What Nicole is reading
"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?"
-Harriet Ward Beecher
Nicole says: "The train wreck is nasty as ever. And not only could I not look away, I was mesmerized by the complexity of the drama through such simple terms. The author - a staff writer for the New Yorker - sets the journalistic stories that have made her career against her own tragic narrative. This is a story of how we change when the the world seems to conspire against us, and how we find hope after the jarring fall. Excellent!"
Nicole says: "Peter Heller tackles the techniques of mystery head on in his novel about a female private eye who is modeled on his own mother. Told with the direct description and narrative precision he is known for, this book should reach wider audiences interested in a page-turning summer read."
Nicole says: "Elif Batuman is a Jonathan Franzen for Gen X women. Relatable, dishy and with a cultural complexity common in college and scarce off campus, this novel scores on entertainment and sentiment for a time at the dawn of email. "
Nicole says: "This is the one I read first after Winter Institute. I was taken by the tiny cast of characters and their very small world, how it all could be so alarming and brief. Strong writing, forceful and violent backdrop, a statement about masculinity, fatherhood, forgiveness, and the trauma we inflict on the ones we love the most."
Nicole says: "Contemporary family drama told with the lense of a collective narrator. Light enough for holiday reading, with depth enough for the literary reader. "
Nicole says: "This is a masterpiece! A direct and forceful narrative, a translation smooth and peaceful as the quiet narrator himself, this book takes the reader on a days-long search for the past and the present in modern day Bogatá. A prominent political cartoonist is shaken when a forgotten uncertainty from the past resurfaces. Full of plot and careful style, the novel is a psychological study of what we believe makes us who we are. Five stars!"
Nicole says: "This is the kind of book I love - concise narrative of transformation and strong personalities, set in a moment of time in a particular place. Here we have Texas, just after the Civil War, and a pressman with a mission to return a missing girl to her civilized roots. The perfect four-hour read by a masterful writer!"
Nicole says: "Well-told, seamless slave narrative that forces the reader to continously examine our present as a reflection of the past. The story's main character is Cora, a girl and then woman who never gives up the fantasy or reality of freedom. It's tone is curt and frank, with economical and vivid writing."
Nicole says: "Get out the family tree and listen with rapt ears to the multi-generational stories of marital power and familial love that weave tribal African life and British colonialism with the American slave narrative. I love that every chapter moves through a new generation to reveal even more about the past. An awesome book club book!"
Nicole says: "Fast-paced and slightly distopian, this inventive novel imagines a notion that four states in America have never outlawed slavery. Now corporate interests, technology and geo-political tensions shape the economy and culture of the so-called United States. Part spy novel, part social commentary, this book is for readers of Neal Stephenson, Emily St. John Mandel and Colson Whitehead."
Nicole says: Haunting family drama erupts during the expected family reunion of four siblings who return to their grandparents' crumbling country estate in the countryside of England. Secrets from the past collide with the pressures of modern life in this stylized novel told in two parts.
Nicole says: Amazing memoir from a great light snuffed out too early. For fans of Being Mortal and Abraham Verghese, this story of a surgeon-turned-writer covers his intense training, ambition to transcend that training and inevitably, his ability to create a meaningful legacy.
Nicole says: These stories run through the the western landscape as fast as their characters appear on the page - a construction worker who has stolen a dog, a janitor caught in a land war, Yellowstone, Montana, Wyoming and the wide landscapes between each story. This acclaimed young voice is one I'm looking forward to hearing from in the future!
Nicole says: "Can a person ever escape being a victim, even if he survives? This is the central theme for an epic, engrossing story of a friendship spanning the decades between college and death for four successful men. This novel is a beautifully written commentary that reflects on itself and its characters' interior lives, which demonstrates that in pain, there is also beauty, ease, safety and especially, truth. Destined to be a classic."
Nicole says: Here is the story of relationships in crisis – a teenage girl goes missing and her siblings and parents are left to unwind the story of the favorite member of the family. Ng expertly weaves psychological tension into a web layered with gender and racial expectations, while still offering themes of hope and reconciliation. A great summer read!
Nicole says: "Blend Boys in the Boat and the Great Gatsby and this is the flavor of the book. One of the speed kings was Bill Fiske, a founding father of resort skiing near Aspen. This book is full of great historical detail, interviews and awesome moments of adrenaline."
Nicole says: "Hard-working prose, characters who resemble our real lives, and landscapes as wide open as the West. Lucia Berlin was a professor at the University of Colorado before her death in 2004, and her legacy lives on in this collection of diverse stories that read like the diary entries to her life."
Nicole says: "Mind-blowing. Personal. Political. An intense study of what it means to exist in a black body in contemporary America. This book woke me back up to the true power and narrative force of essay."
Nicole says: "The personal remains political in Steinem's travel memoir. Chronicling her domestic and international travel over six decades as a community organizer in the women's movement, this book is a survey of history as well as a great behind-the-scenes look at one of our biggest heores."
Nicole says: "Not normally an author I lean toward, Brene Brown has mastered the art of bringing our inner lives out into the open. Coaxing the reader to be curious about the emotions they experience, she then urges men and women to explore how those emotions influence their interactions, their story, their view of the world. Inspiring and easy to read!"
Nicole says: "Thousands of years of Chinese history wrapped up in the intertwining lives to soul mates; a story for the ages and perfect for readers of historical fiction and contemporary literature. Barker was inspired by her own grandfather's story, but this is a novel that is bound to be a classic."
Nicole says: "This book is exquisite both from a character and setting perspective. The stories each are meaty enough to feel completely engrossed, while the writing fluid through the pieces. The narrators reach across experiences and the themes of otherness, fidelity, country and family satisfied me. Each story is connected to the Philippines through its characters experiences as expats and at home."
Nicole says: "An interesting book that I found writerly and compelling, Beatty strikes a chord in American race relations. Black identity as a central theme and satire as a vehicle is a combination bound to be complicated; an excellent discussion book for groups or students!"
Nicole says: "How is a book so wry and so sexy also so literary? How can such a removed, dramatic narrator also reveal so much about the secrets her characters withhold from one another? Jaw-droppingly good. I loved it."
Nicole says: "Absolutely loved this style and structure. So heady, experimental AND readable. The language usage is quotable, and for a book in translation, that seems rare. An unreliable narrator is hard to do well, but Luiselli nails it. The theme is timeless: power of story, none of us is predetermined."
Nicole says: "If you loved the Book Thief, then you must read this novel. Sparse, yet revealing prose is guided by a direct, observant and naive child narrator living in Poland during World War II. Revealing and even funny at times, the voice transcends a devastating ending. Breathtaking!"
Nicole says: This is the book with which I chose to kick off my vacation to a remote island in British Columbia. Ironic that my spot wasn't so different from Delano Island, home for the main character! Station Eleven is an entertaining book for anyone who longs for a different world, a place that can no longer exist, as well as for lovers of art, music, technology and the buzz around a great novel!
Nicole says: If you liked "History of Love" or "The Book Thief" go get ye to the bookstore for this beautiful, engrossing, economical novel. It opens with a Thich Nhat Hahn quote which I now think of daily: "We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness." Linked chapters and characters intertwine against the backdrop of World War II, creating a quilt to shroud us in even the most difficult and lonely times. This book reminds us all that we are never alone. Wonderful!