RaveBooklistBowler’s prose is adept at capturing the dialectic of life’s \'splendid, ragged edges\' showing through. And she’s funny, too. This is a gem for cancer patients and their families and for survivors, but really, for anyone who understands the terror and beauty of being human.
PositiveBooklistReaders familiar with Bragg’s books and magazine work know his down-home humor and infectious turns of phrase ... Bragg’s compassion for the dog’s shortcomings give Speck the time and space to relearn to belong to someone. Does the world need yet another dog book? Yes, if it’s this one.3
PositiveBooklistTwo world wars and the passage of more than a century do not overshadow Schlink’s story of lovers who never fully belong to each other, just as they never fully belonged to the world.
PositiveBooklistReaders can easily home in on one of the book’s wide-ranging six sections, sample an essay or two from each, or barrel through from start to finish, as whim dictates. Renkl’s voice is calm, steady, and sometimes surprising.
RaveBooklistHate history? Hate geography? Just let Defoe’s irreverent wit make these subjects come alive. From his iconoclastic intro to tongue-in-cheek discussions of flags and anthems, Defoe’s romp through geographical history will delight. Each short chapter opens with salient facts, and instead of listing boring latitude and longitude ... Anglophiles will appreciate Defoe’s use of words like skint and tenner. Each chapter includes hand-drawn maps. This book is a sparkling gem. Don’t gloss over the footnotes!
PositiveBooklistThis book will give scientists much to consider about spirituality’s health benefits as it provides evidence for what the deeply spiritual already intuit. Skeptics, too, should check it out.
RaveBooklistAttempting the near impossible, national-security correspondent Ackerman offers a book stuffed to the brim with details discussing the events leading to 9/11 and how America’s response paved the way for the ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency 15 years later, while still acknowledging his project’s incompleteness ... The book gives readers a deeper-than-headlines take on Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange ... This book does a masterful job communicating how nothing is as it seems. As for what to make of that assertion, the onus is on the reader.
PositiveBooklistEnglish’s book tells two stories: One of humanity where mentally ill people were given a voice, and one of inhumanity, where Nazism strove to destroy creativity and human life. The end notes are fascinating for any history lover who wants to better understand Hitler’s maniacal grip on Germany.
PositiveBooklistThe book is told in flashback, after Agatha has left her fellow-nuns, and the build-up to her departure is well-paced and convincing. Readers will appreciate Luchette’s finely observed characters.
PositiveBooklistThis book explores \'how and why nature make(s) us feel good, and [Jones] has more than done her homework ... Her book, filled with examples of nature’s benefits to human health, makes a strong argument for rescuing nature before it’s too late.
RaveBooklistReaders will delight in Winn’s account here of falling in love with Moth. A must-read for lovers of the first book; fans of nature writing should also check this out.
Jessie Van Eerden
RaveBooklistThough the setup may sound like a soap opera, this picaresque novel is anything but. Van Eerden’s sentences spill over with lush imagery and stunning language; she knows and loves these women, and readers will come to feel tenderly toward [them] ... A thoughtful, sometimes humorous, novel.
PositiveBooklistAlternating chapters between Jane and her daughter, Winter draws readers into depths of familial love that sometimes miss the mark, despite best intentions. She deftly depicts an all-too-human inconsistency: we may hold deep convictions until reality hits close to home. Every page is absorbing; book clubs will love discussing this.
RaveBooklistDakota writer Wilson’s depiction of Rosalie would be story enough, but her debut novel sweeps generations and also encompasses the War of 1862, when the Dakota were ultimately removed from their land in Minnesota. Through the voices of other women from past and present, Wilson deepens the reader’s understanding of what loss of language and culture has done to Indigenous people. In depicting the way Rosalie’s ancestor Marie Blackbird and other women sew seeds into their clothing as the war breaks out, Wilson shows these women’s relationship to and reverence for the land: a sharp contrast to \'a country that destroys its soil,\' using the methods of modern agriculture and its effects upon waterways. A thought-provoking and engaging read.
PositiveBooklist... heavily researched ... Especially interesting is his theory of how Abraham Lincoln’s high voice helped win a presidential debate. Insights on why babies vocalize before they speak words further fascinate. Lots of data, evidence, thoughtfulness, and heart here.
PositiveBooklistReaders may wonder: should we be more like cats, then? Gray won’t tip his hand, except to say, catlike, that the good life is the one you already have. For philosophers and philosophical cat lovers. Lots of endnotes for further discovery.
MixedBooklistRead at face level, this slim volume seems to offer little beyond rudimentary instruction, but the deeper message of the archer is that mastery requires one to delve into the heart of any endeavor. More than perfect technique, it is a matter of patience, intention, hard work, and a willingness to be vulnerable ... Coelho’s mystical, aphoristic style will not be to everyone’s taste. Some readers will see deep truth in the spare sentences; others will find this allegorical tale a trite yawn. Whether this book will be a life-changer or not will depend very much on what the reader both brings to and seeks from its pages.
PositiveBooklistArsenault’s driving curiosity is matched by a stunning vocabulary (catkin and debouche are two such delights). Readers who can appreciate the complexities of loving and hating their birthplace, and who understand that going home is like a “dialogue between two people in a deep and complicated relationship,” will find this memoir well worth the effort.
Robert P. Jones
RaveBooklistThis book is a marvel. It manages to quietly excoriate the insidious, entrenched attitudes that continue to sow racial hatred and division and to show the large and small ways that they continue. Devoid of moralizing, this powerful, heavily researched and annotated book is a must-read for religious leaders and academics.
Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, trans. by Michele Hutchison
RaveBooklistRijneveld’s International Booker Prize–shortlisted debut is not a novel for those expecting triumphal outcomes. Readers who can persist through the agonies of a family falling apart, however, will find their breath taken away by Rijneveld’s prose as filtered through Hutchison’s deft translation.
PositiveBooklistReaders in search of high drama and action will not find it in Hession’s understated debut; rather, they will meet lovely, beautifully-realized characters. An especially delightful read for Anglophiles.
PositiveBooklistMandelbaum creates complex characters, full of contradiction and missteps. This first novel is finely rendered, lightly dashed with humor, and littered with lots of animals
PositiveBooklist[Posner\'s] extensive research offers a dizzying array of right-wing think tanks and coalitions, driven by both high- and low-profile names; it can be hard to keep them straight. Add abortion, immigration issues, blatant racism, and extremist alt-right views about same, and one has the stew that is the current political scene ... She sees no end in sight, nor does she offer easy answers. A gripping read.
Nancy Wayson Dinan
PositiveBooklistThis strange brew of a book nods to the picaresque novel, is shot through with magical realism, and undergirded by a naturalist’s concern for Mother Earth—and it’s all wrapped in lovely sentences. Book groups will have field days discussing this.
PositiveBooklist[The letters] run the gamut of chatty (sometimes catty), ruminative, plaintive, and frank, and readers will appreciate Alexander’s breadth of literary knowledge ... Alexander’s style of expression is uniquely her own with terms like \'mollocking\' (to cavort, especially sexually) and naming the bathroom \'Duncan.\' Nothing is too great or too trivial to include in her letters: interminable air raids, praise for C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, and squabbles with her father and brothers. Front matter provided by the editors helps give context, and a \'who’s who\' at the end helps readers keep the vast cast of characters straight.
Torbjørn Ekelund, Trans. By Becky L. Crook
PositiveBooklistEkelund’s take on Robert Frost’s road not taken may surprise. Readers are also introduced to famous trails around the world and some of the folks who’ve endeavored to walk them. Interesting tidbits include information about why it’s anatomically impossible to walk a completely straight line and how paths are typically formed not to save time, but energy. A quiet, reflective read.
PositiveBooklistPeiss has done stellar work unearthing the contributions of librarians and archivists in collecting and preserving documents in Europe, actions that aided the U.S. government in its efforts to end the war ... Exhaustively researched, this is a recommended read for librarians, archivists, and WWII buffs who want to discover a little-known contribution in Allied war efforts
S. M. Hulse
PositiveBooklistMourning, loss, and love illuminate the pages of Hulse’s ruminative novel. Especially fine is her rendering of a person of faith struggling with doubt and the nature of evil. Fans of Annie Proulx may appreciate the novel’s pensive mood and the exploration of a place where people have few options and little hope.
RaveBooklistPrescott’s debut far surpasses the typical genre fare ... Prescott...does a masterful job of spanning continents and juggling shifting points of view, but readers may wish to keep notes to remember who’s who. Cold War buffs or those familiar with Pasternak’s tour-de-force and its adaptations will find this book especially enticing. Those new to the story will still be intrigued, and perhaps want to seek out the original.
Darrel J. McLeod
PositiveBooklistMcLeod’s story is a close-up of the continuing effects of manifest destiny ... Readers will appreciate McLeod’s hard-won peace.
RaveBooklistTelling stories is in [Renkl\'s] bones, but those stories are just one part of this unusual book. Dated passages function like bits of memoir, snippets of her life: recalling romantic love, her mother’s depression, her father’s cancer, her own health scares. Those parts will wholly please readers, but Renkl is also a fine observer of the natural world ... Reinkl deftly juggles the two disparate threads of narrative, all of which is shot through with deep wonder and a profound sense of loss. It is a fine feat, this book. Renkl intimately knows that \'this life thrives on death\' and chooses to sing the glory of being alive all the same.
PositiveBooklistGottlieb plunges further into the psychological depths as she discloses how therapists keep each other honest ... Some readers will know Gottlieb from her many TV appearances or her \'Dear Therapist\' column, but even for the uninitiated-to-Gottlieb, it won’t take long to settle in with this compelling read.
RaveBooklistAs they trek, the author’s disillusionment falls away. As though scrubbed clean by the salt air, she and Moth begin to cobble together plans for a new life. Though the two never seem to bicker, Winn quickly dispels romantic notions about the trip, describing pelting rains; cold, sleepless nights; and stomach-grinding hunger when they run out of food (or money). A beautifully written and deeply satisfying read.
PositiveBooklistSevergnini’s love affair with trains is as long as the Trans-Siberian Railway. Longer, perhaps ... Italy’s tortured political past gets full treatment ... Wry observations and gentle humor abound in addition to elegiac writing on trains and train travel.
PositiveBooklistReading how Aretha Franklin took Otis Redding’s \'Respect\' to a new level in the cause of women’s rights is but one highlight in this carefully researched book. An index would have aided greatly, but given the complexity and breadth of musical influences and genres discussed, Sullivan can be forgiven for the omission.
PositiveBooklistIn Mackintosh’s skilled hands, readers encounter this world as if in a fever dream and float on its characters’ disparate and shifting points of view. Book clubs may enjoy discussing the dystopian and feminist themes of Mackintosh’s exciting debut.
PositiveBooklistStructuring his book in sections like \'Memory,\' \'Activism,\' and \'Witness,\' Burger uses snippets of past classroom conversations to illustrate the larger themes; the episodic structure works. Ironically, in highlighting Wiesel the teacher, Burger further elevates Wiesel the humanitarian. Readers will find their own preconceptions called into question, as though they were in class, too.
RaveBooklist\"An engaging storyteller, Cullen recounts the deeds (and misdeeds) of youth, but his writer’s passion shines when he discusses the events that led him to write the prize-winning editorials ... The moral, economic, and social history of a small town in Iowa might not seem like much of a story, but in Cullen’s hands, it is.\
PositiveBooklist OnlineA lover of research, Stevens falls under the spell of Elizabeth Gaskell, Victorian writer and wife of a dull parson. Stevens alternates chapters between her own life and her discoveries of Gaskell’s, using the device to great effect. When Norton finally visits Gaskell, a perfectly nice visit essentially goes nowhere. Stevens encounters much the same with Max. Such juxtapositions add up to a delightful read.
PositiveBooklist\"...this book is more than a female-authored Hillbilly Elegy. Smarsh employs an unusual and effective technique, throughout the book addressing her daughter, who does not, in reality, exist. Rather, she’s the future that seemed destined for Smarsh, the same future that had been destined for and realized by all the women in her family ... her story is a trenchant analysis of the realities of an economic inequality whose cultural divide allows \'the powerful to make harmful decisions in policy and politics.\' Elucidating reading on the challenges many face in getting ahead.\