You are hereBack to top
Exhalation by Ted Chiang
Exhalation is a collection of nine science fiction stories. The stories deal with heady subjects including a time portal through which various characters can visit the past but not change it told in the style of the Arabian Nights, a sentient being performing a live dissection of the inner workings of his own brain, the raising and training of digitally created beings, a scientist disproving young earth creationism and a tale derived from quantum mechanics where a scam is perpetrated through communication with parallel selves in alternate versions of the universe. While the stories take some concentration and dedication, perseverance is rewarded in the end. Each one is an inspiring work of storytelling, intellect and imagination.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
The glass hotel in this novel is the Hotel Caitte, built on a small island off the north coast of Vancouver Island. It is only accessible by boat and is a luxury hotel owned by Jonathan Alkatis who works in finance. This hotel is not so much the focus of the book as the center point where the characters paths cross and chance meetings are made that will affect all their futures. Jonathan becomes involved with Vincent (a woman) who leaves the hotel to start a new life with him. You'll discover that Jonathan's financial empire is built on a Ponzi scheme whose collapse will affect multiple characters in this story. The narratives skip forwards and backwards. It is a very inventive and mesmerizing novel.
Sue, Breakwater Books
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
With its recent run in the streaming world, this book is rightfully enjoying a second surge in popularity. The story takes place in Shaker Heights, a well to do planned community outside of Cleveland in the late 90's. It's a beautifully crafted story of two families, with very different lifestyles, whose lives become intertwined for a few months. The author uses the characters to explore different kinds of mothers and the choices they make. She also explores some aspects of what it was to be Asian in this community. The book has the winning combination of a story lines that grab you from the beginning, interesting characters that I cared about and beautiful writing. I found the book impossible to put down once I started it.
Jen, Breakwater Books
Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
Hope Jahren’s father taught physics and earth science for forty-two years. The laboratory he worked in was her childhood playground. Hope knew from a very young age and with unwavering certainty that she would grow up to become a scientist. And so she did. A geochemist and geobiologist to be precise. She’s made a career out of her endless fascination with things that grow from the ground and with the ground itself. With this engrossing memoir you will be fascinated with the science as well, told with respect and reverence for the study but with simplicity and the familiarity of an old friend reciting a brownie recipe. In and among these extraordinary revelations is her story of perseverance and success in a vocation primarily populated with men and her lifetime friendship with her inimitable lab partner. You’ll like her and you’ll root for her, and you will never look at a tree the same way again.
Still Here: The Madcap, Nervy, Singular Life of Elaine Stritch by Alexandra Jacobs
Still Here chronicles the singular life of the Broadway actress and singer Elaine Stritch, from her Catholic upbringing in Detroit, Michigan through her triumphant, award winning one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty. In between, Stritch goes on a date with drama school classmate Marlon Brando, understudies Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam and brings the house down as Joanne in Company, singing the Stephen Sondheim classic, The Ladies Who Lunch, all the while carousing her way through the bars of Manhattan. While the mere facts of her life would be entertaining for any theater aficionado, Jacobs sensitively explores the complexities of Stritch’s insecurities with the opposite sex, her savage wit, her perfectionism as an actress and her alcoholism.
Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler
Once again, Anne Tyler takes us back to her beloved Baltimore with a story about Micah Mortimer. Micah is a likable oddball who lives rent free in the basement apartment of a small building in exchange for being its super. He is a very organized 43 year old geek who also runs a one man on-call tech help service called "Tech Hermit". We follow Micah as he goes about his orderly life and suddenly someone messes with his routines - actually two upsets: his girlfriend is threatened with eviction from her apartment and a young man shows up claiming that Micah is his father. These upsets will cause him to re-evaluate himself and his life. This is a heartwarming story filled with humor and compassion. Anne Tyler is my favorite author and she never disappoints.
Sue, Breakwater Books