Hi everyone, here are our recommended titles for the week, and while the library is closed the weekly recommendations will all be digital – eBooks & downloadable audiobooks.
DIGITAL CATALOG RECOMMENDATIONS:
Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (Format: eBook):
As seen on The Today Show! One of the best summer romance picks!
One of Publishers Weekly Best Romance Books of 2019!
A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel by Jamie Ford (Format: eBook):
“Sentimental, heartfelt….the exploration of Henry’s changing relationship with his family and with Keiko will keep most readers turning pages…A timely debut that not only reminds readers of a shameful episode in American history, but cautions us to examine the present and take heed we don’t repeat those injustices.”— Kirkus Reviews
“A tender and satisfying novel set in a time and a place lost forever, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet gives us a glimpse of the damage that is caused by war—not the sweeping damage of the battlefield, but the cold, cruel damage to the hearts and humanity of individual people. Especially relevant in today’s world, this is a beautifully written book that will make you think. And, more importantly, it will make you feel.”
— Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
“Jamie Ford’s first novel explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut.”
— Lisa See, bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.
This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.
Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.
Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.
How to Walk Away: A Novel by Katherine Center (Format: eBook):
From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes the instant New York Times bestseller (May 2018), an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.
Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.
In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.
How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best—a masterpiece of a novel that is both hopeful and hilarious; truthful and wise; tender and brave.
Love and Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen (Format: eBook):
A Today.com Best Pick for Valentine’s Day * An Amazon Best Book of the Month
A whirlwind twenty-four-hour romance about two teens who meet—and perhaps change their minds about love—on a train ride in the middle of a snowstorm. Leah Konen’s Love and Other Train Wrecks is perfect for fans of Emery Lord and Jennifer E. Smith.
Noah is a hopeless romantic. He’s traveling home for one last chance with his first love, and he needs a miracle to win her back. Ammy doesn’t believe in true love—just look at her parents. If there’s one thing she’s learned about love in the last year, it’s that it ends.
That is, until one winter night when Noah and Ammy find themselves in the same Amtrak car heading to Upstate New York. After a train-wreck first impression between the two of them, the Amtrak train suddenly breaks down—in the middle of a snowstorm.
Desperate to make it to their destinations, Noah and Ammy have no other option but to travel together. What starts off as a minor detour turns into the journey of a lifetime, but come morning their adventure takes an unexpected turn for the worst.
Can one night can really change how they feel about love…and the course of their lives forever?
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers (Format: eBook):
The Monk of Mokha is the exhilarating true story of a young Yemeni American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war.
Mokhtar Alkhanshali is twenty-four and working as a doorman when he discovers the astonishing history of coffee and Yemen’s central place in it. He leaves San Francisco and travels deep into his ancestral homeland to tour terraced farms high in the country’s rugged mountains and meet beleagured but determined farmers. But when war engulfs the country and Saudi bombs rain down, Mokhtar has to find a way out of Yemen without sacrificing his dreams or abandoning his people.
Sister Noon by Karen Joy Fowler (Format: eBook):
Lizzie Hayes, a member of the San Francisco elite, is a seemingly docile, middle-aged spinster praised for her volunteer work with the Ladies Relief and Protection Society Home, or “The Brown Ark”. All she needs is the spark that will liberate her from the ruling conventions. When the wealthy and well-connected, but ill-reputed Mary Ellen Pleasant shows up at the Brown Ark, Lizzie is drawn to her. It is the beautiful, but mysterious Mary Ellen, an outcast among the women of the elite because of her notorious past and her involvement in voodoo, who will eventually hold the key to unlocking Lizzie’s rebellious nature.
Loosely based in historical fact, Sister Noon is a wryly funny, playfully mysterious, and totally subversive novel from this “fine writer” whose “language dazzles” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Songs of Willow Frost: A Novel written by Jamie Ford and read by Ryan Gesell (Format: Downloadable Audiobook):
From Jamie Ford, author of the beloved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, comes a much-anticipated second novel. Set against the backdrop of Depression-era Seattle, Songs of Willow Frost is a powerful tale of two souls—a boy with dreams for his future and a woman escaping her haunted past—both seeking love, hope, and forgiveness.
Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.
Determined to find Willow and prove that his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigate the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.
Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping novel will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.
A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel written by Anne Tyler and read by Kimberly Farr (Format: Downloadable Audiobook):
“It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon. . .” This is how Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.
Brimming with all the insight, humor, and generosity of spirit that are the hallmarks of Anne Tyler’s work, A Spool of Blue Thread tells a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. It is a novel to cherish.
Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey by A. J. Jacobs (Format: eBook):
The idea was deceptively simple: New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs decided to thank every single person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. The resulting journey takes him across the globe, transforms his life, and reveals secrets about how gratitude can make us all happier, more generous, and more connected.
Author A.J. Jacobs discovers that his coffee—and every other item in our lives—would not be possible without hundreds of people we usually take for granted: farmers, chemists, artists, presidents, truckers, mechanics, biologists, miners, smugglers, and goatherds.
By thanking these people face to face, Jacobs finds some much-needed brightness in his life. Gratitude does not come naturally to Jacobs—his disposition is more Larry David than Tom Hanks—but he sets off on the journey on a dare from his son. And by the end, it’s clear to him that scientific research on gratitude is true. Gratitude’s benefits are legion: It improves compassion, heals your body, and helps battle depression.
Jacobs gleans wisdom from vivid characters all over the globe, including the Minnesota miners who extract the iron that makes the steel used in coffee roasters, to the Madison Avenue marketers who captured his wandering attention for a moment, to the farmers in Colombia.
Along the way, Jacobs provides wonderful insights and useful tips, from how to focus on the hundreds of things that go right every day instead of the few that go wrong. And how our culture overemphasizes the individual over the team. And how to practice the art of “savoring meditation” and fall asleep at night. Thanks a Thousand is a reminder of the amazing interconnectedness of our world. It shows us how much we take for granted. It teaches us how gratitude can make our lives happier, kinder, and more impactful. And it will inspire us to follow our own “Gratitude Trails.”
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald written by Therese Anne Fowler and read by Jenna Lamia (Format: Downloadable Audiobook):
“When I saw that Amazon Prime was unveiling its original pilot for Z, a biographical series based on Therese Anne Fowler’s novel about Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, I raised a wary eyebrow…But I was wrong, oh me of little faith…[I]t’s an enveloping period piece, perfectly cast, and I would like to see the pilot green-lighted into a series so that we can see this romance go up like a rocket with one loud champagne pop and strew debris across mansion lawns and luxury hotel lobbies in its transcontinental path.” –Vanity Fair
I wish I could tell everyone who thinks we’re ruined, Look closer…and you’ll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed.
When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.
What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.
Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous—sometimes infamous—husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it.
“Narrator Jenna Lamia’s soft Southern accent and languid tone immediately set the mood for this first-person fictional account of Zelda’s marriage with F. Scott Fitzgerald, the great American novelist…listeners will be fascinated by this well-researched story of the beautiful flapper and her famous husband during the Roaring Twenties.” –Audiofile Magazine
Bonus Reading/Listening Suggestion:
Today, Monday, March 30, 2020 is guitarist Eric Clapton’s 75th birthday. And in honor of his birthday here is a recommended biography in both eBook and downloadable audiobook – enjoy!
Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton:
(Formats: eBook/downloadable audiobook – the audiobook version is read by Simon Vance):
eBook Downloadable Audiobook
With striking intimacy and candor, Eric Clapton tells the story of his eventful and inspiring life. More than a rock star, Eric Clapton is an icon, a living embodiment of the history of rock music. Well known for his reserve in a profession marked by self-promotion, flamboyance, and spin, he now chronicles, for the first time, his remarkable personal and professional journeys.
Born illegitimate in 1945 and raised by his grandparents, Eric never knew his father and, until the age of nine, believed his actual mother to be his sister. In his early teens his solace was the guitar. With the formation of Cream, the world’s first supergroup, he became a worldwide superstar. During the decades that followed, he would go on to play as a guest with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, as well as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and longtime friend George Harrison. He would overcome despair, self-imposed seclusion, drug addiction, and alcoholism. He would become a father.
But just as his life was coming together, he was struck by a terrible blow: His beloved four-year-old son, Conor, died in a freak accident. At an earlier time Eric might have coped with this tragedy by fleeing into a world of addiction. But now a much stronger man, he took refuge in music. CLAPTON is the powerful story of a survivor, a man who has achieved the pinnacle of success despite extraordinary demons. It is one of the most compelling memoirs of our time.
Stay safe and happy reading!
Linda Reimer, SSCL
Note: Book summaries are from the publisher unless otherwise specified.
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