For readers who love to be immersed in history, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is a great choice. Based on the life of abolitionist Sarah Grimke, the story begins on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given the gift of a slave to be her personal maid, Hetty “Handful” Grimke. Set mainly in South Carolina, the story follows thirty five years in the lives of these strong women and the choices they must make to be true to themselves, told from two totally different viewpoints.
A thriller that one staff member can’t stop raving about is I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. This is a fast-paced, eerily-plausible modern-day spy vs. lone terrorist story that takes you all over the world. Set against a backdrop of international politics, this race against time takes you from New York to Afghanistan, with many stops between, and also includes some surprisingly detailed character studies.
In the political satire O, Democracy by Kathleen Rooney, 20-something Colleen is a staffer for the senior senator of Illinois during the elections of 2008. She really wants to “make a difference” but finds politics is not all that she thought it would be. Based on real Illinois politicians, this “insider” look at politics is fun and fascinating, and the character studies are great.
If you enjoy listening to books, the audio format of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick is “amazing.” This young adult book deals with a day in the life of a suicidal teen as he says good-bye to four people he cares deeply about.
For nonfiction fans, there are numerous memoirs worth your time. Grace: A Memoir is by Grace Coddington, the creative director of American Vogue and a former model. Fashionistas will delight in this interesting and very candid collection of tales and anecedotes covering just about everyone in the society pages, as well as a great many personal details.
On a different note, Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall is a sweet memoir about friendship. While coping with an empty nest, illness and aging parents, the author unburdens herself to a Kenyan gardener and they find themselves cultivating a deep relationship together, as well as a garden.