Reviews & Recommendations
Written in 1970, this was Morrison's first published novel. The story of Pecola Breedlove, an eleven-year-old black girl, who yearns for blue eyes and blonde hair and knows that if only...that would change everything. This book is pure poetry and a wonderful glimpse into the early writing and storytelling of the great Toni Morrison.
Great middle reader for the 10-12 year old set. Just how much trouble can two boys get into over the course of a summer on a farm ... ever tried peeing on an electric fence? Or putting the washing machine motor on a bike and having to constantly be on the lookout for Ernie the crazy rooster? Try this.
In the mood for a quiet, well-written, lovely story? This is a gem. A renowned mathematics professor who, after a horrible car accident, can only remember the last eighty minutes, his housekeeper, a single mother and her son create a lovely triangle where each gives and receives in return.
A remarkable novel about family, marriage, race, adultery, and class. A modern day Howards End, written in 2005, but relevant and formative to today's social justice and generational issues. A clash of the personal and political in a novel that is just a joy to read, and one that eases you into the message. Zadie Smith is a master writer.
Lansing’s version of Ernest Shakleton’s 1914 expedition to Antarctica is a masterful must read for anyone who seeks adventure or just wants to dream about it. Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance became icebound, miles short of their Antarctic destination. The crew lived aboard the icebound ship for the next ten months. Eventually, the ship was crushed between ice flows and the crew of 27 realized they would have to attempt the 850 mile journey toward the small island of South Georgia. The diaries and photographs that the crew kept during this time are astonishing. An excellent book on leadership.
One of Bryson’s first travel books and still one of his best. In Lost Continent, Bryson travels through the small towns of middle America. With the outsiders eye and keen wit, Bryson will make you laugh out loud at our country. At the same time will make you want to get in the car and head out on your own adventure. Written in 1987, this was a timely book to revisit because it brought a renewed appreciation for those places in the U.S. that feel alien in this day and age.
The first of nine novels about the residents of Barbary Lane. This is a classic, but one that I felt the need to revisit in 2020 as we all began to localize a bit more on our streets and in our neighborhoods. I would have love to invite all these characters to an evening party—instead, Maupin invited me to theirs.
As great a storyteller as Ann Patchett is, I believe she's at her best when writing non-fiction (another type of fiction, one could argue). This is the story of her friendship with the immensely talented Lucy Grealy, whom she became friends with at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Friends for over twenty years, sometimes with great spans of time between, a story of love, friendship, hardship, and tragedy, with the understanding that we cannot always save those whom we love. An excellent book pairing with Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face.
The first in a trilogy about a Igbo community in Nigeria over three decades. The first novel tells the story of Okonkwo, the leader of the community who is banished, and the ensuing changes before he returns seven years later—when colonialism and white missionaries have taken root within the tribe. This was one of my first forays into the writers who brought to light the cultural destruction sweeping across Africa in the late 1800s and the repercussions being lived today.
This is my all-time favorite go-to recommendation for the youngest of readers. It's the best bedtime story I know—a small child finally gets their turn to go owling late at night with their father on a snowy quiet night in the woods. This is a story filled with smells, sounds, cold, and quiet as it leads up the magical moment of the main character's entrance.
This is a spectacular read aloud for the four to seven-year-olds in your life. The fantastic adventures of Elmer Elevator, a young boy who hears of an overworked and underappreciated flying dragon. Elmer stows away on a boat to Wild Island where he encounters and foils obstacles and wild beasts in his quest to find Boris. Elmer's adventures are part of a trilogy all compiled in one volume, but they may be purchased individually as well.
Most famously known for directing The Graduate, Nichol's cannon of films is prolific, but his life story is even more amazing. He is remembered with those who worked with him as an extremely talented individual, who learned over time to work with and get to know his actors and crew in order to get the best out of them. He had as many successes as he did failures, both which make amazing reads. As I read this book, I watched and rewatched so many of Nichol's films and saw them in a new light.