As many of you know, I was in New York last week for Book Expo America (BEA), the major annual trade show for the U.S. publishing industry.
One of the panels I try not to miss is called Hot Book Club Titles. This year the panel consisted of representatives from ten publishers. Because I had a conflict, I was able to hear only the first five presentations. Each speaker discussed several titles, thus I cannot highlight each one. Instead I'm going to present the lists and spotlight my pick from each publisher.
The presenters did a great job because I immediately added the following books to my wish list.
Algonquin. Let me simply say that Algonquin proved once again why I feature their books time and time again for Imprint Friday. You'll see upcoming posts about several of the suggested book club titles. Look at their list: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron, The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate, and Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bojan. What a difficult choice! My Algonquin pick is When She Woke: Adult dystopia set in the near future. Could it happen?
In the mid-21st century, a young woman in Texas awakens to a nightmare: her skin has been genetically altered, turned bright red as punishment for the crime of having an abortion.Hachette. Hachette embraces so many great imprints and their suggestions for book clubs ranges from American sports to war-torn Iraq, from novels to memoirs. Here's their list: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, Being Polite to Hitler by Robin Forman Dew, If I Bring You Roses by Marisel Vera, One Hundred and One Nights by Benjamin Buchholz, The Orchard by Theresa Weir, and Silenced by Kia Dupree. A truly great group of books. My Hachette pick is The Orchard: This memoir set in the Midwest focuses on a family farm and the environmental and economic choices that must be made to keep the farm afloat.
Inspired by The Scarlet Letter, When She Woke depicts an American dystopia where terrorist attacks, natural disasters and a pandemic causing infertility have swung the country to the far right, and convicted criminals are “chromed” according to the nature of their crime and then released. A stigmatized woman in a hostile and frightening world, Hannah Payne must seek a path northward to safety. Her perilous journey becomes one of self-discovery and transfiguration as she realizes that faith, love and sexuality are not just political. They’re personal.
The Orchard is the story of a street-smart city girl who must adapt to a new life on an apple farm after she falls in love with Adrian Curtis, the golden boy of a prominent local family whose lives and orchards seem to be cursed. Married after only three months, young Theresa finds life with Adrian on the farm far more difficult and dangerous than she expected. Rejected by her husband's family as an outsider, she slowly learns for herself about the isolated world of farming, pesticides, environmental destruction, and death, even as she falls more deeply in love with her husband, a man she at first hardly knew and the land that has been in his family for generations. She becomes a reluctant player in their attempt to keep the codling moth from destroying the orchard, but she and Adrian eventually come to know that their efforts will not only fail but will ultimately take an irreparable toll.Harper Perennial. As you know Harper Perennial is another featured imprint here on Beth Fish Reads. Of the six books presented, I had stars on four titles. Here is Harper's list: An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd, Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman, Don't Sing at the Tableby Adriana Trigiani, Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson, and The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas. Several of these books are already on my Imprint Friday schedule and the others are on my wish list. My Harper Perennial pick is Don't Sing at the Table. Not only was I fortunate enough to have lunch with Adriana last week, but I love any book that focuses on food and grandmothers and family--this is nonfiction.
In Don't Sing at the Table, this much-beloved writer has gathered their estimable life lessons, revealing how her grandmothers' simple values have shaped her own life, sharing the experiences, humor, and wisdom of her beloved mentors to delight readers of all ages.Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. HMH presented a short but fabulous list of fiction for book club reads: historical fiction, contemporary fiction, historical mystery, and contemporary humor. Have a look: The Maid by Kimberly Cutter, We the Animals by Justin Torres, The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch, and Mule by Tony D'Souza. I circled three out of the four. My Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pick is The Maid: historical fiction about Joan of Arc, focusing on the woman, not the saint.
Lucia Spada Bonicelli (Lucy) and Yolanda Perin Trigiani (Viola) lived through the twentieth century from beginning to end as working women who juggled careers and motherhood. From the factory line to the family table, Lucy and Viola, the very definition of modern women, cut a path for their granddaughter by demonstrating moxie and pluck in their fearless approach to life, love, and overcoming obstacles.
Lucy's and Viola's traditions and spiritual fortitude will encourage you to hold on to the values that make life rich and beautiful. Their entrepreneurial spirit will inspire you to take risks and reap the rewards. And their remarkable resilience in the face of tragedy will be a source of strength and comfort.
Trigiani visits the past to seek answers to the essential questions that define the challenges women face today at work and at home. This is a primer, grandmother to granddaughter, filled with everyday wisdom and life lessons that are truly "tiramisu for the soul" (The Examiner), handed down with care and built to last.
It is the early part of the fifteenth century and the tumultuous Hundred Years War rages on. The French city of Orleans is under siege, English soldiers tear through the countryside wreaking destruction on all who cross their path, and Charles VII, the uncrowned king, has neither the strength nor the will to rally his army. And in the quiet of her parents’ garden in Domremy, a twelve-year-old peasant girl, Jehanne, hears a voice that will change her life – and the course of European history.Macmillian. Macmillian's suggestions for book clubs is truly awesome, including well-known, prize-winning authors and soon-to-be popular titles. Could you pick just one from this list? Best Friends, Occasional Enemies by Lisa Scottoline, By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, The Leftovers by Tom Perotta, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, and The Sisters by Nancy Jensen. Oh yeah. Great list. My Macmillian pick is The Sisters: A family story that begins in the 1920s and continues at least into the 1970s. I'm intrigued by the description, and I bet book clubs will find much to discuss.
The tale of Jehanne d’Arc, the saint and warrior who believed she had been chosen by God to save France, and who led an army of 10,000 soldiers against the English, has captivated our imagination for centuries. But the story of Jehanne--the girl--whose sister was murdered by the English, who sought an escape from her violent father and a forced marriage, who taught herself to ride, and fight, and lead, and who somehow found the courage and tenacity to convince first one, then two, then tens, then thousands to follow her, is at once thrilling, unexpected and heart-breaking.
Sweeping, gripping and rich with intrigue, betrayal, love and valour, The Maid is an unforgettable novel about the power and burden of faith, and the exhilarating and devastating consequences of fame.
Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat, Bertie Fisher and her older sister Mabel have no one but each other—with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings. But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong, setting off a chain of misunderstandings that will send the sisters on separate paths and reverberate through their daughters’ and granddaughters’ lives.The other publishers presenting on the panel were Hyperion, Penguin USA, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Norton. As I mentioned, I had to leave the panel early, but the audience was given a list of the titles each publisher planned to discuss. Based on my personal conversations with representatives of these companies (not on the presentation at the panel) and on the lists each publisher provided, I suggest the follow titles to book clubs:
What happens when nothing turns out as you planned? From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful. Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities and raise daughters—and sisters—of their own, learning that love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem. Gorgeously written, with extraordinary insight and emotional truth, Nancy Jensen’s debut novel illuminates the far-reaching power of family and family secrets.
- Knit One, Pearl One by Gil McNeil (Hyperion)
- The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards (Penguin)
- The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield (Random House)
- The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman (Simon & Schuster)
- Trespass by Rose Tremain