones which struck me. I can still see the images in my head. Her work is unique, brilliant. I love her poppies, their gigantic shapes and ripples and forms. Every time I see a Georgia...

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Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Feb10

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

If you were to ask me what my favorite thing to do in life is, I would say it is to create. It doesn’t matter if it’s the blank canvas I set up on my easel last night waiting for daubs of oil paint or the novel I’ve been working on for what seems like forever, it is the act of creating that I love the most. I enjoy reading about creativity, but when I read Nina’s recommendation of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert for her GNB...

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Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner
Jan13

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard I have to confess I planned to write about a different book this week. But then I brought a book with me on a long flight, and it was good — so good that I finished it in hours. It was then that I knew that I loved it, and must recommend it here. It is Susan Meissner’s new novel, Stars Over Sunset Boulevard. The back flap copy talks about a present day story involving a hat worn by Scarlett...

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The Lake House by Kate Morton
Nov11

The Lake House by Kate Morton

The Lake House I didn’t set out trying to find my favorite book of 2015 — I’ve read a lot of good books lately. Several I’ve considered favorites. But then I picked up Kate Morton’s latest novel and by the time I finished, I knew I’d found it, one I authentically loved and couldn’t wait to recommend as my favorite book of 2015. If you’ve read any of Morton’s prior books, you can guess The Lake House is a family...

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We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Oct21

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

We Never Asked for Wings The very first book I recommended here at GreatNewBooks.org was The Language of Flowers. It was Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s debut novel and it had hit me hard – so much so that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It’s one of my favorite contemporary novels. For those of you who haven’t read it, The Language of Flowers is about an 18-year-old girl who ages out of the US foster care system and, when left ill-prepared...

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The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
Jul22

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

The Shell Seekers Every once in a long while, a novel comes out on shelves that stays in the hearts and minds of readers so that they feel, once they’ve turned the final page, as if they MUST recommend it to their friends, their postman, their friends and neighbors – everyone they know. One book like that for me is one I picked up at a used bookstore fifteen years ago on a whim, because the bookseller recommended it. That book is The...

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Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
Jul08

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Last spring, when I traveled to Boston to attend the Muse writer’s conference, I sat in on a class taught by a panel by four authors, on research for fiction. One of the panelists, Lisa Genova, talked about the research she’d done for her first book, Still Alice, by interviewing hundreds of early-onset Alzheimer’s patients. After the class, I bought Still Alice at the conference bookstore. Once I read it, I knew I’d found one of...

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Apr29

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

It’s rare to find a book I know I have to share, one which has a combination of story and words and character which pulls me in so deeply that it’s impossible to stop reading until the last page is turned. Some books I enjoy are more artistic and don’t draw a large readership, but the rare gems are the ones which are complex and have depth and still are accessible and enjoyable for many readers. My book recommendation this time is...

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