Favorites for 2021 (so far)
Some new, some old, some biography, some historical fiction, some literary fiction, some mystery — these are some great reads that we recommend. Remember, we ship and there's no charge.
The Absolutist by John Boyne
Although set in the First World War, this is not your usual war novel. It is a story of being different and going against popular opinion. Two themes — being homosexual and being an objector to the war are played out through the two main characters. It is an immensely sad and moving book that asks what it means to be a man and what it means to be human during war. The unexpected and tragic conclusion will linger with you. If you haven’t read Boyne’s other books — especially The Heart’s Invisible Furies and A History of Loneliness — add them to your list.
Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig
Historical fiction at its best. A group of young women from Smith College go to France during World War I to help with refugee relief in one of the most devastated regions of France. An inspiring and compelling read, the bravery and bonds women forge with each other are integral parts of this great read. Every bit as interesting is the explanation by the author of how she stumbled across this bit of overlooked history and her discussion of her research.
The Survivors by Jane Harper
If you like mysteries that can qualify as thrillers, this one is for you. Her fourth novel, as always set in Australia, evokes its landscape in a story that is intense and deeply intelligent psychological thriller.
The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne
This is an epic biography of Malcolm X, meticulously researched, and offers new information and perspectives on an often misunderstood figure in American history. Based on thousands of hours of interviews with primary sources, eye-witness accounts, and personal documents, the book was completed by Payne’s daughter after his untimely death.
The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone
This historical novel takes place just after World War II and is based on true events. The Communists arranged for children from impoverished Southern Italy to go north and stay with families for a time so that they would have food, warm clothes, and opportunity. This is the story of one of those children. Leaving a mother for a new family, Amerigo’s journey is painful and poignant as he balances different kinds of love.
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin
If you love a good story, is you love a bit of suspense, if you love to read good writing you MUST read this book. It falls into the category of a really, really good read. If you know it takes place in a cemetery or that it is a book about a failed relationship or that it is a book about how one resurrects oneself and finds peace after a devastating loss you won’t know why you should read it. This is one you where you need to take our word.
Abigail by Magda Szabo
An enchanting and engrossing read by a Hungarian novelist that has just recently been translated into English. It is not your typical WWII story, but its plot is based on a father who is a general in the Hungarian army trying to protect his young daughter as Germany is posed to enter Hungary. I won’t provide a plot spoiler but can assure you that the suspense grows as the book progresses and the denouement is not expected. It was written as a young adult novel but it is a book that will engage all ages.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
A delightful debut novel giving a voice to children of a slum neighborhood. The nine-year-old Jai and his friends Pari and Faiz, work together to solve the disappearance of a child from their community. No longer a game when other kids disappear, the children’s lives are portrayed with sympathy in an unsparing portrait of the real world they inhabit.
The Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri
If you like mysteries and haven’t yet discovered the Inspector Montalbano series, then run, don’t walk to your bookstore to get started. Set in Sicily, the “books are full of sharp, precise characterizations and with subplots that make Montalbano endearingly human.” (New York Journal of Books) Twenty-six books in the series have been translated into English. A must read series for mystery lovers.
Eleanor by David Michaelis
The first major single-volume biography in more than 50 years, Michaelis brings a fresh, beautifully written account of a great American life.