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The Best Books Annual  

Fiction and nonfiction titles that appeared on at least three national "Best of" lists. This list was compiled by EarlyWord.
Last Updated: Jan 16, 2014 URL: http://guides.rcls.org/bestbooksvcl Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Fiction

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Life after Life - Kate Atkinson
ISBN: 9780316176484
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.

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The Good Lord Bird - James McBride
ISBN: 9781594486340
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, the region a battlefield between anti and pro slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an arguement between Brown and Henry's master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town with Brown, who believes Henry is a girl. Over the next months, Henry conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive.

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Tenth of December - George Saunders
ISBN: 9780812993806
The unforgettable characters that populate the pages of "Tenth of December" are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders's signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation. Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.

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The Flamethrowers - Rachel Kushner
ISBN: 9781439142004
The Flamethrowers is the riveting story of a young artist and the worlds she encounters in New York and Rome in the mid-1970s--by turns underground, elite, and dangerous. The year is 1975 and Reno--so-called because of the place of her birth--has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in the art world--artists have colonized a deserted and industrial SoHo, are staging actions in the East Village, and are blurring the line between life and art.

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The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri
ISBN: 9780307265746
Born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other in the Calcutta neighborhood where they grow up.  But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead. It is the 1960s, and Udayan—charismatic and impulsive—finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother's political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena - Anthony Marra
ISBN: 9780770436407
Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together. Havaa, eight years old, hides in the woods and watches the blaze until her neighbor, Akhmed, discovers her sitting in the snow. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, and there is no safe place to hide a child in a village where informers will do anything for a loaf of bread, but for reasons of his own, he sneaks her through the forest to the one place he thinks she might be safe: an abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded.

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Bleeding Edge - Thomas Pynchon
ISBN: 9781594204234
It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler's aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead.

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The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt
ISBN: 9780316055437
Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art.

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The Son - Philipp Meyer
ISBN: 9780062120397
The Son is an utterly transporting novel that maps the legacy of violence in the American West through the lives of the McCulloughs, an ambitious family as resilient and dangerous as the land they claim Spring, 1849. The first male child born in the newly established Republic of Texas, Eli McCullough is thirteen years old when a marauding band of Comanches storms his homestead and brutally murders his mother and sister, taking him captive.

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The Interestings - Meg Wolitzer
ISBN: 9781594488399
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In "The Interestings," Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge. The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence.

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The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert
ISBN: 9780670024858
Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker;a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction; into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical.

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The Woman Who Lost Her Soul - Bob Shacochis
ISBN: 9780802119827
When humanitarian lawyer Tom Harrington travels to Haiti to investigate the murder of a beautiful and seductive photojournalist, he is confronted with a dangerous landscape riddled with poverty, corruption, and voodoo. It's the late 1990s, a time of brutal guerrilla warfare and civilian kidnappings, and everyone has secrets. The journalist, whom he knew years before as Jackie Scott, had a bigger investment in Haiti than it seemed, and to make sense of her death, Tom must plunge back into a thorny past and his complicated ties to both Jackie and Eville Burnette, a member of Special Forces who has been assigned to protect her.

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The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton
ISBN: 9780316074315
It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have men in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk.

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Claire of the Sea Light - Edwidge Danticat
ISBN: 9780307271792
Claire Limyè Lanmè—Claire of the Sea Light—is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life. But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself.

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Schroder - Amity Gaige
ISBN: 9781455512126
A lyrical and deeply affecting novel recounting the seven days a father spends on the road with his daughter after kidnapping her during a parental visit. Attending a New England summer camp, young Eric Schroder-a first-generation East German immigrant-adopts the last name Kennedy to more easily fit in, a fateful white lie that will set him on an improbable and ultimately tragic course. SCHRODERrelates the story of Eric's urgent escape years later to Lake Champlain, Vermont, with his six-year-old daughter, Meadow, in an attempt to outrun the authorities amid a heated custody battle with his wife, who will soon discover that her husband is not who he says he is.

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Doctor Sleep - Stephen King
ISBN: 9781476727653
Stephen King returns to the character and territory of one of his most popular novels ever,The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals. On highways across America, a tribe of people called the True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, the True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

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Someone - Alice McDermott
ISBN: 9780374281090
Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an “amadan,” a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs.nbsp;Thenbsp;magic of McDermott’s novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.

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MaddAddam - Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 9780385528788
Months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers. They return to the MaddAddamite cob house, newly fortified against man and giant pigoon alike. But now, under threat of a Painballer attack, the MaddAddamites must fight back with the aid of their newfound allies, some of whom have four trotters.

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Longbourn - Jo Baker
ISBN: 9780385351232
In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to "Pride and Prejudice, "the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants' hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

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We Need New Names - NoViolet Bulawayo
ISBN: 9780316230810
Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo's belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad. But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
ISBN: 9780062255655
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back.

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Nos4a2 - Joe Hill
ISBN: 9780062200587
Victoria "Vic" McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability. Charles Talent Manx has a gift of his own. He likes to take children for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the vanity plate NOS4A2. In the Wraith, he and his innocent guests can slip out of the everyday world to an astonishing playground of amusements he calls Christmasland.

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And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini
ISBN: 9781594631764
In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe; from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos.

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The Woman Upstairs - Claire Messud
ISBN: 9780307596901
From the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "The Emperor's Children," a brilliant new novel: the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed, and betrayed by passion and desire for a world beyond her own set in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
ISBN: 9780143124870
A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.” In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace#151;and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.

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How the Light Gets In - Louise Penny
ISBN: 9780312655471
Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it’s a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive season for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friendnbsp;has failed to arrive for Christmas innbsp;the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. Mystified by Myrna's reluctance to reveal her friend's name, Gamache soon discovers the missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America, but in the world, and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo.

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Night Film - Marisha Pessl
ISBN: 9781400067886
On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley's life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova--a man who hasn't been seen in public for more than thirty years.

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The Maid's Version - Daniel Woodrell
ISBN: 9780316205856
Alma DeGeer Dunahew, the mother of three young boys, works as the maid for a prominent citizen and his family in West Table, Missouri. Her husband is mostly absent, and, in 1929, her scandalous, beloved younger sister is one of the 42 killed in an explosion at the local dance hall. Who is to blame? Mobsters from St. Louis? The embittered local gypsies? The preacher who railed against the loose morals of the waltzing couples? Or could it have been a colossal accident? Alma thinks she knows the answer-and that its roots lie in a dangerous love affair.

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Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
ISBN: 9780307271082
One of "The""New York Times Book Review's" Ten Best A story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home. As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu--beautiful, self-assured--departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze--the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor--had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

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Harvest - Jim Crace
ISBN: 9780307278975
On the morning after harvest, the inhabitants of a remote English village awaken looking forward to a hard-earned day of rest and feasting at their landowner's table. But the sky is marred by two conspicuous columns of smoke, replacing pleasurable anticipation with alarm and suspicion. One smoke column is the result of an overnight fire that has damaged the master's outbuildings. The second column rises from the wooded edge of the village, sent by newcomers to announce their presence.

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Dirty Love - Andre Dubus
ISBN: 9780393064650
On the Massachusetts coast north of Boston, a controlling manager, Mark, discovers his wife's infidelity after twenty-five years of marriage. An overweight young woman, Marla, gains a romantic partner but loses her innocence. A philandering bartender/aspiring poet, Robert, betrays his pregnant wife. And in the stunning title novella, a teenage girl named Devon, fleeing a dirty image of her posted online, seeks respect in the eyes of her widowed great-uncle Francis and of an Iraq vet she's met surfing the Web.

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The Circle - Dave Eggers
ISBN: 9780385351393
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. Mae can't believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world--even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

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The Panopticon - Jenni Fagan
ISBN: 9780385347860
Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car. She is headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember what's happened, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and Anais's school uniform is covered in blood. Raised in foster care from birth and moved through twenty-three placements before she even turned seven, Anais has been let down by just about every adult she has ever met. Now a counter-culture outlaw, she knows that she can only rely on herself. And yet despite the parade of horrors visited upon her early life, she greets the world with the witty, fierce insight of a survivor.

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The End of the Point - Elizabeth Graver
ISBN: 9780062184849
A place out of time, Ashaunt Point—a tiny finger of land jutting into Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts—has provided sanctuary and anchored life for generations of the Porter family, who summer along its remote, rocky shore. But in 1942, the U.S. Army arrives on the Point, bringing havoc and change. That summer, the two older Porter girls—teenagers Helen and Dossie—run wild. The children's Scottish nurse, Bea, falls in love. And youngest daughter Janie is entangled in an incident that cuts the season short and haunts the family for years to come.

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Submergence - J. M. Ledgard
ISBN: 9781566893190
In a room with no windows on the coast of Africa, an Englishman, James More, is held captive by jihadist fighters. Posing as a water expert to report on al-Qaeda activity in the area, he now faces extreme privation, mock executions, and forced marches through the arid badlands of Somalia.

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TransAtlantic - Colum McCann
ISBN: 9781400069590
Newfoundland, 1919. Two aviators--Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown--set course for Ireland as they attempt the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, placing their trust in a modified bomber to heal the wounds of the Great War. Dublin, 1845 and '46. On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause--despite the fact that, as famine ravages the countryside, the poor suffer from hardships that are astonishing even to an American slave. New York, 1998. Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, where it has fallen to him, the son of an Irish-American father and a Lebanese mother, to shepherd Northern Ireland's notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion.

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Want Not - Jonathan Miles
ISBN: 9780547352206
As the novel opens on Thanksgiving Day, readers are telescoped into three different worlds in various states of disrepair—a young freegan couple living off the grid in New York City; a once-prominent linguist, sacked at midlife by the dissolution of his marriage and his father’s losing battle with Alzheimer’s; and a self-made debt-collecting magnate, whose brute talent for squeezing money out of unlikely places has yielded him a royal existence, trophy wife included. Want and desire propel these characters forward toward something, anything, more, until their worlds collide, briefly, randomly, yet irrevocably, in a shattering ending that will haunt readers long after the last page is turned.

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The Property - Rutu Modan; Jessica Cohen (Translator)
ISBN: 9781770461154
After the death of her son, Regina Segal takes her granddaughter Mica to Warsaw, hoping to reclaim a family property lost during the Second World War. As they get to know modern Warsaw, Regina is forced to recall difficult things about her past, and Mica begins to wonder if maybe their reasons for coming aren't a little different than what her grandmother led her to believe.

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The Accursed - Joyce Carol Oates
ISBN: 9780062234353
Princeton, New Jersey, at the turn of the twentieth century: a genteel town for genteel souls. But something dark and dangerous lurks at its edges, corrupting and infecting its residents. Vampires and ghosts haunt the dreams of the innocent and a powerful curse besets the families of the elite-their daughters begin disappearing. And in the Pine Barrens that border the town, a lush and terrifying underworld opens up. When a shape-shifting, vaguely European prince, who might just be the devil, abducts a young bride on the verge of the altar, her brother sets out against all odds to find her.

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The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith; J. K. Rowling
ISBN: 9780316206846
Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier.

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Vampires in the Lemon Grove - Karen Russell
ISBN: 9780307957238
A dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left behind in a seagull's nest.  A community of girls held captive in a silk factory slowly transmute into human silkworms, spinning delicate threads from their own bellies, and escape by seizing the means of production for their own revolutionary ends. A massage therapist discovers she has the power to heal by manipulating the tattoos on a war veteran's lower torso. When a group of boys stumble upon a mutilated scarecrow bearing an uncanny resemblance to the missing classmate they used to torment, an ordinary tale of high school bullying becomes a sinister fantasy of guilt and atonement.

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The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
ISBN: 9781476729084
A brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who's decided it's time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. Rosie Jarman is all these things. She also is strangely beguiling, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father.

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The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker
ISBN: 9780062110848
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Struggling to make their way in 1899 New York, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their immigrant neighbors while masking their true selves.

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The Daylight Gate - Jeanette Winterson
ISBN: 9780802121639
After the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, every Catholic conspirator in England fled to a wild, untamed place far from the reach of London law. On Good Friday, 1612, deep in the woods of Pendle Hill, amid baptismal pools and low, thick fog, a gathering of thirteen is interrupted by the local magistrate. Two of their coven have already been imprisoned for witchcraft and are awaiting trial, but those who remain are vouched for by the wealthy and respected Alice Nutter. Shrouded in mystery and gifted with eternally youthful beauty, Alice is plagued by rumors of a dark and torrid love affair with another woman, the matriarch of the notorious Demdike clan. As those accused of witchcraft retreat into darkness, Alice stands alone as a realm-crosser, a conjurer of powers that will either destroy her or set her free.

 

Nonfiction

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Going Clear - Lawrence Wright
ISBN: 9780307700667
Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists--both famous and less well known--and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology. At the book's center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige--tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.

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Five Days at Memorial - Sheri Fink
ISBN: 9780307718969
After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.

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Thank You for Your Service - David Finkel
ISBN: 9780374180669
In "Thank You for Your Service," Finkel has done something even more extraordinary. Once again, he has embedded with some of the men of the 2-16--but this time he has done it at home, here in the States, after their deployments have ended. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like--not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children, and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done.

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The Unwinding - George Packer
ISBN: 9780374102418
The Unwinding journeys through the lives of several Americans, including Dean Price, the son of tobacco farmers, who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South; Tammy Thomas, a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton, a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who questions the Internet’s significance and arrives at a radical vision of the future.

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Men We Reaped - Jesmyn Ward
ISBN: 9781608195213
In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth—and it took her breath away.

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The Bully Pulpit - Doris Kearns Goodwin
ISBN: 9781416547860
This story is told through the intense friendship of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft--a close relationship that strengthens both men before it ruptures in 1912, when they engage in a brutal fight for the presidential nomination that divides their wives, their children, and their closest friends, while crippling the progressive wing of the Republican Party, causing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to be elected, and changing the country's history. "The Bully Pulpit" is also the story of the muckraking press, which arouses the spirit of reform that helps Roosevelt push the government to shed its laissez-faire attitude toward robber barons, corrupt politicians, and corporate exploiters of our natural resources.

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Book of Ages - Jill Lepore
ISBN: 9780307958341
National Book Award Finalist From one of our most accomplished and widely admired historians, a revelatory portrait of Benjamin Franklin's youngest sister and a history of history itself. Like her brother, Jane Franklin was a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator. Unlike him, she was a mother of twelve. Benjamin Franklin, who wrote more letters to his sister than he wrote to anyone else, was the original American self-made man; his sister spent her life caring for her children. They left very different traces behind.

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A House in the Sky - Amanda Lindhout; Sara Corbett
ISBN: 9781451645606
As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of "National Geographic" and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia--"the most dangerous place on earth." On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road. Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives "wife lessons" from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape.

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To the End of June - Cris Beam
ISBN: 9780151014125
An intimate, authoritative look at the foster care system that examines why it is failing the kids it is supposed to protect and what can be done to change it.

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Wave - Sonali Deraniyagala
ISBN: 9780345804310
In 2004, at a beach resort on the coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala and her family--parents, husband, sons--were swept away by a tsunami.nbsp;Only Sonali survived to tell their tale. This is her account of the nearly incomprehensible event and its aftermath.

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Lean In - Sheryl Sandberg
ISBN: 9780385349949
In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women's progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. Sandberg combines personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of "having it all."

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Fosse - Sam Wasson
ISBN: 9780547553290
More than a quarter-century after his death, Bob Fosse's fingerprints on popular culture remain indelible. The only person ever to win Oscar, Emmy, and Tony awards in the same year, Fosse revolutionized nearly every facet of American entertainment, forever marking Broadway and Hollywood with his iconic style -- hat tilted, fingers splayed -- that would influence generations of performing artists. Yet in spite of Fosse's innumerable achievements, no accomplishment ever seemed to satisfy him, and offstage his life was shadowed in turmoil and anxiety.

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The Guns at Last Light - Rick Atkinson
ISBN: 9780805062908
The Guns at Last Light tells the most dramatic story of the titanic battle for Western Europe. The brutal fight in Normandy, the liberation of Paris, the disaster that was Operation Market Garden, the horrific Battle of the Bulge, and finally the thrust to the heart of the Third Reich—all these historic events and more come alive with a wealth of new material and a mesmerizing cast of characters.

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The Blood Telegram - Gary J. Bass
ISBN: 9780307700209
A riveting history--the first full account--of the involvement of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh that led to war between India and Pakistan, shaped the fate of Asia, and left in their wake a host of major strategic consequences for the world today. Gary J. Bass shows how Nixon and Kissinger supported Pakistan's military dictatorship as it brutally quashed the results of a historic free election. The Pakistani army launched a crackdown on what was then East Pakistan (today an independent Bangladesh), killing hundreds of thousands of people and sending ten million refugees fleeing to India--one of the worst humanitarian crises of the twentieth century.

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Metaphysical Dog - Frank Bidart
ISBN: 9780374173616
An emotionally naked, fearlessly candid journey through many of the central axes, the central conflicts, of his life, and ours. This "ancient work" reflects what the poet sees as fundamental in human feeling, what psychologists and mystics have called the "hunger for the Absolute"--a hunger as fundamental as any physical hunger. This hunger must confront the elusiveness of the Absolute, our self-deluding, failed glimpses of it.

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The Sleepwalkers - Christopher Clark
ISBN: 9780061146657
On the morning of June 28, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie Chotek, arrived at Sarajevo railway station, Europe was at peace. Thirty-seven days later, it was at war. The conflict that resulted would kill more than fifteen million people, destroy three empires, and permanently alter world history. The Sleepwalkers reveals in gripping detail how the crisis leading to World War I unfolded.

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Manson - Jeff Guinn
ISBN: 9781451645163
The most authoritative account ever written of how an ordinary juvenile delinquent named Charles Manson became the notorious murderer whose crimes still shock and horrify us today. More than forty years ago Charles Manson and his mostly female commune killed nine people, among them the pregnant actress Sharon Tate.

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After Visiting Friends - Michael Hainey
ISBN: 9781451676563
Michael Hainey had just turned six when his uncle knocked on his family's back door one morning with the tragic news: Bob Hainey, Michael's father, was found alone near his car on Chicago's North Side, dead, of an apparent heart attack. Thirty-five years old, a young assistant copy desk chief at the "Chicago Sun-Times," Bob was a bright and shining star in the competitive, hard-living world of newspapers, one that involved booze-soaked nights that bled into dawn. And then suddenly he was gone, leaving behind a young widow, two sons, a fractured family--and questions surrounding the mysterious nature of his death that would obsess Michael throughout adolescence and long into adulthood.

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Johnny Cash - Robert Hilburn
ISBN: 9780316194754
The definitive biography of an American legend In "Johnny Cash: The Life," Robert Hilburn conveys the unvarnished truth about a musical icon whose colorful career stretched from his days at Sun Records with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to the remarkable creative last hurrah, at age sixty-nine, that resulted in the brave, moving "Hurt" video. As music critic for the "Los Angeles Times," Hilburn knew Cash well throughout his life: he was the only music journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968, and he interviewed Cash and his wife June Carter for the final time just months before their deaths in 2003.

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The Wolf and the Watchman - Scott C. Johnson
ISBN: 9780393239805
When Scott C. Johnson was fourteen, his dad took him to work. In a parking lot in Detroit, Johnson was told the truth: his father was a spy for the CIA. At first, the thrill of the secret dazzled him. But as the years passed, the constant deception led to tension and distrust within the family. Johnson distanced himself from his father, embarking on a career as a war correspondent committed to uncovering the truth wherever and whenever he could. Yet that same choice pushed him inexorably back toward his father.

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Lost Girls - Robert Kolker
ISBN: 9780062183637
One late spring evening in 2010, Shannan Gilbert, after running through the oceanfront community of Oak Beach screaming for her life, went missing. No one who had heard of her disappearance thought much about what had happened to the twenty-four-year-old: she was a Craigslist prostitute who had been fleeing a scene--of what, no one could be sure. The Suffolk County Police, too, seemed to have paid little attention--until seven months later, when an unexpected discovery in a bramble alongside a nearby highway turned up four bodies, all evenly spaced, all wrapped in burlap.

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Hitler's Furies - Wendy Lower
ISBN: 9780547863382
The long-held picture of German women holding down the home front during the war, as loyal wives and cheerleaders for the Führer, pales in comparison to Lower’s incisive case for the massive complicity, and worse, of the 500,000 young German women she places, for the first time, directly in the killing fields of the expanding Reich.

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Forty-One False Starts - Janet Malcolm
ISBN: 9780374157692
Here, in Forty-one False Starts, Malcolm brings together essays published over the course of several decades (largely in The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books) that reflect her preoccupation with artists and their work. Her subjects are painters, photographers, writers, and critics. She explores Bloomsbury’s obsessive desire to create things visual and literary; the “passionate collaborations” behind Edward Weston’s nudes; and the character of the German art photographer Thomas Struth, who is “haunted by the Nazi past,” yet whose photographs have “a lightness of spirit.”

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Country Girl - Edna O'Brien
ISBN: 9780316122702
When Edna O'Brien's first novel, The Country Girls, was published in 1960, it so scandalized the O'Briens' local parish that the book was burned by its priest. O'Brien was undeterred and has since created a body of work that bears comparison with the best writing of the twentieth century. "Country Girl "brings us face-to-face with a life of high drama and contemplation. Starting with O'Brien's birth in a grand but deteriorating house in Ireland, her story moves through convent school to elopement, divorce, single-motherhood, the wild parties of the '60s in London, and encounters with Hollywood giants, pop stars, and literary titans.

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A Fort of Nine Towers - Qais Akbar Omar
ISBN: 9780374157647
For the young Qais Akbar Omar, Kabul was a city of gardens where he flew kites from his grandfather's roof with his cousin Wakeel while their parents, uncles, and aunts drank tea around a cloth spread in the grass. It was a time of telling stories, reciting poetry, selling carpets, and arranging marriages.Then civil war exploded. Their neighborhood found itself on the front line of a conflict that grew more savage by the day. With rockets falling around them, Omar's family fled, leaving behind everything they owned to take shelter in an old fort--only a few miles distant and yet a world away from the gunfire.

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The Telling Room - Michael Paterniti
ISBN: 9780385337007
In the picturesque village of Guzman, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as "the telling room." Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets--usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese.

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Cooked - Michael Pollan
ISBN: 9781594204210
In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements-fire, water, air, and earth-to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer.

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Gulp - Mary Roach
ISBN: 9780393081572
Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn't the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of-or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal.

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Command and Control - Eric Schlosser
ISBN: 9781594202278
Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A ground-breaking account of accidents, near-misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age:  how do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them?

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My Beloved World - Sonia Sotomayor
ISBN: 9780307594884
The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself. Here is the story of a precarious childhood, with an alcoholic father (who would die when she was nine) and a devoted but overburdened mother, and of the refuge a little girl took from the turmoil at home with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother.

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The Internal Enemy - Alan Taylor
ISBN: 9780393073713
Frederick Douglass recalled that slaves living along Chesapeake Bay longingly viewed sailing ships as "freedom's swift-winged angels." In 1813 those angels appeared in the bay as British warships coming to punish the Americans for declaring war on the empire. Over many nights, hundreds of slaves paddled out to the vessels seeking protection for their families from the ravages of slavery. The runaways pressured the British admirals into becoming liberators. As guides, pilots, sailors, and marines, the former slaves used their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war, enabling the British to escalate their onshore attacks and capture the nation's capital.

This publication was supported in part by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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