Joanna’s April Recommendation

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

still alice

Joanna says:  “My recommendation for April is Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Published in 2007, this one has been on our shelves for a while, but the upcoming release of the film version of the book piqued my interest.  Written from the perspective of protagonist Alice Howland, a Harvard University professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, the reader is taken on a heartbreaking journey as Alice beings to lose all the things that brought meaning to her life.”

3 Similar Reads

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante – “Implicated in the murder of her best friend, Jennifer White, a brilliant retired surgeon with dementia, struggles with fractured memories of their complex relationship and wonders if she actually committed the crime.”  Summary from catalog

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers – “Late one night, near the Platte River in Kearney, Nebraska, where the sandhill cranes pause every year in their spectacular migration, Mark Schluter flips his truck. Brain damaged, he develops Capgras syndrome, which makes him think that his sister, Karin, is an impostor.” – Booklist

Cost by Roxana Robinson – “The mildly strained Lambert family is in terrible trouble. New York art professor Julia is spending the summer in her ramshackle Maine home with her very elderly parents.” – Library Journal

Laona’s February Recommendation

The History of Us by Leah Stewart

history of us“I just finished The History of Us by Leah Stewart.  This is domestic fiction focusing on grief, adulthood and responsibility.  I like domestic fiction because it allows me to lose myself in the issues of some other family (where the problems are far from mine).  This was a good read for a cold winter day underneath my fleecy blanket where I was safe from Eloise’s problems.  Library Journal says: ‘Eloise Hempel is the de facto mother to three twentysomething siblings, having become their primary caregiver after their parents were killed in a car accidents. Always planning to put her life back on track as a Harvard professor, Eloise has found herself rooted in Cincinnati for 20 years as she parented her sister’s children to adulthood.'”

Read about or request this book from the library catalog! 

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

The Odds: A Love Story by Stewart O’Nan

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

Two Kisses for Maddy by Matthew Logelin

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley


Dorothy’s February Recommendation

In the Castle of the Flynns by Michael Raleigh

in the castles of the flynnsDorothy says that this is “A funny, poignant, bildungsroman about an 8-year-old orphan raised by his Chicago Irish extended family, grandparents, bachelor uncles, and the obligatory nun”.  Here is a partial review from Book List: “The McCourt brothers can move over.  The Chicago branch of the Irish mafia weighs in with a hilarious rendition of an Irish Catholic childhood, circa 1955…his [Raleigh’s] familiar, superior sense of place is here, but he adds an orphan, a family burdened by the love of drink and blessed with the gift of gab, a beautiful and brilliant nun, and a charismatic, slightly dangerous uncle”.

Read about or request this book from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald

Lisa’s January Recommendation

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

Here is a description of this book from our online catalog: “You don’t have to look very hard at Drew Silver to see that mistakes have been made.  His fleeting fame as the drummer for a one-hit wonder rock band is nearly a decade one last thingbehind hom.  He lives in the Versailles, an apartment building filled almost exclusively with divorced men like him, and makes a living playing in wedding bands.  His ex-wife, Denise, is about to marry a guy Silver can’t quite bring himself to hate.  And his Princeton-bound teenage daughter Casey has just confided in him that she’s pregnant–becuase Silver is the one she cares least about letting down. So when he learns that his heart requires emergency, lifesaving surgery, Silver makes the radical decision to refuse the operation, choosing instead to use what little time he has left to repair his relationship with Casey, become a better man, and live in the moment, even if that moment isn’t destined to last very long”.  Lisa says, “I really like [Jonathan Tropper], I think I have now read all of his books.”

Laona recommended this book in October 2012!  Click here to link to her recommendation of the book and find a list of read alikes!

Ashley’s January Recommendation

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

“Our online catalog offers this description of Flight Behavior: ‘Tired of living on a failing farm and suffering oppressive poverty, bored housewife Dellarobia Turnbow, on the way to meet a potential lover, is detoured by a miraculous event on the Appalachian mountainside that ignites a flight behaviormedia and religious firestorm that changes her life forever.’  I’d simply add that this miracles turns out to be an ecological disturbance that the characters in the books must face.  Kingsolver writes stories that marry down to earth characters with the earth.  Her work weaves in information about plants, bugs and animals and relates them to people.  She gives the environmental movement a deeply human context.  Flight Behavior is no exception.  The character transformation in this novel cannot be emphasized enough.  Dellarobia goes from discontented housewife to budding scientist–all because of an environmental phenomenon that occurs on her mountain.  This tranformation has a lasting impact on her relationship with her friends and family–many of whom experience their own transformations throughout the novel.”

Read about or request this novel from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

Goodnight, Texas by William J. Cobb

Anthill by Edward O. Wilson

The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

Rebecca’s January Recommendation

May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes

may we be forgiven“This novel is a very dark tragicomedy centering around a family in the setting of New York’s Westchester County.  While the events that take place over this 480 page novel occur in a single year, they can only be described as absurdly epic.  To any readers interested in this novel, be warned: many awful events happen in the first hundred pages, and it is hard to find any sympathy for the people the events happen to.  However, A.M. Homes’s combination of humor, pathos, wit, and belief in human redemption make a wonderfully told story about a group of people struggling to be heard and understood in modern society.  The Book List Review does a great job summing up the heart of this book: ‘In this frenetic, insightful, and complexly moral novel of a man transformed by crisis, Homes dramatizes hubris and greed, alienation and spirituality, improvised families, and justice in our age of smart phones, dumbed-down education, and bankrupt culture.'”

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

Women by Charles Bukowski

The Family Markowitz by Allegra Goodman

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson

Cool, Calm, and Contentious by Merrill Markoe

Rebecca’s December Recommendation

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This debut novel depicts the end of the world through the eyes of Julia, a 12-year-old girl living in California.  The apocalypse is not caused by plague or war, but by the age of miraclesgradual slowing of the Earth’s rotation.  Walker’s melancholy and spare writing make this “end of the world event” even scarier than the former options.  Julia’s realization that the world is coming to an end is slow, which I believe makes for a very realistic story.  However, while I love all novels the depict the apocalypse in some way, this is not the reason why I ultimately loved this one.  For me, the best part of the novel was how Walker told a brilliant coming of age story through the character of Julia; despite, or maybe because of, the apocalypse, the themes of love, puberty, and family were told poignantly and with great emotional depth.  This novel will appeal to lovers of lyrical writing, well-developed characters, and deliberate storytelling.  The coming of age story also makes for a great young adult/teen crossover.

Read about or request Age of Miracles from the online catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Mara and Dann: An Adventure by Doris Lessing

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

The Weather Makers by Tim F. Flannery

On Thin Ice by Richard Ellis

Annals of the Former World by John McPhee

Dorothy’s December Recommendation

Elsewhere by Richard Russo

“This is novelist Richard Russo’s new memoir.  Here is a description elsewherefrom the SWAN online catalog: ‘After eight commanding works of fiction, the Pulitzer Prize winner now turns to memoir in a hilarious, moving, and always surprising account of his life, his parents, and the upstate New York town they all struggled variously to escape.’ While you are waiting for this book, read any of his novels.  My favorite is Empire Falls for which Russo won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002.”

Read about or request Elsewhere from the online catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Winter Journal by Paul Auster

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks

America America by Ethan Canin

After This by Alice McDermott

Ashley’s December Recommendation

Fourmile by Watt Key

“A boy must contend with the loss of his father, a failing farm and his mother’s shady boyfriend.  He finds help and friendship with a drifter (who has his own baggage).  The fourmileboy and the drifter fix up the farm as his mother’s boyfriend’s faults shine throught.  The story ends in a dangerous and dramatic showdown that you’ll have to read to believe.  This book is a fast-paced, well written tale with compelling characters.  Key trusts middle grade readers with some tough topics–that I’m sure many will identify with.  This is a great read for boys and reluctant tween readers–but the book has a great deal of adult appeal.  While a story of this nature can help a young person understand the world around them–it can also help adults understand a child’s point of view in times of tragedy”.

Read about or request Fourmile from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

You May Plow Here: The Narrative of Sara Brooks by Sara Brooks

We Bought A Zoo by Benjamin Mee

Where Rivers Change Direction by Mark Spragg

Rebecca’s November Recommendation

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

“In this hilarious, compelling, and strangely moving story, Golden Richards, a Mormon polygamist with 4 wives and 28 children, is going through a midlife crisis that threatens to destroy his career, his life, and the lives of his wives and children. I have always been a fan of domestic fiction, especially in the portrayal of dysfunctional (yet loving) family life.  After reading Udall’s The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, and loving it, I decided I had to give this one a try.  While I am not usually a fan of sensationalist literature, Udall’s firsthand knowledge of polygamous family life and the Mormon religion means his approach to the subject is at once humorous, nostalgiac, and refreshing.  I would recommend this book to lovers of Jonathan Franzen or A.M. Homes.”

Read about or request The Lonely Polygamist from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

2) This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M. Homes

3) Lunch at the Piccadilly by Clyde Edgerton

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

2) Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall

3) Mormon America by Richard Ostling