Quick Lit December 2021

From the publisher: "It's hard to give up on the feeling that the life you really want is just out of reach. A beach body by summer. A trip to Disneyland around the corner. A promotion on the horizon. Everyone wants to believe that they are headed toward good, better, best. But what happens when the life you hoped for is put on hold indefinitely? Kate Bowler believed that life was a series of unlimited choices, until she discovered, at age 35, that her body was wracked with cancer. In No Cure for Being Human, she searches for a way forward as she mines the wisdom (and absurdity) of today’s 'best life now' advice industry, which insists on exhausting positivity and on trying to convince us that we can out-eat, out-learn, and out-perform our humanness. We are, she finds, as fragile as the day we were born. With dry wit and unflinching honesty, Kate Bowler grapples with her diagnosis, her ambition, and her faith as she tries to come to terms with her limitations in a culture that says anything is possible. She finds that we need one another if we're going to tell the truth: Life is beautiful and terrible, full of hope and despair and everything in between—and there's no cure for being human."
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This novella is set in Ireland in 1985, following Bill Furlong, a coal merchant in a small town. As Christmas approaches, Bill has a disturbing experience when he makes a discovery at a nearby convent. Keegan's writing is beautiful and atmospheric.
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From the publisher: "Designer and TED star Ingrid Fetell Lee presents groundbreaking research to explain how making small changes to your surroundings can create extraordinary happiness in your life. We are often made to feel that the physical world has little or no impact on our inner joy. Increasingly, experts urge us to find balance and calm by looking inward -- through mindfulness or meditation -- and muting the outside world. But what if the natural vibrancy of our surroundings is actually our most renewable and easily accessible source of joy? In Joyful, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee explores how the seemingly mundane spaces and objects we interact with every day have surprising and powerful effects on our mood. Drawing on insights from neuroscience and psychology, she explains why one setting makes us feel anxious or competitive, while another fosters acceptance and delight."
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This series opener centers Kit, a steady scientist who, because of her peripatetic childhood, wants to use her winnings to create a home for herself and develop roots in her community. So when Ben shows up in his role as recruiter her to entice her to leave it all behind and move to Texas ... well, it's a disaster. But as they keep talking, their connection grows. I loved watching Ben and Kit work through their respective baggage over the course of the story, and the large cast of well-developed secondary characters give this series life.
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When we hosted Tayari Jones for our WSIRN 300th episode celebration, she raved about this 2020 Pulitzer winner, saying she wanted to give it a standing ovation. That comment nudged me to pick it up again, on audio this time. (Why have I not been listening to Erdrich narrate her own work all along? She's wonderful in that format.) The story is based on the life of her own grandfather, who worked as a night watchman and who traveled from rural North Dakota to Washington, D.C. to fight against Native dispossession of their tribal lands. The story is beautifully, lovingly drawn: I was enraptured, and rooting so hard for these characters.
From the publisher: "Stanley Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the kitchen table. He shared the magic of those meals with us in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table, and now he takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the compelling stories behind them.​ Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about his growing up in Westchester, New York; preparing for and shooting the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia; falling in love over dinner; and teaming up with his wife to create meals for a multitude of children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burned dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last. Written with Stanley’s signature wry humor, Taste is for fans of Bill Buford, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Ruth Reichl—and anyone who knows the power of a home-cooked meal."
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From the publisher: "Finalist for the International Booker Prize and the National Book Award. A haunting Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor. On an unnamed island, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses. . . . Most of the inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few able to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten. When a young writer discovers that her editor is in danger, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards, and together they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past. Powerful and provocative, The Memory Police is a stunning novel about the trauma of loss."
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