Elaine and Luisa's Picks: January - February 2019

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The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific with a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing Way of Life By Doug Bock Clark Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780316390620
Published: Little, Brown and Company - January 8th, 2019

A good book can open your eyes to a world you never knew existed; a great book will make you care about those that inhabit that world. The Last Whalers is just such a book, inviting us into the lives of one of the last whaling tribes in existence as they struggle to hold onto the values of their past while the present beckons the imagination of the younger generations. Gripping hunting scenes, tender family moments, conflicts as family members choose between tradition and hope, Doug Bock Clark’s clean prose brings each of these moments to life and gives voice to this singular community.  —Luisa

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At the Wolf's Table: A Novel By Rosella Postorino, Leah Janeczko (Translated by) Cover Image
By Rosella Postorino, Leah Janeczko (Translated by)
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ISBN: 9781250179142
Published: Flatiron Books - January 29th, 2019

Rosa, a young woman in 1943 Germany, flees to avoid the war. But the SS comes for her and she is forced to be one of 10 women who taste Hitler’s food. Required to eat food that might kill them, the women divide into factions. Some are outspoken fanatics who adore Hitler. Rosa insists she isn’t a Nazi in spite of the fact that she risks her life at every meal. As it becomes obvious that the Allies will prevail, Rosa realizes that everyone she knows is on the wrong side of history. Although Rostorino’s books are international best sellers, this is the first of her novels to be translated into English.  —Elaine

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Hark By Sam Lipsyte Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781501146060
Published: Simon & Schuster - January 15th, 2019

Are you ready to read a novel that makes hilarious fun of mindfulness? Hark, a failed comic, wrote a book which starts a craze for “Mental Archery.” If you don’t know what “Mental Archery” is, you aren’t alone. It seems to combine free association, odd aphorisms, faux yoga, and something Hark calls “worldwide focus.” Harks followers include the naïve, the crooked, the ambitious, and the power hungry. When a tech guy decides to monetize Mental Archery, what could go wrong? This book is spot on, unnerving, and wildly funny. You can’t give Hark to just anybody. It will make some people fall into uncontrollable laughter while others may hate you for it.  —Elaine

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The Far Field By Madhuri Vijay Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802128409
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - January 15th, 2019

The Far Field is a story as expansive, alluring, and complex as the land of its setting, India. Here we find Shalini, struggling with the death of her mother, leading her on a journey to resolve her past while also hoping it will direct her towards a possible future. Staggering beauty and dangerous terrain are explored as she experiences incredible generosity as well as judgment and hostility amongst both strangers and friends. Madhuri Vijay’s beautiful prose highlights the humanity of her characters, allowing us to feel part of this intriguing tale of family, politics, and grace.  —Luisa

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In My Mind's Eye: A Thought Diary By Jan Morris Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781631495366
Published: Liveright - January 1st, 2019

Get a cup of tea and a biscuit, and pull up a chair as you peek into a diary of esteemed historian, travel writer, and delightfully opinionated nonagenarian, Jan Morris. In even the briefest entries, you’ll find great depth. She tells us of her beloved partner, Elizabeth, her grandchildren, her home in Wales, and the current state of the world. Don’t miss her take on Brexit. She doesn’t spend much energy on old age. She’s glad to still be around. On the other hand she doesn’t sugarcoat the facts. Some entries are poetic and philosophical while others are wickedly funny. All are right on point. You’ll soon find time has flown as you’ve been having tea with the gentle yet grand Jan Morris.  —Elaine

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The Weight of a Piano: A novel By Chris Cander Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780525654674
Published: Knopf - January 22nd, 2019

Both delicately rendered and powerfully emotive, The Weight of a Piano tells the story of grief, love, and healing. From the forests of Romania to the deserts of California, we follow the story of a piano as it impacts the people who grow to care for it, or have its care thrust upon them. Clara impulsively puts the piano—that last link to her deceased parents—up for sale. Instantly regretting it, she becomes entangled with Greg, a young man struggling with a grief of his own, hoping to find solace through the same piano. Chris Cander eloquently examines the questions of loss and love.  —Luisa

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The Current: A Novel By Tim Johnston Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616206772
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Algonquin Books - January 22nd, 2019

The unsettled atmosphere, layers of mystery, and cast of believably complex characters make Tim Johnston’s latest novel an outstanding achievement. Audrey is plunged into a mystery of the past after her own life has taken a tragic turn. Soon she discovers that the passage of time moves differently for those who have experienced great loss. As she attempts to unearth the secrets of her small town, and her possibly dangerous connection to them, she also must struggle to come to peace with the pain in her own life. The Current is both a beautifully executed mystery and a tender portrait of how a community can heal.  —Luisa

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Bowlaway: A Novel By Elizabeth McCracken Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062862853
Published: Ecco - February 5th, 2019

Bowlaway is an unconventional family saga, full of surprises and secrets, all vividly recounted in a striking story of a stranger who forever changes a small New England town and the inhabitants within. Bertha first appears in the Salford Cemetery with a small wooden ball, candlepin, and no answers to her past. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to Bertha than meets the eye, and perhaps her influence extends beyond the laws of this world. Elizabeth McCracken packs more life into her sentences than many authors pack into their whole books. The result is a wonderfully vibrant cast of characters and a story that reminds us of the magic of love.  —Luisa

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The Silent Patient By Alex Michaelides Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250301697
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Celadon Books - February 5th, 2019

The Silent Patient is an outstanding thriller centered on a spellbinding mystery with a shocking twist; in other words, you are going to love this book. Alicia was a talented painter and devoted wife until the night she was discovered still as a statue and covered in blood, apparently having killed her husband. The answer as to why has remained locked inside of Alicia, who became mute following the murder. Six years later Theo, a young psychologist, is determined to get the mysterious Alicia to spill all of her secrets.The final surprise will have you rethinking every riveting scene in this brilliant debut.  —Luisa

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To Keep the Sun Alive: A Novel By Rabeah Ghaffari Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781948226097
Published: Catapult - January 15th, 2019

Casting us back to a turning point in Iranian history, To Keep the Sun Alive beautifully renders a world of contrasts. When Bibi’s family gathers for lunch there are many world views both around the table and hidden from view. Acceptance and fundamentalism, romance and tradition, love and violence are all present, daring her to try to keep the peace amongst such passionate advocates. Bibi’s husband is the voice of moderation, while his brother is a fundamentalist mullah, and the weight of their choices has devastating repercussions. Rabeah Ghaffari’s impressive debut will leave you reeling, for as more is revealed, and the deadly conflict finally arrives, the impact of what was lost during the revolution becomes palpable.  —Luisa

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Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love By Dani Shapiro Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781524732714
Published: Knopf - January 15th, 2019

Esteemed memoirist and novelist Dana Shapiro learned a shocking secret about herself. As a child, Dani noticed that she was blond and blue eyed while the rest of her family of New Jersey Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews had dark hair and eyes. When she was 54, a DNA test revealed that her father was not her biological father. With the support of her husband and son, Shapiro began a quest to unravel the secrets of her parentage. She discovered that a doctor from Portland was the sperm donor. How do you react when you learn that everything your parents told you about who you are turns out to be untrue? Read this fascinating book before you send off your own DNA.  —Elaine

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Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out By Jason Rezaian Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062691576
Published: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco - January 22nd, 2019

Jason Rezaian grew up in Marin County where his his parents were highly respected members of the community. In 2014, when Jason was the Tehran Bureau Chief for the Washington Post, Jason and his wife, journalist Yeganeh Saleh, were arrested (or, you might say, abducted) by Iranian authorities. Yeganeh was released, but Jason was imprisoned for almost 2 years. The subtitle on the book jacket tells the grim story: “Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out.” At a time when journalists are threatened both verbally and physically in so many countries, Jason Rezaian’s story is crucially important. Thanks to the constant work of friends and family, Secretary of State, John Kerry finally was able to negotiate Jason’s release as part of the nuclear treaty.  —Elaine