WKNO-FM's Book Club meets monthly to discuss the selected title. Keep up with the books we're reading! For more information about the book club or to receive our e-mails, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the next meeting of the WKNO Book Club will be online through Zoom on Wednesday, January 27 at 6:30 PM. We'll be taking December off for the holidays.
Current/December, 2020 - January, 2021
For the first Book Club meeting of 2021, Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy has been selected. Epic and intimate, heartbreaking and galvanizing, Charlotte McConaghy's Migrations is an ode to a disappearing world and a breathtaking page-turner about the possibility of hope against all odds.
Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool―a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime―it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny's dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption?
The WKNO-FM Book Club has selected The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu as it's read for this month. The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking listeners to experience the Hugo Award-winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.
Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
October's book selection is Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Hailed as “wrenching and revelatory” (The Nation), “vivid and unsettling” (New York Review of Books), Evicted transforms our understanding of poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving one of twenty-first-century America’s most devastating problems. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.
For September, the WKNO-FM Book Club has selected Circe by Madeline Miller. In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child -- not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power -- the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
The WKNO-FM Book Club has selected More Better Deals by Joe R. Lansdale as its read for August. Ed Edwards is in the used car business, a business built on adjusted odometers, extra-fine print, and the belief that "buyers better beware." Burdened by an aging, alcoholic mother constantly on his case to do something worthier of his lighter skin tone and dreaming of a brighter future for himself and his plucky little sister, Ed is ready to get out of the game. When Dave, his lazy, grease-stained boss at the eponymous dealership Smiling Dave's sends him to repossess a Cadillac, Ed finally gets the chance to escape his miserable life.
The WKNO-FM Book Club has selected for its July read, Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler, a sparkling new novel about misperception, second chances, and the sometimes elusive powder of human connection.
Micah Mortimer is a creature of habit. A self-employed tech expert, superintendent of his Baltimore apartment building, cautious to a fault behind the steering wheel, he seems content leading a steady, circumscribed life. But one day his routines are blown apart when his woman friend (he refuses to call anyone in her late thirties a "girlfriend") tells him she's facing eviction, and a teenager shows up at Micah's door claiming to be his son.
These surprises, and the ways they throw Micah's meticulously organized life off-kilter, risk changing him forever. An intimate look into the heart and mind of a man who finds those around him just out of reach, and a funny, joyful, deeply compassionate story about seeing the world through new eyes, Redhead by the Side of the Road is a triumph, filled with Anne Tyler's signature wit and gimlet-eyed observation.
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn is the June selection for the WKNO-FM Book Club.
It's the true story of a couple who lost everything and embarked on a transformative journey walking the South West Coast Path in England.
Just days after Raynor Winn learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, through Devon and Cornwall.
Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea, and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter, and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable and life-affirming journey. Powerfully written and unflinchingly honest, The Salt Path is ultimately a portrayal of home—how it can be lost, rebuilt, and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.
The Book Club choice for May is Deacon King Kong by James McBride.
In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project's drug dealer at point-blank range.
The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride's funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood's Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry is the April selection for the WKNO-FM Book Club.
In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two aging Irishmen -- Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs -- sit at night, none too patiently. It is October 23, 2018, and they are expecting Maurice's estranged daughter, Dilly, to either arrive on a boat coming from Tangier or depart on one heading there.
This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals and serial exiles, rendered with the dark humor and the hardboiled Hibernian lyricism that have made Kevin Barry one of the most striking and admired fiction writers at work today.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson is the Book Club's selection for March. From the NY TImes best-selling author of The Family Fang, comes a moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she begins caring for two children with a remarkable ability.
Lillian and Madison were inseparable friends at their elite boading school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they've barely spoken since. Out of the blue, she gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help.
Madison's twin step-kids are moving in with her and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. But there's a catch: the twins combust when they're agitated. Lillian thinks Madison is joking.
Figuring her life is at a dead-end, she agrees to do it. In the course of a summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust one another as they discover they need each other.
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell is the February read.
How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each that isn't true?
Something is wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know. And because we don't know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.
The Book Club's choice for January is Watershed by Mark Barr.
Set in 1937 in rural Tennessee, with the construction of a monumental dam serving as background -- a cinematically biblical effort to harness elemental forces and bring power to the people -- Watershed delivers a gripping story of characters whose ambitions and yearnings threaten to overflow the banks of their time and place.
Nathan, an engineer hiding from his past, and Claire, a small-town housewife, struggle to find their footing in the newly-electrified, job-hungry, post-Depression South. As Nathan wrestles with the burdens of secret guilt and tangled love, Claire struggles to balance motherhood and a newfound freedom that awakens ambitions and a sexuality she hadn't know she possessed.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates is this month's selection.
Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her - but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape the only home he's ever known.
So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virgina's proud plantations to desperate guerilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war bewteen slavers and the enslaved, Hiram's resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.
The WKNO-FM Book Club has selected Howard Norman's book, The Ghost Clause.
Simon Inescort is no longer bodily present in his marriage. It's been several months since he keeled over the rail of a Nova Scotia-bound ferry, a massive heart attack to blame. Simon's widow, Lorca Pell, has sold their farmhouse to newlyweds Zachary and Muriel - after revealing that the deed includes a "ghost clause," an actual legal clause, not unheard of in Vermont, allowing for reimbursement if a recently purchased house turns out to be haunted.
In fact, Simon finds himself still at home: "Every waking moment, I'm astonished I have any consciousness... What am I to call myself now, a revenant?" He spends time replaying his marriage in his own mind, as if in a poignant reel-to-reel, while often engaging in occasionally intimate observation of the new homeowners. But soon the crisis of a missing child, a local eleven year old, threatens the tenuous domestic equilibrium, as the weight of the case falls to Zachary, a rookie private detective with the Green Mountain Agency.
This is not your standard ghost story, instead it speaks about hope, love (new and lost), and what inhabits our lives in those rooms we believe are empty.
The September selection for the Book Club is Eric Barnes cli-fi novel Above the Ether.
Six sets of characters move through a landscape and a country just beginning to show the signs of cataclysmic change. Life is changing before their eyes.
While every night the news alternates images of tsunami destruction with the baseball scores, the characters converge on a city where the forces of change have already broken - a city half abandoned, with one part left to be scavenged as the levee system protecting it slowly fails - until, in their vehicles on the highway that runs through it, they witness the approach of what looks to be just one more violent storm.
It's a mesmerizing novel of an unfolding dystopia amid the effects of climate change in a world very much like our own.
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal is the August selection for the WKNO-FM Book Club.
Two sisters, one farm. A family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, his younger daughter. Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, older sister Edith struggles to make ends meet. She can't help but wonder what her life would have been like had even a portion of the farm money been given to her.
With the proceeds from the farm, Helen builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country. Their motto: "Drink lots. It's Blotz." Where Edith has a heart as big as Minnesota, Helen is as rigid as a steel keg. Yet one day, Helen finds she needs some help herself and a savior might be close to home... if it's not too late.
In this deeply affecting family saga, resolution can take generations, but when it finally comes, we're surprised, moved, and delighted.
The WKNO-FM Book Club has chosen The Binding by Bridget Collins.
Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder - a vocation that arouse fear, superstition, and prejudice amongst their small community, but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.
Bookbinding is a scared calling and Emmett is a binder born and he learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. If there's something to forget, a binder can help. If there's something you need to erase, they can assist.
It's an unforgettable novel of enchantment, mystery, memory, and forbidden love. The Binding is a beautiful homage to the allure and life-changing power of books - and a reminder to us all that knowledge can be its own kind of magic.
For June, the WKNO-FM Book Club has selected Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan.
Machines Like Me takes place in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first synthetic humans and he designs Adam's personality. The near-perfect human that emerges is beautiful, strong, and clever. It isn't long before a love triangle forms, and these three beings confront a profound moral dilemma.
In his subversive new novel, Ian McEwan asks whether a machine can understand the human heart - or whether we are the ones who lack understanding.
"A thought-provoking, well-oiled literary machine... (It) manages to flesh out - literally and grippingly - questions about what constitutes a person, and the troubling future of humans if the smart machines we create can overtake us." NPR
The Book Club has selected Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance by Bill McKibben as its book for May.
As the host of Radio Free Vermont -- "underground, underpowered, and underfoot" -- seventy-two year old Vern Barclay is currently broadcasting from an "undisclosed and double-secret location." With the help of a young computer prodigy, Vern uses his radio show to advocate for a simple yet radical idea: an independent Vermont, one where the state secedes from the United States and operates under a free local economy.
But for now, he and his radio show must remain untraceable, because in addition to being a lifelong Vermonter and concerned citizen, Vern Barclay is also a fugitive from the law.
"A lean, fantastical, swift-kick-in-the-pants of a read, Radio Free Vermont may not save the world - but it succeeds wildly in making the formidable prospect of resistance feel a bit more fun." NPR.org
This month's selection is The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason.
It's Vienna, 1914 and Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. He enlists, expecting a position at a well-organized field hospital. But when he arrives, at a commandeered church tucked away high in a remote valley in the Carpathian Mountains, he finds a freezing outpost ravaged by typhus. The other doctors have fled, and only a single, mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete remains.
"The Winter Soldier brims with improbable pleasures...These pages crackle with excitement...A spectacular success." Anthony Marra, New York Times Book Review
With respects to Monty Python, "and now for something completely different." The WKNO-FM Book Club has selected a thriller by national best-selling and Memphis author Mark Greaney. It's the first of his eight(so far) book series featuring Court Gentry, the eponymous The Gray Man.
To those who lurk in the shadows, he's known as the Gray Man. He is a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible and then fading away. And he always hits his target. Always.
"Hard, fast, and unflinching - exactly what a thriller should be." - Lee Child (Jack Reacher)
In conjunction with the Germantown Public Library and the National Endowment for the Arts' The Big Read program, the WKNO-FM Book Club's selection is Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake.
The New York Times calls it "Dazzling... an intimate, closely observed family portrait."
Meet the Ganguli family, new arrivals from Calcutta, trying their best to become Americans even as they pine for home. The name they bestow on their firstborn, Gogol, betrays all the conflicts of honoring tradition in a new world - conflicts that will haunt Gogol on his own winding path though divided loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs.
December, 2018/January 2019
The classic Doris Lessing novel, The Golden Notebook, is the Book Club's selection for the December/January, 2019 meeting.
Anna is a writer, author of a very successful novel, who now keeps four notebooks. In one, with a black cover, she reviews the African experience of her earlier years. In a red one she records her political life and her disillusionment with communism. In a yellow one she writes a novel in which the heroine relives part of her own experience. And in a blue one she keeps a personal diary. Finally, in love with an American writer and theatened with insanity, Anna resolves to bring the threads of all four books together in a golden notebook.
Doris Lessing's best-known and influential novel, The Golden Notebook retains its extraordinary power and relevance decades after its initial publication.
Tracking Happiness by local author Ellen Morris Prewitt is the WKNO-FM's Book Club selection for November.
Lucinda Mae Watkins- of the "Edison, Mississippi fried chicken royalty" is incensed when her dead father's former business partner Big Doodle Dayton clains her dad materminded the drug ring exploding at the local Chicken Palace fried chicken joint.
She jumps on the train with her best friend Erick, determined to meet Big Doodle at the Chicken Palace convention in Chicago. Thrilled to be out of Mississippi, for only the secong time in her life, she's enjoying her trip - particularly the good looking stranger she meets on the train - until she discoverd her own words might have indicted her.
The North Water by Ian McGuire is the October selection.
Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaler bound for the rich hunting waters of the arctic circle. Also aboard for the first time is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money, and no better option than to sail as the ship's medic on this violent, filthy, and ill-fated voyage.
In India, during the Siege of Delhi, Sumner thought he had experienced the depths to which man can stoop, but now, trapped in the wooden belly of the ship with Drax, he encounters pure evil and is forced to act. As the true purpose of the expedition become clearer, the confrontation between the two men plays out amid the freezing darkness of an arctic winter.
The WKNO Book Club has chosen The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman as its read for September.
Conceived while his father, Bear, cavorted around Rome in the 1950's, Pinch learns quickly that Bear's genius trumps all. After Bear abandons his family, Pinch strives to make himself worthy of his father's attention - first trying to be a painter himself; then resolving to write his father's biography; eventually settling, disillusioned, into a job as an Italian teacher in London. But when Bear dies, Pinch hatches a scheme to secure his father's legacy - and make his own mark on the world.
With his signature humanity and humor, Tom Rachman examines a life lived in the shadow of greatness, cementing his place among his generation's most exciting literary voices.
Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin is the WKNO Book selection for August.
Rice Moore is just beginning to think his troubles are behind him. He's found a job protecting a remote forest preserve in Virginia Appalachia where his main responsibilities include tracking wildlife and refurbishing cabins. It's hard work, and totally solitary - perfect to hide away from the Mexican cartels he betrayed back in Arizona. But when Rice finds the carcass of a bear killed on the grounds, the quiet solitude he's so desperately sought is suddenly at risk.
More bears are killed on the preserve and Rice's obsession with catching the poachers escalates, putting into motion a plan that could expose the poachers and Rice.
This month, the Book Club will be reading The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson.
On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men weho shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-fishing.
Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundred of bird skins, some collected 150 years earlier by a Darwin contemporary who'd risked everything to gather them - and escaped into darkness.
For June, the Book Club has selected The Little French Bistro by Nina George, one of a series of stories George has written about France.
Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage. After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, she leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as "the end of the world."
Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life's small moments. And, as parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marainne learns it's never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday is the May book choice, a singularly inventive and unforgettable debut novel about love, luck, and the inextricability of life and art.
Told in three distinct and uniquely compelling sections, Asymmetry explores the imbalances that spark and sustain many of our most dramatic human relations: inequities in age, power, talent, wealth, fame, geography, and justice. The first section, "Folly," tells the story of Alice, a young American editor, and her relationship with the famous and much older writer Ezra Blazer, which also suggests an aspiring novelist's coming-of-age.
By contrast, "Madness," is narrated by Amar, an Iraqi-American man who, on his way to visit his brother in Kurdistan, is detained by immigration officers and spends the last weekend of 2008 in a holding room in Heathrow. These two seemingly disparate stores gain resonance as their perspectives interact and overlap, with yet new implications for their relationship revealed in an unexpected code.
The April selection is Trey's Company by Memphis author, Frank Murtaugh.
Love a little, die a little, and break the law. Trey Milligan did them all in one summer, and before his 14th birthday.
Trey lives in Southern California, but is spending the summer with his grandmother in a small Tennessee town. The South becomes home to Trey and also represents the freedom that every child associates with summer. Three of Trey's friends come to personify love, death, and the criminal element, challenges every child must, at some point, confront.
Together, the three build an unasked-for bridge to adulthood for Trey. However, none of the transformative events of this fateful summer, prepare Trey for what's about to happen.
The Book Club selected The Power by Naomi Alderman. In this book, the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; and a tough London girl from a tricky family. In short, something for everyone.
But then a vital force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonizing pain and even death. With this, the world dramatically resets.
This isn't Heathers by a long shot.
This month's selection is Daryl Gregory's new book, Spoonbenders.
Teddy Telemachus is a charming con man with a gift for sleight of hand and some shady underground associates. In need of cash, he tricks his way into a classified government study about telekinesis. There he meets Maureen McKinnon, and it's not just her piercing blue eyes that leaves Teddy forever charmed, but her mind - Maureen is a psychic of immense and mysterious power.
After a whirlwind courtship, they marry, have three strangely gifted children, and become the Amazing Telemachus Family, performing astounding feats across the country. Then one night, tragedy leaves the family shattered.
Decades later, the Telemachuses are not so amazing. Life for these people has not been that good, their powers notwithstanding. Sometimes a gift can be a curse. To make matters worse, the CIA has come knocking, looking to see if there's any magic left in the Telemachus clan.
December, 2017-January 2018
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News and "Brokeback Mountain," comes the New York Times bestselling epic about the demise of the world's forests: "Barkskins is grand entertainment in the tradition of Dickens and Tolstoy... the crowning achievement of Annie Proulx's distinguished career, but also perhaps the greatest environmental novel ever written." (San Francisco Chronicle)
In the late 17th century two young Frenchmen arrive in New France (now Canada). Bound to a feudal lord for three years, they become wood-cutters - barkskins. One suffers extraordinary hardship, the other runs away and becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business.
Proulx tells the stories of their descendants over three hundred years and their travels across North America to Europe, China, and New Zealand.
"Monumental. [With] prose of directness, clarity, rhythmic power, and oaken solidity..." (Wall Street Journal)
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips is the Book Club's selection for November. It's an electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she'll go to protect him.
The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few minutes of playtime. They are happy and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms.
And for the next three hours - the entire scope of the novel - she keeps on running trying to stay one step ahead of danger.
"Expertly made thriller ... clever and irresistible." - The New York Times
Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore is a wildly imaginative novel about a man who is reincarnated over ten thousand lifetimes to be with his one true love: Death herself.
First we live. Then we die. And then... we get another try?
Ten thousand tries, to be exact. Ten thousand lives to "get it right." Answer all the Big Questions. Achieve Wisdom. And Become One with Everything.
Milo has had 9,995 chances so far and has just five more lives to earn a place in the cosmic soul. If he doesn't make the cut, oblivion awaits. But all Milo really wants is to fall forever into the arms of Death. Or Suzie, as he calls her and she is literally his reason for living!
"Tales of gods and men akin to Neil Gaiman's Sandman as penned by a kindred spirit of Douglas Adams." - Kirkus Reviews.
The Book Club's selection for September is Jodi Picoult's book, Small Great Things, a novel about racism, choice, fear, and hope.
Based on a true story, Small Great Things tells the story of a labor and delivery nurse who was prohibited from caring for a newborn because the father requested that no African-American nurses tend to the baby.
In the fictional version, Ruth, the African-American nurse finds herself on trial for events related to the same request made by the father. In this book, Picoult examines multiple facets of racism.
This month's selection is a provocative satire of love, sex, money, and politics that unfolds over four wild days. This is Who is Rich?, Matthew Klam's debut novel.
Every summer, a once-sort-of-famous cartoonist named Rich Fischer leaves his wife and kids behind to teach a class at a week-long arts conference in a charming New England beachside town.
A warped and exhilarating tale of love and lust, Who is Rich? goes far beyond to address deeper questions of family, monogamy, the intoxicating beauty of children, and the challenging interdependence of two soulful, sensitive creatures in a confusing domestic alliance.
Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman: The Danes, the band once known as the "Darlings Of Detroit" - are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? They will.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injures are mysterious - and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident each passing day.
NPR reviewer Amal El-Mohtar says this of Frances Hardinge's new book, A Face Like Glass: "Let me begin by stating that this is a perfect book."
The book takes place in the underground city of Caverna, where the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare - wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat.
On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy. Thus the wealthy can call on a large variety of Faces to express (and conceal) their thoughts, while the poor are taught only faces that the wealthy want to see: those of cheerful subservience and quiet deference.
Margaret Atwood's novel take on Shakespeare's play of enchantment, retribution and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.
This is Hag-seed, Margaret Atwood's retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of a theatre festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other... not only will it boost his reputation, but it will also heal emotional wounds.
Or that was the plan. He is living in exile after an unexpected act of treachery. Now twelve years later, revenge appears in the unlikeliest of places - a prison.
Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkle is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods for 27 years, making this dream a reality - not out of anger for the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.
"A story that takes two primary human relationships - to nature and to one another - and deftly upends our assumptions about both. This was a breathtaking book to read and many weeks later I am still thinking about the implications for our society and - by extension - for my own life." Sebastian Junger
Nathan Hill's The Nix is the March selection for the WKNO Book Club and is a New York Times 2016 Notable Book, a Slate Top Ten, and a Washington Post 2016 Notable book.
Author John Irving (The World According to Garp, The Cider House Rules, and many more) has this to say about the book: "The Nix is a mother-son psycho-drama with ghosts and politics, but it's also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America...Nathan Hill is a maestro."
NPR's Jason Sheehan writes: "...The Nix is about a lot of things - about politics and online gaming, about the tenuous friendships of adult men and the 1968 Democratic Convention. It is a vicious, black-hearted and beautiful satire of youth and middle-age, feminine hygiene products, frozen food and social media. But more than anything, it is a treatise on the ways that the past molds us and breaks us and never lets us go. How it haunts us all."
Our Book Club selection for February is Sherry Thomas' A Study in Scarlet Women. In this book, Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down...
With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.
When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and father, she is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She'll have help, but in the end it will be up to her, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society's expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.
"Sherry Thomas is a master of her craft, and A Study in Scarlet Women is an unqualified success: brilliantly executed, beautifully written, and magnificently original..." Tasha Alexander, NY Times bestselling author.
The January, 2017 selection is Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, the first of his Flavia de Luce series.
It's the beginning of a lazy summer in 1950 at the sleepy English village of Bishop's Lacey. Up at the great house of Buckshaw, aspiring chemist Flavia de Luce passes the time tinkering in the laboratory she inherited from her deceased mother and an eccentric great uncle. When Flavia discovers a murdered stranger in the cucumber patch outside her bedroom window one morning, she decides to leave aside the flasks and Bunsen burners to solve the crime herself, much to the chagrin of the local authorities. But who can blame her? What else does an eleven-year-old science prodigy have to do when left to her own devices?
Adult readers will be totally charmed by this fearless, funny, and unflappable kid sleuth. This carefully plotted detective novel features plenty of unexpected twists and turns and loads of tasty period detail. As pages go by, you'll be rooting for this curious combination of Harriet the Spy and Sherlock Holmes. - Lauren Nemroff
The November selection is about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. This is The Sellout, Paul Beatty's biting new satire. It challenges the sacred tenets of the US Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality - the black Chinese restaurant.
Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens, on the southern outskirts of LA, the narrator of the book resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking at the cracks in the ceiling that've been there since the '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for the drive-thru funeral.
"The first 100 pages of Paul Beatty's new novel, The Sellout, are the most caustic and the most badass 100 pages of an American novel I've read in at least a decade... The riffs don't stop coming in this landmark and deeply aware comic novel." Dwight Garner, The New York Times.
This month's selection is Carl Hiassen's new book, Razor Girl. Once again taking on Florida and its crazy corrupted politics and business, we're introduced to the eponymous Razor Girl, Merry Mansfield.
When Lane Coolman's car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but (this is Hiassen after all!) Behind the wheel of the car is Merry Mansfield and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiassen has ever set loose on the page.
Janet Maslin of the New York Times has this to say: "Carl Hiassen's irresistible Razor Girl meets his usual sky-high standards for elegance and craziness... exceptionally timely, too..."
September, 2016: The selection for this month's WKNO Book Club is Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones, a 2011 National Book Award winner.
They heard it on the radio: A hurricane is coming, threatening the town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi.
Esch's hard-drinking father can feel it in his bones. Esch and her brothers are trying to help prepare, but there are other worries too. Skeetah is watching his prized pit bull, helpless as her new litter dies one by one. Randall, when not preoccupied with basketball, is busy looking after the youngest, Junior. And Esch, fifteen and motherless among men, has just realized she's pregnant.
The children of this family have always been short on nurture, but they are fiercely loyal to one another. It is together that they will face the building storm - and the day that will dawn after.
Oh, and the storm... it's called Katrina.
August, 2016: The WKNO Book Club read Joseph Finder's new book, Guilty Minds. Finder delivers an exhilarating and timely thriller which explores how even the most powerful among us can be brought down by a carefully crafted lie and how the secrets we keep can never truly stay buried.
The first line of the book is a grabber: "Lies are my business. They keep me employed."
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is about to be defamed and his career destroyed by a powerful gossip website that specializes in dirt on celebrities and politicians. An expose charges him with a liaison with an escort who's about to go public with her charges.
But the justice is not without connections and his greatest supporter is determined to stop the story dead.
If you've never read Joseph Finder, Guilty Minds is a good one with which to start.
July, 2016: The Book Club selection was Before The Fall by Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critics' Choice, and Golden Globe award-winner, Noah Hawley. The book begins with the crash of a private plane with eleven passengers, leaving only two survivors, a young boy and an obscure painter.
What happened on that flight? Why did the plane go down? With each chapter, Hawley peels back another layer of those lives affected by this amid media speculation and accusations. Is there something sinister going on in the background?
"This isn't just a good novel; it's a great one. I trusted no one in these pages, yet somehow cared about them all. Before The Fall brings a serrated edge every character, every insight, and every wicked twist." Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The President's Shadow.
June, 2016: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is an enthrallingly innovative tale of aspiration, exploration, and attachment. A gripping adventure story with a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love, this story is a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest.
A pharmaceutical researcher sets off into the Amazon jungle in search of a colleagues' remains, but first she must locate a doctor, her former mentor, who has been investigating the reproductive habits of an indigenous tribe. The researcher and doctor have an overlapping professional past that one of them has long tried to forget. In finding the doctor, the researcher must face her own disappointments and regrets amidst the jungle's unforgiving humidity and insects.
State of Wonder is a multi-layered atmospheric novel you'll find hard to put down.
May, 2016: Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating barge on the Seine River, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, he mends broken hearts and souls. But, the only person he can't heal through literature is himself. He's haunted by the disappearance of the great love of his life who left him only with a letter, which he never opened.
Finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission for the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, he travels along the country's rivers, dispensing books and wisdom. This is The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George.
"Enchanting and moving... Rarely have I read such a beautiful book." Tina magazine
April, 2016: After four harrowing years on the western front, a soldier takes a job as a lighthouse keeper. There he brings his new wife. After years of unsuccessfully trying to have children, his wife hears a cry on the wind. A boat has washed ashore with a dead man and a live baby.
The wife insists the baby is "a gift from God" and against her husband's judgment, claims it as her own. Two years later, they're reminded there are other people in the world and their decision has devastated one of them. This is The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.
March, 2016: Concluding that American politics were sufficiently self-satirizing, author Christopher Buckley decided to venture backward in time to a more innocent, less cynical era and place, like, say, the sixteenth century Holy Roman Empire in his new book, The Relic Master. Here we find Dismas, a former Swiss mercenary and monk, now engaged in the dealing of holy relics. His business takes an unexpected turn (no thanks to Martin Luther!), his nest egg is embezzled, and his retirement is in doubt. Enter his best friend, Albrecht Durer, (yes, THAT one) with a devious proposal. He suggests Dismas make a burial cloth of Christ and sell it to the Archbishop! A competing Shroud of Turin? Really?
Their scheme triggers a harrowing, hilarious, and ultimately poignant quest that makes this book a pleasure to read.
February, 2016: Ove is a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points fingers at those he dislikes as if they were thieves outside his house. The neighbors aren't thrilled with him at all. But there's a story and a sadness behind this exterior. So when a young couple with two chatty daughters move in next door to him, his world is changed. This is Fredrik Backman's first novel, A Man Called Ove. It's a thoughtful and comical exploration of the profound impact one can have on others.
January, 2016: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. Hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking, Toibin's sixth novel is set in Brooklyn, NY and Ireland in the early 1950's when one young woman crosses the ocean to make a new life for herself. Beautiful and funny, the book, also now a movie in current release, has garnered praise, landing on the New York Times best seller list.
December, 2015: "Long before it legally served me, the bar saved me," asserts J.R. Moehringer, and his compelling memoir, The Tender Bar is the story of how and why.
A Pulitzer-Prize winning writer for the Los Angeles Times, Moehringer grew up fatherless in pub-heavy Manhassett, New York, in a ram-shackle house crammed with cousins and ruled by an eccentric, unkind grandfather. Desperate for a paternal figure, he turns first to his father, a DJ whom he can only access via the radio. (Moehringer calls him The Voice and pictures him as "talking smoke"). When The Voice suddenly disappears from the airwaves, Moehringer turns to his hairless Uncle Charlie, and subsequently, Uncle Charlie's place of employment - a bar called Dickens that soon takes center stage.
Ultimately, Moehringer realizes that, "While I fear that we're drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we're defined by what embraces us," and his story makes us believe it. Brangien Davis
October 2015: The Day The World Came To Town by Jim McFede is the story of what happened when airspace over the United States was closed down on 9/11 and 38 jetliners were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland. The town of 10,000 welcomed nearly 6,600 passengers, with open arms, hearts, and homes. A true story of love and generosity in the face of a terrible tragedy.
March 2015: In Anthony Doerr's All the Light we Cannot See, a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
February 2015: The novella Breakfast at Tiffany's features one Truman Capote's best-known characters, Holly Golightly.
January 2015: You'll love the characters in Tom Rachman's new novel The Rise and Fall of Great Powers.
December 2014: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This quintessential Christmas story has been continuously in print since it was first published in 1843.
November 2014: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Louisa's ordinary life changes when she takes a job working for the wheelchair-bound Will.
October 2014: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment.
September 2014: Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., a cousin of the book's subject, reconstruct the life of reclusive copper heiress in Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
August 2014: The Vacationers by Emma Straub is an irresistible novel about the secrets, joys and jealousies that surface over the course of an American family's two-week stay in Mallorca.
July 2014: The Farm is a psychological thriller novel by Tom Rob Smith, that finds Daniel caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust.
June 2014: Cadence Sinclair Easton is the highly unreliable narrator in We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which begins during her 15th summer when she suffers a head injury on the private island off Cape Cod.
May 2014: Astonish Me, by author Maggie Shipstead is the irresistible story of Joan, a young American dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow.
March/April 2014: Theo Decker, son of a devoted mother and a reckless, largely absent father, survives an accident that otherwise tears his life apart in The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2014.)
February 2014: Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Rainbow Rowell's novel, Eleanor and Park, is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
January 2014: Set in rural New York state at the turn of the twentieth century, author James Scott makes his debut with The Kept, in which a mother and her son embark on a quest to avenge a tragedy that has shattered their family.
December 2013: Leonard Bernstein was an enthusiastic letter writer. The book, The Leonard Bernstein Letters, edited by Nigel Simeone, is the first to present a wide-ranging selection of his correspondence.
October/November 2013: In Alex Grecian's debut novel,The Yard, Walter Day, a member of Victorian London's recently formed Murder Squad, partners with Scotland Yard's first forensic pathologist to track down a killer who is targeting their colleagues.
September 2013: Rebecca Lee's collection of stories guides readers into a range of landscapes, both foreign and domestic, crafting stories as rich as novels in Bobcat and Other Stories.
August 2013: In A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra uncovers a constellation of life in all its forms in a small Chechen village caught up in the fighting between Russian troops and Chechen rebels.
July 2013: Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is the story of an artist who returns to his childhood home and recalls a magical struggle he was involved in as a young boy.
June 2013: From the moment it opens—on a rocky patch of Italian coastline, circa 1962, when a daydreaming young innkeeper looks out over the water and spies a mysterious woman approaching him on a boat—Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel.
May 2013: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, is the story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island.
April 2013: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo chronicles the hardscrabble lives of some of Mumbai's poorest — and most inventive — people in Beyond the Beautiful Forevers.
March 2013: Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old college dropout living in the small Texas town where he grew up. After he's arrested for trashing the car of his sister's ex, he's given two choices: face jail time or enlist in the Army. He chooses the Army. And Iraq. Author Ben Fountain's debut novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, is the story of what happens to Lynn after he joins Bravo Company in the early years of the Iraq war.
February 2013: Told by three resonant and evocative characters -- Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past -- Wiley Cash's debut novel A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all.
December 2012/January 2013: The Best American Short Stories series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected — and most popular — of its kind.
November 2012: Imagine a world where the color red has startling powers and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. Welcome to Bald Slope, North Carolina, the setting of Sarah Addison Allen's The Sugar Queen.
October 2012: Discovering a magical manuscript in Oxford's library, scholar Diana Bishop — a descendant of witches who has rejected her heritage — inadvertently unleashes a fantastical underworld of demons, witches and vampires whose activities center on an enchanted treasure.
September 2012: Amor Towles' Rules of Civility opens with a chance encounter with a handsome banker in a jazz bar on New Year's Eve 1938 and sets the stage for Katey Kontent -- the book's narrator -- to join the upper echelons of New York society, where she befriends a shy multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, and a single-minded widow.
August 2012: Gillian Flynn's book Gone Girl revolves around a woman who disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary. When her diary reveals hidden turmoil in her marriage, her husband realizes that something more disturbing than murder may have occurred.
July 2012: Flashing back and forth between Annie and Buster's extremely odd childhood and tentative adulthood, Kevin Wilson's madcap premise in The Family Fang quickly deepens. When art is everything and all art is extreme, what does real life look like? How much of our life is our own creation, and how much are we only playing parts?
June, 2012: In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband.
May, 2012: Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's novel, The Book Thief is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books.
April, 2012: Lauren Groff’s Arcadia takes place in the fields of western New York State in the 1970s, where a few dozen idealists set out to live off the land, founding what would become a commune centered on the grounds of a decaying mansion called Arcadia House.
March, 2012: Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers follows the misadventures of Charlie and Eli Sisters, two hired guns who, under the order of the mysterious Commodore, try to kill Hermann Kermit Warm.
February, 2012: In Divergent, the society of Veronica Roth's futuristic Chicago has been divided into five factions, each representing a different virtue: honesty, selflessness, intelligence, peacefulness and bravery. At the age of 16, each member must choose a faction, and our narrator, Beatrice, faces a nearly impossible decision from the start: stay with her family, or dare to be herself.
January, 2012: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James, a good, old-fashioned mystery that features a cast of characters you already know.
November/December, 2011: In David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice, you get a collection of essays poking fun at the holiday season – "Jesus Shaves" recalls a French class in which students try to explain to each other the concept of Easter; "The Monster Mash," tells of Halloween at the morgue; and "The Cow and the Turkey," is a story about the Secret Santa woes of barnyard animals.
October, 2011: Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus is a unique experience full of breathtaking wonders, but behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose.
September, 2011: S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep is a stay up all night, page-turning thriller. Every day Christine - a woman with a rare form of amnesia - wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her. At the urging of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to keep track of daily events so that she can start to link her full story together. But one morning, she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "Don't trust Ben."
August, 2011: Karen Russell's Swamplandia! revolves around thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree. She's lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s headliner, it's chaos and Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all.
July 2011: In State of Wonder (by author Ann Pachett) researcher Marina Singh sets off to the Amazon jungle to discover what could be a promising and valuable new fertility drug.
June, 2011: The main character in Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is 9-year-old Rose Edelstein who can taste feelings in food – whatever the cook is experiencing (good or bad) while preparing the meal.
May, 2011: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet opens in 1799 at a trading post on Japan’s island of Dejima that is run by the Dutch. That’s where we meet Jacob – a young clerk who has traveled from Europe to work for a few years as a bookkeeper so he can earn enough money to return and marry his fiancé.
April, 2011: In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, author Rebecca Skloot takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.
March, 2012: In Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, you'll meet Enzo the dog. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
February, 2011: Acclaimed bestselling author Michael Capuzzo brings true crime realistically and vividly to life in The Murder Room, an account of a group of passionate men and women, inspired by their own wounded hearts to make a stand for truth, goodness, and justice in a world gone mad.