We took a book club hiatus in November because of the Festival. Now we’re back and have gathered some books for your book club to finish out the year. Because of the holidays, I’m doubling down, and choosing two books per author. More books = more holiday reading.
I received a paperback copy of 2014 Festival author Maggie Shipstead’s Astonish Me during this year’s Festival, and it was a perfectly engrossing story to sink into after the whirlwind of the Festival weekend.
Astonish Me: For years Joan has been trying to forget her past, to find peace and satisfaction in her role as wife and mother. Few in her drowsy California suburb know her thrilling history: as a young American ballerina in Paris, she fell into a doomed, passionate romance with Soviet dance superstar Arslan Rusakov. After playing a leading role in his celebrated defection, Joan bowed out of the spotlight for good, heartbroken by Arslan and humbled by her own modest career.
Seating Arrangements: The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne to the impeccably appropriate Greyson Duff. The weekend is full of champagne, salt air and practiced bonhomie, but long-buried discontent and simmering lust stir beneath the surface. Winn Van Meter, father of the bride, is not having a good time. When old resentments, a beached whale and an escaped lobster are added to the mix, the wedding that should have gone off with military precision threatens to become a spectacle of misbehavior.
In case you missed it, 2014 Festival author Colson Whitehead won the 2016 National Book Award for his riveting and heartbreaking novel, Underground Railroad. Be prepared, it’s not a light read. However, this is just part of Whitehead’s oeuvre, so we also recommend you also pick up a couple earlier, very different, books for holiday reading and gifts: Zone One and Sag Harbor.
Zone One: A pandemic has devastated the planet, sorting humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. After the worst of the plague is over, armed forces stationed in Chinatown’s Fort Wonton have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street—aka Zone One. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the three-person civilian sweeper units tasked with clearing lower Manhattan of the remaining feral zombies. And then things start to go terribly wrong…
Sag Harbor: Benji Cooper is one of the few black students at an elite prep school in Manhattan. But every summer, Benji escapes to the Hamptons, to Sag Harbor, where a small community of African American professionals have built a world of their own. The summer of ’85 won’t be without its usual trials and tribulations, of course. But maybe, just maybe, this summer might be one for the ages.
2015 and 2016 Festival author AND 2016 Texas Teen Book Festival author Maggie Thrash is writing Young Adult literature that just might appeal to the angsty teenager in all of us.
We Know It Was You: Twin Peaks meets Pretty Little Liars in acclaimed author Maggie Thrash’s new Strange Truth series. It’s better to know the truth. At least sometimes. Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River. Just like that, she’s gone. Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.
Honor Girl: All-girl camp. First love. First heartbreak. At once romantic and devastating, brutally honest and full of humor, this graphic-novel memoir is a debut of the rarest sort.
Journalist turned novelist Christina García has been prolific, and these are just two of her novels that explore the families, culture, and voices of Cuba.
Dreaming in Cuban: Cristina García’s acclaimed book is the haunting, bittersweet story of a family experiencing a country’s revolution and the revelations that follow. The lives of Celia del Pino and her husband, daughters, and grandchildren mirror the magical realism of Cuba itself, a landscape of beauty and poverty, idealism and corruption.
The Agüero Sisters: It is the story of Reina and Constancia Agüero, Cuban sisters who have been estranged for thirty years. The sisters’ stories are braided with the voice from the past of their father, Ignacio, a renowned naturalist whose chronicling of Cuba’s dying species mirrored his own sad inability to prevent familial tragedy.