Staff Picks

The Improbability of Love

Summary: 
A high-spirited romp through the London art world, this novel shines a light on big money, high fashion, culinary arts, etc. through an appealing wannabe chef who happens to purchase an old master in a junk shop. Frothy and fun with a page-turner plot, a self-explaining painting, and a soupçon of romance.

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The Secrets We Kept

Summary: 
This double narrative sets forth the struggle to get _Doctor Zhivago_ published, the toll it takes on Pasternak and his muse, and the machinations through which the CIA weaponizes the novel in the Cold War. The secret keepers are all women, in the East and the West, and their lives are forever altered.

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Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death

Summary: 
Hilariously written and immensely fascinating! If you have any interest in how death works (and how it doesn't) this is a great read. Written in a Q&A style for each chapter, Doughty breaks down some of the more interesting and unusual questions many of us have about death, decomposition, cremation, and funerals. Did you know it's illegal to have your pet buried with you? Or that there are different methods of dealing with an astronaut's body if they die in space? Neither did I! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to expand their knowledge on something that we all go through but rarely discuss.

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The Topeka School

Summary: 
This semi-autobiographical novel encompasses the family stories of a psychologist couple and their son Adam, gifted debater/public speaker high school student and their circle of friends. The overheated atmosphere of senior year, being liberals in a conservative place, relationships that cross boundaries, idealistic beliefs that are inconsistently practiced, produces a combustion similar to the tornado pictured on the front cover, and a portrait of coming-of-age in the 90s. Brilliant.

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A Woman is No Man

Summary: 
Three generations of Palestinian women, two immigrants and the first generation daughter- granddaughter, wrestle with their duties as Arab women and the desire for selfhood that conflicts with the culture. In this poignant novel, tragedy haunts each of them in their struggle to survive, and they fear passing on a tortured existence to the next generation because other ways are unknown. A brilliant page-turner.

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A Single Thread

Summary: 
NY Times bestselling writer (author of "Girl with a Pearl Earring") has written a new novel. Set in the town of Winchester, England in 1932, it tells the story of a thirty-eight-year-old woman, Violet Speedwell. Having lost her fiance during the first world war, she is now considered a "spinster" by the current social mores. She works for an insurance company as a typist and then learns to create needlepoint designs for kneelers and cushions to be used in the grand Winchester Cathedral. Violet befriends two women who also do needlepoint, as well as an older married man in his sixties who introduces her to the art of ringing the bells at the cathedral. The narrative unfolds at a fast clip and includes a very surprising and heartfelt ending. It is a very engaging read.

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Middle England

Summary: 
In the tradition of Trollope, this comedy of manners embraces the lives of family and friends and politics from 2010-2017. Trenchant and funny, it makes foibles and courageous stands compelling as it makes sense of the turmoil that leads to Brexit. Indelible characters-- Benjamin, Doug, Sophie and a host of others are people we are glad to know and whose dilemmas illuminate the times on this side of the pond as well.

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The Book of Dreams

Summary: 
This novel tells the story of Sam, a thirteen-year-old boy in London, whose father Henri, a former war correspondent, lies in a coma at a medical clinic. Told from the point of view of various characters, the narrative weaves through time in a period of forty-six days, as Henri's spirit floats within dreams somewhere between life and death. Through his father's voice we learn that Sam is a synesthete - he has more sensory receptors than other people and experiences a constant barrage of impressions that exists only on the edge of others' perceptions. Sam's senses have a thousand more eyes and ears than most humans and he assigns colors to sounds and numbers, as well as emotions. This novel features other characters as well - Sam's mother Marie-France, his pal and best friend Scott, Henri's lover Edwina, and a young girl named Madelyn who is also in intensive care. All in all this wise story takes the reader on a wild journey through space and time, exploring some of life's intriguing mysteries.

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Perfectly You : Embracing the Power of Being Real

Summary: 
This book - part autobiography and part self-help- tells the true story of a thirty-something young woman from Venezuela, who realizes her dream of becoming a journalist. Graduating from Columbia University School of Journalism, she first finds a job working for a Spanish language network in Miami and eventually becomes a bi-lingual news correspondent for national TV. Covering such stories as a devastating earthquake in Mexico City to the migrant crisis at the Mexico/US border, to the papal visit, Mariana shares her unique perspective of our world. The premise she teaches is that we must each embrace what makes us unique; our flaws as well as our strengths, and in celebrating our differences, we can paradoxically find the common ground that makes us all human.

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Rules for Visiting

Summary: 
A botanist with more feelings for plants than people sets out at age 40 to deepen her friendships and find a new way forward. Having lived in books and her head and gardening after deep grief, English major May reflects on trees, her life, and friendship eloquently with many literary echoes.A quietly enchanting and perfect novel-- and funny too.

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