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Book Recommendations

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

by Clemantine Wamariya

 

Clemantine Wamariya was only six when her mother shooed her and her 15-year-old sister out of the house and told them to go, and not return. She and Claire fled the Rwandan genocide, moving throughout Africa for six years, from refugee camp to refugee camp, and finally ending up in America. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive. This memoir of war is harrowing and simultaneously uplifting, and sheds much-needed light on the Rwandan crisis.

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot 

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Summary. A journalist named Rebecca Skloot recounts learning about an African American woman named Henrietta Lacks, who died in 1951 of cervical cancer, but whose cancerous cells became the first immortal human cell line, called HeLa.

 

Educated

by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was born to Idaho survivalists and grew up canning food, salvaging metal, and creating homemade remedies from herbs. Her family didn’t believe in traditional doctors or schooling, so Tara was 17 when she set foot in a classroom. Motivated in part by watching her brother leave and gain a college education, Tara taught herself enough math, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was accepted to BYU, where she first learned about the larger world outside her family compound. She later went on to Harvard and Cambridge, though she never forgot where she came from. This memoir is inspiring, tear-jerking, and insightful, and one you won’t forget.

 

The Dressmakers Gift
by Fiona Valpy

 

From the bestselling author of The Beekeeper’s Promise comes a gripping story of three young women faced with impossible choices. How will history – and their families – judge them?

Paris, 1940. With the city occupied by the Nazis, three young seamstresses go about their normal lives as best they can. But all three are hiding secrets.
 

When We Believed in Mermaids
by Barbara O'Neal

 

Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news…

Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. 

Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty

 

Follows three mothers, each at a crossroads, and their potential involvement in a riot at a school trivia night that leaves one parent dead in what appears to be a tragic accident, but which evidence shows might have been premeditated.  A murder ... a tragic accident ... or just parents behaving badly? What's indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what? Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads.


The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

 

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. 


A Gentleman in Moscow
by Amor Towles

This novel tells the story of a Russian aristocrat living under house arrest by the Soviets at a luxury hotel for more than thirty year. It is a historical fiction that received an award from Goodreads for Historical Fiction. It is filled with charm and personal wisdom and philosophic insight.

 

The Paris Wife
by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife is a 2011 novel by Paula McLain which became a New York Times Bestseller. The Paris wife is a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway's marriage to Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives.

 

The House We Grew Up In   

by Lisa Jewell

 

Meet the picture-perfect Bird family: pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and towheaded twins Rory and Rhys, one an adventurous troublemaker, the other his slighter, more sensitive counterpart. Their father is a sweet, gangly man, but it’s their beautiful, free-spirited mother Lorelei who spins at the center. In those early years. Then one Easter weekend, a tragedy so devastating occurs that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass and the children have become adults, while Lorelei has become the county’s worst hoarder. She has alienated her husband and children and has been living as a recluse. But then something happens that beckons the Bird family back to the house they grew up in - to finally understand the events of that long-ago Easter weekend and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

 

The Dutch House  
by  Ann Patchett


At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves. Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past.

 

Frankenstein    
by Mary Shelley

 

A timeless gothic novel, an epic battle between man and monster at its greatest literary pitch. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror.

 

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman (Adventures of a Curious Character)

by Richard Feynman

 

With his characteristic eyebrow-raising behavior, Richard P. Feynman once provoked the wife of a Princeton dean to remark, "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" But the many scientific and personal achievements of this Nobel Prize-winning physicist are no laughing matter. In addition to solving the mystery of liquid helium, Feynman has been commissioned to paint a naked female toreador and asked to crack the uncrackable safes guarding the atomic bomb's most critical secrets. He has traded ideas with Einstein and Bohr, discussed gambling odds with Nick the Greek, and accompanied a ballet on the bongo drums. Here, woven with his scintillating views on modern science, Feynman relates the defining moments of his accomplished life

 

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing    
by Hank Green

 

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., 23-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship - like a 10-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor - April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world - everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires - and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

 

The Secret Keeper

by Kate Morton

 

During a picnic at her family’s farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a shocking crime, a crime that challenges everything she knows about her adored mother, Dorothy. Now, fifty years later, Laurel and her sisters are meeting at the farm to celebrate Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this is her last chance to discover the truth about that long-ago day, Laurel searches for answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. Clue by clue, she traces a secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds thrown together in war-torn London—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—whose lives are forever entwined. A gripping story of deception and passion, The Secret Keeper will keep you enthralled to the last page.

 

Lies That Bind Us
by Andrew Hart

 

Jan needs this. She’s flying to Crete to reunite with friends she met there five years ago and relive an idyllic vacation. Basking in the warmth of the sun, the azure sea, and the aura of antiquity, she can once again pretend—for a little while—that she belongs. Her ex-boyfriend Marcus will be among them, but even he doesn’t know the secrets she keeps hidden behind a veil of lies. None of them really know her, and that’s only part of the problem.

Then again, how well does she know them?

 

Before We Were Yours
by Lisa Wingate

 

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

 

The Flight Girls
by Noelle Salazar

 

1941. Audrey Coltrane has always wanted to fly. It’s why she implored her father to teach her at the little airfield back home in Texas. It’s why she signed up to train military pilots in Hawaii when the war in Europe began. And it’s why she insists she is not interested in any dream-derailing romantic involvements, even with the disarming Lieutenant James Hart, who fast becomes a friend as treasured as the women she flies with. Then one fateful day, she gets caught in the air over Pearl Harbor just as the bombs begin to fall, and suddenly, nowhere feels safe.

 

The Silent Patient
by Alex Michaelidis

 

A famous painter shoots her fashion photographer husband five times in the face—and then never speaks another word. But a determined criminal psychotherapist is set on unraveling her story.

 

The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah


Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

 

Gone Girl
by 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. 

 

All Adults Are Here
by Emma Straub

 

The matriarch, Astrid Strick, tries to wrangle the personalities of her adult children while grappling with a mistake she made in the past. In All Adults Here, Emma Straub's unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.


Pew (May 12)
by Catherine Lacey

 

An indescribable stranger—genderless, raceless, silent—is found asleep inside a small-town church in the American South. Locals are entranced, taking turns inviting them into their households and, sensing security, begin one-sided conversations that slowly reveal personal secrets and fears.

 

Heartburn 

by Nora Ephron 

 

Welcome to ground zero of the revenge novel. This one's a fictionalized version of Nora Ephron's marriage to Carl Bernstein (one of the journalists who broke Watergate). In it, she's a cookbook author who discovers that her husband's cheating on her.

 

Americanah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

Let Adichie be your leader. Her 2013 novel is built around the story of a Nigerian couple who leave their home and end up divided between the US and the UK. It’s a book about questioning identity, belonging, and what it means to find a home. It’s the perfect combination of a plotline you can get lost in, and a book that makes you think hard about yourself and your surroundings.

 

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter
by Jennifer Reese

 

When Jennifer Reese lost her job, she was overcome by an impulse common among the recently unemployed: to economize by doing for herself what she had previously paid for. She had never before considered making her own peanut butter and pita bread, let alone curing her own prosciutto or raising turkeys. And though it sounded logical that "doing it yourself" would cost less, she had her doubts. So Reese began a series of kitchen-related experiments, taking into account the competing demands of everyday contemporary American family life as she answers some timely questions: When is homemade better? Cheaper? Are backyard eggs a more ethical choice than store-bought? Will grinding and stuffing your own sausage ruin your week? Is it possible to make an edible maraschino cherry? Some of Reese's discoveries will surprise you: Although you should make your hot dog buns, guacamole, and yogurt, you should probably buy your hamburger buns, potato chips, and rice pudding. Tired? Buy your mayonnaise. Inspired? Make it.

 

The Captain's Daughter
By Meg Mitchell Moore

 

For fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Emma Straub comes an emotionally gripping novel about a woman who returns to her hometown in coastal Maine and finds herself pondering the age-old question of what could have been. Growing up in Little Harbor, Maine, the daughter of a widowed lobsterman, Eliza Barnes could haul a trap and row a skiff with the best of them. But she always knew she'd leave that life behind. Now that she's married, with two kids and a cushy front-row seat to suburban country club gossip in an affluent Massachusetts town, she feels adrift.

Bookshelf
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