Lynne’s picks

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The Family Fang

Kevin Wilson

Read about the decidedly odd (and I’m putting it mildly, here) Family Fang and learn how every family–even the really weird ones!– has more in common than you might think.

 

Madonnas of Echo Park

Brandon Skyhorse

Skyhorse gives us a unique look into this neighborhood and its Latino residents as they deal with gentrification and finding their peace within the larger cultural context of Los Angeles.

 

On Canaan’s Side

Sebastian Barry

One of the best literary writers these days, Barry gives us another treat to submerge ourselves in. On Canaan’s Side is a poignant tale that covers the sweep of 20th century America and Ireland in the best Irish storytelling tradition. It’s a sad story, but so beautifully told that the language lingers with you long after you’ve finished the book.

The Surrendered

Chang-Rae Lee

This latest book by Chang-Rae Lee is astounding and profound in its ability to portray the resiliency of the human spirit. Definitely not a light, or even always pleasant read, it falls more into the “sticks-with-you” and “thought-provoking” categories. . . a serious contender for my favorite novel of 2010!

 

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell

David Mitchell, perhaps best known for his Cloud Atlas, gives us another remarkable creation in this lastest offering.  Honest, forthright Jacob de Zoet, the nephew of a Dutch preacher, is plopped into the Nagasaki of the late 18th and early 19th centuries — at the peak of Dutch trade with Japan.  Through his eyes, we see this absorbing tale of the clash of cultures, replete with political machinations, plots within plots, graft and corruption, unrequited love, and the struggle of the ‘good’ to perservere throughout it all … a thoroughly satisfying read to sink into!

The Passage
 
Justin Cronin
 
This book is one of those delicious summer reads. . . totally engrosses you in another fantastic yet thoroughly-realized world. . . it’s long, it has vampires (scary ones!), it’s engrossing, it’s the first book of a planned trilogy!  Those who enjoy good-quality ‘post-apoca-lit’ (it’s even been described as an homage to The Stand) will love this tale.
 
Cutting for Stone
 
Abraham Verghese
 
Follow Verghese’s assortment of characters through India, to a missionary hospital in politically tumultuous Ethiopia, to the wards of an inner-city teaching hospital in the U.S., for a beautiful exploration of what “family” means. An outstanding book on all of its many levels– I can’t do it justice in a few sentences!
 
Early Days in the Range of Light
 
Daniel Arnold
 
This remarkable book is definitely among my top picks for “local interest” favorites this year! Arnold gives the fascinating history of 15 first ascents in the Sierra– all pre-1930s– including backgrounds of the mountaineers (some still famous, some not so much), selections from their journals, and technical information. He then goes and attempts the same ascents himself. . . with the equipment of the day! Interwoven in all this are Arnold’s ruminations on climbing, mountaineering, and wilderness. . . truly, a find of a book for those who love our Range of Light!
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