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Fiction Recommendations

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

This is a unique and wonderful coming of age story. Starting in Corwall, England in the late 1960’s and ending around the time of the terrorist attacks in New York, the years that are traversed in this novel are simple and unimaginable at the same time. How do I describe the bonds that are developed between the characters of this book? We watch two siblings recreate magic through a Rabbit they name God, we watch a best friend promise to witness unspeakable acts, we watch the world stretch and break as war and terror become common day. This novel, told mostly through the view of Elly (who we first meet at 5) ultimately challenges the dilemma of how to say yes, staying open to life, when loss and longing are enough to make anyone say no. This is a beautiful, magical story, well worth the read.

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ISBN: 9781608195343
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 17th, 2011

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

This is by far one of my favorite books of the season. Makkai has written a debut novel that is good enough to put you in a stupor of awe and appreciation. We are introduced to Lucy Hull, a children’s librarian who finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, 10-year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in anti-gay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library with an escape plan that needs her help to carry out. What follows is a page-turning adventure with heart and depth. Book groups will be pulled into dialogue by questioning how far we should go to rescue someone from their own story, and when we should step back and hope they can survive and learn for themselves. This book is beautiful, engaging, funny, and heartbreaking (but in a way that works).

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ISBN: 9780670022816
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Viking Adult - June 9th, 2011

War Dances by Sherman Alexie

Before War Dances, I had only read Sherman Alexie’s novels. So I
am used to the feeling of having his stories and characters unleash
their quiet powers until I am willingly held hostage, both begging for
the release to have time to reflect, yet longing to have the experience
keep going, as I don’t want to finish his tale and say goodbye to newly
made friends. Therefore, I was hesitant to read Alexie’s short stories
only because I wasn’t sure if, in shorter form, Alexie could give me the
gift of the journey I was used to taking with him. But I was wrong.
These stories are a hurricane of strength. Each one makes you pull back
in awe, take spacious breaths when the chance is there, but lifts you to
spin, whirl, and ache at the connection that is so finely wrought
between the characters and the story he creates again and again. Do not
miss out on this incredible read.

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ISBN: 9780802144898
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Grove Press - August 3rd, 2010

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harback

One of the most talked-about books of the season is a debut novel by the cofounder and coeditor of n+1, the acclaimed magazine of politics, literature, and culture. But don’t worry; you don’t have to be an intellect or (it pains me to say) a baseball fan for that matter to be blown away by this book that is set around our national pastime. “Reading The Art of Fielding is like watching a hugely gifted young shortstop: you keep waiting for the errors, but there are no errors. First novels this complete and consuming come along very, very seldom.” —Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom

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The Art of Fielding: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316126694
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Little, Brown and Company - September 7th, 2011

We the Animals by Justin Torres

This is a visceral account of three young boys growing up with a graveyard shift mother and temperamental father whose love is a dangerous, ferocious thing that simultaneously cements and fractures their struggling family. Together, these wild boys tear through childhood, creating and destroying; making this is an intense look at the childhood bonds that forever shape our lives. It may just be a slip of a novel, but it packs quite a punch.

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ISBN: 9780547576725
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - August 30th, 2011

Fantastic Women edited by Rob Spillman

Last year's big anthology release was My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, a book of smartly retold fairy tales. This year, it's Tin House's Fantastic Women, a collection of sublime and bizarre stories told by some of the best speculative and surrealist writers out there. Includes work by Aimee Bender, Miranda July, Karen Russell, and many more. A must-read for those who crave the gorgeous and the strange.

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Fantastic Women: 18 Tales of the Surreal and the Sublime from Tin House Cover Image
By Rob Spillman (Editor), Joy Williams (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781935639107
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Tin House Books - July 26th, 2011

Bitter in the Mouth by Monique Truong

New in paperback, this book is so much at once. A coming-of-age novel, a mystery surrounding family secrets, and a striking love story. Truong introduces us to ten-year-old Linda Hammerick, a young girl who has synesthesia—she experiences every word as having a taste. Not knowing that this is a neurological condition, Linda tells only her best friend about her odd capability. We watch Linda grow up and seek connection, but all the while keeping people at a distance because of the way she experiences life slightly askew. When a family tragedy forces Linda to return to her childhood home, Linda finds out that she has not been the only one in her family to keep aspects of them selves hidden. A quirky but poignant story well worth the read.

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ISBN: 9780812981322
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - August 9th, 2011

Great House by Nichole Krause

Great House is one of the best books about writing I've read, though it's not really about writing. If asked, I'd have to say it's really about a large desk that manages to link together a cast of otherwise disparate characters. One of those characters is a writer, and her take on the habit and art of writing brings the story to life. This is a novel quite worthy of its National Book Award nomination.

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Great House: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393340648
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 6th, 2011

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past. We think this is a great selection for book groups and for fans of White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Writer Jamie Ford calls it, “A deftly powerful story of finding your way home, even after you’ve burned every bridge behind you. The Language of Flowers took my heart apart, chapter by chapter, then reassembled the broken pieces in better working condition—I loved this book.” 

The Language of Flowers: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345525543
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Ballantine Books - August 23rd, 2011

Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn

Seeing the world of Rome the lives of its citizens adjust to the bloody coups and political upheavals that are at the center of the story line is interesting and rewarding, but it's the relationship between four particular women that pulls you in hard-core. It's rich and wonderful, with good action and a well-woven plot that resolves itself very satisfactorily.

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ISBN: 9780425238974
Availability: Not On Our Shelves, But Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Berkley - April 5th, 2011


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