Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years.
This is a story of an elaborate birthday party gone wrong. The host is an unappreciated Vice President of a poor South American country. The birthday boy is a powerful businessman from Japan. The entertainment is a mesmerizing soprano that wins the heart of all who hear her sing.
When terrorists crash this party, the evening and the lives of everyone present will forever change.
Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières takes place on the Greek isle of Cephalonia under German and Italian occupation during Word War II.
The jovial Italian Captain Antonio Corelli is quartered with Dr. Iannis and his daughter Pelagia. Despite the fact that Captain Corelli is Italian and considered the enemy, his love of life, his kind joyful spirit, and his gifted ability on the mandolin, all work to win Pelagia’s heart.
Cutting for Stone is an engaging and witty novel about the traumatic origins of twin brothers who grew up in the shadows of a hospital in Ethiopia. Losing their mother and being abandoned by their father, they were raised by two physicians who instilled in them a love of medicine. Despite their bond, the twins could not be more different. However, it is their genetic similarities that gives life to one of them, but in the process destroys the other.
A mesmerizing young Irish seanchaí (storyteller) on a red 1950 Vincent Comet motorcycle pulls into town and into the lives of young school teacher, Fiona Walsh, her twin sisters, Aiofe and Róisín, and Aunt Moira. With riveting tales of long ago kingdoms, mighty battles, princes, princesses and wolves, Jim charms and seduces his listeners. But let the games begin when a jealousy-driven Fiona follows Jim and discovers a very dark secret.
Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of short stories about Indian culture, both in India and the United States, as well as the joys and difficulties of relationships that someone of any culture can identify with. Some of the stories have a thread of sadness in them such as “A Temporary Matter” while others are quirky such as “This Blessed House” (my two favorite stories).
Jane Eyre is the story of a young woman’s struggles to uphold her convictions despite her painful upbringing and the strictures of society and religion. Jane does not compromise, even at risk to her own happiness and health, that which she holds as truths. She is an ageless heroine for all young girls today.
Penned by Charlotte Brontë under a pseudonym in 1847, Jane Eyre, at the time, was criticized as having an anti-Christian slant. Today this semi-autobiographical novel is considered one of the top literary classics of all-time.
She is an overweight reporter who is looking for love and recognition in life. Jemima J is secretly in love with her handsome co-worker but is sure he would never give her the time of day. Persuaded by a friend to try online dating, Jemima J starts a journey to finding out what is truly important to her and what true love is.
Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy.
Piscine Patel, the second son of a zookeeper, has grown up in Pondicherry in South India. Tired of being called “Pissing Patel” he changes his name to “Pi”, a move approved by his older brother. The sensitive and inquisitive teenage Pi, searching for religious truths, embraces the teachings and guidance he receives from Hindu, Christian, and Muslim holy men.
Little Bee comes from a village in Nigeria sheltered from the world’s advancements, but not sheltered from the world’s evils. Little Bee’s journey to freedom begins when she flees her village with her sister and friend. She touches the lives of Andrew (a writer), Sarah (editor of a fashion magazine), Charlie (a batman freak), and Lawrence (Sarah’s confidant). Little Bee touched my life as well. “Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means this story teller is alive” – Little Bee
Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, the Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village.
40 something WF seeks special group to share fun filled evening. Must love books, food and Irish music. Ah, the age of personal ad dating. Sarah Hurlihy is a barely 40 DWF, whose meddling sister, Carol, writes up an ad for Sarah and puts it in the personals. Sarah finally answers one of the ads and decides to meet John Anderson at a dog park. She borrows her brother’s dog, Mother Teresa, and looks for someone who resembles Harrison Ford. And with that the crazy new love life of Sarah Hurlihy begins.
This book by Elizabeth Strout is a series of short stories primarily set in Maine with a common character, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher. As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
When she decides to auction her remarkable jewelry collection, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Bolshoi Ballet, believes she has finally drawn a curtain on her past. Instead, the former ballerina finds herself overwhelmed by memories of her homeland and of the events, both glorious and heartbreaking, that changed the course of her life half a century ago.
Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and bawdy, she’s the truth-telling proprietress of The Venice, the famed New York City movie theater. It’s the Jazz Age, with romance and booze aplenty–even when Prohibition kicks in–and Mazie never turns down a night on the town. But her high spirits mask a childhood rooted in poverty, and her diary, always close at hand, holds her dearest secrets.
Celebrate southern women with Beth Hoffman’s debut novel Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. CeeCee is a young girl who had an unhappy childhood in an unstable home until she moved to Savannah to live with her Aunt Tootie. She notes “I had been plunked into a strange, perfumed world that, as far as I could tell, seemed to be run entirely by women.” It was these women who taught her the gifts she possessed and what it meant to be loved.
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See is set in 1937 Shanghai—the Paris of Asia—where twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree—until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth.
“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.”
So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.
As promised, 14-year-old Daniel “Skippy” Juster dies in the opening scene of Paul Murray’s tragicomic masterwork. But much remains to be seen in the ensuing chapters. Who is responsible for his demise? And why does he die such a weird death, gasping for air on the floor of a doughnut shop without having eaten any doughnuts? And what are we to make of his final message, written on the floor in syrupy raspberry filling: “TELL LORI”?
Research scientist Dr. Marina Singh is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have disappeared in the Amazon while working on an extremely valuable new drug. The last person who was sent to find her died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding answers to the questions about her friend’s death, her company’s future, and her own past.
That Old Cape Magic is a story about a man’s journey to lay his father, and then his mother, to rest while reflecting on his upbringing. His fondest memories include that one month of happiness his family would have when they crossed the Sagamore Bridge into Cape Cod. To commemorate the event, they would sing That Old Black Magic, substituting Cape for Black.
Joy, Griffin’s separated wife, sums up the story well when she says “out of sight isn’t out of mind. You think you don’t let your mother into your life-into our lives-but you blame her when a bird craps on you.”
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is about listening to your heart and believing in your dreams. This fable tells the story of an Andalucian shepherd named Santiago who travels to Morocco and then to the pyramids of Egypt to find his treasure. Along the way he learns many life lessons that you will find brings inspiration to your own life.