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Karen H's Picks

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780770436421
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Hogarth - February 4th, 2014

WOW!! From the very first page, this book grabbed me. It is dark but redemptive. There is a density to the story, but it carried me along so that I lost track of time. A NY times review called the book "A 21st century War and Peace." Read the first couple of pages and see what you think. Ann Patchett said it was her favorite book of the year. It is quite dark with flashes of brilliance.

Let the Great World Spin: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812973990
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - November 30th, 2009

I can't stop thinking about this amazing book set on one day in NY City in 1974.  On that morning a crowd gathered to look up and see a man balanced on a wire walking between the Twin Towers. In this spinning, dancing, magical book we sometimes find ourselves in a dark mood--sometimes in a light. We step in and out of the lives of many of the onlookers-from the hookers in the Bronx to the judge who tries  the case of the high wire walker in court...The author says, "You have to become a ventriloquist to capture the city."

The Given Day: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062190949
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - September 4th, 2012

I loved this sweeping epic set in Boston at the end of WWI. Lehane weaves together the stories of two families, one is Boston Irish and the other is Black. Caught in the social unrest of the times, you quickly become very involved in the lives of these characters and their troubles. I was carried along through the flu pandemic, the baseball strike, the enormous impact of the police strike and the Molasses Flood.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Cover Image
ISBN: 9780743270755
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 26th, 2006

This is a fascinating collection of character studies. Lincoln gathered around him all of his political enemies. Through his sense of forgiveness, his capacity to lead and sense of understanding, he shaped a team of some of the best minds of the time to help him through the devastating years of the Civil War.

Memoirs of a Geisha Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307275165
Availability: Special Order
Published: Vintage - November 8th, 2005

The author interviewed one of Japan’s most famous Geishas before writing this fascinating novel. She told him of her life with more candor than he ever expected. As you read this book you enter a world where appearances are everything, where girls are auctioned off to the highest bidder, where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men, and where love is scorned as an illusion. The woman whose story was told (and changed in a number of ways) in Golden’s novel, wrote her own autobiography called Geisha with photos and details of her life. These books carried me into a world that I had heard of, but never could have imagined.

The Master: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780743250412
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - May 3rd, 2005

“Colm Tóibín’s beautiful, subtle illumination of Henry James’s inner life” (The New York Times) captures the loneliness and hope of a master of psychological subtlety whose forays into intimacy inevitably fail those he tried to love.

Beautiful and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of Henry James, a man born into one of America’s fir

Baker Towers: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060509422
Availability: Not Currently Available. Cannot Be Ordered.
Published: Harper Perennial - December 27th, 2005

I LOVED this book. It’s a real “old fashioned novel”. . . a family saga. As the grandaughter of coal miners, Haigh creates a whole neighborhood of characters. I began to care so much about many of them that I couldn’t wait to get back to my book. The story is set in a coal mining town near Pittsburgh in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Its neighborhoods include Little Italy, Swedetown, and Polish Hill.

There is a quote that I like from a review: “Reading Baker Towers is the literary eqivalent of rifling through a thrift shop’s rack of 1940’s housedresses.” Also, from the Chicago Tribune: “a song of praise for a too little praised part of America.”

Roadfood, 10th Edition: An Eater's Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451496195
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Clarkson Potter - March 7th, 2017

This book makes you want to "Hit the Road," especially if you appreciate All-American diner food. Check out your favorite spots. This is a fun present for the traveler on your gift list.

Clearing Land: Legacies of the American Farm Cover Image
ISBN: 9780865477285
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: North Point Press - September 14th, 2005

Jane has written a poetic elegy for an earlier way of life. She includes deeply-felt memories of her own family farm in Dracut and connects these thoughts of how “the land figures in our lives, our history, and our culture.”

Two for the Road: Our Love Affair With American Food Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618872688
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - May 9th, 2007

The Sterns’ latest book tells of their travels and food adventures as they eat their way across America. This memoir tells about how they met and traveled across the country since the 1970’s visiting “unlikely restaurants in small towns.”

As you read, you find yourself craving barbecue and homemade pie.