“You should never read just for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgemental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books’. Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool!” – John Waters
Winter is in full swing and that means very poor weather for golf. However, and coincidentally, it also means good weather for reading, be it audiobook, ebook or the old-fashioned yet ever-resilient print variety. Two of my favourite genres – and possibly yours too – are mysteries and memoirs. What is in store for us in 2016? Which “on order” books at the Library can we place our next ’hold’ on? To whet your appetite, I gathered just a few selections of the many now entering the Library’s collection. (Feel free also to practice your golf swing indoors, or better yet, take up cross-country skiing until the fairways turn green).
The High Mountains of Portugal
by Yann Martel
“With this highly anticipated new novel, the author of the bestselling Life of Pi returns to the storytelling power and luminous wisdom of his master novel. The High Mountains of Portugal is a suspenseful, mesmerizing story of a great quest for meaning, told in three intersecting narratives touching the lives of three different people and their families, and taking us on an extraordinary journey through the last century. We begin in the early 1900s, when Tomás discovers an ancient journal and sets out from Lisbon in one of the very first motor cars in Portugal in search of the strange treasure the journal describes.
Thirty-five years later, a pathologist devoted to the novels of Agatha Christie, whose wife has possibly been murdered, finds himself drawn into the consequences of Tomás’s quest. Fifty years later, Senator Peter Tovy of Ottawa, grieving the death of his own beloved wife, rescues a chimpanzee from an Oklahoma research facility and takes it to live with him in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, where the strands of all three stories miraculously mesh together. Beautiful, witty and engaging, Yann Martel’s new novel offers us the same tender exploration of the impact and significance of great love and great loss, belief and unbelief, that has marked all his brilliant, unexpected novels.”
Arcadia by Iain Pears
“In a major suspense novel set to surpass the internationally bestselling An Instance of the Fingerpost comes a dazzling story of youth, love and murderous ambition–a novel of time travel spanning three beautifully detailed worlds: the intellectual spires of Oxford in 1960, an ancient Arcadian world, and a dystopian future.
In 1960, Henry Lytten is an Oxford don who dabbles in espionage and fiction writing. Rosie Wilson is the quick-witted, curious 15-year-old girl who feeds Professor Lytten’s cat. Several hundred years in the future, living in a dystopian society on the Isle of Mull, is Angela Meerson–a brilliant psychomathematician who has discovered the world-changing potential of a powerful new machine. Somewhere, sometime, is Jay–a scholar’s apprentice in an idyllic, pastoral land. Who these people really are, and how their stories come together, will be revealed in Iain Pears’s fascinating great puzzle of a novel.”
In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
“In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story—of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her.
Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world. There, she begins to read, and to write—initially in her journal—solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.”
The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones
“In a small village in New York Charley Davidson is living as Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she’s more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is salding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around.” (Part of a 9-part series, so far)
Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James
“England, 1921. Three years after her husband, Alex, disappeared, shot down over Germany, Jo Manders still mourns his loss. Working as a paid companion to Alex’s wealthy, condescending aunt, Dottie Forsyth, Jo travels to the family’s estate in the Sussex countryside. But there is much she never knew about her husband’s origins… and the revelation of a mysterious death in the Forsyths’ past is just the beginning…
All is not well at Wych Elm House. Dottie’s husband is distant, and her son was grievously injured in the war. Footsteps follow Jo down empty halls, and items in her bedroom are eerily rearranged. The locals say the family is cursed, and that a ghost in the woods has never rested. And when Jo discovers her husband’s darkest secrets, she wonders if she ever really knew him. Isolated in a place of deception and grief, she must find the truth or lose herself forever.”
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
“Like nearly one in five people, Matt Haig suffers from depression. Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt’s inspiring account of how, minute by minute and day by day, he overcame the disease with the help of reading, writing, and the love of his parents and his girlfriend (and now-wife), Andrea. And eventually, he learned to appreciate life all the more for it.
Everyone’s lives are touched by mental illness: if we do not suffer from it ourselves, then we have a friend or loved one who does. Matt’s frankness about his experiences is both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and illuminating to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never let us lose sight of hope. Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, Matt is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest—there is light at the end of the tunnel. He teaches us to celebrate the small joys and moments of peace that life brings, and reminds us that there are always reasons to stay alive.”
These next two selections are not yet on order at the Library but may be soon. (I hope.)
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
“The author of two charming memoirs (including one about road-trippin’ with his 90-something-year-old grandma), Iain Reid is one of the last Canadian authors you’d think would deliver an unsettling psychological horror novel, but that’s what he’s done with his fiction debut. I’m Thinking of Ending Things begins with the unnamed narrator setting off with her boyfriend to visit his parents at their remote farm, and soon devolves into an unnerving exploration of identity, regret and longing. Delightfully frightening.”
End of Watch by Stephen King
“Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.
In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.”
Enjoy a new year of delicious reading!
“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” – Anne Lamott