Kingsolver's jaw-dropping saga takes place in the midst of the opiod crisis in Appalachian Virginia, following the life of a boy born in a trailer to a teenaged single mom. Deadbeats, debauchery, and self-destruction are the general themes in this sad-but-true American slice-of-life. Inspired by Dickens' "David Copperfield," the Victorian novel about displaced boy/childhood, Kingsolver attests to the poverty and hardships of rural Southern America in what will surely be another award-winning novel for the author.
An engaging memoir by NPR's Nina Totenberg about her 50-year friendship with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recounting how the two larger-than-life women paved the way for the changes that brought about professional and legal rights for women in the male-dominated world in which they both struggled through in their rising careers. A sheer delight to hear Nina Totenberg's voice in your head as she unmasks her path to success and the charming shared stories between two dear friends.
I confess: I love mending blue jeans! This book is the coolest how-to for patching jeans using the Japanese hand-stiching method known as shishiko. Now one of my craft bibles, I cannot imagine how I lived without it! Learn techniques and get ideas for adding way-cool stiching embellishments to your clothing.
There are many wonderful books about birds that feature drawings, photos, illustrations, and bird facts . . . but this one is truly special. The hand-painted illustrations are realistically spot-on and large enough to really see each bird's features. Details and facts for each bird variety includes interesting data and tidbits. The book also includes information on pollinators, backyard bird feeding, and so much more on how to be a friend to birds, providing readers all that is needed to create a healthy and eco-friendly garden for bird visitors. Kudos to artist and naturalist Jenny deFouw Geuder for coming up with a unique addition for bird lovers to add to their library of bird books.
Writer Michael Franks spent 100 Saturdays interviewing Stella Levi, a 98-year old holocaust survivor who lived an idyllic life in the Jewish sector of Juderia, on the Island of Rhodes . . . until 1944 when nearly every Jew was deported to the German camps. This is Stella's captivating storytelling of her life before, during, and after her encampment. Maira Kalman's iconic illustrations provide colorful images of the quaint island life that Stella reverently remembers and mourns for. I highly recommend!
A remarkably bright twist of a story that lovingly honors the brightest of creatures in the sea: octopuses. The back story of family lost and found is, in and of itself, quite moving, but having octopus Marcellus reveal it through his eye and tentacles was a delight beyond delights. A joy of a novel.
Riding on the success of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, this sequel is as strong a statement on the ill treatment of women in the back hills of Kentucky in the 1930’s and 1940’s and the prejudice towards the Blues (blue-skinned people of the Fugate ancestry) as it is a lovely homage to the Pack Horse Library Project, a WPA program that delivered library books to remote areas in the Appalachian Mountains, mostly women traveling on mule or horseback. Read them both!
Absolutely lovely poetry that reads like a love letter to our flying feathered friends. Not entirely poems about birds, the entire collection exquisitely touches on grief and pain as well as the beauty to be found in nature.
How clever to turn famous painter Georgia O'Keefe into a greenhorn sleuth as she uncovers murders and wrongdoings in her 1930s retreat at Ghost Rance. Stunningly capturing the New Mexican landscape, especially the gardens O'Keefe paints, the story is also wrapped around pre-WWII Nazi espionage she uncovers during her ranch sleuthing. I enjoyed getting to know this side of Georgia O'Keefe who is presented as an empathetic artist with an enormous heart.
What a story! Part historical, part fiction, Geraldine Brooks has written a fascinating love story to the greatest racehorse in American history, Lexington, and his fictionalized enslaved groomer in 1850s Kentucky and New Orleans; a NYC gallery owner in the mid-50s who becomes obsessed with a 19th century oil painting of what turns out to be that racehorse; and, in 2019, an Australian Smithsonian scientist and the Nigerian-American art historian she winds up collaborating with as they uncover information about the horse they share an interest in — who they discover is the famous Lexington. This well-researched story turns out to be as much about racism as it is about the greedy business behind horse racing — and the beauty of those horses. A wonderful read.
I thrive on reading books that take place on a river and rejoice in the beauty in the kindness and curiosity of strangers, as much as I do in the beauty and kindness of rivers. "Riverman" is New Yorker magazine staff writer Ben McGrath’s precisely well-researched account of folk-hero Dick Conant, who spent over 20 years solo canoeing American rivers before he disappeared. A fascinating tale about an even more fascinating man — thank you Ben McGrath for writing this book.
This rather delightful novel is told through the "Greek chorus" voices of some of the deceased townspeople buried in the small New Hampshire town's cemetery. Despite the underlying story being about the devastation on the town from the opioid crisis, the "Greek chorus" provides humor to this story about a dysfunctional family and how compassion heals in spite of how life can be a living hell.
A delightful read and discovery of one amazing human being who is exceptionally kind and good to rescue animals....600 of them! Laurie's childhood story is heartbreaking but gave her the backbone to make her animal sanctuary a life-changer for every animal imaginable. The world and animal kingdom need more people like her. Enjoy this heart-lifting read.
Take a trip back in time to post-war London when hopes to further yourself in life seem impossible — if you're a woman, and especially if you're a woman hoping to have a career, be recognized, get published. Natalie Jenner's three bookstore shopgirls' connections with literary figures and a few gentle-souled men make this an enticing and delightful historical novel, loaded with literary name-dropping and references. Which of Jenner's shopgirls would you wish to be? Me, I'll take Vivien!
This book of essays is the loveliest love letter to the State of Michigan I have ever read. Writer Jerry Dennis grew up and continues to live in the Traverse City area, what we Michiganders refer to as “Up North.” His descriptions of the rivers, lakes, and woods he has spent his lifetime fishing, playing in, and camping in and canoeing on took my breath away. The four chapters illuminate on each season in which Jerry Dennis creates picture-perfect images for the reader to ride with, as he eloquently details the sights and sounds of Michigan’s seasons. If you’ve never been Up North, become curious by reading this book. I assure you that you will find it necessary to get up there as soon as possible. Jerry Dennis doesn’t give away any of the exact locations he writes about . . . you’ll have to discover your own special spots to put to memory and to return to once you’ve become hooked, which, I also assure you, you will be!
If you loved the record, you'll love the behind-the-scenes book about the making of the album. Discover what wonderful people Earl Scruggs, Mother Maybelle Carter, Vassar Clements, and Merle Travis are and how they were brought in to the recording studio by John McEuen — and his day by day recounting of what went into making one of the best records in the industry that is celebrating it's 50th anniversary.
Composer Steve Reich, pioneer of the 1960s minimalist movement and a legend in the world of contemporary classical music, sat down with fellow composers, colleagues, and musicians to reflect on his career and how his work had impact on theirs. I found these conversations absolutely captivating — to the point that, while reading the book, I was compelled to listen to each piece of Reich’s beautifully mesmerizing music as it was being discussed.
An enchanting lesson on what to discover in a forest and how to uncover those discoveries. Tree expert-supreme Peter Wohlleben, has teamed up with his longtime editor, Jane Billinghurst, to write their first book together in which they reveal how to be a “forest detective.” They explain why everything laying on the forest floor and hanging from and attached to trees is connected to each other. Using all your senses, you’ll learn how to identify and unearth teeming life from the largest tree to the smallest organism that lives within a forest’s ecosystem by seeing, smelling, feeling, and even tasting. A delightful book.
We know them as the four founding women of NPR, the names and voices who branded radical change in American news broadcasting. This impeccably-researched and detailed group biography shares the defining back story of each woman, their differences and the similarities that led them to work together at the best job anyone could ask for in public radio. A truly inspiring read and captivating inside look at four utterly fabulous and brilliant women.
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.
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.
An historical novel based on the true story of the “dolphin house” experiment that took place in 1965 on St. Thomas. Cora, fed up with life as she knows it in the States, moves to the island and happens upon four dolphins being held in captivity in a lagoon by a crazed scientist, Dr. Blum. Cora’s curiosity leads her to “play” with the dolphins, while at the same time she realizes Dr. Blum is conducting cruel and painful experiments on the dolphins brains. He sees that she is connecting to the dolphins and hires her to teach the dolphins human language. Using her own research methodology, Cora’s work became one of the most intriguing experiments in modern science, though with controversy and a scandal surrounding it. A riveting read that led me to research the facts and true story around the dolphin house and the woman who dedicated herself to speaking with dolphins.
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 inspiring foodie (oh, and actor!) Stanley Tucci makes dining on Italian food look oh-so-delectable. Author of three cookbooks, Tucci’s autobiography begins with stories about growing up in an Italian American family who took to heart cooking and eating together around the kitchen table as a family. But, there’s so much more to his life story than that, though it’s always been in and out of a kitchen. This is a lovely memoir full of sweet anecdotes and delicious recipes. Buon appetito!
Not well-known as a poet, author Barbara Kingsolver published her first poetry collection in 1992, after the success of her first two novels Bean Trees and Animal Dreams. When I discovered the collection, when it was first published, I spent many hours outdoors seated in a quiet place, reading the poems out loud to myself. This early collection in Kingsolver’s career is timely: the poems, written while she lived in the borderlands of Tucson, Arizona, target racism and the inequities of the U.S. immigration system. This 2nd edition features an introduction by Kingsolver that touches on the current border crisis. The book is in duo languages with English on the right side of the page and Spanish on the left.
I am a big fan of Oliver Jeffers. I adore his illustrations and his dear little story's. This sweet new book by the master of picture books features transparent pages that are a major part of the storytelling. This is a fun interactive book for children . . . and demystifies the mystery of ghosts in a cute clever way!
Author of Pulitzer Prize Awarded “All the Light We Cannot See”, Anthony Doerr's writing skills shine brightly in this mind-boggling novel that is utterly unique to his other writings. Is it historical fiction, fantasy, suspense, or science fiction? In fact, it's all of them! The story follows five children on the brink of becoming adults, during three different timeframes in which the reader travels from ancient history and mythology to modern times and far into the future. Built around an ancient Greek text that each child encounters in their journeys, the reader is as curious as the children are in seeking an interpretation of the text's story of Aethon. who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky, Doerr brilliantly ties everyone and everything together, concluding this epic story with a sigh of relief and a perfect ending. Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” get ready for a rare novel about the meaning and preservation of the ancient text's message that is tied to the preservation of humanity and Mother Earth.
This charming story takes place in 1954 over ten days, though it feels like it's a lifetime as each character's background stories are revealed in the novel's process. Besides learning about the Lincoln Highway, which stretches from Times Square to San Francisco, a great deal of fascinating data is shared through the voice of the delightful 8-year old Billy Watson. I devoured the hefty 600-page book, though I wished I could have made it last longer . . . but I was too drawn in to not soak up every word. It's a treasure of a read.
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!
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 story-telling, and really nice to spend time up north while immersed in this story.
Illustrator and graphic/collage artist Nora King’s extraordinary talents offer a clever graphic take on Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny, which depicts the 20th century’s most somber moments. Klug’s interpretation of Snyder’s twenty lessons on resisting modern-day oppression goes hand-in-hand with her graphic book Belonging in which she addresses her own family’s connection to Nazi German, creating collage art through the use of archival materials, family photos and letters, and Nazi paraphernalia.
A curious psychological thriller about Scarlet and her teenage daughter, Blue, who have spent Blue’s lifetime as nomads, fleeing from HIM, though Blue hasn’t a clue who or what they are fleeing from. They wind up in the Lake Michigan beach town of South Haven where Blue becomes determined to figure out what her eccentric artist mother has been afraid of and why her mother’s paintings are getting weirder and weirder. Get ready to be thoroughly captivated by this terrific page-turner.
This delightfully lovely book is a peek inside 17 artists’ homes, featuring the sweetest illustrations by Chicago artist Kate Lewis and charming descriptions by author Melissa Wyse. Enjoy a little glimpse into the living spaces and gardens of such artists as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Georgia O’Keefe, Henri Matisse, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. A dear little inspiring walk through some pretty places.
Awarded the 2021-2022 Michigan Humanities Great Read.
This historical novel recaptures the story of 25-year old Annie Clements, the woman who lead the 1913 Calumet, Michigan miners strike, standing up for the miners and their families who were heinously and blatantly abused by the company. This is not a happy read, but it’s an important one. If you don’t know about the strike and the horrific fire that changed the lives of the entire community, if you don’t know about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula copper mining industry (giving that part of the UP the moniker “Copper Country”) that brought great wealth to the UP and made boatloads of money for the greedy, heartless capitalist president of the Calumet and Hecla Copper Mining Company, then this book will open your eyes to a part of Michigan’s history that is, simply, a shame but an important history lesson.