Staff Selections

Kathleen

The Nix
Nathan Hill

The Nix is an historical novel of the 1960's hippies' protests at the Democratic Convention and a modern day commentary on politics, gaming, and the publishing industry.  The characters are funny and flawed and surprising, and this smart book has everything. It is a long book that is worth every page.

Liz

A Little Life
Hanya Yanagihara

This novel shattered me. At first, the story seems to be about four young men, college friends, building their adult lives in New York City. But the narrative ultimately settles on one of the men, Jude, slowly revealing the extraordinary brutality of his childhood, the physical and psychological scars of which shape the rest of his life. Yanagihara is unflinching in her exploration of the terrible violence visited upon Jude, but almost more startling is how boldly, how hopefully, she writes of love. This is not a heart-warming book, but it’s a full-hearted one. You’ll think and worry about these characters long after you finish reading, as if they were real people you once knew.

Mary

The Story of Land and Sea
Katy Simpson Smith

Experience life in remote coastal North Carolina from the perspective a ten-year-old colonial girl, the slave girl who was given to her as a birthday present, her independent, spontaneous mother, her soldier-sailor-shopkeeper-frontiersman father, and her plantation-building grandparents.  Katy Simpson Smith’s novel is written in crystal clear prose, with telling details that put you there, and observations about human life in general that ring true.  Smith demonstrates her characters’ great hopes and meager stakes, their struggle with faith, and the poison of slavery in the New World.

Paul

Bottomland
Michelle Hoover

Michelle Hoover who wowed Prairie Lights’ audience, reading from her first book, The Quickening, now has a second book.  It’s called Bottomland and, like her first, deals with rural culture in Iowa in the early 20th Century.  This book is more of a thriller than The Quickening, involving a Germ, as always, well researched with characters formed by the dark circumstances of their lives.  She’ll be reading the end of April, a reading all lovers of Willa Cather and the great mid-western writers will not want to miss.

Terry

The Library at Mount Char
Scott Hawkins

I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish this. It’s a hard one to categorize. By turns profoundly disturbing and hilarious and thought provoking, it’s one the most original books I’ve read in awhile.

Tim

The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins

Which of us has not noticed the same people every day of our lives and, not knowing anything of their real circumstances, created an imaginary narrative around them to satisfy our own fantasies?  This is certainly the case of Rachel, our protagonist, who sees a couple on their terrace every morning on her commute to work, and builds her own biography of their lives.  When the woman goes missing and is the subject of endless media reports, Rachel feels she knows this woman and tries to help the police with their investigation.  This intriguing premise is the springboard of Ms. Hawkins' fascinating suburban thriller -- a tale told by three women:  Rachel, an alcoholic; Megan, the missing woman; and Anna, who remarried Rachel's husband, Tom, after their divorce.  All three narrators are unreliable, wearing the blinders of their addictions, dissatisfactions, and jealousies.  Full of red herrings, flashes of revelations, and plenty of twists and turns, this is a splendid mystery populated with fascinating characters.  Enjoy!

Deb

Home Made Winter
Yvette Van Boven

Perfect book for the upcoming frigid season: Beautiful photos and delicious recipes - a cookbook lover's must.