Book Club Bash Picks March '18

FICTION:

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout (Random House $17). Many books clubs read and loved Olive Kitteridge, Strout’s award-winning episodic novel. She draws on the characters in My Name is Lucy Barton to write this novel in stories. Beautiful and moving, like everything Strout writes. (Mamie)

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (Riverhead $16) is a perfect fit for historical fiction fans who want to approach a setting outside of World War II. Set during the 1990s Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, three characters spread throughout different parts of the city struggle to live with the constant fear of death. (Chelsea)

In Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Pamela Dorman Books $26), twenty-something Eleanor's social ineptness and a physical deformity have led to her isolation and profound loneliness. Honeywell does a masterful job of using wit and first-person narrative to create a powerful story of innocence. (Samantha)

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Penguin $16). Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Frankenstein in Baghdad is a mosaic of street life in post-invasion Iraq circa 2005. A handful of colorful, down-and-out characters give varying perspectives on life in the occupied capital: crumbling buildings, daily explosions, and a silent, hulking figure lurking in the shadows. (Tony)

The protagonist in Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig (Park Row Books $15.99) is a fourteen-year-old autistic girl who has been removed from her mother's home and is in and out of foster care. Her days are consumed with avoiding the communication landmines lurking in every aspect of day to day existence. As the adoptive father of an autistic teen, Ludwig brings a unique authenticity to this powerful story. (Samantha)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Random House $17). This book about the death of President Abraham Lincoln’s son, Todd, is a modern classic, and I predict it will stand the test of time to become a real classic. There are wonderful resources for discussion, including interviews with the author about how he came to write this, his first novel. (Mamie)

Maranatha Road by Heather Bell Adams (Vandalia Press $18.99) revolves around two women who love the same man, and their continued struggle to find peace with his tragic death. The fictional mountain town of Garnet, NC, where the novel is set, is full of dynamic characters, deeply flawed yet demanding the reader’s empathy. (Chelsea)

Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls (New Directions, $13.95). A reissue, first published in 1983, this is the surprisingly moving story of an unhappy suburban housewife who harbors a six-foot-seven frog-faced creature who has just escaped from a research lab. Mrs. Caliban and the creature become lovers, and things pretty much go downhill from there. (Tony)

One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel (Scribner $15). A shocking tale of abuse and survival, One of the Boys is a harrowing yet beautiful debut novel. Narrated by the younger of two unnamed boys raised by a manic, drug addicted father, the desperation and brutality he describes is tempered by the innocence and hope of a child forced to grow up far too soon. (Tony)

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, translated by Alice Menzies (Sourcebooks $16.99). This translation from Sweden is a sweet novel without being saccharine, with writing that is breezy and easy to devour. The pace is measured, unhurried; the topics are life and love and loss and finding yourself. The books and authors and characters mentioned are familiar and comforting.  (Broche)

 

NONFICTION:

Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein (Simon & Schuster $16). A sobering analysis of what happened to the middle class of this Wisconsin city when General Motors closed its assembly plant after almost 100 years. (Kent)

Les Parisiennes: Resistance, Collaboration, and the Women of Paris Under Nazi Occupation by Anne Sebba (St. Martin's Griffin $17.99). Sebba puts us in the shoes of the waitresses, shop assistants, and wives and mothers who lived face to face with the German conquerors daily, increasingly desperate to survive. (Kent)

They Can't Kill Us All: The Story of the Struggle for Black Lives by Wesley Lowery (Back Bay $16.99). The Washington Post writer vividly brings to life the most heavily patrolled corners in America, looking at the standoff between the police and those they are sworn to protect. (Kent)

 

YOUNG ADULT:

Dear Martin by Nic Stone (Crown Books $17.99).  Nic Stone is an important new writer of our time, and in Dear Martin she gives voice to a contemporary Black experience of profiling, prejudice, and discrimination, despite doing everything prescribed as "right." 
This book should make you angry. It should make you heartbroken. It should make you scared. (Broche)

 

POETRY:

How Lovely the Ruins: Inspirational Poems and Words for Difficult Times by

Annie Chagnot (Spiegel & Grau $22.00). This book is a gem for those who are looking for some encouragement and want it to be literary! Excellent poems and readings for getting your book club meeting off to a good start. (Mamie)