Monday, March 30, 2020

movie tie ins

The topic of April’s Genre Reading Group meeting on Tuesday, April 28th will be books that have been adapted to stage, film, and television. Remember, just about anything goes: audiobooks, the film, the tv show, a theater production you watched on Youtube, a physical book, an ebook…if you’ve enjoyed it, come tell us about it!

The April meeting will most likely take place on Zoom again.  Details will be available on our webpage soon. In the meantime, follow Emmet O’Neal Library on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news on available programs and services.

If you’d like a headstart on the topic, here’s a handy list!
(adapted from BookBub’s “40 of Our All-Time Favorite Book-to-Movie Adaptations, 2/7/2020)
“In honor of the Oscars, we’ve rounded up some of our all-time favorite movies based on books, which takes into account both how well the movie adapted to its original source material, as well as its overall success as a standalone piece of work.”

I’ve removed titles from the list that are not available digitally.  The sources referenced:

Libby by Overdrive 
The app is available for Android & iOs.  For laptops/computers, click the Libby button on our website at Login with your library card.

The app is available for Android, iOs, and smart tv/player apps like Roku.  For laptops/computers, visit Create an account with your library card, email, and password creation. Hoopla is not available in all areas.

Internet Archive National Emergency Library (NEL)
Until the end of June, IA has made their library of over 1.4 million ebooks free to any user around the world. Create a free account, search their catalog, borrow, and read!

The app is available for Android, iOs, and smart tv/player apps like Roku. For laptops/computers, click the Kanopy button on our website at Create an account with your library card, email, and password creation. Kanopy is not available in all areas.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Audiobook and ebook on Libby
Ebook on NEL

The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Ebook on NEL

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Audiobook and ebook on Libby and Hoopla
Ebook on NEL

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Ebook on Libby, Hoopla, and NEL

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Audiobook and ebook on Libby and Hoopla
Ebook on NEL

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ebook on Libby and NEL

Sense and Sensibility
Audiobook and Ebook on Libby and Hoopla
Ebook on NEL

Forrest Gump by Winston Groom
Ebook on Libby and NEL
Audiobook on Hoopla

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Ebook on NEL

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Ebook on Libby and NEL

Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation into Space by Margot Lee Shetterly
Audiobook and ebook on Libby and Hoopla
Ebook on NEL

Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
Ebook on Libby
Audiobook on Hoopla

The Harry Potter series
Audiobooks and ebooks on Libby
Ebooks on NEL

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Ebook on Libby and NEL
Audiobook and a movie on Hoopla

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Audiobook and ebook on Libby
Ebook on NEL

The Lord of the Rings series
Audiobooks and ebooks on Libby
Ebooks on Hoopla and NEL

The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
Audiobook and ebook on Libby
Ebook on NEL

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Ebook on Libby and NEL
Movie on Hoopla

Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi
Audiobook on Hoopla
Ebook on NEL

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Ebook on NEL

Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier
Ebook on Hoopla and NEL

M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker
Ebook on NEL

The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle
Ebook on NEL

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Audiobook and ebook on Libby
Ebook on NEL

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
Ebook on Hoopla and NEL
Movie on Kanopy

Room by Emma Donoghue
Audiobook and ebook on Libby
Ebook on Hoopla and NEL
Movie on Kanopy

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
Ebook on NEL

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Audiobook on Libby and Hoopla
Ebook on NEL

Psycho by Robert Bloch
Ebook on NEL

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Ebook on Libby and NEL
Audiobook on Hoopla

Metropolis by Thea von Harbou
Ebook on Hoopla and NEL
Movie on Hoopla and Kanopy

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Audiobook and ebook on Libby
Ebook on NEL

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Ebook on NEL

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Ebook on Libby

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Ebook on Libby and NEL

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Audiobook and ebook on Libby
Ebook on NEL

Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard
Ebook on NEL

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
Ebook on NEL

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Audiobook and ebook on Libby

Under the Skin by Michel Faber
Ebook on Libby and NEL
Audiobook and ebook on Hoopla
Movie on Kanopy

Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Audiobook and ebook on Libby

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Adulting 101

Adulting is hard!  Let Emmet O’Neal Library (and your library card!) lead the way.

·       Look through Flipster for Bon Appetit or Food & Wine magazines to learn a new recipe.
Click here to login with your library card/pin number and begin reading magazines.

·       Explore Universal Class to learn western calligraphy, how to meditate, cupcake decorating and much, MUCH more.
Click here to login with your library card and start learning today.

·       Use the Chilton Car Repair Library to learn how to repair that pesky brake light that’s gone out.
Click here for free access to car repair information. Find Chilton in the Health & Science section.

·       Read up on healthy living in Libby.
Click here to login with your library card and start reading today.

·       Download a book on sewing from Hoopla.
Click here to login with you library card, create an account, and search for sewing.

·       Use LearningExpressLibrary’s Personal Success Skills Center to learn more about personal finance and investing.
Click here to login with your library card, create an account, and explore.

·       Niche Academy is available to show you how to use many of our digital resources.
Click here for brief training on many services.

·       Many more activities and resources are available on the Library’s homepage at Visit and click around to find out more! Please note that some resources have limited service areas.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Explore online

It is impossible to list every free resource available and this list already threatens to become unwieldy but there are many exciting things, places, and ideas to explore here! We are in a unique position to visit and learn right from home so I hope you find something of interest to click on in the list below.

Know of a great virtual tour, online learning resource, entertainment venue streaming content, etc?

Let us know in the comments!

For more information on library services while Emmet O'Neal Library is closed, visit our FAQ page:

Your friendly local librarian,
Holley W.

Museum Virtual Tours

The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Museum Resources
Museum Coloring Books
Natural History Museum, London
National Gallery, London
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Musee d’Orsay, Paris
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Uffizi Gallery, Firenze, Italy
MASP (Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand) Sao Paulo, Brazil
The National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Detroit Institute of Arts
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), New York
Museum of Fine Art, Boston
The Google Art Project
The Frick Collection, Pittsburg

Theater, Film, Symphonies, and Operas

Montreal Jazz Festival 50 concerts to stream
Live Concerts, ongoing
Sidewalk Cinema Streaming film recommendations, search their Facebook page
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
BroadwayHD (one week free trial, then $8.99/mo)
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Youtube channel
Metropolitan Opera
Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philharmonie Berlin: With plans to be closed until April 19, this symphony opened its library of digital performances to the public. More than 600 shows will be available for free for 30 days if you use the code BERLINPHIL by March 31.
Shakespeare’s Plays, Globe Theatre
Environmental Film Festival, Washington DC
Folk Cloud global folk music archive
Concert films & music documentaries

U.S. National Parks and Other Worldwide Cultural Sites

Google Earth National Park Tours
Tower Bridge, England
The Gardens of Versailles, France
Doge’s Palace, Italy
Galapagos Islands
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Google Tour of the World

Zoos and Aquarium Webcams and Live Feeds

Cincinnati Zoo 3pm daily Home Safari
Atlanta Zoo Panda Cam
Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Florida
Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle (Instagram Live)

Other Places of Interest

NASA Langley Research Center
NASA Glenn Research Center
Houston Space Center

Free Learning Opportunities

100 Activities for Kids
Free Educational subscriptions
General Interest all ages
JoVE Science Education
Free Science Stuff
Virtual Field Trips
Loggerhead Marine Life Center Learn at Home
Ocean’s Initiative Marine Biology Camp
Yale University “The Science of Well-Being”
Puzzles, quizzes, and brainteasers
Delish weekly kid-friendly cooking classes (Instagram)
Khan Academy curriculums
Walt Disney/Khan Academy “Imagineering in a Box”
Free Public Domain Books
Some JSTOR content
NASA Media Library
Free exercise
Online synth apps for musicians
Time Magazine for Kids
Minecraft Education
School Choice Week resources
The Journal free resources

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus Guidelines

President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued new guidelines to help protect Americans during the global Coronavirus outbreak.
Even if you are young and otherwise healthy, you are at risk—and your activities can increase the risk of contracting the Coronavirus for others. Everyone can do their part. The new recommendations are simple to follow but will have a resounding impact on public health.
Download Coronavirus Guidelines for America

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Mann's "The Black Swan"

Midway Upon the Journey of Her Life: Thomas Mann's "The Black Swan"

Thomas Mann's beautiful novella "The Black Swan", published in 1953 when Mann was 78, returns to the great subject of his "Death in Venice" from 1912: the almost unspeakable infatuation of an aging person for a young one. 

This time the perspective is that of a woman going through what would now be described as a midlife crisis. Male critics misunderstood and were shocked by the frank manner in which Mann depicts the carnal desires a woman in her middle years feels for a young American twenty years her junior and they were all but appalled by the book's unflinching gynecological details; this conservative prurience proscribed them from recognizing Mann's masterly prose and the freshness of his subject matter. 

He writes directly yet lyrically about Rosalie, 50, and the relation her erotic self has to self-deception, illness, motherhood and death. Thus, as critic Nina Pelikan Straus says in her introduction to the novel, "Mann's subject warrants the serious consideration which a pre-feminist reading public tended to deny it". 

This is one of the great books about human desire and the delusions that often accompany it. That Mann, at nearly eighty and during the repressive mid-1950's, had the capacity to take the longings of women seriously was all but miraculous, though it is important to remember that his own identity as a husband and a father was complicated by homoerotic relationships; he was certainly able, as in "Death in Venice", to feel the seductive powers of the beautiful male body as Rosalie felt them. As Straus also notes, "Mann was  imagining himself in a woman's body and writing under the influence of an impulse we might today call feminist".

The Lost & Found Book Group will discuss "The Black Swan" at 6:30 PM, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Lost and Found Book Club meets on the last Thursday of each month at 6:30pm in the Administration sitting room on the 2nd floor. For more information or to join this intrepid group in rediscovering lost 20th century classics, contact Gregory at

Monday, March 9, 2020


Recently, the Genre Reading Group met to discuss sports!

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( Writer/director John Sayles' dramatization of the most infamous episode in professional sports -- the fix of the 1919 World Series -- is considered by many to be among his best films and arguably the best baseball movie ever made. This adaptation of Eliot Asinof's definitive study of the scandal shows how athletes of another era were a different breed from the well-paid stars of later years. The Chicago White Sox owner, Charlie Comiskey (Clifton James), is portrayed as a skinflint with little inclination to reward his team for their spectacular season. When a gambling syndicate led by Arnold Rothstein (Michael Lerner) gets wind of the players' discontent, it offers a select group of stars -- including pitcher Eddie Cicotte (Sayles regular David Strathairn), infielder Buck Weaver (John Cusack), and outfielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (D.B. Sweeney) -- more money to play badly than they would have earned to try to win the Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Sayles cast the story with actors who look and perform like real jocks, and added a colorful supporting cast that includes Studs Terkel as reporter Hugh Fullerton and Sayles himself as Ring Lardner.

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( The headlines proclaimed the 1919 fix of the World Series and attempted cover-up as "the most gigantic sporting swindle in the history of America!" First published in 1963, Eight Men Out has become a timeless classic. Eliot Asinof has reconstructed the entire scene-by-scene story of the fantastic scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players arranged with the nation's leading gamblers to throw the Series in Cincinnati. Mr. Asinof vividly describes the tense meetings, the hitches in the conniving, the actual plays in which the Series was thrown, the Grand Jury indictment, and the famous 1921 trial. Moving behind the scenes, he perceptively examines the motives and backgrounds of the players and the conditions that made the improbable fix all too possible. Here, too, is a graphic picture of the American underworld that managed the fix, the deeply shocked newspapermen who uncovered the story, and the war-exhausted nation that turned with relief and pride to the Series, only to be rocked by the scandal. Far more than a superbly told baseball story, this is a compelling slice of American history in the aftermath of World War I and at the cusp of the Roaring Twenties.

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( The All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League was founded in 1943, when most of the men of baseball-playing age were far away in Europe and Asia fighting World War II. The league flourished until after World War II, when, with the men's return, the league was consigned to oblivion. Director Penny Marshall and screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel re-create the wartime era when women's baseball looked to stand a good chance of sweeping the country. 

The story begins as a candy-bar tycoon enlists agents to scour the country to find women who could play ball. In the backwoods of Oregon, two sisters -- Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty) -- are discovered. Dottie can hit and catch, while Kit can throw a mean fastball. The girls come to Chicago to try out for the team with other prospects that include their soon-to-be-teammates Mae Mordabito (Madonna), Doris Murphy (Rosie O'Donnell), and Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh). The team's owner, Walter Harvey (Gary Marshall) needs someone to coach his team and he picks one-time home-run champion Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), who is now a broken-down alcoholic. After a few weeks of training, as Dugan sobers up, the team begins to show some promise. By the end of the season, the team has improved to the point where they are competing in the World Series (which is no big deal, since there are only four teams in the league).

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( Nothing was going to stop Roy Hobbs from fulfilling his boyhood dream of baseball superstardom. 14-year-old Hobbs fashions a powerful bat from a fallen oak tree. He soon impresses major league scouts with his ability, fixing his extraordinary talent in the mind of sportswriter Max Mercy, who eventually becomes instrumental in Hobb's career. But a meeting with a mysterious woman shatters his dream. Years pass and an older Hobbs reappears as a rookie from The New York Knights. Overcoming physical pain and defying those who have a stake in seeing the Knights lose, Hobbs, with his boyhood bat, has his chance to lead the Knights to the pennant and to finally fulfill his dream.

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The Natural by Bernard Malamud

( The Natural, Bernard Malamud's first novel, published in 1952, is also the first - and some would say still the best - novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material - the story of a superbly gifted "natural" at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era - and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work. 
Four decades later, Alfred Kazin's comment still holds true: "Malamud has done something which - now that he has done it! - looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology."

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( No sport embraces its wild history quite like baseball, especially in memorabilia and objects. Sure, there are baseball cards and team pennants. But there are also huge balls, giant bats, peanuts, cracker jacks, eyeblack, and more, each with a backstory you have to read to believe. In The 34-Ton Bat, Sports Illustrated writer Steve Rushin tells the real, unvarnished story of baseball through the lens of all the things that make it the game that it is.

Rushin weaves these rich stories -- from ballpark pipe organs played by malevolent organists to backed up toilets at Ebbets Field -- together in their order of importance (from most to least) for an entertaining and compulsive read, glowing with a deep passion for America's Pastime. The perfect holiday gift for casual fans and serious collectors alike, The 34-Ton Bat is a true heavy hitter.

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( Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a truck bound for the slaughterhouse. The recent Dutch immigrant recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up nag and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, he ultimately taught Snowman how to fly. Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo. One show at a time, against extraordinary odds and some of the most expensive thoroughbreds alive, the pair climbed to the very top of the sport of show jumping. Their story captured the heart of Cold War–era America—a story of unstoppable hope, inconceivable dreams, and the chance to have it all. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.

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Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

( Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. 

Three men changed Seabiscuit’s fortunes:

Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.

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( In the chaotic last days of the war, a small troop of battle-weary American soldiers captures a German spy and makes an astonishing find—his briefcase is empty but for photos of beautiful white horses that have been stolen and kept on a secret farm behind enemy lines. Hitler has stockpiled the world’s finest purebreds in order to breed the perfect military machine—an equine master race. But with the starving Russian army closing in, the animals are in imminent danger of being slaughtered for food.

With only hours to spare, one of the U.S. Army’s last great cavalrymen, Colonel Hank Reed, makes a bold decision—with General George Patton’s blessing—to mount a covert rescue operation. Racing against time, Reed’s small but determined force of soldiers, aided by several turncoat Germans, steals across enemy lines in a last-ditch effort to save the horses.

Pulling together this multi-stranded story, Elizabeth Letts introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters: Alois Podhajsky, director of the famed Spanish Riding School of Vienna, a former Olympic medalist who is forced to flee the bomb-ravaged Austrian capital with his entire stable in tow; Gustav Rau, Hitler’s imperious chief of horse breeding, a proponent of eugenics who dreams of genetically engineering the perfect warhorse for Germany; and Tom Stewart, a senator’s son who makes a daring moonlight ride on a white stallion to secure the farm’s surrender.

A compelling account for animal lovers and World War II buffs alike, The Perfect Horse tells for the first time the full story of these events. Elizabeth Letts’s exhilarating tale of behind-enemy-lines adventure, courage, and sacrifice brings to life one of the most inspiring chapters in the annals of human valor.

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( At the age of nineteen, Lara Prior-Palmer discovered a website devoted to “the world’s longest, toughest horse race”―an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. On a whim, she decided to enter the race. As she boarded a plane to East Asia, she was utterly unprepared for what awaited her.

Riders often spend years preparing to compete in the Mongol Derby, a course that re-creates the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan. Many fail to finish. Prior-Palmer had no formal training. She was driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses. She raced for ten days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she decided she had nothing to lose. Each dawn she rode out again on a fresh horse, scrambling up mountains, swimming through rivers, crossing woodlands and wetlands, arid dunes and open steppe, as American television crews chased her in their jeeps.

Told with terrific suspense and style, in a voice full of poetry and soul, Rough Magic captures the extraordinary story of one young woman who forged ahead, against all odds, to become the first female winner of this breathtaking race.

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( In The Fish's Eye: Essays About Angling and the Outdoors, Ian Frazier explores his lifelong passion for fishing, fish, and the aquatic world. He sees the angler's environment all around him―in New York's Grand Central Station, in the cement-lined pond of a city park, in a shimmering bonefish flat in the Florida Keys, in the trout streams of the Rocky Mountains. He marvels at the fishing in the turbid Ohio River by downtown Cincinnati, where a good bait for catfish is half a White Castle french fry. The incidentals of the angling experience, the who and the where of it, interest him as much as what he catches and how. The essays contain sharply focused observations of the American outdoors, a place filled with human alterations and detritus that somehow remain defiantly unruined. Frazier's simple love of the sport lifts him to a straight-ahead angling description that's among the best contemporary writing on the subject. The Fish's Eye brings together twenty years of heartfelt, funny, and vivid essays on a timeless pursuit where so many mysteries, both human and natural, coincide.

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The Hall: A Celebration of Baseball’s Greats In Stories and Images edited by the National Baseball Hall of Fame

( Everyone dreams of Cooperstown. It's a hallowed name in baseball, for players as well as their fans. It's a house where legends live; it's everything that's great about the game.

Never before has the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum published a complete registry of inductees with plaques, photographs, and extended biographies. In this unique, 75th anniversary edition (2014), read the stories of every player inducted into the Hall, organized by position. Each section begins with an original essay by a living Hall of Famer who played that position: Hank Aaron, George Brett, Orlando Cepeda, Carlton Fisk, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Morgan, Jim Rice, Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan, and Robin Yount.

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( In the summer of 1967, twelve young men ascended Alaska’s Mount McKinley—known to the locals as Denali. Engulfed by a once-in-a-lifetime blizzard, only five made it back down.
Andy Hall, a journalist and son of the park superintendent at the time, was living in the park when the tragedy occurred and spent years tracking down rescuers, survivors, lost documents, and recordings of radio communications. In Denali’s Howl, Hall reveals the full story of the expedition in a powerful retelling that will mesmerize the climbing community as well as anyone interested in mega-storms and man’s sometimes deadly drive to challenge the forces of nature.

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( For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.

Friday, February 14, 2020

matters of the heart

Did you know that your library card gives you access to the complete New York Times online?  Find more information on how to access it by clicking here.

50 States of Love presented by The New York Times

From sea to shining sea, here’s a tour of unforgettable fiction that explores matters of the heart.

By Tina Jordan and Elisabeth Egan
Illustrations by Ross MacDonald
Published Feb. 10, 2020 Updated Feb. 14, 2020, 9:49 a.m. ET

Plunk yourself in an armchair and lose yourself in a tale of love, whether it’s a family saga, “12-hanky weeper" or timeworn classic.

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Winston Groom, “Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump and Jenny Curran meet in their first-grade class in Greenbow, Ala. They walk home from school together and quickly become the best of friends — but Forrest (later to be played by Tom Hanks in the movie) will carry a torch for Jenny (Robin Wright) for the rest of his life. As he puts it, “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.” And that’s smart enough for us.

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Eowyn Ivey, “The Snow Child
“A childless couple struggling to adapt to the harsh Alaskan wilderness in the 1920s are heartened by the arrival of a young girl who hovers between reality and fantasy,” the Times review said of Ivey’s “evocative retelling of a Russian fairy tale.”

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Barbara Kingsolver, “The Bean Trees
Barbara Kingsolver’s debut novel stars Taylor Greer, who wants to escape rural Kentucky and avoid getting pregnant. How hard can it be? Along the way she inherits a 3-year-old Native American girl named Turtle, and the two of them make their way to Tucson. As Kingsolver writes, “In a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is make things as right as we can.”

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Bette Greene, “Summer of My German Soldier
“This is an exceptionally fine novel about a young girl whose mediocre parents don’t like her, precisely because she is an inconveniently exceptional human being,” The Times said in its 1973 review. “Twelve-year‐old Patty Bergen begins to learn to her genuine surprise that she is a lovable person, ‘a person of value,’ from a German P.O.W. escapee in Arkansas during World War II.”

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Isabel Allende, “Daughter of Fortune
Our critic described “Daughter of Fortune” as “one of those event-crammed sagas featuring a beautiful, plucky heroine, a mysterious, elusive lover and a cardboard supporting cast of thousands. The resulting book reads like a bodice-ripper romance crossed with Judith Krantz, with plenty of feminist and multicultural seasoning thrown in to update the mix.”

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Kent Haruf, “Our Souls at Night
Kent Haruf’s final novel opens with an evening visit between neighbors in their 70s. Our reviewer wrote: “Both are widowed — Addie is 70, Louis about the same — and Addie makes the surprising proposal that they begin sleeping together, without sex, just to talk in the dark and provide the sleep-easing comfort of physical company. … We get to watch these two, night by night, pass through phases of awkwardness, intimacy and alliance.”

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Bill Clegg, “Did You Ever Have a Family
Welcome to the unimaginable heartbreak of June Reid, whose home is destroyed in a fire on the eve of her daughter’s wedding. “Tragedies tunnel through life, and the suspense comes from seeing how these spaces will be filled,” our reviewer wrote. “This is what excites us about books that begin with a sorrowful bang. Grief is sad — we know that — but what now? How will these particular characters respond? What else do you have to give us?”

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Cristina HenrĂ­quez, “The Book of Unknown Americans
“The question of how communities of immigrants form is prominent in this tale centered on a young and (what feels early on to be) fatal love,” our reviewer wrote. “‘The Book of Unknown Americans’ is less about the actual trek of its characters than about how they settle in, make do and figure things out. … Despite the travails that any of us have in these unsure times when traveling or relocating — who among us wouldn’t want to be able to say we are home at last?”

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Karen Russell, “Swamplandia!
Our reviewer described “Swamplandia!” as a wild ride, “vividly worded, exuberant in characterization.” The action centers on a family-owned gator-wrestling theme park in the Everglades, where love blooms in many forms — some deeply rooted, others mystical and fantastical. You read it in our pages first: “Russell has style in spades.”

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Tayari Jones, “An American Marriage
“‘An American Marriage’ tells us a story we think we know,” Stephanie Watts wrote in her Times review. “Roy, a young black man, is tried and wrongly convicted of rape while his wife, Celestial, waits for his return. But Jones’s story isn’t the one we are expecting, a courtroom drama or an examination of the prison-industrial complex; instead, it is a clear vision of the quiet devastation of a family” and the intimate story of one couple’s relationship.

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Kaui Hart Hemmings, “The Descendants
Matt King, a wealthy Honolulu attorney, has had the worst kind of shock: His wife, Joanie, has been injured in a boat-racing accident and now lies in the hospital in a vegetative state. In the painful depths of this crisis, King tries to repair his relationship with his two daughters, then struggles with the revelation that before her accident his wife had been in love with another man.

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Wallace Stegner, “Angle of Repose
In 1971, our reviewer wrote: “Reading this new novel by Wallace Stegner is like watching the swallows return to Capistrano. Summer warmth and pleasant holidays lie ahead.” We challenge you not to underline passages and dog-ear pages as you read this iconic story of the American West. Here’s Stegner’s take on one of our favorite senses: “Touch. It is touch that is the deadliest enemy of chastity, loyalty, monogamy, gentility with its codes and conventions and restraints. By touch we are betrayed, and betray others.”

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Sandra Cisneros, “The House on Mango Street
Cisneros’s classic coming-of-age story is a pillar of middle school curriculums — and deservedly so. But adults will also enjoy these poignant vignettes about Esperanza Cordero, a 12-year-old girl growing up in Chicago, and they’ll be reminded of the ways in which loyalty to family can add up to its own kind of romance.

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John Green, “The Fault in Our Stars
Warning: This novel about teenagers who fall in love at a cancer support group is not for the faint of heart. Hazel has thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs; Augustus is a former basketball player who has lost a leg to osteosarcoma. Our reviewer wrote, “Green’s characters may be improbably witty, but even under the direst circumstances they are the kind of people you wish you knew.” Their slow-burn romance is one for the ages.

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Robert James Waller, “The Bridges of Madison County
The Times wasn’t a big fan of “The Bridges of Madison County,” calling it “a bodice-heaving, swept-away-by-love romance, a soft-focus fantasy.” But plenty of people loved Waller’s novel — so many, in fact, that this novel about an affair between an Iowa farmer’s wife and a National Geographic photographer planted itself on the best-seller list and remained there for three years.

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Langston Hughes, “Not Without Laughter
This is the story of an African-American boy growing up in the early part of the 20th century in mostly white Stanton, Kan. (which was based on Hughes’s actual hometown of Lawrence). In a 2018 essay, Angela Flournoy wrote that “‘Not Without Laughter’ crystallizes some of the themes introduced in Hughes’s first two poetry collections and examines in detail subjects he would return to throughout his decades-long career, among them the experiences of working-class and poor blacks, the importance of black music to black life, the beauty of black language and the trap of respectability.”

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Ann Patchett, “The Patron Saint of Liars
“Ann Patchett has written such a good first novel that among the many pleasures it offers is the anticipation of how wonderful her second, third and fourth will surely be,” Alice McDermott wrote in her review. On its surface, “The Patron Saint of Liars” may not appear to be a traditional love story — after all, it takes place at a home for pregnant teenagers — but you won’t have to look very hard to see the beating heart behind this story of friendship and healing.

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Anne Rice, “The Witching Hour
Welcome to the first in Anne Rice’s beloved Mayfair Witches series, where readers get acquainted with generations of New Orleans witches. “We watch and we are always here” is the motto of the Talamasca, the group that chronicles the lives of this dynasty. This saga is equal parts sexy, scary and seductive, and it always goes for the jugular.

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Anne Rivers Siddons, “Colony
“We are hooked from the moment we meet Maude Gascoigne as a 17-year-old tomboy,” The Times said in 1992 of this bittersweet family saga. “Her life changes forever when Peter Chambliss, her brother’s Princeton classmate and a New Englander, accompanies her to Charleston’s Saint Cecilia Ball. Maude is a match for anything that’s thrown her way — and plenty is,” especially at the Chambliss family’s summer compound in Maine, where most of the novel takes place.

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Anne Tyler, “A Spool of Blue Thread
Of this story of a refreshingly abnormal family, our reviewer wrote: “For Tyler, the quality of mercy is anything but strained. By her own admission, she’s a chronicler of sad failures and unhappy marriages.” And yet, “A Spool of Blue Thread” provides an unexpected sense of uplift. You read it and realize your family’s not so bad — and those ties that bind can also lift you up when you least expect it.

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Erich Segal, “Love Story
“You can resist the charm and bounciness of ‘Love Story’ on the ground that it should have stayed in Ladies’ Home Journal, where portions of it first appeared; on the ground that it isn’t even semi‐serious literature,” Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in his review of the “12-hanky” weeper about a pair of star-crossed lovers who meet at college and marry over his family’s objections. “Nevertheless, about two-thirds of the way through, a lump forms in the throat and starts growing until it feels like a football coming up sideways. You either fight it or let it out.”

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Jeffrey Eugenides, “The Virgin Suicides
Set in Grosse Point in the 1970s, Eugenides’s debut explores the deaths of the five Lisbon sisters from the perspective of an anonymous group of teenage boys who struggle to make sense of what happened. In her review, Suzanne Berne wrote, “Mr. Eugenides is blessed with the storyteller’s most magical gift, the ability to transform the mundane into the extraordinary.” One could say the same of true love.

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J. Ryan Stradal, “The Lager Queen of Minnesota
Stradal’s sophomore novel is a love letter to beer. It begins in 1959, when 15-year-old Helen Calder takes her first sip. She becomes obsessed, both with drinking beer and brewing beer, until eventually she bets the family farm on beer. What unfolds from there is a sprawling tale of loyalty and sisterhood, with a good cold one easily supplanting bubbly as the beverage of romance.

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Bret Lott, “Jewel
This novel might be our favorite about the love of a mother for her child. Under the headline “Blessed Are the Ordinary,” our reviewer described it like this: “In this sweeping and beautifully written book, Mr. Lott has given us something unusual — an unsentimental account of the life of a woman from rural Mississippi who transcends poverty and ignorance to become part of a pioneering movement in the treatment of children with Down syndrome.” The woman is Jewel; her daughter is Brenda Kay. You won’t forget them.

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Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl
File this one under “love story gone wrong.” Our critic wrote: “Gillian Flynn’s ice-pick-sharp ‘Gone Girl’ begins far too innocently by explaining how Nick and Amy Dunne celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. Amy got up and started making crepes. Nick came into the kitchen, appreciating his wife’s effort but wondering why Amy was humming the theme song from ‘M*A*S*H.’ You know, that ‘suicide is painless’ thing. ‘Well, hello, handsome,’ Amy says to her husband.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

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Rick Bass, “Where the Sea Used to Be
Our reviewer had mixed feelings about Rick Bass’s story of a geologist sent to find oil in northern Montana: “‘Where the Sea Used to Be’ is encased in an aesthetic of such contrived, overelaborated meaningfulness that the effect is stock melodrama rather than genuine human struggle.” But who can resist a yarn that knits up a love triangle smack dab in the snowy wilderness? (For example: “He could feel the pleasure coming straight through her — could feel it like heat conducted, as if it were his.”)

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Rainbow Rowell, “Eleanor & Park
“I have never seen anything quite like ‘Eleanor & Park,’” John Green wrote of this unlikely love story, which became an instant classic. “Rainbow Rowell’s first novel for young adults is a beautiful, haunting love story — but I have seen those. It’s set in 1986, and God knows I’ve seen that. There’s bullying, sibling rivalry, salvation through music and comics, a monstrous stepparent — and I know, we’ve seen all this stuff. But you’ve never seen ‘Eleanor & Park.’ Its observational precision and richness make for very special reading.”

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Tupelo Hassman, “Girlchild
“Three generations of Hendrix women are all, for a time, residents of the Calle de las Flores, a dust-choked Reno trailer park where violence and sexual abuse abound, and an unlocked door is an invitation of the worst kind,” our reviewer wrote. “Though Rory seems heir to all the disadvantages in the world, her grandmother Shirley Rose makes her expectations clear: ‘Someone’s got to make it and it has to be you.’” Will she? Won’t she? The heart of this story is in the details — the diary entries, social workers’ reports and arrest records that show the trajectory of a girl who wants — and deserves — better.

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New Hampshire
John Irving, “A Prayer for Owen Meany
Our reviewer wasn’t sold on “A Prayer for Owen Meany.” She wrote: “‘A Prayer for Owen Meany,’ which asks to be judged on old-fashioned terms, has high-minded hopes and some vitality. It just doesn’t give you the shivers.” (Shivers are a recurring theme throughout the novel.) We would argue that this sprawling tale of two boys from Gravesend is one of the more moving portraits of friendship we’ve ever read — and one of the few novels with a main character whose voice you can hear so clearly, it’s as if he’s sitting right next to you.

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New Jersey
Philip Roth, “Goodbye,Columbus
In 1959, our reviewer described Roth’s novella as a “somewhat incongruous mingling of conventional boy-meets-girl material and a portrait-of-the-intellectual-as-a-young-man.” He said, “There is blood here and vigor, love and hate, irony and compassion.” What better ingredients for a story about summer love?

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New Mexico
Leslie Marmon Silko, “Almanac of the Dead
“The plot follows a far-flung conspiracy of displaced tribal people to retake North America toward the millennium’s end,” our reviewer said, adding: “There is genius in the sheer, tireless variousness of the novel’s interconnecting tales. … ‘Almanac of the Dead’ burns at an apocalyptic pitch — passionate indictment, defiant augury, bravura storytelling.”

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New York
Truman Capote, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Before Audrey Hepburn shimmied into that iconic black dress and dangled her cigarette holder between two fingers, the story of Holly Golightly existed only between the covers of Truman Capote’s beloved novella. Way back in 1958, our reviewer summed it up in words that hold true to this day: “‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is a valentine of love, fashioned by way of reminiscence, to one Holly Golightly … a wild thing searching for something to belong to.”

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North Carolina
Charles Frazier, “Cold Mountain
Inman is a wounded Confederate soldier who “had seen so much death it had come to seem a random thing entirely,” so he “resolves to reclaim himself and his humanity by fleeing the hospital where he is recovering, returning to his home and to Ada … whom he intends to make his wife.”

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North Dakota
Louise Erdrich, “Love Medicine
“The story opens in 1981 when June Kashpaw, an attractive, leggy Chippewa prostitute who has idled away her days on the main streets of oil boomtowns in North Dakota, decides to return to the reservation on which she was raised,” our reviewer wrote in 1984. He went on to say that the novel is about the “enduring verities of loving and surviving, and these truths are revealed in a narrative that is an invigorating mixture of the comic and the tragic.”

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Toni Morrison, “Beloved
Margaret Atwood put it best: “‘Beloved’ is Toni Morrison’s fifth novel, and another triumph. … There are many stories and voices in this novel, but the central one belongs to Sethe, a woman in her mid-30s, who is living in an Ohio farmhouse with her daughter, Denver, and her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs. … The farmhouse is also home to a sad, malicious and angry ghost, the spirit of Sethe’s baby daughter, who had her throat cut under appalling circumstances 18 years before, when she was 2. We never know this child’s full name but we — and Sethe — think of her as Beloved, because that is what is on her tombstone.”

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Wilson Rawls, “Where the Red Fern Grows
“To the conventional scene of a boy and his dogs, Mr. Rawls has brought a fresh eye, a quick phrase and a close, specialized knowledge of the ways in which hounds hunt coons and coons deceive hounds,” our reviewer wrote in 1961. “If you care for the sort of writing too often dismissed as ‘folksy’ and soft, then you will find this a rewarding book.”

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Gayle Forman, “If I Stay
One February morning, a family goes for a drive and everything changes in an instant. There’s a car accident and the sole survivor is 17-year-old Mia, who must decide (from her hospital bed, through a pea soup fog of grief) whether she can carry on without her family. This is a love story about friends and community — and music.

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Nick Hornby, “Juliet, Naked
“Hornby seems, as ever, fascinated by the power of music to guide the heart, and in this very funny, very charming novel, he makes you see why it matters,” our reviewer wrote. The music at the center of the story is from a 20-year-old album called “Juliet,” known to be one of the greatest “breakup albums” of its time. How do these songs still influence and move Hornby’s characters? Read the book to find out.

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Rhode Island
Beatriz Williams, “A Hundred Summers
Lily Dane, nursing heartbreak, is summering at her family’s house in a moneyed Rhode Island enclave when her former fiancĂ© and former best friend unexpectedly show up — as husband and wife. Complicating the high-society tale of love, loss, gossip and duplicity is the great New England hurricane of 1938, which is barreling up the Atlantic coast straight toward them all.

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South Carolina
Pat Conroy, “The Prince of Tides
Tom Wingo is a middle-aged former high school teacher who can no longer outrun the demons of the “grotesque family melodrama” of his childhood. Encouraged by his sister’s psychiatrist (described as “one of those go-to-hell New York women with the incorruptible carriage of lionesses”), he agrees to talk about his childhood. What he reveals and whom he falls for are classic Conroy — improbable, yet … who can resist?

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South Dakota
Nora Roberts, “Black Hills
Childhood friends-turned-sweethearts Coop and Lil first meet as grade-schoolers when he’s dispatched to spend summers on his grandparents’ ranch. Though their relationship ends in heartbreak, they meet again years later when Coop — now a retired New York City police detective — returns to South Dakota and finds that Lil, a wildlife biologist, is being stalked, possibly by a serial killer. There’s a reason people call Roberts “the queen of romantic suspense.”

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James Agee, “A Death in the Family
Agee’s posthumously published novel, which won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize, is a study in grief and love. After a young husband is killed in a terrible car accident on a sticky summer night in 1915, the family struggles to come to terms with his loss. “Agee’s book cannot be judged as another novel of the week,” Alfred Kazin wrote in his review of the book for The Times. “It is an utterly individual and original book, and it is the work of a writer whose power with English words can make you gasp.”

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Edna Ferber, “Giant
This racy, larger-than-life love story of a bookish Virginia socialite and a Texas rancher — famously made into a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean — was the “it book” of 1952. “‘Giant’ makes marvelous reading,” The Times wrote. “Wealth piled on wealth, wonder on wonder in a stunning, splendiferous pyramid of ostentation.”

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David Ebershoff, “The 19th Wife
This novel is about two wives in polygamous marriages: the real historical figure Ann Eliza Young, who was much younger than her husband, Brigham, the founder of Salt Lake City; and BeckyLyn, a fictional contemporary woman accused of shooting her husband dead. Ebershoff’s book sets out to give a history and critique of polygamy, shedding light on the dynamics it creates and how the practice has evolved.

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Donna Tartt, “The Secret History
In Tartt’s gripping debut, a handful of students at Hampden — an idyllic but isolated liberal arts college in Vermont — form intense bonds with one another and with their classics professor, “who nurtures both their sense of moral elevation and an insularity from conventional college life that ultimately proves fatal,” our reviewer said. “The writing throughout ‘The Secret History’ is at once lush and precise, and it keeps the more preposterous aspects of the plot in check. Ms. Tartt is especially adept at showing how Hampden’s ‘hermetic, overheated atmosphere’ leads to a melodramatic inflation of emotions that in turn results in acts of violence.”

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Katherine Paterson, “Bridge to Terabithia
You might have read this one in fifth grade, but this Newbery Medal winner is always worth a revisit (and no, we’re not talking about the movie). Two friends conjure an enchanted land in the woods behind their houses. It’s a place to escape the real world — until the day one of them doesn’t come home. Paterson writes: “She had tricked him. She had made him leave his old self behind and come into her world, and then before he was really at home in it but too late to go back, she had left him stranded there — like an astronaut wandering about on the moon. Alone.”

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David Guterson, “Snow Falling on Cedars
On an island in Puget Sound in 1954, the body of a fisherman is pulled out of the sea, trapped in his own net. ​A Japanese-American man is charged with his murder, and the ensuing trial leads the town’s newspaper editor to reflect on his long repressed love for the accused man’s wife. The novel, which became a best seller and was adapted into a 1999 feature film, explores the sometimes porous line between unrequited love and resentment, and how deep-seated animosity and fear can erode a community.

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West Virginia
Jayne Anne Phillips, “Lark and Termite
Phillips’s fourth book unfolds in the 1950s in Korea and West Virginia, where a teenage girl named Lark cares for her half brother, Termite, who can’t walk or speak, after their mother abandons them and their father dies while serving in Korea. Told in alternating points of view, the novel explores the ferociously protective love that can grow between siblings, as Lark worries that Social Services might take her brother away.

“Repeated images and leitmotifs link these people’s stories together, lending the novel a haunting musical quality, even as they suggest the unconscious, almost magical bonds shared by people who are connected by blood or love or memory,” Michiko Kakutani wrote in a review for The Times.

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Chad Harbach, “The Art of Fielding
“If it seems a stretch for a baseball novel to hold truth and beauty and the entire human condition in its mitt, well, ‘The Art of Fielding’ isn’t really a baseball novel at all, or not only,” Gregory Cowles wrote in these pages in 2011. “It’s also a campus novel and a bromance (and for that matter a full-fledged gay romance), a comedy of manners and a tragicomedy of errors — the baseball kind as well as the other kind.”

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Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain
“Brokeback Mountain,” the standout story in Proulx’s “gritty, gleamy” collection “Close Range,” is about the “sudden flare-up of sexual passion between two ranch hands herding 1,000 sheep in summer upland pasture,” Richard Eder wrote in his review. “The passion continues painfully — long separations and rare but explosive consummations — after they marry and for the rest of their lives. It is a story told with equanimity: the sheepherding, the mountains, the strained marriages, the divergent itineraries are not a backdrop but as real as the affair itself.”