Join us on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:00pm
Books Inc. in Laurel Village
3515 California St
June 2017 Selection: Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city's Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes (they are generally restricted to indoor subjects), a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the image of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it.
New York City, 1957: The only known surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of a wealthy Manhattan lawyer, Marty de Groot, a descendant of the original owner. It is a beautiful but comfortless landscape. The lawyer's marriage is prominent but comfortless, too. When a struggling art history grad student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer, she finds herself entangled with its owner in ways no one could predict.
Sydney, 2000: Now a celebrated art historian and curator, Ellie Shipley is mounting an exhibition in her field of specialization: female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. When it becomes apparent that both the original At the Edge of a Wood and her forgery are en route to her museum, the life she has carefully constructed threatens to unravel entirely and irrevocably.
May 2017 Selection: On an unseasonably warm spring day in 1924, twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild, a maid at an English country house, meets with her secret lover, the young heir of a neighboring estate. He is about to be married to a woman more befitting his social status, and the time has come to end the affair--but events unfold in ways Jane could never have predicted.
As the narrative moves back and forth across the twentieth century, what we know and understand about Jane--about the way she loves, thinks, feels, sees, and remembers--expands with every page. InMothering Sunday, Booker Prize-winning novelist Graham Swift has crafted an emotionally soaring and profoundly moving work of fiction.
April 2017 Selection: A young woman who has left the South, returns to New Orleans several years later when her father is dying. After his death, she and her young stepmother go back to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Alone in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past and herself.
March 2017 Selection: The Portable Veblen is a dazzlingly original novel that s as big-hearted as it is laugh-out-loud funny. Set in and around Palo Alto, amid the culture clash of new money and old (antiestablishment) values, and with the specter of our current wars looming across its pages, The Portable Veblen is an unforgettable look at the way we live now. A young couple on the brink of marriage the charming Veblen and her fiance Paul, a brilliant neurologist find their engagement in danger of collapse. Along the way they weather everything from each other s dysfunctional families, to the attentions of a seductive pharmaceutical heiress, to an intimate tete-a-tete with a very charismatic squirrel.
Veblen (named after the iconoclastic economist Thorstein Veblen, who coined the term conspicuous consumption ) is one of the most refreshing heroines in recent fiction. Not quite liberated from the burdens of her hypochondriac, narcissistic mother and her institutionalized father, Veblen is an amateur translator and freelance self; in other words, she s adrift. Meanwhile, Paul the product of good hippies who were bad parents finds his ambition soaring. His medical research has led to the development of a device to help minimize battlefield brain trauma an invention that gets him swept up in a high-stakes deal with the Department of Defense, a Bizarro World that McKenzie satirizes with granular specificity.
As Paul is swept up by the promise of fame and fortune, Veblen heroically keeps the peace between all the damaged parties involved in their upcoming wedding, until she finds herself falling for someone or something else. Throughout, Elizabeth McKenzie asks: Where do our families end and we begin? How do we stay true to our ideals? And what is that squirrelreallythinking? Replete with deadpan photos and sly appendices, The Portable Veblenis at once an honest inquiry into what we look for in love and an electrifying reading experience.
February 2017 Selection: The instant New York Times bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald's story of adopting and raising one of nature's most vicious predators has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel's temperament mirrors Helen's own state of grief after her father's death, and together raptor and human "discover the pain and beauty of being alive" ( People). H Is for Hawk is a genre-defying debut from one of our most unique and transcendent voices.
January 2017 Selection: Why are books so very powerful? What do the books we ve read over our lives our own personal libraries make of us? What does the unraveling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us?
The stories in Ali Smith s new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make.
Woven between the stories are conversations with writers and readers reflecting on the essential role that libraries have played in their lives. At a time when public libraries around the world face threats of cuts and closures, this collection stands as a work of literary activism and as a wonderful read from one of our finest authors
November 2016 Selection: "Kitchens of the Great Midwest, "about a young woman with a once-in-a-generation palate who becomes the iconic chef behind the country s most coveted dinner reservation, is the summer s most hotly anticipated debut.
When Lars Thorvald s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine and a dashing sommelier he s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter starting with pureed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that s a testament to her spirit and resilience.
Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.
October 2016 Selection: This enthralling novel is based on the life of one of the world's greatest aviators, the glamorous and daring Jean Batten.
After breaking records and becoming an international icon in the 1930s, she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and eventually dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper's grave.
Fiona Kidman is a Dame and an OBE for her services to New Zealand literature."
September 2016 Selection: In "The Summer Book" Tove Jansson distills the essence of the summer its sunlight and storms into twenty-two crystalline vignettes. This brief novel tells the story of Sophia, a six-year-old girl awakening to existence, and Sophia s grandmother, nearing the end of hers, as they spend the summer on a tiny unspoiled island in the Gulf of Finland. The grandmother is unsentimental and wise, if a little cranky; Sophia is impetuous and volatile, but she tends to her grandmother with the care of a new parent. Together they amble over coastline and forest in easy companionship, build boats from bark, create a miniature Venice, write a fanciful study of local bugs. They discuss things that matter to young and old alike: life, death, the nature of God and of love. On an island, thinks the grandmother, everything is complete. In "The Summer Book," Jansson creates her own complete world, full of the varied joys and sorrows of life.
August 2016 Selection: Meet Florence Gordon, a blunt, brilliant feminist. At seventy-five, Florence wants to be left alone to write her memoir and shape her legacy. But when her son and his family come to visit, they embroil Florence in their dramas, threatening her coveted solitude. Marked with searing wit, sophisticated intelligence, and a tender respect for humanity, "Florence Gordon"is cast with a constellation of unforgettable characters.
June 2016 Selection: Hailed as "an utter delight, the most brilliant witty and charming book I have read since I can't remember when" by "The New York Times" when it was originally published in 1956, Rose Macaulay's "The Towers of Trebizond" tells the gleefully absurd story of Aunt Dot, Father Chantry-Pigg, Aunt Dot's deranged camel, and our narrator, Laurie, who are traveling from Istanbul to legendary Trebizond on a convoluted mission. Along the way they will encounter spies, a Greek sorcerer, a precocious ape, and Billy Graham with a busload of evangelists. Part travelogue, part comedy, it is also a meditation on love, faith, doubt, and the difficulties, moral and intellectual, of being a Christian in the modern world.
May 2016 Selection In 1960s Virginia, college freshman and ingenue Peggy falls for professor and poet Lee, and what begins as an ill-advised affair results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. Mismatched from the start she s a lesbian; he s gay Peggy eventually finds herself in crisis and runs away with their daughter, leaving their son behind.
Estranged from the rest of the family, Peggy and her daughter adopt African-American identities and live in near poverty to escape detection. Meanwhile, Lee and his son carry on, enjoying all the social privileges their gender, class, and whiteness afford them. Eventually the long-lost siblings meet, setting off a series of misunderstandings that culminate in a darkly comedic finale.
With an arch sense of humor and a witty satirical eye, Nell Zink upends the foundational categories of American life race, class, gender, and sexuality in a novel that is at once daring, envelope-pushing, and utterly hilarious, all the while tracing how a mother, daughter, father, and son figure out what it means to belong.
April 2016 Selection: London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.
Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf s book review has just been turned down by "The" "Times." Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.
But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.
March 2016 Selection: A highly praised debut novel of psychological suspense about a daring art heist, a cat-and-mouse waiting game, and a small-town girl's mesmerizing transformation.
On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, and resets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she's from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. In truth, home is Garland, Tennessee, where two young men have just been paroled. Both were jailed for a crime that Grace planned.The heist went bad but not before she was on a plane to Prague, contraband in her bag. As Grace's web of deception unravels, she begins a cat-and-mouse game that echoes the best of Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith and is sure to appeal to fans of "The Girl on the Train.""
February 2016 Selection: Diana Athill is one of the great editors in British publishing. For more than five decades she edited the likes of V. S. Naipaul and Jean Rhys, for whom she was a confidante and caretaker. As a writer, Athill has made her reputation for the frankness and precisely expressed wisdom of her memoirs. Now in her ninety-first year, "entirely untamed about both old and new conventions"(Literary Review) and freed from any of the inhibitions that even she may have once had, Athill reflects candidly, and sometimes with great humor, on the condition of being old the losses and occasionally the gains that age brings, the wisdom and fortitude required to face death. Distinguished by "remarkable intelligence...[and the] easy elegance of her prose" (Daily Telegraph), this short, well-crafted book, hailed as "a virtuoso exercise" (Sunday Telegraph) presents an inspiring work for those hoping to flourish in their later years. "
January 2016 Selection: A teenage girl encounters the shocks of first love at the height of the summer holidays in Greece. A young filmmaker celebrates her first moment of recognition by impulsively buying a Chanel dress she can barely afford. Both halves of a longstanding couple fall in love with others and shed their marriage in the space of a morning. In all of these sparkling stories, characters take risks, confront fears, and step outside their boundaries into new destinies.
Tracing the contours of the modern Italian diaspora, Francesca Marciano takes us from Venetian film festivals to the islands off Tanzania to a classical dance community in southern India. These stories shine with keen insights and surprising twists. Driven by Marciano s vivid takes on love and betrayal, politics and travel, and the awakenings of childhood, "The Other Language" is a tour de force that illuminates both the joys and ironies of self-reinvention.e talent.
November 2015 Selection: From the prizewinning author of"Mr. Fox," the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty the opposite of the life she s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy s daughter, Bird, exposes the Whitman family secret. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.
Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving," Boy, Snow, Bird"is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.
October 2015 Selection:
Luke is a young playwright--intense, magnetic, and eager for life. He escapes a disastrous upbringing in the northeast and, arriving in London, meets Paul Driscoll, an aspiring producer, and the beautiful, fiery Leigh Radley, the woman Paul loves.
The three set up a radical theater company, living and working together, forging a romantic connection in candlelit rehearsal rooms during power cuts and smoky late-night parties in Chelsea's run-down flats. The gritty rebellion of pub theater is fighting for its place against a West End dominated by racy revue shows and the giants of twentieth-century drama.
Nina Jacobs is a fragile actress, bullied by her mother and in thrall to a controlling producer. When Luke meets Nina, he recognizes a soul in danger--but how much must he risk to save her?
Everything he has fought for--loyalty, friendship, art--is drawn into the heat of their collision. Now everything Luke values, even the promise of the future, is in danger. Suddenly the fallout threatens to be immense.
September 2015 Selection: ONE OF THE10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR - "THE""NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"A Best Book of the Year: "The New Yorker," "The Boston Globe," "Minneapolis Star Tribun"e, "Vogue."com, "Electric Literature," "Buzzfeed"
In the beginning, it was easy to imagine their future. They were young and giddy, sure of themselves and of their love for each other. Dept. of Speculation was their code name for all the thrilling uncertainties that lay ahead. Then they got married, had a child and navigated the familiar calamities of family life a colicky baby, a faltering relationship, stalled ambitions.
When their marriage reaches a sudden breaking point, the wife tries to retrace the steps that have led them to this place, invoking everything from Kafka to the Stoics to doomed Russian cosmonauts as she analyzes what is lost and what remains. In language that shimmers with rage and longing and wit, Offill has created a brilliantly suspenseful love story a novel to read in one sitting, even as its piercing meditations linger long after the last page."
August 2015 Selection: After fifteen years working in East Africa, Frankie Rowley returns to the New Hampshire village where her family has always spent their summers. But the tranquility she s expecting proves short lived when, on the very night she arrives, a mysterious arsonist begins targeting the homes of other summer residents. As this seemingly idyllic community becomes increasingly on edge, Frankie also has to deal with her father s declining health and begins a passionate affair with the editor of a local paper that will yield its own remarkable risks and revelations. Suspenseful, sophisticated, and finely wrought, "The Arsonist" is an artfully nuanced and deeply emotional novel about a family and a community tested, about how and where one ought to live, and about what it means to lead a fulfilling life."
July 2015 Selection: A New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize
Winner of the 2014 New England Book Award for Fiction
A Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
A Best Book of the Year for:
"New York Times Book Review," "Time," NPR, "Washington Post," "Entertainment Weekly," "Newsday," "Vogue," "New York Magazine," "Seattle Times," "San Francisco Chronicle," "Wall Street Journal," "Boston Globe," "The Guardian," "Kirkus Reviews," Amazon, "Publishers Weekly," Our Man in Boston, Oprah.com, Salon
"Euphoria" 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, "Euphoria" is "dazzling ... suspenseful ... brilliant...an exhilarating novel. "Boston Globe"
June 2015 Selection: Winner of the Booker Prize
On the Battersea Reach of the Thames, a mixed bag of the slightly disreputable, the temporarily lost, and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the great river s tides. Belonging to neither land nor sea, they cling to one another in a motley yet kindly society. There is Maurice, by occupation a male prostitute, by happenstance a receiver of stolen goods. And Richard, a buttoned-up ex-navy man whose boat dominates the Reach. Then there is Nenna, a faithful but abandoned wife, the diffident mother of two young girls running wild on the waterfront streets.
It is Nenna s domestic predicament that, as it deepens, draws the relations among this scrubby community together into ever more complex and comic patterns. The result is one of Fitzgerald s greatest triumphs, a novel the Booker judges deemed flawless.
A marvelous achievement: strong, supple, humane, ripe, generous, and graceful. "Sunday Times"
May 2015 Selection: For years Joan has been trying to forget her past, to find peace and satisfaction in her role as wife and mother. Few in her drowsy California suburb know her thrilling history: as a young American ballerina in Paris, she fell into a doomed, passionate romance with Soviet dance superstar Arslan Rusakov. After playing a leading role in his celebrated defection, Joan bowed out of the spotlight for good, heartbroken by Arslan and humbled by her own modest career.
But when her son turns out to be a ballet prodigy, Joan is pulled back into a world she thought she'd left behind--a world of dangerous secrets, of Arslan, and of longing for what will always be just out of reach.
March 2015 Selection:
One of "The""New York Times"'s Ten Best Books of the Year
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
An NPR "Great Reads" Book, a "Chicago Tribune" Best Book, a "Washington Post "Notable Book, a "Seattle Times "Best Book, an "Entertainment Weekly" Top Fiction Book, a "Newsday "Top 10 Book, and a "Goodreads "Best of the Year pick.
A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of "Half of a Yellow Sun."
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion--for each other and for their homeland.
February 2015 Selection: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014
Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award
One of the "New York Times Book Review's "100 Notable Books of 2013 and named by "The Christian Science Monitor "as one of the top 15 works of fiction
The "New York Times" bestselling author of "The Jane Austen Book Club" introduces a middle-class American family, ordinary in every way but one.
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I was raised with a chimpanzee," she explains. "I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren't thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern's expulsion ... she was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half and I loved her as a sister." As a child, Rosemary never stopped talking. Then, something happened, and Rosemary wrapped herself in silence.
In "We Are All Completely beside Ourselves, " Karen Joy Fowler weaves her most accomplished work to date--a tale of loving but fallible people whose well-intentioned actions lead to heartbreaking consequences.
January 2015 Selection: From one of our most accomplished and widely admired historians--a revelatory portrait of Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister, Jane, whose obscurity and poverty were matched only by her brother's fame and wealth but who, like him, was a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator.
November 2014 Selection: This classic collection--now revised and expanded--is the perfect introduction to Nobel Laureate Alice Munro's brilliant, revelatory short stories, in which she unfolds the wordless secrets that lie at the center of human experience.
The stories in this volume span Munro's career: The title stories from her collections "The Moons of Jupiter; The Progress of Love; "and "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage; "Differently," "from "Friend of My Youth; "Carried Away," "from "Open Secrets; "and (new to this edition) ""In Sight of the Lake," "from "Dear Life. Vintage Munro "also includes the text of the Nobel Prize Presentation Speech, given by Peter Englund, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy.