Trudy loves to read fiction, especially fiction with a historical bent. When she can bear to put a novel down, she also reads history, biography and other nonfiction (although she avoids anything with post-modern in the title).
The 2018 Booker Prize Winner is a challenging novel and is probably not for everyone, but I loved it. Some of the challenges include: long sentences, very long paragraphs, characters with no names. But, these are also the rewards. Once I gave myself over to Burns's unusual writing style, I truly "felt" her community, with its gossip, violence, absurdities, rigidity, and even tenderness. As to the unnamed characters: it stops mattering. For example, the main character is "middle sister," also known as "the girl who reads while walking" and "maybe-girlfriend." In my reading, these descriptions became wonderful substitutes for the names.
This 2013 Pulitzer prize winner blew me away. The details of the case against "the Groveland boys" as well as the general abuse of black people in the area are chilling. The actions of the racist, Klan controlled sheriff are enraging. And, Thurgood Marshall's bravery and resolve in the face of all this is truly amazing. This reads like a thriller but (sadly) it is true.
This is a fabulous collection of short stories. While the focus of the collection is on the immigrant experience, the uniqueness of each story stands out. There is humor, chaos, sadness, and many surprises. Highly recommended.
Given the depressing times we live in, it is nice to read a memoir by someone who survived some very depressing times...and can still laugh. This book conveys some of the horrors, the complexity, and the ridiculousness of apartheid. But, it is, above all, Trevor Noah's tribute to his amazing mother. You end up with a smile on your face, despite it all.
There's a lot going on in Egan's new book. We meet Anna, the complicated and feisty heroine, when she is twelve in Depression-era New York and follow her through the war years as she becomes the sole provider for her family. There's a mystery (what happened to her father?). There's beautiful writing and, for us desert rats, a lot of water imagery! And, the historical detail is so interesting and surprising. A novel to get lost in.
Critics call her the "queen of noir" and rightly so. Her depiction of Los Angeles in the 40s is so vivid. Her ability to get into the mind of a serial killer (without giving us gruesome detail) is amazing. But, what surprised me the most is that this is a truly feminist novel.
If you like your detectives more intuitive than hard-boiled, give Fred Vargas a try. Her mysteries feature the intuitive Commissaire Adamsberg who often baffles and irritates his more logical, yet still eccentric, team. In addition to enjoying a cast of quirky characters and an extremely complicated mystery, you will learn a bit about French history and culture along the way. And, in this mystery, you even get a trip to Iceland.
I loved this book. The two main characters -- a Civil War veteran who makes a living reading the news in small towns across Texas and a 10-year-old white girl who had been captured and raised by Kiowa but is now being returned (against her wishes) to white relatives -- are unforgettable. The writing is beautiful. And the adventures of this unlikely duo are both frightening and hilarious. If my crystal ball is working, I'd say someone will turn this into a movie -- but, of course the book will be better!
Read this on a long airplane ride. What a hoot! It's got lots of action, humor, twists and turns - and women with super powers. As a former academic, I especially loved the "academic treatise" interspersed throughout the book. Quite original and strange.
Woods' year visiting America's national parks did not go exactly as planned. But, it led to this beautiful book -- which is a loving tribute to his mother (a Tucsonan and lover of the Sonoran Desert) as well as our national parks.
This wonderful debut novel opens in 18th century Ghana, where the lives of two half-sisters diverge dramatically. One stays in Ghana; one becomes a slave in the US. The novel then follows the descendants of the two sisters forward into present day. Each chapter focuses on a different person and manages to provide an in-depth look at that person while also keeping an eye on the larger historical context. An amazing book.
This is a moving memoir by the brother of the "unabomber," Ted Kaczynski. David Kaczynski, a Buddhist and anti-death penalty activist, provides glimpses of family life with a troubled older brother...a brother who (as a child) could be sweet and thoughtful but eventually severed "every last tie."
I loved Lab Girl – loved her voice and her description of what it takes to do science – especially for a woman. And, her perspective on plant life…WOW!!…so interesting and unique.
Quite a unique book. At once, a gripping account of a woman dealing with grief and an amazing introduction to the world of raptors and the people work with them.
This indictment of our criminal "justice" system will/should make you lose sleep. The stories of people wrongfully convicted or receiving excessive punishments are often unbleievalbe - but they are true, and we need to pay attention.
- Fabolous Women's History (Tidbit: One law firm told O'connor they'd only hire her as a legal secretary)
- The fact that these two trailblazers are so different from each other makes a great story
- An eye-opening account of the workings of the Supreme Court
I loved this book -- part travelogue, part history. Rinker Buck has a distinctive voice -- funny, self-deprecating, anxious but also cocky. His modern day journey in a covered wagon is fascinating and full of interesting history. And, the mules....WOW! Who knew??
In 2006, a tragic texting-while-driving car crash killed two scientists on their way to work and dramatically changed the life of Reggie Shaw, the young man who caused the crash. This page-turner of a book covers the ground-breaking investigation by a persistent officer who wouldn't let the crash be dismissed as an unfortunate weather-related accident, the science of driving while distracted, as well as the efforts of Reggie Shaw and others to change the way we look at cell phones and driving. An important book.
What a fun read! I love the concept of literary pirates as well as the take on Robert Louis Stevenson. This is a great adventure store steeped in literary history--lots of twists and turns.
This is the hilarious and completely implausible story of a woman who uses her wits to escape the slums of Soweto and eventually "save the King of Sweden" (and deal with a nuclear bomb, too). This has the same tone as The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.
This book is about the fastest ride on the part of the Colorado River that runs through the Grand Canyon, and that is certainly thrilling. But, I loved the book for other reasons. Kevin Fedarko's writing about the beauty & importance of the Grand Canyon is fabulous as is his telling of the history of the folks who saved the Grand Canyon from numerous dams. This is a nonfiction page-turner.
James McBride won the National Book Award for this funny and engrossing novel. Onion, a 12-year old boy (thought to be a girl by his rescuer, the abolitionist John Brown) is the narrator of the novel. He is a sometimes innocent, sometimes cynical observer of John Brown and other abolitionists. Somehow, McBride manages to be irreverent and funny without trivializing our anti-slavery heroes. Storytelling at its best.
This is a memoir, an ode to the bicycle, and an interesting history of Amsterdam. It is wonderful to read about a place where cars don't rule!
If you are in the mood for a psychologically creepy read with lots of twists and turns, Gone Girl is for you! Wow! Narrated by a husband and wife in a failing marriage (to put it mildly!), this book is riveting. The reader must wade through the unreliable accounts of both characters to try to figure out what is really going on. A page-turner.
This page-turner of a novel is now in paper. Mary Doria Russell has given us an unusual and at times very amusing view of the "wild west" and Doc Holliday. Action-packed and fun but also thought-provoking.