Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reading Ahead: January 2014, part 4

I know that between snow and holidays, the last thing you're probably thinking about right now is reading.  Unless it's wishing you had the time to do more of it.  That's where I am right now.  But think of it this way.  There's always all that time spent in the car when an audiobook might be a great addition.  Or perhaps while wrapping gifts?  That's my plan!

But if you want to bookmark this page, or make a New Year's resolution to read more in 2014, come on back to me when you're ready.  I'll still be here.  And since I'm here, I thought I might share just a few more of the titles coming up next month that I really think you might want to put on your list.

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd.  You remember Sue Monk Kidd's name because she is the author of, among other titles, The Secret Life of Bees, which was a New York Times Bestseller and was also adapted for film.  Here, Kidd follows the journey of two women in early nineteenth century Charleston, and the intertwining of their lives.  On her eleventh birthday, Sarah Grimke is given ownership of ten-year-old house slave Hetty, also known as Handful.  What follows is the struggle for two women to live the lives they want for themselves, against all odds and with the help of one another.  Based on the life of the actual Sarah Grimke, this tale of courage in the face of a multitude of adversity is being touted as extremely powerful and moving.  Keep your eye on this one--it is bound for the bestseller's list, for sure.

A Well-Tempered Heart, by Jan-Philipp Sendker.  Julia Win came back from Burma, her father's native country, almost ten years ago.  By contemporary standards, she should be happy.  She's a successful Manhattan lawyer and quite wealthy.  However, her private life is crumbling--her long-time boyfriend has left her, and despite her big bank account, Julia is deeply unhappy with her professional life.  Julia finds herself confronted with ideas that will not go away: Why do you live alone?  What do you want in life?  Julia's story is intertwined with that of a Burmese woman named Nu Nu, who also finds herself in crisis when Burma goes to war and her two young sons become child soldiers.  Does Sendker's name seem familiar?  That's because this novel is a sequel to Sendker's well known 2012 title, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats.  My guess is this one is also going to be hugely popular, especially among book clubs, in 2014.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, by Jennifer Chiaverini. Chiaverini, who made quite a name with herself with a series of novels surrounding the fictitious Elm Creek Quilters, has continued her foray into historical fiction after the major successes of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker and The Spymistress.  Here, Chiaverini introduces readers to Kate Chase Sprague, with whom the very famous first lady Mrs. Lincoln had a very public social and political contest.  Though the two women had quite a lot in common, they could never be friends, for the success of one would only come at the downfall of the other as they battled behind the scenes of presidential campaigns--Mary Todd Lincoln's for her husband's election, and Kate Chase Sprague's for her father.  This should be delicious.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan.  Nancy Horan made a huge impression on readers with 2007's Loving Frank, about the clandestine affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney, which shocked Chicago society.  Now she has returned with another historical, improbable love story, this time between Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson (author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, among others) and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny.  Theirs was a fierce relationship that rocked between intense darkness and acute joy.  Given Horan's deft hand with Wright and Cheney, I think this should join her first novel as a New York Times bestseller in short order.

Andrew’s Brain, by E.L. Doctorow.  You know Doctorow's name for many reasons, not the least of which because he's considered one of the great American writers; his 1975 novel Ragtime was later named one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library editorial board. In his new novel, which critics are calling brilliant, sensitive, groundbreaking and dazzling, Andrew is telling the story of his life, his loves, and the tragedies which have led him to this confession in novel format.  I am really intrigued!

Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen.  Quindlen's work has long been a favorite, both among readers of contemporary fiction and especially among book clubs.  Her books are meaty, dealing with sensitive issues and harrowing situations with an expert hand. Still Life with Bread Crumbs is the story of photographer Rebecca Winter, whose work has made her a heroine for many women.  Now, however, her career is in decline and her bank account is dwindling.  She flees the city for the middle of nowhere, and yet, what started as the beginning of the end is just the beginning of her story.  I'm going to be very interested to hear what readers have to say with this one!

I'll be back with a little end of the year wrap-up, and then it will be a bit of a holiday hiatus for this librarian!  If you can find a bit of time, curl up and enjoy a book.  Consider it a gift to yourself this season.

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