Hello everyone - I know it has been a while since I last posted. Work and some travel have taken me away from my computer and actually from reading. So sorry for that. As I have said in the past, I am big on book lists - and you have already seen a few on my blog so far. This is another. It is full of books that you may not have heard of, but are certainly worth your time. A lot of my bookish friends will agree with me - these lesser known gems will certainly keep you talking once you are done. Just an FYI - I borrowed most of the blurbs here from Goodreads, usually I type exactly what is in the books - but all of these were super long. So, happy reading.
I bought this book as I was headed to the Orange County airport after visiting my work's Irvine office. There is a Barnes and Noble around the corner - so, you know I had to stop. I remember picking this book up for the title. I wanted to know what it was about. There is definite magical realism in this novel - and the blurb kind of misses that. I suggested to my virtual bookclub that we read this - and I can tell you that it was an amazing hit! I don't know what is next for Rene - but I will most certainly buy it!
"The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison. Two outsiders walk here: a woman know only as the lady, and a fallen priest. The lady comes to the prison when she has a job to do. She's skilled at finding the secrets that get men off death row. This gift threatens her career - and complicates her life - when she takes on the case of York, a killer whose date of execution looms. York is different from the lady's former clients: he wants to die. Going against a condemned man's wishes, the lady begins her work. What she uncovers about York's birth and upbringing rings chillingly familiar. In York's shocking and shameful childhood, the lady sees the shadows of her own."
Hanya Yanagihara wrote my favorite book of last year A Little Life - but it was her first novel that really brought me to being a huge fan. This novel is DARK! I think that is the type of write that she is going to be. I book about science, and the awfulness that people will go to discover the secret to everlasting life is an exciting premise. However, it is the fact that the main story line was pulled from truth and that Hanya had a person connection to it that caused me to really appreciate the mastery that is this book. Oh my goodness - so good.
"In 1950, a young doctor called Norton Perina signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu'ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. They succeed, finding not only that tribe but also a group of forest dwellers they dub "The Dreamers," who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle; unable to resist the possibility of eternal life, he kills one and smuggles some meat back to the States. He scientifically proves his thesis, earning worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize, but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price. As things quickly spiral out of his control, his own demons take hold, with devastating personal consequences."
I will let you know that I love David Mitchell! I have read almost everything that he has written. This is maybe his most accessible book - and is a fascinating look into a piece of Japanese history. The country, the characters and the cultures are painted in vivid strokes. This is not a short book, and I read it in two settings. I highly highly recommend it.
"In 1799, Jacob de Zoet disembarks on the tiny island of Dejima, the Dutch East India Company’s remotest trading post in a Japan otherwise closed to the outside world. A junior clerk, his task is to uncover evidence of the previous Chief Resident’s corruption.Cold-shouldered by his compatriots, Jacob earns the trust of a local interpreter and, more dangerously, becomes intrigued by a rare woman—a midwife permitted to study on Dejima under the company physician. He cannot foresee how disastrously each will be betrayed by someone they trust, nor how intertwined and far-reaching the consequences.Duplicity and integrity, love and lust, guilt and faith, cold murder and strange immortality stalk the stage in this enthralling novel, which brings to vivid life the ordinary—and extraordinary—people caught up in a tectonic shift between East and West."
This book is weird! I met Tupelo at Booktopia Santa Cruz years ago - and she is one of the quirkiest and nicest people. Her novel of a girl who wants to be more than the hand she is dealt and how life sometimes gets in the way, is amazingly powerful. I really done know how to explain Rory, other than you will root for her and be saddened by the life and world she lives in. Powerful stuff here.
"Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own. But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (Disposal of Outgrown Uniforms; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to get off the Calle: that is, Calle de los Flores, the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.Rory’s been told she is “third generation in a line of apparent imbeciles, feeble-minded bastards surely on the road to whoredom.
But she’s determined to prove the County and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social worker’s reports, half-recalled memories, story problems, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world while she searches for the way out of it."
I love books about small towns. I read a lot of books about small towns in Britain, but this novel is set here in the USA. Chuck Klosterman paints such a depressing picture of life in a small town that you will feel like you are watching the saddest soap opera you have ever seen. I have never found another book by Mr. Klosterman that I have liked as much as this one. But every once in awhile I think about this book with such fondness.
"Somewhere in North Dakota, there is a town called Owl that isn't there. Disco is over, but punk never happened. They don't have cable. They don't really have pop culture, unless you count grain prices and alcoholism. People work hard and then they die. They hate the government and impregnate teenage girls. But that's not nearly as awful as it sounds; in fact, sometimes it's perfect.
Mitch Hrlicka lives in Owl. He plays high school football and worries about his weirdness, or lack thereof. Julia Rabia just moved to Owl. She gets free booze and falls in love with a self-loathing bison farmer who listens to Goats Head Soup. Horace Jones has resided in Owl for seventy-three years. He consumes a lot of coffee, thinks about his dead wife, and understands the truth. They all know each other completely, except that they've never met."
There you go. Five more books to add to your must read list. Have you read any? What did you think? Let me know.