Adult Book News
Celebrate Jewish Book Month
Jewish Book Month (November 24-December 24) began in 1925
in a library in Boston where a librarian set up a display of Jewish-themed books. Other communities across the county adopted the custom in what was known as Jewish Book Week. In 1943, the celebration was extended to a month-long observance each year in the month before Hanukkah as a way of promoting Jewish books nationwide. Jewish Book Month is a program sponsored by the Jewish Book Council which serves as the coordinating body of Jewish literary activity in North America in both general and Jewish venues.
Recent Jewish Fiction:
Game of Queens : A Novel of Vashti and Esther by India Edghill
Edghill breathes new life into the biblical story of Vashti and Esther, the two wives of King Ahasuerus of Persia. Vashti, one of the most beautiful women in the empire, lost her crown when she defied her husband. The King set her aside and commanded that the most beautiful maidens be sent to his court so he might choose a new queen. He set the queen's crown upon the head of the virtuous and beautiful Esther, a young Jewess, who later defied both king and law to save her people from a treacherous fate. "...Edghill's novel is a fresh, multivoiced approach to the celebrated tale of Purim. Richly textured, thrilling, and totally fascinating, this sweeping saga is sure to captivate readers across the board." (Booklist)
Judas by Amos Oz
Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a young biblical scholar, is adrift in his life when he starts work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abarbanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets. "The latest novel by prominent Israeli writer Oz folds a meditation on loyalty and loss into a tender coming-of-age story, and the result is touching and intellectually potent." (Booklist)
The Debt of Tamar by Nicole Dweck
In 2002, thirty-two-year-old Selim Osman, the last descendant of the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, flees Istanbul for New York. In a twist of fate, he meets Hannah, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and an artist striving to understand the father she barely knows. Unaware that the connection they share goes back centuries, the two feel an immediate pull to one another. In 1544, as the Inquisition raged, young José Mendez escaped Portugal with the help of the Ottoman sultan, and made a new life in Istanbul. But when his own daughter secretly fell in love with the sultan's Muslim grandson, José found himself in a life-changing dilemma, one that would shape generations to come. From a sixteenth-century harem to a seaside village in the Holy Land, from Nazi-occupied Paris to modern-day Manhattan, Dweck weaves a spellbinding tapestry of love, history, and fate.
City of Secrets by Stewart O'Nan
In 1945, with no homes to return to, Jewish refugees by the tens of thousands set out for Palestine. Those who made it were hunted as illegals by the British authorities there and relied on the underground to shelter them; taking fake names, they blended with the population, joining the wildly different factions fighting for the independence of Israel. One survivor, Brand, drives a taxi provided--like his new identity--by the underground. Alone, haunted by memories, he tries to become again the man he was before the war and falls in love with Eva, a fellow survivor and member of his cell. As he reclaims his faith, and commits himself to the revolution, he accepts secret missions that grow more and more dangerous even as he begins to suspect he's being used by their dashing leader, Asher.
A Christmas Carol: The Original Manuscript Edition by Charles Dickens
A first-ever trade edition of the original manuscript of the beloved Christmas classic about Scrooge and the Christmas ghosts who visit him on Christmas Eve. Every year at the holidays, the historic Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan displays one of the treasures of its collection: the original manuscript of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, with its detailed emendations, deletions, and insertions in Dickens's own hand. Here, for the first time in a beautiful trade edition, A Christmas Carol: The Original Manuscript Edition presents a facsimile of that invaluable manuscript, along with a typeset version of the story, a fascinating introduction by the Morgan's chief literary curator on the history of the story, and a new foreword by Colm Tóibín celebrating its timeless appeal.
A Shoe Addict's Christmas by Beth Harbison
Noelle is not a fan of the holidays and to make matters worse, she is at a crossroads in her life when it seems that love and adventure are no longer possible. When she stays late at her job in a department store on a snowy Christmas Eve she accidentally gets locked in after closing. She isn't too concerned about the prospect of spending the night in the store...until a woman appears out of nowhere and tells Noelle that she's her guardian angel. Soon Noelle finds herself camped out in the shoe department facing several "ghosts" of Christmases past, present, and future, all while surrounded by Manolo Blahniks, Jimmy Choos, Chanel slippers, and Prada riding boots. "The visions of what could be convince Noelle to join her friend on a trip to Rome and finally stop avoiding her fate, which seems to involve a handsome guy named Jake. ... A fun and shoe-filled modern take on A Christmas Carol... (Library Journal)
75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor
December 7 marks the 75th Anniversary of the surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific fleet moored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 2,400 people were killed and dozens of Navy vessels were damaged or destroyed during the early morning attack in 1941. The devastating raid became a major catalyst for the entry of the United States into World War II. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress on December 8, he started his speech with the phrase that has been associated with this event ever since, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy..."
A Pearl Harbor story:
From Here to Eternity by James Jones
This modern classic was published in 1951 and won the National Book Award in 1952. Set in 1941, the novel focuses on several members of a U.S. Army infantry company stationed in Hawaii in the months leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The book was later made into an Academy Award-winning film starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra. Jones' book was a sensation when it was published - its language was shocking and the sexual themes and casual violence of the plot appalled many. Author James Ellroy summed up the book's significance in a 2009 NPR essay, "From Here to Eternity is a great American novel. It remains incandescent after 58 years. It gives us America then, and prophesies America's great and costly rise to power. It explodes with humanity and conspicuous acts of conscience. There has never been a novel like it, and there never will be."
2016 LibraryReads Favorites of Favorites
LibraryReads is marking its third year anniversary by creating the third Favorites of Favorites list, with library staff voting on their top ten favorite books from the October 2015 through September 2016 lists. The Favorites of Favorites list takes the place of the traditional December list and is the result of online voting by over one thousand librarians.
So here are the top ten books that librarians across the country loved recommending in 2016:
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Time to Sing a Christmas Tune
Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson
Singer Willie Nelson has created a holiday novel from the lyrics of his popular 1963 Christmas song, Pretty Paper, about a crippled Texas street vendor selling Chistmas wrapping, pencils, and ribbons to make some money during the holiday shopping season. To attract customers, he would call out, "pretty paper, pretty paper." It's the early sixties and Willie Nelson is down and out, barely eking out a living as a singer-songwriter. The week before Christmas, he spots a legless man on a cart, selling wares in front of Leonard's Department Store in Fort Worth, Texas. The humble figure, by the name of Vernon Clay, piques Willie's curiosity, but Vernon is stubbornly private and--despite Willie's charming queries--has no interest in telling his story. Willie is tenacious, though, and he eventually learns that Vernon is a fellow musician, a fine guitarist and singer. When Vernon disappears, he leaves behind only a diary, which tells an epic tale of life-altering tragedies, broken hearts, and crooked record men, not to mention backroad honky-tonks, down-home cooking, and country songwriting genius. Deeply moved and spurred on by Vernon's pages, Willie aims to give the man one last shot at redemption and a chance to embody the holiday spirit. "This charming but, alas, fictional memoir takes us back to the early years of famed singer/songwriter Willie Nelson. ...It's such a touching story, moving without the cloying sweetness that plagues so many would-be inspirational tales that we find ourselves wishing it had actually happened. Nelson, who has always told wonderful stories in song form, proves he can be just as effective in print narrative."(Booklist)
The Very Best Books of ...
It's that time of year - the "Best Books" lists of 2016 are multiplying. It seems that every day another media source, whether newspaper, magazine, TV show, blogger, celebrity, or pundit, prints, publishes or posts a "Best Books of 2016" list.
So far, there's the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2016, Amazon Editors Top 100, Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction, Publishers Weekly Best of 2016, LibraryReads Favorites of Favorites and The Washington Post's Top Ten, and there will be more. Enough lists to keep us all amused for awhile.
"All the News that's Fit to Print"
On November 23, The New York Times posted its list of this year's 100 notable books in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry as selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Many of the titles are those that are also included in other "Best" lists, but there are a few surprises.
Don't Let My Baby Do Rodeo by Boris Fishman
Maya Shulman and Alex Rubin met in 1992, when she was a Ukrainian exchange student with a dream of becoming a chef instead of a medical worker, and he the coddled son of Russian immigrants wanting to try a less predictable life. Twenty years later, Maya Rubin is a medical worker in suburban New Jersey, and Alex is his father's assistant in the family business. The only disruption in their lives is their eight-year-old son Max, adopted years before from two teenagers in Montana, who has recently developed behavioral problems. Searching for answers, (the only tip Max's biological mother left them was the instruction: "don't let my baby do rodeo,") Maya convinces Alex to embark on a cross-country trip to Montana to track down Max's birth parents--the first drive west of New Jersey of their American lives. But it's Maya who's transformed by the journey, with seismic consequences for herself and her family. "Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo,” the second novel by the tender, dolorous, sharp and funny writer Boris Fishman, is the story of an adopted child and an adopted country; it is a tale of what it means to be foreign. ... a joy to read." (New York Times)
Fidel Castro in Fiction
Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90. The leader of the Communist Revolution in Cuba and head of government there for 45 years before ceding power to his brother in 2006, he was a prominent international figure, despite being the head of state of a relatively small nation in the Caribbean. He dominated his country, ruling as the "Maximo Lider," and was perceived either as a dictatorial despot or a hero/liberator, depending on one's political views. Given his supremacy there, it is not surprising that he appears as a character in many fictional works set in modern Cuba.
Castro's Daughter by David Hagberg
Cuban Intelligence Service Colonel Maria Leon is called to the bedside of the dying Fidel Castro. She is his illegitimate daughter but has never been acknowledged by her father until now. Castro makes her promise to contact the legendary former Director of the CIA Kirk McGarvey to help her on a mysterious quest to find Cibola, the fabled seven cities of Gold.
Havana by Stephen Hunter
It is 1953 and Cuba is at its lush, tropical, and glamorous best. Only one small problem threatens this situation--the rise of a daring revolutionary named Fidel Castro. Now, legendary sniper Earl Swagger has been called in by the CIA to take him out.
Killing Castro by Lawrence Block
Five Americans: a bounty hunter, a murderer on the run, a vengeful college kid, a professional thug, and a bank clerk dying of cancer will split $100,000 if they can sneak into Cuba and assassinate Fidel Castro.
Cuba Straits by Randy Wayne White
Doc Ford's old friend, General Juan Garcia, is feasting on profits made by buying historical treasures for pennies on the dollar. when he manages to obtain a collection of letters written by Fidel Castro between 1960-62 to a secret girlfriend, it's not a matter of money anymore. Garcia has stumbled way out of his depth.
The Betrayal Game by David L. Robbins
Set during the Cuban missile crisis of 1961, this what-if thriller forces readers to question what could have happened--maybe even what should have happened--in the weeks before the Bay of Pigs invasion.
William Trevor (1928-2016)
Who doesn't love a list?
On November 17, The Washington Post's Book World reviewers named their top ten books of 2016, those they found "exceptionally rewarding," and anointed another 100 titles of various genres that "you shouldn't miss." The top ten list contains both fiction and non-fiction with several books that have produced critical and media buzz.