April 2019 Bookshelf
At Briarwood School for Girls, by Michael Knight
Lenore is a young student in the 1990s who finds herself pregnant as she navigates her junior year on the basketball team, in the school play, and talking through her problems with a ghost from decades past. But the very history that is revered in the region — the buildings, the grounds, the surrounding Virginia countryside — is threatened by the commercialized invasion of an imminent Disney theme park, much to the dismay of locals and students alike. Knight proves himself once again to be a spinner of a great story.
The Gulf, by Belle Boggs
The author of The Art of Waiting and Mattaponi Queen delivers a novel filled with satire, irony, warmth and wit. Two liberal atheists in need of work, along with a venture capitalist, decide to open a writing school for Christians in a decrepit motel on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Marianne is a floundering poet who finds herself in the position of administrator, getting the actual site ready and culling through the applicants, while waiting for her ex-fiancé, Eric, to return from Dubai and assist her. The result is a motley assortment of teachers and students. After a comical and rocky first few days, they manage to find common ground. It could have worked until a politician with an agenda becomes involved.
The Editor, by Steven Rowley
What if you are called by a major publishing company to meet with an editor to discuss your first novel? What if the editor who walks into the room is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis? That’s the situation writer James Smale finds himself in. Jackie and James develop a strong working relationship as she expertly guides him through his novel while encouraging him to confront the truth about his own family. The Editor is satisfying, charming, witty, and an intuitive look at family, relationships and life — a stylish and unforgettable tribute to a stylish and unforgettable woman.
Stay Up with Hugo Best, by Erin Somers
Suave, debonair, womanizing late-night talk show host Hugo Best is ending his decades-long career with a fizzle. To 29-year-old June Bloom, writing assistant to the show, he is still an iconic figure. He unexpectedly invites her for a long weekend at his mansion — no strings attached — and she accepts. What follows are overwhelming, underwhelming, awkward comical scenarios between the characters that can make you laugh and cringe simultaneously.
The Girl He Used to Know, by Tracey Garvis Graves
The author of On the Island writes about Jonathan and Annika, who meet in the chess club at the University of Illinois and bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone. A decade later, fate reunites them in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start.
The Peacock Emporium, by Jojo Moyes
In the ’60s, Athene Forster was the most glamorous girl of her generation. Nicknamed the “Last Deb,” she was beautiful, spoiled and out of control. After she agrees to marry the gorgeous young heir Douglas Fairley-Hulme, rumors began to circulate about Athene’s affair with a young salesman. Thirty-five years later, Suzanna Peacock is struggling with her notorious mother’s legacy. The only place Suzanna finds comfort is in The Peacock Emporium, the beautiful coffee bar and shop she opens that soon enchants her little town. There she makes, perhaps, the first real friends of her life, including Alejandro, a male midwife, escaping his own ghosts.
Save Me the Plums, by Ruth Reichl
The editor-in-chief of Gourmet and a New York Times best-selling author writes a memoir about her groundbreaking tenure at the top food magazine in the world, helping to create a culture of chef superstars. The story of a former Berkeley hippie who enters the corporate world, Reichl shares the insider look at running the storied magazine (and closing it).
The Second Mountain: A Quest for a Moral Life, by David Brooks
Brooks explores the four commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose: to a spouse and family; to a vocation; to a philosophy or faith; and to a community. Our personal fulfillment depends on how well we choose and execute these commitments. The New York Times columnist looks at a range of people who have lived joyous, committed lives, and who have embraced the necessity and beauty of dependence. He gathers their wisdom on how to choose a partner, how to pick a vocation, how to live out a philosophy, and how we can begin to integrate our commitments into one overriding purpose.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb
With startling wisdom and humor, therapist Lori Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is revolutionary in its candor, offering a deeply personal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly revealing portrait of what it means to be human.
The Animal’s Companion, by Jacky Colliss Harvey
In The Animal’s Companion, the acclaimed author of Red: A History of the Redhead turns her keen eye for cultural investigation and her remarkable storytelling skills to a pet project: the history of animals as our companions in everyday life. It’s a history that dates as far back as 26,000 years ago to a cave in France where anthropologists discovered evidence of a boy and his dog taking a walk together. From that point forward, Colliss Harvey takes us on a sweeping journey through centuries and across continents to examine how our relationships with our pets have developed, yet stayed very much the same. Along the way she shares delightful stories of the most famous, endearing and sometimes eccentric pet owners throughout history.
Babymoon, by Hayley Barrett
The perfect gift for newly expectant parents. Unlike any other “new baby” book, this special little title focuses on those few, precious days parents have with their newborn as together they become a new family. (Age birth-1.)
The Little Guys, by Vera Brosgol
These little guys are just about the cutest things in all the forest, and when they band together, they can do just about anything, can take just about anything . . . can get all they need. But just how much is too much? And just where do the needs of the whole forest come in? These little guys will warm your heart as they open their hearts to the needs of others both big and little. (Ages 3-6.)
Where the Heart Is, by Jo Knowles
It’s the first day of summer and Rachel’s 13th birthday. With a summer job caring for the neighbor’s farm animals, her best friend, Micah, nearby and weeks of warm weather to look forward to, Rachel is living the dream. But when bad news threatens all she loves, Rachel must make some difficult decisions about who and what are important in her life. At once sweet, silly, sad and ultimately satisfying, Where the Heart Is is the perfect summer read. (Age 12-14.)
Ghost Boys, by Jewell Parker Rhodes
In the end, and in the beginning, all we really have are our stories. In Ghost Boys, Jerome’s story, Sarah’s story, Grandma’s and Kim’s and Emmett’s stories are all one: that only the living can make the world better. This story — their story — will haunt the reader long, long past the final page. Sure to be a winner this award season, Ghost Boys is an absolute must-read. (Ages 12-16.)
Lovely War, by Julie Berry
Clever, snarky, beautiful and completely impossible to put down, this sweeping epic love story absolutely has it all. Aphrodite, as narrator, shares a tale of absolute love and passion — a tale of four mortals from divergent backgrounds whose lives are forever connected through interactions during World War I. It’s a story that even has the gods of fire and war wiping an occasional tear from their eyes and softens the heart of the god of the underworld. (Ages 14 to adult.) PS
Compiled by Kimberly Daniels Taws and Angie Tally