A fictional account of a 22-year-old Jack Kennedy acting as a spy for the United States shortly before World War II breaks out, Mathew's novel is equal parts mystery, spy-thriller, and historical fiction. She captures so well the youthful exuberance for which Kennedy was often known, but also provides a well-researched window into Europe on the cusp of war. Jack 1939 is a book I'll always recommend and I do hope for a sequel on the horizon.
A great memoir about the founder of Random House Publishing and longtime What's My Line panelist. Cerf offers a behind the scenes look at his decades long career in publishing, his interactions with world famous authors, and his own personal life. Engaging, funny, and well written, this is a must for anyone who loves books, has thought of starting their own publishing house (as we all have), or enjoys witty banter.
Murder as a Fine Art
A wonderful mystery set in Victorian England. Morrell re-imagines writer Thomas De Quincey (known for writing Confessions of an English Opium Eater) and his daughter, Emily, as amateur sleuths, drafted into the profession by the need to prove De Quincey's innocence, as Scotland Yard has him pegged as a murder suspect. The first in a trilogy, I couldn't put the book down and thoroughly enjoyed the vivid backdrop of London in the 1800s.
What She Ate
I've long been a fan of Laura Shapiro's food histories and her latest work does not disappoint. What She Ate is an illuminating and fascinating glimpse into the lives of six very different women - including one of my favorite novelists - using the food they cooked and are as the framework to tell their stories. It's a book I wish I had written, if just for the joy of it's research.
Salt to the Sea
Salt to the Sea tells the story of the largest maritime disaster you've likely never heard of. It's a novel of historical fiction, told in multiple first-person narratives, giving it a haunting quality of many voices and verses of the same song.
It's the winter of 1945 and millions of people from thousands of little towns and villages in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and East Prussia are fleeting from the advancing Russian troops. Children, mothers, old people, sick ones, on foot, trains, horse-drawn carts and bicycles, are making their way to the last evacuation points on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Boarding the Wilhelm Gustloff, they hope for rescue on a ship to safety. In a tragedy of unimaginable scale, the ship is torpedoed by the Russians... She sinks taking an estimated 9,000 people with her to the bottom of the frigid Baltic Sea off the coast of Poland.
Ruta Sepetys tells this story of courage and hope alongside cruelty and despair, through the eyes of four young people from different countries. It's a powerfully crafted tale of a tragedy six times deadlier than the Titanic.
100 Years of the Best American Short Stories
Lorrie Moore, Editor
Heidi Pitlor, Co-Editor
SO stoked that Moore and Pitlor sifted through 100 years of short stories in this series to come up with this hard-to-beat lineup. This book includes some of my favorites – George Saunders, Philip Roth, Junot Diaz, Charles Baxter, Raymond Carver, and more. PLUS the stories are in chronological order with anecdotes before each decade. It’s like the book equivalent of ‘Now That’s What I Call Music,’ only it’s awesome!
My favorite collection of very short fiction. The stories are a little painful, but mostly ridiculous.