Books Read in 2016
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
Finding Rebecca by Eion Dempsey
Nothing could keep Christopher and Rebecca apart: not her abusive parents, or even the fiancé she brought home after running away to England. But when World War II finally strikes the island of Jersey, the Nazi invaders ship Rebecca to Europe as part of Hitler’s Final Solution against the Jewish population.
After Christopher and his family are deported back to their native Germany, he volunteers for the Nazi SS, desperate to save the woman he loves. He is posted to Auschwitz and finds himself put in control of the money stolen from the victims of the gas chambers. As Christopher searches for Rebecca, he struggles to not only maintain his cover, but also the grip on his soul. Managing the river of tainted money flowing through the horrific world of Auschwitz may give him unexpected opportunities. But will it give him the strength to accept a brave new fate that could change his life—and others’ lives—forever?
Black Spring by Henry Miller
Continuing the subversive self-revelation begun in Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, Henry Miller takes readers along a mad, free-associating journey from the damp grime of his Brooklyn youth to the sun-splashed cafes and squalid flats of Paris. With incomparable glee, Miller shifts effortlessly from Virgil to venereal disease, from Rabelais to Roquefort. In this seductive technicolor swirl of Paris and New York, he captures like no one else the blending of people and the cities they inhabit.
Bonjour tristesse by Franciose Sagan
Endearing, self-absorbed, seventeen-year-old Cécile is the very essence of untroubled amorality. Freed from the stifling constraints of boarding school, she joins her father—a handsome, still-young widower with a wandering eye—for a carefree, two-month summer vacation in a beautiful villa outside of Paris with his latest mistress, Elsa. Cécile cherishes the free-spirited moments she and her father share, while plotting her own sexual adventures with a "tall and almost beautiful" law student. But the arrival of her late mother's best friend, Anne, intrudes upon a young girl's pleasures. And when a relationship begins to develop between the adults, Cécile and her lover set in motion a plan to keep them apart...with tragic, unexpected consequences. The internationally beloved story of a precocious teenager's attempts to understand and control the world around her, Françoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse is a beautifully composed, wonderfully ambiguous celebration of sexual liberation, at once sympathetic and powerfully unsparing.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
"...the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them." Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence's last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped in a sterile marriage and her growing love for the robust gamekeeper of her husband's estate. The most controversial of Lawrence's books, Lady Chatterly's Lover joyously affirms the author's vision of individual regeneration through sexual love. The book's power, complexity, and psychological intricacy make this a completely original work—a triumph of passion, an erotic celebration of life.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he's committed to flying, he's trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he's sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.
The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman
A debut novel featuring Patience Murphy, an Appalachian midwife in the 1930s struggling against disease, poverty, and prejudices-and her own haunting past-to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.
As a midwife working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience Murphy's only solace is her gift: the chance to escort mothers through the challenges of childbirth. Just beginning, she takes on the jobs no one else wants: those most in need-and least likely to pay. Patience is willing to do what it takes to fulfill her mentor's wishes, but starting a midwife practice means gaining trust, and Patience's secrets are too fragile to let anyone in.
A stirring piece of Americana, The Midwife of Hope River beats with authenticity as Patience faces seemingly insurmountable conditions: disease, poverty, and prejudices threaten at every turn. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Klu Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.
A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie E. King
A Monstrous Regiment of Women continues Mary Russell's adventures as a worthy student of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and as an ever more skilled sleuth in her own right. Looking for respite in London after a stupefying visit from relatives, Mary encounters a friend from Oxford. The young woman introduces Mary to her current enthusiasm, a strange and enigmatic woman named Margery Childe, who leads something called "The New Temple of God." It seems to be a charismatic sect involved in the post-World War I suffrage movement, with a feminist slant on Christianity. Mary is curious about the woman, and intrigued. Is the New Temple a front for something more sinister? When a series of murders claims members of the movement's wealthy young female volunteers and principal contributors, Mary, with Holmes in the background, begins to investigate. Things become more desperate than either of them expected as Mary's search plunges her into the worst danger she has yet faced.
To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
Call Me Zelda by Erica Robuck
From the author of Hemingway’s Girl comes a richly imagined tale of Zelda Fitzgerald’s love, longing, and struggle against ever-threatening insanity.
From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, but those who really knew them saw their inner turmoil.
Committed to a Baltimore psychiatric hospital in 1932, Zelda vacillates between lucidity and madness as she fights to forge an identity independent of her famous husband. She discovers a sympathetic ear in her nurse Anna Howard, who finds herself drawn into the Fitzgerald’s tumultuous lives and wonders which of them is the true genius. But in taking greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she ever intended.
In this thoroughly researched, deeply moving novel, Erika Robuck explores the boundaries of female friendship, the complexity of marital devotion, and the sources of both art and madness.
Goodnight, Nebraska by Tom McNeal
At the age of 17, Randall Hunsacker shoots his mother's boyfriend, steals a car and comes close to killing himself. His second chance lies in a small Nebraska farm town, where the landmarks include McKibben's Mobil Station, Frmka's Superette, and a sign that says The Wages of Sin is Hell. This is Goodnight, a place so ingrown and provincial that Randall calls it "Sludgeville"-until he starts thinking of it as home. In this pitch-perfect novel, Tom McNeal explores the currents of hope, passion, and cruelty beneath the surface of the American heartland. In Randall, McNeal creates an outcast whose redemption lies in Goodnight, a strange, small, but ultimately embracing community where Randall will inspire fear and adulation, win the love of a beautiful girl and nearly throw it all away.