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Giving thanks to some great reads this past month...

Tis the season of giving thanks and being grateful for the bounty of Fall. In that vein, I feel thankful for one of my all-time favorite authors, Jesmyn Ward, and her magical new book Let Us Descend. Ward's latest novel is a bit of a departure for her in its topic and timeframe, but her lyrical prose and her biting dialogue remain as powerful as ever. The subject of slavery in the Antebellum South is never an easy topic to explore, but as painful as the subject is, this story illustrates the strength of the human spirit to survive. This understanding helps to carry us along on the journey that the main character withstands. Her relationship with her mother and her girlfriend being the most lasting and comforting. "Always clear-eyed, Ward knows history is a nightmare. But she insists all the same that we might yet awaken and sing." - Chicago Tribune.

Another disturbing look at our history is told in the novel This Other Eden by Paul Harding. The book traces the history of a diverse community on an island in Maine that is disrupted by an outsider seeking to educate the islanders. His presence is mistrusted from the onset. Eventually, the mainlanders infiltrate and take control of the land by removing the indigenous population and sending them to institutions on the mainland. This story is based on true events from the early 20th century.

If you haven't read Sarah Winman's Still Life I highly recommend that you give it a go. It's a slow-paced novel with rich descriptions of both the settings and the characters; you will no doubt fall in love with both. The story takes place in Tuscany at the end of WWII and then follows the characters as they rebuild their lives in various regions of Europe. Their paths take them to distant shores and then draws them back together in a kind of beautiful life dance. The arts are interwoven into the storyline and the dialogue in a way that reminds us of how art can bring people together with shared memories. A truly beautiful novel that defines a feel-good read.

If you are in the mood for a fictionalized oral history I recommend The Maniac by Benjamin Labatut. You'll learn about some of the lesser known  scientists behind the 1945 nuclear test at Los Alamos, New Mexico, along with a dramatic account of advanced AIs 2016 victory over South Korea in the ancient strategy game of Go. Labatut presents a persuasive case for what makes us human, and why these traits are critical for our survival.

The MANIAC By Benjamin Labatut Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593654477
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - October 3rd, 2023

Let Us Descend: A Novel By Jesmyn Ward Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982104498
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - October 24th, 2023

Still Life: A GMA Book Club Pick (A Novel) By Sarah Winman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593330760
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - September 13th, 2022

This Other Eden: A Novel By Paul Harding Cover Image
ISBN: 9781324036296
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 24th, 2023