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Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, November 2, 2017

Code Girls by Liz Mundy. The passage of time allows us to know more about the cadre of intelligent women code breakers for the United States during WWII. Long shrouded in secrecy, their vital work for the war effort at “Arlington Hall” is revealed by Mundy’s top-notch research with declassified documents, personal records, and interviews with surviving women. Mundy’s compelling prose is filled with specific details about code systems and presents dimensional portraits of real women now no longer forgotten. Recommended by Sarah

Emily, Alone Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2017

Each in the pair of novels Wish You Were Here and Emily Alone by Stuart O'Nan is perfect on its own, and together they are magic. In Wish, Emily Maxwell spends a strained week with her adult children, grandchildren, sister-in-law, and her arthritic dog, Rufus, in a summer lake cabin while it pours rain. The foundations of the intricate relationships established in this first novel are built upon in Emily Alone, a perfect novel to read this time of year with its autumnal beginning. When Emily's sister-in-law and default chauffeur has a strange neurological episode at the Eat 'n Park in downtown Pittsburgh, Emily realizes it's time to conquer her fear and take her car and her life out of mothballs. She re-hones her driving skills, expands her social life, and pushes aside the narrowing confines of her life. The result is an often hilarious and beautiful portrait of an older woman. Highly recommended by Kelly.

In Good Faith: Secular Parenting in a Religious World Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2017

In Good Faith: Secular Parenting in a Religious World isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for every parent: That's its beauty. By following the same freethinking instincts that have landed them safely ashore of a religious-free life, readers can use author Maria Polonchek's brave and revelatory descriptions of her own experience and her cogent suggestions to raise thoughtful, compassionate, and engaged children without religion. And with her good help, parents can help their children integrate into a world full of religious tradition while neither accepting its ideas nor condemning or ridiculing them. Recommended by Kelly.

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This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2017

Farming is a gamble. The new book, This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm, makes this abundantly clear. Author Ted Genoways alternates between discussions of the common challenges facing small family farms with chapters focusing on two Nebraska families struggling to make ends meet while sorting out the vagaries of climate, consumer demand, and government subsidies and regulations. A moving, painful, and important read about a topic that should be a far larger part of the national dialogue. Recommended by Kelly

Dear Reader Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lawrencian Mary O'Connell's latest book Dear Reader will satisfy adult and young adult reader alike. The story is told from a dual point of view. One narrator, misfit Catholic school student Flanner, goes alone to New York City in search of her missing English teacher Miss Sweeney, when the copy of Wuthering Heights she finds in her teacher's bag takes on a life of its own; it literally becomes Miss Sweeney's own tale of lost love, leaving clues to her whereabouts along the way. In her search, Flannery meets her own "Heath," who appears to have stepped right out of the pages of the novel. By turns, hilarious and moving, this book is just right! -- Recommended by Kelly

The Nakano Thrift Shop Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hiromi Kawakami’s The Nakano Thrift Shop is a charming and quirky novel  set almost entirely in a Tokyo secondhand store. It’s the first US translation from a promising and popular Japanese novelist, with more to come soon. Protagonist Hitomi works the register as the strange rhythms of life working for the eccentric Mr. Nakano unfold at an easy and enjoyable pace around her. This delightful novel, anchored by an unconventional and often funny love story, is a breezy look at everyday Tokyo life. Recommended by Danny

 

Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2017

I love discovering one writer through the relationship with another, as I did Ross MacDonald through his letters to Eudora Welty. This is a memoir of the relationship between the most talented and private of Southern novelists, Welty, and noir mystery writer, MacDonald, who had long admired each others writing before they began corresponding. Though many assumed Welty looked at life through the lens of a dutiful spinster, caring for her aging mother and ailing brother, this lovely book proves otherwise. This epistolary romance bears witness to the literary talents of each and enlivens a lost age of letter writing. Recommended by Kelly

Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2017

I love discovering one writer through the relationship with another, as I did Ross MacDonald through his letters to Eudora Welty. This is a memoir of the relationship between the most most talented but most private of Southern novelists, Welty, and noir mystery writer, MacDonald, who had long admired each others writing before they began corresponding. Though many assumed Welty looked at life through the lens of a dutiful spinster, caring for her aging mother and ailing brother, this lovely book proves otherwise. This epistolary romance bears witness to the literary talents of each and enlivens a lost age of letter writing. Recommended by Kelly

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Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and a Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, June 3, 2017

I'm late to arrive at Lawrence-based writer Caryn Miriam-Golberg's book Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and a Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other. The book tells the difficult and yet ultimately triumphant tale of late Lawrence residents Lou Frydman and Jarek Piekalkiewicz who both survived Nazi death camps and marches during the Holocaust. Frydman, along with his brother Abe were taken by the German army during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. By the end of the war, everyone in his extended family had been killed except the two brothers. Piekalkiewicz started his own underground army at age sixteen and remained part of the Polish resistance until his ultimate capture by the Nazis. The two men's harrowing tales as those targeted as "different" and "dangerous" by the governing party remains even more relevant in today's political climate. Mirriam-Goldberg's exhaustive research and beautiful translation of hours of interviews with the two men makes this book among one of the finest of Holocaust biographies. Highly recommended by Kelly

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The Language of Secrets: A Mystery Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, June 3, 2017

In her first book, The Unquiet Dead, Ausma Zehant Khan introduced us to Inspector Esa Khattak and his partner Rachel Getty of the RCMP in Ontario. Their unit—Community Policing Section—is charged with bridging gaps between the Muslim community and the police. The Language of Secrets takes up where the first novel left off: Khattak finds himself, as a devout Muslim, caught between his job and his faith community and undergoing an internal review based on his handling of a previous case. Khan's touch is getting even better in this novel as she weaves her way through the politically and religiously fraught landscape of our time. Khattak and Getty are great characters, full of interesting and believable foibles as well as strengths. If you are a fan of the character-driven police procedurals of Elizabeth George or Deborah Crombie or of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache, you will like these new characters and this interesting new perspective. Recommended by Sarah.

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