Book Club Recommendations 2015

Book Club Recommendations 201581RIpI9vIiL

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands  Chris Bohjalian  9780307743930  288 pages

Emily Shepard is on the run; the nuclear plant where her father worked has suffered a cataclysmic meltdown, and all fingers point to him. Now, orphaned, homeless, and certain that she s a pariah, Emily s taken to hiding out on the frigid streets of Burlington, Vermont, creating a new identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. Then she meets Cameron. Nine years old and with a string of foster families behind him, he sparks something in Emily, and she protects him with a fierceness she didn t know she possessed. But when an emergency threatens the fledgling home she has created, Emily realizes that she can’t hide forever. Fort Collins Reads pick for 2015.

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 Station Eleven  Emily St. John Mandel 9780804172448  352 pages

Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear.”That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

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My Real Children  Jo Walton  9780765332684  336 pages

t’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today,” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know-what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don’t seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War-those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. Jo Walton’s “My Real Children” is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan’s lives…and of how every life means the entire world.

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The Goldfinch  Donna Tartt  9780316055444 784 pages

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

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The Invention of Wings  Sue Monk Kidd  9780143121701 384 pages

The story follows Hetty Handful Grimke, a Charleston slave, and Sarah, the daughter of the wealthy Grimke family. The novel begins on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership over Handful, who is to be her handmaid. The Invention of Wings follows the next thirty-five years of their lives. Inspired in part by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke (a feminist, suffragist and, importantly, an abolitionist), Kidd allows herself to go beyond the record to flesh out the inner lives of all the characters, both real and imagined

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The Painter  Peter Heller   9780804170154  384 pages

After having shot a man in a Santa Fe bar, the famous artist Jim Stegner served his time and has since struggled to manage the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. Now he lives a quiet life.. .until the day that he comes across a hunting guide beating a small horse, and a brutal act of new violence rips his quiet life right open. Pursued by men dead set on retribution, Jim is left with no choice but to return to New Mexico and the high-profile life he left behind, where he will reckon with past deeds and the dark shadows in his own heart.

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The Rosie Project  Graeme Simsion  9781476729091  295 pages

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. He sets up a project designed to find him the perfect wife, starting with a questionnaire that has to be adjusted a little as he goes along. She will be punctual and logical, most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. Then he meets Rosie Jarman, who is everything he’s not looking for in a wife. Rosie is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent, and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie, and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

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The Third Horseman: A Story of Weather, War, and the Famine History Forgot  William Rosen  9780143127147  320 pages

How a cycle of rain, cold, disease, and warfare created the worst famine in European history years before the Black Death In May 1315, it started to rain. For the seven disastrous years that followed, Europeans would be visited by a series of curses unseen since the third book of Exodus: floods, ice, failures of crops and cattle, and epidemics not just of disease, but of pike, sword, and spear. All told, six million lives one-eighth of Europe s total population would be lost. With a category-defying knowledge of science and history, William Rosen tells the stunning story of the oft-overlooked Great Famine with wit and drama and demonstrates what it all means for today s discussions of climate change.

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Soldier Girls  Helen Thorpe  9781451668117 432 pages

Helen Thorpe follows the lives of three women over twelve years on their paths to the military, overseas to combat, and back home…and then overseas again for two of them. These women, who are quite different in every way, become friends, and we watch their interaction and also what happens when they are separated. We see their families, their lovers, their spouses, their children. We see them work extremely hard, deal with the attentions of men on base and in war zones, and struggle to stay connected to their families back home. We see some of them drink too much, have affairs, and react to the deaths of fellow soldiers. And we see what happens to one of them when the truck she is driving hits an explosive in the road, blowing it up. She survives, but her life may never be the same again.

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Euphoria   Lily King  9780802123701  288 pages

This is  Lily King’s nationally bestselling breakout novel of three young, gifted anthropologists of the 30 s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead.

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A Town Like Alice  Nevil Shute 9780307474001 350 pages

Jean Paget, a young Englishwoman living in Malaya, is captured by the invading Japanese and forced on a brutal seven-month death march with dozens of other women and children. A few years after the war, Jean is back in England, the nightmare behind her. However, an unexpected inheritance inspires her to return to Malaya to give something back to the villagers who saved her life. But it turns out that they have a gift for her as well: the news that the young Australian soldier, Joe Harmon, who had risked his life to help the women, had miraculously survived. Jean’s search for Joe leads her to a desolate Australian outpost called Willstown, where she finds a challenge that will draw on all the resourcefulness and spirit that carried her through her war-time ordeals.

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Stars Go Blue  Laura Pritchett  9781619025486  208 pages

We first met hardscrabble ranchers Renny and Ben Cross in Laura’s debut collection, and now in “Stars Go Blue,” they are estranged, elderly spouses living on opposite ends of their sprawling ranch, faced with the particular decline of a fading farm and Ben’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is just on the cusp of dementia, able to recognize he is sick but unable to do anything about it –the notes he leaves in his pockets and around the house to remind him of himself, his family, and his responsibilities are no longer as helpful as they used to be. Watching his estranged wife forced into care-taking and brought to her breaking point, Ben decides to leave his life with whatever dignity and grace remains.

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So We Read On  Maureen Corrigan  9780316230063  368 pages

Offering a fresh perspective on “The Great Gatsby, ” SO WE READ ON takes readers into archives, high school classrooms, and onto the Long Island Sound to explore the novel’s hidden depths, revealing its surprising debt to noir, its rocky path to recognition as a “classic,” and its profound commentaries on race, class, and gender. With rigor, wit, and infectious enthusiasm, Corrigan inspires us to re-experience Gatsby and, along the way, spins a fascinating story of her own.

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Deep Down Dark  Hector Tobar  9781250074850 336 pages

When the San Jose mine collapsed outside of Copiapo, Chile, in August 2010, it trapped thirty-three miners beneath thousands of feet of rock for a record-breaking sixty-nine days. After the disaster, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hector Tobar received exclusive access to the miners and their tales, and in “Deep Down Dark, “he brings them to haunting, visceral life. We learn what it was like to be imprisoned inside a mountain, understand the horror of being slowly consumed by hunger, and experience the awe of working in such a place-one filled with danger and that often felt alive. A masterwork of narrative journalism and a stirring testament to the power of the human spirit, “Deep Down Dark” captures the profound ways in which the lives of everyone involved in the catastrophe were forever changed.

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Delicious!  Ruth Reichl  9780812982022  416 pages

The novel presents a whole passel of surprises: a puzzle to solve; a secret room; hidden letters; the legacy of James Beard; and a parallel, equally plucky heroine from the past, who also happens to be a culinary prodigy.

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Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West; Bryce Andrews   9781476710846 238 pages

“In “Badluck Way”, ” cattlehand and writer Bryce Andrews takes us on a fascinating ride through one of the most beautiful landscapes and thorniest issues of today’s American West–how can the newly reintroduced wolf and traditional cattle ranching coexist? “Badluck Way” is by turns an adventure story of a young man on a sprawling Montana ranch, a thoughtful reflection on the ranching life, and a visceral exploration of the cruel amorality of the natural world. Beautifully written, Andrews’s book delivers a powerful emotional punch.

~Susan Wilmer, owner, Old Firehouse Books

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