Blasphemy includes some of Sherman Alexie’s classic short stories along with newer tales. The stories challenge the reader’s comfort zones with plots exploring race and ethnicity, culture, stereotypes, alcoholism, diabetes, and personal identity. The settings are in the Pacific Northwest with Native American protagonists. The expertly crafted stories are personal, revealing the characters for who they are and what influenced their lives, making them seem real and reflecting life as it truly is for many.
Check It Out Category: Staff Picks
After hearing readers rave about Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad mysteries, I picked up Faithful Place (third in the series) and now I have a new favorite author. This title features Frank Mackey, an undercover cop who examines the complicated relationships of his own past as he works a cold case. With its atmospheric Irish setting and flawed characters, this is an incredibly satisfying mystery.
Marisa from Collection Management suggests The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Take everything you thought you knew about 20th century Russian literature, throw it out the window, and read The Master and Margarita. It’s a riotous magical-realist tale about the devil and his minions, who go down to Moscow in the 1930s to cause mischief. What ensues is a wild and witty novel involving witches, poets, star-crossed lovers, talking cats, and several buildings catching fire. It’s the kind of book that is not only impossible to put down, but will leave you pacing around your house with the book still in your hand. If all that isn’t enough, it’s also Daniel Radcliffe’s favorite novel. In other words, The Master and Margarita has everything worth loving in a book. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
If you are interested in Master and Margarita, try…
Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross is a wild sci-fi novel. In a world where the downloaded minds of humans enjoy playing pranks on those of us who still retain our physical form, Huw is called up for “tech jury duty”: judging whether the inventions sent to Earth from our posthuman neighbors are safe enough to use. He has no idea of the crazy things that will happen or of the hero he will become.
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea is the tale of the small Mexican town of Tres Camarones. All of the men have long since deserted the town to find work in the United States, and a group of bandits have taken advantage of their absence. Inspired by classic Western movies, a teenage girl named Nayeli and her friends decide to venture across the border, find the men of Tres Camarones, and free their town.
Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky is a collection of short stories set in 1920s Moscow. In a uniquely surreal style, Krzhizhanovsky tells the story of a man who makes his room grow with disastrous consequences, a traveler who gets on a train to the land of dreams, and many other equally weird occurrences.
Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon is a magical-realist epic that spans many years during the turn of the 20th century, with its variety of characters passing sideways to real events to make a story all their own. It’s a novel that seems like a collection of unreal, disjointed events, but in a way is more real than reality itself.
Family Life by Akhil Sharma contains a quiet firecracker of emotion. Eight-year-old Ajay Mishra has high hopes when he and his older brother move from Delhi to join their father in America. However, tragedy suddenly spirals Ajay’s life into the impossible choice between duty toward one’s loved ones and duty towards oneself.
Reuniting the director and screenwriter of the classic The Third Man, Our Man in Havana is the missing link in Alec Guinness’ career between the light comedies he made as a young actor for Ealing Studios and his later turn as spymaster George Smiley—an understated espionage romp with surprisingly dark undertones.
Treat your ears to a feast and check out Grimm’s Fairy Tales produced by Listening Library. Whether you are new to listening to audiobooks or a seasoned veteran, the award-winning cast of narrators is bound to impress. Standouts include Katherine Kellgren’s Rapunzel, January LaVoy’s Cinderella, Jim Dale’s Rumpelstiltskin, and Alfred Molina’s The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces.
Jennifer from Community Services suggests Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Relic takes place with the fictionalized equivalent to New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, where the museum curators are getting ready for a huge extravaganza, the Superstition exhibition. As the exhibit title implies, it is designed to feature the world’s superstitions. Among the artifacts on display in the exhibit is a small relic clouded in mystery and disaster, bringing with it rumors of a horrible curse that resulted in the death of everyone on the expedition that discovered it.
Now, just a week before the big exhibit opening, people are being brutally attacked and murdered in the nether-regions of the museum. Museum officials just want it all to go away (murder can be such a bother some times), but FBI Special Agent Pendergast, NYPD Police Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta, Ph.D. candidate Margo Green, and intrepid journalist William Smithback, Jr. are determined to get to the bottom of the grizzly killings. Relic, while very different from what has become known as the Pendergast series, is an absolutely fantastic read.
The 6th Extinction: A Sigma Force by James Rollins
A madman with an environmental agenda has gotten a hold of the most powerful virus on the planet. A virus no plant of animal has immunity against, and which can be used to bring about the 6th Extinction.
The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
CJ Cameron is on assignment to see The Great Zoo of China ahead of its grand opening. CJ is unaware of what exactly lurks inside the Great Zoo until she arrives at a hidden valley in China under great secrecy and sees it for herself.
Pulse by Jeremy Robinson
A small elite military unit comes into conflict with an evil mega-corporation that it trying to find the secret of eternal life.
In the Woods by Tana French
When a girl is found murdered at an archaeological dig, Detectives Ryan and Maddox are assigned to the case. Detective Maddox uncovers an eerily similar case twenty years earlier, a case that saw an adolescent Detective Ryan as the only survivor.
The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
An inherited haunted house, cryptology, and an undercover society on a quest around the world lead the new master of the house to uncover the secrets of its former owners.
Are you in the mood for a quest? How about searching for sunken treasure? If so, then Robert Kurson’s Pirate Hunters is the book for you! Join experienced divers Chatterton and Mattera as they go in search of respected English captain turned pirate Joseph Bannister and his vessel the Golden Fleece. Arghhh!
Delight your eyes with a work of wonder! Nearly wordless and enhanced with music, Oscar nominee Boy & the World is a warm, uplifting exploration of childlike discovery. This Brazilian fable dazzles with inventive hand-drawn animation, juxtaposing the realities of life’s hardships with the adventure of youth. Exhilarating and unforgettable.
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin is set in1970’s San Francisco, a place where you could let your hair down and be yourself! But, it wasn’t always a bed of roses and life has a way of bringing you face-to-face with reality. Also a PBS series.