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                Book Discussion

                Marshall - Monday, July 28, 6:30 PM - The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. Books are now available for checkout.
                Mars Hill - Thursday, July 10 The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. Books are now available for checkout.

                 
                 *     *     * Library book discussion groups are open to any interested readers.
                 
                Please note:  The following book sets are available for checkout to book reading/discussion groups.  Each set contains approximately 6 to 12 paperback copies.  These sets may be borrowed by public libraries or private reading groups, as long as a responsible party is identified.  Please phone our Marshall branch location at (828) 649-3741 for additional information. A $10 fee is charged if book sets are to be mailed.
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                A Death in the Family Agee, James Jay Follet has a car accident and is killed instantly. Dancing back and forth in time and braiding the viewpoints of Jay's wife, brother, and young son, Rufus, Agee creates an overwhelmingly powerful novel of innocence, tenderness, and loss. 
                Angle of Repose Stegner, Wallace A deeply moving novel that, through the prism of one family, illuminates the American present against the fascinating background of our past. As a wheelchair-bound author, Lyman Ward returns to his ancestral home of Grass Valley, California, to rediscover his grandmother, now long dead, who made her own journey there nearly a hundred years earlier in America's West. Lyman Ward's investigation leads him deep into the dark shadows of his own life. 
                Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy A beautiful, passionate Russian woman escapes the restrictions and boredom of her marriage through a love affair with a charming soldier. 
                Beloved Morrison, Toni Sethe, an escaped slave living in post-Civil War Ohio with her daughter and mother-in-law, is persistantly haunted by the ghost of her dead baby girl. 
                Blue Star Earley, Tony Jim Glass, the precocious ten-year-old from Tony Earley's Jim the Boy, returns. Now a teenager, Jim returns in another tender and wise story of young love on the eve of World War Two. Jim Glass has fallen in love, as only a teenage boy can fall in love, with his classmate Chrissie Steppe. Unfortunately, Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw's girlfriend, and Bucky has joined the Navy on the eve of war. Jim vows to win Chrissie's heart in his absence, but the war makes high school less than a safe haven, and gives a young man's emotions a grown man's gravity. 
                Bonobo Handshake: a memoir of love and adventure in the Congo Vanessa Woods In 2005, Vanessa Woods accepted a marriage proposal from a man she barely knew and agreed to join him on a research trip to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Settling in at a bonobo sanctuary in Congo’s capital, Vanessa and her fiancé entered the world of a rare ape with whom we share 98.7% of our DNA. Vanessa soon discovered that bonobos live in a peaceful society in which females are in charge, war is nonexistent, and sex is as common and friendly as a handshake. 
                Book Thief (The) Zusak, Markus Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors. Includes readers' guide. 
                Boone Morgan, Robert Biography. The story of Daniel Boone is the story of America, its ideals, its promise, its romance, and its destiny. Author uncovers the complex character of a frontiersman whose astonishing life was far stranger and more fascinating than the myths surrounding him. This biography offers a wholly new perspective on a man who has been an American icon for more than two hundred years. 
                Bridge of San Luis Rey (The) Thornton, Wilder By chance, a monk witnesses the 1714 tragic collapse of Peru's finest bridges. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine invervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death--and to the author's timeliess investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition. 
                Brighten the Corner Where You Are Chappell, Fred Recounts the adventures of a North Carolina high school teacher who rescues a drowning child, retrieves a goat from the school's roof, and confronts a mysterious custodian. 
                Cataloochee Caldwell, Wayne Nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina sits Cataloochee. Never one to pass an opportunity, Ezra Banks, an ambitious young man seeking some land of his own, arrives there in the 1880s and attempts to marry a Carter girl, the daughter of a wealthy landowner. The author brings to life the community's historic struggles and close kinships over a span of six decades--a classic novel of place and family. 
                Catch-22 Heller, Joseph Set on the tiny island of Pianosa in the Mediterranean Sea, the novel is devoted to a long series of impossible, illogical adventures engaged in by the members of the 256th bombing squadron, an unlikely combat group whose fanatical commander, Colonel Cathcart, keeps increasing the men's quota of missions until they reach the ridiculous figure of 80. The book's central character is Captain Yossarian, the squadron's lead bombardier, who is surrounded at all times by the ironic and incomprehensible and who directs all his energies towards evading his odd role in the war. His companions are an even more peculiar lot: Lieutenant Scheisskopf, who loved to win parades; Major Major Major, the victim of a life-long series of practical jokes, beginning with his name; the mess officer, Milo Minderbinder, who built a food syndicate into an international cartel; and Major de Coverley whose mission in life was to rent apartments for the officers and enlisted men during their rest leaves. Eventually, after Cathcart has exterminated nearly all of Yossarian's buddies through the suicidal missions, Yossarian decides to desert -- and he succeeds. Catch -- 22 is also concerned with some of war's horrors and atrocities and it is at times painfully grim. (Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 1961) . 
                Cellist of Sarajevo (The) Galloway, Steven While a cellist plays at the site of a mortar attack to commemorate the deaths of twenty-two friends and neighbors, a woman sniper secretly protects the life of the cellist as her army becomes increasingly threatening. 
                Charms for the Easy Life Gibbons, Kaye Margaret struggles toward adulthood in a world torn apart by the Second World War and complicated by her strong-willed mother, Sophia, and grandmother, Charlie Kate, in a story about three generations of passionate, willful Southern women. 
                Corrections (The) Franzen, Jonathan What appears as a typical Midwestern family is anything but as preparations are made for an ideal family holiday. Alfred, the father is losing his fight to control Parkinson's disease and dementia. His wife, Enid is no longer in control of her household and feels her choices slipping away. Their three grown children are struggling with their own lives. But for this Christmas, Enid is determined to bring them together for the perfect family holiday. 
                Cutting for Stone Verghese, Abraham A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel -- an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics -- their passion for the same woman -- that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him -- nearly destroying him -- Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him. -- Book jacket. 
                Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Dick, Philip K. THE INSPIRATION FOR BLADERUNNER. . . Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time. By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans. Emigrees to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn't want to be identified, they just blended in. Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results. 
                East of Eden Steinbeck, John This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families--the Trasks and the Hamiltons--whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. 
                Education of Little Tree (The) Carter, Forest Living with grandparents, Little Tree learns how to hunt and survive in the mountains and to respoect nature in the Cherokee Way--taking only what is needed, leaving the rest for nature to run its course. Little Tree also learns about people--businessmen, storekeepers, and tax collectors. His grandmother teaches him how to read. 
                Enemy Women Jiles, Paulette  Poet and memoirist Jiles (North Spirit) enters new territory, both historically and stylistically, with her first novel, which is set in the Missouri Ozarks during the Civil War. Adair Colley is 18 years old and leads a happy, untroubled life with her father, brother, and younger sisters on the family homestead in southeastern Missouri until the war, in the form of the Missouri Union Militia, touches them. After taking the family's possessions, the militia sets fire to the house and barn. Brother John Lee escapes to the woods, but patriarch Marquis Colley is accused of disloyalty, badly beaten, and taken away, leaving the three girls on their own. Though innocent, Adair is soon arrested for spying and sent to prison in St. Louis. How she survives that institution's abominable conditions, falls in love with the major in charge, and manages to return to her old home make for an enthralling narrative. Very little has been written about the degrading condition endured by female prisoners, who were often unjustly accused, and the details that Jiles unearthed via her research add much to our knowledge of the Civil War. (Library Journal, vol 127, issue 3, p178)  
                Frankenstein Mary Shelley Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century Gothicism. While staying in the Swiss Alps in 1816 with her lover Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and others, Mary, then eighteen, began to concoct the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the monster he brings to life by electricity. Written in a time of great personal tragedy, it is a subversive and morbid story warning against the dehumanization of art and the corrupting influence of science. Packed with allusions and literary references, it is also one of the best thrillers ever written. Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus was an instant bestseller on publication in 1818. The prototype of the science fiction novel, it has spawned countless imitations and adaptations but retains its original power. 
                Fried Green Tomatoes Flagg, Fannie Mrs. Threadgoode's tale of two high-spirited women of the 1930s, Idgie and Ruth, helps Evelyn, a 1980s woman in a sad slump of middle age, to begin to rejuvenate her own life. 
                Gilead Robinson, Marilynne As the Reverend John Ames approaches the hour of his own death, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets. 
                Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (The) Larsson, Stieg Forty years after the disappearance of Harriet Vanger from the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family, her octogenarian uncle hires journalist Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander, an unconventional young hacker, to investigate. 
                Good Earth (The) Buck, Pearl S. A Chinese peasant overcomes the forces of nature and the frailties of human nature to become a wealthy landowner. 
                Grapes of Wrath (The) Steinbeck, John  The story of a farm family's Depression-era journey from the Dustbowl of Oklahoma to the California migrant labor camps in search of a better life. 
                Help (The) Stockett, Kathryn In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, there are lines that are not crossed. With the civil rights movement exploding all around them, three women start a movement of their own, forever changing a town and the way women--black and white, mothers and daughters--view one another. 
                Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Ford, Jamie Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, this debut novel tells the heartwarming story of widower Henry Lee, his father, and his first love Keiko Okabe. 
                Hours (The) Cunningham, Michael Virginia Woolf is brought back to life in an intertwining of her story with those of two more contemporary women. In Woolf's life, she awakens one morning in London in 1923 with a dream that will become Mrs. Dalloway. In the present, Clarissa Vaughan is planning a party in Greenwich Village for her oldest love, a poet dying from AIDS. And in Los Angeles in 1949, Laura Brown is pregnant and unsettled, trying to prepare for her husband's birthday, but wanting nothing more than to sit and read Woolf. 
                Housekeeping Robinson, Marilynne Ruth, a young girl struggling to overcome haunting family memories in a town which will not ler her forget, gradually grows close to Sylvie, the sister of her dead mother. 
                Hunger Games (The) Collins, Suzanne In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place. 
                Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (The) Skloot, Rebecca Henrietta Lacks died in 1951 of cancer. Without her knowledge, Henrietta Lacks' cervical cells began to multiply in the laboratory, launching a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry. Her family had no knowledge that part of Henietta was still alive until more than twenty years later. Their lives would never be the same. Henrietta Lacks' cells were known as "HeLa" in the medical profession and were used in the creation of numberous vaccines.  
                In a Dark Season Lane, Vicki For Elizabeth Goodweather, of Full Circle Farm, still a newcomer after more than twenty years, one terrible glimpse ignites a mystery that reaches back years into these hills, drawing together dozens of seemingly unconnected lives. 
                Independence Day Ford, Richard Real estate agent Frank Bascombe moves into his newly married ex-wife's old home, and is looking forward to the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, but somehow nothing turns out the way he expects. 
                Invisible Man Ellison, Ralph **Winner of the National Book Award.** BookList:The plight of the African-American in America is presented in the somewhat allegorical story of one young man who in frustration concludes that he is an invisible man. He starts life with trust and illusions but after a shocking experience at a men's club in his Southern hometown and further revealing experiences at a college he finds his way to Harlem and an organization that might be the communist party. Before his final disillusionment he encounters all varieties of attitudes on race toward and among African-Americans. Some of the incidents are brutally shocking but the idea and the presentation give the book distinctive value. 
                Jayber Crow Berry, Wendell Jayber Crow, born in Goforth, Kentucky, orphaned at age ten, began his search as a "pre-ministerial student" at Pigeonville College. Eventually, after the flood of 1937, Jayber becomes the barber of the small community of Port William, Kentucky. From behind that barber chair he lives out the questions that drove him from seminary and begins to accept the gifts of community that enclose his answers. 
                Jim the Boy Earley, Tony Describes the life of a young boy in a small southern town in the early twentieth century as he begins to explore the confusing adult world that surrounds him and begins to take his own first steps toward maturity. 
                Keepers of the House (The) Grau, Shirley Ann Abigail was the last keeper of the house and the last to know the Howland family's secrets. Now in the name of her family, she must take bitter revenge on the small-minded Southern town that shamed them but could not destroy them. 
                King of Lies (The) Hart, John When his father is found murdered, the investigation into the crime uncovers dark family secrets that threaten to unravel the life of North Carolina lawyer Work Pickens and those of his troubled sister and other small-town characters. 
                Lacuna (The) Barbara Kingsolver Kingsolver's ambitious novel focuses on Harrison William Shepherd, the product of a divorced American father and a Mexican mother. After getting kicked out of his American military academy, Harrison spends his formative years in Mexico in the 1930s in the household of Diego Rivera; his wife, Frida Kahlo; and their houseguest, Leon Trotsky, who is hiding from Soviet assassins. After Trotsky is assassinated, Harrison returns to the U.S., settling down in Asheville, N.C., where he becomes an author of historical potboilers (e.g., Vassals of Majesty) and is later investigated as a possible subversive. Narrated in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings, the novel takes a while to get going, but once it does, it achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee (on the panel is a young Dick Nixon). Employed by the American imagination, is how one character describes Harrison, a term that could apply equally to Kingsolver as she masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the assured hand of a true literary artist. 
                Last Child (The)  John Hart A year after 12-year-old Alyssa Merrimon disappeared on her way home from the library in an unnamed rural North Carolina town, her twin brother, Johnny, continues to search the town, street by street, even visiting the homes of known sex offenders, in this chilling novel from Edgar-winner Hart (Down River). Det. Clyde Hunt, the lead cop on Alyssa's case, keeps a watchful eye on Johnny and his mother, who has deteriorated since Alyssa's abduction and her husband's departure soon afterward. When a second girl is snatched, Johnny is even more determined to find his sister, convinced that the perpetrator is the same person who took Alyssa. But what he unearths is more sinister than anyone imagined, sending shock waves through the community and putting Johnny's own life in danger.  
                Life of Pi Yann Martel **Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize**After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound royal bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and beloved works of fiction in recent years. 
                Little Bee Cleave, Chris A haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers--one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London. 
                Lonesome Dove McMurtry, Larry In the 1800's, strong women, evil villains, and white-hatted heroes populate the violent frontier. Texas Rangers Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call find adventure fighting against deadly enemies: the Mexican army, Comanches, train robbers, and the West's wild rivers and harsh deserts. Romance, loss, and heroism bring the characters to life amid the action. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 
                Magnificent Ambersons (The) Tarkington, Booth The Midwest family, the Ambersons, have everything money can buy in the early twentieth century and are the richest family in town. George Amberson Minafer, the spoiled grandson of the family patriarch is unable to see that great societal changes are taking place and refuses to join the new mechanical age. As his town becomes a city, and the family palace is enveloped in a cloud of soot, George's protectors disappear one by one, and the elegent, cloistered lifestyle of the Ambersons fades from view, until it vanishes altogether. 
                Main Street Lewis, Sinclair  In this classic satire of small-town America, beautiful young Carol Kennicott comes to Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, with dreams of transforming the provincial old town into a place of beauty and culture. But she runs into a wall of bigotry, hypocrisy and complacency. Main Street established Lewis as a major American novelist. 
                My Antonia Willa Cather Widely recognized as Willa Cather’s greatest novel, My Ántonia is a soulful and rich portrait of a pioneer woman’s simple yet heroic life. The spirited daughter of Bohemian immigrants, Ántonia must adapt to a hard existence on the desolate prairies of the Midwest. Enduring childhood poverty, teenage seduction, and family tragedy, she eventually becomes a wife and mother on a Nebraska farm. A fictional record of how women helped forge the communities that formed a nation, My Ántonia is also a hauntingly eloquent celebration of the strength, courage, and spirit of America’s early pioneers. 
                Namesake (The) Lahiri, Jhumpa A portrait of the immigrant experience follows the Ganguli family from their traditional life in India through their arrival in Massachusetts in the late 1960s and their difficult melding into an American way of life. 
                Olive Kitteridge Strout, Elizabeth The story of Olive Kitteridge's life, the issues she faces as she and her family grow older, and about the lives of the townspeople who have been touched by Olive in one way or the other. Olive is an outspoken, retired school teacher living in the small town of Crosby, Maine. 
                On Agate Hill Smith, Lee On Agate Hill is set in North Carolina in the years from 1872 to1927, and also in the present. The novel evokes the South in Reconstruction from an honest female perspective. It is the exuberantly romantic and episodic story of Molly Petree, an open-hearted and headstrong young Southern woman. The novel is framed with the letters and notes of a contemporary woman who seems almost a reincarnation of Molly herself. 
                Oral History Smith, Lee A curse laid on the inhabitants of Hoot Owl Holler follows each succeeding generation for a century, in a tale of love, murder, obsession, and betrayal set in Appalachia. 
                Orchid Thief (The) Susan Orlean In Susan Orlean's mesmerizing true story of beauty and obsession is John Laroche, a renegade plant dealer and sharply handsome guy, in spite of the fact that he is missing his front teeth and has the posture of al dente spaghetti. In 1994, Laroche and three Seminole Indians were arrested with rare orchids they had stolen from a wild swamp in south Florida that is filled with some of the world's most extraordinary plants and trees. Laroche had planned to clone the orchids and then sell them for a small fortune to impassioned collectors. After he was caught in the act, Laroche set off one of the oddest legal controversies in recent memory, which brought together environmentalists, Native Amer-ican activists, and devoted orchid collectors. The result is a tale that is strange, compelling, and hilarious. 
                Outcasts United: an American town, a refugee team, and one woman's quest to make a difference Warren St. John The extraordinary tale of a refugee youth soccer team and the transformation of a small American town. Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world’s war zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston’s streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colors playing soccer in any open space they could find. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to unify Clarkston’s refugee children and keep them off the streets. These kids named themselves the Fugees. Set against the backdrop of an American town that without its consent had become a vast social experiment, Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees and their charismatic coach. Warren St. John documents the lives of a diverse group of young people as they miraculously coalesce into a band of brothers, while also drawing a fascinating portrait of a fading American town struggling to accommodate its new arrivals. At the center of the story is fiery Coach Luma, who relentlessly drives her players to success on the soccer field while holding together their lives—and the lives of their families—in the face of a series of daunting challenges. This fast-paced chronicle of a single season is a complex and inspiring tale of a small town becoming a global community—and an account of the ingenious and complicated ways we create a home in a changing world. 
                Parrot & Olivier in America Casey, Peter A tale loosely inspired by the life of Alexis de Tocqueville is set in the early nineteenth century and follows an unlikely friendship between a survivor of the French Revolution and an itinerant English engraver's son.  
                Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (The)  Bender, Aimee Eating the cake her mother has prepared for her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein discovers she has a gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the food she prepares. Soon, every bite Rose takes is filled with feelings—not just her mother’s but those of other people as well—and what might have been a gift becomes a burden and then, perhaps, a curse. Because this is a novel rooted in family, Rose will learn that she is not the only Edelstein with a peculiar gift or burden. How she and others learn to cope—or not, as the case may be—is the small, sad story Rose shares. 
                Patron Saint of Liars (The) Patchett, Ann Pregnant and alone, Rose seeks sanctuary at St. Elizabeth's, a home for unwed mothers in Habit, Kentucky, where she at last finds a place to put down the roots she has never felt she had. 
                Pattern Recognition Gibson, William Hired to investigate a mysterious video collection that has been appearing on the Internet, market research consultant Cayce Pollard realizes that there is more to the assignment when her computer is hacked. 
                Pleasure was Mine (The) Hays, Tommy A hopeful, engaging rendering of Prate Marshbanks, who is slowly losing his wife of fifty years, yet getting to know his son and grandson in a whole new way. It is moving, romantic, and even comic story about the power and resilience of family. 
                Professor and the Madman: a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English dictionary (The) Simon Winchester The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary -- and literary history. The compilation of the OED began in 1857, it was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane. 
                Queen of the Lost Emily L. Bull Cooper Called the "Queen of the Confederacy," the beautiful Lucy Holcombe Pickens, in 1854, memorialized in print a martyred Freemason who tried to free Cuba; she married the once-wealthy, dispossessed governor of the Confederacy; attracted Czar Alexander II who would be assassinated by those he freed; and was a friend of those who succumbed to the dying embers of the Civil War. She was "Queen of the Lost." A small-town editor takes on the challenge of finding out what this woman and her world were like and how Lucy's spirit lingered over her home, Edgewood, S.C. for more than a hundred years. 
                Reading Lolita in Tehran Azar Nafisi For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading—Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita—their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran. 
                Sarah's Key Rosnay, Tatiana de On the anniversary of the roundup of Jews by the French police in Paris, Julia is asked to write an article on this dark episode and embarks on an investigation that leads her to long-hidden family secrets and to the ordeal of Sarah. 
                Saving Grace Smith, Lee Surrounded all of her life by zealous religious figures, Florida Grace Shepherd recounts a story that begins with her father's revival meetings and ends at Uncle Slidell's Christian Fun Golf course. 
                She-Rain Cogdill, Michael "In a rhapsody of Southern voices, mingling hilarity and sorrow, 'She-Rain' speaks of lives soaring beyond heartbreak, fundamentalism, and self-destruction. Through the most graceful longing, two women in love with one man ultimately prove the power of human hearts to answer high callings in early 20th century North Carolina mountains." from back cover. 
                She Walks These Hills McCrumb, Sharyn A story of mountain journeys, both literal and figurative, weaves together the tales of a restless spirit from the 1700s, a deranged ex-convict searching the hills for a home that no longer exists, and a shocking murder. 
                Snow Falling on Cedars Guterson, Davind In 1954, Ishmael Chambers, a local reporter who lost an arm in the war, covers the murder trial of a Japanese-American fisherman, whose wife had been Ishmael's boyhood sweetheart. 
                Stones Into Schools Mortenson, Greg A follow-up to "Three Cups of Tea" continues the author's story of his humanitarian efforts to bring education into disadvantaged Middle East regions, describing such events as the 2005 earthquake and a tense eight-day abduction by the Taliban. 
                Summons to Memphis (A) Taylor, Peter Philip has a new life in New York but is returned to the petty meddling of his family when his two spinster sisters call upon him to help them ruin their eighty-one-year-old father's wedding plans. 
                Swamplandia Karen Russell Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality. 
                The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Mark Haddon Sometimes profound characters come in unassuming packages. In this instance, it is Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old autistic savant with a passion for primary numbers and a paralyzing fear of anything that happens outside of his daily routine. When a neighbor's dog is mysteriously killed, Christopher decides to solve the crime inthe calculating spirit of his hero, Sherlock Holmes. Little does he know the real mysteries he is about to uncover. The author does a revelatory job of infusing Christopher with a legitimate and singularly human voice. Christopher lives in a world that is devoid ofthe emotional responses most of us expect, but that does not mean he lacks feelings or insights. Rather than being just a victim, he is allowed to become a complex character who is not always likable and sometimes demonstrates menacing qualities that give this well-trod narrative path much-needed freshness. The novel is being marketed to a YA audience, but strong language and adult situations make this a good title for sophisticated readers of all ages. 
                The Fault in our Stars John Green He's in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She's fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited. Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus "Gus" Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He's a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She's smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his--based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green's signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy handed inthe words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: "My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched." Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue. Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus' poignant journey.  
                The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s. 
                The Hobbit, or There and Back Again J. R. R. Tolkien J.R.R. Tolkien's classic prelude to his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum. Written for J.R.R. Tolkien's own children, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies worldwide and established itself as a modern classic. 
                The Pale King David Foster Wallace The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has. The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death, but it is a deeply compelling and satisfying novel, hilarious and fearless and as original as anything Wallace ever undertook. It grapples directly with ultimate questions—questions of life's meaning and of the value of work and society—through characters imagined with the interior force and generosity that were Wallace's unique gifts. Along the way it suggests a new idea of heroism and commands infinite respect for one of the most daring writers of our time. 
                The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky " Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand." In his letters to a never-identified person, 15-year-old Charlie's freshman high-school year (1991-92) and coming-of-age ring fresh and true. First-novelist Chbosky captures adolescent angst, confusion, and joy as Charlie reveals his innermost thoughts while trying to discover who he is and whom he is to become. Intellectually precocious, Charlie seems a tad too naive in many other ways, yet his reflections on family interactions, first date, drug experimentation, first sexual encounter, and regular participation in Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings are compelling. He vacillates between full involvement in the crazy course of his life and backing off completely. Eventually, he discovers that to be a whole person who knows how to be a real friend rather than a patsy, he must confront his past--and remember what his beloved, deceased Aunt Helen did to him. Charlie is a likable kid whose humor-laced trials and tribulations will please both adults and teens. 
                The Weird Sisters Eleanor Brown Three sisters, a scholarly father who breaks into iambic pentameter, and an absentminded but loving mother who brought the girls up in rural Ohio may sound like an idyllic family; however, when Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia return home—ostensibly to help their parents through their mother’s cancer treatment—readers begin to see a whole different family. A prologue introduces characters and hints of the dramas to come, while the omniscient narrator, seemingly the combined consciousness of thesisters, chronicles in the first-person plural events that occur during the heavy Ohio summer and end in the epilogue, which describes an (overly?) hopeful resolution. Brown writes with authority and affection both for her characters and the family hometown of Barnwell, a place that almost becomes another character in the story. A skillful use of flashback shows the characters developing and evolving as well as establishing the origins of family myth and specific personality traits. There are no false steps in this debut novel: the humor, lyricism, and realism characterizing this lovely book will appeal to fans of good modern fiction as well as stories of family and of the Midwest. 
                The Whistling Season Ivan Doig "Can't cook but doesn't bite." So begins the newspaper ad offering the services of an "A-1 housekeeper, sound morals, exceptional disposition" that draws the hungry attention of widower Oliver Milliron in the fall of 1909. And so begins the unforgettable season that deposits the noncooking, nonbiting, ever-whistling Rose Llewellyn and her font-of-knowledge brother, Morris Morgan, in Marias Coulee along with a stampede of homesteaders drawn by the promise of the Big Ditch—a gargantuan irrigation project intended to make the Montana prairie bloom. When the schoolmarm runs off with an itinerant preacher, Morris is pressed into service, setting the stage for the "several kinds of education"—none of them of the textbook variety—Morris and Rose will bring to Oliver, his three sons, and the rambunctious students in the region's one-room schoolhouse. A paean to a vanished way of life and the eccentric individuals and idiosyncratic institutions that made it fertile, The Whistling Season is Ivan Doig at his evocative best. (From the publisher.) 
                Tinkers  Harding, Paul A tinker is a mender, and in Harding’s spellbinding debut, he imagines the old, mendable horse-and-carriage world. The objects of the past were more readily repaired than our electronics, but the living world was a mystery, as it still is, as it always will be. And so in this rhapsodic novel of impending death, Harding considers humankind’s contrary desires to conquer the “imps of disorder” and to be one with life, fully meshed within the great glimmering web. In the present, George lies on his death bed in the Massachusetts house he built himself, surrounded by family and the antique clocks he restores. George loves the precision of fine timepieces, but now he is at the mercy of chaotic forces and seems to be channeling his late father, Howard, a tinker and a mystic whose epileptic seizures strike like lightning. Howard, in turn, remembers his “strange and gentle” minister father. Each man is extraordinarily porous to nature and prone to becoming “unhitched” from everyday human existence and entering a state of ecstasy, even transcendence. Writing with breathtaking lyricism and tenderness, Harding has created a rare and beautiful novel of spiritual inheritance and acute psychological and metaphysical suspense. -- Seaman, Donna 
                Train Dreams Denis Johnson Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams is an epic in miniature, one of his most evocative and poignant fictions. It is the story of Robert Grainier, a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century---an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime. Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West, this novella by the National Book Award--winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life. 
                Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (The) Maggie O'Farrell Chic and independent, Iris Lockhart is tending to her vintage-clothing shop in Edinburgh (and evading her married boyfriend) when she receives a stunning phone call: her great-aunt Esme—whom she never knew existed—is being released from Cauldstone Hospital, where she has been locked away for more than sixty years. Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her father in Esme’s face. Esme has been labeled harmless—sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world—but she's still basically a stranger, a family member hidden away who will surely bring secrets with her when she leaves the ward. Moving expertly among the voices of Iris, Kitty, and Esme herself, Maggie O'Farrell reveals the story of Esme's tragic and haunting absence. 
                We Need to Talk About Kevin Shriver, Lionel "That neither nature nor nurture bears exclusive responsibility for a child's character is self-evident. But generalizations about genes are likely to provide cold comfort if it's your own child who just opened fire on his fellow algebra students and whose class photograph - with its unseemly grin - is shown on the evening news coast-to-coast. If the question of who's to blame for teenage atrocity intrigues news-watching voyeurs, it tortures our narrator, Eva Khatchadourian. Two years before the opening of the novel, her son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-beloved teacher who had tried to befriend him. Because his sixteenth birthday arrived two days after the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is currently in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York. In relating the story of Kevin's upbringing, Eva addresses her estranged husband, Frank, through a series of startingly direct letters" cover flap 
                What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day Cleage, Pearl When Ava Johnson discovers she is HIV positive, she journeys back to her sleepy northern Michigan hometown, where she manages to find new love. 
                Year of Magical Thinking (The) Didion, Joan  The author of Slouching Towards Bethlehem and 11 other works chronicles the year following the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, from a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003, while the couple's only daughter, Quintana, lay unconscious in a nearby hospital suffering from pneumonia and septic shock. Dunne and Didion had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years, and Dunne's death propelled Didion into a state she calls "magical thinking." "We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss," she writes. "We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes." Didion's mourning follows a traditional arc—she describes just how precisely it cleaves to the medical descriptions of grief—but her elegant rendition of its stages leads to hard-won insight, particularly into the aftereffects of marriage. "Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I did not age." In a sense, all of Didion's fiction, with its themes of loss and bereavement, served as preparation for the writing of this memoir, and there is occasionally a curious hint of repetition, despite the immediacy and intimacy of the subject matter. Still, this is an indispensable addition to Didion's body of work and a lyrical, disciplined entry in the annals of mourning literature. 
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