The Language of Flowers,Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.
The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman -- see this entry under Kerry's list below
- 2009 Newbery Medal Winner
- 2009 Hugo Award Winner for Best Novel
- 2010 Carnegie Medal Winner
In this Newbery Medal-winning novel, Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are being such as ghouls that aren't really one thing or the other.
Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another.
In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Her husband is two centuries away, she is related to her lover's mortal enemy, and her neighbors think she's a witch. In this unforgettable novel of time travel, Diana Gabaldon fuses wry, modern sensibility with the drama, passion, and violence of eighteenth century as she tells the story of one daring woman and the man who loves her.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Tom Franklin
- Winner of the 2011 CWA Gold Dagger Award
- Edgar Award nominee
In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged. More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other "friend" to confront a past they've buried for decades.
- 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature
- School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
- Booklist Editors' Choice
Before The Hunger Games there was Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a true classic. The classic tale of a group of English school boys who are left stranded on an unpopulated island, and who must confront not only the defects of their society but the defects of their own natures.
The 1987 Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
From August Wilson, author of The Piano Lesson and the 1984-85 Broadway season's best play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, is another powerful, stunning dramatic work that has won him numerous critical acclaim including the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize. The protagonist of Fences (part of Wilson’s ten-part “Pittsburgh Cycle” plays), Troy Maxson, is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s... a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can...a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less…
At ten years old, Kim Thúy fled Vietnam on a boat with her family, leaving behind a grand house and the many less tangible riches of their home country: the ponds of lotus blossoms, the songs of soup-vendors. The family arrived in Quebec, where they found clothes at the flea market, and mattresses with actual fleas. Kim learned French and English, and as she grew older, seized what opportunities an immigrant could; she put herself through school picking vegetables and sewing clothes, worked as a lawyer and interpreter, and later as a restaurateur. She was married and a mother when the urge to write struck her, and she found herself scribbling words at every opportunity - pulling out her notebook at stoplights and missing the change to green. The story emerging was one of a Vietnamese émigré on a boat to an unknown future: her own story fictionalized and crafted into a stunning novel.
The novel's title, Ru, has meaning in both Kim's native and adoptive languages: in Vietnamese, ru is a lullaby; in French, a stream. And it provides the perfect name for this slim yet potent novel. With prose that soothes and sings, Ru weaves through time, flows and transports: a river of sensuous memories gathering power. It's a classic immigrant story told in a breathtaking new way.
Alethea Black's deeply moving and wholly original debut features a coterie of memorable characters who have reached emotional crossroads in their lives. Brimming with humor, irony, and insights about the unpredictable nature of life, the unbearable beauty of fate, and the power that one moment, or one decision, can have to transform us, I Knew You'd Be Lovely delivers that rare thing—stories with both an edge and a heart.
AFTER FOUR HARROWING YEARS ON THE WESTERN Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
The American classic about a young girl's coming of age at the turn of the century. "A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life...If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you will deny yourself a rich experience...It is a poignant and deeply understanding story of childhood and family relationships. The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919...Their daughter Francie and their son Neely knew more than their fair share of the privations and sufferings that are the lot of a great city's poor. Primarily this is Francie's book. She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francie's growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." —New York Times
"One of the books of the century." —New York Public Library
New Orleans in the mid-nineteenth century is a city overflowing with white aristos, black creoles, and African Slaves, a city that pulses with crowds, with commerce and with the power and spectacle of the voodoo religion. At the center of the ritual is Marie Laveau, the notorious voodoiene, worshipped and feared by blacks and whites alike. Marie's followers claimed that she walked on water and sucked poison from a snake's jowls, that she raised the dead and murdered two men.
Voodoo Dreams is the spellbinding story of the woman behind the legend. Raised by her Grandmère in the Louisiana bayou, Marie ventures to New Orleans and begins a journey of self-discovery, hoping to find her lost Maman and understand the visions that haunt her dreams. Instead, she runs headlong into the brutality of slavery and oppression and into the arms of John, the voodoo doctor who promises to teach her what Grandmère will not. As she falls under his spell, John sweeps Marie into a world of voodoo ceremonies, of drama and manipulation, and of sometimes terrifying power. A mesmerizing combination of history and story telling, Voodoo Dreams was Jewell Parker Rhodes first novel and a B&N Discover Great New Writers selection.
Winner of the 2012 Man Booker Prize
Winner of the 2012 Costa Book Award for Novel
Named One of the 10 Best Books of the Year by:
The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • Publishers Weekly
Named a BestBook of the Year by The New Yorker • Time • USA Today • The Economist • NPR • The Atlantic • Los Angeles Times • The Wall Street Journal • Chicago Tribune • Entertainment Weekly • The Daily Beast • Financial Times • The Christian Science Monitor • San Francisco Chronicle • Seattle Times • Slate • Kansas City Star • New York Daily News • Minneapolis Star Tribune • Cleveland Plain Dealer • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel • The Daytona Beach News-Journal
The sequel to Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller, Bring Up the Bodies delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn. Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne's head?
Macbeth is considered one of Shakespeare's darkest and most powerful works. Set in Scotland, the play dramatizes the corrosive psychological and political effects produced when evil is chosen as a way to fulfil the ambition for power…
Macbeth is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy, and tells the story of a brave Scottish general named Macbeth who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the throne for himself. He is then wracked with guilt and paranoia, and he soon becomes a tyrannical ruler as he is forced to commit more and more murders to protect himself from enmity and suspicion. The bloodbath and consequent civil war swiftly take Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into the realms of arrogance, madness, and death. -- Wikipedia
The American master's first novel since Winter's Bone (2006) tells of a deadly dance hall fire and its impact over several generations. Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid for a prominent family in West Table, Missouri. Her husband is mostly absent, and, in 1929, her scandalous, beloved younger sister is one of the 42 killed in an explosion at the local dance hall. Who is to blame? Mobsters from St. Louis? The embittered local gypsies? The preacher who railed against the loose morals of the waltzing couples? Or could it have been a colossal accident? Alma thinks she knows the answer—and that its roots lie in a dangerous love affair. Her dogged pursuit of justice makes her an outcast and causes a long-standing rift with her own son. By telling her story to her grandson, Alma finally gains some solace—and peace for her sister. He is advised to "Tell it. Go on and tell it"—tell the story of his family's struggles, suspicions, secrets, and triumphs.
The Sound and the Fury is set in Jefferson, Mississippi. The novel centers on the Compson family, former Southern aristocrats who are struggling to deal with the dissolution of their family and its reputation. Over the course of the 30 years or so related in the novel, the family falls into financial ruin, loses its religious faith and the respect of the town of Jefferson, and many of them die tragically. The novel is separated into four distinct sections. The first, April 7, 1928, is written from the perspective of Benjamin "Benjy" Compson, a cognitively disabled 33-year-old man. Benjy's section is characterized by a highly disjointed narrative style with frequent chronological leaps. The second section, June 2, 1910, focuses on Quentin Compson, Benjy's older brother, and the events leading up to his suicide. In the third section, April 6, 1928, Faulkner writes from the point of view of Jason, Quentin's cynical younger brother. In the fourth and final section, set a day after the first, on April 8, 1928, Faulkner introduces a third person omniscient point of view. The last section primarily focuses on Dilsey, one of the Compson's black servants. Jason is also a focus in the section, but Faulkner presents glimpses of the thoughts and deeds of everyone in the family.
This is the story of a group of Norwegian settlers who attempt to stake a claim to, and settle on, land in the Dakota Territory. I've read this and found it mesmerizing and haunting. I loved the detailed account of how the settlers traveled by wagon across endless fields of pristine grassland -- no roads -- and then built homes from the sod, broke ground and planted crops. The settlers face myriad challenges, from the external environment-related challenges, to the internal battles for sanity.
Stoner is the story of William Stoner who grows up on a farm at the end of the 1800's, goes to college to study agriculture so as to help his father farm more successfully, but then falls in love with literature and abandons the family farm. He becomes a professor and marries a woman of society. His life brings him a series of disappointments in his marriage, career, and fatherhood.
Stoner was published first in 1965. It has since gone out of publication twice, but has repeatedly been rediscovered and resurrected by word of mouth. It's currently experiencing a bit of a renaissance and is back in print and getting a lot of attention:
NYTimes books review: "Stoner is something rarer than a great novel -- it is a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deep moving, that it takes your breath away."
- The Guardian (12/13/2013): Stoner: The Must-Read Novel of 2013
- The New Yorker (1/20/2013): The Greatest American Novel You've Never Heard Of
- NYTimes Magazine (5/9/2014): "You Should Seriously Read Stoner Right Now"
“Stoner” argues that we are measured ultimately by our capacity to face the truth of who we are in private moments, not by the burnishing of our public selves. It is, in other words, a searing condemnation of our current cultural moment — one that happens to have been written nearly 50 years ago. -- NYTimes Magazine
“The book begins boldly with a mention of Stoner’s death, and a nod to his profound averageness: ‘Few students remembered him with any sharpness after they had taken his courses.’ By the end, though, Williams has made Stoner’s disappointing life into such a deep and honest portrait, so unsoftened and unromanticized, that it’s quietly breathtaking.” —The Boston Globe
- Winner of the 2000 Booker Prize
The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a- novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist.
Told in a style that magnificently captures the colloquialisms and clichés of the 1930s and 1940s, The Blind Assassin is a richly layered and uniquely rewarding experience. The novel has many threads and a series of events that follow one another at a breathtaking pace. As everything comes together, readers will discover that the story Atwood is telling is not only what it seems to be--but, in fact, much more. The Blind Assassin proves once again that Atwood is one of the most talented, daring, and exciting writers of our time. Like The Handmaid's Tale, it is destined to become a classic.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only published novel by Oscar Wilde. It tells of a young man named Dorian Gray, the subject of a painting by artist Basil Hallward. Basil is impressed by Dorian's beauty and becomes infatuated with him, believing his beauty is responsible for a new mode in his art. Talking in Basil's garden, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil's, and becomes enthralled by Lord Henry's world view. Espousing a new hedonism, Lord Henry suggests the only things worth pursuing in life are beauty and fulfilment of the senses. Realising that one day his beauty will fade, Dorian cries out, expressing his desire to sell his soul to ensure the portrait Basil has painted would age rather than himself. Dorian's wish is fulfilled, plunging him into debauched acts.
The portrait serves as a reminder of the effect each act has upon his soul, with each sin displayed as a disfigurement of his form, or through a sign of aging.
Some other possibilities:
- The Telling Room, Michael Paterniti
- The Razor's Edge, W. Somerset Maugham
- Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award
- Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize
- One of the New York Times Book Review's 100 Notable Books of 2013
- Named by The Christian Science Monitor as one of the top 15 works of fiction
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.
- Winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize
- Man Booker Prize Finalist 2011
- An Oprah Magazine Best Book of the Year
- Shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and for the 2011 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
Berlin, 1952. Falk is a jazz legend. Hot Time Swingers band members Sid Griffiths and Chip Jones, both African Americans from Baltimore, have appeared in a documentary about Falk. When they are invited to attend the film’s premier, Sid’s role in Falk’s fate will be questioned and the two old musicians set off on a surprising and strange journey.
From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating, little-known world as he describes the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that led to Falk’s incarceration in Sachsenhausen. Half-Blood Blues is a story about music and race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.