Carin's Picks

     

The Aftermath (Hardcover)

$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780307958266
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf, 9/2013
It's hard to turn around in a bookstore these days without knocking over a pile of novels set during WWII. This one, as indicated by the deceptively mundane title, is set after the war, in Hamburg, 1946. A decorated British colonel is sent there to help rebuild the city and de-Nazify the people. He brings his wife and one son, the other having died in a bombing back home. He is quartered in the large house of a German architect, and in a break from tradition decides to share the house with the architect and his daughter. A great deal of adapting occurs, both in the house and outside, where feral groups of starving roam, and some defeated Germans are acting not so defeated. A fascinating look at post-war Europe. Already optioned for the movies…

$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780307271792
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf, 8/2013
This book is less about Claire, the titular child who goes missing and stays so for most of the book, than it is about the braided lives and loves of the inhabitants of the small seaside Haitian town of Ville Rose. It's also less steeped in the violent history of Haiti than Danticat's most recent devastating novel, The Dew Breakers. While she writes no fairy tale here -- there is tragedy, and loss -- Danticat's writing is often mystical and poetic. She has created a town and people you won't soon forget.

$15.99
ISBN-13: 9781602861800
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Weinstein Books, 9/2012
This engrossing Somerset Maugham-like novel will put you right in the middle of post WWII Malaysia (or Malaya as it was called). A war-scarred woman, the sole survivor of a camp where she was a "guest of the Emperor" or POW, tries to vanquish her numerous ghosts by apprenticing herself to a mysterious exiled Japanese gardener. He is not quite what he seems, but then neither is she. Themes of memory and loss, lies and secrets pervade this book. A good exotic book to get lost in. (Oh, and you will learn a lot about Japanese gardens and tattooing.)

$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780307960498
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf, 10/2013
Having a Harry Hole/Jo Nesbo thriller in my house is like being hungry and locked in a room with a bowl of roasted cashews. They will be eaten. The book will likewise be consumed, usually in one sitting. When last we left Harry Hole in Phantom, he was a goner, or so we thought. He's back, and more clever and anguished than ever in his efforts to catch a diabolical and ruthless police killer. If you are a Harry Hole fan you know what to expect -- good writing, well-drawn characters, ceaseless suspense, gruesome deaths. If you aren't a Harry Hole devotee (yet) you might want to start with The Bat, or Redbreast and read your way through the series, as Nesbo often refers to earlier characters and cases.

Falling to Earth (Paperback)

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9781609450915
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions, 3/2013
A discerning patron of the NBS told me this was the most affecting book she had read in the past year. A tornado hits a Midwestern city. Every family in the town loses someone or something; some lose all. Except for one family, which survives intact and unscathed. This impressive first novel deals with how the town treats this family in the aftermath of destruction, and how the family copes. A timely and affecting book.

$24.95
ISBN-13: 9780307962577
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf, 7/2013
A remarkable book. It's about a woman who grew up in Liberia, and given that country's violent and disturbing recent history, readers should know that this is a difficult story. The main character, adrift in every way, is trying to come to terms with a past that's impossible to come to terms with. That said, the book is beautifully written, truly gets inside its character and is ultimately very moving.

$14.95
ISBN-13: 9780345807090
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage, 7/2013
A faithful bookstore patron once told me that he thought the Harry Holet mysteries of Jo Nesbo were a bit "lugubrious." I agreed with him and then went to look up lugubrious in the dictionary. He's dead on. These novels are dark, moody, mournful--but, oh-so-good. This is the debut in the series, first published in 1992. Set in Sydney, it’s a MUST for all Harry Hole devotees

$24.95
ISBN-13: 9780307596918
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 6/2013
This is one in a long line of what I call "ICA" memoirs -- ICA being "I Conquered Adversity" -- adversity defined as alcohol or drug addiction, substandard parenting, bad (sometimes REALLY bad!), lovers, psychological issues, the Pacific Coast Trail, etc. You get the drift. Mardi Jo Link's nemeses include a bad divorce and subsequent poverty. This is the story of how she holds onto her farm in northern Michigan and creates a home for her three boys. She tells good, funny stories, comes through her trials, and finds true love. (One hopes.)

Ghostman (Hardcover)

$24.95
ISBN-13: 9780307959966
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 2/2013
If you are a fan of tradecraft (how to do things, e.g. rob a casino, pack a getaway bag, disappear without a trace, break into a storage facility -- you never know when those skills will come in handy) this is the suspense-filled thriller for you. FYI, a "ghostman" is a disappearance specialist. I disappeared into this book and didn't come out for several hours.

Snapper (Hardcover)

$24.95
ISBN-13: 9780307908056
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Pantheon, 4/2013
Snapper is about Indiana and birdwatching -- wait, wait, don't stop reading this yet -- this book is charming, well-written and good, especially for a debut novel. Yes, it's set in Indiana, and yes the main character is a birdwatcher, but he truly loves and knows birds and he's funny and and the combination of those qualities is pretty irresistible. Throw in a mysterious, hard-to-get (or rather, easy-to-get, hard-to-keep) girlfriend and a rogue snapping turtle, you've got yourself a pretty good story. Besides, you can't beat the cover.

$27.00
ISBN-13: 9780316154697
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 4/2013
Whenever I am blue, I reach for one of two authors: P.G. Wodehouse or David Sedaris. Both of them make me snort with laughter, and it's pretty hard to be sad when you are snorting with laughter. David Sedaris' new collection of essays, many of which were first published in the New Yorker, is, as usual, hilarious. Whether he's writing about strangers on a train, the ghoulishness of taxidermy, especially when it involves humans (hard to explain; you'll just have to read it), and the peculiar sociology of a North Carolina Costco-- you can't help but laugh.

$25.00
ISBN-13: 9780812993240
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Spiegel & Grau, 2/2013
This memoir is astounding. Domenica Ruta grows up in working class Massachusetts with a dealer/user mother. The family is subject to wild economic swings, rolling in it one day, having a hard time heating the house the next. Her mother loves her in her own warped way, but to survive Domenica has to get away. This book is about how she did it and it's funny, horrifying and wonderfully written. It'll stay with you. In the end it's about the ability of the written word to make sense -- and art -- of the confounding. If you like Mary Karr, or Geoffrey Wolff, you will love this.

Canada (Paperback)

$15.99
ISBN-13: 9780061692031
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco, 1/2013
You are fifteen years old and your parents decide, on little more than a whim it seems, to rob a bank. Being rank amateurs, they are caught and sent to prison. What do you do? Where do you go? And how does this affect you -- how you think, feel, and remember? These are the questions Richard Ford, author of the Bascombe novels The Sportswriter and Independence Day, asks in Canada. Del, the main character, ends up going north to Canada, where he comes under the tutelage of an American with a violent and shady past. I found this book profoundly moving in its depiction of a child left adrift to forge a life.

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780143122234
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books, 8/2012
This is the time of year when many of us focus on what we want to change about ourselves.  Eat better!  Lose weight!  Exercise more!  Stop Smoking!  Buy more books at local independent bookstores! (ok, ok).  This all takes willpower and few understand how willpower is used, how it's strengthened, and how it gets depleted. Co-authors Baumeister and Tierney have written a readable and useful book about all this, based on a number of fascinating and often counter-intuitive psychological experiments and studies. 


$25.00
ISBN-13: 9781608195510
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury USA, 10/2012
This is, if you'll forgive the expression, a mouthwatering book. Just read a few of the titles: “Ode to Chicken”; “Display of Mackerel”; “Grapefruit”; “The Gospel of Barbecue”; “O Cheese” (a personal favorite); “Frying Trout While Drunk”; and, “Poem with a Cucumber in It”. And it includes the famous poem by William Carlos Williams about plums (and so much more) which you have always meant to memorize....but haven't.

$26.00
ISBN-13: 9780812993806
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House, 1/2013
The New York Times reviewer said that, "George Saunders has written the best book you'll read this year."  A pretty bold prediction for the beginning of January, but he might be right.  Saunders is a clever satirist, but, unlike some, he has a big heart.  Difficult to characterize (you'll just have to read them!) his quirky tales draw you in and the magnificently original writing keeps you reading, even when you don't quite grasp what's going on.  Then when you get to the end of a story, you want to read it all over again, to see what you missed!  And did I mention Saunders is laugh-out-loud funny, reason enough to read any book.  I'm with the New York Times on Tenth of December!

$29.95
ISBN-13: 9781584799634
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 4/2012
Ok, all you bakers, and baker wannabees -- I dare you! Look at page 174...Look at 98...And 77. Now tell me you don't want this book and want to make these desserts? The pictures are fabulous, the directions clear and clever, the ingredient lists obvious. I want to make just about everything. This is the second cookbook (Sugar Baby was the first) by Bullock-Prado, who has a bakery in Vermont and lives in Hartford.

The Yellow Birds (Hardcover)

$24.99
ISBN-13: 9780316219365
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 9/2012
War is never easy to read about, and the Iraq War is certainly no exception. That said, some books about war NEED to be read, and this is one of them. It's the equivalent, in my opinion, of Red Badge of Courage, and All Quiet on the Western Front. Two young men, ages 18 and 21,are engaged in a bloody battle for the city of Al Tafar. The older tries to support the younger, but the boy becomes increasingly unhinged. The novel switches back in forth in time....alternating war scenes and events, with scenes set back in the U.S. after one of the soldiers comes home. All of the book is well done -- war written about by a poet -- but the depiction of the difficulties and the alienation of a soldier who returns home after the harrowing experiences of war, is especially poignant.


Alys, Always (Hardcover)

$24.00
ISBN-13: 9781451673166
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Scribner, 6/2012
Frances Thorpe is one clever girl, but not necessarily in a good way. She happens to come across the aftermath of a bad car accident and comforts a dying woman, the "Alys" of the title. Frances wants to BECOME that woman and she quietly and slowly, but definitely, insinuates herself deep into the dead woman's family. This is a chilling and well-observed character study of a master manipulator.

$29.99
ISBN-13: 9781580083546
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Ten Speed Press, 4/2011
Farro, Bulgur, Kamut, Aramanth, Quinoa, Spelt. They may just look like good Scrabble words, but they are actually delicious whole grains that can serve as the base for any number of mouth-watering dishes, from soups to desserts. Open this book and you will open up a whole new (actually old) world of whole grains.

$15.00
ISBN-13: 9780143121343
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Books, 6/2012
This is the sequel to what Fuller's mother calls "THAT AWFUL BOOK:" Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood. Written ten years after, this is the story of how Fuller's parents settle in Africa. While it's a tale full of wrenching personal tragedy, hard times and war(s), it's also the story of a couple of indomitable spirits, Nicola and Tim Fuller, whose love of Africa carries them through. Fuller doesn't sugarcoat the role of white settlers in Africa, either, so you might learn something. A compelling story.

Mission to Paris (Hardcover)

$27.00
ISBN-13: 9781400069484
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Random House, 6/2012
If the rule for real estate is "location, location, location," then the rule for Alan Furst cloak and dagger novels set before/during WW2 is "atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere," and Mission to Paris has that in spades. The City of Light in the fall, with her swirling leaves and misty nights, is the perfect locale for a thriller involving movie star Fredric Stahl. It's 1938 and he's shooting a movie in the city. Pro-Nazi forces AND the Americans are vying for his support and help. There's intrigue, emigres, bodies, and of course, romance, (This IS Alan Furst, after all), with Paris as the ultimate aphrodisiac. A must read for all old Furst fans and it will surely create new ones.

$26.95
ISBN-13: 9780451234759
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: NAL Hardcover, 4/2012
Washington (and Barnard VT) writer Rachel Cox has written an inspiring, moving tale of five Ivy Leaguers who left their schools to fight the good fight. Frustrated because the U.S. had not entered the war yet -- this was six months before Pearl Harbor -- the five joined the British Army and ended up fighting in North Africa. Cox draws on eloquently written letters (remember those?) and journals for her story, which is artfully and compassionately told. Please read this dramatic tale of war and sacrifice, courage and determination, (which has "movie" written all over it.) You won't be sorry.

$17.00
ISBN-13: 9780684842370
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Scribner, 3/1998
You know you should read more classics. Shoot, that's why they are called classics! You might want to start with (or reread) The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton. Thwarted love, foreign beauties, social-climbing New Yorkers, calculating spouses -- the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel set in "old New York," couldn't be more modern. And it will go down a lot easier than those fish oil capsules you know you should be taking.

The O'Briens (Hardcover)

$25.95
ISBN-13: 9780307379931
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Pantheon, 3/2012
If you like family sagas, replete with passionate marriages, tragically flawed main characters, traumatic historical events, all spanning decades, this is the book for you. Behrens tells the story of the O'Briens, a restless Irish clan led by dark-haired, blue-eyed Joe O'Brien, a boy raised in rural Canada, who becomes a railroad magnate. Irresistible.

$27.00
ISBN-13: 9781400067558
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Random House, 2/2012
I'll be a monkey's uncle if this book doesn't win a Pulitzer. Don't let the subject matter -- life in a Mumbai slum -- deter you. This is a masterpiece of reportage -- Boo spent four years in and out of the slum -- written like a novel. She brilliantly elucidates, with compassion and wisdom, a world hidden to most of us.

$26.00
ISBN-13: 9780812992793
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Random House, 1/2012
When was the last time you read a thriller set in North Korea? Let me guess, how about never? Start with The Orphan Master's Son, an engrossing, fast-paced and well-researched adventure/love story, set in a part of the world most of us know very little about, and that Johnson seems to have down cold.

The Starboard Sea (Hardcover)

$24.99
ISBN-13: 9780312642808
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: St. Martin's Press, 2/2012
For a first novel, The Starboard Sea, is simply amazing. Set at a New England boarding school, it tells of an 18 year old sailing prodigy who's lost his best friend, and how he comes to terms with that loss, and others. He loves the sea and everything to do with it (you'll learn a lot about knots, and wind and waves) and the vocabulary of the ocean and sailing beautifully permeate the whole book.