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    Book Club in a Bag

    Picture Books… for Adults

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Last week I shared five Graphic Novels about unexpected subjects with you in Great Graphix: NOT Your Run of the Mill Comics. Here now are five complex, mature, and unexpected… picture books. There's something for everyone.

    Ever heard of book spine poetry? Well, pile up some books, look at the titles on the spine and make a poem.

    Sorted books by Nina Katchadourian has some great book spine poems including highlights such as: "A Short Guide to Writing about Art / Criticizing Photographs / This is Not a Photograph" and "Primitive Art / Just Imagine / Picasso / Raised by Wolves."

     

     

    The Da Vinci Cod : and Other Illustrations for Unwritten Books by Christopher Riddell (a Sunday times cartoon columnist and children’s book illustrator) is wittier than an earful of mice. Each one-pane comic reframes titles from famous literary classics such as “Jane Ear” with hilarious, detailed, one-frame illustrations. Some examples are: "Anglicanism and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (featuring a priest riding a motorcycle), "Apes of Wrath" (featuring Apes…), "The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe Assistant" (featuring a Queer fashion designer). For further fun check out his website which has three additional sets of illustrations to unwritten books.

     

    The Adventuress by Audrey Niffenegger (enjoy The Time Traveler’s Wife??) is her first (self) published book. Before becoming an author Niffenegger went to art school (the Art Institute of Chicago), and made her first book out of a series of dry-prints (etchings); before deciding to turn them into a story. The resulting book brings together a series of prints she did for her graduating thesis. It’s a Frankenstenian love story involving a captured woman morphing into a moth, having Napoleon as a lover, complete with a creepy yet comforting conclusion to love lost, amongst other things. This is classic Niffenegger and echoes themes explored in The Time Traveller’s Wife. You might also want to check out The Three Incestuous Sisters.

     

    About Love – 3 Stories by Anton Chekhov. Three classic short stories by the Russian author translated by David Helwig. A former poet laureate of Prince Edward Island and an Officer of the Order of Canada, he has written twenty volumes of fiction and fourteen volumes of poetry. Comfily illustrated by Seth the book invites curling up with a loved one and reading it together over a cup of cocoa.

     

    The Dot and the Line - a Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster is a great illustrated story that is allegorical and philosophical while remaining quite simple and downright funny.

    There are many other gems embedded in our Art, Graphix and Children’s book collections. Stay tuned for future recommendations!

     

      

    New York Review Books Classics

    by Dieu - 0 Comment(s)

    NYRB Classics are, to a large degree, discoveries, the kind of books that people typically run into outside of the classroom and then remember for life. ~ from NYRB website

    Ice Trilogy cover Love in a fallen city cover Pedigree book cover Stray dog cabaret: a book of Russian poems book cover The True Deceiver book cover Songs of Kabir book cover The mountain lion book cover Proud beggars books cover

    If you were to ask me what my favourite books of all time were, my answers would be predictable with a mix of surprises thrown in for good measure. I find that many of my most pleasurable reading experiences involved books that came as surprises, books that should be considered classics and yet for some reason missed reaching a mass audience.

    Another fellow library staff person recently wrote about the book Stoner by John Wiliams, a novel that I had read many years ago and loved. I remember thinking at the time, “why has no one heard of this book?” To my delight, the book is now getting the attention it deserves, reaching bestseller status all over Europe.

    Stoner is one of many books published by New York Review Books as part of its Classics series. You can browse the New York Review Books Classics collection on their website and the Calgary Public Library owns many titles in the series. Just do a general search for “New York Review books classics” in the Library’s catalog to find all the titles we have in the collection.

    Stoner book cover

    The World I Live In Book Cover

    At the moment I am reading The World I Live In by Helen Keller, a title that had been out of print for nearly a century before NYRB decided to publish it again. Helen Keller was an American author and was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of arts degree. Many people may know of her biography from the play and film, “The Miracle Worker”.

    Born in 1880 as a healthy child, Helen was mysteriously struck by an illness over a year later that left her deaf and blind. It was not until five years later that she was released from her despair by a 21 year old half-blind teacher, Anne Sullivan. It was then that Helen learned how to communicate through the use of the manual alphabet.

    I found The World I Live In to be extremely personal and inspiring and more than anything, the essays in the book showcase Helen's gift for writing. In the book, she explains to readers the emotional and psychological link between language and the spectrum of senses that she uses to navigate the world around her.

    What I love most about the NYRB Classics series is its diversity. The collection includes translations of masters such as Dante, Chekhov, and Balzac, works spanning geography, eras, and genres including fiction, cult favorites, literary criticism, travel writing, biography and even cookbooks! If you are on the hunt for a lost classic, then consider the NYRB Classics series as your guide. I certainly do, and find myself looking to their list whenever I am in need of something less ordinary.

    Staff Picks: Stoner by John Williams

    - 2 Comment(s)

    One of the great pleasures of working in a library is finding great, little known books and recommending them to friends and customers. About eight years ago I stumbled upon a reprint of a novel originally published in the mid-sixties called Stoner by John Williams. I fell in love with this story of a poor farm boy who discovers a love of literature and devotes himself to teaching English at a small university. The book was written in such a way that, before I knew it, I found myself caring more for the protagonist than I ever cared for a fictional character.

    Stoner is in many ways a sad novel, but I found inspiration in it as well. I have been recommending it to readers ever since and almost always people come back to tell me it is one of the best novels they have ever read. I have often wondered why this book is not widely known about, but have come to accept that not all great books get the attention they deserve.

    However, in the past few years something amazing has happened – Stoner has become a bestselling book right across Europe. In 2011, almost fifty years after its original publication and over fifteen years since the death of its author, Stoner became a phenomenon in France, Holland and Italy, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. This year it has become the book to read in England – being named Book of the Year by Waterstones booksellers, and last week the novelist Julian Barnes wrote an article in the Guardian outlining why Stoner was the must-read novel of 2013.

    Stoner mania has yet to catch on in North America in quite the same way, however the Globe and Mail recently did an article on the book, which has certainly stirred up a good deal of interest. I have noticed that suddenly there is a waiting list for the copies available from the Calgary Public Library, and my bookselling friends tell me they have sold numerous copies in the last couple weeks. So why not put your name down on the waiting list to read it now? I can almost guarantee that you’ll be glad you did.

    - Tyler at Louise Riley Library

    Staff Picks: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

    by Sonya - 2 Comment(s)

    Halloween has come and gone, and for many, that means it will be a whole year before you have to think about witches or vampires again. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, though, let the season last a little longer by immersing yourself if this richly detailed debut novel by historian Deborah Harkness.

    Although populated by witches, vampires and other supernatural beings, this novel is not a typical fantasy tale. The vivid historical detail and complex plot, part fantasy, part romance, sets this novel (part of a trilogy) apart.

    Diana Bishop is a young historian who has rejected her magical inheritance and always tried to distance herself and her scholarly life from the Bishop family legacy. While studying in Oxford, Diana stumbles across a manuscript that seems to have magic imbued in it. Scholarship and research is her calling, and she wants nothing to do with magic, so of course she examines the manuscript, takes notes, and returns it to the archives. But unknown to Diana, her contact with the manuscript has caused wide ripples in the supernatural world. With mysterious events set in motion, she will no longer be able to avoid her magical heritage. From our catalogue summary: "Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense."

    A word of warning: once you start, you won't want to put this down! And while the second book of the trilogy, Shadow of Night, was published in 2012, the third book is yet to come, so you may be waiting in suspense until the third volume appears. And if you start reading and wonder when the "historical" part will begin... just keep reading! You won't be disappointed.

    Your Fall Reading List is Here

    by Sonya - 1 Comment(s)

    Now that the "September rush" is over—Yikes! October already!—are you looking for something new to read? Find out which books are the most talked about, read reviews, and see what will go on your own reading list. I've compiled a few links to various recommended reading lists, and for once, I've also finished reading one of the hot new titles that appears on several of the lists! So, I'll start with my own recommendations and go from there.

    Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam completes her dystopian trilogy that started with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. [Spoiler alert: if you haven't read them, stop reading this right now and go read Oryx and Crake!] The first two novels presented alternate, and interwoven, viewpoints of the same timeline of events in a chillingly believable future version of our world. Genetically modified organisms and genetic-enhancement cosmetic procedures abound; powerful "Corps" control money, media, politics, and the lives and deaths of the nameless masses trying to survive the toxic pleeblands. Various secret groups and splinter cults try to undermine or avoid the influence of the Corps... and one young scientific genius, Crake, either madman or visionary, has had enough. Crake engineers both the mass extinction of humanity and the birth of a new type of human. MaddAddam continues the story as a handful of humans, together with the "Crakers," try to survive in the aftermath.

    If, like me, you are fascinated by the complex world and characters Atwood created in the first two novels, you have to read the third. What I loved about this novel is it allows us to discover the Crakers both as individuals and as a new culture, as this culture develops. There is also the thread of storytelling, and how it is linked to our legends and beliefs. Atwood is a master storyteller and weaves her magic once again in this novel. Along with the feeling of completion and melancholy having just finished reading MaddAddam, I also feel anticipation—time to go back to Oryx and Crake and read them all again.

    CBC Fall Reading List:

    On this list, you'll find both Atwood's latest and Lawrence Hill's Massey Lecture, Blood: the Stuff of Life. If you haven't read anything from Lawrence Hill, now is the perfect time! His fantastic novel The Book of Negroes, which I've blogged about before, is the chosen book for this year's One Book, One Calgary events.

     

    Quill & Quire Canadian:

    More notable Canadian fiction, including both new and familiar names.

    Quill & Quire International:

    Among new efforts from several big names, including Stephen King, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amy Tan, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Chuck Palanhiuk, the one that caught my eye is The Guts by Roddy Doyle, described as a sequel to his breakout novel The Commitments. This time around, the characters first introduced as young musicians in a band are middle aged family guys, and dealing with cancer. With Doyle's signature warmth and humour, it should be a good one.

     

    Publisher's Weekly Fall Books Preview:

    This extensive list (with reminders to check back as more titles are added) includes material for all ages, with links to more in-depth listings. One that caught my eye is a debut fiction novel from a True Crime writer. If that sounds interesting, check out The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton. The plot involves the kidnapping of a 13-year old girl.

    Oprah's Books into Movies:

    One of my all-time favourite novels, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, appears on this list. Personally, I always read the book first (and, truthfully, am often disappointed by movie adaptations), so if this one's slipped under your radar, now is the time to read it before the movie is released. Although categorized as a young adult novel, this one transcends age boundaries and has wide appeal. To paraphrase the summary in our catalogue: "[i]n superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time." This unforgettable novel, narrated by Death, is the story of a young girl living in a small German town in 1939.

     

    What's on your reading list this fall? Let us know in the comments.

    How to Find a Great Mystery Series (Part I)

    by Sonya - 8 Comment(s)

    Sometimes life is all about change. Whether you encounter good changes in your life or difficult ones, it takes a certain amount of energy just to adapt. So, if you're looking for a measure of stability, why not escape into a great mystery series? I enjoy reading novels across many genres, and when I'm in the mood for something comfortable and familiar I reach for a favourite series.

    In the next few weeks I'll be featuring a few great mystery series from all ends of the genre, and to start it off this week, I'll highlight mystery series from the lighter end of the spectrum.

    Cozy:

    This genre is a staple of the mystery tradition, along the lines of Agatha Christie: the murder (if there is one) takes place off-stage, and the focus is on solving the puzzle. Often featuring a cast of characters in a small village or equally pastoral setting, the fun of these mysteries is in getting to know and love the characters better with each installment while trying to solve the mystery before the author reveals all.

    M. C. Beaton

    This author, whose style is described by a fan as "coziest of the cozy," has two popular mystery series that will keep you engaged without risk of blood spatter.

    If you like Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series, The Agatha Raisin mysteries are a good bet. Start with the first book in the series, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (part of the volume Introducing Agatha Raisin). If you prefer to try audio for this title, now is your chance to get into the ebook revolution! It is available as an audio ebook from Overdrive. Here's a brief summary from Overdrive:

    After years of bullying and cajoling others as a high-flying public relations boss, Agatha Raisin's early retirement to the picture-postcard village of Carsley in the Cotswolds is a dream come true. And how better to begin making herself a local leading light than by entering the village quiche-making competition? Unburdened by old-fashioned ideas of fair play, the ruthless Agatha decides to ensure she wins by buying her entry from a London delicatessen. Alas, Agatha's perfect product is soon exposed—as not only store-bought but poisoned. The contest judge succumbs after eating it, and with him go Agatha's reputation and her chances of rural bliss—unless she can expose the poisoner...

    The other series from Beaton is the Hamish MacBeth mystery series--up to 29 books and counting! Hamish MacBeth is a police officer. In fact, his person makes up the entire police force of Lachdubh in northern Scotland. In the first title in the series, available as an ebook, Death of a Gossip, we meet a group of eight people who are there to relax, enjoy the Highland scenery, and take in the fishing. Unfortunately, when one among them is found murdered, nobody is too upset (in fact, as she found a way to alienate them all, they are secretly a bit relieved). From our catalogue summary:

    Jane Winters--Lady Jane--was a noted gossip columnist enrolled in the Lachdubh School of Casting (fish casting, that is). She had something on everyone in class--and so, bobby Hamish Macbeth figured, any one of them could have killed her.

    If you're already familiar with M. C. Beaton's books, here is an award-winning Canadian author you might be interested in:

    Alan C. Bradley

    Bradley writes the Flavia de Luce series, featuring the unforgettable 11-year-old chemist (specialty: poisons) and amateur sleuth, set in the English countryside post-World War II. Start with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, in which Flavia comes upon a stranger on the grounds of Buckshaw, the family estate, as he takes his last breath:

    "I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life." Did the stranger die of poisoning? There was a piece missing from Mrs. Mullet's custard pie, and none of the de Luces would have dared to eat the awful thing. Or could he have been killed by the family's loyal handyman, Dogger... or by the Colonel himself! At that moment, Flavia commits herself to solving the crime -- even if it means keeping information from the village police, in order to protect her family. But then her father confesses to the crime, for the same reason, and it's up to Flavia to free him of suspicion. Only she has the ingenuity to follow the clues that reveal the victim's identity, and a conspiracy that reaches back into the de Luces' murky past. A thoroughly entertaining romp of a novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is inventive and quick-witted, with tongue-in-cheek humour that transcends the macabre seriousness of its subject.

    Funny:

    There are many great series which combine a mystery framework with offbeat characters and farcical situations. The real key with humour is whether the author's particular brand of hilarity and rhythm of delivery "clicks" with your own sense of humour--then you have a winner! Here are a few I'd recommend:

    Janet Evanovich

    Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series offers wacky characters in... let's say unlikely scenarios, with a splash of romance thrown in to the mix--as far as I can tell, the combination works! She's up to 19 novels in this series, and judging by the hold lists, I'm not the only one who waits in line for the next installment. Start with One for the Money (part of the omnibus of volumes 1-3, Three Plums in One) and see if this series can make you chuckle. From our catalogue summary:

    Stephanie's all grown up and out on her own, living five miles from Mom and Dad and doing her best to sever the world's longest umbilical cord. Her mother is a meddler and her grandmother is a few cans short of a case. Out of work and out of money, Stephanie blackmails her bail-bondsman cousin Vinnie into giving her a try as an apprehension agent. Stephanie knows zilch about the job requirements, but she figures her new pal, el-primo bounty hunter Ranger, can teach her what it takes to catch a crook. Her first assignment: nail Joe Morelli, a former vice cop on the run from a charge of murder one. Morelli's the inamorato who charmed Stephanie out of her virginity at age sixteen. There's still powerful chemistry between them, so the chase is interesting.

    Lisa Lutz

    One thing I really love about Lutz's writing is her perfect timing for dialogue--it's unsurprising that the author has written screenplays as well as novels. In The Spellman Files, you'll get to know Izzy Spellman and her eccentric family of PIs. Izzy is the resident underachiever, working in the family business, and trying to keep her nosy family out of her private life--no easy feat when practically every member of the family is busy investigating (and blackmailing) each other! The wry humour, plot twists and quirky but realistic characters will pull you in, but as the series progresses, you'll find there's also a well-hidden warm heart at the core.

    From the catalogue summary:

    Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman. Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. The Spellman Files is the first novel in a winning and hilarious new series featuring the Spellman family in all its lovable chaos.

    Spencer Quinn

    The fabulous Chet and Bernie mystery series is published under this pseudonym of author Peter Abrahams. Chet is the narrator of our series, the canine half of the PI team with retired cop Bernie Little. If you've ever had or known a dog, you really shouldn't miss this series! While avoiding trite fluffiness, Quinn perfectly captures the canine inner voice while crafting fast-paced mysteries full of plot twists and interesting characters. Start with Dog On It, and get ready to recommend it to all your friends!

    From our catalogue summary:

    In this irresistible new detective series featuring a canine narrator, Quinn speaks two languages--suspense and dog--fluently. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, and in a few places terrifying . . . [a] one-of-a-kind novel (Stephen King).

    Do you have a favourite light mystery series? We always love to get recommendations--leave yours in the comments.

    It's a mad, mad world

    by Suzen - 0 Comment(s)

    March is a huge month for television this year thanks to the much anticipated return of AMC’s Mad Men. About to begin its fifth season, this show has got everything I love about a good TV drama – great character-driven storylines and tons of style.

    If you’re a fan of the show then you can probably empathize with the agony I’ve been going through during its 2-year hiatus, especially since the fourth season ended with such a punch to the chest. I'm not going to lie -- it’s been tough to fill the Don Draper-sized void in my life, but thanks to DVDs from our collection my heart has had a bit of a reprieve. Needless to say, I’m pretty stoked about the season premiere coming up in just a few days.

    So, in celebration of Mad Men’s return to my PVR, I present to you a list of related reads. If you love Mad Men, then there’s a strong possibility you will love these books too.

    The Last Letter from Your LoverThe Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

    It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing - not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply "B", asking her to leave her husband. Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper's archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie's search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance.


    The Irresistable Henry HouseThe Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald

    It is the middle of the twentieth century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him. From his earliest days as a "practice baby" through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney's Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles' London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored-and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust. Filled with unforgettable characters, settings, and action, The Irresistible Henry House portrays the cultural tumult of the mid-twentieth century even as it explores the inner tumult of a young man trying to transcend a damaged childhood. For it is not until Henry House comes face-to-face with the real truths of his past that he finds a chance for real love.

    The learnersThe Learners by Chip Kidd

    Set in the early 1960s, the Learners is the story of Happy, a young graphic designer who lands his first job at a wacky advertising firm in New Haven, Connecticut. Among his colourful co-workers is Sketch, the lovable, aging illustrator whose finely-crafted drawings of potato chips are regarded by Happy as near masterpieces; Tip, the quick-witted copy-writer who's always hunting for the next snappy slogan; and Mimi, the cold, eccentric matriarch, who treats her enormous dog as if he's her husband. Happy fits right in among these likable eccentrics, and together, they struggle to hold onto their most important client, Cringle Potato Chips, and land the new and lucrative Buckle Shoes account.

    that mad acheThat Mad Ache by Francoise Sagan

    That Mad Ache, set in high-society Paris in the mid-1960’s, recounts the emotional battle unleashed in the heart of Lucile, a sensitive but rootless young woman who finds herself caught between her carefree, tranquil love for 50-year-old Charles, a gentle, reflective, and well-off businessman, and her sudden wild passion for 30-year-old Antoine, a hot-blooded, impulsive, and struggling editor. As Lucile explores these two versions of love, she vacillates in confusion, but in the end she must choose, and her heart’s instinct is surprising and poignant. Originally published under the title La Chamade, this new translation by Douglas Hofstadter returns a forgotten classic to English.

    Notable Novels of 2010

    by Patti Nouri - 0 Comment(s)

    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

    Stieg Larsson

    The exhilarating conclusion to bestseller Larsson's Millennium trilogy (after The Girl Who Played With Fire ) finds Lisbeth Salander, the brilliant computer hacker who was shot in the head in the final pages of Fire, alive, though still the prime suspect in three murders in Stockholm. While she convalesces under armed guard, journalist Mikael Blomkvist works to unravel the decades-old coverup surrounding the man who shot Salander: her father, Alexander Zalachenko, a Soviet intelligence defector and longtime secret asset to Säpo, Sweden's security police. Estranged throughout Fire, Blomkvist and Salander communicate primarily online, but their lack of physical interaction in no way diminishes the intensity of their unconventional relationship. Though Larsson (1954–2004) tends toward narrative excess, his was an undeniably powerful voice in crime fiction that will be sorely missed. From Publishers Weekly

    Freedom

    Jonathan Franzen

    "The awful thing about life is this:" says Octave to the Marquis in Renoir's Rules of the Game. "Everyone has his reasons." That could be a motto for novelists as well, few more so than Jonathan Franzen, who seems less concerned with creating merely likeable characters than ones who are fully alive, in all their self-justifying complexity. Freedom is his fourth novel, and, yes, his first in nine years since The Corrections. Happy to say, it's very much a match for that great book, a wrenching, funny, and forgiving portrait of a Midwestern family (from St. Paul this time, rather than the fictional St. Jude). Patty and Walter Berglund find each other early: a pretty jock, focused on the court and a little lost off it, and a stolid budding lawyer, besotted with her and almost burdened by his integrity. They make a family and a life together, and, over time, slowly lose track of each other. Their stories align at times with Big Issues--among them mountaintop removal, war profiteering, and rock'n'roll--and in some ways can't be separated from them, but what you remember most are the characters, whom you grow to love the way families often love each other: not for their charm or goodness, but because they have their reasons, and you know them. From Amazon

    Beatrice & Virgil

    Yann Martel

    Nearly 10 years in the making, Yann ­Martel’s follow-up to the Man Booker Prize–­winning Life of Pi divided critics, earning some of the most scathing reviews of the year. But the critical drubbing didn’t turn off Canadian readers, who made Beatrice & Virgil one of the best-selling novels of the year. It also proved that, in today’s risk-averse publishing­ climate, a book with ­commercial aspirations – Martel is rumoured to have scored a $3-million advance – can still take risks and challenge readers. Beatrice & ­Virgil is, among other things, a metafictional satire of the publishing industry, a parable about human cruelty and suffering, a meditation on the limits of representation, and a self-reflexive work of fiction that alludes to Beckett, Dante, and Orwell’s Animal Farm. Whether or not it lives up to expectations is for readers to decide, but it deserves to be read, debated, and grappled with. From Quill & Quire

    Wolf Hall

    Hilary Mantel

    Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction & winner of 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction

    Henry VIII's challenge to the church's power with his desire to divorce his queen and marry Anne Boleyn set off a tidal wave of religious, political and societal turmoil that reverberated throughout 16th-century Europe. Mantel boldly attempts to capture the sweeping internecine machinations of the times from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, the lowborn man who became one of Henry's closest advisers. Cromwell's actual beginnings are historically ambiguous, and Mantel admirably fills in the blanks, portraying Cromwell as an oft-beaten son who fled his father's home, fought for the French, studied law and was fluent in French, Latin and Italian. Mixing fiction with fact, Mantel captures the atmosphere of the times and brings to life the important players: Henry VIII; his wife, Katherine of Aragon; the bewitching Boleyn sisters; and the difficult Thomas More, who opposes the king. Unfortunately, Mantel also includes a distracting abundance of dizzying detail and Henry's all too voluminous political defeats and triumphs, which overshadows the more winning story of Cromwell and his influence on the events that led to the creation of the Church of England. From Publishers weekly

    To the End of the Land

    David Grossman

    A major, internationally bestselling novel of extraordinary power about the costs of war from one of Israel's greatest writers. Set in Israel in recent times, this epic yet intimate novel places side by side the trials of war and the challenges of everyday life. Through a series of powerful, overlapping circles backward in time, it tells the story of Ora's relationship with her husband, from whom she is now separated, as well as the tragedy of their best friend Avram, a former soldier - and her son's biological father. When her son Ofer rejoins the army for a major offensive, Ora is devastated and decides to hike in the Galilee, leaving no forwarding information for the "notifiers" who might deliver the worst news a parent can hear. She phones Avram, whom she has not seen in 21 years, and convinces him to go with her. As they journey together, Ora unfurls the story of her family, and gives Avram the gift of his son - a telling that keeps the boy alive for both his mother and the reader. Never have we seen so vividly the surreality of daily life in Israel, the consequences of living in a society where the burden of war falls on each generation anew. David Grossman's rich imagining of a family in love and crisis makes for one of the great anti-war novels of our time.