Still Life with Bread Crumbs

Anna Quindlen, 2014

Rebecca Winter, a famous New York photographer, gives up city life for a cabin in rural New York State.  The book is a meditation on art, age and commercialism wrapped up in a delightful story which gives the reader a poignant glimpse into the inner life of a sixty year old woman delving into a journey of self-discovery.

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Lotus Eaters

Tatjana Soli, 2009

 This work of fiction illustrates the violence of the Vietnam War as witnessed by three interconnected photographers - two Americans and one Vietnamese.  It is a vivid depiction of war torn Vietnam, from the dangers of the field, where death can be a single step sway, to the emptiness of the Saigon streets in the final days of the American evacuation. Soli looks at the complex motivations and ambitions of the waves of American photographers who descended on Vietnam seeking glory and fame through their gut-wrenching photos.

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The Interestings

Meg Wolitzer, 2013

Six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts form bonds that carry them through adulthood.  Their bonds remain, but each changes substantially as they progress through middle age. The author explores the roles of talent, envy,  class, art, money and power and how all can shift over the course of a friendship and a life.

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Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Nancy Horan, 2014

Under the Wide and Starry Sky chronicles the unconventional love affair of Scottish literary giant Robert Louis Stevenson,  and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. They meet in rural France in 1875, when Fanny, having run away from her philandering husband back in California, takes refuge there with her children. Stevenson too is escaping from his life, running from family pressure to become a lawyer.While he perfects his craft, she becomes his protector and editor-collaborator, accompanying him across Europe and America and finally to Samoa in hopes of healing his weak lungs. An exhilarating epic about a free-spirited couple who traveled the world yet found home only in one another.

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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Robin Sloan, 2012

After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret. This quirky book about an old fashioned bookstore is mysterious and funny and informative all at the same time. Good book!

Me Before You

Jojo Moyes, 2012

Louisa Clark leads a routine existence. When she looses her job at a cafe, she applies for and gets a job caring for Will, a recently paralyzed man. Will Traynor, suffered a spinal cord injury when hit by a motorcycle.  His frustration with quadriplegia makes the job almost unbearable for Lou. When she discovers that Will intends to end his own life, Lou makes it her mission to persuade him that life is still worth living. In the process of planning “adventures”, Lou begins to understand the extent of Will’s isolation; while Will introduces Lou to ideas outside of her small existence. The end result is a lovely novel, both nontraditional and enthralling.

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The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd, 2014

The improbable relationship between Sarah Grimke, the daughter of a prosperous judge and slave owner, and a slave named Handful is at the heart of this story, set in Charleston, South Carolina.  Handful is presented on Sarah’s birthday as a gift—a personal maidservant.  Told in alternating chapters narrated by Handful and Sarah over many years, the tale speaks of the oppression felt by both.  Sarah wants an education such as the one her brothers are afforded; she longs to be a valued.  Influenced by her rebellious mother, Handful, desires her freedom.  

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