Many weeks as a bestseller has placed debut psychological thriller Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins on everyone’s “Must Read” list. While you’re waiting, or even if you’ve already devoured a copy and are yearning for more fast-paced and compelling psychological suspense, the Library has some suggested titles to tide you over.
Never Look Away – Linwood Barclay
Little Black Lies – S.J. Bolton
Don’t Try to Find Me – Holly Brown
The 19th Wife – David Ebershoff
Hausfrau – Jill Alexander Essbaum
Losing You – Nicci French
The Secret Place – Tana French
The Other Woman’s House – Sophie Hannah
The Silent Wife – A.S.A. Harrison
Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes
Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey
The First Prophet – Kay Hooper
The Line Between Here and Gone – Andrea Kane
The Good Girl – Mary Kubica
Defending Jacob – William Landay
Mystic River – Dennis Lehane
What the Dead Know – Laura Lippman
Dear Daughter – Elizabeth Little
Sister – Rosamund Lupton
The Intruders – Michael Marshall
Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight
Cover of Snow – Jenny Milchman
Jack of Spades – Joyce Carol Oates
Where Serpents Lie – T. Jefferson Parker
The Expats – Chris Pavone
The Collector – Nora Roberts
Suspect – Michael Robotham
Unbecoming – Rebecca Scherm
The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson
Caribou Island – David Vann
The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters
Under the Lake – Stuart Woods
Looking for more? Check out our “If You Like… Gone Girl” link.
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) is one of the most celebrated authors of American literature, penning works such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), Roughing It (1872), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). These classic novels have become standard repertoire for students in middle and high school.
Recently, some of Mark Twain’s 150-year-old newspapers articles have been uncovered by scholars at the University of California (Berkley). In 1865 and 1866, Twain wrote for the Territorial Enterprise newspaper of Virginia City, Nevada, where he was paid $100 a month for his labor. At the Territorial Enterprise, Twain wrote a six-day-a-week, two thousand word column about life in San Francisco. These letters were written early in his career when he was 29.
An additional document suggests that Mark Twain had tackled the idea of suicide. At the time of the letter being written, Twain faced extreme debt, frustration at his lack of career advancement, and struggle to find his writing identity. Fortunately for the literary community, Mark Twain developed his talents and went on to become one of the fathers of American Literature.
For more information about these recently uncovered letters by Mark Twain, please view the articles below.
Letter by Mark Twain Suggests He Once Contemplated Suicide – Time
Lost Mark Twain Stories Recovered by UC Berkeley Scholars – Los Angeles Times
Mark Twain’s Suicidal Thoughts Revealed in Rare 150-year-old Letters – National Post
Chris Bohjalian’s powerful new novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands will appeal to older teens as well as adults. Sixteen-year-old Emily is on the run, homeless after her parents are killed in a nuclear power plant explosion, an explosion that her parents are suspected of causing. She finds herself hanging out with a bad crowd, and yet becomes fiercely protective of a young boy who falls under her protection. As in other novels by this author, difficult subjects are handled with integrity and sensitivity.
Readers of multicultural fiction will enjoy The Sleeping Dictionary by Sujata Massey. In this historical epic, attention to detail and great character development make for a long but enjoyable read. It is the story of Pom, a young Bengali girl who loses her entire family in a tsunami in 1930. Her story of coming of age , reinventing herself and seeking personal independence is set against the stage of India’s independence movement. There are similarities to Memoirs of a Geisha as far as mood, and the story also makes a great book to listen to.
One staff member really enjoyed We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, but says it’s much better if you don’t know what’s coming, so no spoiler alerts! The story evolves around a girl coming of age in an eccentric family.
For nonfiction fans, Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency by Mark Updegrove is a great book to listen to, as it includes historical audio snippets of LBJ speaking. The entire book was a real eye opener for one staff member, as she had previously associated LBJ mainly with the Vietnam War. Instead, this book concentrated on the positive social reforms for education, civil rights, and health care LBJ achieved, as well as helping to understand the background of poverty he came from.
Another good nonfiction book is Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. In this collection of essays, the author examines what goes wrong in communications between men and women. The end results can be hilarious and there is a great deal of humor involved, although the book ends with a now-classic serious essay on violence against women.
On July 14, 55 years after Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee will be releasing her much anticipated second book, Go Set a Watchman. While much speculation still exists as to why Harper Lee waited this long to release her second novel, one thing is clear: Go Set a Watchman will become one of the mega bestsellers of Summer 2015.
Though this might be Harper Lee’s second published book, Go Set a Watchman was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird. The original editors from the 1950’s were more interested in Scout’s memories of her childhood and advised Lee to expand the novel on that idea.
Since its release date in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird has sold more than 40 million copies. Over 1 million copies of To Kill a Mockingbird are still sold a year, in a total of 40 languages. Go Set a Watchman is already #1 on Amazons Best Sellers Rank and the publishing firm HarperCollins plans on releasing 2 million copies.
Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. In 1999, To Kill a Mockingbird was voted “Best Novel of the Century” in a poll by Library Journal. In 2007, Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature by President Bush. President Obama honored her with the National Medal of Arts in 2011.
For more information on Harper Lee and Go Set a Watchman, look no further. Here are some recent noteworthy news articles on the details surrounding the release of the Harper Lee’s second novel.
Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman Will Realign the Literary Universe – Time Magazine
Reese Witherspoon to Narrate Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman – Time Magazine
Alabama Officials Find Harper Lee in Control of Decision to Publish Second Novel – New York Times
Harper Lee to publish sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird– The Washington Post
I’m always a sucker for the “quirky charmers” – books that in some way surprise or set off in a direction I wasn’t expecting but will gladly follow. Whether it is slightly odd characters and/or a story with a certain amount of eccentricity, by the end I find myself delighted even if (or perhaps because) they strayed away from the usual path.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper Although she lives on the Saskatchewan prairie, 83-year-old Etta decides it’s time to go see the ocean – and sets off walking. A marvelous story of love, loyalty and friendship.
2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino – The title was enough to get me started on this tale filled with off-beat humor, and a smart-mouthed 10-year-old who is desperate to sing and reconnect with her widower father.
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson – The humor is a bit darker in this smart story of adult children trying to come to grips with their crazy performance artist parents. (In my book journal I noted that I both liked AND disliked the ending!) A book to try if you liked Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain – Gallic charm and social commentary abound in this tale of the travels of Francois Mitterand’s hat. Or, if you prefer, head to London and be delighted by the Queen’s discovery of a bookmobile in The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.
The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen – Publisher’s Weekly summed this up nicely: “Fans of Wes Anderson will find much to love in the offbeat characters and small (and sometimes not so small) touches of magic thrown into the mix during the cross-country, train-hopping adventure of a 12-year-old mapmaking prodigy, T.S. Spivet.”
A fascinating new romance genre in the last twelve years is Amish romance, more fondly known as “Bonnet Rippers.” The importance of hearth and home are central themes in Amish romance with the backdrop of a tight-knit and loving community. While an outsider might woo a young Amish girl, she remains true to modesty and faithfulness. Many enjoy the genre as it is not racy, erotic, or overly sexual, but rather a sweet and innocent romance.
The three most popular authors of Amish romance are Beverly Lewis, Cindy Woodsmall, and Wanda Brunstetter. Together, they have sold more than 24 million books since 2003. Other spinoffs of Amish fiction include mystery, science fiction, and even “The Amish Bloodsucker Trilogy.”
For more information on the Amish romance genre, take a look at this article by The Wall Street Journal.
Three popular Amish Romance series you might enjoy are:
Home to Hickory Hollow Series by Beverly Lewis
Amish Vines and Orchards Series by Cindy Woodsmall
Brides of Lancaster County Series by Wanda Brunstetter
And don’t forget to check out this helpful list of Amish Fiction created by your very own St. Charles Public Library Reader Services team!
What a blessing it is to delight in an Irish read! Lose yourself in one of the titles listed below, or browse our “Read Me–I’m Irish!” display featured this month behind the Reader Services Desk (located near the “New Books”):
The Teapots Are Out and Other Eccentric Tales From Ireland (FIC KEANE)
The Book of Irish-American Poetry (811.008089 BOO)
The Big Little Book of Irish Wit & Wisdom (820.809415 BIG)
For the Love of Ireland (820.809417 FOR)
Finding Ireland: A Poet’s Explorations of Irish Literature and Culture (820.99415 TIL)
You may also enjoy this list of Contemporary Fiction by Irish Authors.
February is fast slipping away! In search of a quick read this month? Short story collections are an often overlooked goldmine of reading gems. Stop by the Reader Services Desk for suggestions or check out any of the recommended titles below:
True Stories Well Told: From the First 20 Years of Creative Nonfiction Magazine 814.008 TRU
Read Harder Ed Park 814.6 REA
Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing Neal Stephenson 814.6 STE
A Darker Shade of Sweden: Original Stories by Sweden’s Greatest Crime Writers of Sweden John-Henri Holmberg 839.738 DAR
Truman Capote Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Stories Truman Capote FIC CAPOTE
Samuel Johnson is Indignant: Stories Lydia Davis FIC DAVIS
Problems with People: Stories David Guterson FIC GUTERSON
Unaccustomed Earth Jhumpa Lahiri FIC LAHIRI
Love is Murder: Including Original Stories from Bestselling Thriller Authors FIC LOV
Love in Infant Monkeys: Stories Lydia Millet FIC MILLET
Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014 Alice Munro FIC MUNRO
Funny Once: Stories Antonya Nelson FIC NELSON
Heavenly Date and Other Flirtations Alexander McCall Smith FIC MCCALL SMITH
Fools Joan Sibler FIC SIBLER
Mr. Bones: Twenty Stories Paul Theroux FIC THEROUX
The book was so much better than the movie! How many times have we heard (or said) that? And generally, it’s true. The most recent example that comes to mind is “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon. The book was better. And I’d argue that the audiobook is best!
So what about audiobooks? When is the listen better than the read? Ardent listeners know that good narrators make a book come alive. As listening is my preferred format, here are a few suggestions for your spoken word pleasure. All worth trying if you’ve been curious or are looking for a good listen while you wait for Season 2 of Serial.
Hot out of the recording studio is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It’s being touted as the next Gone Girl so get your name on a hold list. Hawkins delivers a tight, psychological thriller located on the outskirts of London. Love those British accents!
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Australian mates this toime. Fun, offbeat romance with quirky lead character. The sequel, The Rosie Effect is just out on audio so you can make it a marathon.
Nonfiction can be so dry (a.k.a. boring) but not in the hands of this narrator! Try Arthur Morey‘s reading of In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides. Yeah it’s 17 hours long, but Morey’s assured tone keeps you interested.
Literary Fiction is usually great on audio and The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is no exception. Two narrators alternate in telling the story of Sarah Grimke, the actual abolitionist and women’s rights advocate and Hetty Handful Grimke a fictionalized enslaved woman owned by the Grimke family. The clip is from the opening chapter of the book in Sarah’s voice:
Mysteries are great to listen to because with audio you can’t easily cheat and flip to the last chapter to see who done it. Try Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling followed by The Silkworm, or Still Life – first in the series by Louise Penny. Also good: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, Cop Town by Karin Slaughter or The Heist by Daniel Silva.
Finally, if you really don’t care what the book is about and just want to listen to a good reader, seek out Edoardo Ballerini. You won’t be disappointed. (The clip is from Blood & Beauty: The Borgias by Sarah Dunant.)
Posted in Suggested Reads
Tagged audiobooks, Cop Town, Daniel Brown, Daniel Silva., Edoardo Ballerini, Graeme Simsion, Hampton Sides, I Am Pilgrim, In the Kingdom of Ice, Karin Slaughter, Louise Penny, Paula Hawkins, podcasts, Serial, Terry Hayes, The Boys in the Boat, The Girl on the Train, The Heist, The Long Way Home, the rosie effect, The Rosie project, The Silkworm
A new roundup of titles that have received “thumbs up” from your fellow patrons:
An avid mystery reader recommends the series by A. D. Scott. Set in the Scottish Highlands just after WWII, it has interesting characters and “great charm.” Start with A Small Death in the Great Glen
Double Feature by Owen King – yet another in Stephen King’s family is proving to be an entertaining writer!
The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris – very interesting story and look at Jewish customs in an ultra-orthodox London community.
If you enjoy romantic suspense, don’t miss the The Black Knights series by Julie Ann Walker, starting with Hell on Wheels.
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas – two patrons came in separately on the same day talking about how much they loved this book. This Spanish saga has been a hit overseas too.
One of our voracious readers of romance suggests trying anything by either Dakota Cassidy or Vicki Lewis Thompson.
Malice by John Gwynne – very well done “sword and sorcery” fantasy.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (YA) – a mother-daughter duo highly recommend this complex fantasy that combines other-worldly beings and a modern day art student.
Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World by Jeff Madrick (330 MAD) – a very interesting critique of current economic thinking written in such a way anyone can appreciate what he has to say.