I tried to be fairly discriminating when I picked up books at Book Expo America (BEA) last May, and it paid off because I came home with some that truly look good. I have been remiss in sharing my favorites; thus today's post.
Here are six titles that I am looking forward to. In fact, when I was choosing books to feature, these held my attention enough that I wanted to sit down and start reading immediately. For each one, I have shared some text (some are from ARCs, so the exact wording may change a bit) and provided a link to the book's page on the publisher's website.
The books are presented in no particular order.
The Rebellion of Jane Clarke by Sally Gunning (William Morrow; June 2010) is historical fiction that takes place in Massachusetts just before the Revolutionary War.
Throughout Jane's life she'd not thought one way or the other about the sea—it was there, filling her days with the sound and smell and stickiness that traveled everywhere the air did—but she hadn't thought of it as a thing to love or hate or fear until that day, as she climbed on top it. The sea had drowned her Grandfather Berry, it was true, but it had also helped to feed her family and carry them trade goods from Boston and England and the West Indies and even China. She tried to remember that as she made her way over the gunwale with the assistance of a few well-placed and misplaced hands and began to think how low the rail that separated her from many fathoms of oblivion. (pp. 44–45)
Our Tragic Universe by Scarlet Thomas (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; September 2010), according to the publisher, "is a book about how relationships are created and destroyed, how we can rewrite our futures (if not our histories), and how stories just might save our lives." Despite the heavy description, the book looks like fun and crazy read.
The wind breathed heavily down the river, and I half-looked at the little ripples and wakes in the blackish, greenish water as I tried to hurry B home. There was no sign of Libby's car. I was watching the river and not the benches, so when someone said 'Hello,' I jumped. It was a man half hidden in the gloom. B was already sniffing his ancient walking boots, and he was stroking her between her ears. (p. 17)
We Were an Island: The Maine Life of Art & Nan Kellam by Peter P. Blanchard III (University Press of New England; 2010) is a beautifully produced book with text and photos about the true-life story of a couple who decided to escape the world in 1949 and lived for almost forty years on their own island off the coast of Maine.
Except for brief periods of travel, Art and Nan lived year-round—in all seasons and types of weather—in two buildings, which they had built largely with their own hands. Furthermore, they thrived in the absence of running water, electricity, and central heating and without many of the conveniences (which they would have termed "impediments") of life on the mainland. Their lifeline was a grey wooden dory, which they rowed four miles round-trip to Bass Harbor on Mt. Desert Island for mail and supplies. (p. 2)
Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton (Other Press; November 2010) "takes an English boy and his father's books on a tumultuous journey to unexpected fame in America and to the mysteries hidden at the heart of an extraordinary family." I like dark humor, and this novel promises to deliver.
There was a family. There was us. My father and mother, and Rachel and Luke, the Hayman children who became the Hayseed children. Rachel handled it quite differently from me but, then, her problems were quite different from mine. (p. 13)
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (Little, Brown; November 2010) is a biography. There have been so many novels and movies and plays about the Greek-Egyptian queen that it's hard to figure out what is true and what is myth. I love biography and I love this time in history.
Can anything good be said of a woman who slept with the two most powerful men of her time? Possibly, but not in an age when Rome controlled the narrative. Cleopatra stood at one of the most dangerous intersections in history: that of women and power. Clever women, Euripides had warned hundreds of years earlier, were dangerous. (p. 4)
The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; October 2010) "compels us to consider the inescapable connections between sons and their mothers, between landscape and family, and between remembrance and redemption." The story takes place in the American west and Machart has been compared to two of my favorite authors: Kent Haruf and Cormac McCarthy. I have high hopes.
Softly, a cool wind came up from the north and swirled the smoke around the kettle and out into the newly lit morning. Across the pasture, hidden in the far hedgerow near the creekside stand of trees, three half-starved coyotes raised their twitching snouts to catch a breeze laced of a sudden with the hot, iron-rich scent of blood. (pp. 5–6)
I love this mix of quirky and literary, fiction and nonfiction. Now I just need to find the means to do nothing but read the hours away.
Do any of these look interesting to you? What books have you recently discovered that you're looking forward to reading?