We’ve wrapped up the 2017-18 Season of Literary Masters literary salons–what a stellar season! If you missed any of our titles, click on “Past Book Groups” to see what our members enjoyed reading, discussing, and bonding over. We’re already looking forward to the 2018-19 Season, and we’ll be posting THE LIST sometime in August or September. Until then, here are a few titles to keep you turning the pages, whether you’re on the beach or sneaking a ‘book break’ at work! Enjoy!
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This page-turning story starts out with a house that has burned down, and we don’t know who has done it. By the end of the novel, we’re ready to burn it down ourselves! It’s part mystery, part psychological study, and part dysfunctional family tale–what’s not to love? Throughout the entire novel, the author has excellent pacing. She gives just enough information to lead us along (ooh…I’ll read just one more chapter) but only divulges what she wants us to know–when she wants us to know it.
Brass by Xhenet Aliu
With a compelling story and electric writing, this debut novel is one heck of a page-turner. Alternating chapters tell the stories of Elsie, a Lithuanian immigrant to Waterbury, Connecticut, as she falls in love with Bad Boy Bashkin, who also happens to be an immigrant, but from Albania. Elsie is working in a diner, saving her tips so she can escape the town she’s grown up in. Lulu, their daughter, narrates the alternate chapters, but from 17 years into the future. The effect is that we can see what’s going to happen to Elsie’s future as she hurtles toward it, even as we root for her to avoid the inevitable. This novel is at times laugh out loud funny, and other times it leaves the reader feeling they’ve been punched in the gut.
The Changeling by Victor Lavalle
Buckle your seat belts! And put your helmets on! This is one heck of a ride. A mash-up of genres that is so creative and thought-provoking, you’ll be handing the book to people to read–so you can discuss it with them! It starts out as a pleasant, very readable story about Lillian and Brian and their charming romance. But WHAM! does it ever take a dark turn into fairy tale land–the old fashioned kind that were written for adults. If you know any version of the changeling story, you have a hint of what’s to come. But the amazing part is how much is woven into this novel. You’ll keep reading just to see how it all comes together! And it does, allowing your book club to discuss so many issues–parenting, technology, social media, and the stories we tell ourselves to get through the day–just to name a few!
Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato
This is the story of 8 year-old Edgar and his mom Lucy, who live with Edgar’s paternal grandmother for reasons you’ll find out. The grandmother adores Edgar and he adores her. The relationship between Lucy and her son, as well as the relationship between Lucy and her mother-in-law, though, well, those are a bit more fraught. You cannot help but fall in love with Edgar and Lucy–this is one of those books that just feels good to read. However, it’s not without its darkness, as Edgar is kidnapped by a man who is grieving his own son’s death. Gulp. Your book club can explore family love, betrayal, grief, survival, and love–just to name a few! And the writing is beautiful. 🙂
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The family of a Vietnam POW moves impulsively to a remote area of Alaska to live off of the grid in a tiny community of quirky characters. 13-year old Leni is forced to fight for her survival as well as that of her mother as she is coming of age in one of America’s last true frontiers. Many of you know Kristin Hannah because you read–and loved–The Nightingale!
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
This book was named a Book of the Year by NPR and The Washington Post. A loner widower raises his daughter, Loo, on the road moving from motel to motel until he decides it is time to settle down. After they settle in Loo’s late mother’s hometown, she becomes curious about her parents’ life, the time before she was born, and how her past relates to the twelve scars on her father’s body.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
This debut novel, set in a contemporary, black Southern California community, explores how the decisions of our young lives and the communities in which we are raised impact our lives forever. Nadia Turner is 17 as the book opens. Grieving the suicide of her mother, she makes a decision at the end of her time in high school that reverberates across the following years for her and the characters around her.
Browder, who grew up in a family of American communists with strong ties to Eastern Europe, became wildly successful investing in Russia just after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Along the way, he managed to become the enemy of many of the Russian oligarchs who controlled the new Russian economy, and then of Vladimir Putin’s government. His accidental activism led to major legal changes in the U.S.and Russia – and indirectly to the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Don Jr, Jared Kushner and the Russian lawyers.