Monday, July 31, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of August 1, 2023

 Welcome to a new month! Which must mean new books, right? Right! Here are our favorites for week one of the month.

Daniel Goldin recommends Tom Lake by Ann Patchett: "For every Jane Fonda or Rita Moreno, famous actresses into their eighties, there is a Kim Novak, who married an equine veterinarian and lived a quiet life in the countryside. Imagine if you had an acting career and then didn’t, but someone you know (the acclaimed Peter Duke) went on to a glorious career. Your family knows the story, but they don’t exactly have it quite right. More than that, each of your children has created their own mythology of the story. With the world locked down, Lara and Joe and their daughters Emily, Maisie, and Nell, are brought together to the family farm to unpack that story, set at a season of summer stock at Tom Lake, Michigan. I love how Lara’s career jump starts with a small production of Our Town, and that Thornton Wilder resonates through the rest of the story. And I love the way Patchett can write about the complications of families, even loving ones like the Nelsons. The story may be quiet, but it will stick with me for a long time."

Next, Jen Steele recommends The Apology by Jimin Han: "The Apology is a remarkable story and Jeonga Cha is an unforgettable character! The youngest of 4, 105-year-old Jeonga Cha receives a letter from a relative in Ohio which sets off a series of unexpected events and revelations. Most notably, 10 days after receiving the letter, Jeonga will die. Having to solve family problems in the afterlife just got a lot more complicated. Jimin Han delivers a thoughtful and emotional novel - I enjoyed every chapter."

And now to Kay Wosewick with three recs! Kay first recommends The Last Ranger by Peter Heller: "Immerse yourself in Yellowstone’s dramatic landscape. where lovers and protectors of wildlife (especially wolves reintroduced in 2006) are newly pitted against locals who skirt laws to hunt prized park denizens. Action, adventure, and mystery keep the plot in high gear. A tender, soulful ranger - unmoored by loss and now rocked by turf battles - is the story’s beating heart."

Kay also recommends The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles by Jason Guriel: "It’s 2070. Earth is vastly different, but tech innovation has kept the planet mostly livable. YA fiction is wildly popular, especially a book called 'The Full-Moon Whaling Chronicles.' Amongst its most fervent fans are some whale-hunting wolves and two humans. Told in delightful rhyming couplets, the wolves’ and humans’ stories alternate and influence each other. There is much to enjoy: the rhyming couplets, self-deprecating, quirky, and often funny characters, plenty of curious tech innovations, and humorous links to the past, such as zubered, ZukTube, ZikZok, zlog, Tesla Trouts, Kia Prawns, Ben Gauzy (an ancient curse), Ganwulf, Wulvia Plath and plenty more."

Kay thirdly recommends Alien Worlds: How Insects Conquered the Earth and Why Their Fate Will Determine Our Future by Steve Nicholls: "Nicholls makes learning about insects a joy. With insects representing one quarter of all animals, he justifiably calls them the most successful group of animals on planet earth. Here are some juicy nuggets from this delicious book: Over one million species have been identified, but Nicholls thinks 5 million is a more reasonable count. Very early evolution of bodily diversity coupled with extreme adaptability is what allowed insects to conquer nearly all ends of the planet. As many of us have guessed, insects do, indeed, have greater resistance to extinction than other animals. They obliterate the laws of aviation. Of their two options for successful offspring, laying massive numbers of eggs is the method used by 99% of insects; only about 1% invest time and energy helping offspring survive. Research supports the label of “superorganism” for selected ants and termites. Wow. Nicholls closes with a profound statement: “recent research points to the fact that insect brains possess enough complexity to generate a basic level of consciousness.” Consider that next time you grab a can of Raid."

Paperback news! 

Jason Kennedy recommends Hawk Mountain, a novel by Connor Habib: "Todd, a high school teacher and single Dad, runs into Jack; his high school bully. Todd is hesitant to interact with him, but his son really takes to Jack. Remembering his high school days, Todd begins to seethe with pent-up emotions and feelings. His ex-wife is attempting to get a hold him (she misses her son and wants to reconnect), Jack reminds him of the humiliations and uncomfortable situations of the past, and his son is bonding with the man who made his life miserable. It's all too much, and what comes next is dark and horrific but only takes a moment. The spiral of the story whips the reader down and down until the final resting place is revealed in all its shocking and damaged depths. Hawk Mountain consumed me with its brutality and wonder."

And Daniel Goldin recommends All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews: "All Sneha really wants when she relocates to Milwaukee is a circle of friends, a special someone, and a steady income, but even those goals turn out to be a harder to achieve in this debut novel. She’s got a few friends and a possible love interest, though most of them are struggling with goals and money, plus both her contractor boss and the flat manager turn out to be, well, two pieces of work. Plus, contract work kind of sucks - you’re in the company (it’s obvious to any Milwaukeean where she works, but it’s never spelled out in the story), but not really of the company, much the way that Sneha must navigate her life in Milwaukee as a queer South Asian woman. There’s almost a chaotic feel to the narrative - will Thom forgive Sneha, will things with Martina work out, can Tig get her commune together, and just how much money is Amit going to spend trying to save a drug-addicted friend? – but to me, that’s just the way things feel during the kind of quarter-life crisis that Sneha is experiencing.  And props for getting the Milwaukee details right circa 2016, considering Mathews never lived here, though she went to school in Madison. Milwaukee is usually used as a no-place-in-particular setting, but here, Mathews plays off oddly Edenic history of socialist mayors that is meaningful to some millennials, even if the contemporary city struggles with prejudice and crime. Even the name-checked restaurants reinforce the narrative – not necessarily fancy, but a little too expensive for the unsteady paychecks of most of this crew, particularly Tig, who generally orders the most expensive thing on the menu. In the end, everything’s going to work out. Right?"

Thankam Mathews will be at Boswell on Wednesday, September 20, 6:30 pm for a special event featuring this book - it's the Rose Petranech Lecture this year. Click here to register and get more info.

And those are the recs! We'll meet you back here next week for more book recommending, and until then, read on.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of July 25, 2023

It's all paperback picks this week from the Boswellians. Great for totin', foldin', and summertime readin'.

First on the list is A Death in Door County by Wisconsin author Annelise Ryan, which has recommendations from both Daniel and Tim. Daniel says: "In this adventure cozy, Morgan Carter owns Odds and Ends Bookstore in Sister Bay, where the mystery section is next to a Ouija Board and a fine collection of skulls. Having taken the mantle of bookseller from her deceased parents, she’s also inherited their love of cryptozoology. When two seemingly unrelated bodies are discovered with unexplained bite marks, the talk turns to a possible Nessie-esque monster in Lake Michigan, and Carter’s hired to investigate. And what is an adventure cozy, you ask? Imagine Indiana Jones crossed with Miss Marple - a mystery at the center, perhaps a little more gore than in a standard cozy, the requisite humor, and a touch of romance in the background. Lots of Door County details too!"

And from Tim: "There’s nothing quite like an adventurous, cozy murder mystery set in a place where I’ve personally loved doing summer vacations. Of course, it helps that I didn’t die there, or I wouldn’t feel quite so much love for the place, right? But I didn’t, and this mystery involves a very quirky bookstore, a lovable dog… and a monster search. Morgan Carter, owner of a mystery bookstore that sells mysterious objects far beyond books, is a cryptozoologist whose cryptid fascination essentially began at birth. She was born on a boat in the middle of Loch Ness during her parents’ search for Nessie. She also has multiple college degrees and considers herself a professional skeptic who requires actual proof of monsters. The combination makes her perfect for helping Washington Island’s police chief, as he investigates the drowning of two men with large and unusual bite marks on their bodies. I’m not sure how 'cozy' and 'murder' ended up in the same universe, but they often seem to get along nicely, and I enjoyed their partnership here. The characters are endearing, and the boating to remote places that I’ve never seen had me using Google Earth to check out the landscapes. This was a nice literary summer vacation."

There are two events in the coming months featuring Ryan, too! First, on Wednesday, August 23, 6:30 pm, Annelise Ryan appears at at Whitefish Bay Public Library, 5420 N Marlborough Dr for a conversation with author and former Boswellian Sharon Nagel, one half of Juneau Black. Click here for more info and registration.

Later this year, on Thursday, December 14, 6:30 pm, Ryan appears at Boswell for Death in the Dark Woods, the sequel to A Death in Door County. She'll chat with Patricia Skalka. Click here to register and get more info about this event.

Is that the only Wisconsin author with a book getting a paperback release this week that we recommend? Nope! Daniel also recommends Lost in Summerland, the essay collection by Barrett Swanson. Daniel says: "If you start a copy of Lost in Summerland and find yourself in a nondescript Fort Lauderdale apartment complex, keep reading, as that story was featured in Best American Travel Writing. And if you want something a little more adventurous, don’t worry, as Swanson will take you to Jacques Fresco’s crumbling Venus utopia, the new age mecca of Lily Dale, the Disaster City training compound, a men’s retreat, a farm for anti-war veterans, and a convention of West Wing fans. Several essays focus on Swanson’s older brother, who was punched into a coma and later developed what appeared to be psychic powers. And whether they are farther afield or centered in Wisconsin (the author grew up in Brookfield and played football at Waukesha’s Catholic Memorial High, the jump-off point for another essay), most offer more than one philosophical detour. I had just been telling a colleague that I so enjoyed writing about new-to-me subcultures; I was almost surprised when the next book I picked up was exactly what I wanted. It was almost like Barrett’s brother was willing me to read this great collection. Thanks, bruh!"

Click the wee video icon below to check out our great event with Swanson, in which he is interviewed about this very book by none other than Madison author Steven Wright, author of The Coyotes of Carthage, another of our faves!

Next up is Kathy with her recommendation of Briefly, A Delicious Life, a novel by British author Nell Stevens. Kathy says: "A terrifically engaging and beautifully written story. Imagine combining historical fiction with a love story with a ghost story, and you have this marvelous book. Blanca, whose life becomes intertwined with George Sand, her two children, and Chopin, has been dead for centuries, her spirit haunting the monastery rented by Sand on Mallorca. Blanca's observations of Sand and her family along with the abilities she's developed to enter into the lives of people and to communicate with them are sometimes witty, sometimes humorous, and often full of pathos."

Another novel, another British author. Daniel recommends The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn. Daniel says: "I love books where the experiences that shaped the characters as children help define their lives as adults. Christabel, Florence, and Digby grow up with absent or negligent parents on a country estate on the southern coast of England that has seen better days. When a dead whale washes onshore, Christa’s dream of mammalian conquest is fulfilled when it turns out that neither the king nor anyone else wants it. How it becomes the bones of a theater is something that’s too complicated to describe here. Let us just say that when war rears its ugly head and special forces comes calling, the Seagraves are already prepared to give the performances of their lives. Already a bestseller in the UK, The Whalebone Theatre offers enough twists on the classics of the genre to stand beside the classics."

We hosted a fantastic virtual event featuring Quinn for this novel when it first arrived in hardcover last year - the October edition of our Readings from Oconomowaukee event series that we cohost with our pals of Books & Company in Oconomowoc. Click the video icon below this paragraph to watch that great conversation.

And those are the recs of the week! We'll be back next week with more books, as is our way. Until then, read on.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of July 18, 2023

We've got just a couple new book recommendations for you this week. And they are good ones!

First, Tim McCarthy offers up his take on Crook Manifesto, the latest from Colson Whitehead. Tim says: "I don’t like to repeat myself with recommendations, but Whitehead makes it tough to avoid. I said in an earlier review for Harlem Shuffle that I met Colson Whitehead at a Boswell Book Company event once and saw the genius in his eyes, the sly humor, and the sincerity. I added that he's the new King of American Historical Fiction, the new voice as powerful as E. L. Doctorow’s. Is he still a genius? You bet. Still King? Absolutely! (Two Pulitzer Prizes do say a lot.) So, what’s left to say? Just that this is the sequel to Harlem Shuffle (with a third book in the works), and Ray Carney is doing his best to be straight. He was once only 'slightly bent when it came to being crooked,' fencing stolen goods from his furniture store. Then his cousin Freddie drew him into a heavy heist. Now, a decade later, he’s just a smart business owner and loving family man with a little sentiment for his past crooked days, but 1971 Harlem is churning with upheaval and 'bent hates straight.' Ray’s not one of the city’s many villains, but the churn has him back in the game, a game that inflicts real pain on the losers. I’ll go ahead and repeat that past review one last time. This is greatness! I took my sweet time, savoring every literary morsel."

Next, Jenny Chou recommends The Deep Sky by Yumi Kitasei. Jenny says: "The set up for The Deep Sky, the debut sci-fi novel by biracial Japanese and American author Yume Kitasei, is as creative as it is disturbing. Main character Asuka left behind a planet earth embroiled in war and catastrophic climate change. Along with a crew of eighty, she’s aboard the Phoenix, a spaceship crossing the universe to settle Planet X, when a bomb explodes and jeopardizes the first trip beyond our galaxy. The captain and two others are dead, and the loyalties of the remaining seventy-seven are constantly shifting as they search for the person responsible. No one knows who to trust, and if the flight pattern can’t be corrected in a matter of days, all aboard will drift endlessly in the wrong direction until all the oxygen is used up. On top of all this, many of the crew members are pregnant, as being capable of carrying a child was a prerequisite for the trip. As the last selected for the mission, Asuka feels like an imposter, but during the extensive years of training she proved capable of puzzling her way out of realistic simulations of worst-case scenarios. I found the sci-fi tech exciting and plausible, and The Deep Sky works as a thrilling page-turner. But the novel also becomes extremely thought-provoking when the motivation behind the sabotage is revealed. You’ll think about this one long after turning the last page."

Happy reading - we'll be back next week with more books, as is our way. Until then, read on!

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of July 11, 2023

It's a great week. Because there a lot (A LOT) of great new books hitting the shelves at Boswell. Here's our weekly guide to the new releases.

Let's begin with Daniel Goldin and his notes on the latest Sujata Massey novel, The Mistress of Bhatia House. Daniel says: "Perveen Mistry, the only female lawyer in 1920s Mumbai finds herself helping a servant who has been accused of a tea-induced abortion, though she claims it was taken to regulate her menstrual cycle. Why would the government even care about this? And what about the servant’s employers, who were spearheading the construction of a woman’s hospital, only to pull out at the last minute? Could the subsequent death of the family patriarch be somehow related? Perveen, a Parsi lawyer in a mostly non-Parsi world, is a strong and intelligent hero who has what it takes to prevail, despite being hobbled by cultural and political roadblocks. While this excellent series is always packed with fascinating historical details, The Mistress of Bhatia House is also timely, being that these fights over women’s health continue today."

Daniel also recommends Random Acts of Medicine: The Hidden Forces That Sway Doctors, Impact Patients, and Shape Our Health by  Anupam B Jena and Christopher Worsham. Daniel says: "If you’re stuck on what to read next and are choosing between a medical narrative, behavioral psychology, and economics, you're in luck because this book is all three subjects in one! Doctors Jena and Worsham (the former is also an economist!) look at the decisions that drive doctors and patients using natural experiments, culling existing data to duplicate conditions for comparison. Are you better off with an older doctor or younger one? Should you worry if you have a heart attack during a cardiology convention? You’ll also learn why it might not be so good to have a hospital on a marathon route or sing happy birthday to your surgeon. Whether the results reinforce your beliefs or confound them, I expect you’ll find Random Acts of Medicine as fascinating as I did."

A third recommendation from Daniel? Okay! He suggests Jews in the Garden: A Holocaust Survivor, the Fate of His Family, and the Secret History of Poland in World War II by Judy Rakowsky. Daniel says: "Reporter and editor Rakowsky teamed up with her older cousin Sam (a Holocaust survivor and Hero with a capital H) to find out what happened to the one survivor of a family massacre in rural Poland. Over thirty years, the two of them followed every lead as they tried to piece together a story that reveals the country’s centuries-long presence of Jews (almost 10% of the population by the 20th century), their almost complete decimation in the Holocaust, and their legacy in the country today. A powerful combination of memoir, history, and true crime."

Rakowsky appears at Boswell on Thursday, August 10, 6:30 pm. Cohosted by the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center. For more information and registration, click here.

Next is Jason Kennedy and his write up for Counterweight by Djuna, translated by Anton Hur. Jason writes: "This book was an outright trip to read. So many red herrings and mind swaps that I had to read several passages more than once. Great near-future imagery with space elevators and neuro-implants created by a Korean tech business and its single-minded CEO, who has perished before the story starts. The space elevator holds the keys to the future, but the dead CEO’s memories are needed to find them. Using a ‘worm,’ the CEO's memories are melded into a simpleton who loves studying butterflies. He quickly becomes the most sought-after individual. Yes, this is one crazy trip."

Jason also recommends The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell. Jason says: "Looking at Texas at this point, I think we can all agree that heat is going to be a real problem for the rest of our lives. Jeff Goodell does a good job of weaving personal stories with digestible explanations of complex systems and topics. This is a warning call for us to prepare now, as the temperature isn’t going down anytime soon. There are ways for us to mitigate dying from the heat without contributing to overall carbon output. I’m naturally pessimistic, and I hate the heat, so this book completely depressed me on the outlook of this world. Goodell highlights the fact that heat will not affect us all equally – it’s the poor, impoverished countries will suffer the most. A sobering, necessary read."

Jason's third recommendation is another nonfiction title, The Parrot and the Igloo: Climate and the Science of Denial by David Lipsky. Jason says: "David Lipsky chronicles climate change, from the beginning of our awareness of it all the way to the screeching of its deniers. With humor (I laugh because it hurts to cry after reading some of these sections) and exhaustive research, Lipsky does not hide the fact that he is a strong believer in human-caused climate change. He points out how climate change (and denialism) became very, very political. Deniers took their lead from the tobacco industry (they lost, right? but I still see people smoking) and repeated the phrase, 'We need more research on this.' Even though climate change has been talked about since the 1880s, we still need more research. Right? Our newspapers from earlier in the 20th century heralded climate change in our future - yet fast-forward a few decades to find them backtracking as special interest groups took control. As Lipsky points out more than once in this book, 19 of the 20 hottest years have happened since 2000. Sobering, but still not enough for the deniers."

Let's throw it over to Rachel Copeland now for her recommendation of Hello Stranger by Katherine Center. Rachel says: "After a seizure leads to brain surgery to repair the same congenital condition that killed her mother, portrait artist Sadie Montgomery can no longer see faces. The pieces are there, but they no longer make sense - she can't recognize her best friend, her evil stepsister, her probably handsome veterinarian, or even her probably cute and definitely helpful neighbor - and she has scant weeks to paint a portrait in time for a portrait competition worth ten thousand dollars. Katherine Center does it again! She takes a condition that a surprising number of people cope with every day and turns it into a meditation on how we truly relate to each other - how do you recognize somebody, how can you trust your own instincts, when one major sense is taken away? You'll cry, you'll laugh, you might do a ton of research on prosopagnosia, and it's worth every minute."

And now we go to Chris Lee for two recs. First, The Vegan, the sophomore novel from Andrew Lipstein. Chris says: "I love, love, loved Lipstein’s debut last year (Last Resort), and all the hallmarks that make his writing as mesmerizing as train wreck videos are back. Hypnotic sentences? Check. The moneyed, millennial milieu of Brooklyn? Check. And a man of his time unravelling in warped, manic behavior impelled by a moral quandary of guilt and deceit? Check, check, and check. The book’s allusions to Dostoyevsky have been noted, though I’d venture that there are glimmers of Poe in there, too; in the sweeping passages of emotional torment and the body-horror, churning-guts depictions of what it is to consume another living creature’s flesh. Can a hedge fund manager really discover moral clarity in the melancholy eyes of his neighbor’s beagle? I have my doubts. But I’m sure of this: The Vegan has secured Andrew Lipstein a spot on my absolute must-read authors list."

Chris also recommends Sleepless City, the new novel from Reed Farrel Coleman. Chris says: "In a nutshell: imagine Jason Bourne joined the cast of NYPD Blue. NYPD fixer / secret-agent-super-cop Nick Ryan’s first adventure beats him up, blows him up, and stabs him, too, but no matter how worse for wear he winds up, he’s still got plenty of street smarts and hard-nosed wisecracks to carry him. Crime fans who like fiction boiled as hard as granite will dig this one."

Now it's Jen Steele with two recommendations. First, her take on The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale, the latest book by Jon Klassen. Jen says: "The Skull has a sinister feel in the best possible way! Inspired by a Tyrolean folktale, Klassen tells the tale of a runaway girl who happens to meet a talking skull in an abandoned castle in the woods. With Klassen’s signature illustrations and mischievous storytelling, The Skull is sure to be a favorite to read on a gloomy night by the fire."

Jen also recommends The Duck Never Blinks a picture book written and illustrated by Alex Latimer. Jen says: "The Duck Never Blinks is a playful and interactive picture book that will have young readers laughing out loud. Can you get the duck to blink? Read and find out."

And now, we have one paperback pick for you. Daniel recommends Crying in the Bathroom, the memoir by Erika L Sánchez. Daniel says: "Crying in the Bathroom explodes on the page in all its glory, writing about her working-class first-gen upbringing and her academic and personal journey. I love how bookish she is and how her inspirations range from Virginia Woolf and Sandra Cisneros to Lisa Simpson and George Carlin. She can call out racism and patriarchy and lookism and well, many other things, with humor and pull-no-punches frankness. Sex, sexual health, mental health – nothing is off the table. And through it all, comes her rich writing voice, which folks will recognize from her acclaimed novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. To be clear, this is not a YA collection, but I can still imagine many adult fans of that novel luxuriating in this wonderful collection, chanting yes, yes, yes, as they make their way through.

That should be enough books to keep you busy for the week! We'll be back next time with more books. Until then, read on.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of July 4, 2023

What better way to spend this week's holiday than with a new book? Here are a few that we recommend.

First, from proprietor Daniel Goldin: Sunshine Nails, the debut novel from Mai Nguyen. Daniel says: "When Debbie and Phil Tran (who renamed themselves after their favorite music stars) find out that a chain nail salon is moving in across the street from their family-owned business, it’s just the latest in a series of family setbacks. Their daughter Jessica has just returned home to Toronto, laid off from her job and sans fiancĂ©. Their son Dustin works for a tech company that promises stress relief, but not for their employees. And their niece Thuy, who works as a technician at the salon, is an enigma. Sunshine Nails works on lots of levels – as a family comedy, a classic David and Goliath story, an immigration and first gen narrative, an issue-centric tale of gentrification and neighborhood preservation, and a coming-of-age story for Jessica that’s romance adjacent enough to please genre fans. Delightful!"

Jen Steele is next with two recs. Her first is for Days at the Morisaki Bookshop, an international bestseller by Japanese author Satoshi Yagisawa, now translated into English by Eric Ozawa. Jen says: "After her boyfriend tells her he's getting married to someone else, Takako quits her job and takes up her uncle's offer to work at his secondhand bookstore. Set in Jimbocho, a famous bookstore district in Japan (it's a real place and I must go there!), Satoshi Yagisawa delivers a delightful love letter to books and bookstores. I was instantly transported to this delightful neighborhood and utterly charmed by this short and sweet novel."

One of our newest booksellers, Greta Borgealt, chimes in with her recommendation of Yagisawa's novel, too. Greta says: "A young woman starts working at her family’s book store after breaking up with her boyfriend and quitting her job. The author obviously loves books. The family relationships in this novel are so nuanced and interesting. I related a lot to the main character and it had made me feel like I was on the right path by becoming a bookseller."

Finally, in new books, Jen also recommends The Red Jacket, a new picture book by author/illustrator Bob Holt. Jen says: "One of my favorite picture books this summer! The Red Jacket is an engaging picture book about Bob, a lonely seagull who is given a red jacket. Bob's new red jacket instills a confidence in him that helps him speak up and make friends. A wonderful story that deserves a spot on your bookshelf!"

Over in paperback releases, we've got two recommendations for The Poet's House, the most recent novel from Jean Thomposon that begins its softcover life this week. Frist, from Daniel Goldin: "Here’s a quarter-life crisis for you: Carla is a landscaper in Northern California, and one day, she’s sent to do some planting for an almost-mythical poet named Viridian who lives in the woods with assorted hangers-on. Pulled into their orbit, the world of poetry is opened up for Carla, only with one problem – her ADHD makes it very difficult for her to read. As she untangles the stories of the poet’s lives, can she figure out what’s important about poetry and what is surface gloss? And while she’s at it, maybe she can find some legendary poems that have gone missing. Thompson is sometimes called a writer’s writer, which translates to great reviews but modest sales, and perhaps a bit of inaccessibility to the general reader. But in The Poet’s House, a book that’s literally about writing, Thompson has opened the door to all of us in a disarmingly entertaining novel that’s sure to be savored."

And Kathy Herbst adds to that: "An unforgettable coming-of-age story that manages to be serious and thoughtful as well as lighthearted and humorous.  21-year old Carla is insecure, searching for meaning and something to feel passionately about. A reading disability held her back in school and, in her mind, limited her choices, so when she meets a famous poet while working as a landscaper and is invited into the insular world of poets and poetry she is, to say the least, surprised to find herself drawn to this world and finding an unexpected path for her own life."

Kay Wosewick suggests The Displacements by Bruce Holsinger. Kay says: "The Displacements is fantastic climate disaster fiction because it intimately portrays how a very well-off family (minus dad) deals with numerous traumas, starting with a last-minute evacuation due to course change of the first-ever category 6 hurricane, Luna. The family drives north with hundreds of thousands other evacuees. They experience the second crisis when they stop for gas and discover mom's purse was left behind - the fault of the young daughter and teenage stepson. No money. No credit cards. No food, fuel, or caffeine. They end up at a FEMA camp, this one a tent city of 10,000 in rural OK. The story reflects the amazing tolerance, flexibility, and resilience of many people."

And those are the recs! Happy reading, everyone. May you read independently today. And other days, too. We'll be back next week with more books, and until then, read on.