Books

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The Caller by Karin Fossum

Someone is playing strange and nasty pranks on the citizens of Elvestad, and Inspector Konrad Sejer is called in to investigate. What begins as unnverving (one elderly woman reads her own obituary in the newspaper, and a dying man answers the door to find the hearse has arrived to pick him up) becomes increasingly sinister as the novel progresses. Fossum examines the impact of evil on the human mind in this psychological thriller--and provides no comforting conclusion. Another standout book from this Scandinavian author (try The Indian Bride as well).

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence (1964)

90-year-old Hagar Shipley is increasingly frail and forgetful but still fiercely herself as she looks back on a tumultuous life and forward to what's left of it. Proud, prickly and strong-willed, Hagar came of age in the Manitoba prairies before the turn of the 19th century, struggling to assert herself in an era of limited choices for women. Along the way, she loses her mother and both her brothers, marries "beneath" her and against her father's wishes, raises two sons and loses one, and faces the end of her life unrepentant.

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

In Eggers’ first novel in six years, we are taken to a fledgling Saudi Arabian city. Here Alan Clay, a middle-aged middle manager, is making what could be his last chance effort for financial and mental stability. Gone are the days of his salesmanship excellence and achievement, now he is divorced, broke, and trying to pay for his daughter’s education. We follow Clay as he tries to keep his Saudi deal together, and himself together.

He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope

If you like big, fat, thoroughly enjoyable 19th century novels, this is the book for you. Considered by some to be one of Trollope's masterpieces (he wrote something like 50 novels), "He Knew He Was Right" is a character study, a satire, and an exploration of patriarchal power and women's rights. The central plot involves a happy, loving marriage gradually destroyed by the husband's obsessive jealousy. Orbiting Mr. and Mrs. Trevelyan are a fascinating and amusing assortment of friends and family members whose lives and loves intersect.

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

What starts out as a plan to help people with medical issues by giving them implants to help their problems, grows into something much more. Some peoples skills are so amplified that they seem superhuman. Wilson’s book starts with a Supreme Court decision banning ‘Amps’ from full rights as citizens. The results of which are catastrophic and threaten to start a new civil war. We follow the story of one special Amp and his struggle in this new America. An excellent, fast paced sci-fi thriller.

The Book of Drugs: A Memoir by Mike Doughty

As in most books I've read about addicts, Mike Doughty's doesn't really wallow for long in how awful it must be but his is the only one I've ever read in which the author says: "If heroin still made me feel like I did the first time, and kept making me that way forever -- kept working -- I might've quite happily accepted a desolate, marginal life and death."  Although sobriety is surely the better choice, he's seems to have traded desolate and marginal for bitterness and self loathing.

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

Thinking this would be a light, fun, fluffy read, I brought this along on vacation. It was the perfect beach read, but it turned out to be much more than fluff. This fantastic novel changed gears each time I thought I had it figured out, and in the end I was left with a witty but deep-feeling novel about a loving, eccentric, slightly dysfunctional family. Like P. G. Wodehouse's more biting cousin, The Uninvited Guests is highly recommended.

The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith

Geiger is an ‘information retrieval’ specialist. He knows exactly how to get the information he wants, whatever means necessary. Geiger is not only good at his job, he is considered the best. The only information that continues to escape him is his own past. Geiger’s past and future collide when he is asked to get information from a twelve-year-old boy.  Mayhem ensues… Check Our Catalog

Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV by Warren Littlefield

To truly chronicle NBC's heyday Warren Littlefield would have needed to add several more volumes to Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV. Which isn't to say it wasn't an interesting read it just seemed to leave so much out. It's understandable that so much emphasis is put on big hits Seinfeld, Friends and Will & Grace, especially when many of the main players in those shows participated in the book.

A Good House by Bonnie Burnard

This quiet yet compelling novel begins in 1949 and ends in 1997. It is the multigenerational story of Bill and Sylvia Chambers of Stonebrook, Ontario, and their extended family. These are ordinary people living ordinary lives full of imperfection, conflict, births, deaths, secrets, loyalty and love over the course of 50 years. The prose is simple but subtle and finely crafted, revealing the meaning and beauty of everyday lives.

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