Recommendations from Leigh
"Though they be but little, they are fierce! These slim titles for adults pack powerful literary and emotional punches into fewer than 200(ish) pages. During the weeks I've spent sheltering in place with a toddler, I've found that delving into short, satisfying novels has helped keep my brain engaged and given me a much-needed sense of accomplishment. Last week, Jacqueline Woodson's resonant coming-of-age story Another Brooklyn swept me away to 1970s Bushwick; this week, I'm relishing Sue Rainsford's lyrical and chilling debut, Follow Me to Ground."
A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman’s first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.
This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real...
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse where she once lived, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
A groundbreaking work as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out.
A Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award
New York Times Bestseller
A SeattleTimes pick for Summer Reading Roundup 2017
A Bustle Fall Roundup pick for 2017
The acclaimed New York Times bestselling and National Book Award–winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming delivers her first adult novel in twenty years.
Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.
But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.
Like Louise Meriwether’s Daddy Was a Number Runner and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.
Palm Beach Post, BuzzFeed, and LitHub’s Most Anticipated of 2020
A haunted, surreal debut novel about an otherworldly young woman, her father, and her lover that culminates in a shocking moment of betrayal—one that upends our understanding of power, predation, and agency.
Ada and her father, touched by the power to heal illness, live on the edge of a village where they help sick locals—or “Cures”—by cracking open their damaged bodies or temporarily burying them in the reviving, dangerous Ground nearby. Ada, a being both more and less than human, is mostly uninterested in the Cures, until she meets a man named Samson. When they strike up an affair, to the displeasure of her father and Samson’s widowed, pregnant sister, Ada is torn between her old way of life and new possibilities with her lover—and eventually comes to a decision that will forever change Samson, the town, and the Ground itself.
Follow Me to Ground is fascinating and frightening, urgent and propulsive. In Ada, award-winning author Sue Rainsford has created an utterly bewitching heroine, one who challenges conventional ideas of womanhood and the secrets of the body. Slim but authoritative, Follow Me to Ground lingers long after its final page, pulling the reader into a dream between fairy tale and nightmare, desire and delusion, folktale and warning.
The surprise hit of the summer and winner of Japan's prestigious Akutagawa Prize, Convenience Store Woman is the incomparable story of Keiko Furukura, a thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident who has been working at the Hiiromachi "Smile Mart" for the past eighteen years. Keiko has never fit in, neither in her family, nor in school, but in her convenience store, she is able to find peace and purpose with rules clearly delineated clearly by the store's manual, and copying her colleagues' dress, mannerisms, and speech. She plays the part of a "normal person" excellently--more or less. Keiko is very happy, but those close to her pressure her to find a husband and a proper career, prompting her to take desperate action.
A sharp-eyed look at contemporary work culture and the pressures we all feel to conform, Convenience Store Woman offers a brilliant depiction of a world hidden from view and a charming and fresh portrait of an unforgettable heroine.
"A piercing story of a girl who responds to trauma by mustering the most powerful weapon available to her: silence. (...) melodic, mythological, transformative, a testament to literature's powers..." Vanity Fair
Ellen has stopped talking. She thinks she may have killed her dad. Her brother's barricaded himself in his room. Their mother, a successful actress, carries on as normal. We're a family of light she insists. But darkness seeps in everywhere and in their separate worlds each of them longs for togetherness.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
The PBS Newshour/New York Times Book Club January 2020 selection
Selected by Emma Watson for her "Our Shared Shelf" Book Club"
Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for English-Language Nonfiction
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
"A sledgehammer. . . . Her experiments with structure and language . . . are in the service of trying to find new ways to think about the past, trauma, repetition and reconciliation, which might be a way of saying a new model for the memoir." --Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Band in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father--an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist--who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.
Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.
"I am quietly reveling in the profundity of Mailhot's deliberate transgression in Heart Berries and its perfect results. I love her suspicion of words. I have always been terrified and in awe of the power of words - but Mailhot does not let them silence her in Heart Berries. She finds the purest way to say what she needs to say... T]he writing is so good it's hard not to temporarily be distracted from the content or narrative by its brilliance... Perhaps, because this author so generously allows us to be her witness, we are somehow able to see ourselves more clearly and become better witnesses to ourselves." --Emma Watson, Official March/April selection for Our Shared Shelf
"Luiselli follows in the imaginative tradition of writers like Borges and M rquez, but her style and concerns are unmistakably her own. This deeply playful novel is about the passion and obsession of collecting, the nature of storytelling, the value of objects, and the complicated bonds of family. . . Luiselli has become a writer to watch, in part because it's truly hard to know (but exciting to wonder about) where she will go next."--The New York Times
I was born in Pachuca, the Beautiful Windy City, with four premature teeth and my body completely covered in a very fine coat of fuzz. But I'm grateful for that inauspicious start because ugliness, as my other uncle, Eur pides L pez S nchez, was given to saying, is character forming.
Highway is a late-in-life world traveler, yarn spinner, collector, and legendary auctioneer. His most precious possessions are the teeth of the "notorious infamous" like Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf. Written in collaboration with the workers at a Jumex juice factory, Teeth is an elegant, witty, exhilarating romp through the industrial suburbs of Mexico City and Luiselli's own literary influences.
Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983 and grew up in South Africa. Her work has been translated into many languages and has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney's. Her novel, The Story of My Teeth is the Winner of the LA Times Book Prize in Fiction.
Praise for Cynan Jones:
" A] piercing novella . . . Like Cormac McCarthy, Jones can make the everyday sound fraught and biblical."--Kirkus, starred review
"Jones' prose clips along at an unnerving pace, barely giving you time to process the previous beautiful image, before knocking you dead with the next one."--Green Apple Books, Our Favorite Books of 2015
"This book will collapse you into its single point of infinite heaviness, and you'll love it."--Elliott Bay Book Company
On a long, hot day, Gareth searches for a missing pregnant cow. A dog must be put down, there are ducks to go in the pond, there are children, and there is Kate, his wife, who may be an uncrossable distance from him. Jones's rural Wales is alive with the necessities of our own animal instincts and most human longing.
Cynan Jones was born near Aberaeron on the west coast of Wales in 1975. He is the author of five short novels, The Long Dry, Everything I Found on the Beach, Bird, Blood, Snow, The Dig and The Cove. His work has been translated into several languages, and short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and publications including Granta.
NOMINATED FOR THE 2019 BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER
FINALIST FOR THE 2019 WOMEN'S PRIZE
Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.
"Humane yet often horrifying, Tell Me How It Ends offers a compelling, intimate look at a continuing crisis--and its ongoing cost in an age of increasing urgency." --Jeremy Garber, Powell's Books
p>>"Valeria Luiselli's extended essay on her volunteer work translating for child immigrants confronts with compassion and honesty the problem of the North American refugee crisis. It's a rare thing: a book everyone should read." --Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books
"Tell Me How It Ends evokes empathy as it educates. It is a vital contribution to the body of post-Trump work being published in early 2017."--Katharine Solheim, Unabridged Bookstore
"While this essay is brilliant for exactly what it depicts, it helps open larger questions, which we're ever more on the precipice of now, of where all of this will go, how all of this might end. Is this a story, or is this beyond a story? Valeria Luiselli is one of those brave and eloquent enough to help us see."--Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company
"Appealing to the language of the United States' fraught immigration policy, Luiselli exposes the cracks in this foundation. Herself an immigrant, she highlights the human cost of its brokenness, as well as the hope that it (rather than walls) might be rebuilt."--Brad Johnson, Diesel Bookstore
"The bureaucratic labyrinth of immigration, the dangers of searching for a better life, all of this and more is contained in this brief and profound work. Tell Me How It Ends is not just relevant, it's essential."--Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore