Friday, May 10, 2013

What are you reading? A few good books.

Studies consistently show that most people discover new books from people they trust, whether friends, family, or a book industry professional (bookseller, librarian, author, or reviewer). Those of us at Carnegie-Stout's Recommendations Desk are always happy to talk books with you, and if you give us a week, we'll give you a whole list of books we think you'll like! We also invite you to share your favorite books with other Dubuquers on our Pinterest board. Don't have a Pinterest account, or want to submit an anonymous review? No worries, you can pick up a review bookmark at the Recommendations Desk!

Today I'm here to vouch for a mixed list of recent books that have received a number of good reviews and press. I've read them all personally, and it's not just hype. So if one of these titles has been on your radar, but you weren't quite sure if it was worth your time, pick it up! This list is also a bit of a grab bag for genre and style, so you might spot some unexpected title worth checking out!

Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Robin Sloan’s first novel is an offbeat adventure tale built around a love of books and reading. In addition, he provides a thought-provoking look at how technology is changing our relationship with information. Quirky characters, an ancient conspiracy, and the human drive for innovation. Plus? Glow-in-the-dark cover!

Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
The fact that this was the second title selected for Oprah's Book Club 2.0 should not put you off. Ayana Mathis’ haunting debut is a collection of interconnected stories that explore the lives of one African-American family during the 20th century. A lyrical and bittersweet story of family, identity, and race that captures both universal human experience of a dynamic historical epoch.

Tenth of December by George Saunders
Critics-darling George Saunders hovered on the edges of my awareness, so when his latest short story collection popped up on several most-anticipated lists for 2013, I bit. Tenth of December is dark, funny, and thought-provoking, with just a touch of the fantastic. Saunders voice is distinctive and infectious.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
After enjoying her first novel, I was already inclined to like Rainbow Rowell's second book, Eleanor and Park. A young adult novel about the intensity of first love, Eleanor and Park are mismatched outsiders thrown together when Eleanor changes schools in the middle of their sophomore year. The 1986 setting mean that adult readers will likely catch more references than the average teen.

Among Others by Jo Walton
Jo Walton blends reality with the fantastic in her character-driven novel, Among Others, winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. This ambiguous and engaging story is set in a world where magic might, or might not, influence reality. A British boarding school, an evil mother, a dead twin, Welsh fairies, and a love letter to the classics of science fiction that added a dozen titles to my To Read list.

Suspect by Robert Crais
I picked up Suspect, a stand alone title by Robert Crais, author of the Elvis Cole series, as part of my quest to incorporate more mystery novels into my reading life. A suspenseful and fast-paced tale of an LAPD cop hunting for the men who killed his partner/love interest with the help of his new partner Maggie, a German Shepard suffering from PTSD after deployment in Afghanistan.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
While most Dubuquers are probably familiar with Kate Atkinson as the author of the Jackson Brodie mystery series, I've spent the past ten years with my fingers quietly crossed that she would return to her quirky, family-centered literary fiction. Life After Life is just the witty, complex, time travel reincarnation mashup, Downton Abbey era novel I've been waiting for.

Next up on my Everyone's Talking About It Reading List are: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, and The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. How about you?
 

*Family and friends beware! These are titles you will likely be unwrapping at gift giving occasions.

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