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Friday, September 12, 2014

I've Got That John Franklin Fever

I'm in the grips of a certain mania; dealing with a severe bout of Sir John Franklin Fever. Don't ask, I just really dig polar explorations, and mysterious disappearances, and quests for lost ships. So you can imagine my excitement, glee really at this week's news.

Some Canadians think they've found one of Franklin's lost ships on the bottom of the sea. It's been missing for over 160 years, and they found it! Scientists are saying it's the greatest archaeological discovery since finding King Tut's tomb. Franklin's ships, Terror and Erebus vanished on the ice along with all 129 crew members in 1845. They were searching for the fabled Northwest Passage, which incidentally is no longer fabled, thanks to melting polar ice.
THAT'S THE BOAT!!!! CRAZY!
So, in honor of my weird Franklin obsession, here are some books you must check out:

The Terror by Dan Simmons
Obviously, you have to read this. It's awesome. This book was recommended to me by a customer. And I LOVED it!

This fantastical re-imagining of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated final search for the Northwest Passage reads pretty accurately based on the little I know. It uses the same dates, locations, names, even down to the wording of real-life messages recovered by rescue efforts. Yeah, it's pretty dead on...

...EXCEPT FOR THE GIANT MONSTER!!!

That's right, a vicious monster haunts the ice where Franklin and his men are trapped. Killing and maiming with abandon. But as the novel and the expedition spiral into disarray, the sailors have a lot more to worry about than one itty-bitty monster. Disease and starvation, crushing ice, brutal blizzards, endless night, and ultimately their own shipmates. But surprisingly, there is a lot more to this epic. Mysticism, hope, adventure, loyalty.

I know you're thinking, "how ridiculous, a monster." But in the end it makes so much sense. Trust me, just suspend your disbelief and push on. It's worth it. It also sports one of the most perfectly developed characters I've encountered in a long time.

I had one awful nightmare while reading this book. I also almost vomited on the bus while reading about the effects of scurvy (I actually had to skip a few paragraphs...I've never done that). But I also had one peaceful dream about solitude and the Northern Lights (I actually had that dream the night after I finished the book). I was more than a little preoccupied with this one.
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This next one isn't actually about Franklin, or even the Arctic, but it is the book that started my interest in polar exploration.

The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander

In August 1914, days before the outbreak of the First World War, the renowned explorer Ernest Shackleton and a crew of twenty-seven set sail for the South Atlantic in pursuit of the last unclaimed prize in the history of exploration: the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent. Weaving a treacherous path through the freezing Weddell Sea, they had come within eighty-five miles of their destination when their ship, Endurance, was trapped fast in the ice pack. Soon the ship was crushed like matchwood, leaving the crew stranded on the floes. Their ordeal would last for twenty months, and they would make two near-fatal attempts to escape by open boat before their final rescue. 

Drawing upon previously unavailable sources, Caroline Alexander gives us a riveting account of Shackleton's expedition--one of history's greatest epics of survival. And she presents the astonishing work of Frank Hurley, the Australian photographer whose visual record of the adventure has never before been published comprehensively. Together, text and image re-create the terrible beauty of Antarctica, the awful destruction of the ship, and the crew's heroic daily struggle to stay alive, a miracle achieved largely through Shackleton's inspiring leadership.
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And speaking of Shackleton, there is a new, beautiful graphic novel based on the expedition that you really can't miss.
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And last but not least, this fascinating and gripping nonfiction account of Britain's obsession with the Northwest Passage.

The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage by Anthony Brandt

After the triumphant end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the British took it upon themselves to complete something they had been trying to do since the sixteenth century: find the fabled Northwest Passage. For the next thirty-five years the British Admiralty sent out expedition after expedition to probe the ice-bound waters of the Canadian Arctic in search of a route, and then, after 1845, to find Sir John Franklin, the Royal Navy hero who led the last of these Admiralty expeditions. Enthralling and often harrowing, The Man Who Ate His Boots captures the glory and the folly of this ultimately tragic enterprise.

That should be enough reading for you to really nerd out on polar exploration and Franklin. Here's more on the finding of the ship if you are interested.

Monday, September 8, 2014

New Release Tuesday!

New Hardcovers

IT'S HERE! We are all so excited for this one!
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. 

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them. 

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave. 

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.


Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking) by Christian Rudder

An audacious, irreverent investigation of human behavior—and a first look at a revolution in the making 

Our personal data has been used to spy on us, hire and fire us, and sell us stuff we don’t need. In Dataclysm, Christian Rudder uses it to show us who we truly are. For centuries, we’ve relied on polling or small-scale lab experiments to study human behavior. Today, a new approach is possible. As we live more of our lives online, researchers can finally observe us directly, in vast numbers, and without filters. Data scientists have become the new demographers. 

In this daring and original book, Rudder explains how Facebook "likes" can predict, with surprising accuracy, a person’s sexual orientation and even intelligence; how attractive women receive exponentially more interview requests; and why you must have haters to be hot. He charts the rise and fall of America’s most reviled word through Google Search and examines the new dynamics of collaborative rage on Twitter. He shows how people express themselves, both privately and publicly. What is the least Asian thing you can say? Do people bathe more in Vermont or New Jersey? What do black women think about Simon & Garfunkel? (Hint: they don’t think about Simon & Garfunkel.) Rudder also traces human migration over time, showing how groups of people move from certain small towns to the same big cities across the globe. And he grapples with the challenge of maintaining privacy in a world where these explorations are possible. 

Visually arresting and full of wit and insight, Dataclysm is a new way of seeing ourselves—a brilliant alchemy, in which math is made human and numbers become the narrative of our time.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis. 

At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital—an encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both. 

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why it Happens by Benedict Carey
In the tradition of The Power of Habit and Thinking, Fast and Slow comes a practical, playful, and endlessly fascinating guide to what we really know about learning and memory today—and how we can apply it to our own lives. 

From an early age, it is drilled into our heads: Restlessness, distraction, and ignorance are the enemies of success. We’re told that learning is all self-discipline, that we must confine ourselves to designated study areas, turn off the music, and maintain a strict ritual if we want to ace that test, memorize that presentation, or nail that piano recital. But what if almost everything we were told about learning is wrong? And what if there was a way to achieve more with less effort? 

In How We Learn, award-winning science reporter Benedict Carey sifts through decades of education research and landmark studies to uncover the truth about how our brains absorb and retain information. What he discovers is that, from the moment we are born, we are all learning quickly, efficiently, and automatically; but in our zeal to systematize the process we have ignored valuable, naturally enjoyable learning tools like forgetting, sleeping, and daydreaming. Is a dedicated desk in a quiet room really the best way to study? Can altering your routine improve your recall? Are there times when distraction is good? Is repetition necessary? Carey’s search for answers to these questions yields a wealth of strategies that make learning more a part of our everyday lives—and less of a chore.

New Paperbacks


Salinger by David Sheilds & Shane Salerno

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book News and Other Miscellany

Volume 1, Issue 2

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Brickjest is absolutely, hands down, the coolest thing on the internet. It's a Lego translation of David Foster Wallace's epic Infinte Jest as interpreted by a father son duo. It's unbelievable!


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Jon Stewart took a long break from his Daily Show hosting duties to adapt and film a movie version of the book Then They Came For Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy. The movie is called Rosewater, and here's the trailer:




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Here is Flavorwire's list of the 25 Must-Read Books for Fall. Starring, among others, Diane Ackerman! Incidentally, we'll be welcoming Diane and her new book The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us as a part of the Ravenna Luncheon Series on Tuesday, September 16th at 1PM. This is a ticketed event, $40 includes a copy of the book and a delicious lunch from Vios. Seats are sure to go quickly so call the Ravenna Store (206)-525-2347.

Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented reality that one prodigiously intelligent and meddlesome creature, Homo sapiens, is now the dominant force shaping the future of planet Earth.

Humans have "subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness." We tinker with nature at every opportunity; we garden the planet with our preferred species of plants and animals, many of them invasive; and we have even altered the climate, threatening our own extinction. Yet we reckon with our own destructive capabilities in extraordinary acts of hope-filled creativity: we collect the DNA of vanishing species in a "frozen ark," equip orangutans with iPads, and create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. With her distinctive gift for making scientific discovery intelligible to the layperson, Ackerman takes us on an exhilarating journey through our new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating perhaps saving our future and that of our fellow creatures.

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Find out which character from American Literature you are!
Take this quiz.

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The Amazon war has headed overseas. In an attempt to support and protect independent bookstores, the French Government has passed a new law making it illegal for large online retailers, namely Amazon, to ship books free of charge. And in Japan, publishers have condemned Amazon's latest ranking system. Read more here.

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Annnnnnd a cat with some books.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Meet the Author: Stuart Rojstaczer and The Mathematician's Shiva

We here at the Ravenna location are getting pretty keyed-up for our upcoming events. This fall is chock full of great author visits, and other awesome activities like a pajama party for kids, storytime for grown-ups, and some huge author luncheons.

First up, we are so excited to welcome Stuart Rojstaczer and his new novel The Mathematician's Shiva. Stuart has been a university professor, a dishwasher, a musician, a scientist, the nation's foremost expert on grade inflation, and now a novelist. To get you equally keyed-up, and as a sort of introduction, we've asked Stuart a few bookish questions.

Stuart will join us at the Ravenna location on Satuday, September 6th at 7 PM.

What is the last really great book you read?
The last new or newish book was The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson. The last older book was Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (a re-read).

What are the next few books on your to-read list?
If you could read one book again for the first time, what book would it be?
Candide by Voltaire. I think that was the first time I realized you could be smart and funny and still be important as a writer. I loved the feeling that recognition gave me and I'd love to re-experience it.

What book would people be surprised that you've read and enjoyed? 
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. I read it to my daughter years ago. It's not well written, but it's a fun story about a geeky, brainy family. That's my kind of family.

How are your bookshelves arranged at home?
All fiction and letters of fiction writers are in one grouping arranged alphabetically by author. Then there is a travel section arranged alphabetically by city/country. Then there is a baseball section. Then there is an education section. Then there is the "everything else" section arranged alphabetically by author.

What is your favorite bookstore? 
Books Inc. in Palo Alto, CA. It's not only a great little bookstore with a knowledgeable staff, but that staff will also, on occasion, serve up a stiff margarita. Take that, Amazon!

Who are your 5 favorite authors?
That's a loaded question! If favorite means, ooh, a new book is coming out, I've gotta get it, then number one right now would be Ian McEwan. There are a boat load of contemporary authors I admire. In terms of living American writers who have paid their dues and would be first on a ballot of Hall of Famers (and there should be a Writers Hall of Fame somewhere in America): in no particular order, Doctorow, Smiley, Ford, Chabon, Pynchon, and Banks. That's six. I'll stop there.

Do you have any weird writing process quirks?
I say a little "prayer" in Yiddish when I start. It's a kind of summoning. Seems to set the mood quite nicely.
  
What's next for you? 
Finish my next novel!

You should also check out Stuart's interesting Publisher's Weekly piece on the difference between doing science and writing novels.

The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer

“A brilliant and compelling family saga full of warmth, pathos, history, and humor.” –Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here 

“A hugely entertaining debut.” –Publishers Weekly

When the greatest female mathematician in history passes away, her son, Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch, just wants to mourn his mother in peace. But rumor has it the notoriously eccentric Polish √©migr√© has solved one of the most difficult problems in all of mathematics, and has spitefully taken the solution to her grave. As a ragtag group of mathematicians from around the world descends upon Rachela’s shiva, determined to find the proof or solve it for themselves—even if it means prying up the floorboards for notes or desperately scrutinizing the mutterings of her African Grey parrot—Sasha must come to terms with his mother’s outsized influence on his life.

Spanning decades and continents, from a crowded living room in Madison, Wisconsin, to the windswept beach on the Barents Sea where a young Rachela had her first mathematical breakthrough, The Mathematician’s Shiva is an unexpectedly moving and uproariously funny novel that captures humanity’s drive not just to survive, but to achieve the impossible.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Read This Book

Mark B. is crazy about this new children's book from Bardur Oskarsson. And I have to agree. I am pretty picky when it comes to children's books. It needs to be original, beautiful, and with just the right amount of words. That's right, too many words, and I don't even bother. Well, this one meets all three of my criteria, plus it has a pretty important message delivered without an ounce of sentimentality. One of a kind. Here's what Mark has to say:
The Flat Rabbit is a book about life and death. A dog and a rat come across a ex-rabbit in the road that they vaguely remember from the neighborhood. Their dilemma is deciding what to do with this now very flat rabbit. This children's book ponders the imponderables, without trying to provide trite and cheesy answers. I love a book that can proudly state "I don't know."
The Flat Rabbit  by Bardur Oskarsson

When a dog and a rat come upon a rabbit flattened on the road in their neighborhood, they contemplate her situation, wondering what they should do to help her. They decide it can’t be much fun to lie there; she should be moved. But how? And to where? Finally, the dog comes up with an inspired and unique idea and they work together through the night to make it happen. Once finished, they can’t be positive, but they think they have done their best to help the flat rabbit get somewhere better than the middle of the road where they found her. Sparely told with simple artwork, The Flat Rabbit treats the concept of death with a sense of compassion and gentle humor — and a note of practicality. In the end, the dog’s and the rat’s caring, thoughtful approach results in an unusual yet perfect way to respect their departed friend.

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Release Tuesday!

This Tuesday has it all! Letters, poetry, young adult, sci fi, new authors. It's starting to feel like fall around here.

 The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's life changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways...

Johannes's gift helps Nella pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation...or the architect of their destruction?

Lock In by John Scalzi

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes "Lock In": Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as "Haden’s syndrome," rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an "integrator" – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But "complicated" doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It’s nothing you could have expected.

Love, of a Kind: A Book of New Poems by Felix Dennis

Love, of a Kind was compiled and partly written under the illusion of a death sentence. Diagnosed with cancer of the throat in January 2012 (he is now, happily, in remission), Felix Dennis responded by selecting, revising, and writing poems for what he believed would be his last book. Given the circumstances, his themes—love, life, death, and taking stock—resonate ever more meaningfully.

The poems in Love, of a Kind pull no punches, make no excuses, and seem ever ready to spit in the eye of mortality; poems that Shirley Conran has said "invoke sorrow as fast as regret, pain as readily as passion, and love as tenderly as murderous rage." Featuring beautiful line drawings by Eric Gill, Love, of a Kind presents a writer at the peak of his creative powers.

Selected Letters of Willa Cather  edited by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout

Willa Cather’s letters—withheld from publication for more than six decades—are finally available to the public in this fascinating selection. The hundreds collected here range from witty reports of life as a teenager in Red Cloud in the 1880s through her college years at the University of Nebraska, her time as a journalist in Pittsburgh and New York, and her growing eminence as a novelist. They describe her many travels and record her last years, when the loss of loved ones and the disasters of World War II brought her near to despair. Above all, they reveal her passionate interest in people, literature, and the arts. The voice is one we recognize from her fiction: confident, elegant, detailed, openhearted, concerned with profound ideas, but also at times sentimental, sarcastic, and funny. A deep pleasure to read, this volume reveals the intimate joys and sorrows of one of America’s most admired writers.

The Creeps: A Samuel Johnson Tale by John Connoly

In this clever and quirky follow-up to The Gates and The Infernals, Samuel Johnson's life seems to have finally settled down--after all, he's still got the company of his faithful dachshund Boswell and his bumbling demon friend Nurd; he has foiled the dreaded forces of darkness not once but twice; and he's now dating the lovely Lucy Highmore.

But things in the little English town of Biddlecombe rarely run smoothly for long. Shadows are gathering in the skies; a black heart of pure evil is bubbling with revenge; and it rather looks as if the Multiverse is about to come to an end, starting with Biddlecombe. When a new toy shop's opening goes terrifyingly awry, Samuel must gather a ragtag band of dwarfs, policemen, and very polite monsters to face down the greatest threat the Multiverse has ever known, not to mention assorted vampires, a girl with an unnatural fondness for spiders, and highly flammable unfriendly elves.

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

The Broken Eye continues the spectacular Lightbringer series from the New York Times bestselling author of The Black Prism and The Blinding Knife.

As the old gods awaken and satrapies splinter, the Chromeria races to find the only man who can still end a civil war before it engulfs the known world. But Gavin Guile has been captured by an old enemy and enslaved on a pirate galley. Worse still, Gavin has lost more than his powers as Prism--he can't use magic at all.

Without the protection of his father, Kip Guile will face a master of shadows as his grandfather moves to choose a new Prism and put himself in power. With Teia and Karris, Kip will have to use all his wits to survive a secret war between noble houses, religious factions, rebels, and an ascendant order of hidden assassins called The Broken Eye.

yolo by Lauren Myracle

The "New York Times"-bestselling, beloved Internet Girls series (ttyl, ttfn) followed the ups and downs of school for three very different, very close friends. Now it's freshman year of college for the winsome threesome, and "everything" is different. Myracle brings her groundbreaking series into the brave new virtual world of texting and tweets.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Read These Books: Super Deluxe Edition

Awhile back I told you about All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld. Well since then, it's caught on like wildfire around here. What can I say, I have excellent taste (full disclosure, I was told to read this by a friend who read it, so really she should get all the credit). Robert, Katherine, and Mark B. have all read it and LOVED it.

Here's what I had to say about it:
If you're looking for a tidy little book, a book that ties up all its loose ends, fits all the puzzle pieces together, resolves every mysterious plot line...this is not the book for you. But who wants that anyway? Life isn't tidy, so this just feels more real. 

All the Birds, Singing is crammed full of hidden pasts, unraveling lives, and mysterious strangers. A bleak and wind-whipped British island is home to Jake Whyte, a solitary woman who raises sheep and keeps the locals as far away as she can. She's hiding something, and now her sheep are being hunted and mutilated, and Jake might be next. 

What makes this book impossible to put down is the unique structure Evie Wyld employs. In alternating chapters, between the the eerie present day mystery, she tells the story of Jake's secret past in the burning isolation of rural Australia. But these flashbacks run backwards in time, bringing the reader ever closer to the tragic secret that sets Jake's life spiraling out of her control. 

This is a dark but beautiful book that I just could not put down. Even a week after reading it, it's lingering on my mind. Plus, I really like a book title with punctuation in it.

And Mark seconds:
One of my favorite books in recent years. This is a page-turner to the nth degree with scenes that will burn a permanent place in you memories.

Most of us here have really different reading tastes, so it's not often that so many of us will like the same books. Imagine our surprise when it happened again, just a few weeks later. Now, this next book isn't actually out yet, so I'll be sure to remind you about it as its release date approaches. But, you really must read Station Eleven.

I never actually clarified this, but I heard that Robert had read and enjoyed Station Eleven, and since I have liked several of Robert's suggestions, I grabbed the first advance copy that turned up in the store.

I loved it. Then Mark read it and he stayed up til 4:30 one morning to finish it. And then Alex read it, and he can't stop talking about it.

And it is so good. It's post apocalypse, but really different than other dystopian novels I've read. I have a hard time describing it so I'll let the jacket copy tell you all that. Just know that it's smart and  beautifully written and you'll be tearing through it when it comes out September 9th.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. 

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them. 

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave. 

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.