Tanya

Tanya recommends:

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives compiled by Frank Warren

psotsecretFROM THE PUBLISHER
It all began with an idea Frank Warren had for a community art project. He began handing out postcards to strangers and leaving them in public places -- asking people to write down a secret they had never told anyone and mail it to him, anonymously. The response was overwhelming. The secrets were both provocative and profound, and the cards themselves were works of art -- carefully and creatively constructed by hand. Addictively compelling, the cards reveal our deepest fears, desires, regrets, and obsessions. Frank calls them "graphic haiku," beautiful, elegant, and small in structure but powerfully emotional. As Frank began posting the cards on his website, PostSecret took on a life of its own, becoming much more than a simple art project. It has grown into a global phenomenon, exposing our individual aspirations, fantasies, and frailties -- our common humanity. Every day dozens of postcards still make their way to Frank, with postmarks from around the world, touching on every aspect of human experience. This extraordinary collection brings together the most powerful, personal, and beautifully intimate secrets Frank Warren has received -- and brilliantly illuminates that human emotions can be unique and universal at the same time.

 

Lying Together: My Russian Affair by Jennifer Beth Cohen

lyingtogetherFROM THE PUBLISHER
In January 1998, while the rest of her newsroom is chasing the Monica Lewinsky story, television journalist Jennifer Cohen gets a lead that takes her out of covering that scandal and deep into another one—the trafficking of sex slaves from the former Soviet Union into the United States. Knowing that the college crush she never quite forgot works for a St. Petersburg newspaper, she hires him to help out. Much to their surprise, they fall madly in love over thousands of miles of telephone line. Cohen finds herself engaged to marry a man she barely knows and on a plane to Russia. No one could have predicted the total collapse that followed—of the Russian economy, of her fiance's sobriety, of Cohen's mental health and physical safety, and of her professional aspirations. Cohen's vivid descriptions of her life in anything-goes Moscow—bribing government officials, meeting pimps in back alleys for interviews—are a colorful counterpart to the despair and loneliness that replaces the love between Cohen and her fiance. Their battles with prescription drugs, alcoholic rages, and physical abuse are recounted, offering a poignant and unvarnished look at a complicated relationship in a complicated land.

 

The Myth of You and Me: A Novel of Friendship by Leah Stewart

themythofyouandmeFROM THE PUBLISHER
When Cameron was fifteen, Sonia was her best friend--no one could come between them. Now Cameron is a twenty-nine-year-old research assistant with no meaningful ties to anyone except her aging boss, noted historian Oliver Doucet. When an unexpected letter arrives from Sonia ten years after the incident that ended their friendship, Cameron doesn't reply, despite Oliver's urging. But then he passes away, and Cameron discovers that he has left her with one final task: to track down Sonia and hand-deliver a mysterious package to her. Now without a job, a home, and a purpose, Cameron decides to honor his request, setting off on the road to find this stranger who was once her inseparable other half. The Myth of You and Me, the story of Cameron and Sonia's friendship--as intense as any love affair--and its dramatic demise, captures the universal sense of loss and nostalgia that often lingers after the end of an important relationship. Searingly honest, beautiful, and full of fragile urgency, The Myth of You and Me is a celebration and portrait of a friendship that will appeal to anyone who still feels the absence of that first true friend.

 

The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole by Stephanie Doyon

TB26FROM THE PUBLISHER
"For generations, Cedar Hole has been the armpit of Gilford County: a town full of apathetic underachievers trapped by a defunct railroad, distrust of the outside world, and their own lack of imagination. It has also been the home of the Pinkhams, a family whose gluttonous reputation strikes fear and loathing even among the town's most indifferent citizens. Enter Francis "Spud" Pinkham, the youngest of the clan and favorite whipping boy of his nine brutish sisters. Almost from the moment of his unwelcome arrival into the world, Francis knows his path in life will be as rocky as Cedar Hole's country roads." On the other end of the spectrum is Robert J. Cutler, the bright only child of two factory workers and town golden boy, who gracefully steps into the role of Cedar Hole's good-hearted visionary. Robert's blind optimism and unshakable faith dazzles everyone around him - except Francis, whose distrust of appearances has been instilled by years of cruelty dealt by Jackie Pinkham, his sister and greatest foe. When a town competition forces a rivalry between the boys that follows them into adulthood, Francis must struggle to step out from beneath Robert's shadow and prove his own worth. It is only through love, starting a family of his own, and a brush with the American dream that Francis Pinkham learns just what it takes to become The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole.

 

The Way I Found Her by Rose Tremain

the_way_I_found_herFROM THE PUBLISHER
Lewis Little is a 13-year-old boy spending the summer in Paris with his mother, Alice, who is translating the latest medieval romance by Valentina Gavrilovich, the best-selling novelist and exotic Russian emigree. But from the moment Valentina, golden-skinned and exquisitely scented, beckons from a spindly sofa, Lewis floats on a ribbon of Russian cigarette smoke into a delicious new world of passion and intrigue. At first, the mysteries are of the charming, everyday sort: the origins of saffron sauce, the tastes and names of lipstick. Lewis discusses philosophy with Didier, the existentialist roofer, eats cakes with Valentina's mother, drinks Orangina with Babba, Valentina's maid from Benin, and takes long walks with Valentina's aristocratic dog, Sergei. Most of all, he dreams of Valentina: her delicious laugh, her intoxicating perfume, her silk negligees. But when Valentina mysteriously disappears and Lewis takes it upon himself to find her, glorious secrets turn ominous.

 

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

nicolekraussFROM THE PUBLISHER
"Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive, drawing attention to himself at the milk counter of Starbucks. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And although he doesn't know it, that book also survived: it crossed oceans and generations, and changed lives." Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that book. She has her hands full keeping track of her little brother Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah) and taking copious notes in her book, How to Survive in the Wild Volume Three. But when a mysterious letter arrives in the mail she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family.

 

All my Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

TB25From the Amazon.com website
All Tom’s friends really are superheroes. There’s the Ear, the Spooner, the Impossible Man. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding, the Perfectionist was hypnotized to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. Six months later, she’s sure that Tom has abandoned her. So she’s moving to Vancouver. She’ll use her superpower to make Vancouver perfect and leave all the heartbreak in Toronto. With no idea Tom’s beside her, she boards an airplane. Tom has until the wheels touch the ground in Vancouver to convince her he’s there, or he loses her forever.

 

 

I Never Liked You by Chester Brown

TB3FROM THE PUBLISHER
In one of the best graphic novels published in recent years, Chester Brown tells the story of his alienated youth in an almost detached, understated manner, giving the book an eerie, dream-like quality. For the new 2002 definitive softcover edition Brown has designed new layouts for the entire book, using "white" panel backgrounds instead of the black pages of the first edition.

 

 

 

World of Pies by Karen Stolz

TB4FROM THE PUBLISHER
First-time novelist Karen Stolz has created a cozy, poignant and exquisitely written episodic tale of family, food, and love. Set in a small town in Texas in the 1960's, where "there wasn't a lot to pick from, summer-wise: counter-girl at Jerry's Dairy King, shampoo girl at Barb's Tint n' Clip; the maid job at the Bluebonnet Motel," a young girl named Roxanne comes of age. Whether it's a pie-baking contest that becomes a lesson in racial politics and courage; a crush on the new mailman (who is a woman); or dealing with the death of her beloved father and her mother's remarriage, Roxanne never fails to touch our hearts. And if that weren't enough, the recipes following each chapter--which range from Christina's Lemon Meringue Pie to Doreen's Frozen Fruit Salad--evoke a cozy sweet sensation that makes it seem as though there could be no better place to live than tine Annette, Texas.

 

I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loud Mouth Girl by Laurie Notaro

TB8FROM THE PUBLISHER
Here are more scathingly funny tales from the wild side! Laurie Notaro survived the debauched ride of her twenties and the bumpy road to matrimony. Now she's ready to take on the thirtysomething years . . . and almost middle age has never been more hilarious. Laurie is married, mortgaged, and now--miraculously--employed in the corporate world, discovering that bosses come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees of mental stability. After maxing out her last good credit card at Banana Republic, she's dressed for success and ready to face the jungle: surviving feral, six-foot-plus Gretchen ("Three Thousand Faces of Eve") before battling the overbearing, overstuffed (in way-too-small pants) new mom Suzzi, who ruthlessly cancels Laurie's newspaper column and learns that payback can be a bitch. Laurie also explores the backstabbing world of preschoolers at a Halloween party, the X-rated madness of a family trip to Disneyland, and the pressure from her QVC-addicted mother and the rest of the world to reproduce. But while losing more friends to babies than to booze, she realizes there's a plus side: at least for a couple of months she gets to be the thinner friend. I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies) is Laurie Notaro at her deliciously quirky best. Can a woman prone to what her loved ones might term "meltdowns" (she considers them "Opportunities to Enlighten") put a smile on her face and love everybody? Take a guess.

 

Outside Valentine by Liza Ward

TB9FROM THE PUBLISHER
"In 1957, in a plain house outside Lincoln, Nebraska, Caril Ann struts in front of her mirror in a pink kimono embroidered with figures of women dancing. She thinks of the fight she is about to have with her stepfather and vows to hold her ground. Today she will find a tree house and meet a boy named Charlie Starkweather, who reminds her of James Dean. Love will pull them together. On another day, not far off, Charlie will drive Caril Ann in a fancy Packard through the falling snow to a town called Valentine. Her life will change forever. Everyone will always remember her name." "In 1991, in the silence of an early Manhattan morning, Lowell - a middle-aged dealer in antiquities - wakes with fragments of dreams and the memory of a spot of blood slowly spreading out, changing everything. Lowell's thoughts go back to his childhood, to his mother's attempts to learn the piano, to the snow drifting down across the plains in the far-off place that was his home. Today he will see that his marriage to his wife, Susan, no longer works, despite all that has passed between them. And he will try to turn away." "In 1962, Puggy - she hates that nickname - comes home to an empty house. The snow has made her yard into a perfect curtain of white. Until her mother comes back, Puggy will play detective, spying on the boy down the street who lost his family to the Starkweather murders. She will read the old clippings from the Lincoln Journal Star and wonder if anyone could ever love her like Charlie loved Caril Ann. She will remember her parents dancing. She will try to figure out what it is that people do when they have lost someone forever." How do these lives intersect? What happened during that winter of blinding snow? At the heart of this haunting debut novel is a shocking crime with effects and repercussions that reach across the years and miles, changing the course of lives, again and again.

 

Durable Goods by Elizabeth Berg

TB10FROM THE PUBLISHER
"Sometimes life is so hard and then, bingo, it's like happiness is pushing at your back, waiting to come out of your front...." On the hot Texas army base she calls home, Katie spends the lazy days of her summer waiting: waiting to grow up; waiting for Dickie Mack to fall in love with her; waiting for her breasts to blossom; waiting for the beatings to stop. Since their mother died, Katie and her older sister, Diane, have been struggling to understand their distant, often violent father. Diane escapes into the arms of her boyfriend. Katie hides in her room or escapes to her best friend's house - until Katie's admiration for her strong-willed sister leads her on an adventure that transforms her life. About Durable Goods Christopher Tilghman has said, "Elizabeth Berg's prose and passion come at us with all the deceptive strength of her heroine." Written with an unerring ability to capture the sadness of growth, the pain of change, the nearly visible vibrations that connect people, this beautiful novel reminds us of how wonderful, and wounding, a deeper understanding of life can be.

 

The Great Pretender by Black Millenia

TB11FROM THE PUBLISHER
ONE MAN, TWO LIVES:
For over six years, Reginald Brooks has managed to pull it off. Having two families, leading two lives. Now, the pretending must stop.
But how?
THE GREAT PRETENDER-an electrifying tale of how one man tries to untangle his life, setting a full-fledged arena of wife against husband, lover against lover, friend against friend, and family against family.
Once you begin this engaging tale, you will witness how one man's decision to pretend ricochets through the lives of several people. For some, escape may become a welcome solution...
Reginald Brooks-a polished marketing VP who shrewdly built a dual life around his work. But without warning, that life begins to come apart at the seams and Reginald makes a decision that could threaten his very future, and the lives of those he loves the most...
Tracy Brooks-Reginald's wife of nearly 20 years. While the cat's away, the mice will play. She's got secrets of her own to protect...
Renee Jameson-the younger woman with the killer body who managed to turn Reginald's head long enough to become pregnant...
Franklin Bevins-a UPS executive and Reginald's best friend since the carefree days of childhood. Reggie has never made a life-changing decision without Frank's input; a practice they may soon live to regret...
Olivia Brooks-Reginald and Tracy's eldest daughter. Family isn't very high on Olivia's list of priorities. With her primary focus on a man, Olivia seems nonchalant about the significant changes in her family's life until a shocking demand gets her full attention...
Valerie Brooks-the younger of Reggie and Tracy's two daughters. A curious teen onthe verge of adulthood when a hard knock lesson brings her questionable habits to a screeching halt.
*From the plush streets of Miami to the glamour of New York City, follow the families of Reginald Brooks as their lives of sex, love, hate and surprise unfolds to an agonizing climax!
This debut novel by Millenia Black is anticipated to spark a tantalizing blend of emotions, and may even leave you wondering if perhaps you know someone who might be-THE GREAT PRETENDER.

 

The Spinning Man by George Harrar

TB12FROM THE PUBLISHER
Mild-mannered philosophy professor Evan Birch spends his days teaching college students to seek truth. Then, one afternoon, he's pulled over by the police, handcuffed, and questioned about the disappearance of a local high school cheerleader. When the missing girl's lipstick turns up in his car, the evidence against him begins to build. Even his wife and sons are having their doubts. And as the investigating officer engages him in a decidedly non-Socratic dialogue, Evan Birch begins to understand that truth may be elusive indeed-but sometimes you have to pick a story and stick with it...

 

 

The Orchard by Larry Watson

TB13FROM THE PUBLISHER
Ned Weaver, an internationally acclaimed painter, is famous in Door County, Wisconsin, for his luminous work - and for his affairs with his models. His wife, Harriet, has learned to accept these dalliances in the belief that his immense talent will ultimately make up for his shortcomings as a husband. Sonja Skordahl, a Norwegian immigrant, came to America looking for a new life. Instead, she married Henry House, only to find herself defined, like so many other mid-twentieth-century women, by her roles as wife and mother. As circumstances and destiny land Sonja in Ned's studio, she becomes more than his model and more than the object of his desire - she becomes the most inspiring muse Ned has ever known. When both Ned and Henry insist on possessing her, their jealousies threaten to erupt into violence, and Sonja must find a way to placate both men without sacrificing her hard-won sense of self.

 

Little Children by Tom Perrotta

TB14FROM THE PUBLISHER
Tom Perrotta's thirtyish parents of young children are a varied and surprising bunch. There's Todd, the handsome stay-at-home dad dubbed "The Prom King" by the moms at the playground, and his wife, Kathy, a documentary filmmaker envious of the connection Todd has forged with their toddler son. And there's Sarah, a lapsed feminist surprised to find she's become a typical wife in a traditional marriage, and her husband, Richard, who is becoming more and more involved with an internet fantasy life than with his own wife and child. And then there's Mary Ann, who has life all figured out, down to a scheduled roll in the hay with her husband every Tuesday at nine P.M. They all raise their kids in the kind of quiet suburb where nothing ever seems to happen - until one eventful summer, when a convicted child molester moves back to town, and two parents begin an affair that goes further than either of them could ever have imagined.

 

I and Claudius: Travels with My Cat by Clare de Vries

TB15FROM THE PUBLISHER
Clare de Vries dreamed of chucking in her job and Thelma and Louise-ing it around the United States. Which is exactly what she did. Except that Louise was her nineteen-year-old chocolate-brown Burmese cat Claudius.. "It was an unpredictable road trip. From celebrity pet hair stylists in New York to brown bears in the Appalachians, from astronauts in Nashville to Elvis's shag ceiling in Graceland to voodoo snakes in New Orleans, the unlikely couple just about kept their Guccis intact and even learnt to read a map. That was before riding with psychic cowboys in Texas, losing vital body parts in the Grand Canyon, gambling with hoods in Vegas and spilling drinks over film stars in Hollywood.. "This is a book about an intrepid young woman in pursuit of a dream and the insane love she feels for her remarkable cat. It is a bold and hilarious adventure.

 

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

TB16FROM THE PUBLISHER
Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa and a lunatic in the bargain. Suddenly, at age twelve, Augusten Burroughs found himself living in a dilapidated Victorian in perfect squalor. The doctor's bizarre family, a few patients, and a pedophile living in the backyard shed completed the tableau. Here, there were no rules; there was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer, and Valium was eaten like Pez. And when things got dull, there was always the vintage electroshock-therapy machine under the stairs...

 

 

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About by Mil Millington

TB17FROM THE PUBLISHER
"Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About concerns a guy named Pel who lives with his German girlfriend, Ursula. Pel leads an uneventful life - quietly bluffing his way through his job and discovering new things to argue about with Ursula. But when his boss mysteriously disappears, Pel steps innocently into his shoes and his life spirals out of control in a chaotic whirl of stolen money, missing colleagues, and Chinese mafiosi." Its fractured thriller plot punctuated by blazingly hilarious set-piece arguments between the hapless Pel and the unflappable Ursula, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About is a brilliant comic novel examining the unique warfare in long-term relationships.

 

 

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

TB18FROM THE PUBLISHER
Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers-some willingly, some unwittingly-have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

 

 

 

Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue

TB19FROM THE PUBLISHER
Born to rough cloth in working-class London in 1748, Mary Saunders hungers for linen and lace. Her lust for a shiny red ribbon leads her to a life of prostitution at a young age. A dangerous misstep sends her fleeing to Monmouth and the refuge of the middle-class household of Mrs. Jones, her mother's childhood friend. There she becomes the seamstress her mother always expected her to be and lives the ordinary life of an ordinary girl. Although Mary becomes a close confidante of Mrs. Jones and has a catalytic effect on the entire household, her desire for a better life leads her back to prostitution. Ultimately, Mary remains true only to the three rules she learned on the streets of London: Never give up your liberty. Clothes make the woman. Clothes are the greatest lie ever told. And it is clothes, their splendor and their deception, that will finally lead Mary to disaster.

 

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

TB21FROM THE PUBLISHER
For reasons even he didn't understand, Bill Bryson decided in 1996 to walk the 2,100-mile Appalachian trail. Winding from Georgia to Maine, this uninterrupted 'hiker's highway' sweeps through the heart of some of America's most beautiful and treacherous terrain. Accompanied by his infamous crony, Stephen Katz, Bryson risks snake bite and hantavirus to trudge up unforgiving mountains, plod through swollen rivers, and yearn for cream sodas and hot showers. This amusingly ill-conceived adventure brings Bryson to the height of his comic powers, but his acute eye also observes an astonishing landscape of silent forests, sparkling lakes, and other national treasures that are often ignored or endangered. Fresh, illuminating, and uproariously funny, A Walk in the Woods showcases Bill Bryson at his very best.

 

The Cat Who Went to Paris by Peter Gethers

TB22FROM THE PUBLISHER
"Norton is clearly a charmer, and Gethers tells his story with contagious affection....Will warm the heart of any confirmed cat-lover."
THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
Before Peter Gethers met Norton, the publisher, screenwriter, and author was a confirmed cat-hater. Then everything changed. Peter opened his heart to the Scottish Fold kitten and their adventures to Paris, Fire Island, and in the subways of Manhattan took on the color of legend and mutual love. THE CAT WHO WENT TO PARIS proves that sometimes all it takes is paws and personality to change a life.

 

Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen Proxy Childhood by Julie Gregory

TB20FROM THE PUBLISHER
From early childhood, Julie Gregory was continually X-rayed, medicated, and operated on - in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother's mind. Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is the world's most hidden and dangerous form of child abuse, in which the caretaker - almost always the mother - invents or induces symptoms in her child because she craves the attention of medical professionals. Many MBP children die, but Julie Gregory not only survived, she escaped the powerful orbit of her mother's madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman. Sickened is a memoir that speaks in an original and distinctive midwestern voice, rising to indelible scenes in prose of scathing beauty and fierce humor. Punctuated with Julie's actual medical records, it re-creates the bizarre cocoon of her family's isolated double-wide trailer, their wild shopping sprees and gun-waving confrontations, the astonishing naivete of medical professionals and social workers. It also exposes the twisted bonds of terror and love that roped Julie's family together - including the love that made a child willing to sacrifice herself to win her mother's happiness.

 

Body in the Cornflakes by K.K. Beck

TB23FROM THE PUBLISHER
Ted Constantino is assistant manager (read troubleshooter) of Galaxy Foods supermarket in Seattle. The store is owned by patriarch Karl Krogstad, and the entire Krogstad family is involved in running it. That even includes insufferable grandson Lance, recent recipient of a degree in food management, earlier recipient of the title of The Slowest Checker in the History of the Retail Grocery Business. The Krogstad offspring have always expected to inherit this million-dollar business when old Karl departs these shores (he'll never retire). But to their alarm and disgust, old Karl has just become engaged to a rather flamboyant lady thirty years his junior. ("Everyone thinks she's after his money." "Gee, I wonder how they got that idea?"). Ted is used to dealing with such crises as the imminent downfall of an elderly customer on a walker heading straight for a pool of spilled salad oil. But when the Krogstad family quarrels reach the ultimate stage of dysfunction - murder - he is faced with the consequences of a dead body on the selling floor. The author knows the quirks of this business first hand, from the obsessions of the fish-and-seafood manager to the disastrous effect of a yellow-green awning over the produce, and uses them with marvelous skill. This funny, lovely mystery will strike a chord in everyone who has ever shopped in a supermarket.

 

Souvenir of Canada by Douglas Coupland

TB24FROM THE PUBLISHER
Renown writer and artist Douglas Coupland's valentine to Canada looks at how it feels to be a Canadian now and imagines what it might feel like to be a Canadian in the future. From collective memories, Coupland locates objects like stubbie beer bottles and ookpiks, Kraft dinner and maple walnut ice cream. With the same witty sensibility, he considers significant events and relevant issues, like Canada's relationship with the United States, Medicare, and the landscape itself in this colorful, lively mix of image and text.

 

 

Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

TB5FROM THE PUBLISHER
"The first of my father's illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels."
So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, they "dream on" in a funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel by the remarkable author of A Widow for One Year and The Cider House Rules.

 

I Am a Pencil: A Teacher, His Kids, and Their World of Stories by Sam Swope

TB6FROM THE PUBLISHER
"When worn-down and somewhat cranky children's-book writer Sam Swope agreed to give a writing workshop in Queens, he became so energized by his twenty-eight students that he "adopted" the class. For three years, he became their writer-in-residence, guiding them through cosmic adventures and too-real troubles as they began to compose the crazy, magical, and often moving stories of their lives. Almost all the students were new Americans - there were kids from twenty-one countries, who spoke a total of eleven different languages - and Swope was drawn deep into their real and imaginary existences, their problems, hopes, fears, and fantasies." "In I Am a Pencil, Swope follows his troop through all the trials and triumphs of their days together, coaxing out words and feelings; watching talents blossom, explode, and sometimes fizzle; holding his breath as the children's families brave new lives in the big, strange city. Moving from nature poems, to metaphors, autobiography, and beyond, Swope shows the children how to deal with their experiences by being creative." "Along the way we meet MeiKai, whose mom is a Taoist priest, ruled by the dictates of the Queen Mother of the West; Aaron, who charms Swope with his sloppy handwriting and loose grasp on literal truth; Noelia, a chubby Dominican chatterbox who becomes the chief suspect in the great report card heist. Some of the children have problems, such as Miguel, an Ecuadorian boy who must cope with a Pentecostal father who puts strict limits on his activities. Or Su Jung, who mystifies Swope with her sudden silences - until he discovers that her mother has left the family. But, whatever their difficulties, all of the children have big dreams." Preparing his students for a world of adult challenges and dangers, Swope is continually astonished by their courage, humor, humanity, and most of all by their creativity and strength.

 

The Position by Meg Wolitzer

TB7FROM THE PUBLISHER
Sex, love, the 1970s,
and one extraordinary family
that lived to tell the tale

Crackling with intelligence and original humor, The Position is a masterful take on sex and the suburban American family at the hilarious height of the sexual revolution and throughout the thirty-year hangover that followed. Meg Wolitzer, the author of the much-acclaimed novel The Wife (named a notable book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and Newsday), takes another huge step forward with this new book and showcases her distinctive voice, pitch-perfect observations, electric wit, and depth of emotion. In 1975, suburban parents Paul and Roz Mellow write a Joy of Sex-type book called Pleasuring: One Couple's Journey to Fulfillment, which becomes a surprise runaway bestseller. The Position opens with the four Mellow children, aged six to fifteen, at the moment when they see the mortifying book (and the graphic, pastel illustrations of their parents' creative, vigorous lovemaking) for the very first time -- an experience that will forever complicate their ideas about sex, parents, families, and themselves. The book brings a strange celebrity and small fortune ("sex money" the children call it) to the Mellows and ultimately changes the shape of the family forever.
Thirty years later, as the now-dispersed family members argue about whether to reissue the book, we follow the complicated lives of each of the grown children as they confront their own struggles with love, work, sex, death, and the indelible early specter of their erotically charged parents. Some novels are about family, and others are about sex. The Position is about sex within the context of a family. Insightful, witty, panoramic, and heartbreaking, it is a compulsively readable novel about an eternally mystifying subject: how a group of people growing up in one house can become so very different from one another.

 

The Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

TB1FROM THE PUBLISHER
How do you conjure a life? Give the truest account of what you saw, felt, learned, loved, strived for?
For Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the surprising answer came in the form of an encyclopedia. In Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life she has ingeniously adapted this centuries-old format for conveying knowledge into a poignant, wise, often funny, fully realized memoir. Using mostly short entries organized from A to Z, many of which are cross-referenced, Rosenthal captures in wonderful and episodic detail the moments, observations, and emotions that comprise a contemporary life. Start anywhere—preferably at the beginning—and see how one young woman's alphabetized existence can open up and define the world in new and unexpected ways. An ordinary life, perhaps, but an extraordinary book.

 

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs

knowitallFROM THE PUBLISHER
"Part memoir and part education (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A. J. Jacob's hilarious, enlightening, and seemingly impossible quest to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z." The Know-It-All recounts the unexpected and comically descriptive effects Operation Encyclopedia has on every part of Jacobs' life - from his newly minted marriage to his complicated relationship with his father and the rest of his charmingly eccentric New York family to his day job as an editor at Esquire. Jacobs' project tests the outer limits of his stamina and forces him to explore the real meaning of intelligence as he endeavors to join Mensa, win a spot on Jeopardy!, and absorb 33,000 pages of learning.

 

The Speed of Light by Ron Carlson

Tanya1FROM THE PUBLISHER
Larry, Witt, and Rafferty have a whole summer to play all the different kinds of baseball, to build structures in the backyard, to find out what makes the world tick. "We've got to keep busy," says Witt. "I want to know everything. Not just part."Larry doesn't want to know what keeps him heading for Witt's backyard, rich with weeds and rotting appliances, whenever he's not at baseball practice. All he knows is that there's no one he'd rather be with than these two friends, that the chaos of Witt's universe offers refuge from his own orderly home and an entrance into a world of change, growth, and unpredictability.

 

 

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

eyre_affair_2FROM THE PUBLISHER
Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. Based on an imaginary world where time and reality bend in the most convincing and original way since Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Eyre Affair is a delightful rabbit hole of a read: once you fall in you may never come back.England is a virtual police state where someone has begun kidnapping characters from works of literature. When this madman plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Bronte's novel, Thursday Next -- our resourceful heroine and renowned Special Operative in literary detection -- faces the challenge of her career. She must track down the world's Third Most Wanted criminal and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.Suspenseful and outlandish, absorbing and fun, The Eyre Affair is a caper unlike any other, and an introduction to the imagination of a most distinctive writer and his singular fictional universe.

 

The Mushroom Man by Sophie Powell

mushroom_man2Here, much to everyone's delight, is Sophie Powell's debut-a "touching comedy that explores childhood fantasies as well as messy adult truths about family relationships."*Charlotte and Beth are sisters whose lives have turned out very differently. Charlotte lives in London with her successful husband and six-year-old daughter Lily, who naturally gets the best of everything. Beth is a young widow, living on her late husband's farm in Wales with a teenaged son, eleven-year-old triplet daughters, a vegetable patch and a henhouse.
For years, Charlotte refused to visit this place, where there was practically guaranteed to be dirt. This summer she has relented—and all of their lives are about to be turned upside-down.

 

Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp by C.D. Payne

youth_in_revolt2FROM THE PUBLISHER
He didn't intend to burn half of Berkeley to the ground, or create a media frenzy by faking his best friend's suicide, or enroll in high school dressed as an elderly Italian woman. However, he did. Nick Twisp started out an honor student and ended up a fugitive. Youth in Revolt is the journals of Nick Twisp, California's most precocious diarist, whose ongoing struggles to make sense out of high school, deal with his divorced parents, and lose his virginity result in his transformation from an unassuming fourteen-year-old to modern youth in open revolt. As his family splinters, worlds collide, and the police block all routes out of town, Nick must cope with economic deprivation, homelessness, the gulag of the public schools, a competitive Type-A father, murderous canines (in triplicate), and an inconvenient hair trigger on his erectile response - all while vying ardently for the affections of the beauteous Sheeni Saunders, teenage goddess and ultimate intellectual goad. He's smart, he's horny, he's resourceful, and he's on the loose. Youth in Revolt is Nick Twisp's own story.

 

In a Dark Wood by Amanda Craig

in_a_dark_wood2FROM THE PUBLISHER
"Benedick Hunter is a recently divorced, out-of-work, thirty-nine-year-old actor. Feeling both guilty and sorry for himself, he blunders through weekends with his two spirited children and fends off various women desperate to snare an eligible man, all the time fearing that he is on the brink of a nervous breakdown." His life takes on a new direction, however, when he discovers a long-forgotten book of fairy tales his mother wrote and illustrated decades earlier. Drawn to its pages, he becomes entranced by the hints of reality embedded in the stories, from thinly veiled portraits of his own father and his parents' acquaintances to alluring glimpses of his mother as a young woman. Convinced that the stories can explain his mother's suicide when he was six and put an end to his agonizing mood swings, Benedick embarks on a journey to untangle the past, a journey that eventually takes him to the heart of his own nature, modern fatherhood, manic depression, and the elusive character of fairy tales.

 

Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence by Paul Feig

kick_me_2FROM THE PUBLISHER
Written in side-splitting and often cringe-inducing detail, Paul Feig takes you in a time machine to a world of bombardment by dodge balls, ill-fated prom dates, hellish school bus rides, and other aspects of public school life that will keep you laughing in recognition and occasionally sighing in relief that you aren't him. Kick Me is a nostalgic trip for the inner geek in all of us

 

 

 

Naked by David Sedaris

naked2FROM THE PUBLISHER
In Naked, David Sedaris's message is pay attention to me. Whether he's taking to the road with a thieving quadriplegic, sorting out the fancy from the extra-fancy in a bleak fruit-packing factory, or celebrating Christmas in the company of a recently paroled prostitute, this collection of memoirs creates a wickedly incisive portrait of an all-too-familiar world. It takes Sedaris from his humiliating bout with obsessive behavior in 'A Plague of Tics' to the title story, in which he is finally forced to face his naked self in the mirrored sunglasses of a lunatic. At this soulful and moving moment, he picks potato chip crumbs from his pubic hair and wonders what it all means. This remarkable journey into his own life follows a path of self-effacement and a lifelong search for identity, leaving him both under suspicion and overdressed.

 

Pobby and Dingam by Ben Rice

pobby2FROM THE PUBLISHER
This enchanting tale is at once a beautifully rendered narrative of childhood loss and a powerfully simple fable about the necessity of imagination.
Pobby and Dingan are Kellyanne Williamson’s best friends, maybe her only friends, and only she can see them. Kellyanne’s brother, Ashmol, can’t see them and doesn’t believe they exist anywhere but in Kellyanne’s immature imagination. Only when Pobby and Dingan disappear and Kellyanne becomes heartsick over their loss does Ashmol realize that not only must he believe in Pobby and Dingan, he must convince others to believe in them, too.

 

 

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

mrskimble2FROM THE PUBLISHER
"Jennifer Haigh delivers the compelling story of three women who marry the same man - an enigmatic opportunist named Ken Kimble." Kimble is revealed through the eyes of the women he seduces: his first wife, Birdie Bell, who struggles to hold herself together in the months following his desertion; his second wife, Joan Cohen, a lonely heiress shaken by personal tragedy, who sees in Kimble her last chance at happiness; and finally Dinah Whitacre, a beautiful but damaged woman half his age. Woven throughout is the story of Kimble's son, Charlie, whose life is forever affected by a father he barely remembers. Ken Kimble is a chameleon, a man able to become, at least, for a while, all things to all women. To each of the three Mrs. Kimbles, he appears as a hero to whom powerful needs and nameless longings may be attached. Only later do they glimpse the truth about this elusive, unknowable man.

 

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

the_amazingFROM THE PUBLISHER
A talking cat, intelligent rats, and a strange boy cooperate in a Pied Piper scam until they try to con the wrong town and are confronted by a deadly evil rat king.

 

 

 

 

 

True Story: Swear to God: 100 Stories by Tom Beland

swearFROM THE PUBLISHER
Life is funnier than fiction. At least that’s true for cartoonist Tom Beland. TRUE STORIES, SWEAR TO GOD: 100 Stories is Tom Beland’s unique look at everyday events. A California-based cartoonist with a tumultuous childhood and a strong sense of family leaves it all behind and moves to Puerto Rico to be with the love of his life. Weaving tales of innocence and wit, Tom welcomes you into his life and you’ll soon be wanting another 100 stories.

 

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

mystic_river_2FROM THE PUBLISHER
When they were children, Sean Devine, Jimmy Marcus, and Dave Boyle were friends. But then a strange car drove up their street. One boy got in the car, two did not, and something terrible happened — something that ended their friendship and changed all three boys forever. Twenty-five years later, Sean is a homicide detective. Jimmy is an ex-con. And Dave is trying to hold his marriage together and keep his demons at bay-demons that urge him to do horrific things.When Jimmy's daughter is found murdered, Sean is assigned to the case. His investigation brings him into serious conflict with Jimmy. And then there is Dave, who came home covered in someone else's blood the night Jimmy's daughter died. While Sean attempts to use the law to return peace and order to the neighborhood, Jimmy finds his need for vengeance pushing him ever closer to a moral abyss from which he won't be able to return.A tense and unnerving psychological thriller, Mystic River is also an epic novel of love, loyalty, faith, and family.

 

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

a_prayerFROM THE PUBLISHER
In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys - best friends - are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen, after that 1953 foul ball, is extraordinary and terrifying.

 

 

 

What the Bird Sees by Sonya Hartnett

whatthebirdseesPublisher's Weekly
Hartnett (Thursday's Child) again captures the ineffable fragility of childhood in this keenly observed tale set in 1977 in her native Australia. Adrian has one school friend and many secret fears, including tidal waves, sea monsters, quicksand and being abandoned ("Everybody leaves me. I'm not allowed to be anywhere," he laments). Taken away from his (apparently) mentally ill mother, and unwanted by his father, nine-year-old Adrian lives with his grandmother and traumatized, agoraphobic uncle. The boy becomes transfixed by the story of three siblings in a nearby suburb who went out for ice cream and disappeared; he wonders why ordinary children like himself might have been "worth taking or wanting, a desirable thing." As the title indirectly suggests, the author maintains an omniscient, bird's-eye perspective, taking in not only Adrian's experiences but the feelings of his grandmother and uncle, some information about the new family next door (it includes three children and a desperately ill mother) and news of the missing children. The measured distance Hartnett puts between readers and Adrian allows her to introduce a tragic climax that neither manipulates nor (likely) devastates the audience. Sophisticated readers will appreciate the work's acuity and poetic integrity.

 

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin

hollowchocolateFROM THE PUBLISHER
In Robert Rankin’s latest warped fantasy, a serial killer is murdering notable nursery rhyme characters and leaving chocolate calling cards at the scene of each crime. Fast, demented fairytale–noir action—winner of the SFX Magazine Award for Best Book of the Year.

 

 

 

 

The Secret Diaries of Adrian Mole , Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

adrianmoleFROM THE PUBLISHER
Adrian Mole faces the same agonies which life sets before most adolescents: troubles with girls, school, parents, and an uncaring world. The difference, though, between young Master Mole and his peers is that this British lad keeps a diary - an earnest chronicle of longing and disaster that has convulsed more than five million readers since its two-volume initial publication. From teenage Adrian's obsession with intellectuality after understanding "nearly every word" of a Malcolm Muggeridge broadcast to his anguished adoration of a lovely, mercurial schoolmate, from his view of his parents' constantly creaking relationship to his heartfelt but hilarious attempts at cathartic verse, here is an outrageous triumph of deadpan and deadly accurate, satire. ABBA, Princess Di's wedding, street punks, Monty Python, the Falklands campaign - all the cultural pageantry of a keenly observed era marches past the unique perspective of Sue Townsend's creation: A. Mole, the unforgettable lad whose self-absorption only gets funnier as his life becomes more desperate.

 

Einstein's Dreams by Alan P. Lightman

einsteindreamsFROM THE PUBLISHER
It is ten minutes past six by the invisible clock on the wall. Minute by minute new objects gain form. In the dim light of morning the young patent clerk sprawls in his chair, head down on his desk. For the past several months, he has dreamed many dreams about time. His dreams have taken hold of his research. But the dreaming is finished. Out of many possible natures of time, imagined in as many nights, one seems compelling. Not that the others are impossible. The others might exist in other worlds. The patent clerk is Albert Einstein. In his dreams he imagines new worlds, in which time can be circular, or flow backwards, or slow down at higher altitudes, or take the form of a nightingale. Einstein's Dreams is an enchantment and a literary adventure, one which Salman Rushdie has compared to Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities: "And I really can't think of higher praise. It is at once intellectually provocative and touching and comic and so very beautifully written. Quite frankly I haven't been so excited by a novel, let alone a first novel, for a very long time."