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A Reunion of Ghosts Cover Image
Posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell is one of the best novels that I’ve read in years. A wry black comedy, it begins in 1999 and is the story of the 40-ish Alter sisters: Lady, Vee and Delph, who share an apartment on New York’s upper East Side. But it’s also the story of four generations of the Alter family, beginning with their great-grandfather, a brilliant German chemist who invented chlorine gas, among other terrible things. Tragedies have occurred in each generation, leaving the Alter sisters to conclude that there is only one solution that will break the curse. It’s deftly written, rich and intelligent, the humor witty and razor-sharp, and I highly recommend it. Recommended by Rochelle.

Exposure Cover Image
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Helen Dunmore’s newest novel is a beautiful tribute to the sweet comfort of home, to the fierce focus of mother love, and to the random risks and dangers that we are all exposed to.  She writes about the year 1960 in London, the cold war is in full cry and Dunmore describes everyday life with telling details: muddy galoshes, gold cuff links, the smells of primary school children and the sound of a train coming down the track. Some of the characters in this elegant novel are caught up in a web of spying.  But the real story is the steadfast competence and wisdom of a young German Jewish immigrant woman, Lily Callington, who is the mother of three children and wife of Simon, a mid-level bureaucrat working for the Admiralty.  Dunmore tells the story from four different points of view: Lily, Simon, Paul, their 10 year old son, and Giles, an old friend and colleague of Simon’s. Lily has buried her knowledge of the German language and her visceral fear from those days, and carries on as a quick-witted and observant wife and mother. As her story unfolds, with threats to her home and family encircling her, you will be completely enthralled.  This is far and away my favorite novel of the year.

The Summer Before the War Cover Image
Posted on Friday, July 15, 2016

Helen Simonson's heartfelt novel captures life in the small English coastal town of Rye. It is the summer of 1914, short months before every's lives are changed as WWI begins. Every character is beautifully drawn and the beauty of the countryside is vividly described. This book follows her wonderful novel Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, and I loved both of them. Recommended by Rochelle

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal. The short answer is--we're getting there. The gist of this fascinating book is that we've long been using the wrong measures for things like "consciousness," "self-awareness," and "intention," all once considered qualities possessed only by humans. But as the many experiments that primatologist de Waal recounts show, if you use the proper controls and keep an open mind, you'll find animals are far more "like" us than we give them credit--which changes everything. Recommended by Kelly

Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World Cover Image
Posted on Monday, July 11, 2016

Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World by Benny Lewis. This morning I woke up oddly early, before the sun even. I sat down on the couch, curled up with a blanket and my coffee, and finished the second half of Benny Lewis's, Fluent in 3 Months. Upon finishing the book, I felt an absolute ardent urgency to further my second language skills. I spent the next five hours speaking aloud, working on my script, and singing along to ridiculous alphabet songs. Whether it is about speaking Italian to your grandfather in his foreign tongue before it is too late, backpacking South America, or learning Arabic to impact global conflict, this is the book that will provide you with mini missions, daily tips, and added inspiration in taking the steps to bi-lingualism. Recommended by Jenna

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth Cover Image
Posted on Monday, July 11, 2016

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, by Warsan Shire. Kenyan Born and Somalian, Shire provides a unique perspective into femininity and religiosity. As each poem unfolds, an unyielding benevolence to her surroundings and interactions with her family, peers, and her Islamic background begin to converge and take on a new shape. Celebrated by Beyonce, I was intrigued to see what she deemed poetic, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and emotion displayed in each and every word. A powerful insight into a traumatic, veiled world. Recommended by Jenna

Homegoing Cover Image
Posted on Monday, July 11, 2016

Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing is an amazingly ambitious novel, a bold and accomplished debut from a promising young talent. The book's real ambition stems from its structure—in alternating chapters, Gyasi follows the descendants of two children of the same African mystery woman, a family tree starting with two sisters that don't know of each other at all. One branch of the tree stays in Africa, and the other goes to America through slavery. Through this ambitious structure, Gyasi unforgettably traces the scarring impact of slavery through generations of one family on both sides of the Atlantic. An important and well-realized book. Recommended by Danny

We Should All Be Feminists Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Well, shouldn’t we be? This is a small collection of essays delving into the versatility of equality and its quintessential necessity for a society to progress. This book demands your attention and leaves you with more questions than answers. It provides a starting point to further pursue equality. How will you be the change? Recommended by Jenna

The Natural Way of Things Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things is a blistering, intense, often violent page-turner depicting a colony of 10 women imprisoned inside an electric fence in the Australian Outback. Each woman was central to some kind of notorious sex scandal, and is punished by being drugged and sent to this desolate encampment. The Natural Way of Things, Wood’s first novel available in America, is the feminist One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: a brutal allegory, a searing feminist critique, a scathing satire. Yes, The Natural Way of Things may keep you up at night. However, and more importantly, it’ll make you think hard about how society treats women’s bodies and desires. Recommended by Danny

The Girls Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2016

Emma Cline's The Girls is a gripping, thrilling coming-of-age story with a lot to say about gender and growing up. Set in a heady 1969 Bay Area, it follows Evie as she falls in and out with a cult deeply reminiscent of the Manson Family. It's a page-turner with a brain, a meditative book with a strongly argued point that nevertheless manages to thrill and titillate like a good summer read should. Recommended by Danny

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