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Book Club Bash Choices: March 2013


The All of It by Jeannette Haien (Perennial $12.99). Haien has produced a small gem about fishing, love, lies, and morality, set in a small Irish village. A book to savor, reread, share and discuss. (Sarah)

The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo (Scribner $15). Collects nine stories written between 1979 and 2011 chronicling American life from the perspective of a range of characters including a pair of nuns in the South Bronx and two astronauts orbiting the Earth. (Mamie)

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Ecco $14.99). Climb inside the head of young Billy Lynn as he and his squad of Iraq War heroes go down the rabbit hole of American popular culture in this satiric yet heartfelt coming of age story. (Tony)

The Cove by Ron Rash (Ecco $14.99). No one expresses the soul of western NC like Ron Rash. Just dive in and immerse yourself in Ron Rash's beautiful language. (Rosemary)

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (Knopf $24.95, pb due 5/7). This post apocalyptic novel contains as much loveliness as it does devastation. The story's hero flies a 1956 Cessna (his dog as copilot) chasing love, friendship, the solace of the natural world, and the chance to perform some small kindness.  (Nancy)

The Ha-Ha by Dave King (Back Bay $13.99). Howard hasn't spoken in 30 years due to a head wound received in Vietnam. Now he becomes the guardian of his ex-girlfriend's nine year old son. This heart-rending story is told in a wonderful first person voice from inside Howard's head. (Tony)

Home by Toni Morrison (Vintage $14). A beautifully written novel about an angry, self-loathing Korean War veteran who is shocked out of his crippling apathy by the need to rescue his medically abused younger sister and discovers a profound courage he had thought he could never possess again.

How it All Began by Penelope Lively (Penguin $16). When a retired teacher is forced to move in with her daughter after a mugging, she discovers the powerful role that chance plays in people's lives. With a rich cast of characters, this contemporary tale offers rare wisdom, elegance, and humor. (Nancy)

New Sudden Fiction: Short-Short Stories from America and Beyond (Norton $15.95). Sixty tales, each under two thousand words, are meant to be unpacked through several readings; they offer pleasures long past their telling. Authors include Tobias Wolff, Aimee Bender, and Yann Martel. (Mamie)

The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012 edited by Laura Furman (Anchor $15.95). Twenty of the best short stories of the year, selected from US or Canadian literary magazines. The collection also includes essays written by the jurors on their favorite stories. (Mamie)

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (Vintage $15.95). A look at the Armenian genocide of Turkey, set in Aleppo, Syria as seen through the eyes of a survivor's granddaughter in present day Boston. (Sandra)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Random House $15). When very shy, retired Harold receives a letter from Queenie, a former colleague he hasn't seen in 20 years, who is dying of cancer, he sets off to walk the 600 miles to see her and ends up on an extraordinary journey. (Sarah)

We Live in Water: Stories by Jess Walter (Perennial $14.99). This fantastic first collection of short fiction features Walter's trademark losers. The stories here are comic, tragic, and razor-sharp. (Tony)

From Nancy: Spotlight on Europa Editions. The international titles from this small publisher make it one of my favorite independent publishers.  Many of their titles became bestsellers in our store (The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Old Filth, Cooking With Fernet Branca, Three Weeks in December, You Deserve Nothing.)  I also recommend: Tierra del Fuego by Francisco Caloane, spellbinding adventure stories set in Southern Chile, Lazarus Is Dead by Richard Beard, a fictional account of Jesus's best friend, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky, a rollicking family sage with a devilish mother at the family's helm. All of Europa's titles are in paperback.



The Double Helix by James D. Watson (Touchstone $15.95). With palpable excitement, Watson relates his version of how the structure of DNA was discovered by him and Francis Crick in the 1950s. (Kent)

Love, Life and Elephants by Dame Daphne Sheldrick (FSG $27, pb due 6/25) is an engrossing memoir of life among Kenya's elephants, rhinos and people and a beautiful love story of Sheldrick and her husband David. (Sarah)

Spook by Mary Roach (Norton $14.95). Who knew the afterlife could be so varied and weird? Roach entertains while searching for the unbiased truth of what might be out there. (Rosemary)

The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt (Norton $16.95). The discovery by an ex-papal secretary in 1417 of an ancient Roman text fueled the Renaissance and put the world on the path to modernism. (Kent)

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee by Thomas Craughwell (Quirk $19.95). Jefferson and his slave James Hemings returned from Paris with such culinary treats as pasta, French fries and Champagne.  This is the fascinating story behind their journey, and Jefferson's offer of freedom to Hemings. (Sandra)

A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin $15.95). A Dominican-American's account of her journey from the Dominican Republic to Haiti before and after the earthquake. (Sandra)


Young Adult

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (Speak $8.99). When Lina and her Lithuanian family are separated into brutal labor camps by the Soviets, she must depend on her secret artwork and bravery to keep the hope of survival and reunion alive. Ages 14+. (Rosemary)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion $16.99, pb due 5/7). Based on the lives of little-known, young British women who were spies and pilots during WWII, this complex and multi-layered novel portrays the resilience & heartbreak of friendship amid the horrors of war. Ages 14+. (Carol)

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (Atheneum $6.99). Melody is brilliant but since she is unable to talk, she is treated as though she were retarded. This profoundly moving novel will alter forever the way you view people with severe challenges. (Carol)


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