Literary Fiction
Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)

“Lydia is dead, but they don’t know this yet.” That’s not a spoiler, that’s the opening line of Ng’s stunning debut. When this unexpected loss is discovered, the family begins to fall apart, and as they struggle to understand why it happened, they realize they don’t know their daughter at all. Ng’s use of the omniscient narrator is brilliant: she reveals what’s going on in her characters hearts and minds, allowing the reader to learn the truth of the tragedy, even if the family never does. An exploration of love and belonging, fraught with racial and gender issues. This is one that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. Powerful, believable, utterly absorbing.

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Prodigal Summer

Prodigal Summer

In this evocative follow-up to the masterful The Poisonwood Bible, Kingsolver returns to her native southern Appalachia. She follows three stories of human love as they unfold over the course of one life-changing summer: a wildlife biologist who returns to her home county to work, a widowed farmer’s wife at odds with her husband’s family, and a pair of feuding neighbors. Her emphasis on the natural world will feel familiar to lovers of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Verdant, lush, and vivid: this novel oozes sensuality.

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Crossing to Safety

Crossing to Safety

$12.99$5.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Audible)

This novel asks, "How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these?" The answer: just like this. Stegner weaves a compelling story out of four ordinary lives and their extraordinary, life-changing friendship as it spans across forty years, tackling themes of love and marriage, calling and duty. One of the best explorations of friendship in literature. This gorgeous, graceful novel will appeal to fans of Wendell Berry and Marilynne Robinson. Finish the book and go right back to the beginning—so much becomes clear on a re-read. With a deliberately paced, steady feel. in good hands.

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The Buried Giant

The Buried Giant

Coming March 3. Readers with great taste are raving fans of Ishiguro's work. I'm looking forward to reading his new one, even though I still haven't read his best-known work The Remains of the Day.

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Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

A widower who was raised to believe in propriety above all falls hopelessly in love with someone who is completely wrong for him—at least by the standards of his small English village. A winsome story with an unlikely hero.

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Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone

I've heard to start this book with no preconceptions because the description doesn't do it justice. Suffice it to say that this novel has been recommended by fellow readers with great taste who describe it using my favorite adjectives: haunting, sweeping, gorgeous.

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The Brothers K

The Brothers K

This one spent years on my TBR list, because so many friends with great taste called it THE best book they ever read. I'm so glad I finally read it. I don't remember what my expectations were about this book, but whatever they were, they were wrong. Duncan combines the Vietnam War, bush league baseball, Seventh Day Adventism, and family ties into an incredible, heart-wrenching story. The book is truly remarkable for the times when it reveals the deep joy present in a family's lowest moments.

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Ursula, Under

Ursula, Under

Katherine Willis Pershey raved about this book, calling it "one of the best, most memorable novels she has ever read." She has terrific taste (meaning: taste like mine) and that's enough for me.

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A God in Ruins

A God in Ruins

I loved this one. Named one of the Best Books of 2015 by TIME, NPR, Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Seattle Times, The Kansas City Star, Kirkus, Bookpage, Hudson Booksellers, AARP. Add Audible narration for $12.99.

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Lila

Lila

The much-anticipated prequel to Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gilead. You'll hang on to every word of this gorgeous novel—and you'll want to read everything else Robinson ever wrote when you're finished. Stunning. (Note: you can read these in any order.)

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I’ve heard my mom gush about this book for pretty much my whole life, and finally read it in January explicitly for this category in the Reading Challenge. Of course, my only regret was that I’d waited so long: I loved this story from page 1. No description I ever heard before made me want to read it, so I'll spare you the plot synopsis. I'll just say: read it. Wistful, haunting, satisfying. I listened to the audio version, which—barring some infrequent random jazz music—was quite good.

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Hannah Coulter

Hannah Coulter

I've talked about Hannah Coulter several times: the books I can't stop recommending, a book I've read more than once, what to read when you feel like the world is falling apart. Hannah's second husband Nathan Coulter (her first died in the war) was reticent to talk about his experience in the Battle of Okinawa. "Ignorant boys, killing each other," is all he would say. In this atmospheric novel, an older Hannah looks back on her life and reflects on what she has lost, and those she has loved. I adore Berry, who writes gorgeous, thoughtful, piercing novels, and this is one of his finest. Contemplative, wistful, and moving.

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The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

Southern Baptist Missionary Nathan Price heads off to the African Congo with his wife and 4 daughters in 1959, and nothing goes as planned. Though they bring with them everything they think they will need from their home in Bethlehem, Georgia--right down to the Betty Crocker cake mixes--the Prices are woefully unprepared for their new life among the Congolese, and they all pay the price.

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Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

This gorgeous novel can almost be categorized as literary fiction, which too many readers dismiss as inaccessible. Don't make that mistake. This Gatsby-esque novel pulls several shocking plot twists, and I definitely didn’t see that ending coming.

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Jayber Crow

Jayber Crow

Jayber Crow returns to his native Port William, Kentucky after the 1937 flood to become the town’s barber. There he learns about the deep meaning of community, the discipline of place, and what it truly means to love. This is a gorgeous novel.

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Gilead

Gilead

Robinson’s story of the dying Iowa minister John Ames is one of the most beautiful books you’ll ever read, containing some of the most beautiful sentences ever put to paper. Read it. Read it slow. Wistful, reflective, and wise, this is a book you can read over and over again.

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Breath, Eyes, Memory

Breath, Eyes, Memory

$10.99$1.99

An Oprah Book Club selection. Publishers Weekly says: "A distinctive new voice with a sensitive insight into Haitian culture distinguishes this graceful debut novel about a young girl's coming of age under difficult circumstances." From the author of Claire of the Sea Light.

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Keep Me Posted

Keep Me Posted

This epistolary novel centers around two sister who have fallen out of touch, somewhat predictably, as their lives have sharply diverged. Sid is a Luddite living in Singapore because of her husband's high-powered job; Cassie's made a life with her own family in New York City and is addicted to watching her friends' lives unfold on facebook. When Sid issues a challenge that they'll start communicating with real, old-fashioned letters, Cassie reluctantly agrees ... and they're both surprised at the world-rocking revelations they read on the page. This was a sweet and entertaining debut (although not G-rated for sure). If you enjoyed Janice Lee's recent release The Expatriates, definitely add this one to your list.

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Hamnet

Hamnet

In her sweeping new novel, Maggie O’Farrell takes a few historically known facts about Shakespeare’s wife and family and, from this spare skeleton, builds out a lush, vivid world. You should know this book is devastating, and I consumed the better part of a box of Kleenex while reading it. Yet with its captivating central character and evocative storytelling, I didn’t want to leave Shakespeare’s world—or put down O’Farrell’s writing. The story centers on Agnes, Shakespeare’s wife, who is torn apart by grief when their son Hamnet dies at age 11. Soon after, Shakespeare writes Hamlet—and O’Farrell convincingly posits that the two events are closely tied. In her distinctive style, O’FarrellI takes you to the heart of what really matters in life, making you feel such a deep sense of loss for Hamnet that you won’t look at your own life the same way.

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

The titular hotel is a real place: it's Seattle's Panama Hotel. In the story, an old man looks back to his 1940s childhood and remembers with fondness his friendship—and maybe something more—with his young Japanese friend Keiko. They lose touch when Keiko and her family are evacuated during the Japanese internment. (I learned so little about this in my U.S. history classes that when I first read the book I kept googling Ford's historical references to see if they really happened. They did.)

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The Nest

The Nest

This is that rare bird: a literary page-turner. In this wonderfully written, multi-layered, fast-moving novel, Sweeney tells the story of the dysfunctional Plumb family. When the eldest blows their collective inheritance (by crashing someone else's Porsche, while drunk and high, direly injuring the 19-year-old waitress who was not his wife), the four Plumb siblings are forced to actually communicate for the first time in ages. They're also forced to grow up, and watching that painful process unfold on the page is highly entertaining (and a little cringe-worthy). I loved this for its depth, complexity, and supremely satisfying ending, but if you need characters you can root for, this isn't the book for you. Strongly reminiscent of Rules of Civility. For what it's worth, Amy Poehler and Ellie Kemper loved it. Heads up for language and racy content: I'd like to give this novel an 8-line edit.

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The Queen of the Night

The Queen of the Night

A sweeping, glittering novel of the Paris Opera. Lilliet Berne is the leading soprano, the best of the best and a shining star. She craves an original role, but when one is offered to her, she's shocked to find that it's based on a secret from her past. Seeking the truth in her memories, she recalls her life as an orphan and countless transformations along the way to her opera career. Full of drama, intrigue, and secrets, and a memorable main character.

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The Secret History

The Secret History

The story begins with a murder, and the lonely, introspective narrator devotes the rest of the novel to telling the reader about his role in it, and how he seemingly got away with it. The setting is a small Vermont college, the characters members of an isolated, eccentric circle of classics majors, who murder one of their own. Strongly reminiscent of The Likeness in setting, Crime and Punishment in plot, and Brideshead Revisited in tone. I finally read this recently, and now I understand why opinions differ widely on Tartt's debut novel: it's a compelling—and chilling—tale, but there's not a single likable character.

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Before We Visit the Goddess

Before We Visit the Goddess

I loved this book, which was nothing at all what I expected. The novel tracks three generations of Indian women and their fraught relationships. The title comes from a chance encounter one of these women has with a stranger, which is fitting because my favorite parts of the story deal with the small moments that change the course of a person's life, and the unlikely friendships that do the same. This is a wonderful, beautiful, and sad book, and I've been recommending it like crazy. Published April 19 2016.

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The Yield

The Yield

From the publisher: Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch’s The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

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State of Wonder

State of Wonder

$27.994.95 (audiobook only)Audiobook: $4.95

This is one of my favorite Patchett novels, and it's been on my mind because of the terrific story about it in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Add Audible narration for $9.95.

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The After Party

The After Party

The second novel from the author of the critically acclaimed debut The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. Kirkus calls it a "sophomore slump," but Kirkus is notoriously cranky. I read this and while I didn't love it, I did blitz through it in two days because I wanted to find out what happens next . If you DO want to read it talk a friend into joining in, because you're going to want to talk about it. Publication date May 17 2016.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

I read this as my "book you can finish in a day" for the 2016 Reading Challenge. As expected, it's not exactly scary, but Jackson is sure good at infusing a story with a creepy atmosphere. In this work, her last completed novel before her death, she tells the story of the Blackwood family. Not so long ago there were seven Blackwoods, but four of them dropped dead from arsenic poisoning several years ago and how that happened remains a mystery. Read this during daylight hours: its themes of family secrets, hateful neighbors, and mysterious deaths aren't the stuff of bedtime reading.

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The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

$8.99$4.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

This Pulitzer winner begins with a terrorist attack: an explosion at The Met that kills 13-year-old Theo Decker’s mother and forever changes his life. The novel takes on an epic feel as it winds and twists through New York City, then Vegas, then Amsterdam. I would have given it up during the dark and depressing Vegas sojourn if I hadn’t read that The Goldfinch was Donna Tartt’s artistic response to 9/11. I’m not certain that’s even true, yet framing it that way fundamentally changed the way I read the book, and kept me from abandoning it during the unrelentingly gritty middle.

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My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel

I began this immediately after finishing the wonderful audio version of the author's previous work. Backman's second novel follows the adventures of a 7-year-old named Elsa, whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending the young girl on a scavenger hunt with weighty implications. Whimsical and engaging.

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