Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh


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New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Haigh-“a gifted chronicler of the human condition” (Washington Post Book World)-writes a tense, riveting story about the disparate lives that intersect at a woman’s clinic in Boston.

“Mercy Street is propulsive, urgent, and essential. Haigh writes with uncommon insight and compassion (and, yes, mercy) about people whose ideals are so strikingly at odds that we can only wait for their lives to collide. I was riveted and transported, and want to hand this book to everyone I know.” — Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Great Believers

“Mercy Street is a savvy, keen-eyed, witty, wise, and altogether luminous novel. A triumph. Jennifer Haigh is a young master of this form. Though, at day’s end, I’d read her just to read her.”– Richard Ford

“I’m just going to say it: Jennifer Haigh is the greatest novelist of our generation. And Mercy Street is her best novel yet.” — Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year

“Mercy Street is a strong and heartfelt story about contemporary America in all its complexities, an important and necessary book.”– Dorthe Nors, author of Mirror, Shoulder, Signal 

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Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt  


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This uplifting story features a recently widowed woman working at an aquarium, a young man trying to find his father, and in an unusual choice of narrators, a smart and mischievous octopus. I loved this small seaside town and its residents, each dealing with their own issues, and the book’s humor and heart.

“Shelby Van Pelt has done the impossible. She’s created a perfect story with imperfect characters, that is so heartwarming, so mysterious, and so completely absorbing, you won’t be able to put it down because when you’re not reading this book you’ll be hugging it.”— Jamie Ford, author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“Infused with heartfelt humor, Van Pelt’s elegant portrait of a widowed woman who finds understanding and connection with a clever octopus is refreshingly, if surprisingly, relatable. Despite the unorthodox relationship at its core, the debut novel offers a wholly original meditation on grief and the bonds that keep us afloat.” — Elle

“As Van Pelt’s zippy, fun-to-follow prose engages at every turn, readers will find themselves rooting for the many characters, hoping that they’ll find whatever it is they seek. Each character is profoundly human, with flaws and eccentricities crafted with care. But what makes Van Pelt’s novel most charming and joyful is the tender friendship between species, and the ways Tova and Marcellus make each other ever more remarkable and bright.” — BookPage

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Lost & Found: a Memoir by Kathryn Schulz

Note:  New Yorker’s Kathryn Schulz is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Eighteen months before Kathryn Schulz’s beloved father died, she met the woman she would marry. In Lost & Found, she weaves the stories of those relationships into a brilliant exploration of how all our lives are shaped by loss and discovery. (Amazon)

 “An unfolding astonishment to read.”—Alison Bechdel, author of The Secret to Human Strength and Fun Home

“Lost & Found is the most daring of books: a memoir by a happy person. Deeply felt and exquisitely written, it’s an absorbing exploration of love and loss—not to mention meteorites, Dante, and bears. The prodigiously talented Kathryn Schulz has written about her life in a way that will change yours.”—Andy Borowitz, of “The Borowitz Report”

“An extraordinary gift of a book, a tender, searching meditation on love and loss and what it means to be human. I wept at it, laughed with it, was entirely fascinated by it. I emerged feeling as if the world around me had been made anew.”—Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk and Vesper Flights

“Just as every grief narrative is a reckoning with loss, every love story is a chronicle of finding,’ writes Pulitzer Prize winner Schulz (Being Wrong) in this stunning memoir. As Schulz recounts, she contended with the pain and ecstasy of both narratives. . . . By the end of these exquisite existential wanderings, Schulz comes to a quiet truce with her finding that ‘life, too, goes by contraries . . . by turns crushing and restorative . . . comic and uplifting.’ Schulz’s canny observations are a treasure.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Deeply felt. More than a reflection on the loss of a parent. It is about the idea of loss in general and the passage of time. Fresh and evocative . . . a poignant, loving, wise, and comforting meditation on grief from both a personal and collective perspective.”—Booklist (starred review)

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The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill


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This is a fun mystery full of twists, following a writer who is caught up in a series of murders while working on her latest book. The story takes place in Boston and features lots of local places. The book is told as a story within a story, and I’m not sure I completely understood all of it, but I enjoyed the journey! 

“[The Woman in the Library] is a mystery-within-a-mystery, with the clues in Freddie’s story becoming more intriguing as Leo’s advice becomes more sinister. The two story lines work together beautifully, amping up the suspense before reaching a surprising conclusion.” ― Booklist

“With each new chapter, Gentill opens the door to new histories. More murders…more clues…The Woman in the Library is a page-turner from beginning to end. As Gentill’s characters grow, the desire to know more about each ensnares us, and the only way out is to read to the end.” ― New York Journal of Books

“The Woman in the Library is a sophisticated mystery with more layers than an onion, created by a master hand. Clever plot twists in Gentill’s signature refined style will make you feel smarter just by reading. Sulari Gentill has done it again.” ― Ellie Marney, New York Times bestselling author

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Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus    


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“It’s the world versus Elizabeth Zott, an extraordinary woman determined to live on her own terms, and I had no trouble choosing a side. Lessons in Chemistry is a page-turning and highly satisfying tale: zippy, zesty, and Zotty.”—Maggie Shipstead, author of Great Circle

“The enchanting story of Elizabeth Zott never belittles the offence of sexism, but neither – miraculously – does it ever take you more than a few sentences away from a smile, a chuckle, or a laugh out loud. Bonnie Garmus’ gift is to expose the sting and injustice of being a woman in a man’s world with a feather light touch that keeps our spirits buoyant and our hearts strong. I honestly don’t know how she does it. This is a remarkable book by a remarkable writer.”—Jo Browning Roe, author of A Terrible Kindness

“Lessons in Chemistry is a breath of fresh air—a witty, propulsive, and refreshingly hopeful novel populated with singular characters. This book is an utter delight—wry, warm, and compulsively readable.”—Claire Lombardo, author of The Most Fun We Ever Had

“Garmus tells a familiar story in a completely original voice in her delightful debut novel…Zott is an unforgettable protagonist, logical and literal and utterly herself…The novel deftly mixes comedy and tragedy, with only one very clear villain: the patriarchal culture of mid-20th century America, the days of which are numbered because of women like Zott…For those who admire a confident, bone-dry, and hilarious authorial voice, this novel achieves the difficult task of being both sharply satirical and heartwarming at the same time.”—Historical Novels Review

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The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin 


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Delightfully funny and bittersweet, heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot reminds us of the preciousness of life as it considers the legacy we choose to leave, how we influence the lives of others even after we’re gone, and the wonder of a friendship that transcends time. A charming, fiercely alive and disarmingly funny debut novel in the vein of John Green, Rachel Joyce, and Jojo Moyes  (Amazon)

“Cronin has just struck the right balance between sensitivity and sentimentality, making her one of those admirable writers who does exceptionally fine work both celebrating life and addressing death.” — Booklist

“A heart-warming story about how friendship can grow between people of different generations.” — BBC

“This multi-generational novel about friendship is something special: moving, joyful, and life-affirming.” — Good Housekeeping, UK (Book of the Month)

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Horse: a Novel by Geraldine Brooks


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A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history (publisher)

“Brooks’ chronological and cross-disciplinary leaps are thrilling . . . [Horse] is really a book about the power and pain of words . . . Lexington is ennobled by art and science, and roars back from obscurity to achieve the high status of metaphor.”—The New York Times Book Review

“[Brooks] demonstrates imaginative empathy […] and provides some sardonic correctives to White cluelessness . . . Brooks skillfully […] demonstrate[s] how the poison of racism lingers. Contemporary parallels are unmistakable . . . Strong storytelling in service of a stinging moral message.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

“Brooks probes our understanding of history to reveal the power structures that create both the facts and the fiction . . . [She] has penned a clever and richly detailed novel about how we commodify, commemorate, and quantify winning in the United States, all through the lens of horse racing.”
Library Journal (starred review)

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Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? : a Memoir by Séamas O’Reilly 


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This memoir is narrated by Séamas O’Reilly, who was five when his mother died and left behind a husband and eleven children. While this tragic event is the focus of the book, it is also a really funny, uplifting story about how the siblings and their dad carried on, living in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. 

“I laughed out loud reading Did Ye Hear Mammy Died, especially at the bits that recalled for me the way my own family laughs to keep from crying…It’s rare to read about good fathers in memoirs, and O’Reilly’s portrait…is hilarious and moving….It is this thread of refusal to be pitied, to have what happened to his family reduced to ‘a tawdry bit of sentimental fluff for people to tut along to and say how sad,’ that makes Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? so rousing. That it is also deadly funny is an extra treat.”―NPR

“Northern Ireland in the time of the Troubles is often cast into a narrative that doesn’t allow room for joy or delight…O’Reilly’s recollection is a splendid paradox, both cheery and heartbreaking.”―Booklist, Starred

“In this joyous, wildly unconventional memoir, Séamas O’Reilly tells the story of losing his mother as a child and growing up with ten siblings in Northern Ireland during the final years of the Troubles as a raucous comedy, a grand caper that is absolutely bursting with life.”―Patrick Radden Keefe, NYT bestselling author of Say Nothing and Empire of Pain

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Fault Lines by Emily Itami


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“Fault Lines is full of laugh-out-loud, irreverent humor, as well as heartstoppingly poignant, yet seemingly incidental, wisdom. All of the inner yearnings and tribulations of Mizuki are laid bare, offering one of the fullest, most thorough depictions of a character I have ever read. … Every line here is razor-sharp, chosen with precision, resulting in a deceptively clever, emotionally wise and truly heartbreaking novel.” —

“What’s intriguing about Fault Lines is its shrewd commentary on Japan’s societal expectations of women as either sex objects or dutiful mothers. As Mizuki eventually learns, it’s in striking a workable balance between these two dichotomies — her past life versus her present one, titillating desire versus familial obligations, who she wants to be versus who society dictates she should be — that the real work of living begins.” — Washington Post

“Mizuki is one of the most engaging adulteresses I’ve ever encountered, and a wonderfully witty guide to the morals and mores of contemporary Tokyo. I now know just how to behave while picking up children from school, or meeting strangers. Fault Lines is a moving and suspenseful novel full of the best kinds of incidental wisdom.” — Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field

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The Nazis Knew My Name: A Remarkable Story of Survival and Courage in Auschwitz by Magda Hellinger and Maya Lee


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Having heard this author on NPR describing an excerpt from the book where her mother slapped a prisoner and yanked her off a wagon – what was criticized as harsh – but , there and then, actually saved that prisoner’s life as well as hundreds of other prisoners’ lives. I was intrigued to discover how she herself managed to survive having been one of the first Jews to be sent to Auschwitz.

“For too long, the stories of people like Magda, who were forced to make unthinkable choices, have remained untold. Unsentimental and filled with detail of her courageous dealings with notorious Nazis this is an important book that provides a rare insight into everyday life in the hellish structure of concentration camps. This thought-provoking book is a must-read for anyone interested in the Holocaust.” —Ariana Neumann, New York Times bestselling author of When Time Stopped

“[A] compelling and seamless portrait of a young woman who managed to sur­vive and save others through cunning bravery and compassionate leadership… an extraordinary portrait of one woman who fought for others in the midst of unimaginable horror.” —BookPage (starred review)

“Hellinger has written an important perspective of the Holocaust, of a kind that we rarely see. A standout memoir that will draw the interest of readers of World War II history and women’s memoirs or biographies.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Magda’s own words, completed by her daughter’s copious research, create an unputdownable account of resilience and the power of compassion.” —Booklist

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