At the last meeting of the Bring Your Own Book Club, a bunch of librarians and a few patrons chatted about books we’ve all been reading lately. Looks like we’ll be doing it again on July 17th.
Here’s all the books we discussed.
Goodnight Stranger by Miciah Bay Gault
Lydia and Lucas Moore are in their late twenties when a stranger enters their small world on Wolf Island. Lydia, the responsible sister, has cared for her pathologically shy brother, Lucas, ever since their mom’s death a decade before. They live together, comfortable yet confined, in their family house by the sea, shadowed by events from their childhood.
When Lydia sees the stranger step off the ferry, she feels an immediate connection to him. Lucas is convinced the man, Cole Anthony, is the reincarnation of their baby brother, who died when they were young. Cole knows their mannerisms, their home, the topography of the island-what else could that mean? Though Lydia is doubtful, she can’t deny she is drawn to his magnetism, his energy, and his warmth.
To discover the truth about Cole, Lydia must finally face her anxiety about leaving the island and summon the strength to challenge Cole’s grip on her family’s past and her brother. A deliciously alluring read, Goodnight Stranger is a story of choices and regrets, courage and loneliness, and the ways we hold on to those we love.
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So You want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
In So You Want to Talk about Race, Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions listeners don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans. Oluo is an exceptional writer with a rare ability to be straightforward, funny, and effective in her coverage of sensitive, hyper-charged issues in America. Her messages are passionate but finely tuned, and crystallize ideas that would otherwise be vague by empowering them with aha-moment clarity
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The Guest List by Lucy Foley
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
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Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson
In the long out-of-print sequel to Life Among the Savages, Jackson’s four children have grown from savages into full-fledged demons. After bursting the seams of their first house, Jackson’s clan moves into a larger home. Of course, the chaos simply moves with them. A confrontation with the IRS, Little League, trumpet lessons, and enough clutter to bury her alive—Jackson spins them all into an indelible reminder that every bit as thrilling as a murderous family in a haunted house is a happy family in a new home.
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The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law offers “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. A groundbreaking, “virtually indispensable” study that has already transformed our understanding of twentieth-century urban history.
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Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn’t really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn’t mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She’s tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.
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Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
Literally meaning “heart”, the Japanese word “kokoro” can be more distinctly translated as “the heart of things” or “feeling.” Natsume Soseki’s 1914 novel, which was originally published in serial format in a Japanese newspaper, “Kokoro” deals with the transition from the Japanese Meiji society to the modern era. Divided into three parts “Sensei and I,” “My Parents and I,” and “Sensei and His Testament,” the novel explores the themes of loneliness and isolation. In the first part we find the narrator attending university where he befriends an older man, known only as “Sensei,” who lives a largely reclusive life. In the second part of the novel the narrator graduates from college and returns home to await the death of his father. The third part of the novel recounts a letter that the narrator receives from the “Sensei,” which describes the circumstances that caused his loss of faith in humanity and the guilt he feels over the death of a childhood friend which drives him to the reclusive life that he has led.
Another Country by James Baldwin
Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country tells the story of the suicide of jazz musician Rufus Scott and the friends who search for an understanding of his life and death, discovering uncomfortable truths about themselves along the way. It is a novel of passions-sexual, racial, political, artistic-that is stunning for its emotional intensity and haunting sensuality, depicting men and women, blacks and whites, stripped of their masks of gender and race by love and hatred at the most elemental and sublime. In a small set of friends, Baldwin imbues the best and worst intentions of liberal America in the 1950s.
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Kitchen of Light by Andreas Viestad
This charming and personal exploration of Scandinavian food and culture from one of public television’s most charismatic cooks engages readers with personal anecdotes and flavorful recipes. Andreas shows the best way to cure gravlaks, make butter, prepare a poached salmon feast, and flambé a pork tenderloin with Scandinavia’s favorite spirit aquavit. He shares his passion for traditional recipes such as Pork Rib Roast with Cloves, Mashed Rutabaga, and Norwegian Pancakes filled with berries. In Kitchen of Light readers are transported to Viestad’s Norway – fishing for cod, halibut, and salmon; gathering chanterelles, porcini, and wild berries. More than 100 recipes emphasize fresh, simple ingredients in delicious and elegant dishes such as Pepper-Grilled Oysters and Scallops and Roast Dill-Scented Chicken with Leeks and Potatoes. This inspired cookbook, a companion to the public television series New Scandinavian Cooking, is perfect for home cooks, armchair travelers, cultural food enthusiasts, and anyone who yearns for the simple life.
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A Dark and Stormy Night by Kerrigan Byrne
Sir Carlton Morley is famously possessed of extraordinary will, singular focus, and a merciless sense of justice. As a man, he secured his fortune and his preeminence as Scotland Yard’s ruthless Chief Inspector. As a decorated soldier, he was legend for his unflinching trigger finger, his precision in battle, and his imperturbable strength. But as a boy, he was someone else. A twin, a thief, and a murderer, until tragedy reshaped him.
Now he stalks the night, in search of redemption and retribution, vowing to never give into temptation, as it’s just another form of weakness.
Twisted Threads by Lea Wait
After leaving a decade ago, Angie has been called back to Harbor Haven by her grandmother, Charlotte, who raised her following her mother’s disappearance when she was a child. Her mother has been found, and now the question of her whereabouts has sadly become the mystery of her murder.
The bright spot in Angie’s homecoming is reuniting with Charlotte, who has started her own needlepointing business with a group called Mainely Needlepointers. But when a shady business associate of the stitchers dies suddenly under suspicious circumstances, Charlotte and Angie become suspects. As Angie starts to weave together clues, she discovers that this new murder may have ties to her own mother’s cold case.
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Raven Black by Anne Cleeves
It is a cold January morning and Shetland lies beneath a deep layer of snow. Trudging home, Fran Hunter’s eye is drawn to a splash of color on the frozen ground, ravens circling above. It is the strangled body of her teenage neighbor, Catherine Ross. The locals on the quiet island stubbornly focus their gaze on one man—loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But when detective Jimmy Perez and his colleagues from the mainland insist on opening out the investigation, a veil of suspicion and fear is thrown over the entire community. For the first time in years, Catherine’s neighbors nervously lock their doors, while a killer lives on in their midst.
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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, must exonerate her father of murder. Armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together and examine new suspects, she begins a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself.
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The Two Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman
Brooklyn, 1947: In the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born, minutes apart. The mothers are sisters by marriage: dutiful, quiet Rose, who wants nothing more than to please her difficult husband; and warm, generous Helen, the exhausted mother of four rambunctious boys who seem to need her less and less each day. Raising their families side by side, supporting one another, Rose and Helen share an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic winter night.
When the storm passes, life seems to return to normal; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and the once deep friendship between the two women begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it.
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Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Toby Fleishman thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost fifteen years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that one day, in the middle of his summer of sexual emancipation, Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return. He had been working so hard to find equilibrium in his single life. The winds of his optimism, long dormant, had finally begun to pick up. Now this.
As Toby tries to figure out where Rachel went, all while juggling his patients at the hospital, his never-ending parental duties, and his new app-assisted sexual popularity, his tidy narrative of the spurned husband with the too-ambitious wife is his sole consolation. But if Toby ever wants to truly understand what happened to Rachel and what happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen things all that clearly in the first place.
Serendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh
When Toby breathes on Mama Inez’s bird-shaped invitations, giving them the power to fly, plans for the Serendipity Market begin. Soon, eleven honored guests travel from afar and make their way to the storytellers’ tent to share their stories. Each tale proves what Mama Inez knows-that magic is everywhere. Sometimes it shows itself subtly-a ray of sun glinting on a gold coin, or a girl picking a rose without getting pricked by the thorn-and sometimes it makes itself known with trumpets and fireworks. But when real magic is combined with the magic of storytelling, it can change the world. This is a breathtaking debut novel written with elegance and grace.
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The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
Imagine that your husband has two other wives. You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.
But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.
You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.
Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life? And who is his mysterious third wife?Book | eBook | Audiobook CD