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Fiction Recommendations

Sum by David Eagleman

Most neuroscientists do not publish books of short fiction, particularly fiction about the afterlife. David Eagleman, however, is not your typical neuroscientist. He also studied English literature in college, which explains the lyrical, elegant tone of his work, and has also long been fascinated with different takes on the afterlife. Each short story in this collection is an image of what life after death could look like, and each is as fascinating as the last. This is a book that begs to be read out loud. Share it with everyone you know. You will be immensely popular.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780307389930
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 12th, 2010

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

I am a huge sucker for ghost stories. I seek them out all over the place – on the internet, among friends, and of course in books. I am happy to report that The Little Stranger is among the best ghost stories I've read; it's one of those rare books that not only manages to be well and truly frightening, but also packs a serious literary punch. A great many things sneak up on you when reading this book, particularly the potential instability of the narrator, a young doctor who finds himself in over his head when he befriends and strange and formerly wealthy family. I can't imagine a better book to curl up with as the first fall rainstorms hit.

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The Little Stranger Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781594484469
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - May 4th, 2010

This Side of Brightness by Colum McCann

In This Side of Brightness we are introduced to the character of Walker, living in the early 1900’s. Hired as a sandhog to help build the train tunnel that now connects Manhattan to Brooklyn, his life takes a series of turns after accepting the job. Deep in the tunnel’s underworld, Walker experiences something so profound that there is an immediate luminance and transcendence that outdoes the darkness he is surrounded by. McCann then parallels Walker’s story with that of Treefrog, a contemporary homeless man that survives by navigating his way through New York’s forgotten tunnels. In seamless prose switching between the two characters, McCann tells a story that challenges our notion of time and friendship, so that we come to realize how one person can ultimately embody all the stories that came before.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
This Side of Brightness: A Novel Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9780312421977
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Picador - January 1st, 2003

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

IF YOU LIKED:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Picador)THEN YOU SHOULD READ:

Annabel by Kathleen Winter (Grove Press)

Orange Prize nominations always seem to land at the top of my list, and I’ve recently discovered the Giller Prize as another go-to for great fiction. But a book that made the shortlists of both prizes? That certainly caught my attention. Winter’s meditation on gender and identity is set in a rural seaside coast that proves to be as isolating as it is beautiful. When a hermaphrodite baby is born into this small community, both the parents and the doctor decide its best to bring the child up as a boy and choose the name Wayne, a decision that seems final enough, until Wayne hits adolescence. A compelling and complex read in the vein of Middlesex.

Jeffery Eugenedies is one of those authors who packs a small but powerful oeuvre, and his fiction has attracted countless obsessed devotees. Luckily enough, he’s finally got a new novel coming out this fall, The Marriage Plot. If you haven’t caught up on his work, you simply must read Middlesex, a portrait of a character named Cal, who is born a hermaphrodite. Eugenedies twines the story of Cal’s Greek heritage with the story of his life in Detroit, and his struggle to come to terms with his unique identity. Picked by many critics as a contender for the Great American Novel.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
Annabel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802170828
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Grove Press, Black Cat - January 4th, 2011

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

Daniel and Sophia have known each other a very long time, but Sophia doesn’t know it yet. In fact, she doesn’t even know that her name is Sophia—she’s always been Lucy, and up until the moment she kisses Daniel in an empty classroom at her high school, her existence has been fairly average. Or so she thought. This is a romantic adventure written with thoughtful detail and skillfully-executed plot twists; a love story in which only one character knows the whole story. Readers who liked The Time Traveler’s Wife will find much to enjoy here.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
My Name is Memory Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781594485183
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - June 7th, 2011

Lucy by Lauren Gonzales

This book is absolutely delightful! I admit, when I saw it was a story about a young girl who is half human, and half bonobo, I thought it might wind up a bit corny. But I completely fell in love with the characters. This book will appeal to both young adult and adult readers, and hit all the right discussion points.

Reviewed by: 
Clytia
Lucy Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780307473905
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Vintage - July 12th, 2011

Anthropology of an American Girl by Hillary Hamann

When Hilary Hamann first published this novel in hardback, reviewers were comparing her to the likes of Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, and George Eliot, and I have to say, I was skeptical. Yet, here I am letting you know those comparisons because, it turns out that they’re apt. Anthropology of an American Girl is sharp and strong, edgy, and deep. Deep in the way where you have to come up for breath because you’re not sure if everyone is going to survive (they don’t) and deep in the way where even if you don’t usually mark your books, suddenly you are because there are paragraphs so true and hitting that your chest catches, and you need to underline words that Hamann offers about turning from girl to woman because they prove something, outline something, speak to something that you hadn’t even known you felt, but is at once recognizable. I have to say this isn’t usually the kind of novel I read with its contemporary references and interlope on popular culture; normally such books make me feel invisible, but this one made me realize how much we are all a part of something. This is Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom written from the female perspective. I guess those comparisons keep coming but read this book and you’ll realize that Hilary Hammann has earned every one.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Anthropology of an American Girl: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780385527156
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Random House - June 14th, 2011

Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue

My favorite thing about Emma Donoghue’s books are her characters. She’s written collections of short stories and many novels set in a wide range of eras and places, and no matter what the topic, her characters sing. This is particularly true of her historical fiction, which she infuses with exhaustive research. I blazed through Slammekrin in a day or two, and after I found I couldn’t get the protagonist’s voice out of my mind. Love her or hate her (…you might hate her), she will certainly spur heated discussion. This is a great summer read for fiction-loving book groups.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Slammerkin Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780156007474
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Mariner Books - May 1st, 2002

Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware

History and character come alive in this new novel by Ciji Ware. Architect Amelia Bradshaw returns to San Francisco in 1906 to work with Julia Morgan (yes, Ware makes real-life Morgan, the first licensed female architect in California, a character in her book). Bradshaw is hired on in an architectural firm, due to Morgan’s influence, but no sooner does she get hired, than the April 18th earthquake strikes—demolishing the city. The tragedy becomes a catalyst that changes all of the characters. As Bradshaw struggles to start a life for herself and help rebuild the city, she faces corruption, politics, sexism and unforeseen romance. This is great summer read that ends up being more layered than you expect.

Reviewed by: 
Clytia
A Race to Splendor Cover Image
$23.99
ISBN: 9781402222696
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Sourcebooks Landmark - April 1st, 2011

Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy

This is my favorite book of the summer, and I am unabashedly telling everyone to read it, but particularly book groups. This is the kind of gorgeous novel that you can’t wait to talk about, a painstakingly authentic story about three characters who come together in Athens and forge an immediate and strange connection. Their fate and the choices they make will keep you talking late into the evening. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780061661488
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - July 5th, 2011

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