We have some great book suggestions for you this month. If you like book reviews, subscribe to our newsletter, The Librarian’s Shelf, for 1-2 emails per month with book suggestions.
I had a patron email a review this month so let’s start with his pick.
Guest Reviewer: Bob Beck
Bob, recently retired after a mostly-overseas career with the Department of State, currently lives in Ankara, Turkey where his wife is posted. Bob and his wife own a house in Peterborough and will be retiring there in the Summer of 2020. Bob is an avid reader who, because of his extensive travels overseas, is particularly drawn to books with an international angle.
The Dry by Jane Harper
For those who enjoy a suspenseful thriller set in a unique location, I highly recommend this debut novel by Jane Harper. Set in a small town during an extended draught (hence the book title) in rural Australia, The Dry packs a taut punch, keeping the reader on the virtual edge of their seat throughout. The book follows the “unofficial” investigation of Australian Federal Agent Aaron Falk into the brutal murder of his childhood friend and family in their backcountry hometown. Fighting overt hostility and deep-seated prejudice from the locals, Falk tries to get to the bottom of the crime while fending off long-held accusations about his culpability in the tragic death of one of his high school friends twenty years earlier. Along the way, Falk discovers that many in his former home town, including himself, harbor dangerous secrets that need to be flushed out in order to solve the current murder and in the process, hopefully, discover what happened to his high school friend many years before. The Dry, which was published in 2016, was a New York Times bestseller, and won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, paints a vivid portrayal of rural Australia under exceedingly austere weather and economic conditions.
Matisse Stories by A.S. Byatt
The three short stories in this book are absolutely fantastic. If you haven’t read anything by Byatt, this is a great place to start. Each story features an intersection with a Matisse painting– and also with his work, his process, and his understanding of color, light, and form. If you like Matisse, you will really appreciate it. One story features the life of Debbie, a successful magazine professional, married to a struggling artist (Robin), and making things function only with the help of Mrs. Brown, her hired help. Robin suffers to teach Mrs. Brown a thing or two about color, in an effort to get her to respect his art studio. But Mrs. Brown has a creativity all her own, which in the end could crush or free him. Each story explores the importance of art, beauty, individuals, who we see and who we fail to see. Byatt has such a thorough understanding of human relationship. Highly recommend.
Euphoria by Lily King
Recommended by my neighbor, I read this book voraciously in two sittings. Set just before WWII, the story begins with Nell and Fen departing early from their grueling 18 months in the field. They had been working with a particular tribe in New Guinea and Nell convinced Fen it was time to go. They meet up with another anthropologist, Bankson, and join him on the Sepik River to finish their studies with another village. But the connection between Bankson, Nell, and Fen begins to unravel deeper problems in Nell’s marriage to Fen. Anthropology is the study of the human experience. This book seeks to do the same thing through the dynamic relationships between these characters and their quest to understand what creates a culture. Lily King was inspired to write this book loosely based on Margaret Mead and the early days of western anthropology. It has wonderful detail and atmosphere, you won’t be able to put it down.
Design the Life you Love by Ayse Birsel
This is a guide to help you make a break-through. Are you stuck–either in your career, the particular job you’re in, or maybe just in your outlook? This is a really fun way to put a wide lens on your life, examine it by breaking it apart into small pieces, and put it back together again with some tweaks. I really enjoyed the process and felt more aligned with what brings me joy. It boosted my creativity and it’s the reason I started writing this book review newsletter! Mary, PTL’s Assistant Director, will be guiding a group through this book in January. If you want to join her, email Mary Hubbard @ MHubbard@PeterboroughNH.gov and she can give you more information.