What Nicole is reading

"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?"

-Harriet Ward Beecher

ISBN-13: 9780062112248
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper, 6/2013
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!

ISBN-13: 9780062072221
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press, 1/2014
Nicole says: The title says it all! Here is an entertaining and thoughtful, careful study of why parents of today are so conflicted about the supposed joy of having children. I related to Jen's voice, to her exasperation and to her wonder. This is a book in which mommies and daddies will find a lot of solace. Easy reading.

Shotgun Lovesongs (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781250039811
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Thomas Dunne Books, 3/2014

Nicole says: Nicholas Butler might have charmed his way onto my bookshelf, but his writing chops have earned a permanent place in my reading life. With the backdrop of a small Wisconsin town, this debut novel showcases regular people trying to connect and a group of guys who just can't seem to get it right. If you like Jonathan Franzen's scope but not all the cultural snark, try "Shotgun Lovesongs." 


Bark: Stories (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780307594136
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf, 3/2014
Nicole says: I'm a good Midwestern girl with all those notions of the American dream embedded firmly in place. Lorrie Moore always does a good, kind job of reminding me that those ideas are ridiculous! Her latest collection of short stories is no different. I was depressed, then laughing out loud in the first three stories. If you enjoyed her award-winning novel "Gate at the Stairs," try this!

The Rosie Project (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781476729084
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Simon & Schuster, 10/2013
Nicole says: "Our friend and former bookseller Stephen Bedford turned me on to this book. It was the first he was working on for his new job at Simon and Schuster. I received it with a note, and took it home to read right away. The book sucked me in right away. It's a calculated love story with echoes of all major human emotions, sweet and surprising, lovely to read. If you liked Hector and the Search for Happiness, you'll love The Rosie Project!"

ISBN-13: 9780770436421
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth, 2/2014
Nicole says: "I had the chance to hear Marra speak publicly for the first time about this book in the fall of 2012 - before the National Book Award nomination, before Boston. He told of his studies in Russia, of the stories he had to write in order to understand the history of a place like Chechnya. He brought the room of booksellers to tears, even before any of us had read a word. This is one of the best books of the year, hands down. Compelling, chilling, scary real and beautifully written. Anthony Marra is one of my literary crushes!"  

ISBN-13: 9781594631771
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Trade, 9/2013
Nicole says: "The winner of a Pulitzer Prize and the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, Diaz is not a newcomer to the literary elite. A follow up to the beloved Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, this collection of linked stories compels the reader to learn more about the man behind the voice. It’s filled with love, lust and lost dreams, and while I don’t pretend to relate to the drama, I envy the skills."

ISBN-13: 9780142196816
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Plume, 5/2013
Nicole says: "I’ve heard how hilarious Tropper can be, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of his powers until the most recent novel. This is the story of Silver - an aging, divorced, despondent father who must decide whether it’s really worth living once he’s diagnosed with a curable, yet life-threatening ailment. Contrasting the humor and tragedy of our everyday decisions, Tropper is master of the inner dialogue. Fantastic as an audio book, too!"

Me Before You (Compact Disc)

ISBN-13: 9781611762358
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Audio, 8/2013
Nicole says: "Some books are just better on audio! The librarians at the Avon Public Library were big fans of this gentle and thoughtful novel. I was worried it would be too predictable, but I felt myself drawn up in the magic of the human spirit by the second disc."

ISBN-13: 9780670026005
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Viking Adult, 3/2013
Nicole says: "Just stop what you’re doing and read this. It’s that good!"

Ghana Must Go (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781594204494
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Press HC, The, 3/2013

Nicole says: A reader knows when they're in the presence of something special, brilliant. It's a voice familiar, kind. A plot careful, unraveling. A set of characters whose hearts pound between the boards. Taiye Selasi delivers a powerful debut about family, race and the nature of story in this contemporary novel, set against neighborhoods from Brookline, MA to Lagos, Nigeria. A literary descendant of Zadie Smith and Arundhati Roy, Selasi is a new force in the global community of readers.

Life After Life (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781616203221
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Shannon Ravenel Books, 11/2013
Nicole says: "Alternating in voice and character, McCorkle’s first novel in 17 years puts real and everyday moments into a stunning perspective. The characters – from a bawdy old man to a pre-teen with disagreeable parents – are all connected to Pine Haven Retirement Home in the mountains of North Carolina. Drawn like a road map to the human heart, Life After Life fills you up with moments that make the reader feel truly human."

Benediction (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9780307959881
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Knopf, 3/2013
Nicole says: If you follow my recommendations for literary work from the West, look no further than the new novel by the author of "Plainsong." No writer is more masterful at developing characters against a harsh setting, allowing their humanity to bubble up like a river in the high desert. Love Kent Haruf!

ISBN-13: 9781616202798
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1/2013
Nicole says: An authentic and entertaining narration for the sophomore effort by the author of "A Reliable Wife." Here is the story of a sleepy Virginia hamlet that is suspicious and charmed by a newcomer, only to be forever changed by the dramatic events Charlie brings with him. If you liked "Water for Elephants," then you'll love "Heading Out to Wonderful."

Running the Rift (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781616201944
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 10/2012

Nicole says: If you read Ishmael Beah's "Long Way Gone" or Helene Cooper's "House at Sugar Beach" then you must pick up this one. It's the fictional story of Jean Patrick Encuba, a boy whose Olympic dreams are tested when the Hutus and Tutsies clash in his native Rwanda. This is a novel that will ignite discussion and transport readers to a time in the not-so-distant past. Appropriate for high school readers, too.

Sutton (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781401312688
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hyperion, 5/2013
Nicole says: "We have waited so long for a follow up to The Tender Bar, but there is no sophomore slump in this historical novel about legendary bank robber Willie Sutton. Moehringer lights up the pages with vivid characterization, a ripping plot and some of the best dialogue I’ve ever read. Great story for fans of Devil in the White City or for those banker-types who need some pleasure reading!"

The Yellow Birds (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780316219341
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books, 5/2013
Nicole says: A taut and haunting novel about the Iraq War compared to "The Things They Carried." The author's strong command of writing and imagery keep this book from getting too depressing, although it is a sad story about friendship and recovery in the face of unchecked violence experienced during war. This isn't the "ripped from the headlines" account. It is quiet and thoughtful, keeping literary readers satisfied. If you liked "You Know When the Men Are Gone" you should pick up "The Yellow Birds."

ISBN-13: 9780812982626
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 8/2012
Nicole says: For fans of adventure, great writing and books like "Shantaram," this is a must-read tale. It's a novel of discovery, violence and hope, following Jun Do and his rag-tag, adopted family of grown-up orphans. Designated by the North Korean regime to do much of the dictator's dirty work, the men are challenged with constant inner battles of good versus evil. The book is filled with illuminating, despicable and sometimes hilarious circumstances of living in North Korea, all researched during the author's travel to this otherwise secretive locale. Provocative and eye-opening!

Shine Shine Shine (Compact Disc)

ISBN-13: 9781427221391
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Macmillan Audio, 7/2012
Nicole says: A super fun narration of the quirkiest book I've read lately. Here is a laugh-out-loud love story that will make you wonder how we figure out a way to fit into this world. Sunny and Maxon were made for each other, and yet even they struggle to come to terms with their uniqueness. Lydia Netzer does a great job developing her characters, and getting reader to develop a particular fondness for their flaws.

The Iguana Tree (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 9781891885884
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Hub City Press, 3/2012
Nicole says: A small book that packs a mighty punch! This is the best border story I’ve read in a long time – the tragic tale of a young family that crosses from Mexico into Texas only to find things aren’t as they might have dreamed. Hector and Lilia’s choices present them with a grueling reality described with a style direct and carefully chosen. No matter what side of the immigration debate you’re on, this story is emotionally pitch perfect and relevant to our complicated lives.

Salvage the Bones (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781608196265
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Bloomsbury USA, 4/2012
Nicole says: A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, and the four siblings who make up the central cast of the book are just barely afloat. They've grown up mostly motherless, protecting and nurturing each other when love is scarce. But in the face of an especially historic day — the afternoon Hurrican Katrina makes landfall in rural Mississippi — they must come together in a way that doesn't seem possible. A beautiful and dramatic conclusion resonates long after the last pages. No wonder it's been chosen for the National Book Award in fiction this year.

Silver Sparrow (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9781616201425
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 5/2012
Nicole says: A story of two parallel lives, told by the two daughters who grow up in the same town with the same father. One knows the truth, but is intentionally hidden in plain sight by her parents. The other daughter, blissfully ignorant of her sisterly ties. I loved this novel, whose coming of age story is a mix between Jodi Picoult and Jayne Anne Phillips. A fast read and perfect for summer reading!

Faith (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780060755812
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Harper Perennial, 1/2012
Nicole says: Ripped from the headlines – this novel tells the story of one woman’s search for the truth behind her brother’s involvement in the scandal that rocked the Boston Archdiocese. Told with strong, detailed language and an ear for dialogue between siblings, Haigh’s book shines a light on how families privately cope with a public accusation, delving deep into the emotional territory of sibling bonds and the meaning of unconditional love. Great for book clubs! Haigh is a Books In Bloom author.

ISBN-13: 9781594485664
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Riverhead Trade, 4/2012
Nicole says: Ms. O'Rourke's memoir retells her years as a caregiver to her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 55. It is an intimate and succinct description of her emotional upheaval as daughter and friend. Readers will identifiy with the everyday details, and find hope in her revelations about the enduring quality of familial love.

ISBN-13: 9781594203336
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Press HC, The, 2/2012
Nicole Says: As a new mom, I'm reading parenting books like they're going out of style. (Were they ever en vogue?) Well, Pamela Druckerman makes it seem just so - she uses her own experience and the research done with European parents to outline what parents in Paris do to raise their children differently than we do here. The results aren't a bunch of fois gras-eating kids with their noses in the air. They are children who learn patience and wisdom at an earlier age than their American counterparts. Humorous and full of food for thought.

ISBN-13: 9780143123200
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books, 12/2013

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