The Paragon Hotel by Lindsay Faye

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An engrossing book that seamlessly weaves human drama with historical racism in 1920’s Oregon.  “Nobody” or Alice, wounded in almost every way, is on the run from the Mafia in Prohibition-era Harlem, and lands in Portland’s only hotel for blacks. The story begins and sweeps the reader into the lives of the unforgettable residents of the hotel. And then the Ku Klux Klan shows up.  A cracking good read.

“This historical novel, which carries strong reverberations of present-day social and cultural upheavals, contains a message from a century ago that’s useful to our own time: ‘We need to do better at solving things.’ A riveting multilevel thriller of race, sex, and mob violence that throbs with menace as it hums with wit.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The Paragon Hotel is set a century ago, but its themes of social and cultural upheaval feel sufficiently fresh that you might think twice about calling Lyndsay Faye’s sixth novel historical fiction. But calling it terrific—not for a minute should you hesitate to do that….The great strength of “The Paragon Hotel” is Ms. Faye’s voice—a blend of film noir and screwball comedy….The jauntiness of the prose doesn’t hide the fact that Ms. Faye has serious business on her mind. At bottom, The Paragon Hotel is about identity and about family—those we’re born into and those we create.”—The Wall Street Journal

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Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving

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A very readable, honest look plus a guided journey to unpacking the privilege of whiteness.  Her questions at the end of each chapter encourage the reader to reflect on one’s lifetime and assumptions, and, with empathy, inspires one to transform.

“I read Waking Up White in one sitting. To say I loved it is an understatement. It’s such a raw, honest portrait …. Irving’s experience on display – warts and all – will help white people, who haven’t noticed the role systemic privilege has played in their lives, start to see the world in a new way.” — Jodi Picoult, author, The Storyteller, My Sister’s Keeper

Irving’s personal and moving tale takes us on an adventure to a world utterly new to her as she wakes up to the reality of how, without her knowledge or active pursuit, she lives in a society which is set up to reward her at the expense of people of color. I cannot imagine a more understandable and compelling invitation to learn about how racism lives on in our homes, communities, and nation. — Bishop Gene Robinson, Retired Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, DC

“Waking up White is a brutally honest, unflinching exploration of race and personal identity, told with heart by a truly gifted storyteller. Much as Irving’s family sought to shield her from the contours of the nation’s racial drama, so too do far too many white Americans continue to do the same. For their sakes, and ours, let’s hope Irving’s words spark even more truth-telling. They certainly have the power to do so.” — Tim Wise, author, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

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The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, book 3) by Katherine Arden

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An immensely satisfying conclusion to a fantastic trilogy.  This third installment sees Vasya come more fully into her power, with all the mystical, moody atmosphere that Arden delivers so well. The vein of Russian folklore that pulsates through the narrative remains as rich and captivating as any modern entry in the fractured-fairytale genre.

“[Katherine] Arden’s gorgeous prose entwines political intrigue and feminist themes with magic and folklore to tell a tale both intimate and epic, featuring a heroine whose harrowing and wondrous journey culminates in an emotionally resonant finale.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy isn’t just good—it’s hug-to-your-chest, straight-to-the-favorites-shelf, reread-immediately good, and each book just gets betterThe Winter of the Witch plunges us back to fourteenth-century Moscow, where old gods and new vie for the soul of Russia and fate rests on a witch girl’s slender shoulders. Prepare to have your heart ripped out, loaned back to you full of snow and magic, and ripped out some more.”—Laini Taylor

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The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carre

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This spy novel, which has just been adapted as a miniseries on AMC, follows a young English actress who is recruited in 1983 to spy for Israel. The story offers some thought-provoking ideas on identity, along with a plot full of twists.

“A work of enormous power and artistry; no mere ‘entertainment’…but fiction on a grand scale.”—The Washington Post

“An irresistible book…Charlie is the ultimate double agent.”—The New York Times

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The Library Book by Susan Orlean

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The Library Book by Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief, on the surface is a whodunnit.  Who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library on April 28, 1986? Why did he/she do it? What was the outcome? Orlean chronicles the investigation into the fire that reached 2000 degrees and destroyed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more.  In addition, the author also tells the broader story of libraries and librarians as well as a fascinating social history of California.

Orlean has written a detective story that is a love letter not just to the Los Angeles Public Library, but to all public libraries and what they represent in a democratic society – a place for free access to information.   Public libraries are a combination of a people’s university, a community hub, and an information base, happily partnered with the Internet rather than in competition with it.  Public libraries are a government entity that is nonjudgmental, inclusive and fundamentally kind.

A dazzling love letter to a beloved institution—and an investigation into one of its greatest mysteries—from the bestselling author hailed as a “national treasure” by TheWashington Post.

 WASHINGTON POST TOP 10 BOOK OF THE YEAR A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER and NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018

“A constant pleasure to read…Everybody who loves books should check out The Library Book.” —The Washington Post

“CAPTIVATING…DELIGHTFUL.” —Christian Science Monitor * “EXQUISITELY WRITTEN, CONSISTENTLY ENTERTAINING.” —The New York Times * “MESMERIZING…RIVETING.” —Booklist (starred review)

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Small Fry: a Memoir by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

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A tender coming of age story about a young girl trying to reconcile two very different lifestyles between her mother and father….. who just happens to be Steve Jobs.   This is not a celebrity biography.  She is true to her young voice throughout plus you will fall in love with her snapshots of 1970’s-80’s northern California.

“Entrancing… Brennan-Jobs is a deeply gifted writer… Her inner landscape is depicted in such exquisitely granular detail that it feels as if no one else could have possibly written it. Indeed, it has that defining aspect of a literary work: the stamp of a singular sensibility… Beautiful, literary, and devastating.”New York Times Book Review

“Brennan-Jobs skillfully relays her past without judgement… staying true to her younger self. It is a testament to her fine writing and journalistic approach that her memoir never turns maudlin or gossipy. Rather than a celebrity biography, this is Brennan-Jobs’s authentic story of growing up in two very different environments, neither of which felt quite like home.”Booklist (starred review)

“Brennan-Jobs’s narrative is tinged with awe, yearning, and disappointment… Bringing the reader into the heart of the child who admired Jobs’s genius, craved his love, and feared his unpredictability.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre

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A nonfiction spy book that’s as gripping as fiction. Kim Philby was an English intelligence officer in the 1940s and 50s who was secretly working for the Soviet Union, as part of the “Cambridge Five” spy ring. This book is a great mix of history, action, and espionage.

“Macintyre has produced more than just a spy story. He has written a narrative about that most complex of topics, friendship…When devouring this thriller, I had to keep reminding myself it was not a novel. It reads like a story by Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, or John Le Carré, leavened with a dollop of P.G. Wodehouse…[Macintyre] takes a fresh look at the grandest espionage drama of our era.”—Walter Isaacson, New York Times Book Review

“Macintyre does here what he does best — tell a heck of a good story. A Spy Among Friends is hands down the most entertaining book I’ve reviewed this year.” —Boston Globe

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Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

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Frances is studying at Trinity College in Dublin when she and her friend meet an interesting older couple. I loved this author’s witty, somewhat detached style and the complicated relationships she explores in this novel.

“Sharp, funny, thought-provoking . . . a really great portrait of two young women as they’re figuring out how to be adults.”– Celeste Ng, “Late Night with Seth Meyers Podcast” 

“In this searing, insightful debut, Rooney offers an unapologetic perspective on the vagaries of relationships… a treatise on married life, the impact of infidelity, the ramifications of one’s actions, and how the person one chooses to be with can impact one’s individuality. Throughout, Rooney’s descriptive eye lends beauty and veracity to this complex and vivid story.”– Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Readers who enjoyed Belinda McKeon’s Tender and Caitriona Lally’s Eggshells will enjoy this exceptional debut.”– Library Journal (starred)

“A smart, sexy, realistic portrayal of a woman finding herself.”– Booklist (starred)

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A Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from a Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks

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While you are waiting to obtain a copy of Educated: a Memoir by Sara Westover ( the holds list is still in the 800’s), you might want to try this book.  Mr. Rebanks, the latest in a long family line of Herdwick sheep farmers, has become an international phenomenon with his evocative prose and blunt observations on the rugged lives and culture of his native English Lake District (Wellesley Books).  He rejects everything about school as a boy but ends up at Oxford.  While most memoirs are about people trying to leave a place, James is determined to remain on the land of his ancestors.

“Captivating… A book about continuity and roots and a sense of belonging in an age that’s increasingly about mobility and self-invention. Hugely compelling” ―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“A gorgeous book, unsentimental but exultant, vivid and profound, and a fierce defense of small-scale farming against the twin threats of agribusiness and tourism.” ―National Geographic

“May well do for sheep what Helen Macdonald did for hawks.” ―The Guardian (UK)

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Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

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In a rural East Texas town of fewer than 200 people, the body of an African American lawyer from Chicago is found in a bayou, followed several days later by that of a local white woman. What’s going on? African American Texas Ranger Darren Mathews hopes to find out, which means talking to relatives of the deceased, including the woman’s white supremacist husband — and Mathews soon discovers things are more complex than they seem. With fully realized characters and a timely look at race relations in the U.S., this book by award-winning novelist Attica Locke (who’s also written and produced for TV’s Empire) is the 1st in her Highway 59 series.

Winner of the 2017 Edgar Award

Locke is a gifted author, and her intriguing and compelling crime novel will keep readers engrossed.—Starred Review, Library Journal

“A quick course in plotting and nimble characterizations rooted in a vividly evoked setting”―Nicole LamyNew York Times Book Review

“In Bluebird, Bluebird Attica Locke had both mastered the thriller and exceeded it. Ranger Darren Mathews is tough, honor-bound, and profoundly alive in corrupt world. I loved everything about this book.”―Ann Patchett

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