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2015 Folio Prize Shortlist

As the first English Language book award to recognize novels written internationally, The Folio Prize is dedicated to celebrating the best of literature. Announced at the beginning of February, the shortlist was narrowed down to eight selections from a longlist of eighty titles. Chair of Judges William Fiennes explained in developing the shortlist, “We were looking for boldness, freshness… books in which the form or structure of the story was perfectly matched to the ideas. You feel reading these eight books that you’re witnessing fiction discovering new possibilities for itself.”

The young prize is only in its sophomore year, and will be announcing the 2015 winner March 23. You can view the full shortlist on The Folio Prize website.

Cover of Family Life Cover of Dust Cover of Dept. of Speculation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Cover of OutlineCover of How to Be Both Cover of 10:04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outline by Rachel Cusk
How to be Both by Ali Smith
10:04 by Ben Lerner

                    2014 Winner:
Tenth of December by George Saunders

 

Cover of Tenth of December

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on February 27, 2015 Categories: Awards, Books, Lists, Literary

Fiction: Literary Reads by Writers of Color from 2014

One of the joys of having such a strong reading community on the internet is being able to find lists others have curated on specific topics or themes. One such list created and contributed by readers is the Anticipated Literary Reads for Readers of Color for 2014. Below are a few of the titles featured on the list. If you would like to diversify your reading even more, email readers@mppl.org or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen services desk on the second floor to speak to a Readers’ Advisor!

Cover of For Today I Am a Boy Cover of Radiance of Tomorrow Cover of Till the Well Runs Dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu
Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah
Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma

Cover of An Untamed State Cover of In the Light of What we Know Cover of Ruby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
In Light of What we Know by Zia Haider Rahman
Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Cover of Secret History of Las VegasCover of On Such a Full Sea Cover of All Our Names

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani
On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
All Our Names by Dinan Mengestu

Cover of Song of the ShankCover of Family LifeCover of Boy Snow Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen
Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on January 30, 2015 Categories: Books, Lists, Literary

Book Discussion Questions: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Cover of Cutting for StoneTitle: Cutting for Stone
Author: Abraham Verghese
Page Count: 688 pages
Genre:  Literary Fiction,  Family Sagas
Tone: Haunting, Moving, Richly Detailed

Summary from publisher:
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.

Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles—and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

“Writing has many similarities to the practice of internal medicine. Both require astute observation and a fondness for detail.”

“At heart I am a physician. It is my first and only calling. As a physician, things move me, and one way to talk about these things is to write about them. For me writing and medicine are not different parts, it is seamless, the same world view: fiction and healing promote the same cause.
~Abraham Verghese

1. As you reflect on this complex story, which scenes stand out in your memory? Why did those particular moments have such impact?

2. At the end of chapter 31 (379-380), Marion reflects on his home, including this statement: “I felt ecstatic, as if I was at the epicenter of our family…” Does this seem arrogant or appropriate for an adolescent to say? In what ways is Marion the epicenter of the book?

3. In what ways is Shiva something of a mystery to the reader? [Also consider, “’What I do is simple. I repair holes,’ said Shiva Praise Stone. Yes, but you make them, too, Shiva.” (577)]

4. Talk about Marion’s parting from his family when he is forced to leave the country (444).

5. Think about how the character of Genet is portrayed at different points. [e.g., “I wanted out of Africa. I began to think that Genet had done me a favor after all.” (457) and “she found her greatness, at last, found it in her suffering.” (601)] How is she integral to the story? How do you feel about her?

6. For a story that most often takes place in small settings with few people, somehow it has an epic “feel”. How is that?

7. When Ghosh returns from prison (350-351), he and Marion talk about a well-known story about a man who couldn’t rid himself of his slippers.

“The slippers in the story mean that everything you see and do and touch, every seed you sow, or don’t sow, becomes part of your destiny.”

Ghosh then shares about his past and has a lesson for Marion.

“I hope one day you see this as clearly as I did…The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don’t. If you keep saying your slippers aren’t yours, then you’ll die searching, you’ll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.”

Do you agree? Are these sentiments borne out in the novel? What is the role of fate throughout?

8. In what ways is this book about legacy? About exile? Betrayal? Forgiveness?

9. Marion states that he became a physician not to save the world but to heal himself. Do you think he was healed in the end?

10. What do the female characters in the book reveal about what life is like for women in Ethiopia?

11. Did the medical detail add to the novel or detract from it?

12. The latter portion of the book contains commentary on medical practice in America, especially regarding foreign physicians (e.g., 492). Did this seem significant to you?

13. Did “The Afterbird” offer closure for you? For the characters? How did you react to its revelations?

14. Remember Stone’s favorite question? [What treatment in an emergency is administered by ear? words of comfort] How is this poignant, especially given Stone’s choices and manner?

15. What is the role of sexuality in Cutting for Stone? How would you characterize the scenes that are depicted, especially between Marion and Genet?

16. What romantic relationships are central to the story? How so?

17. Though the book earned excellent reviews, it wasn’t in nearly as much demand as it seems to be now. Why do you think that is? With over 600 pages, it isn’t an easy choice for book groups, but that doesn’t seem to be a concern. Did the length bother you?

18. Few works of fiction include a bibliography or an acknowledgment section which credits many literary allusions included in the story. Does this affect your opinion of the book?

19.Verghese said that his aim in writing Cutting for Stone was “to tell a great story, an old-fashioned, truth-telling story.” He has also said “my ambition was to write a big sweeping novel into which you could disappear, travel away as though in a space-ship, disappear, meet exciting people, and return to find that only a couple of days had passed in real life. That’s what happens to me when I am reading a good book.” In your opinion, did he succeed?

Other Resources

Lit Lovers book discussion questions
One Book One City resources
Video of Abraham Verghese discussing Cutting for Stone
Frequently asked questions answered by Abraham Verghese
Radio interview with Verghese on Ethiopia

If you liked Cutting for Stone, try...

Cover of Desirable DaughtersCover of Beneath the Lion's Gaze Cover of God of Small Things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desirable Daughters by Bharati Mukherjee
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on January 14, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Literary

Fiction: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Cover of Ethan FromeEdith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, tells the fascinating yet depressing tale of a man with a devastating story in Ethan Frome. An unnamed narrator meets Ethan Frome in New England, describing him as, “[seeming] a part of the mute melancholy landscape, an incarnation of its frozen woe.” Curious by the crippled and depressed man, the narrator digs into Ethan’s past to discover a tragic story of love and duty. The narrator easily falls into Frome’s story, attempting to discern the muddled motivations of flawed characters in impossible circumstances. Tinged with foreboding, Wharton plays with the hopes and dreams of her characters and readers in this accessible classic.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 25, 2014 Categories: Books, Literary

Library Staff Favorites of 2014

With 2015 just around the corner bringing a whole new crop of to-be-read lists to tackle, shows to watch, and music to experience, Staff at Mount Prospect Public Library took time to pause and look at what brought us joy in 2014. Check out staff members’ favorite books, CDs, or DVDs they read, watched and/or listened to in 2014. Feel free to share what is on your list of favorites for the year!

Picture of Amy

Amy
Community Services:
Tell the Wolves I’m Home
The Fall

Picture of Amy

Amy
Youth Services:
Never Say Die
Clink

Cover of Barb B.

Barb
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Enough Said
I Must Say

Barbara
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Orphan Black S. 2
Ready Player One

 

Picture of Carla

Carla
Administration:
The Round House
Omar

Picture of Carmel Shane

Carmel Shane
Circulation:
Once Upon a Time
18 Months

Picture of Carol

Carol
Community Services:
Little Failure
Hotel Florida

Picture of Cathleen

Cathleen
Fiction/AV/Teen
:
Station Eleven
Bron/Broen

Colleen
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Steelheart
The 100

 

 

Picture of Cynthia

Cynthia
Research Services:
Ready Player One
The Returned

Picture of Dale

Dale
Research Services:
Hysterical
Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Picture of Diane

Diane
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Among Others
Guardians of the Galaxy

Picture of Donna

Donna
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Winter Street
Duets II

Picture of Janine

Janine
Circulation:
True Detective
Ready Player One

Picture of Joe

Joe
Research Services:
Lowball
Rick and Morty

Picture of KarenKaren
Registration:
Ancillary Justice
Neptune’s Inferno

Picture of Larry

Larry
Fiction/AV/Teen:
The Martian
Redshirts

 

 

 

Picture of Mary Jane

Mary Jane
Research Services:
Controlled Descent
How Dogs Love Us

Picture of Megan

Megan
South Branch
:
Red Rising
Saga

 

 

 

Picture of Nancy

Nancy
Fiction/AV/Teen:
My Salinger Year
American Hustle

 

 

 

Picture of Nicole

Nicole
Circulation:
The Paying Guests
Life in Motion

Picture of Paula

Paula
Registration:
Rush
Dad is Fat

Picture of Rosemary

Rosemary
Technical Services:

Natchez Burning
How the Light Gets In

Picture of Steven

Steve
Research Services:
Death on the Nile
Cosmos

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 19, 2014 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Humor, Literary, Movies and TV, Music, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Nonfiction, Romance, Staff Picks

2014 Goodreads Choice Award Winners

Goodreads is a social media website readers can use to keep track of what they have read or want to read and interact with friends. Every year Goodreads hosts the Goodreads Choice Awards in which readers vote for what they consider the best books in different categories are. This year, there were over 3 million votes cast! Check out some of the winners below.

 

Cover of Landline Cover of The Opposite of Loneliness Cover of We Were Liars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction: Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Nonfiction: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Young Adult: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cover of The Martian Cover of Written in My Own Heart's BloodCover of The Book of Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction: The Martian by Andy Weir
Romance:
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Fantasy:
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Cover of The Romanov Sisters Cover of This Star Won't Go Out Cover of Red Rising

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History and Biography: The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Memoir and Autobiography: This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl
Debut Goodreads Author: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Cover of Yes Please #Girlboss Cover of Make it Ahead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Business: #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
Food and Cookbooks: Make it Ahead by Ina Garten

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 5, 2014 Categories: Awards, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Horror, Humor, Literary, Romance

Audiobook: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven audiobook coverThe greatest books defy category, and the ambitious Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a shining example. With equal appeal to fans of post-apocalyptic settings and to readers of complex, thought-provoking novels, this National Book Award finalist is a sure bet for multiple Best of 2014 lists. The on-stage death of a celebrity actor portraying King Lear is the harbinger of a global pandemic that destroys life as we know it. The action seamlessly moves between the old and new worlds, and Kirsten Potter’s discerning narration allows the slow revelation of unexpected connections to take the spotlight. Is survival sufficient in a world wiped out by disease, or is there hope for more? When all the world’s a stage, we just may find out.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on December 1, 2014 Categories: Audiobooks, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Literary

List: November 2014 Indie Next List

What does a spy thriller set in Africa have in common with a book about the conservation of endangered birds? The recommendation of a bookseller working at an American independent bookstore! Every month IndieBound releases the Indie Next list. This list is made up of new books from all different genres recommended by an independent bookseller. As a result, the list is an eclectic mix of titles for readers to check out.

Recently, the November 2014 list was released. Check some of the titles out below:

Cover of Being MortalCover of The Remedy for LoveCover of Just Mercy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Cover of Fire Shut Up in My BonesCover of Crooked RiverCover of Jerry Lee Lewis His Own Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow
Crooked River by Valerie Geary
Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story by Rick Bragg
Cover of The Laughing MonstersCover of The ForgersCover of The Birds of Pandemonium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson
The Forgers by Bradford Morrow
The Birds of Pandemonium by Michele Raffin

Not interested in the titles above? Check out the entire list here and ask a Readers’ Advisor at the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor to find new and old titles tailored to your taste.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on November 21, 2014 Categories: Books, Lists, Literary, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Nonfiction

List: Booklist Online’s Top Ten Debut Novels

Booklist Online developed a list of the top 10 debut novels reviewed between October 15, 2013 and October 1, 2014. The titles are diverse, featuring everything from racial reassignment surgery to the decline of the newspaper. Check out some of the titles below, or you can go to Booklist Online to see the whole list.

 

Cover of Your Face in Mine Cover of Steal the NorthCover of Bedrock Faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Face in Mine by Jess Row
Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom
Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May

Cover of The Land of Steady HabitsCover of the TranscriptionistCover of Three Bargains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson
The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland
Three Bargains by Tania Malik

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on October 24, 2014 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Lists, Literary

Fiction: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Cover of Dear Committee MembersTold through a series of letters, Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members takes readers into the world of Jason Fitger, a wry English professor at Payne University, sending out letters of recommendation on behalf of his students and colleagues. Fitger’s recommendations mix bluntness with heart, ranging anywhere from: “His approach to problem solving is characterized by sullenness punctuated by occasional brief bouts of good judgment” to “He can read and write; he’s not unsightly; and he doesn’t appear to be addicted to illegal substances prior to 3:00 p.m.” Often passive-aggressive yet always eloquent, Fitger constantly overshares. His letters end up diving into past disagreements, the disintegration of Payne University’s English program, and his rocky writing career, all resulting in a hilarious window into one cynical academic’s mind.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on October 16, 2014 Categories: Books, Literary