Fiction Titles from the DP Nightstand Event

Posted on July 31, 2014. Filed under: Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

During the summer “What’s on Your Nightstand” event at the Des Plaines campus, the following fiction books were discussed.

Remember, if Oakton doesn’t own the book or our copy is checked out, you can order a copy to be sent from one of our consortium libraries for FREE! Most books take less than a week to arrive.

A special thanks to the ladies in cataloging for making sure that some of these newly arrived books were available by the time I posted this blog.

Fiction

book cover for All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

“From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about 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.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for And the Mountains EcoedAnd the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini

“Presents a story inspired by human love, how people take care of one another, and how choices resonate through subsequent generations. Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and step-mother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters.

To Adbullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything; there is an unparalleled bond between these two motherless siblings. What happens to them, and the large and small manners in which it echos through the lives of so many other people is an example of the moral complexity of life. In this multigenerational novel revolving around parents and children, brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, the author explores the many ways in which family members love, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Claire of the Sea LightClaire of the Sea Light
by Edwidge Dandicat

“Just as her father makes the wrenching decision to send her away for a chance at a better life, Claire Limyè Lanmè—Claire of the Sea Light—suddenly disappears. As the people of the Haitian seaside community of Ville Rose search for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed. In this stunning novel about intertwined lives, Edwidge Danticat crafts a tightly woven, breathtaking tapestry that explores the mysterious bonds we share—with the natural world and with one another” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Golden EggThe Golden Egg
by Donna Leon

“In The Golden Egg, as the first leaves of autumn begin to fall, Vice Questore Patta asks Brunetti to look into a minor shop-keeping violation committed by the mayor’s future daughter-in-law. Brunetti has no interest in helping his boss amass political favors, but he has little choice but to comply.

Then Brunetti’s wife, Paola, comes to him with a request of her own. The mentally handicapped man who worked at their dry cleaner has just died of a sleeping pill overdose, and Paola loathes the idea that he lived and died without anyone noticing him, or helping him. Brunetti begins to investigate the death and is surprised when he finds nothing on the man: no birth certificate, no passport, no driver’s license, no credit cards. As far as the Italian government is concerned, he never existed. Stranger still, the dead man’s mother refuses to speak to the police, and assures Brunetti that her son’s identification papers were stolen in a burglary. As secrets unravel, Brunetti suspects that the Lembos, an aristocratic family, might be somehow connected to the death. But why would anyone want this sweet, simple-minded man dead?” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The GoldfinchThe Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt

“Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love—and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The Golden NotebookThe Golden Notebook
by Doris Lessing

“Anna is a writer, author of one very successful novel, who now keeps four notebooks. In one, with a black cover, she reviews the African experience of her earlier year. In a red one she records her political life, her disillusionment with communism. In a yellow one she writes a novel in which the heroine reviles part of her own experience. And in the blue one she keeps a personal diary.

Finally, in love with an American writer and threatened with insanity, Anna tries to bring the threads of all four books together in a golden notebook” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics). This book won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is great example of feminist writings from the 1950s.

book cover for Gone GirlGone Girl
Gillian Flynn

“On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The Hundred-Foot JourneyThe Hundred-Foot Journey
by Richard C. Morais

“Born above his grandfather’s modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumiere, a small village in the French Alps.

The boisterous Haji family takes Lumiere by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restaurant opposite an esteemed French relais, that of the famous chef Madame Mallory, and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures. This story is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The Invention of WingsThe Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd

“Hetty ‘Handful’ Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. The novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, the author goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better. This novel looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Love AnthonyLove Anthony
by Lisa Genova

“An an insightful, deeply human story reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Daniel Isn’t Talking, and The Reason I Jump, New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Lisa Genova offers a unique perspective in fiction-the extraordinary voice of Anthony, a nonverbal boy with autism.

Anthony reveals a neurologically plausible peek inside the mind of autism, why he hates pronouns, why he loves swinging and the number three, how he experiences routine, joy, and love. And it is the voice of this voiceless boy that guides two women in this powerfully unforgettable story to discover the universal truths that connect us all” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The LowlandThe Lowland
by Jhumpa Lahiri

“From Subhash’s earliest memories, at every point, his brother was there. In the suburban streets of Calcutta where they wandered before dusk and in the hyacinth-strewn ponds where they played for hours on end, Udayan was always in his older brother’s sight. So close in age, they were inseparable in childhood and yet, as the years pass—as U.S tanks roll into Vietnam and riots sweep across India—their brotherly bond can do nothing to forestall the tragedy that will upend their lives.

Udayan—charismatic and impulsive—finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty. He will give everything, risk all, for what he believes, and in doing so will transform the futures of those dearest to him: his newly married, pregnant wife, his brother and their parents. For all of them, the repercussions of his actions will reverberate across continents and seep through the generations that follow” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Me Before YouMe Before You
by Jojo Moyes

“They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . . Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident.

Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living. A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart? (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for A Natural History of DragonsA Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent
by Marie Brennan

“Marie Brennan begins a thrilling new fantasy series in A Natural History of Dragons, combining adventure with the inquisitive spirit of the Victorian Age.

You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten. . . .

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for PersepolisPersepolis
by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq.The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane’s child’s-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for RedshirtsRedshirts
by John Scalzi

“Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, with the chance to serve on ‘Away Missions’ alongside the starship’s famous senior officers.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to realize that 1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces, 2) the ship’s senior officers always survive these confrontations, and 3) sadly, at least one low-ranking crew member is invariably killed. Unsurprisingly, the savvier crew members belowdecks avoid Away Missions at all costs.

Then Andrew stumbles on information that transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives. Redshirts is the winner of the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion

“Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a ‘wonderful’ husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project.

In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. He sets up a project designed to find him the perfect wife, starting with a questionnaire that has to be adjusted a little as he goes along. She will be punctual and logical, most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. Then he meets Rosie Jarman, who is everything he’s not looking for in a wife. Rosie is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent, and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie, and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper”  (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

“On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto ‘No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.’ A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means. A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen.

Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J. s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J. s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-EatSupremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat
by Edward Kelsey Moore

“Told with wit, style, and compassion, this is the story of friendship among three women weathering the ups and downs of life in a small Midwestern town. When Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean meet as teenagers in the mid-sixties, the civil rights movement is moving along and so are their everyday lives. Their regular gathering place is Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat diner, the first black-owned business in downtown Plainview, Indiana.

Dubbed the Supremes by their friends, the inseparable trio is watched over by big-hearted Earl during their complicated high school days, and then every Sunday after church as they marry, and have children and grandchildren. Sitting at the same table for almost forty years, these best friends grow up, gossip, and face the world together with pointed humor, some sorrow, and much joy. Meet Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean—once you meet them, they will be your friends forever…” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

-posted by Gretchen Schneider

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