The Library Book by Susan Orlean

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Read The Library Book by Susan Orlean!  It’s an account of a fire in the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986 and its aftermath.  It brings together research on arson and a suspected arsonist with a love of libraries and commentary on libraries and society.  It’s suspenseful, witty and full of intriguing real life characters. (Submitted by Kristen)

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A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

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A quiet, unassuming novel that was completely excellent. “Christina’s World” is an iconic American painting from the mid-20 century by Andrew Wyeth. It’s famous for it’s so-called “magic realism” style. At first glance, the girl in the painting is simply sitting in the grass, titled towards the farmhouse. Upon closer inspection, however, there is a sense of eeriness and foreboding: the girls’ arms are too thin and sickly, she is twisted at a wrong angle, the farmhouse is ghostly, and the placement of her hand on the grass suggests both yearning and escape.

The painting triggered many questions, but most of all, people asked this: who IS Christina?

Kline has written a beautifully wrought story here, about Christina’s life, historical American farm life, and living life with a disability. She has balanced these elements of the story so well. I was blown away by the depth of emotions conveyed in her elegant, concise language. The research and facts behind the fiction are clear – everything is believable. Not only does the truth come through, it was fascinating.

Such a wonderful, enjoyable, interesting read. Just like the original painting, there is so much more to Christina Olson’s world going on beneath the surface; beyond what you see at first glance. (Submitted by Veronica)

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Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

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In Etaf Rum’s debut novel, A Woman is No Man, we are introduced to three generations of Palestinian-American women who are all tied down to tradition and culture. Isra is the girl from Palestine who gets married off to an American and shuttled away to Brooklyn, New York. There, she battles her dreams of a better life in America, one where women are valued and not subservient to their husbands. But her new mother-in-law Fareeda is just as traditional as her own mother, pressuring her to have a son and disregarding the daughters that Isra eventually bears, including the first born, Deya. But perhaps it is Deya who will finally manage to find that balance between being Arab and American and breaks free from the tight constraints of a patriarchal mindset, through the use of books and the discovery of secrets long kept hidden…

This was an enthralling read that had me hooked from the very first chapter. Etaf Rum seamlessly invites us into a world we may or may not be familiar with. This world will horrify you and sadden you, but ultimately it will provide you with hope that a better world may be on its way. Jumping between timelines and characters, Woman is No Man depicts the voices of women who have been silenced for far too long. (Submitted by Alan)

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An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

american marriage“Until Death Do Us Part” or… until jail sets us apart – that’s a focal point of this well written, discussion-stirring novel by Tayari Jones. Celestial and Roy are a married couple, just one year into their love-filled relationship, doing well financially, planning for a child – when something unexpected happens and overturns their lives, sending Roy to prison for 12 years. Now, Celestial is at the cross roads and it seems like no matter what she chooses there is no joyful solution for either her or Roy. The first half of the book just zoomed by me; it was easy flowing and intriguing. The second half did slow down a bit, but it was still very good. The book touches on multiple subject matters including: racism, injustice, love & friendship, obligations, search for happiness. A good book for a book club discussion – evokes various feelings and opinions. (Submitted by Mariya)

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The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

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A delightful read that combines culinary delights with the ups, downs, and twists of everyday human life. Several stories told from the young, old and in-between voices of various people from different walks of life in a small town in the USA.

All stories held together by the commonality of food and the enjoyment of food.  This is not a mystery, but a sweet little journey into a short glimpse of time in the lives of others. Maybe some life lessons to be learned who knows? A nice, quick read. (Submitted by Jamie).

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