I loved this (perhaps) final collection from Munro. The unpredictability of daily life, of love, desire and hope, the consequences of choices made or avoided, the families we choose. All universal themes, beautifully explored.
Julia Keller's second mystery is even better than the first (A Killing in the Hills). I've grown fond of the characters in Acker's Gap, West Virginia, especially the feisty, feminist prosecutor and teh taciturn, but well-read sheriff.
By turns funny, poignant, and wise. Set in a nursing home in the south, McCorkle takes on weighty themes in a light-hearted and loving look at very unique bunch of senior citizens.
What a lovely, engaging novel! Lee Smith is at her best in this story based on fact and set at the Highland Hospital in Asheville, NC. Zelda Fitzgerald is a frequent resident, but the star of the story is Evelina Toussaint, sent there at 13, after her mother's death.
I know the reviews were mixed, but this is one of the best "big" novels I've read in a long time! I hated for it to end.
Loved it - start to finish! Transportive fiction with brilliantly drawn
characters and bitingly funny critiques of the town bullies. I laughed
out loud and was moved to compassion by the tragic ending. I want to
go back to Pagford!
Lisa Lutz' Spellman series just gets better! Izzy is now the sole owner of Spellman Investigations, and she's got trouble in the ranks. Her parents come to work in PJs; Rae has set up a "conflict resolution" businness; and Princess Banana, aka Sydney, is insufferable!
This is the first in a great mystery series by former Tribune writer Julia Keller. A very engrossing plot, set in West Virginia hill country, with some surprising twists. Great characters, interesting mother-daughter pair. Can't wait to read the new one!
Perfect weekend reading! I loved the setting (Cape Cod), the time (post war 50s and 60s), and the characters (5 distinctive voices). It bristles with suspense! An unsolved murder, family jealousies, and the role of women in society add to the complexity.
These people are a hot mess, and reading about their exploits and their consequences was absolutely delicious. Smart, snarky, and quite sexy. Perfect guilty pleasure reading.
Eslanda-What a woman, and what interesting times she lived through! Politically and artistically, Essie was an internationalist, criss-crossing the globe, speaking, writing, and listening to the oppressed. She is a mid-20th century Eve Ensler.
Hurray! What we Anshaw fans have been waiting for: an original and compelling story laced with her trademark wit, complex characters both straight and gay, and the opportunity to view their lives over the course of decades as they deal with a tragedy that binds them together. Unforgettable!
Sneed explores what it's like these days to be a larger-than-life Hollywood celebrity by writing in the voices of those closest to him: his two young adult children, his two ex-wives, and his current lover. Witty, touching and beautifully written, this is a literary novel with emotional depth.
A fascinating look at 3 key figures in the Russian revolution - Lenin, his wife and his acerbic, practical and resourceful mother-in-law. Surprising, well-written and fresh historical fiction.
Delightful - Perfect for all of us English majors who long to know more intimately the great American (and Brit) authors whose stories and features graced the pages of the New Yorker from 1957-77. Janet Groth, The Receptionist, friend, drinking buddy, lover, knew them all.
A brilliant, sometimes heartbreaking debut by this young writer and Columbia writing teacher. Cross captures the angst and tenderness of the young men and women growing up in the rust belt with little hope and less luck. The moments of grace and redemption shine through. I loved this story!
Outrageously funny novel told by a nameless narrator who’s enthralled with Stevenson’s Treasure Island and decides to live by its principles - and bugger the consequences! Poor boyfriend, sister, boss! Aaargh!
The best book I’ve read this year and one of the best books ever about an unusual girl’s coming of age. Spirited and fierce, wise and naïve, strong and vulnerable, Margo Crane is a heroine you’ll never forget. Highly recommended for older teens, too. Author will be reading here on Thursday, July 14th at 7:30 p.m.
Beautiful! A most unusual and moving story of three fascinating characters—a deaf African-American man, a developmentally disabled young woman, and a retired schoolteacher who hides their baby on a stormy night. This story contrasts their emotional tenderness with the cruelty and ignorance of the society around them.
I LOVED Big Girl Small. DeWoskin takes a lot of risks, but the narrative voice is consistent, smart-alecky, funny, and self-aware, yet achingly vulnerable. Narrated by a little person with a talented singing voice whose gotten in trouble at her fine arts high school. A great book for older teens as well as those of us who live and work with them. v
Beautifully written, nuanced and complex, Edgerian's novel shows us a marriage unraveling under the stress of a failing economy, a sick baby, a precocious pre-schooler, and too little time together. Both husband and wife are smart, witty and well-meaning. Minor characters are quirky, charming and well-drawn. Family secrets are tantalizingly revealed. Engaging and surprising the reader until the end.
I loved Carol Burnett's anecdotal memoir of her life in show business. Stories about Carol Channing, Lucille Ball, and Cary Grant are priceless! If you were a fan of her long running show (I watched it with my folks), you'll love it, too.
Witty, delightful, and very engaging. Marvelous women characters supporting one another and driving each other crazy. What will it take for these two sisters and their abandoned mom to change? Now in paperback!
Brilliant! Enchanting! I could not put Water for Elephants down! The best love story I've read since The Time Traveller's Wife, but this is historical fiction at its best. Endearing characters (especially the animals and the young vet who cares for them). An unusual, fresh setting - a traveling cirucs during the Depression - and a *very* satisfying finale. - Linda
Katie Crouch creates heroines who are vulnerable, screwed-up, and wholly sympathetic. You'll laugh and cry for Hannah, haunted by her father's disappearance in her childhood. Now in paperback!
The Long Song is wonderfully narrated by Miss July, who lived before, during, and after the Jamaican revolution and "end" of slavery. Very witty yet serious about the horrors of slavery. Now in paperback!
Such a beautiful book—one of the best I've read on the subject of grief and healing. There's a light touch to the prose but rich, emotional depth. I just loved it! Now in paperback!
Tracy Egan's narrative voice rings so true, any mom will identify with her. The mom in the story, trying to fit herself into her new (Chicago) neighborhood and her daughter into a new school, is funny sympathetic and real.
Excellent and memorable short stories featuring a diverse cast of women - students, teachers, hairdressers, art dealers - who make mistakes, fall in love with the wrong people, and sometimes triumph. Sneed is both fierce and forgiving, bent on showing us reality rather than romance.
Even if you don't have a daughter who is an aspiring princess, every parent and feminist should read this book. You'll be amazed to discover how Disney and other princess-product purveyors are flooding our stores and culture with pink. Orenstein is a brilliant journalist. Always witty and engaging.
Finally! A memoir by a woman who's lived a long, productive, and admirable life worth writing about! Belva Davis, award-winning and pioneering civil rights advocate and journalist, makes history - her own and our nation's - come alive for us.
I read this book months ago and the narrator, 5-year-old Jack, his Ma, and the Room have stayed with me. An imagination feat, told in shimmering prose. I couldn't put it down and I'll never forget it.
An exciting plot and diverse characters--with very different agendas--make this a memorable read. She changed my thinking about bullfighting, loss and revenge, and international adoption--just to name a few things.
Funny and justifiably critical of the "positive thinking" and "law of attraction" philosophy in American culture. Starting with her own experience with cancer and cancer support groups, and taking on life coaches and religious materialists, Ehrenreich proves her point brilliantly.
One of the first wry, witty memoirs about growing up in a dysfunctional family—and still one of the best. The background is gritty East Texas, the parents hard drinking, the kids are resourceful survivors.
Both of Nicole Krauss' books are beautiful, tender, and philosophical, with chapters written in alternating voices. Both concern themselves with lives shattered by loss and objects--a book, a desk--lost (stolen) in the Holocaust. The Great House is an intellectual puzzle--I keep getting new insights. Brilliant!
The History of Love is a stunning, achingly tender novel written in two voices: an old man who is a Holocaust survivor and a 14-year old Jewish girl. The voices are so real, so distinctive, that the characters walked off the page and into my mind and heart. There's an engaging plot, too, concerning a lost book that creates a life of literary fame for one man, hope for its young reader, and resolution, finally, for its true author.
Funny and suspenseful, too. Gilman and her college friend start their around-the-world journey in China, only recently opened to tourists. As her friend becomes increasingly paranoid, Gilman has to rely on resourceful fellow travelers to save her. A great travel story!
A fascinating story about an American woman who becomes a best-selling author in Slovenia after marrying and moving there with her Slovenian poet husband. Eyewitness accounting of Slovenia’s transition to independence.
Staceyann threw a tantrum and bit her brother on the leg so the kindergarten teacher would take her into class at age 3. This same tenacity and desire to learn propels her through the poorest of upbringings in Jamaica, to college, to a fierce and defiant coming out as a lesbian. Unforgettable!
One of the funniest memoirs I’ve read in a long time. When a series of tribulations hits Rhoda, she retreats to her parents’ uber-Mennonite home. Her conversations with her mother are priceless as are her descriptions of Mennonite food and travel. I loved it!
I’ve never laughed so much while reading such a harrowing (and detailed) account of a nightmarish pregnancy, delivery, and premie survival (4 months in NICU). Alexa Stevenson grew up, toughened up, and overcame a lifelong anxiety disorder in the process. Great writing!
What a beautiful book! Each chapter concerns a different character/family who live on the Maine coast in a small town. Olive, the title characters taught 7th grade forever so she knows everyone. She's a tough old bird, a realist with a mean streak but in the course of the novel, even she is surprised by love, by grace, and the way we are shaped by loss & regeneration.
In W. Bruce Cameron’s novel, A Dog’s Purpose, the narrator, a dog who travels through four incarnations to find his purpose, is a dog’s dog, wonderfully voiced, and utterly charming. Because Cameron has done his homework on dog breeds and behavior, his narration is completely believable, and the novel rises above the genre to become a fable for us humans.
Cameron dedicates his book to the folks who rescue dogs, and we see what diverse beginnings a puppy can have: a covert, no-kill rescue operation, a puppy mill, a fancy breeder, a humane society. Although I learned a lot about dogs and how they’re treated, Cameron is never didactic. Exciting storytelling and a deftly twisting plot made the book impossible to put down.
There is so much to enjoy in this often very funny and ultimately, very moving book, but it’s the voice (and heart and soul) of the dog narrator that has stayed with me, making me want to recommend this book to everyone.
This is a wonderful debut novel set in Rwanda after the war. The cake maker is a great feminist character, working in her own subtle and charming way, to make the world a safer place for girls and women. While acknowledging the enormity of family loss, this is a novel about hope and resilience.
What a great novel! Mudbound tells a tragic story but with such verve that I couldn't put it down. If you like fiction with a strong political theme, this is for you. Race, class, and survival in the Mississippi delta just after WWII.
Masterfully imagined & told in several unique voices, Lark & Termite has really stayed with me. The imagery is strong & beautiful, and the main character, a tender-hearted & resilient young woman, is unforgettable.
Beautifully told story in letters, set in 1946 England, about the occupation of Guernsey by the Nazis between 1941 and 1945. The "book club" of the title is real, a survival tactic of the Islanders whose lives were closely watched. Charming & poignant, another facet of WWII history.
"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is a memoir, engaging & entertaining & very encouraging for a beginning gardener. It made me plant tomatoes & basil in my tiny yard! Be inspired.
Gilead still tops my list as best novels of the year (and definitely in my all-time favorites list), and I was thrilled that it won the Pulitzer and the Book Critics' Circle Award. Robinson asks all the hard questions: what is love? how can we live to best serve others? Why is there war? Will there ever be peace? Can we ever heal this country from slavery, and its descendant, racial injustice? In a long epistle to his young son, an elderly minister tries to give his family's history and discern what matters in life. Reading this book took me to a higher, meditative place, but it was also funny and surprising.
"Oryx and Crake" is absolutely riveting. Atwood is conjuring a future world nearly devoid of human life as a result of disastraus genetic engineering. Chilling and compelling.
Simply the best resource on children's books I've ever seen! And so much fun to read-a book no parent, teacher, or storyteller should be without.
A thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining, and well-paced lesbian love story. There's an age difference, cultural differences, and they live on two different continents. Can love prevail? Who's going to move? I loved it! - Linda
I just *loved* this delightful novel set on a particular block in NYC in which some single dog owners' paths cross in unpredictable ways. A perfect escape novel - smart and well-written, touching without being heavy. Dog lovers will love it! - Linda
Set against the backdrop of political upheaval in contemporary Venezuela, this debut novel is entertaining yet profoundly serious, rich with religious and cultural mythology, and peopled with lovable, flawed characters-poets, rebels, maids, and midwives-who reveal the complex strata of Venezuelan society as well as their own humanity. Margaret Mascarenhas has arrived on the literary scene with a sizzle.
Miriam Toews' new book may be her best! I just love her characters, smart-talking, vulnerable, tender and goofy. In The Flying Troutmens, a 28-year old aunt flies home to Canada to take care of her manic-depressive sisters' two kids, ages 11 and 15. The sister is hospitalized and Aunt Hattie takes the kids on a wild road trip to find their father. Funny, heart-breaking and ultimately hopeful.
Pure delight. Berg displays her rare and generous wit in this great collection of stories. And I found the best apple pie recipe in her charming epistolary story "How to Make an Apple Pie."
Nora Ephron's book is so funny, you'll be forced to read passages aloud to whoever's near. I loved it so much I read it in two sittings and immediately passed it to my best friend. Ah, the ignominy of aging!
One of the best - and certainly the funniest memoir - I've ever read. Susan Jane Gilman's voice is so sassy, honest and fresh that I didn't want this book to end.
Lovely story - intense and heartfelt - about a young girl who knows, at the age of 6, that she is really a boy. This book has the power to change minds.
Harsh & tender at the same time - Fox tells this story with such intimacy and authority that you can't look away. Very moving & very powerful.
A profound and powerful argument against war and the secrets individuals, families, and nations harbor. Beautifully written and very insightful.
Beautifully written connected stories convey the aftermath of chaos and tragedy of Amin's Uganda. Worked well for a book group discussion.
A natural storyteller, Gina Cascone knows how to deliver a punchline. Pure Italian-American, she made me smell the garlic and see the eels wriggling on Christmas Eve. Her parents walk off the page. I wish I'd been her best friend (instead of tattle-tale Barbie) hustling boys for pool games in the basement rec room. She made me laugh out loud a dozen times!
Marx's voice is what kept me reading. Will she ever write her dissertation? Get a real job? And most importantly, will she ever get over that self-centered bastard she's been obsessed with for 10 years? Very funny with a great ending.
Delightful reading. For the movie lover in your life, for men in their middle years, or anyone who enjoys a witty memoir, this is a fun and funny read.
Naomi Wolf's new book, The Treehouse is a magical, marvelous book. Naomi's father's lessons on listening to the artist within, living with passion, noticing the details, and honoring one's work are totally inspiring. This is a great book for anyone who wants to think about whether they've found their true art in life and what it means to live creatively and encourage others (our children, our students) to do the same.
"Animal Dreams" is both a coming of age & love story with an ecological back story. Wonderful writing; the scenery comes alive.
Katha Pollitt's new book is witty, political and honest. More memoir than individual essays, Pollitt revewals much about her unique life as the dauther of NY communists, the lover of a famous womanizing intellectual, and a New Yorker, middle-aged, learning to drive.
Combines the guilty pleasure of reading a quirky and aristochratic family's gossip-y letters with the satisfaction of learning 20th century political history through the eyes of six curious, intelligent and influential women. Absolutely fascinating!
Ambitious, heartachingly tender, unforgettable...this is one of the saddest, most brilliant and beautiful books I've read in years. Hustvedt never turns away from the most difficult issues - creativity & madness, love, passion, loss, grief - This book took over my emotions, all the while engaging my mind.
Terrific support for parents who "choose" to stay home to raise young children. Crittenden is an economist who compares US policy toward childrearing with other, more family-friendly countries. Enlightening!
Funny and compelling. Beverly's voice - in both her books - is sassy and honest, never sentimental or self-indulgent, and often very funny.
Very satisfying story set in the months before & after the crash of 1929 - well-paced, engaging characters of various classes & ages responding to the sudden economic shift. Hard to put down.
Very beautiful and thoughtful memoir of a woman who spent her childhood strapped to a board, her young adulthood accepting her deformity, and her adulthood expressing her exquisite and rare sensibility in creative writing. Truly a spiritual autobiography and very inspiring for any working artist.
My father grew up on an Iowa farm during the Depression (and earlier), and this memoir reminded me so much of him, my aunts and uncles and grand parents. But I think anyone who longs for a simpler, more sensual life will enjoy Mildred Kalish's memoir. There's some great recipes here, fine detailed memories, and the fond recalling of childhood pranks. I found it very comforting.
An excellent book of criticism! If you love Cather or have only read "My Antonia," you'll find this book about "trends" in criticism fascinating. For the English major on your list!
One of the funniest memoirs I've read in a long time. When a series of tribulations hits Rhoda, she retreats to her parents' uber-Mennonite home. Her conversations with her mother are priceless, as are her descriptions of Mennonite food and travel. Love it!
The last thing we'd call this book is "traditional" - hysterically funny, this is a baby book for real parents (exhausted, cranky, and desperately in need of a laugh).
Jong still racks at 60-something! Always political, always sexy, laugh-outloud funny, and brutally honest. She focuses on her creative process, how it drives her, but there a lot of good gossip, too.
Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! Funny, warm, wonderful characters, gay & straight, & a great dog.
A wonderful coming-of-age novel about a young woman who finds her way through theater, art, and loving women. Funny at times, erotic, and touching.
I've read many immigrant stories, but "Zabelle" is a standout. Lovely, clear prose & a likeable heroine. Her story stays with you long after you've finished the book.
The Turkish Lover is compulsively readable, warm, witty, and true. If you've read "When I was Puerto Rican," and "Always a Woman," you have to continue reading Esemeralda's amazing life journey from barefoot and poor in P.R. to Harvard grad and a bestselling author-in-the-making.
Exceptionally fine short stories. Haunting, chilling, perceptive - this woman can write so you won't forget.
What a marvelous bio of a truly fascinating, original woman! Both deep and wide-ranging, salted & peppered with Gellhorn's distinctive & often outrageous comments, this is an engaging and satisfying read - She was most at home on the frontlines of every 20th century war. Married to Hemingway (for a time), great pals with Eleanor Roosevelt, she knew everyone & traveled everywhere. She left behind thousands of letters & articles which Moorehead has meticulously researched - Bravo for bringing this intrepid woman to life!
Harsh & tender at the same time - Fox tells this story with such intimacy and authority that you can't look away. Very moving and very powerful.
Alther is as funny as ever as she tells her family and her own personal history. I hadn't ever heard of Melungeon, but what a fascinating piece of American history!
Poster Child is a darkly comic, achingly honest memoir written in a unique and fresh voice. Rapp was a preacher's kid who, at age four, lost her left foot due to a congenital birth defect, and after numerous surgeries over the next four years, lost most of the leg. She writes unflinchingly of her twenty-year journey to acceptance. This is a very personal, not political story, and it's only recently that she's understood the need for and her place within the disability rights movement. The title refers to her year as a March of Dimes Poster Child, a weird, only-in-America trip if there ever was one. It is also a spiritual memoir, of the path from "childhood pieties to adult faith and a confession that will resonate with anyone who spent their youth overcompensating for whatever reason" (Kirkus starred review).
A terrific history on the beginnings of the republic and Dolley's role as social engineer - It gave our book group lots to discuss. Rich, rewarding, & illuminating.
Charming & written in an authentic voice. Lots of issues nicely interwoven: mental illness in a sibling, a gay cousin, not to mention US colonializing of Puerto Rico. Highly recommended for teen readers.
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews is a darkly comic novel about a teen girl living in a small Canadian town in a strict Mennonite community. Her grief over her mother's and sister's leaving (they are shunned by the Elder) is palpable, her rage and acting-out understandable, and her loyalty to her passive, schoolteacher father endearing. Hers is a voice at once tough and tender, witty and heartbreaking.
This is a wonderful collection of some of our finest women writers. Readers will be tantalized by the selections for each poet and will hopefully be inspired to seek out more of their work. I enjoyed the wealth of biographical data and the placing of each poet's work in the context of modernism. Readers looking for more will find new books by Mary Oliver (Red Bird), Nikki Giovanni (Acolytes), Adrienne Rich (Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth), and Eavan Boland (New Collected Poems).
One of the most beautiful books I've read in a long time. McDermott's characters shine, her sensibility is a pleasure to read. Poignant, tender, and entertaining. Her foreshadowing of loss made me hold my breath. The way her family copes with current events gave the novel depth and resonance. I just loved it!-Linda
Allegra is a hoot! Funny, sassy, incurably smart-mouthed, she takes on the world at age 6 & never looks back - a feminist classic!
Absolutely terrific! Sure to spark discussion - great book for groups. Orenstein interviewed 20s, 30s & 40s to get their views on relationships, work, childrearing, etc. The results? We're in flux - but there are clear consequences for our "choices".
Lighthousekeeping, Jeanette Winterson's new novel, is mesmerizing. It actually is partly about keeping a lighthouse-after her mother's death, the orphaned narrator finds her first true home in this unlikely place-but the symbolism of shining light into dark and wild places filters through the novel. Immersing oneself in Winterson's spare, powerful language is reason enough to read this book; the love story is another good one.
Crybaby Butch is a terrific lesbian novel by Judith Frank about a young, butch-identified, middle-class literacy teacher and her older, old-school, working-class butch student. Set in Chicago, with some great erotic scenes, this book gave me real insight into and empathy for the life struggle of illiterate adults. There are many kinds of closets. Poignant, thoughtful, and well-written.
Bad Karma is a hoot! Sherwood loves to travel - it's other travelers she loathes. I haven't read a voice this acerbic since Florence King's. A great satire on backpacker culture.
Proux's Bob Dollar is one of my favorite characters in fiction. On his own for the first time, he takes a job scouting territory for hog farming in cattle country. The politics & ecology of the situation is revealed to him gradually as he becomes more involved with the community. Wonderful storytelling.
Must reading for women and lovers of women! Wolf's research on brain chemistry relating to the vaginal area is extensive and undeniable. Don't believe the reviews - this is an important book for women's overall health.
Another winner from Barbara Kingsolver! She hooked me in the first few pages with her delightfully disgruntled main character tromping up the mountain to start an affair and coming down changed. Set in her territory - Appalachia and brimming with wit, intelligence and heart. Loved it!
This is a terrific biography of an amazing, complicated woman. Reid focuses on Richard's development as a political animal, gradually building a progressive movement in Austin, TX and taking it to the State House! From housewife to governor - what a ride!