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Book Reviews

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A weekly newsletter with reading suggestions including new and notable titles, bestsellers, titles discussed on radio and television and more. Delivered every Friday, just in time for the weekend.

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What’s Everybody Reading at Warner?
Best of the Year (Volume II)


   Among the many things that happen at the end of the year is the publication of the inevitable best book lists designed in part to encourage the holiday shopper. Below are some titles that have made the Kirkus Book Review, Book Page and New York Times lists. Book Page is a monthly readers’ advisory magazine for library users. Complimentary copies are available to take home in the new fiction section of Warner’s Audubon Room.


   A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is a heartbreaking beautifully written book about the decades long friendship of four men who meet in college. By midlife, Jude the anchor of the group, has become a talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever. The book is a finalist for the National Book Award, the Man Booker and the Kirkus prize.


   Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies is making every editor’s list this year. A modern portrait of marriage, Fates and Furies, is divided into two parts. Actor turned playwright Lotto Satterwhite is the hub around which all the characters revolve in the first half of the book and we see his marriage from his point of view. In the second half, the lens turns to Lotto’s wife Mathilde, and her side of their lopsided partnership giving the reader a totally different view. Groff is a master of language and provides a gritty rather than gentle read. Fates and Furies is a bumpy ride worth taking for the quality of the writing.


   Hot new title City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg is described in the Indie Next List* as “big, juicy and full throated absorbing readers into an expertly crafted 1970’s New York City complete with lushly drawn characters”. The novel starts out with a murder on the brink of the New Year in 1977 and culminates with the infamous blackout.


   Fans of the recent movie The Walk about Phillipe Petit’s tightrope walk between the World Trade Towers in August of 1974 might also want to try Colum McCann’s 2009 National Book Award Winner and masterpiece Let the Great World Spin. This book brings 1970’s New York City to vivid life through the interconnected stories of a radical monk, a Park Avenue matron, a prostitute and an artist on the day Phillip Petit takes his daring walk. Colum McCann fans will want to read his recently published book of short stories Thirteen Ways of Looking featured by the New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015.


   A non-fiction title worth checking out is photographer and author Sally Mann’s Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs. We follow Mann’s life in words and photos from her rebellious youth in the south to the horrifying drama of her in-laws murder suicide. Themes of art, family, race and mortality are revealed in this work through a masterful combination of Mann's words and photographs, both startlingly raw and lovely. The memoir making every list this year is Between the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. With brilliant insight, Coates warns his teenage son about the apparent permanence of racial injustice and the danger of believing one person can make a change.


   The newest addition to the environmental fiction cannon Gold Fame Citrus is a Bookpage best of 2015 pick. The novel by Claire Vaye Watkins depicts the sun scorched drought plagued West with a terrifying vision of the perhaps not too distant future.


   My from the stacks recommendation this month are the short stories of Truman Capote including the Children on Their Birthdays, The Thanksgiving Visitor and my all-time favorite A Christmas Memory. Be sure to come to voice actor Alan Sklar’s dramatic reading of Capote’s story A Jug of Silver on Thursday, December 3 at 7 pm in the Reading Room.


*Indie Next List – A monthly list of recommendations published by Independent Booksellers.


"What's Everybody Reading at Warner?" Archive


Book Reviews by Fellow Patrons

These book reviews cover a wide area of reading material. Everything from the most popular must-reads to underappreciated hidden gems.  See what you've been missing, and what you're glad you've missed. Warner Library owns a copy of each book listed.


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