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Bookclub Suggestions

A selection of titles you might want to consider for your next book club get-together.


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The Russian Daughter

- Sarah Klassen

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With the Czarist empire in turmoil, a young Mennonite couple in what is now Ukraine adopt a Russian baby. This historical novel explores themes of belonging, responsibility, and the places we call home.

The Fortune Men

- Nadifa Mohamed

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BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST o Based on a true event, this novel is "a blues song cut straight from the heart ... about the unjust death of an innocent Black man caught up in a corrupt system" (Walter Mosley, best-selling author of Devil in a Blue Dress).

In Cardiff, Wales in 1952, Mahmood Mattan, a young Somali sailor, is accused of a crime he did not commit: the brutal killing of Violet Volacki, a shopkeeper from Tiger Bay. At first, Mahmood believes he can ignore the fingers pointing his way; he may be a gambler and a petty thief, but he is no murderer. He is a father of three, secure in his innocence and his belief in British justice.

But as the trial draws closer, his prospect for freedom dwindles. Now, Mahmood must stage a terrifying fight for his life, with all the chips stacked against him: a shoddy investigation, an inhumane legal system, and, most evidently, pervasive and deep-rooted racism at every step.

Under the shadow of the hangman's noose, Mahmood begins to realize that even the truth may not be enough to save him. A haunting tale of miscarried justice, this book offers a chilling look at the dark corners of our humanity.

Dr. No

- Percival Everett

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A sly, madcap novel about supervillains and nothing, really, from an American novelist whose star keeps rising

The protagonist of Percival Everett's puckish new novel is a brilliant professor of mathematics who goes by Wala Kitu. (Wala, he explains, means "nothing" in Tagalog, and Kitu is Swahili for "nothing.") He is an expert on nothing. That is to say, he is an expert, and his area of study is nothing, and he does nothing about it. This makes him the perfect partner for the aspiring villain John Sill, who wants to break into Fort Knox to steal, well, not gold bars but a shoebox containing nothing. Once he controls nothing he'll proceed with a dastardly plan to turn a Massachusetts town into nothing. Or so he thinks.

With the help of the brainy and brainwashed astrophysicist-turned-henchwoman Eigen Vector, our professor tries to foil the villain while remaining in his employ. In the process, Wala Kitu learns that Sill's desire to become a literal Bond villain originated in some real all-American villainy related to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. As Sill says, "Professor, think of it this way. This country has never given anything to us and it never will. We have given everything to it. I think it's time we gave nothing back."

Dr. No is a caper with teeth, a wildly mischievous novel from one of our most inventive, provocative, and productive writers. That it is about nothing isn't to say that it's not about anything. In fact, it's about villains. Bond villains. And that's not nothing.

Case Study

- Graeme Macrae Burnet

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Shortlisted for the 2022 Gordon Burn Prize o Shortlisted for the 2022 Ned Kelly Awards o Longlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize o Longlisted for the 2022 HWA Gold Crown Award SELECTED BY NEW YORK TIMES AS ONE OF 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2022 The Booker-shortlisted author of His Bloody Project blurs the lines between patient and therapist, fiction and documentation, and reality and dark imagination. London, 1965. 'I have decided to write down everything that happens, because I feel, I suppose, I may be putting myself in danger,' writes an anonymous patient, a young woman investigating her sister's suicide. In the guise of a dynamic and troubled alter-ego named Rebecca Smyth, she makes an appointment with the notorious and roughly charismatic psychotherapist Collins Braithwaite, whom she believes is responsible for her sister's death. But in this world of beguilement and bamboozlement, neither she nor we can be certain of anything. Case Study is a novel as slippery as it is riveting, as playful as it is sinister, a meditation on truth, sanity, and the instability of identity by one of the most inventive novelists of our time.

An Italian Girl in Brooklyn

- Santa Montefiore

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From #1 internationally bestselling author Santa Montefiore comes a spellbinding new novel about dark secrets and hidden sorrows--set in war-torn Italy and the streets of New York.

New York, 1979.

It is Thanksgiving and Evelina has her close family and beloved friends gathered around, her heart weighted with gratitude for what she has and regret for what she has given up. She has lived in America for over thirty years, but she is still Italian in her soul.

Northern Italy, 1934.

Evelina leads a sheltered life with her parents and siblings in a villa of fading grandeur. When her elder sister Benedetta marries a banker, to suit her father's wishes rather than her own, Evelina swears that she will never marry out of duty. She knows nothing of romantic love, but when she meets Ezra, son of the local dressmaker, her heart recognises it like an old friend.

Evelina wants these carefree days to last forever. She wants to bask in sunshine, beauty, and love, and pay no heed to the grey clouds gathering on the horizon. But nothing lasts forever. The shadows of war are darkening over Europe and precious lives are under threat...

(In)visible

- Ivan Baidak

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Diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome as a teenager, Adam, now a 26-year-old freelance designer, attends his first meeting at a social support group. Here he meets Anna, a charity worker with a face hemangioma, Marta a TV anchor with alopecia, and Eva a make up artist with vitiligo. The following week he moves in with them. Shaped after the writer's own experience of living with Tourette's syndrome, Adam tries to move from self-inflicted invisibility to being visible--in his family, career, and personal life. Invisible is a book about what it means to be different. A book that encourages acceptance and tolerance. A book about fear and escape, about the necessity of being loved and accepted. It's about the permanent struggle with your complexes and attempts to start loving yourself. It's about hard stories. But also about big hearts.

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven

- Nathaniel Ian Miller

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In this "briskly entertaining" (New York Times Book Review), "transporting and wholly original" (People Magazine) novel, one man banishes himself to a solitary life in the Arctic Circle, and is saved by good friends, a loyal dog, and a surprise visit that changes everything.

In 1916, Sven Ormson leaves a restless life in Stockholm to seek adventure in Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago where darkness reigns four months of the year and he might witness the splendor of the Northern Lights one night and be attacked by a polar bear the next. But his time as a miner ends when an avalanche nearly kills him, leaving him disfigured, and Sven flees even further, to an uninhabited fjord. There, with the company of a loyal dog, he builds a hut and lives alone, testing himself against the elements.

The teachings of a Finnish fur trapper, along with encouraging letters from his family and a Scottish geologist who befriended him in the mining camp, get him through his first winter. Years into his routine isolation, the arrival of an unlikely visitor salves his loneliness, sparking a chain of surprising events that will bring Sven into a family of fellow castoffs and determine the course of the rest of his life.

Written with wry humor and in prose as breathtaking as the stark landscape it evokes, The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven is a testament to the strength of our human bonds, reminding us that even in the most inhospitable conditions on the planet, we are not beyond the reach of love.

#1 Indie Next Pick

Finalist for the Vermont Book Award

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness

- Claire Vaye Watkins

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NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST, VOGUE, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, NPR, ESQUIRE, AND KIRKUS

"There's some kind of genius sorcery in this novel. It's startlingly original, hilarious and harrowing by turns, finally transcendent. Watkins writes like an avenging angel. It's thrilling and terrifying to stand in her wake." --Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation and Weather

 
A darkly funny, soul-rending novel of love in an epoch of collapse--one woman's furious revisiting of family, marriage, work, sex, and motherhood.

Since my baby was born, I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things. a) As much as I ever did. b) Not quite as much now. c) Not so much now. d) Not at all. Leaving behind her husband and their baby daughter, a writer gets on a flight for a speaking engagement in Reno, not carrying much besides a breast pump and a spiraling case of postpartum depression. Her temporary escape from domestic duties and an opportunity to reconnect with old friends mutates into an extended romp away from the confines of marriage and motherhood, and a seemingly bottomless descent into the past. Deep in the Mojave Desert where she grew up, she meets her ghosts at every turn: the first love whose self-destruction still haunts her; her father, a member of the most famous cult in American history; her mother, whose native spark gutters with every passing year. She can't go back in time to make any of it right, but what exactly is her way forward? Alone in the wilderness, at last she begins to make herself at home in the world.

Bold, tender, and often hilarious, I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness reaffirms Watkins as one of the signal writers of our time.

Danceland Diary

- dee Hobsbawn-Smith

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Luka Dekker and her sister Connie are the inheritors of a secretive and disturbing family history going back three generations to the disappearance of their great-grandfather. Their troubledmother, Lark, also mysteriously disappeared; and their beloved grandmother, who raised thetwo girls, had a life haunted by a traumatic event that is only revealed after her death. The story unfolds against a backdrop of the drug-fueled Downtown Eastside of Vancouver and the horrific pig farm murders, the seductive beauty of rural Saskatchewan, and the glittering lights of a famous prairie dance hall. Luka's quest for her mother, and for peace and love, is a disquieting, moving, and thoroughly engaging examination of intergenerational trauma and forgiveness.

The White Hare

- Jane Johnson

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For fans of Alice Hoffman and Kate Morton, The White Hare is a spellbinding novel about mothers and daughters finding a new home for themselves, the secrets they try to bury, and the local legends that may change their lives.

In the far west of Cornwall lies the White Valley, which cuts deeply through bluebell woods down to the sea at White Cove. The valley has a long and bloody history, laced with folklore, and in it sits a house above the beach that has lain neglected since the war. It comes with a reputation and a strange atmosphere, which is why mother and daughter Magdalena and Mila manage to acquire it so cheaply in the fateful summer of 1954.

Magda has grand plans to restore the house to its former glory as a venue for glittering parties, where the rich and celebrated gathered for cocktails and for bracing walks along the coast. Her grown daughter, Mila, just wants to escape the scandal in her past and make a safe and happy home for her little girl, Janey, a solitary, precocious child blessed with a vivid imagination, much of which she pours into stories about her magical plush toy, Rabbit.

But Janey's rabbit isn't the only magical being around. Legend has it that an enchanted white hare may be seen running through the woods. Is it an ill omen or a blessing? As Mila, her mother, and her young daughter adjust to life in this mysterious place, they will have to reckon with their own pasts and with the secrets that have been haunting the White Valley for decades.

The Sleeping Car Porter

- Suzette Mayr

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Winner of the 2022 Giller Prize!

WINNER OF THE 2022 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY TOP 20 LITERARY FICTION BOOKS OF 2022

OPRAH DAILY: BOOKS TO READ BY THE FIRE


When a mudslide strands a train, Baxter, a queer Black sleeping car porter, must contend with the perils of white passengers, ghosts, and his secret love affair

The Sleeping Car Porter brings to life an important part of Black history in North America, from the perspective of a queer man living in a culture that renders him invisible in two ways. Affecting, imaginative, and visceral enough that you'll feel the rocking of the train, The Sleeping Car Porter is a stunning accomplishment.

Baxter's name isn't George. But it's 1929, and Baxter is lucky enough, as a Black man, to have a job as a sleeping car porter on a train that crisscrosses the country. So when the passengers call him George, he has to just smile and nod and act invisible. What he really wants is to go to dentistry school, but he'll have to save up a lot of nickel and dime tips to get there, so he puts up with "George."

On this particular trip out west, the passengers are more unruly than usual, especially when the train is stalled for two extra days; their secrets start to leak out and blur with the sleep-deprivation hallucinations Baxter is having. When he finds a naughty postcard of two queer men, Baxter's memories and longings are reawakened; keeping it puts his job in peril, but he can't part with the postcard or his thoughts of Edwin Drew, Porter Instructor.

"Suzette Mayr's The Sleeping Car Porter offers a richly detailed account of a particular occupation and time--train porter on a Canadian passenger train in 1929--and unforcedly allows it to illuminate the societal strictures imposed on black men at the time--and today. Baxter is a secretly-queer and sleep-deprived porter saving up for dental school, working a system that periodically assigns unexplained demerits, and once a certain threshold is reached, the porter loses his job. Thus, success is impossible, the best one can do is to fail slowly. As Baxter takes a cross-continental run, the boarding passengers have more secrets than an Agatha Christie cast, creating a powder keg on train tracks. The Sleeping Car Porter is an engaging and illuminating novel about the costs of work, service, and secrets." - Keith Mosman, Powell's Books

"I thought The Sleeping Car Porter was fantastic! It strikes a balance between being about the struggles of being black and gay at that time while not being too heavy handed with it. I enjoyed his constant mental math on how many demerits he might receive for each infraction. The reader really gets a sense of the conflict that Baxter is going through. I really liked reading a book from the perspective of a porter." - Hunter Gillum, Beaverdale Books

Demon Copperhead

- Barbara Kingsolver

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"Kingsolver is a writer who can help us understand and navigate the chaos of these times." --Minneapolis Star Tribune

From the New York Times bestselling author of Unsheltered and Flight Behavior, a brilliant novel which enthralls, compels, and captures the heart as it evokes a young hero's unforgettable journey to maturity.

"Anyone will tell you the born of this world are marked from the get-out, win or lose."

Demon Copperhead is set in the mountains of southern Appalachia. It's the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father's good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.

Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens' anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can't imagine leaving behind.

Act of Oblivion

- Robert Harris

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INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

From the bestselling author of Fatherland, The Ghostwriter, Munich, and Conclave comes this spellbinding historical novel that brilliantly imagines one of the greatest manhunts in history: the search for two Englishmen, charged in the killing of King Charles I, by the implacable foe on their trail--an epic journey into the wilds of seventeenth-century New England, and a chase like no other.


"From what is it they run?"
He took a while to reply. By the time he spoke the men had gone inside. He said quietly, "They killed the King."

1660. General Edward Whalley and his son-in-law Colonel William Goffe board a ship in London bound for the New World and an uncertain future in exile. They are wanted for the 1649 murder of King Charles I - a brazen execution that marked the culmination of the English Civil War, in which parliamentarians successfully battled royalists for control. But ten years after Charles' beheading, the royalists returned to power. Under the provisions of the Act of Oblivion, the fifty-nine men who signed the king's death warrant have been found guilty in absentia of high treason. Some parliamentarians, including Oliver Cromwell, are dead; others have been captured, hung, drawn, and quartered. A few are imprisoned for life. But Whalley and Goffe escaped to New England. In London, Richard Nayler, secretary of the regicide committee of the Privy Council, is charged with bringing the traitors back home to justice and will stop at nothing to find them. A substantial bounty hangs over their heads for their capture - dead or alive. Encompassing a period of tremendous upheaval in English history the novel brings alive pivotal moments including the Black Death and the Great Fire of London as Nayler closes in on the exiles. Act of Oblivion is an epic story of religion, vengeance, and of power - and the costs to those who wield it.

Palmares

- Gayl Jones

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2022 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Fiction

A NPR BOOKS WE LOVE 2021 Selection

A New York Times "Biggest New Books Coming Out in September" Selection · A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice Pick · A Guardian "50 Biggest Books of Autumn 2021" Selection · An Esquire "Best Books of Fall 2021" Selection · A Buzzfeed "Best Books Coming Out This Fall" Selection · A Bustle "Most Anticipated Books of September 2021" Selection  · A LitHub "22 Novels You Need to Read This Fall" Selection · A Kirkus Reviews "16 Best Books to Read in September" Selection · A Root September "PageTurner"

"This story shimmers. Shakes. Wails. Moves to rhythms long forgotten . . . in many ways: holy. [A] masterpiece."--The New York Times Book Review

The epic rendering of a Black woman's journey through slavery and liberation, set in 17th-century colonial Brazil; the return of a major voice in American literature.

First discovered and edited by Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century. Now, for the first time in over 20 years, Jones is ready to publish again. Palmares is the first of five new works by Gayl Jones to be published in the next two years, rewarding longtime fans and bringing her talent to a new generation of readers.

Intricate and compelling, Palmares recounts the journey of Almeyda, a Black slave girl who comes of age on Portuguese plantations and escapes to a fugitive slave settlement called Palmares. Following its destruction, Almeyda embarks on a journey across colonial Brazil to find her husband, lost in battle.

Her story brings to life a world impacted by greed, conquest, and colonial desire. She encounters a mad lexicographer, desperate to avoid military service; a village that praises a god living in a nearby cave; and a medicine woman who offers great magic, at a greater price.

Combining the author's mastery of language and voice with her unique brand of mythology and magical realism, Jones reimagines the historical novel. The result is a sweeping saga spanning a quarter century, with vibrant settings and unforgettable characters, steeped in the rich oral tradition of its world. Of Gayl Jones, the New Yorker noted, "[Her] great achievement is to reckon with both history and interiority, and to collapse the boundary between them." Like nothing else before it, Palmares embodies this gift.

Civilizations

- Laurent Binet, Sam Taylor

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An ambitious and highly entertaining novel of revisionist history from the author of the international bestseller HHhH, Laurent Binet's Civilizations is nothing less than a strangely believable counterfactual history of the modern world, fizzing with ideas about colonization, empire building, and the eternal human quest for domination. It is an electrifying novel by one of Europe's most exciting writers.

C. 1000 CE: Erik the Red's daughter heads south from Greenland
1492: Columbus does not discover America
1531: The Incas invade Europe


Freydis is the leader of a band of Viking warriors who get as far as Panama. Nobody knows what became of them . . .

Five hundred years later, Christopher Columbus is sailing for the Americas, dreaming of gold and conquest. Even after he is captured by the Taínos, his faith in his superiority and his mission is unshaken.

Thirty-nine years after that, Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, arrives in Europe. What does he find? The Spanish Inquisition, the Reformation, capitalism, the miracle of the printing press, endless warmongering between the ruling monarchies, and constant threat from the Turks. But most of all, downtrodden populations ready for revolution. Fortunately, he has a recent guidebook to acquiring power--Machiavelli's The Prince. It turns out he is very good at it. So, the stage is set for a Europe ruled by Incas and for a great war that will change history forever.

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