March 12, 2019 at 2:58 am #205577
1. The Best American Short Stories 2009 – Alice Sebold, EditorMarch 25, 2019 at 1:21 pm #263316
2. Around the World In 80 Days – Michael Palin (1989)
In the autumn of 1988 Michael Palin set out from the Reform Club to circumnavigate the world, following the route taken by Phileas Fogg 115 years earlier. He had to make the journey in 80 days – accompanied by a BBC film crew – using only forms of transport that would have been available to Fogg. Their voyage took them from the opulence of the Orient Express to the stench of a Venetian refuse-collecting boat; from the lurching progress of an Egyptian camel called Michael to the heights of a hot-air balloon over Aspen,Colorado. Palin was attacked by a parrot in Hong Kong, given a close shave by an apparently blind Indian barber and accepted into the Brotherhood of Mariners by King Neptune himself – all recorded by the BBC film crew and resulting in a six-part television series on BBC1. This book is the story of, and the story behind, the making of that television series.March 27, 2019 at 4:52 am #263317
3. The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin (2015)
“Intricate and extraordinary.” – New York Times on The Fifth Season (A New York Times Notable Book of 2015)
The start of a new fantasy trilogy by Hugo, Nebula & World Fantasy Award nominated author N.K. Jemisin.
THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.
A season of endings has begun.
It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.
This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.April 17, 2019 at 4:38 am #263318
4. The Obelisk Gate – N.K. Jemisin (2016)
Continuing the trilogy that began with the award-winning The Fifth Season
Winner of the Hugo Award
Shortlisted for the Nebula, Audie, and Locus Awards
The inaugural Wired.com book club book
New York Times Notable Book of 2015
This is the way the world ends, for the last time.
The season of endings grows darker, as civilization fades into the long cold night.
Essun — once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger — has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power – and her choices will break the world.April 22, 2019 at 12:28 am #263319
5. The Stone Sky – N.K. Jemisin (2017)
Humanity will finally be saved or destroyed in the shattering conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed NYT bestselling trilogy that won the Hugo Award three years in a row.
The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.
Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.
For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.
This is the way the world ends… for the last time.May 10, 2019 at 5:24 pm #263320
6. Texasville – Larry McMurtry (1987)
With Texasville, Larry McMurtry returns to the unforgettable Texas town and characters of one of his best-loved books, The Last Picture Show. This is a Texas-sized story brimming with home truths of the heart, and men and women we recognize, believe in, and care about deeply. Set in the post-oil-boom 1980s, Texasville brings us up to date with Duane, who’s got an adoring dog, a sassy wife, a twelve-million-dollar debt, and a hot tub by the pool; Jacy, who’s finished playing “Jungla” in Italian movies and who’s returned to Thalia; and Sonny — Duane’s teenage rival for Jacy’s affections — who owns the car wash, the Kwik-Sackstore, and the video arcade.
One of Larry McMurtry’s funniest and most touching contemporary novels.June 3, 2019 at 2:37 pm #263321
7. Quiet – Susan Cain (2012)
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.June 26, 2019 at 4:32 am #263322
8. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami (2013)
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage marks a new direction in Murakami’s fiction: a return to the lyrical realism not seen since his 1987 novel Norwegian Wood, but set against the social realities of contemporary Japan.
In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki belonged to an extremely tight-knit group of friends who pledged to stay together forever. But when Tsukuru returns home from his first year of college in Tokyo, he finds that they want nothing to do with him. Something has changed, but nobody will tell him what–and he never sees them again. Years later, Tsukuru has become a successful engineer, but is also something of a loner. It is only when he begins dating an older woman named Sara that he confesses the story of this mysterious betrayal and the shadow it has cast over his life. Sara becomes convinced that Tsukuru must track down his old group to try to answer the question that has haunted him all these years, creating a hole inside of him: Why did they suddenly turn on him? Tsukuru searches out his old friends, and as the truth reveals itself, he must confront the simmering emotional undercurrents that the group had suppressed in order to reach their ideal of perfect friendship–and in order to find himself.July 30, 2019 at 2:43 am #263323
9. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (2014)
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).August 29, 2019 at 5:48 am #263324
10. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy (1896)
Jude Fawley, the stone-mason, whose academic ambitions are thwarted by poverty and the indifference of the authorities at Christminster, appears to find fulfillment in his relationship with Sue Bridehead. Both of them have fled from previous marriages, and together they share a ‘two-in-oneness’ rarely matched. Ironically, when tragedy strikes it is Sue, the modern, emancipated thinker…who is unequal to the challenge.August 29, 2019 at 8:50 pm #263325
11. Elevation – Stephen King (2018)
The latest from legendary master storyteller Stephen King, a riveting, extraordinarily eerie, and moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together—a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences.
Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.
In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.
From Stephen King, our “most precious renewable resource, like Shakespeare in the malleability of his work” (The Guardian), Elevation is an antidote to our divisive culture, as gloriously joyful (with a twinge of deep sadness) as “It’s a Wonderful Life.”September 30, 2019 at 7:16 pm #301669
12. The Testaments – Margaret Atwood (2019)
Margaret Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale, has become a modern classic—and now she brings the iconic story to a dramatic conclusion in this riveting sequel.
More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.
Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.
As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.October 13, 2019 at 4:29 pm #301988
13. Fury – Salman Rushdie (2001)
From one of the world’s truly great writers comes a wickedly brilliant and pitch-black comedy about a middle-aged professor who finds himself in New York City in the summer of 2000. Not since the Bombay of Midnight’s Children have a time and place been so intensely captured in a novel.
Salman Rushdie’s eighth novel opens on a New York living at break-neck speed in an age of unprecedented decadence. Malik Solanka, a Cambridge-educated self-made millionaire originally from Bombay, arrives in this town of IPOs and white-hot trends looking, perversely, for escape. He is a man in flight from himself.
This former philosophy professor is the inventor of a hugely popular doll whose multiform ubiquity – as puppet, cartoon and talk-show host – now rankles with him. He becomes frustratingly estranged from his own creation. At the same time, his marriage is disintegrating, and Solanka very nearly commits an unforgivable act. Horrified by the fury within him, he flees across the Atlantic.
He discovers a city roiling with anger, where cab drivers spout invective and a serial killer is murdering women with a lump of concrete, a metropolis whose population is united by petty spats and bone-deep resentments. His own thoughts, emotions and desires, meanwhile, are also running wild. He becomes deeply embroiled in not one but two new liaisons, both, in very different ways, dangerous.
Professor Solanka’s navigation of his new world makes for a hugely entertaining and compulsively readable novel. Fury is a pitiless comedy that lays bare, with spectacular insight and much glee, the darkest side of human nature.November 30, 2019 at 8:46 pm #302535
14. Our Kind of Traitor – John le Carré (2010)
In this exquisitely told novel, John le Carré shows us once again his acute understanding of the world we live in and where power really lies.
In the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and with Britain on the brink of economic ruin, a young English couple takes a vacation in Antigua. There they meet Dima, a Russian who styles himself the world’s Number One money-launderer and who wants, among other things, a game of tennis. Back in London, the couple is subjected to an interrogation by the British Secret Service who also need their help. Their acquiescence will lead them on a precarious journey through Paris to a safe house in Switzerland, helpless pawns in a game of nations that reveals the unholy alliances between the Russian mafia, the City of London, the government and the competing factions of the British Secret Service.December 25, 2019 at 11:44 am #302816
15. The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro (2015)
The extraordinary new novel from the author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker Prize–winning The Remains of the Day.
The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.
The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards—some strange and other-worldly—but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.
Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.
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