Who are we? What are we? Why are we here? Where will we wind up? These are just a few of the questions asked – and answered – in Yuval Harari’s Sapiens, a thought-provoking and opinionated international bestseller about nothing less than the humanity, start to finish.
I’ve long been intrigued with human origins, fascinated by the staggeringly brief history of our remarkable and problematic species. Our diminutive presence across both the vast reaches of outer space, and aeons of earth’s history, provides a salutary humbling perspective to our often ego- and anthropocentric lives. Then there are all of our curious hominid siblings, outlasted by only us – unless you believe in Bigfoot. With this keen interest in the rapidly evolving field of paleoanthropology, I was thrilled to suddenly find so many of our patrons enjoying Harari’s book, and wanting to learn more. Continue reading “If You Liked Yuval Harari’s Sapiens”
With its lyrical descriptions of nature and tempestuous love story, Delia Owens’ evocative debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing (a current Peak Pick selection) has taken the literary world by storm. If you enjoyed it, or if you’re still waiting for your reserve copy to arrive, here are some similar titles you might enjoy.
Aldo Leopold’s classic A Sand County Almanac is one of the books that Owens says inspired her to write her novel: “After university, I spent much of my adult life studying wildlife in some of the most remote regions of Africa. Living in those far reaches of the earth inspired me to wonder if I could write a work of compelling fiction against the backdrop of a wild and wonderful place. To combine Leopold-inspired nature writing with a (hopefully) page-turning plot. Where The Crawdads Sing is my attempt at such a dream.” Continue reading “If You Liked Where the Crawdads Sing”
Here at the library we love talking with readers, both in person and online via our Your Next Five Books recommendation service. As we do so, there are certain authors who readers will mention to us over and over again. Australian writer Liane Moriarty is one of those authors. For many readers, Moriarty strikes the perfect balance between witty, insightful writing on the challenges of family life and relationships, and mounting tension that builds to a suspenseful climax.
The Secrets She Keeps, by Deb Caletti. Gathering at their aunt’s once-famous divorce ranch for celebrities, a trio of women confront their own difficulties with love and marriage against the backdrop of the ranch’s tumultuous history.
The Mother in Law, by Sally Hepworth. A woman’s obsessive fears about how much she disappoints her successful, pillar-of-the-community mother-in-law lead to a controversial disinheritance and a suspicious suicide.
I Found You, by Lisa Jewell. A lonely single mom who offers shelter to an amnesiac man and a young bride who is told that her missing husband never existed struggle to make sense of their transforming worlds and connection to a sister and brother whose lives where shattered by secrets more than two decades earlier.
Jean Harley Was Here, by Heather Taylor-Johnson. After Jean Harley is killed accidentally, her husband, mother, two best friends, and the person responsible for the accident all have different perspectives on her life and death.
Ghosted, by Rosie Walsh. Sarah thinks she has met the love her life in Eddie – until he disappears after leaving for a long-booked vacation. Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers there is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.
In his 1950 essay The Simple Art of Murder, Raymond Chandler outlined the character of the modern detective, in words fit to quote at length:
“…down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. … He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor — by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. He is a lonely man…”
From that day to this, hardboiled fiction writers have offered variations of this theme, some memorable and some not so. When an author gets it right, he brings us a character with such enduring pathos that we will follow him to the ends of the earth, to hell and back, for years on end. Chandler himself did it with Phillip Marlowe, Ross MacDonald did it with Lew Archer, and Michael Connelly has followed in their footsteps with his maverick detective Harry Bosch, sometime of the LAPD, and admired by millions.
We admire the stoic integrity with which Bosch grapples with the morally compromised world which it his endless job to make a little bit better, or at least more just. We identify with his own doubts and fears, and are moved by his sacrifice as he gives up some part of his soul to the unforgiving business of meeting evil, day in and day out, settign aside his own happiness to rescue others, or to try. We sympathise with his frustrations as he struggles against the banalities and bureaucracies of modern life.
Have you ever had a new toy that was so exciting that you had to tell everyone you knew about it? This is how I feel about the Novelist Plusdatabase that is among the many fantastic and free databases available for all Seattle Public Library cardholders. I find myself effusing enthusiastically about Novelist Plus anytime someone asks about fiction at the reference desk or when friends hint that they need some ideas about what to read next.
Novelist Plus is a one-stop resource for all your leisure reading needs. The database has information about hundreds of thousands of fiction, nonfiction, young adult, and children’s books. Each book has an annotation and publishing information, but many titles also have reviews from highly-esteemed sources (Booklist, Library Journal etc.), reading guides and links to reading lists of similar books.