It’s our first FBF of the month, beloved patrons! And though February may be a short month, there’s still plenty to celebrate! In addition to the holiday on February 14, there are a few other days that might strike your fancy to celebrate, such as:
February 17: National Random Act of Kindness Day (originally a New Zealand holiday that appears to be spreading)
February 25: National Clam Chowder Day
February 26: National Tell A Fairy Tale Day!
February 28: National Toast Day (as in toasted bread–originally a UK holiday, but, as fans of toast, we are delighted to join the celebration!)
February is also Black History Month. Stop in and check out our displays and get some recommendations to enrich your reading!
And speaking of books…here are just a few of the titles that trundled their way through this week’s wacky weather to meet you!
The Atlas of Reds and Blues: Some of literature’s most noteworthy books take place within the context of a single day, and Devi S. Lakar’s novel follows in that tradition, setting out a story that unfolds over the course of a single morning. When a woman―known only as Mother―moves her family from Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small Southern town. Despite the intervening decades, Mother is met with the same questions: Where are you from? No, where are you really from? The American-born daughter of Bengali immigrants, she finds that her answer―Here―is never enough. Mother’s simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a violent and unfounded police raid on her home, she finally refuses to be complacent. As she lies bleeding from a gunshot wound, her thoughts race from childhood games with her sister and visits to cousins in India, to her time in the newsroom before having her three daughters, to the early days of her relationship with a husband who now spends more time flying business class than at home. This is a novel that looks at the complexities of the second-generation American experience, what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace, and a sister, a wife, and a mother to daughters in today’s America. Based on Laskar’s own experience of a raid on her home, this is a searing and important work that earned a starred review from Booklist. Their review describes it as a work that “takes place in a morning; it covers a lifetime . . . Not only does Laskar bring her honed skills as a poet and journalist to her pulse-racing first novel about otherness and prejudice, she also draws on her own experience of a shocking raid on her home. Laskar’s bravura drama of one woman pushed to the brink by racism is at once sharply relevant and tragically timeless.”
The Patricide of George Benjamin Hill: Another striking debut about the dark underbelly of the American dream, James Charlesworth’s first novel is told from the perspective of the children of a ‘self-made man’. All their lives, the children of George Benjamin Hill have fought to escape the shadow of their father, a dust-bowl orphan, self-made millionaire in bedrock American capitalism (fast food and oil), and destroyer of two families on his way to financial success. Now, they are approaching middle age and ruin: A failed ex–minor league ballplayer, divorced and mourning the death of his daughter in Miami; CIA veteran, off his meds and deciphering conspiracies in Manhattan; a Las Vegas showgirl turned old maid of The Strip, trying to stay clean; and an Alaskan bush pilot, twice un-indicted for manslaughter and recently thrown off his land by the federal government. While their father finds himself at the center of a national scandal, these estranged siblings are drawn from their four corners of the country, compelled along crowded interstates by resentment and confusion, converging on a 300-acre horse ranch outside Omaha for a final confrontation with the father they never had. This is a story about corporate greed, about the failures of capitalism, and, in the midst of these huge themes, there is a moving and suspenseful tale about one family’s unique dysfunctions. The New York Times Review of Books wrote a lovely review of this debut, noting, “Charlesworth doesn’t mince words. . . . For such an unabashedly polemical first novel, The Patricide of George Benjamin Hill works surprising well, due in large measure to the unremitting intensity of its prose, the unsettling verisimilitude of its characters, and the moral courage at the core of its message.”
The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction: A miraculous alchemy occurs when one person reads to another, transforming the simple stuff of a book, a voice, and a bit of time into complex and powerful fuel for the heart, brain, and imagination. Meghan Cox Gurdon’s work tales a scientific approach to the act of reading, blending the latest neuroscience and behavioral research with a passion for literature to explain and explore the dazzling cognitive and social-emotional benefits that await children, whatever their class, nationality or family background. But it’s not just about bedtime stories for little kids: Reading aloud consoles, uplifts and invigorates at every age, deepening the intellectual lives and emotional well-being of teenagers and adults, too. For everyone, reading aloud engages the mind in complex narratives; for children, it’s an irreplaceable gift that builds vocabulary, fosters imagination, and kindles a lifelong appreciation of language, stories and pictures. This is a book for anyone looking to understand the power of sharing and hearing stories that Library Journal recommended “For anybody interested in reading, especially parents, teachers, caregivers, and librarians, this inspirational work proclaims its joys and rewards.”
The Girls at 17 Swann Street: As much as we are heartily over the “books with girls in the title” trend, there’s no denying that Yara Zgheib’s debut is a vitally necessary and deeply emotional story that deserves to be read and discussed. Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day. This isn’t an easy read, but it’s an important one. Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a starred review, calling it, “an impressive, deeply moving debut. ” And can we just say, what a week it is for debut novels!
The Stranger Inside: There have been a number of books that deal with strangers attempting to move into, or already living in, someone’s, and Laura Bendict plays on those fears in this new novel. There’s a stranger living in Kimber Hannon’s house. He tells the police that he has every right to be there, and he has the paperwork to prove it. But Kimber definitely didn’t invite this man to move in. He tells her that he knows something about her, and he wants everyone else to know it too. His words reveal a connection to Kimber’s distant past, and dark secrets she’d long ago left buried. This trespasser isn’t after anything as simple as her money or her charming Craftsman bungalow. He wants to move into her carefully orchestrated life–and destroy it. This book also earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who called it “Outstanding…. Kimber’s complicated personality and unusual family life drive the ever-twisting, surprise-filled plot…. [She] is the epitome of the unreliable narrator.”
Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!