|annecp's Book Lists|
|Interesting New Fiction (Winter 2014) (10 titles)
New or forthcoming fiction titles that look like great escapes for the winter.
|National Book Award Finalists 2013 (20 titles)
The National Book Awards are announced Nov. 20. Here are most of the finalists in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and Young People's Literature.
|Man Booker Prize 2013 (8 titles)
Nominees for this year's award.
*Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson
*The Kills by Richard House
*The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris
*The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
*Unexploded by Alison MacLeod
|Interesting New Nonfiction (Fall 2013) (9 titles)
A fiction reader's list of nonfiction titles that look supremely readable.
|Top 10 for 10 (10 titles)
10 best books I've read during 10 months of 2013.
|The heretic’s daughter : a novel |
by Kathleen Kent
Chilling account of one family during the Salem Witch Trials, based on the author’s ancestors. Kent creates a vivid picture of the paranoid atmosphere of 17th-century Massachusetts and the cruel injustice of those unlucky enough to be accused. posted Dec 2, 2013 at 1:44PM
|Let the great world spin : a novel |
by Colum McCann
Colum McCann's masterpiece is thought-provoking, moving and a little slow for those not taken with his narrative hook: the tightrope walk of Philippe Petit. Worth a read, though, for the author's remarkable ability to understand characters of such varied backgrounds and personalities. He has true compassion for these people, whatever their flaws, and his ability to make each of them human to the reader is a remarkable accomplishment in and of itself. posted Oct 23, 2013 at 9:00AM
by French, Tana
Detective Cassie Maddox, now working in the Domestic Violence unit, is pulled back to her undercover roots when a murdered woman is found who bears an eerie resemblance to Cassie and, worse, a woman who was using one of Cassie’s aliases from years back. Like her brilliant In the Woods, French’s The Likenes is a slow-moving, satisfying read that creates atmosphere through tiny revelations. It is a pleasure to sit down with and explore over an extended period of time, right up to its nail-biting conclusion. posted Oct 4, 2013 at 1:01PM
|American wife : a novel |
by Curtis Sittenfeld
In her fictionalized biography of Laura Bush, Sittenfeld pulls you in from the start with her understanding of time and place, as well as her creation of a complex, intriguing protagonist. Despite a weak final section, you will have a hard time putting this one down. posted Sep 9, 2013 at 10:51AM
|The Burgess boys : a novel |
by Elizabeth Strout
Strout hits it out of the park with her latest novel, an exploration of family relationships at its core. Her characters are fully realized and fascinating, propelling the story forward until its satisfying conclusion. One of the best books I’ve read this summer. posted Sep 9, 2013 at 10:47AM
|Where we belong : a novel |
by Emily Giffin
Where We Belong is another winner from this popular author. From page 1, we’re swept into relationship drama and plot development that keeps us glued to the story until the very end. When it’s a relaxing, fun, easy read you’re after, you will never be disappointed in Emily Giffin. posted Sep 4, 2013 at 11:26AM
|The other typist |
by Rindell, Suzanne
Combining period detail and manners with modern-day suspense, Rindell’s first novel is an easy read and a delight to return to right up until its spooky conclusion. posted Sep 4, 2013 at 11:22AM
|The engagements : a novel |
by J. Courtney Sullivan
J. Courtney Sullivan reclaims her crown as the best chicklit writer around with her latest work. The Engagements chronicles five stories over five decades, ranging from the head advertising writer for De Beers to a modern woman who is convinced by the charms of marriage. Each story is full of page-turning delight. I’m already anticipating Sullivan’s next book! posted Aug 26, 2013 at 3:55PM
|Ready player one : a novel |
by Ernest Cline
Brilliant escapist fantasy that will appeal to children of the 1980s, gamers and everyone who enjoys the kind of fast-paced tension that comes with a competition. posted Jul 15, 2013 at 11:41AM
|Reconstructing Amelia : a novel |
by Kimberly McCreight
In her teen-centric variation on the very popular Gone Girl, McCreight creates a chilling, thoroughly gripping mystery that will keep you guessing. Despite some predictable or downright inane plot devices, this remains the easiest and most enjoyable read of the summer for me and one I highly recommend to fans of the genre. posted Jul 8, 2013 at 12:58PM
|In the woods |
by French, Tana.
Chilling, atmospheric mystery of past and present horrors. It is as focused on Detective Ryan as the case itself, a slow build you can sit with for a while and contemplate little by little as it reveals itself to you. One of the most intelligent mysteries I’ve read in years. posted Jun 17, 2013 at 2:46PM
|The housekeeper and the professor |
by Ogawa, Yoko
Quiet, elegant, lyrical story of an unlikely relationship between two troubled individuals. Ogawa’s prose feels distinctly Eastern in the respectful distance between the title characters and lack of dramatic climax, but it works precisely because of this context. As brief a journey as it is, this novel will float across your memory for years to come. A perfect book club choice. posted May 29, 2013 at 3:20PM
by Lively, Penelope
Reminiscent of the light, airy, innocuous writing style of Rosamund Pilcher, Lively’s story is a saga across generations, tenuously held together by the late reveal that the third generation woman cares about the first generation. Harmless enough, but unsurprising and, ironically given the title, inconsequential. posted Apr 24, 2013 at 10:15AM
|The orchardist : a novel |
by Coplin, Amanda
Widely praised as a skilled, even brilliant, writer, Coplin paces her story much the way life must have been in 19th-century California: slow, deliberate, simple. I can’t say her protagonists completely captured my attention, much less my heart, but this is a masterful work in many ways and sure to be appreciated by book clubs looking for meaningful discussion about complex characters. posted Apr 17, 2013 at 10:53AM
|When the emperor was divine : a novel |
by Otsuka, Julie, 1962-
2012 Selection for 1 Book, 1 Community (Loudoun County, VA) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:27PM
|The shoemaker's wife : a novel |
by Trigiani, Adriana.
2013 Selection for All Henrico Reads (Henrico, VA) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:26PM
|The beast in the garden : a modern parable of man and nature |
by Baron, David, 1964-
2012 Selection for Common Literature Experience (Logan, UT) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:25PM
by Eggers, Dave
2012 Selection of One Book, One Community: Our Regions Reads! (South Central PA) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:23PM
|The Buddha in the attic |
by Otsuka, Julie, 1962-
2013 Selection for One Book, One Philadelphia (PA) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:22PM
|The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian |
by Alexie, Sherman, 1966-
2013 Selection for Everybody Reads (Multnomah County, OR) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:20PM
|Running the rift : a novel |
by Benaron, Naomi, 1951-
2013 Selection for Lake Oswego Reads (Lake Oswego, OR) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:20PM
|Still Alice |
by Genova, Lisa.
2012 Selection for CommunityREAD (Findlay, OH) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:19PM
|The end of your life book club |
by Schwalbe, Will.
2013 Selection for On the Same Page Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:18PM
|The tortilla curtain |
by Boyle, T. Coraghessan.
2013 Selection for CNY Reads One Book (Central New York State) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:17PM
|May the road rise up to meet you : a novel |
by Troy, Peter
2013 Selection for A Tale for Three Counties (Western New York State) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:16PM
|Packing for Mars : the curious science of life in the void |
by Roach, Mary.
2013 Selection for Rochester Reads (Rochester, MN) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:13PM
|The yellow birds : a novel |
by Powers, Kevin
2013 Selection for One Book One Community (East Lansing, MI) and One Read (Boone, MO) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:12PM
|King Peggy : an American secretary, her royal destiny, and the inspiring story o|
by Bartels, Peggielene, 1953-
2013 Selection for One Maryland One Book posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:10PM
|The Paris wife : a novel |
by McLain, Paula.
2012 Selection for One Book Two Villages (Northfield, IL) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:09PM
|Thrall : poems |
by Trethewey, Natasha D., 1966-
2012 Selection for Gwinnett Reads (Gwinnett County, GA) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:08PM
|Caleb's crossing |
by Brooks, Geraldine.
2012 Selection for One Book One Region (Eastern Connecticut) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:06PM
by Palacio, R. J.
2013 Selection for Santa Monica Reads (Santa Monica, CA) posted Mar 27, 2013 at 2:05PM
|Iron Lake : a Cork O’Connor mystery |
by Krueger, William Kent.
For those who have heard of Cork O’Connor, but never ventured inside Krueger’s world of Aurora, MN, all I can say is: pick up Iron Lake! This first of many mysteries from the Minnesota author is fast-moving, complex, nail-bitingly tense, but surprisingly warm and human in its depiction of a small-town man and his strained family life. I contend this is still the best of the series, but once you meet Cork, you will look forward to coming back for more. This is a series that is worth all the hype. posted Mar 27, 2013 at 10:07AM
|The weird sisters |
by Brown, Eleanor
Nobody understood the human condition more than William Shakespeare and this 21st-century story of three troubled women is a testament to this, both overtly and otherwise. Brown takes her time creating three distinct women and their relationships to each other, as well as their parents, are fresh and insightful. I don’t feel the book deserves the exuberant praise it has received, as it reads to me much like other pleasant, forgettable popular fiction, but as a nice, quiet read for the uncritical reader, I can recommend a walk with the Weird Sisters. posted Mar 20, 2013 at 10:46AM
|The hand that first held mine |
by O'Farrell, Maggie
Both title and author were unfamiliar to me, but going on a glowing review from NPR, I decided to give it a shot and was ultimately glad I did. Told in alternating stories, O’Farrell seems most assured in her storytelling when she writes about motherhood and the complex emotions that go with it. Her descriptions are some of the most vivid I have ever read on the subject and are sure to prompt lively discussion when read for a book group. That I still remember and ponder some of her observations is a testament to a worthwhile read. But be forewarned that this story also faces some glaringly obvious plot devices and uneven character development, both of which prevented me, at least, from really loving this book. posted Mar 13, 2013 at 12:08PM
|Norwegian wood |
by Murakami, Haruki
A deeply personal work of fiction, Murakami ventures this time into the more conventional territory of a college campus and its love-starved young students, but somehow still manages to find the mystical and otherworldly in this ordinary setting. There is depth and meaning just in being young and lost and, without making a production of it, Murakami knows how to convey all of it. Another masterpiece from a master writer. posted Feb 20, 2013 at 3:27PM
|The shell seekers |
by Pilcher, Rosamunde.
There was a time (probably still unpassed) when it was uncool for a younger person to admit to enjoying Rosamunde Pilcher’s modern-day fairy tales. But years after its initial success, The Shell Seekers remains the perfect comfort read for my grandmother, my mother and myself. Nobody else quite captures the gentle saga the way Pilcher does, telling her story in sweeping flashbacks to World War II and then returning to present-day to give the reader a full picture of protagonist Penelope and the troubled, yet ultimately warm and kind-hearted person she has become. Looking for a lovely escape? You couldn’t do much better than this title, which is as warm and inviting as a cup of tea on a cold Cornwall day. posted Feb 6, 2013 at 12:16PM
|Life of Pi : a novel |
by Martel, Yann.
Accept the confusion and the occasional tedium of Martel’s most well-known work, and you will be rewarded at the end. It is a thought-provoking, truly memorable novel that provides endless jumping off points for conversation. Well worth the hype. posted Jan 30, 2013 at 4:11PM
|The map of true places |
by Barry, Brunonia.
Taking place in the haunted town of Salem, Massachusetts, our protagonist, Zee, is struggling with ghosts of her own, all of whom become more vivid as the story goes on. Well-constructed and well-told, this is the kind of story you look forward to returning to and miss when it’s finished. posted Jan 30, 2013 at 4:10PM
|The memory keeper’s daughter |
by Edwards, Kim
This is the kind of storytelling I love best in the winter: a drawn-out yarn that can make you forget your cabin fever. The book grabs you early and then takes its time as it crosses decades and floats from one troubled character to the next. Thoroughly engaging from beginning to end. posted Jan 30, 2013 at 4:07PM
by Eggers, Dave
As an only casual nonfiction reader, this book blew me away with the quality of the storytelling and character development. Eggers creates a truly memorable scene as he introduces Zeitoun and his family and their New Orleans before the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. The book causes readers to think about issues of basic humanity, but also larger issues about our government and its continual violations of civil rights in the wake of September 11. This was a wonderful discussion book for our book club. posted Jan 23, 2013 at 3:51PM
|The Family Fang|
by Wilson, Kevin
Twisted, quirky, hilarious and tinged with unspeakable sadness. No, I’m not talking about a Wes Anderson film, but Kevin Wilson’s novel definitely calls to mind the qualities of Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. The story of a dysfunctional family intent on performance art weaves in and out of the past, revealing the lasting impact of parents who are far less grounded in reality than their children. There is great pain in such a dynamic, but nevertheless, I found I couldn’t stop smiling through most of the book. A wonderful treasure for escapism seekers. posted Jan 16, 2013 at 2:08PM
|Where’d you go, Bernadette : a novel |
by Semple, Maria.
What a gem! This fast-paced, hilarious read is told from multiple perspectives and through multiple media, from emails to letters to newspaper articles. Semple’s off-kilter Bernadette is both maddening and admirable, but it is daughter Bee who is sure to win your heart. Despite the prevalence of the South Pole in the story, this book is the perfect treat to warm your heart this winter. posted Jan 9, 2013 at 2:35PM
|Bridge of sighs |
by Russo, Richard
Looking at Russo’s career, his short, entertaining works of fiction gradually worked their way into more substantial (and longer) novels, culminating with this title, which weights in at 527 pages. I would agree that it’s not his best. For sharp, laugh-out-loud dialogue, go for Nobody’s Fool and Straight Man; for dramatic, moving storytelling, you can’t beat Empire Falls. That said, I hope Bridge of Sighs gets its due in years to come, because it is a truly stirring work and feels almost the most personal of Russo’s stories. He takes the time to let the town’s history and people reveal themselves and the complicated relationships between the main three characters are extraordinary. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending, which seemed out of left field for me, but I appreciated the atmosphere and dramatic tension. posted Jan 9, 2013 at 2:28PM
|Top of the rock : inside the rise and fall of must see TV |
by Littlefield, Warren
Former head of NBC programming Warren Littlefield provides a page-turner of a history in his look at the Must-See TV era at NBC. Beginning with Cheers, which marked the ascent of NBC after years in limbo, and going through the finale of Seinfeld, which also marked the end of Littlefield’s time at the network, the story is told in interviews with executives, creative teams and actors who were responsible for the massive hits we grew up with. It provides a fascinating inside look at what it takes to create a hit show, from support of the writers and directors to promotion to dumb luck. Unlike most books of this kind, which can turn into an expose of which actors hated each other on the set, this book is really about the creative process and the many, many talented and brilliant people needed to put a quality TV show together. As more of a fiction reader, this book was surprisingly the perfect easy read I needed around the holidays. Highly recommended to anyone who was as obsessed with Friends, ER, and Frasier as I was back in the day. posted Jan 2, 2013 at 1:11PM
|Peace like a river |
by Enger, Leif.
I wanted to love this book, given its years of praise, but in the end, I couldn’t bring myself to embrace it the way others have. It is well-written with fully three-dimensional characters, but after slogging through its poetic asides and endless metaphors, I felt no closer to these people than I had at the beginning. Nor, as an Agnostic, did I relate to the author’s faith-filled worldview, which may have kept me from appreciating this book on a deeper level. It left me with much to think about and discuss with my book group, but it ultimately joins the ranks of books whose cult following eludes me. posted Dec 5, 2012 at 9:48AM
|The risk pool |
by Russo, Richard
Readers may know Russo from his award-winning Empire Falls or for Nobody’s Fool, subsequently made into a film of the same name. But each and every Russo novel is filled with fascinating characters, troubled and compelling family relationships and beautiful narrative. The Risk Pool, the story of a deadbeat father and his complicated relationship with his son over the years, is no exception to the rule. It is longer than other works by this author, as it spans the years and phases of the relationship, but it is one of Russo’s most satisfying novels, maintaining the author’s trademark humor, while also delving into the complexities of this family in what is often heartbreaking honesty. posted Nov 28, 2012 at 11:00AM
|One day |
by Nicholls, David
Share 20 years with friends Emma and Dex, who are shown on July 20 of each year. I absolutely adored this book and Nicholls’ extraordinary ability to show the struggles of young people over time in their careers, relationships and self-confidence. While neither of these individuals is always likeable, both are understandable and sympathetic on various levels. I came to care deeply about their story and what they meant to each other in a way I can’t think of with other books I’ve read recently. It’s disguised as a beach read, but there is so much more there as you delve in. posted Nov 20, 2012 at 1:01PM
|Those who save us |
by Blum, Jenna.
I thought I was on Holocaust/World War II overload before I picked up this book, but it shows what a brilliant writer and thinker Jenna Blum is that I found myself fully immersed in the world she created, which caused me to think about this era in a whole new way. I read this book two years ago and I still find myself haunted by her tragic heroines, each with her own demons to overcome. It is not an easy read, but a thoroughly satisfying one. Truly one of the most extraordinary books I’ve read in years. posted Nov 14, 2012 at 10:00AM
|Patti LuPone : a memoir |
by LuPone, Patti.
I have loved Lupone’s work since I was a teenager, obsessed with her Evita on CD. So it was a no-brainer that I would enjoy reading her story and, as expected, Lupone delivers a funny, engaging yarn of her love of performing from childhood to the present. Of particular interest is the saga of her termination from Sunset Boulevard, which gives you a sense of the cold business side of theater that can outweigh the artistry we see on stage posted Oct 31, 2012 at 9:14AM
|The dressmaker of Khair Khana : five sisters, one remarkable family, and the wom|
by Tzemach Lemmon, Gayle.
Not as shocking or inspirational as one might expect from the interesting subject matter, but Lemmon’s story is informative and triumphant and important. Personal narratives such as this offer a window into a country most of us know too little about, as well as perspectives about the Taliban, women prior to the new government, and civilian reaction to the September 11 events. It is concise and well-written, suited to a group discussion. posted Oct 24, 2012 at 3:03PM
|Time and again |
by Finney, Jack.
It saddens me that this charming story is not talked about more these days. Finney creates a startlingly vivid portrait of 19th-century New York, replete with old photographs of the people and places mentioned within. As his protagonist falls more deeply under the past’s spell, so do we, and the final moments will leave you breathless. Worthy of a mass rediscovery by passionate readers of all genres. posted Oct 24, 2012 at 2:52PM
|Major Pettigrew’s last stand : a novel |
by Simonson, Helen
Helen Simenson tells the story of a small English village where the gentlemanly Major Pettigrew is a prize to the swarms of widows looking for a companion. But it is the Pakistani shopkeeper who wins his heart and the two of them won mine in this gem of a story. It has Masterpiece Theatre written all over it! posted Oct 24, 2012 at 2:48PM
|Gone girl : a novel |
by Flynn, Gillian
I’ve been telling everyone about this book! One of the most engaging books I’ve read in years. posted Aug 1, 2012 at 12:18PM
|The Lonely Polygamist|
by Udall, Brady
The title may seem to be an oxymoron. After all, Golden Richards is the husband to four wives and father of 26 children. But in Brady Udall's 600-page saga, told from the perspective of Golden, his pretty youngest wife, and socially-inept preteen son, we come to see just how alone someone can feel in a large family, where nobody has the right to think of himself first and individuality is frowned upon. The story unfolds slowly, but every new revelation draws the reader in more deeply, ensuring that finally parting with the Richards clan is such sweet sorrow. posted Jun 20, 2012 at 11:18AM
|No Way to Treat a First Lady|
by Buckley, Christopher
First Lady Beth MacMann (or Lady Bethmac, as she is not-so-affectionately known) is at the center of the Trial of the Millennium: the murder of her husband, the President of the United States. Police claim she had a compelling motive (her husband was a notorious philanderer) and she admits to having thrown the murder weapon at him (a Paul Revere spittoon), but, as we soon learn, Beth was far from the only one with a motive. In his hilarious political parody, Christopher Buckley creates a cast of delightfully wacky characters and situations that will keep you guessing when you're not rolling on the floor laughing. posted Jun 6, 2012 at 12:55PM
by Sullivan, J. Courtney
In only two books, J. Courtney Sullivan has become my absolute favorite chick-lit author. Her stories may not reflect my own experience exactly, but the authenticity of her characters and their relationships is remarkable. She is able to spark levels of frustration, annoyance and compassion heretofore reserved for members of my own family. The involvement is immediate and it becomes impossible to put down this tale of four college friends and their struggles after graduation. I can only hope there's a sequel in the works! posted May 30, 2012 at 9:09AM
by Eugenides, Jeffrey
Narrator Calliope Stephanides recounts the history of the family, from dire poverty in Greece to race riots in 1960s Detroit. While each character faces his or her own demons, no one is more trouble than our narrator, whose sexual identity is a source of pain, humiliation, and isolation. Eugenides creates a journey of discovery for the reader, dispelling myths about and endowing humanity to the "freak." One could read this work for its many insights and perhaps I will, too, on a second or third reading. But I loved Middlesex first and foremost as a truly wonderful story told by a master storyteller. posted May 25, 2012 at 9:39AM
by Norman, Matthew
Doesn't it always seem like when it rains it pours? It's not enough that Tom Violet's marriage is crumbling, his career is taking a downward spiral, and he's still working on a novel years in the making. Oh, no. Now he also has to cope with his renegade father, an acclaimed writer who abandoned his wife and son years ago, only to come back and wreak havoc in poor Tom's life at the worst possible time. Will Tom survive the insanity? Fortunately for the voyeuristic reader, it's a journey filled with humor, pathos and immense readability. posted May 16, 2012 at 3:49PM
|Interpreter of Maladies|
by Lahiri, Jhumpa
The stories included in Lahiri's beautiful Interpreter of Maladies are both simple and profound in their exploration of India, the United States and the uneasy cultural relationships that exist between the two. As memorable as the subject matter is Lahiri's elegant style, endowing each narrative with a story, but forgoing punctuation: her stories fade gracefully instead into the oblivion, causing the reader to think more deeply about what it has meant and what's to come for the characters. As a whole, it is a haunting work that I have thought about frequently since I finished. I have a feeling I will return to it more than once in the years to come and glean something with each new reading. posted May 9, 2012 at 9:02AM
|Kafka on the Shore|
by Murakami, Haruki.
Simply put, this is the story of a young runaway and an older gentleman whose destinies are tied together and whose pasts and futures influence them in ways they cannot fully understand. But any plot summary would be an injustice to the layers of mystery, fantasy, intrigue and hallucination that comprise Murakami's masterpiece. While leading the readers into a completely different world, the author somehow manages to make his vision accessible, even comprehensible, and the blatant oddities cease to be frustrating or confusing so much as enlightening. It is a strange book to be sure, but unforgettable in equal measure and, above all, beautiful. posted Apr 11, 2012 at 4:39PM
|We Need to Talk About Kevin|
by Shriver, Lionel
Eva Khatchadourian is reeling from shock, guilt and fury at her 16-year-old son's crime: the murder of seven of his fellow high school students and two teachers. In an attempt to understand or at least come to terms with what has happened, she begins a one-sided correspondence with her estranged husband, Franklin, and recalls the years of seemingly minor incidents in which Kevin exerted an eerie cruelty towards others. Eva saw it, Franklin did not. Are they responsible for what happened or was Kevin just born evil? Shriver's prose is intelligent, gripping and searing; her take on motherhood, privilege and the American dream are presented without sentiment, which serves to jolt the reader out of comfortable assumptions. It is a haunting story and one that leaves the reader with much to think about and discuss with others. posted Aug 27, 2010 at 10:54AM