Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Feb22

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett A bottle of gin. A gun. A tablet of Benadryl. A book. In Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, these everyday objects take on resonant meanings for the blended family that is born in the wake of an adulterous kiss at a gin-and-orange soaked party. Fix and Beverley Keating are picture perfect, for a few pages, at least. He is a police detective in LA and she is a beautiful housewife. They are raising two children in...

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The Ancient Minstrel by Jim Harrison
Jan18

The Ancient Minstrel by Jim Harrison

The Ancient Minstrel by Jim Harrison My stepdad turned me onto Jim Harrison, who is best known for writing Legends of the Fall, which I’ve never read, incidentally. (I loved the movie, though.) Harrison, who died last year, reminds me of a cross between John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. In fact, he reminds me of a well-known Steinbeck character, Doc. He was an avid outdoorsman, a sensitive poet, a nature and animal lover, but also...

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Nov16

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life I am a huge fan of podcasts. Two of my favorites, “All the Books” and “Get Booked”, are produced by the site Book Riot. The hosts of both of these shows have talked incessantly, since it’s release, about Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. They talked about their love of the story, the amazing characters and the struggles they had to read anything else after they finished reading it. I tried and...

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Oct26

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow Did you love The Grand Budapest Hotel, with its quirky characters and old world charm? Do you like stories about small physical spaces made large by imagination and the resilient characters inhabiting them? Do you think it’s interesting to watch an aristocrat come down in the world while also moving up in a spiritual, if not a literal, sense? Are you a fan of Russian history? If you answered yes to any of the...

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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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Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
Oct05

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Sweetbitter “You will develop a palate,” Sweetbitter begins, and the rest of the novel, structured into four parts which trace the seasons of a year, describes that process in visceral detail.  I never lived in New York.  I was never a waitress.  Nevertheless, I followed Tess’s first year of adult life with a combination of ardent fascination and deep, sometimes uncomfortable empathy. We meet Tess when she has just arrived in New...

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Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Sep21

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson In the endnotes of Another Brooklyn, where she discusses the writing of the book, author Jacqueline Woodson says, “Long before I began to sketch out the lives of August, Gigi, Angela, and Sylvia, I was thinking about what it means to grow up girl in this country…” The thinking paid off. Another Brooklyn is one of the most powerful books I’ve read about “growing up girl.” Woodson’s spare,...

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What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
Sep14

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours It’s true. What is not yours is not yours. No matter how much you want it, you can’t have it, if it isn’t yours. Helen Oyeyemi’s collection of short stories, What is Not Yours is Not Yours, explores the longing we all have for the things and people that are not ours despite our best (and worst) efforts. Oyeyemi has made a name for herself since her first book, Icarus Girl, was published while she was an...

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The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
Aug24

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

The High Mountains of Portugal First and foremost, I apologize for the length of this recommendation but in order to do it justice, it was a must. Thank you in advance for your endurance. I’m a big fan of Yann Martel’s 2001 novel, Life of Pi, and have been very curious as to what this new novel would be about. When I saw it in one of my favorite indie stores, The Raven, I knew I had to pick up. This story is comprised of three...

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Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett
Aug17

Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett

Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett Summer is the perfect time to read a book that is light and easy. However, I usually don’t like too light and easy. So Rush Oh! fit the bill. It is a pleasant story with substance. The pleasant part tells the story of a young woman, Mary Davidson, coming of age as she manages the household of her younger siblings and her father, master whaler George “Fearless” Davidson. The substance, for me, is the rich...

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The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
Jun01

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

The Year of the Runaways The Year of the Runaways by British writer Sunjeev Sahota is my favorite kind of book: it zeroes in on a world I hadn’t known I was interested in until the writer left me no choice. The book, set in 2003, tells the story of a group of young migrant workers from India, settling in England under various guises—marriage, education—but all for the same fundamental reason: to make money and build a better life for...

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All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage
May25

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

All Things Cease to Appear Apparently, quotation marks around dialogue in fiction have become optional. This is a trend that I thought would be really hard for me. I like rules. And I especially like grammar. Is anyone else with me when I say that diagramming sentences was one of my favorite parts of middle school? Before reading All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, I found it hard to imagine that I could ever enjoy a...

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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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My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Mar02

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

As I have written in this space before, I would like to be Ann Patchett when I grow up. Therefore, when I learned that her bookstore, Parnassus Books, offered a book subscription service, I signed up immediately. My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout was the first Parnassus First Edition Club selection to land on my doorstep. I did not read Olive Kitteridge or Burgess Boys, Strout’s earlier works, so I probably would not have...

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