March 2019 Book List

book with glasses by Inc.

March 2019 Book List

I slipped and fell on my icy driveway, and after just getting a manicure too (which I rarely indulge in). My productivity declined in a fog of muscle relaxers that were a bit too mild for the job for the three weeks it took for my back to recover. When your body fails you, however temporarily, you begin to understand all the trendy talk about a mind-body connection. I had to fit my blogging in when I was functional, but my brain was not exactly firing on all cylinders. All of this is my excuse for why this book list is so late. The dog did not eat my homework; I blame this one on winter. Hope you find some good books in here. It looks very promising.

Amazon

Fiction

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

The Wall: A Novel by John Lanchester

The Old Drift: A Novel by Namwali Serpell

The Altruists by Andrew Ridker

A Woman is No Man: A Novel by Etaf Rum

The Parade by Dave Eggers

Daisy Jones and the Six: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself: A Novel by William Boyle

Little Faith by Nickolas Butler

The River: A Novel by Peter Heller

Mysteries and Thriller

The Lost Night: A Novel by Andrea Bartz

Wolf Pack (A Joe Pickets Novel) by C. J. Box

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Terminal List: A Thriller by Jack Carr

Run Away by Harlan Coben

The River by Peter Heller

Unto Us a Son Is Given (Guido Brunetti) by Donna Leon

The Border: A Novel (Power of the Dog) by Don Winslow

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Cemetery Road: A Novel by Greg Iles

Biographies and Memoirs

Louisa on the Front Lines: Louisa May Alcott in the Civil War by Samantha Seiple

The Sun is a Compass: A 4,000 mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds by Caroline Van Hemert

Era of Ignition: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution by Amber Tamblyn

Good Talk: A Memoir on Conversation by Mira Jacobs

I.M.: A Memoir by Isaac Mizrahi

Too Much is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood by Andrew Rannells

Magic is Dead: My Journey into the World’s most Secretive Society of Magicians by Jan Frisch

The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan, and the Climbing Life by Mark Synnott

No Happy Endings: A Memoir by Nora McInerny

First: Sandra Day O’Connor by Evan Thomas

Nonfiction

The Human Tide: How Population Shaped the Modern World by Paul Morland

The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb

The Lost Gutenberg: The Astounding Story of One Book’s Five Hundred Year Odyssey by Margaret Leslie Davis

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by Alex Kotiowitz

The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors by Matthew O. Jackson

Shoot for the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James Donovan

Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone by Brian Switek

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves by Frans de Waal

Horizon by Barry Lopez

All That Remains: A Renowned Forensic Scientist on Death, Mortality and Solving Crimes by Sue Black DBE FRSE

The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Giant Superbug by Steffanie Strathdee, Thomas Patterson

Science Fiction and Fantasy

One Way by S.J. Morden, Bk. 1

No Way by S.J. Morden, Bk. 2

Winter World by A.G. Riddle

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Women’s War by Jenna Glass

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Municipalists: A Novel by Seth Fried

The New York Times Book Review

Feb. 8

Fiction

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, 1stvolume, Dark Star Trilogy by Marlon James

Same, Same by Peter Mendelsund

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

I Am God by Giacomo Sartori

Nonfiction

Unexampled Courage by Richard Gergel

The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams

A Bright Future by Joshua Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist

Maid by Stephanie Land

An Indefinite Sentence by Siddharth Dube

The Short List – Einstein’s Legacy

Einstein’s Shadow by Seth Fletcher

Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes by Chris Impey

Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects by Chad Orzel

New and Noteworthy

The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman

Only in New York by Sam Roberts

Jimmy Neurosis by James Oseland

The Missing Pages by Heghnar Zietlian

The Wild Bunch by W. K. Stralton

9 Books Recommended by Editors

Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary: Selected Works of Kathleen Collins by Kathleen Collins

Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib

As Long as We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Choney

The Plotters by Un-Su Kim, trans. by Sara Kim-Russell

Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe by Roger McNamee

Antisemitism: Here and Now by Deborah E. Lipstadt

Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger

Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts by Jill Abramson

The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash

Political Tell-Alls

Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in Trump’s White House by Cliff Sims

Let Me Finish by Chris Christie

The Threat: How the FBI protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump by Andrew McCabe

Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law by Preet Bharrara

Feb. 15

Fiction

Landfall by Thomas Mallon

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Nonfiction

All the Lives We Never Lived by Katharine Smyth

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

Wild Bill by Tom Calvin

Lady First by Amy Greenberg

Walk This Way by Geoff Edgers

The Short List – 5 Essay Collections by Women of Color

Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks on Love and Life by Kim McLarin

Notes from a Black Woman’s Diary: Selected Works of Kathleen Collins by Nina Lorez Collins

Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality and Religion by Nishta J. Mehra

Black is the Body: Stories From My Grandmother’s Time, and Mine by Emily Bernard

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottam

Blockchain Tech

Blockchain and Law: The Rule of Code by Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright

The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust by Kevin Warback

Crime

Stalker by Lars Kepler

Careless Love by Peter Robinson

The Wedding Guest by Jonathan Kellerman

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

New This Week – Audio Books

Atomic Marriage by Curtis Sittenfelf

The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict

Power Moves by Adam Grant

The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm by Christopher Paolini

The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson

9 New Books We Recommend

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham

Nobody’s Looking at You: Essays by Janet Malcolm

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring by Richard Gergel

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams

An Indefinite Sentence: A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex by Siddharth Dube

Einstein’s Shadow: A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to see the Unseeable by Seth Fletcher

Feb. 24

Nonfiction

How to Disappear by Akiko Busch

Silence by Jane Brox

Separate: The Story of Plessy v Ferguson, and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation by Steve Luxemberg

Notes on a Shipwreck by Davide Enia

If We Can Keep it by Michael Tomasky

Sleeping with Strangers by David Thomson

Shortest Way Home by Pete Buttigieg

Fiction

The Cassandra by Sharma Shields

Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani

New Fantasy Fiction

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyon (Series – Chorus of Dragons

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Fiction

Wella and Hesper by Amy Feltman

Coming of Age Overseas

What Hell is Not by Alessandro D’Avenia

99 Night in Logas by Jamil Jan Kochai

March 1

Nonfiction

Mama’s Last Hug by Frans de Waal

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Empires of the Weak by J.S. Sharman

The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison

The Third Pillar by Raghuram Rajan

Memoirs of Love and Loss

How to Be Loved by Eva Hagberg Fisher

Joy Enough by Sarah McColl

The Art of Leaving: A Memoir in Essays by Ayelet Tsabari

Fiction

The White Book by Han Kang

Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa

Zuleikha by Guzel Yakim

Crime

The Border (last in a trilogy) by Don Winslow

Unto Us a Son is Given (Guido Brunetti) by Donna Leon

A Friend is a Gift Yourself by William Boyle

Cemetery Road by Greg Iles

Fiction

The Heavens by Sandra Newman

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

NYT’s article – Sabra Embury, a writer, asks authors to draw 10 second drawings of rabbits (bunnies). Not a book, but fun to check out.

www.nytimes.com/2019/03/01/books/sabra-embury.html

A few books recommended by editors

The Threat by Andrew McCabe

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya Hartman

Sleeping with Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire by David Thomson

Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

Publishers Weekly Tip Sheets

Feb. 4

Stalin’s Scribe: Literature, Ambition, and Survival: The Life of Mikhail Sholokov by Brian J. Boeck NF

Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson NF

Europe: A Natural History by Tim Flannery NF

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson NF

Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk by Amy S. Greenberg NF

What We Did: A Novel by Christobel Kent F

A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams F – short story anthology

The Ruin of Kings: A Chorus of Dragon’s, Book 1, by Jenn Lyons F

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken F

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides F

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker F

I Am God by Giacomo Sartori F

The Age of Light by Whitney Sharer F

Off Season by James Sturm F, graphic novel

The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang NF, essays

The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber F

Feb. 11

The Pianist from Syria: A Memoir by Aeham Ahmad NF, Memoir

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani F

The Night Tiger by Yongsze Choo F

Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving by Caitlyn Collins NF

Parkland by Dave Cullen NF

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts F

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli F

Rag by Maryse Farrar F, short stories

Honey in the Carcase by Josip Novakovich F

The Reckoning by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, trans. from Icelandic by Victoria Cobb F

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, trans. from Japanese by Geraldine Harcourt F

American Spy by LaurenWilkinson F

Feb. 18

Trump Sky Alpha by Mark Doten F

Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock F

In the Dark by Cara Hunter F

How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr NF

The Darkest Year: The American Homefront, 1941-1942 by William K Klingaman NF

Broken Stars (Anthology) edited and trans. from the Chinese by Ken Liu F, science fiction short stories

American Heroin by Melissa Scrivner F

Spearhead: An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy, and a Collision of Lives in World War II by Adam Mako NF

Nobody’s Looking at You: Essays by Janet Malcolm NF, essays

The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America edited by Nikesh Shukla, NF, essays

Feb. 25

Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin F

The Very Best of the Best: 25 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozios F, short stories

After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe, trans. from Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel F

Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs Sparked a Movement by David K Johnson NF

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe NF

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie F

Mother Country by Irina Reyn F

PTSD by Guillaume Singelin “This is a glorious meditation on the lingering horrors of war.” F

Hot Protestants: A History of Puritanism in England and America by Michael P Winship NF

 

You can find my book blogs at:

https://thearmchairobserver.com/(both books and politics)

https://nbrissonbookblog.com/  (book blogs only)

on Goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

 

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker – Book

thedreamers

The Dreamers by Karen Thomas Walker is a story of a viral outbreak, think ebola, only without bodily fluids. This virus hits a small college in the middle of nowhere, a tiny town, one road in-one road out. Where did the virus originate? Some said a strange haze moved through their college town one day. The town is in the middle of a drought. Is that the cause? The author suggests that letters from earlier centuries hint at a similar infection.

The virus strikes in the freshman college dorm first. Mei is a new student at Santa Lora who is finding social life difficult, but her roommate Kara connects with the other students easily. Kara is the first to feel woozy, she is the first to fall into her bed fully dressed after a night of drinking and partying, and she is also the first to die from whatever this is.

Caleb is the only person in the dorm who has the social skills to deal with Kara’s grieving parents. When the students drown their seriousness in a party that is pure escapism Caleb puts the moves on Rebecca, child of a religious family, home schooled, but finding herself a social success at school When he wakes everyone up in the morning with his screaming there is Rebecca in his bed and she has the virus.

The author tells us, “The first stage of sleep is the lightest, the brief letting go, like the skipping of a stone across the water. This is the nodding of a head in a theater. This is the dropping of a book in bed. Rebecca falls quickly into that first layer. Ten more minutes. She sinks further, just the beginning of the deep dive. This is when a sudden dream floats through her. She is at church with her parents. A baby is being baptized,”

The virus turns people into dreamers who cannot be awakened. If they are not fed through tubes and given water through IV’s they die of dreaming. It seems just a gentle virus, and few discussions of gross bodily functions trouble that dreamy quality (although such care must also be required).

I enjoyed reading The Dreamers but it left me with more questions than answers. Is it symbolic that this happens in a college town? Is it symbolic that the woods are dying from an attack by insects, that the lake is drying up from a long string of perfectly sunny days – a drought? Is it symbolic that the college administrators house the dreamers in a library?

The author takes us through the disciplines of thinkers who have dealt with dreaming, with mental time travel, with the past, present and the future – the Classics, the Psychology section, the Philosophers, the Physicists, the Linguists. Time does seem to morph for these dreamers in subtle ways.

Is it symbolic that Rebecca sleeps with a “sleeper” – a baby growing inside unknown to all, a baby whose every stage of development is described. Why does Rebecca dream that she has a boy child and then lose her sweet boy when she is delivered of a girl. She goes through the rest of her life loving her daughter but missing her son, who seemed more real in that dream state than what turns up in her actual life?

As with any virus some who fall to dreaming never wake up.

Is the small fire that begins in the forest and is quickly put out a foreshadowing of another key fire in this story?

The isolation of the college perhaps stops the virus from becoming widespread. So many volunteers show up to tend to the dreamers. In spite of protective suits and masks some get ill anyway and take their place on a cot. Some defy their suits to offer some personal gesture to a dreamer and get infected. Once you come into the village you cannot leave.

I just don’t know if this book simply takes us through an experience, the way an epidemic does, or if it has a point, a meaning, is perhaps a conceit, an extended metaphor. It strikes me as a skillful exercise in writing, immersive, beautifully realized, but, except for the baby growing in the midst of all that sleepiness in that lovely dying landscape, it seems without relevance, especially since it happens in a place almost as remote in time and place as Brigadoon. Perhaps a deeper message will dawn on me at some later moment. However Walker truly created a dreamy quality and that is skillful, like a painter who can capture transparency.

From a Google Image Search – The Bibliofile

There, There by Tommy Orange – Book

2018-06-06-therethere-sclark_01-1-

The acclaim There, Thereby Tommy Orange has earned is well deserved. I would think that there is nothing quite like it in the catalogue of the literature of indigenous people. There have been successful books, both fiction and nonfiction, by Native Americans, but this has a very modern sensibility and form.

Native Americans for the most part do not occupy their ancestral lands and we all know why. Although we cannot change what our nation’s forefathers did through arrogance, their misguided assurance of their supremacy as white-skinned people, their social structure which favored populated cities surrounded by farms, and their fear of warriors who were trying to make these settlers leave for reasons we can well understand, when Tommy Orange exposes the way we have turned a multiverse of Native Americans into a single stereotype we see that we are guilty.

Tommy Orange keeps these guilty realities sometimes in the foreground and sometimes tucked away in the background. We arrive early in his novel at the occupation of Alcatraz in 1969. What seemed like a fine symbolic gesture and a bid for active resistance against being assigned to reservations without any choice proved to be an untenable situation, in terms of supply lines, the harshness of the island itself with its dilapidated prison, and interpersonal relationships that went off the rails without strong leadership.

Orange makes it a point to tell us that it was believed that Native Americans would either hate cities or be assimilated into American cities, but then he shows us that urban areas have actually allowed Indians to keep their culture alive. I use the word Indian only because the author does. In every city there are Indian Centers and the stories, songs, and dances are keep alive and shared. If they aren’t shared person-to-person, they are shared on the internet.

“But what we are is what our ancestors did. How they survived. We are the memories we don’t remember, which live in us, which we feel, which make us sing and dance and pray the way we do, feelings from memories that flare and bloom unexpectedly in our lives like blood through a blanket from a bullet fired by a man shooting us in the back for our hair, for our heads, for a bounty, or just to get rid of us.”

At first we seem to be reading a series of essays and short stories about Orange’s characters, but we can feel the pull of some event that ties all the elements together. Opal Viola Bear Shield and Jacquie Red Feather are sisters (to understand their non-matching surnames, read the book). Around these two revolve the stories of many other characters, mostly men and young boys. Overall looms the Pow Wow planned for the Oakland Coliseum towards which everyone moves to finally meet on a single fateful day.

I would have wished for a more upbeat ending, for more hope and the promise of positive outcomes. But this book, while it invites us all to read it, may not be something all of us can understand in a soul deep way, at least not without some time and thought. The ending, along with other factors, is what makes this book literature instead of just fiction. I may not belong at the pow wow, but we all may be headed for some sort of urban apocalypse, after which life will probably still go on, for good or ill.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – NPR

Churchill: Walking With Destiny by Andrew Roberts – Book

Churchill book cover The Spectator

Churchill: Walking With Destiny by Andrew Roberts – Book

Andrew Roberts, in his biography Churchill: Walking With Destinytells us that Churchill was not ubiquitously or universally beloved, until he was. As he tells it even Churchill’s detractors enjoyed his wit, his oratory, and his intelligence. Having just spent over a month in the company of Winston Churchill, and an enormous cast of famous cohorts, I am surprised and almost sorry to find myself back in the weird politics and tenuous peace of the 21 st century.

Churchill was born in Blenheim Palace into the family of the Duke of Marlborough, a family whose most famous member was known to have been an excellent military strategist. Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father was the third son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough. Churchill seems to have been born with an interest in military matters. He studied what was known about his ancestor and he wrote a book about him. In fact, Churchill was a prodigious writer and authored many books now considered classics. He also studied the life and battles of Napoleon. He was in the cavalry for his own military service and, on a hiatus from politics he served in the trenches in France in the Great War (which we call WW I).

Churchill was born at the end of the Victorian Age and lived until the 1960’s. The changes in politics and wars were dizzying and many of his contemporaries held onto the “old rules” they learned as children. Churchill was an unruly child, a challenge for the schoolmasters at the very aristocratic schools he attended. Roberts suggests that Churchill was an original who had no problems with the changes he lived through because he was never a rule-follower. He further marshalls the facts of Churchill’s life in such a way as to suggest that Churchill was born to lead the UK into war against Hitler. Churchill believed that he was safe from harm because he was destined for some greatness which made him seem almost fearless. The author suggests that Churchill could never guess what moment he was destined for so he tried to be a great man all his life. This occasionally ticked everyone off, especially some in both the Conservative and the Labor parties in Parliament. Churchill did not want to serve in the House of Lords. He never worried about not being a Lord like his parent, and he never accepted the title, because he would not have been able to serve in the Commons as he wished.

Roberts’ book is close to 1,000 pages long, longer if you count the photo section, the footnotes, the bibliography and the index. By the time Roberts, a respected and prize-winning British historical writer, tackled Churchill’s biography he had access to documents previous biographers never had. He had official papers but also the diaries of almost everyone who had known Churchill. I found myself interested in how British politics differs somewhat from our democracy, interested in Churchill’s political ups and downs, in his political and military successes and failures. Along with the public side of Churchill’s life, the diaries of his contemporaries, his secretaries and aides, his wife Clementine, and even occasionally his children give Roberts and us access to the private side of his life, even some gossipy bits.

If Churchill was destined for any one time it was 1939-1945, the World War that we call World War II. Truly the entire world was involved in this terrible conflagration with Hitler and his Germans, and the Japanese as instigators, and Russia under Joe Stalin as our rather frightening ally. Roberts makes us understand what we owe Winston Churchill, who almost single-handedly encouraged his Brits to stay in the war, a war they only believed they could win because Churchill kept telling them so. He had faith that America would eventually have to come into the war and, although he hated Communism, he set that aside so Russia would also be an ally. Although Russia gave everyone big headaches after the war, if millions of Russians hadn’t died to beat back Hitler, Churchill and all the British people could not have held Hitler off long enough for America to come into the war. Without Churchill and, indeed, without Russia, World War II could have been a tragic turning point for democracy and humanity, and Andrew Roberts makes that very clear.

Churchill - AZ Quotes

I have barely scratched the surface and the depth of Churchill’s life, but Andrew Roberts does. I say “bravo”. I highly recommend that reader’s spend some time with Churchill : Walking with Destiny. I doubt if it will take a month. I was dealing with some other challenges at the time. This is one of those books that becomes a part of you. I will make my highlighting public, but I will warn you it is voluminous. It might be easier just to read the book.

Please find me on goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson and on www.tremr.comas brissioni and at https://nbrissonbookblog.com/

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – The Spectator, AZ Quotes

February 2019 Book List

book with glasses by Inc.

February 2019 Booklist

There is no clear pattern in the books available this February, most of which were published in January. Topics are varied. Fiction seems to have made a comeback. Fiction titles outnumber nonfiction. Plenty of crime offerings and some thrillers that look quite interesting. There is even an offering from a daughter whose mom was a numbers runner. I am still working on Churchill: A Walk with Destiny by Andrew Roberts, which has me immersed in British politics, and right now in World War II. This is a great book but very long and I have not been able to set aside good time for reading. However, this book is well worth the investment in time that it takes to read the over 1,000 pages. Churchill is a fascinating political figure and, given his contributions to bucking up Britain, which had to fight Germany almost alone until America finally entered the war, he was a true hero in Britain. In fact he should be remembered as a hero by all of us, because Hitler didn’t win and we owe that to Churchill and the people of the UK.

Amazon

Literature and Fiction

The Cassandra: A Novel by Sharma Shields

The End of Loneliness: A Novel by Benedict Wells

Golden Child: A Novel by Claire Adam

The Age of Light: A Novel by Whitney Scharer

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

Lost Children Archive: A Novel by Valeria Luiselli

The Study of Animal Languages: A Novel by Lindsay Stern

Finding Dorothy: A Novel by Elizabeth Lells

The Night Tiger: A Novel by Yangsze Choo

Enchantée by Gia Trelease

Mystery and Thriller

American Spy: A Novel by Lauren Wilkinson

Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds: The First Official Stranger Things Novel by Gwenda Bond

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Early Riser: A Novel by Jasper Fforde

Stalker: A Novel (Joona Linna) by Lars Kepler

The Next to Die: A Novel by Sophie Hannah

Never Tell: A Novel by Lisa Gardner

The Killer Collective by Barry Eisler

The Moroccan Girl: A Novel by Charles Cumming

Biographies and Memoirs

Wise Guy: Lessons from a Life by Guy Kawasaki

Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country by Pam Houston

Jimmy Neurosis: A Memoir by James Oseland

The Unwinding of the Miracles: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams

Wild Bill: The True Story of America’s First Gunfighter by Tom Clavin

No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger: The Deadliest Animal in History by Dane Huckelbridge

Figuring by Maria Popova

Together: A Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap by Judy Goldman

Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

Daniel Morgan: An Inexplicable Hero by James Kenneth Swisher

Nonfiction

Drug Warrior: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo and the Rise of America’s Opioid Crisis by Jack Riley

The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, A Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film by W. K. Stratton

Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances that Flow through Our Lives by Mark Miodownik

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport

Nature’s Mutiny: How the Little Ice Age of the Long Seventeenth Century Transformed the West and Shaped the Present by Philipp Blom

How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency by Akiko Busch

Good Kids, Bad City: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America by Kyle Swenson

The Shape of Life: One Mathematician’s Search for the Universe’s Hidden Geometry by Shing-Tung Yau, Steve Nadis

Underground: A Human History of the World’s Beneath Our Feet by Will Hunt

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

Polaris Rising: A Novel: The Consortium Rebellion by Jessie Mihalik

Early Riser: A Novel by Jasper Fforde

Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation by Ken Liu

A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers by Charlie Jane Anders, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Charles Yu, Victor LaValle, and John Joseph Adams

The New York Times Book Review

Jan. 6th

Crime

The New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke

The Burglar by Thomas Perry

No Sunscreen for the Dead by Tim Dorsey

Lives Laid Away by Stephen Mack Jones

North of Dawn by Nuruddin Farah

Poetry

The Flame by Leonard Cohen

Nonfiction

Born to Be Posthumous by Mark Dery

The Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier

Never Home Along by Rob Dunn

The War Before the War by Andrew Delbanco

Fault Lines by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E Zelizer

Nonfiction Shortlist (Topic-Food)

The Bread and the Knife: A Life in 26 Bites by Dawn Drzal

Crave: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Christine S. O’Brien

Kitchen Yarns by Ann Hood

Jan. 13 th

Fiction

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg

Revolution Sunday by Wendy Guerra

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Nigeria)

The Shortlist – 2 Japanese Writers

The Frolic of the Beasts by Yukio Mishima, trans. by Andrew Clare

The Cake Tree in the Ruins by Akiyuki Nosaka, trans. by Ginny Tapley Takemore

Nonfiction

Anne Frank’s Diary in Graphic Form by Ari Folman and David Polonsky

Duped by Abby Ellin

An Unlikely Journey by Julián Castro

The Breakthrough by Charles Graeber

Jan. 20 th

Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley

Unquiet by Linn Ullmann

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Restoration Heights by Will Medearis

Nonfiction

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

The Birth of Loud by Ian Port

Breaking and Entering by Jeremy Smith

Bluff City by Preston Lauterbock

Prisoner by Jason Rezaian

The Shortllist

Nervous States: Democracy and the Decline of Reason by William Davies

The Free Society in Crisis: History of Our Times by David Selbourne

Try Common Sense: Replacing the Failed Ideologies of Right and Left by Philip K. Howard

Jan. 29 th

Nonfiction

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro

The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridgett M. Davis (A daughter writes about her mother – a number’s runner)

In My Mind’s Eye: A Thought Diary by Jan Morris

Help Me by Marianne Power

Aristotle’s Way by Edith Hall

The Longest Line on the Map by Eric. Rutkow

Russell Baker books (Mr. Baker just passed)

So This is Depravity

Growing Up (Pulitzer Prize)

The Good Times

Book of American Humor

The Upside-Down Man

The Norton Book of Light Verse

Fiction

Hark by Sam Lipsyte

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Silmani

The Falconer by Dana Czapnick

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)

The Shortlist – History in Fiction

The Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron

The Eulogist by Terry Gamble

The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King by Jerome Charyn

Mad Blood Stirring by Simon Mayo

Feb. 1 st

Best Winter Thrillers

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

As Long As We Both Shall Live by JoAnn Chaney

The Plotters by Un-Su Kim

Watching You by Lisa Jewell

The Current by Tim Johnston

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Fay

Crime Fiction

Tombland by C. J. Sansoms

The Black Ascot by Charles Todd

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Murder Pit by Mick Finlay

Fiction

Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li

The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander

The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash

The Spirit of Science Fiction by Roberto Bolaño

The Shortlist – 4 novels

Golden Child by Claire Adam

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

The Patricide of George Bejamin Hill by James Charlesworth

Talent by Juliet Lapidos

Publisher’s Weekly

Jan 7 th

New Iberia Blues: A Dave Robicheaux Novel by James Lee Burke – F

Thick: and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cotton – NF

Burned: A Story of Murder and Crime that Wasn’t by Edmund Humes – NF

The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai by Ha Jin – NF

Lives Laid Away by Stephen Mack Jones – F

Wanderer by Sarah Léon, trans. from the French by John Cullen – F

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss – F

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma – F

How to Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson – NF with humor

Mouthful of Birds by Samantah Schweblin, trans. from the Spanish by Megan McDowell – SS

Looker by Laura Sims – F

The Drowning by J. P. Smith – Thriller

Slayer by Kiersten White – F

Jan 11 th

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders – Science Fiction

Big Bang by David Bowman – F

The Breakline by James Brabazon – Thriller

Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely by Andrew S. Curran – NF

No Sunscreen for the Dead by Tim Dorsey – Crime novel

Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life by Edith Hall – NF

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal (Pride and Prejudice Pakistani-style) – F

Last Night in Nuuk by Naviaq Komeliussen, trans. from the Danish by Anna Halager – F

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee – F

Hark by Sam Lipsyte – F

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer – YA – F

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro – NF

Unquiet by Linn Ullmann – F

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay – F

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson – F

Jan. 18 th

The Weight of a Piano by Chris Cander – F

The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty – Fantasy

The Current by Tim Johnston – Thriller

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land – Memoir

The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee – F

Camelot’s End: Kennedy vs Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party by Jon Ward – NF

The Magic Feather Effect: The Science of Alternative Medicine and the Surprising Power of Belief by Melanie Warner – NF

The Nowhere Child by Christian White – F

Last Boat of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution by Helen Zia – NF

Jan. 25 th

Golden Child by Claire Adam – F

The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan – SS

The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois Mc Master Bujold – F – Series

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen – F

Deep Creek: Finding Hope I the High Country by Pa Houston – Essays

Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz – Orphan X – F

The Plotters by Un-Su Kim, trans from the Korean by Sora Kum-Russell – Thriller

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin – F

Feb. 1 st

Stalin’s Scribe: Literature, Ambition, and Survival: The Life of Mikhail Soloknov by Brian J. Boeck – Bio

Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson – NF

Europe: A Natural History by Tina Flannery with Luigi Boitani – NF

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson – NF

Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk by Amy S Greenberg – Bio

What We Did by Christobel Kent – F

A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction From 25 Extraordinary Writers, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams – SS

The Ruin of Kings: A Chorus of Dragons, Bk. 1 by Jenn Lyons – Fantasy

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken – F

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – F

I Am A God by Giacomo Sartori, trans. from the Italian by Frederika Randall – F

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer – F

Off Season by James Sturm – Graphic Fiction

The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by EsméWeijun Wang – NF

The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber – F

 

 

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama – Book

becoming-michelle_obama-getty-h_2018

“For eight years, I lived in the White House, a place with more stairs than I can count – plus elevators, a bowling alley, and an in-house florist. I slept on a bed that was made-up with Italian linens. Our meals were cooked by a team of world class chefs and delivered by professionals more highly trained than those at any five-star restaurant or hotel. Secret Service agents, with their earpieces and guns, deliberately flat expressions, stood outside our doors, doing their best to stay out of our family’s private life. We got used to it eventually, sort of – the strange grandeur of our new home and also the constant, quiet presence of others.

 The White House is where our two girls played ball in the hallways and climbed trees on the South Lawn. It’s where Barack sat up late at night poring over briefings and drafts of speeches in the Treaty Room, and where Sunny, one of our dogs, sometimes pooped on the rug. I could stand on the Truman Balcony and watch tourists posing with their selfie sticks and peering through the iron fence, trying to guess at what went on inside. There were days when I felt suffocated by the fact that our windows had to be kept shut for security, that I couldn’t get some fresh air without causing a fuss. There were other times when I’d be awestruck by the white magnolias blooming outside, the everyday bustle of government business, the majesty of a military welcome. There were days, weeks, and months, when I hated politics. And there were moments when the beauty of this country and its people so overwhelmed me that I couldn’t speak.

 Then it was done.”

This is the voice of Michelle Obama in her biography/memoir, Becoming. Her story would be a great American story if she and Barack had never occupied the White House as President and First Lady, but it becomes a public rather than a private story because that happened. It happened to these two quintessentially American people while they were still quite young. Michelle spent her childhood on Chicago’s South side which was calmer and safer than it is today. She had a childhood that rivals that of any middle class American. She had two steady, loving parents. She had a father with MS who downplayed his physical challenges and went off to his job every day. Her extended family kept in touch with each other because her father had a beloved car (the deuce and a half) and he loved to go visit family members near and far. She knew racism but her parents kept it at a distance.

Michelle’s life was so much like the life I lived with my family that it evoked times that offered more stability than many children find today. She was good in school, she learned to play piano from her stern aunt who lived downstairs. As she grew her confidence in herself grew until it took her all the way to Princeton and a prestigious downtown Chicago law firm, where a young man named Barack Obama became a summer intern, then Michelle’s beau, and eventually her husband. Michelle had no calling for politics. While Barack finished a delayed college stint, she quit her fancy firm to do things that would lift up the people who grew up around her on Chicago’s South Side, and other, even poorer, Chicago neighborhoods, by running two very successful community programs. But Barack believed that the way to help even more people led through politics and, once he began, his career path took off like a rocket aimed right at Washington, DC and the Presidency.

Barack’s childhood was not as conventional as Michelle’s. He was the product of an unlikely union between a white woman from Kansas and a man from Kenya. His parents were estranged but his mother liked to travel. He spent several childhood years in Indonesia, but his real home was in Hawaii with his grandparents. He obviously also received enough loving support to grow into a very calm and confident person who ended up at Harvard, the Senate, and the White House.

This is a book that I enjoyed cover to cover. It uses no literary devices, no fiction-writing skills. It is what it is and that perfectly represents Michelle Obama; at least it seems she must be as she presents herself or she could not have written this memoir. If this were not her authentic self then she could not have written such a sweet book, and I mean sweet in the sense of offering a true taste of a good life, an American sweet spot, so far well-lived. The gracious way the Obamas lived in the White House makes them one of the great American Presidential families. I liked Michelle Robinson Obama before I read her story, and I like her even better now. The amenities of the White House, and the duties of state did not overwhelm her, but she did not take the privileges for granted either. Leaving the White House was a bittersweet experience because of the people who made their lives there so comfortable, not because she would miss the trappings of power. Barack and Michelle may be the first couple who did not arrive in the President’s house through an aristocratic American family.

Photo Credit:  From a Google image search – Getty

January 2019 Book List

book-club-recomendations

January 2019 Book List

The year is beginning with a pretty slim list of new books. Many of these books were on my previous lists. The Amazon always publishes a list of the books for the current month, so those titles are new. The New York Times Book Review did not offer a lot that was new and Publisher’s Weekly was mostly looking back at the best books of 2018 so I did not even include PW in this month’s list. This gives us a bit of breather to try to catch up on our reading. (haha)

Amazon

Literature and Fiction

Elsey Come Home: A Novel by Susan Conley

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obloma

Ghost Wall: A Novel by Sarah Moss

Unmarriageable: A Novel by Soniah Kamal

Late in the Day: A Novel by Tessa Hadley

99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

The Weight of a Piano: A Novel by Chris Cander

Sugar Run: A Novel by Mesha Maren

Mysteries and Thrillers

Freefall: A Novel by Jessica Barry

The Burglar by Thomas Perry

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

The Au Pair by Emma Rous

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

The Dreamers: A Novel by Karen Thompson Walker

No Exit: A Novel by Taylor Adams

She Lies in Wait: A Novel by Gytha Lodge

The Current: A Novel by Tim Johnston

Nonfiction

The Longest Line on the Map: The United States, the Pan American Highway, and the Quest to Link the Americans by Eric Rutkow

The Soprano Sessions by Matt Zoller Seitz, Alan Sepinwall, David Chase

It Was All a Dream: New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America by Reniqua Allen

Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer

The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry that Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll by Ian S. Port

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Freuer

Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff

Why We Fight: One Man’s Search for Meaning Inside the Ring by Josh Rosenblatt

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff

Breaking and Entering: The Extraordinary Story of a Hacker called “Alien” by Jeremy Smith

Biographies and Memoirs

Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days that Changed Her Life by Lucy Worsley

Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America by Weijian Shan

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon by Joshua Mezrich

Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison – Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High Stakes Diplomacy and the Extraordinary Efforts it Took to Get Me Out by Jason Rezaian

Bluff City: The Secret Life of Photographer Ernest Whithers by Preston Lauterbach

Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Rabitz and the Secret History of L.A. by Lili Anolik

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land, Barbara Ehrenreich

The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America by Tommy Tomlinson

Joy Enough: A Memoir by Sarah McColl

Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

48 Hours by William R Forstchen

The Winter of the Witch (3rdbook in the Winternight Trilogy) by Katherine Arden

Marked by S. Andrew Swann

New York Times Book Review

Dec. 9

Fiction

The Little Snake by A. I. Kennedy

Those Who Knew by Idra Novey

Love is Blind by William Boyd

Short Story Collections

Catch, Release by Adrianne Harun

Better Times by Sara Batkie

Its Color They Are Fine by Alan Spence

The Dogs of Detroit by Brad Felver

Nonfiction

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know by Colm Toibin

Why Religion? By Elgin Pagels

The End of the End of the Earth by Jonathan Franzen (essays)

We Begin in Gladness by Craig Morgan Teicher

John Marshall by Richard Brookhiser

Books That Give Hope

Interior States by Meghan O’Greblyn (essays)

What If this Were Enough? by Heather Havulesky (essays)

Books by Lucia Berlin

Evening in Paradise: More Stories by Lucia Berlin

Welcome Home: A Memoir with Selected Photographs and Letters by Lucia Berlin

Books About What Ails America

The Politics of Petulance by Alan Wolfe

America Compromised by Lawrence Lessig

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster by Stephen I. Carter

Dec. 16

Poetry – This week NYT Book Review featured poetry.

Nonfiction

Kurt Vonnegut’s World War II Scrapbook

New and Noteworthy

Perennial by Kelly Forsythe

Anagnorisis by Kyle Dargan

Who is Mary Sue? By Sophie Collins

The Gilded Auction Block by Shane McCrae

So Far So Good by Ursula K LeGuin

The Terrible by Yrsa Daley Ward

There Will Be No Miracles Here by Casey Gerald

Dec. 23

Nonfiction

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Man in the Glass House by Mark Lamster

The Patch by John McPhee (essays)

The Day that Went Missing by Richard Beard

Bringing Down the Colonel by Patricia Miller

Creating Things that Matter by David Edwards

Fewer, Better Things by Glenn Adamson

Nothing is Lost: Selected Essays by Ingrid Sischy

The Nationalist Revival by John B Judis

Fiction

All the Lives We Never Lived by Anuraha Roy

Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates

Come With Me by Helen Schulman

The Shortlist

Inhuman Resources by Pierre Lemaitre

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten (short stories)

Some Like Me by M.R. Carey

Dec. 30

Fiction

Insurrecto by Gina Apostol

Graphic Novels That Defy Gender Norms

Dirty Plotte by Julie. Doucet

Fruit of Knowledge: TheVulva vs The Patriarchy by Liz Stromquist

My Brother’s Husband, Volume 2 by Gengoroh Tagame, trans. by Anne Ishii

Flocks by L. Nicols

Fiction

In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne

The Day The Sun Died by Yan Lianke

Nonfiction

Late-Life Love by Susan Gubar

God in the Qur’an by Jack Miles

The British in India by David Gilmour

3 French Novels

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants by Mathias Énard, trans. by Charlotte Mandel

Sleep of Memory by Patrick Modiano, trans. by Mark Polizzotti

Strike Your Heart by Amélie Nothomb, trans. by Alison Anderson

New and Noteworthy – Audiobooks

Where Do We Go From Here by Bernie Sanders

Jeff Wayne’s The War of the World’s: The Musical Drama by H.G. Wells

Broken Ground by Val McDermid

Wrinkle in Time by Margaret L’Engle

Chasing Hillary by Amy Chozick

8 New Books We Recommend

Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl: Volume 1 and 2 by Uwe Johnson, trans. by Damian Searls

The Word Pretty by Elisa Gabbert

Come With Me by Helen Schulman

The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century by Mark Lamster

The Patch by John McPhee

Nothing is Lost: Selected Essays by Ingrid Sischy, edited by Sandra Brant

The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey