I belong to the Book of the Month Club. Funny thing is that I rarely order books from them… sometimes I get the featured selections if I’ve forgotten to decline them. However, I’m head over heels for their mailer. Yep, their mailer. It comes in an envelope that looks like junk mail, but if someone threw this out without letting me see it first there would be black eyes involved. Every month it feels like opening a letter from a really fantastically bookish friend, who reads more books than anyone else and tells me all about them… and includes pictures. The greatest part is that it’s not just one letter inside, it’s several and one of them is many pages long. Many pages long about books! Sometimes I read these blurbs more than once, kind of the same way I went through the Sears catalog (did I just age myself?) every fall marking the millions of things I wanted for Christmas and then going back again to make sure I didn’t miss anything (and to re-read the descriptions of the things I had already marked).
Each month I have to go onto the site to decline the featured books (two books that they feature each month and send to you automatically if you don’t decline them), and each month they recommend even more books for me – which I usually ignore. This month, I noticed that I am already listening to one of them, The Goldfinch, and another has been on my radar for a bit, The Bookstore. So I decided to take the above screenshot to remember them and look them up. And then I thought, maybe it would be fun, each month, to actually take into account what they’re recommending; maybe make myself read at least one, or even two.
Here are the recommendations this month, which would you choose?
The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook
Hamburg, 1946. Thousands remain displaced in what is now the British Occupied Zone. Charged with overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city and the de-Nazification of its defeated people, Colonel Lewis Morgan is requisitioned a fine house on the banks of the Elbe, where he will be joined by his grieving wife, Rachael, and only remaining son, Edmund.
But rather than force its owners, a German widower and his traumatized daughter, to leave their home, Lewis insists that the two families live together. In this charged and claustrophobic atmosphere all must confront their true selves as enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.
The Aftermath is a stunning novel about our fiercest loyalties, our deepest desires and the transformative power of forgiveness.
The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler
A witty, sharply observed debut novel about a young woman who finds unexpected salvation while working in a quirky used bookstore in Manhattan. Impressionable and idealistic, Esme Garland is a young British woman who finds herself studying art history in New York. She loves her apartment and is passionate about the city and her boyfriend; her future couldn’t look brighter. Until she finds out that she’s pregnant.
Esme’s boyfriend, Mitchell van Leuven, is old-money rich, handsome, successful, and irretrievably damaged. When he dumps Esme—just before she tries to tell him about the baby—she resolves to manage alone. She will keep the child and her scholarship, while finding a part-time job to make ends meet. But that is easier said than done, especially on a student visa.
The Owl is a shabby, second-hand bookstore on the Upper West Side, an all-day, all-night haven for a colorful crew of characters: handsome and taciturn guitar player Luke; Chester, who hyperventilates at the mention of Lolita; George, the owner, who lives on protein shakes and idealism; and a motley company of the timeless, the tactless, and the homeless. The Owl becomes a nexus of good in a difficult world for Esme—but will it be enough to sustain her? Even when Mitchell, repentant and charming, comes back on the scene?
A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them, The Bookstore is also a story about emotional discovery, the complex choices we all face, and the accidental inspirations that make a life worth the reading.
Maddaddam: A Novel by Margaret Atwood
A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.
Told with wit, dizzying imagination, and dark humour, Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable, chilling and hilarious MaddAddam takes us further into a challenging dystopian world and holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future.
Fallen Woman by Sandra Dallas
It is the spring of 1885 and wealthy New York socialite Beret Osmundsen has been estranged from her younger sister, Lillie, for a year when she gets word from her aunt and uncle that Lillie has died suddenly in Denver. What they do not tell her is that Lillie had become a prostitute and was brutally murdered in the brothel where she had been living. When Beret discovers the sordid truth of Lillie’s death, she makes her way to Denver, determined to find her sister’s murderer. Detective Mick McCauley may not want her involved in the case, but Beret is determined, and the investigation soon takes her from the dangerous, seedy underworld of Denver’s tenderloin to the highest levels of Denver society. Along the way, Beret not only learns the depths of Lillie’s depravity, but also exposes the sinister side of Gilded Age ambition in the process.
Sandra Dallas once again delivers a page-turner filled with mystery, intrigue, and the kind of intricate detail that truly transports you to another time and place.
*All descriptions gotten from Goodreads. I did not include The Goldfinch because I am reading it right now.