Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I'm Drowning in Books

It's time to start bailing out the boat. (i.e.: clearing the desk of the humongous pile of books threatening to come crashing down upon me!)  I think I'll start with...

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

What can I say about this amazing book that hasn't already been said? At its heart it is the story of a mother and son, but like an onion it has many layers. It won the Pulitzer Prize, deservedly so. You will lose sleep reading this book. It will be worth it.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Erika Swyler is a brilliant writer. She has created a magical tale of carnival mermaids and curses, mysterious books and horseshoe crabs, all scored by the sound of one family's secrets crashing onto the shore of Long Island Sound. This is her debut novel, and I am anxiously awaiting her next.  Write fast, Erika, write fast.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Another Pulitzer Prize winner, as it should be. Wow.  Just, wow.  Just read it.  Now.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

(I just realized I reviewed this in my last post...oh well.  I blame Half-zheimer's.)
And now for some comic relief!  Imagine Sheldon Cooper as an Australian and you have Don Tillman, genetics professor. Don has decided to get married, but first he must find a suitable partner.  Hence "The Wife Project" is conceived in the form of a sixteen-page questionnaire to filter out the chaff. Hilarity ensues. When finished with The Rosie Project, immediately begin...

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simision

Spoiler alert! Don does find a wife, and they are having a baby. Panic is quickly followed by even more hilarity with a few sentimental tears thrown in. Don is adorable. We want more Don!!

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Charlie Bucktin is a good boy. Jasper Jones is not. So when Jasper knocks on Charlie's window one hot Australian night and begs for his help, Charlie shouldn't agree, but he does and everything changes. Charlie and Jasper have a secret to keep and a mystery to solve, and they must now work together to find the truth before the small-town minds around them decide what the truth is. Loved this book, and wouldn't have known about it if not for meeting the author's girlfriend at a family wedding. Life is full of little chance meetings leading to great things!

Essays of E. B. White

Anyone who has read Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little knows what a wonderful writer E. B. White was, but did you know that he wrote for The New Yorker for over 50 years? Witty, entertaining and touching, White's essays are well worth a read. Who knew there was a genius behind that spider and mouse? Probably our parents.

Euphoria by Lily King

If you loved State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, by should read Euphoria. Loosely based on the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is the story of three anthropologists in 1930's New Guinea. Tasked with recording the everyday lives of the natives, they must be careful to not lose themselves or their lives in the jungle. Yeah...good luck with that.

Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn

Can we talk about how cute the titles of Quinn's books are? I love the puns. This eighth book in the Chet and Bernie series deals with stolen saguaro cacti, long ago kidnappings, and desert music festivals a la Burning Man. The bad guys are really bad, and they know how to make Chet and Bernie pay for meddling. But we know who comes out on top...or do we? I hope you're at that typewriter, Mr. Quinn!

Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke

This is the true story of Billy Williams who came to Burma in 1920 to work as a "forest man" for a British teak company. This was a solitary and sometimes brutal job, and few lasted more than a year. But Billy thrived in the jungle, and found he had a natural connection with the elephants who were essential to transporting the valuable teak out of the dense forests. When the Japanese invaded Burma at the start of WWII, Billy's invaluable knowledge of and connection with these great animals saved countless lives. This is a fascinating story of a little known chapter in history.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I'm a sucker for a novel that meshes several storylines in different times successfully, and Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins does this expertly. Set in present day and 1960's Hollywood, we follow the lives of a young starlet, a present day screen writer and a jaded producer, all tied to events on the Italian set of 1962's Cleopatra. This is storytelling at its best.

Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon

A classic British crime novel, Thirteen Guests has recently been republished. Although not as timeless as Agatha Christie, J. Jefferson Farjeon does has a creepy way about him. Let me know what you think.

A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson

Sometimes you just have to buy a book for its cover, and I LOVE this cover. Luckily, the story lived up to expectations. Set in 1950's cold war England, wounded intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth is sent to the quiet hamlet of Selchester to work in "statistics" for the government.  Of course, everyone knows he's still doing intelligence work, and when the missing body of Lord Selchester is found under the flagstones of his castle a real investigation is at hand. It turns out the little village is not so peaceful and quiet after all. A Man of Some Repute is being followed by A Question of Inheritance.  I can't wait!

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

Being born in 1960 means that the race to the moon was a big part of my childhood. I remember watching early morning launches, and I know exactly where I was when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. So I was fascinated by this look at the wives of the astronauts. From the Mercury Seven to the end of the Apollo program, the astronauts and their wives were treated like superstars, and the job of the wives was to protect that image at all costs. This is really a commentary on how our culture changed from the end of the 1950's to the early 1970's, and it is riveting. I'm glad my husband is not an astronaut.