King, Desai among suggested fall reads
“Lisey’s Story” by Stephen King. King proves he’s still the master of supernatural suspense in this minimally bloody but disturbing and sorrowful love story set in rural Maine. Lisey’s husband, Pulitzer PrizeÐwinning author Scott Landon, has been dead for two years at the book’s start, but his presence is felt on every page. Lisey hears him so often in her head that when her catatonic sister, Amanda, begins speaking to her with Scott’s voice, she finds it not so much unbelievable as inevitable. Soon she’s following a trail of clues that lead her to Scott’s horrifying childhood and the eerie world called Boo’ya Moon, all while trying to help Amanda and avoid a murderous stalker. Both a metaphor for coming to terms with grief and a self-referencing parable of the writer’s craft, this novel answers the question King posed 25 years ago in his tale “The Reach:” yes, the dead do love.
“Inheritance of Loss” by Kiran Desai. This stunning second novel from Desai is set in mid-1980s India, on the cusp of the Nepalese movement for an independent state. Jemubhai Popatlal, a retired Cambridge-educated judge, lives in Kalimpong, at the foot of the Himalayas, with his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, and his cook. Besides threatening their very lives, the revolution also stymies the fledgling romance between 16-year-old Sai and her Nepalese tutor, Gyan. All of these characters struggle with their cultural identity and the forces of modernization while trying to maintain their emotional connection to one another. In this alternately comical and contemplative novel, Desai seamlessly shuttles between first and third worlds, illuminating the pain of exile, the ambiguities of post-colonialism and the blinding desire for a “better life,” when one person’s wealth means another’s poverty.
“Sarah’s Quilt” by Nancy Turner. Beloved by readers and book clubs from coast to coast, this acclaimed follow-up to the modern best-selling classic “These is My Words,” continues the dramatic story of pioneer woman Sarah Agnes Prine. Set in the Arizona Territories, this latest installment picks up in 1906 with a three-year drought, the Great San Francisco earthquake, and a marriage proposal that will change Sarah’s life.
“Tenth Circle” by Jodi Picoult. Some of Picoult’s best storytelling distinguishes her twisting, metaphor-rich 13th novel about parental vigilance gone haywire, inner demons and the emotional risks of relationships. Comic book artist Daniel Stone is like the character in his graphic novel with the same title as this book – once a violent youth and the only white boy in an Alaskan Inuit village, now a loving, stay-at-home dad in Bethel, Maine – traveling figuratively through Dante’s circles of hell to save his 14-year-old teenage daughter, Trixie. After she accuses her ex-boyfriend of rape, Trixie – and Daniel, whose fierce father-love morphs to murderous rage toward her assailant – unravel in the aftermath of the allegation. At the same time, wife and mother Laura, a Dante scholar, tries to mend her and Daniel’s marriage after ending her affair with one of her students. Picoult has collaborated with graphic artist Dustin Weaver to illustrate her deft, complex exploration of Daniel and his beast within. This story of a flawed family on the brink of destruction grips from start to finish.
“Thunderstruck” by Erik Larson. Larson’s page-turner juxtaposes scientific intrigue with a notorious murder in London at the turn of the 20th century. It alternates the story of Marconi’s quest for the first wireless transatlantic communication amid scientific jealousies and controversies with the tale of a mild-mannered murderer caught as a result of the invention. The eccentric figures include the secretive Marconi and one of his rivals, physicist Oliver Lodge, who believed that he was first to make the discovery, but also insisted that the electromagnetic waves he studied were evidence of the paranormal. The parallel tale recounts the story of Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, accused of murdering his volatile, shrewish wife. As he and his unsuspecting lover attempted to escape in disguise to Quebec on a luxury ocean liner, a Scotland Yard detective chased them on a faster boat. Unbeknownst to the couple, the world followed the pursuit through wireless transmissions to newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. A public that had been skeptical of this technology suddenly grasped its power. In an era when wireless has a whole new connotation, young adults interested in the history of scientific discovery will be enthralled with this fascinating account of Marconi and his colleagues’ attempts to harness a new technology
“Leaving Microsoft To Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey To Educate the World’s Children” by John Wood. This is a rare business book that not only provides savvy insights for better business practices but transcends the category altogether, to rank as an infectiously inspiring read. Wood takes the reader on an engaging journey from his life as a rather ordinary marketing director at Microsoft through the transformative decision to launch the nonprofit organization Room to Read (www.roomtoread.org), which has created more than 2,000 schools and libraries for children across Asia. From his first trip to Nepal, where he was struck by the country’s 70 percent illiteracy rate, through his courageous decision to leave Microsoft, to the logistics of growing and expanding the Room to Read initiative, Wood endears himself to the reader with his introspection and honesty. Crediting his former employer with giving him the business skills and drive to aim high, he outlines the concrete steps he took to make his vision a reality.
“The Golden Highway: Highway 49” compiled by Jodi and Ric Hornor. Feel the spirit of the hardy and adventuresome miners and pioneers who settled California. This is a collection of incredible stories found in actual historic documents and journals as well as hundreds of restored photographs taken by some of the first photographers to document the settling of California. Indexed, with a photo on every page, a must have for the local history buff.
Compiled by owner Stacey Colin at Harmony Books, 231 Broad St. Nevada City, 265-9564. Hours are Mon. through Sat. 10 a.m.- 6p.m. and 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sunday.
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