Gentle Reads: books without much sex, swearing, or violence.
84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff | BG 921 Hanff | [Reserve Now]
In our contemporary life, where nearly any book we want to read can be quickly found and purchased with just a click of a mouse or read on an electronic device, it’s hard to remember when people had to search for specific books. This memoir, constructed entirely of letters, takes you back to those pre-Amazon days and into the life of writer Helene Hanff. What began in 1949 as a search for a collection of Hazlitt letters that was of better quality than “Barnes and Noble’s grimy, marked-up schoolboy copies” became a transatlantic friendship between the writer and Mr. Frank Doel of Marks & Co Booksellers of 84 Charing Cross Road, London. As the friendship develops it creates an image of the physicality of books—the scent, the feel of a tight binding, the leather cover, the turning of a page—that will renew your affection for books, reading, and friendship.
After the Dancing Days by Margaret Rostkowski | BG Rostkowski | [Reserve Now]
Young Annie learns about the horrors of World War I through the suffering and stories of wounded soldiers recovering in a veterans’ hospital near her small Kansas hometown. Annie, who has lost a much loved uncle during the recent war, learns the real story of his death and comes to a better understanding of the world outside her comfortable life. Author Rostkowski is a high school teacher in Ogden, and this, her first novel, won multiple awards in Utah and across the nation.
The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg | BG Flagg | [Reserve Now]
She might be facing an empty nest and her demanding mother’s continuous needs, but southerner Sookie Simmons Poole is doing just fine—until she receives a letter that sets her life in an entirely new direction. Her research leads her to the Jurdabralinski family, four sisters who helped keep their family’s Phillip’s 66 gas station afloat during World War II, as well as serving the United States as members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Sookie’s process of discovering who she really is (not who her overbearing mother wants her to be) is fueled by her growing knowledge of those four courageous sisters. Full of Flagg’s trademark southern charm mixed with a little-known part of American history, The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is a quirky novel, warm and funny and the smallest bit bittersweet.
All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr | BG Doerr | [Reserve Now]
This haunting, almost gentle novel tells the story of Marie, a blind girl growing up in France as World War II begins, and Werner, an orphan growing up in Germany during the same time. Marie’s father is the locksmith at the Museum of Natural History; he creates keys and locks, and distributes them, to protect the museum’s acquisitions. Werner lives in an orphanage in Essen, the mining district of Germany; his father was killed in a coal mine. Each character has a transition: Werner’s natural instinct for science, math, and radio technology is discovered by a Nazi official, who arranges for him to be sent to the school at Schulpforta, where Nazis were created out of ordinary boys, while Marie moves to St. Malo, an ancient city on the coast of France, after the invasion of Paris. The dual stories intertwine with that of von Rumpel, a German diamond expert tasked by the Nazis with the responsibility of finding the Sea of Flames jewel, which may or may not be cursed—and might possibly be in the possession of Marie’s father. An elegant study of the way technology, time, and war influence the personal behaviors of individuals, All the Light We Cannot See illustrates that there are still stories to be told about this harrowing time in history.
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner | BG Stegner | [Reserve Now]
The novel opens when wheelchair bound historian Lyman Ward decides to chronicle the lives of his extraordinary grandparents and their struggles in the Western frontier. Their story takes them from boom towns in Colorado, to near starvation on the banks of an Idaho river, to near-peace in California. However, Lyman’s study of his grandparents leads him to discover that he is connected to his family in more ways that he ever imagined. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972. It was written when Stegner was presented with a brief biographical history and series of letters that would inspire the creation of one of American fiction’s most memorable couples: Susan and Oliver Ward.
The Ballad of Frankie Silver by Sharyn McCrumb | BG McCrumb | [Reserve Now]
The Appalachian wilderness comes to life in this novel that explores the mystery of what happened to Frankie Silver, hanged for murder in a small North Carolina town in 1833. In contemporary Tennessee, Sherriff Spencer Arrowood investigates a different murder, perhaps committed by a young woman who grew up poor in the mountains, Fate Harkryder. The two murders—and the two young women moving through a legal system that fails them—begin to weave together as Spencer works to uncover the truth.
The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery | BG Montgomery | [Reserve Now]
When 29-year-old Valancy Stirling (the plain, quite spinster of her family) receives the surprising news that she has a fatal heart condition, she decides to entirely change whatever life she has left to live. Rather than quietly obeying the conscriptions and directions of her family, she starts making her own choices, including making friends with the town drunk and a vagabond. Told with Mongtomery’s vivid descriptions of the Canadian landscape, this gentle, sweet romance will make your heart flutter.
The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron | BG Ishiguro | [Reserve Now]
A painting of a young woman playing the violin is the connection between two stories in this debut novel which was nominated for Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014. Jilted by her fiancé, Manhattan art dealer Sera James retreats into her work until the memory of a painting pushes her out of her comfort zone. In German-controlled Poland, violinist Adele von Bron is sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau after she is caught trying to rescue Jews. There she is forced to play her violin during the death marches of the Jewish prisoners. The two stories intertwine into a moving tale of faith, loss, art, and courage.
The Chosen by Chaim Potok | BG Potok | [Reserve Now]
Potok’s magnificent story of two friends and two fathers is an unforgettable American classic. Two Brooklyn boys meet through a softball game and become fast friends, despite very different background. Reuven comes from a Jewish family with modern, American leanings. Danny is heir-apparent to his father, a conservative Hassidic Rabbi. The novel is an exploration of fatherhood, faith, Judaism, and a friendship that defies the odds.
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver | BG Kingsolver | [Reserve Now]
Taylor Greer leaves Kentucky to begin a new life in the West, never imagining the strange shape this journey will take. Left with a 3-year-old girl by a Cherokee woman in Oklahoma, Greer decides to keep the toddler and make a life together. A pair of flat tires in Tucson forces the two to settle down and try to make a real home. The novel is a tale of freedom, friendship, love, and resourcefulness: with a light dose of wit and humor. Thousands have enjoyed Kingsolver’s charming and insightful characters.
Bellfield Hall, or, the Observations of Miss Dido Kent by Anna Dean | BG Dean | [Reserve Now]
Set in the 1805 England that’s familiar from Jane Austen’s novels, this is the first in a mystery series. Dido Kent, at 35 years old, is considered to be a hopeless spinster—but solving mysteries gives her life a sense of purpose. Dido’s niece Catherine is heartbroken, as her fiancé has abruptly called off the engagement. He vanishes, and then a murdered woman is found on the grounds of Bellfield Hall, and Dido must figure out if the two are connected.
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown | BG 797.123 B8126 | [Reserve Now]
“It occurred to me that when Hitler watched Joe and the boys fight their way back from the rear of the field to sweep ahead of Italy and Germany seventy-five years ago, he saw, but did not recognize, heralds of his doom. He could not have known that one day hundreds of thousands of boys just like them, boys who shared their essential natures—decent and unassuming, not privileged or favored by anything in particular, just loyal, committed, and perseverant—would return to Germany dressed in olive drab, hunting him down.” The Boys in the Boat tells the true story of nine working-class boys who came from the University of Washington to the 1936 Berlin Olympics—and beat the German team for the gold.
Clock Dance by Anne Tyler | BG Tyler | [Reserve Now]
Clock Dance begins in 1967, when 11-year-old Willa Drake is trying to figure out her mother’s absence; picks up in 1977 as she starts college, jumps to 1997 when she is a young widow and then to 2017, when her sons are off living their own lives and all she wants is to become a grandmother. Then a phone call from a near-stranger changes the trajectory of her life again, sending her to Baltimore to care for the daughter of a person she barely knows. Anne Tyler is a master at exploring ordinary family dynamics, finding the bits of magic hidden in the mundane, and this novel is no exception. You will come to love Willa as she works through the issues her life has created for her on the way to finding her own voice.
Dancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan Doig | BG Doig | [Reserve Now]
“The Atlantic was a child’s teacup compared to the ocean that life could be,” Angus McCaskill thinks, a tidy summary of a sprawling, funny, tender book that tells the story of immigration and expansion. With his friend Rob Barclay, Angus leaves Scotland for Montana, where the two friends become sheep ranchers, as well as fathers, husbands, and men along the way. Dancing at the Rascal Fair shares thirty years of their lives with readers, in stories rich with humor, suffering, love and friendship.
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron | BG 636.8009 M997 | [Reserve Now]
One cold morning in Iowa, librarian Vicki Myron came into work and found a tiny kitten had been stuffed through the book-return drop. Rescued by the librarians of the Spencer Public Library, Dewey became the library cat. This memoir details his twenty years at the library, including his influence on both the librarians and the library patrons. If you love books, libraries, and cats (and who doesn’t?), you will love this sweet memoir.
Drenched in Light by Lisa Wingate | BG Wingate | [Reserve Now]
After her dream of becoming a prima ballerina with the Kansas City ballet crumbles because of her struggles with anorexia, Julia moves back home to work as a guidance counselor at a prestigious school for performing arts. Her life begins to intertwine with Dell, a scholarship student who is a music virtuoso but struggling to fit in with her wealthy, snooty peers. As she works to overcome the tensions both within the school and her family, Julia begins to realize the impact of her decisions and where her life’s truth path lies.
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn | BG Dunn | [Reserve Now]
Ella lives on the tiny island called Nollop, off the coast of South Carolina, a “nation of letter writers” named after Nevin Nollop, who wrote the sentence that uses all the letters of the alphabet. (The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.) All is peaceful and happy on Nollop, until letters begin falling off the statue of Nevin Nollop. The island’s leaders decide that the missing Z is a sign: that letter is no longer a part of the alphabet. Public floggings, banishment from the island, and even death are the consequences of using a Z in written or oral communication. As more letters fall from the statue and are banned, the people come up with more and more ingenious use of language—while their entire society begins to fall apart. Quirky and intelligent, the novel makes great use of wordplay as it works towards Ella’s attempt to save every letter. Even Z.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper | BG Hooper | [Reserve Now]
Etta and Otto and Russell and James tells the story of Otto Vogel, just one of a 15-kid family growing up on a dusty farm in Saskatchewan with his best friend Russell, who becomes a sort-of Vogel, pitching in with the chores and eating at their table. When they are teenagers, their teacher, ill from the area’s constant dust, is replaced with a new one, Etta Kinnick. The James of the title is a complicated, mysterious character best discovered in the book itself. This is a novel that moves seamlessly between the past and the present; part of the story is Otto’s perspective and part is Etta’s. We go to war with Otto, we stay home with Etta and then—when she is near the end of her life—we go on a walk with her. Etta, who has never seen the sea, decides (at age 83!) to walk there. Russell’s role in Etta’s life, and James’s, as well as Otto’s experiences pining for Etta at home on his own, create a compelling and devastating read. This lovely, sweet, and sad novel, part history, part travel adventure, is entirely charming.
Father Brown: The Essential Tales by G.K. Chesterton | BG Chesterton | [Reserve Now]
These short mysteries place the chubby and unprepossessing priest Father Brown in the role of detective. His knowledge, gleaned in part from years of experience taking confessions, of how human evil works, provides the basis for his skill at solving crimes. These stories are quite unrealistic, but Chesterton is serious about ideas, and those he formulates here are always clever and often thought-provoking.
A Fine and Pleasant Misery by Patrick F. McManus | BG 796.502 M4599 | [Reserve Now]
“The more you talked about the miseries of life in the woods,” writes Patrick McManus, “the more you wanted to get back out there and start suffering again. Camping was a fine and pleasant misery.” But it’s not just camping that McManus expounds upon in this collection of wilderness stories written for Field & Stream magazine; hiking, fishing, hunting, and other nature-based adventures also appear, as well as the unique pleasures of bring a kid or two along with you. If you’ve ever pitched a tent or hit the trail, McManus’s writing will make you laugh in recognition of the miserable joys of the great outdoors.
Good-bye Mr. Chips by James Hinton | BG Hilton | [Reserve Now]
Charles Chipping is a terrible teacher – uninspiring and unloved by his students at the (somewhat) prestigious Brookfield School for Boys in England. But everything changes when he meets and marries the lovely and intelligent Katherine on a summer vacation. With some of his shyness finally overcome, Chips discovers a way to begin connecting with the young men in his classes, helping them to uncover the beauty of language and history. This novel is not only a sweet and sometimes tragic life story; it is also a record of the sweeping changes in England from the Victorian Era (Mr. Chips begins teaching in 1870) through the beginning of World War II. A great record of a great teacher.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer | BG Shaffer | [Reserve Now]
On the tiny Channel island of Guernsey, an impromptu literary society is formed when four friends, walking home from a dinner party, are stopped by German officers. On the spot they claim they’re walking home from a literary society meeting; their quick thought helps them avoid prison and leads to the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. This society becomes a place where the group members can “almost forget, now and then, the darkness” of living in occupied England during World War II. A decade later, English writer Juliet Ashton stumbles across the stories from the society and strikes up a conversation via letters with its members. This epistolary novel tells the story of an occupation by the Germans that was first intended to be “model,” but worsened until a concentration camp was built there. Not just a war novel, it examines the way books can connect, redeem, and sometimes even save us.
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok | BG Kwok | [Reserve Now]
With the promise of housing and a job, Ah-Kim and her mother immigrate to San Francisco from Hong Kong after her father dies. The housing her Aunt Paula provides is a squalid, unheated apartment and the factory work is demanding and exhausting. Kimberly, as she’s known in America, barely has enough clothes to keep warm, let alone avoid the taunts of kids at school. It’s not flashy, but her quiet strength, intelligence, and courage as she tries to create an American life for herself and her mother infuse this novel with an uplifting sense of possibility.
Guests of the Sheik by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea | BG 306.956 F394 | [Reserve Now]
In 1956, Elizabeth Fernea was a newlywed. Her husband’s field research in anthropology took the couple to a small, rural Iraqi village. In a friendly, intimate tone, Fernea tells the story of her two years there, which she begins as an American woman knowing next to nothing about Iraqi culture, language, or mores, resentful of the abaya she is required to wear; and ends as a close friend to the women of El Nahra. An intimate and detailed examination of the real lives women led in Iraq in the 1950s, Guests of the Sheik is an adventure story at heart, illustrating that no matter how different our cultures are, we all share the need to live vibrant lives.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale | BG Hale | [Reserve Now]
Local author Shannon Hale reinvents the goose girl fairy tale in this award-winning novel. Princess Anidori is born with a word on her tongue, which means as she grows she learns, under her aunt’s encouragement, how to speak to animals. This strangeness does not sit well with the queen, so when the king dies, Princess Ani’s mother forges a marriage between her and the prince of Bayern, a neighboring country. But Ani’s betrayal by trusted people is just beginning; on her way to Bayern her friend Selia plots to kill Ani and take her place. Ani escapes, makes it to Bayern, and works as a goose girl while trying to take her future back. A story about a character working out her own fate instead of waiting to be rescued, Hale’s book is a magical tale.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith | BG Smith | [Reserve Now]
Meet Cassandra Mortmain: 17, living in a falling-down castle with her impoverished family in 1930s England, trying to learn how to write by keeping a journal. Meet her, because you’ll fall in love with this delightful, quick-witted, eccentric character. Dodie Smith’s classic novel tells Cassandra’s coming-of-age story. Initially disdainful of love, but still full of romantic ideas, she experiences an Austen-esque series of adventures with the wealthy American family who moves into the estate near the castle. Cassandra’s charisma pulls you through the novel as she discovers the type of woman she really wants to be.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte | BG Bronte | [Reserve Now]
The novel is a Victorian classic. Having been raised as an unloved orphan in her aunt’s home, Jane Eyre finds her place as a governess in Thornfield Hall. Before long Jane’s life is intertwined with the mysterious characters that make up her new home, from the dark Mr. Rochester to his odd servant Grace Pool. Eventually love and drama intertwine as Jane must attempt to understand the strange happenings of the house and desires of her heart.
Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Stewart | BG 978.703 St493 | [Reserve Now]
After deciding that city life as a laundress wasn’t for her, Elinore Pruitt, a young widowed mother, accepted an offer to assist with a ranch in Wyoming, work that she found exceedingly more rewarding. In this delightful collection of letters, she describes these experiences to her former employer, Mrs. Coney.
Light of the Candle by Carol Pratt Bradley | BG Bradly | [Reserve Now]
Most everyone knows the bible story of Daniel in the lion’s den: captured and taken away to Babylon, he remained true to the religion he learned in Jerusalem by praying three times a day. When he refused to stop, he was thrown into a den of lions, but angels sealed their mouths and saved him. What might not be known is the rest of the story. In Light of the Candle, Utah author Carol Pratt Bradley brings ancient Jerusalem and Babylon to life with the stories of Daniel’s experiences.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney | BG Rooney | [Reserve Now]
Loosely based on the poet Margaret Fishback, who was the highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the 1930s, this novel explores how choice and social forces influence a woman’s life. It is told in alternating chapters: the history of Lillian Boxfish’s career at Macy’s in New York City, her romantic relationships, and her eventual family life; and the story of a walk she takes around the city on New Year’s Eve in 1984. As each story progresses, readers feel the effects of society’s narrow expectations for women and the advances we’ve made—as well as downright falling in love with Lillian, who is spunky, intelligent, fierce, and funny.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks | BG 616.8 Sa14 | [Reserve Now]
An 88-year-old woman, somewhat deaf, awakens one night to the sound of music from her childhood playing loudly. The songs don’t come from any radio but play loudly and repeatedly in her head. Her ENT and psychiatrist can’t find anything wrong, but her neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks, eventually figures out what’s causing the music: a small stroke in the woman’s temporal lobe. That’s just one of the stories Dr. Sacks writes about in this collection of neurological case studies. Published both in medical and literary journals, Sacks’ studies present the intricacies of the human brain and its workings along with the resilience of the human spirit. Interesting, informative, and illuminating, this work will make you think about what it means to be human.
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear | BG Winspear | [Reserve Now]
Maisie Dobbs, the new maid at the London home of the suffragette Lady Rowan Compton, is not an average maid. She’s only thirteen, and she can read, and she sneaks into the manor’s library to study European philosophy. When Lady Compton discovers Maisie’s precocious intellect, she becomes her patron, eventually sending her off to college, but the Great War interrupts Maisie’s education. She volunteers as a nurse and then, when the war ends, decides to become a private detective. Her first promising case begins as an investigation of infidelity and deepens into a story of how the War affected British society. Maisie is spunky, intelligent, and witty; her story is part mystery, part romance, part history and completely entertaining.
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson | BG Youngson | [Reserve Now]
At the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark lies the Tollund Man: a body pulled from a peat bog, placed there roughly 2300 years ago. Tina Hopgood, who lives on an isolated farm in England, has been fascinated with this mummified corpse since she was a young adult, away from home at University, but has never gone to see it. Professor Anders Larsen works at the museum, and one day receives a letter from Tina. They start up a correspondence which, as they move from discussing the Tollund Man to their personal lives, blooms into a friendship. This hopeful epistolary novel examines the passage of time, the effects of individual choices on the entirety of a life, love, grief, loneliness, the nature of happiness, and the ways we might be able to shape the lives we really want to live.
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool | BG Vanderpool | [Reserve Now]
Vanderpool’s Newbery-winning novel is set in the town of Manifest Kansas, “a place too far away to ever get back to, a place too good to be real. A place one was proud to call home” during the 1930’s. It tells the story of Abilene Tucker, whose father Gideon has sent her back to live in Manifest for the summer, thinking she’ll be safer there than living a drifter lifestyle with him. Abilene discovers the decades-old mystery of The Rattler along with new friends and a boxful of old objects that lead her to Gideon’s history. Weaving the history of prohibition, orphan trains, Spanish influenza, coal mining and World War One with the lifestyle of a small Midwestern town, the story reads like an instant classic. It manages to combine what is endearing about childhood—mystery, adventure, the power in an object, the pull of story and that deep-seated need for affection and a place to call your own—into a sweet and satisfying experience.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva | BG Silva | [Reserve Now]
Immerse yourself in Victorian England in this atmospheric imagining of Charles Dickens’s experience writing A Christmas Carol. In November 1943, Dickens finds himself in a bit of a financial crisis. His wife has just had their sixth child, the holidays are almost upon him, and his serialized novel, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, is not selling well. To keep his publishing contract, he must write a Christmas story, even though the idea is not especially appealing. Wandering through London, he discovers an unusual source of inspiration.
Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman | BG Freedman | [Reserve Now]
Mrs. Mike is the true story of Katherine Mary O’Fallon, a young Irish girl from Boston, who marries Canadian Mountie Sergeant Mike Flannigan, who is priest, doctor and magistrate to all in the wilderness of the North Woods of Canada. Extremely popular, the novel has won the hearts of millions for its depiction of young love’s journey to maturity.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell | BG Gaskell | [Reserve Now]
Written as a serialized novel in Charles Dickens’ Household Words in 1855, Gaskell’s classic novel North and South explores issues of industrialization, social injustice, and poverty in northern England. When Margaret Hale’s father gives up his role as a priest in the Church of England after doubting its leadership, the family leaves the pastoral, southern town of Helstone for the industrialized, northern town of Milton. Here Margaret discovers a sharp contrast to her previous experiences, caused by the poverty and difficult working conditions of the factory laborers. She also meets John Thornton, the powerful owner of a cotton mill. Thorton’s mill is facing a striking labor force, while Margaret’s family is also in upheaval caused by her mother’s illness and her brother Fredrick’s legal troubles brought on by a mutiny. The developing romance between Margaret and John, full of antagonism and misunderstanding, binds the story’s varying topics into a cohesive whole.
Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen by Bob Greene | BG 978.282 G8303 | [Reserve Now]
They began almost immediately, just after the attack on Pearl Harbor: the people of a tiny town in Nebraska started feeding the soldiers who came through North Platte by the trainful. A small canteen sprang up at the train depot where the soldiers briefly stopped – for ten or fifteen minutes, they were treated to food, hot coffee, cake, fruit, and hospitality. The community around North Platte joined in the project, and volunteers made sure that the soldiers on every train, from 5:00 a.m. until midnight, were greeted, fed, and encouraged. “I would say that the majority of men on the battlefields knew exactly what North Platte was,” one soldier explains. “They would talk about it like it was a dream.” Chicago Times columnist Bob Greene explores this little-known story from World War II, showing how the kindness of strangers changed lives. This touching read will remind you of the goodness that’s inherent in people and the comfort in good food and a smile.
The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright | BG Wright | [Reserve Now]
Growing up in India, Chellamuthu experiences hunger, poverty, abuse, and quite a bit of theft, but everything changes when he is kidnapped and sold to an orphanage. An American family meets him at the orphanage and decides to adopt him, but it is many months before he can speak enough English to tell them that he actually already has a family. A semester abroad in London, spent living with an Indian family, sparks his need to find his birth family. This novel, based on a true story, explores the concept of what creates and defines a family.
The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas | BG Dallas | [Reserve Now]
In Depression-era Harveyville, Kansas, a group of women form the Persian Pickle Club, erstwhile quilting group turned sisterhood. The newest “Pickle,” Rita, has just moved to Kansas from Denver, and she’s a little bit different from the rest of the group. She’s a big-city girl who doesn’t know the details of living a farm life, let alone quilting, but Queenie Bean, the group’s youngest member and the novel’s narrator, strikes up a friendship with her anyway. When Rita—an aspiring writer—tries to solve the murder of group member Ella’s husband, she discovers that the women aren’t as small-town as they might seem.
Persuasion by Jane Austen | BG Austen | [Reserve Now]
The last novel that Jane Austen wrote is the story of Anne Elliot. At 19, Anne fell in love with a young naval officer, Frederick Wentworth. When she accepted his proposal, however, her wealthy family thought he was beneath her and convinced her to break the engagement. Seven years later, the Elliot family has developed some financial troubles. The ending of the Napoleonic wars brings now-Captain Wentworth back into Anne’s life. Austen’s most mature work looks at the effects that social pressures and expectations have upon the women of the time.
The Quilter’s Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverni | BG Chiaverini [Reserve Now]
The first novel in the Elm Creek Quilts series, this book introduces us to Sarah McClure, who has recently moved to a small town in Pennsylvania with her husband. Sarah strikes up an uneasy relationship with an older woman named Sylvia Compton, who begins teaching her to quilt, an activity that might just turn around both of their lives.
Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg | BG Berg | [Reserve Now]
The scent of morning toast and jam, sunlight on trees in the afternoon, the way a summer evening cools with an unexpected breeze: all of the everyday sensory experiences of living a human life are all around us, every day, and yet how often do we really take notice of them? This is the question Elizabeth Berg’s novel, Range of Motion, puts forth as it examines how Lainey’s life changes as she tries to cope with caring for her husband, who is in a coma after being struck by a chunk of ice falling from a roof. Lainey never stops believing that her husband, Jay, will wake up, and to encourage him, every day she brings some small item to call him back to his life. Berg has a way of using story to examine the way difficult moments propel us to change, and she does so beautifully in this novel.
Rebecca by Daphne Maurier | BG Du Maurier | [Reserve Now]
When she arrives at Manderley, the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter discovers not all is as expected. Her husband’s first wife, the seemingly-brilliant, talented, and beautiful Rebecca, haunts both the house itself and its occupants. Attempting to establish her marriage and her place within the house, Mrs. de Winter is challenged at every turn by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. Only when Maxim is able to tell his second wife the truths about his first can this gothic story come to its chilling fruition.
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry | BG Berry | [Reserve Now]
The seven students at St. Etheldreda’s School for Young Ladies—Dear Roberta, Disgraceful Mary Jane, Dull Martha, Stout Alice, Smooth Kitty, Pocked Louise, and Dour Elinor—have formed a pleasant little sisterhood away from their horrible families. But when the school’s headmistress and her brother die during their Sunday meal (poisoned, Pocked Louise denounces, by the veal), their situation is threated. So they do what any clever girls would do: hide the bodies and carry on. This Victorian farce, a junior novel full of dark comedy, mystery, and cleverness, is a fun and fast-paced read.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd | BG Kidd | [Reserve Now]
Ten years after the death of her mother, all14 year-old Lily Owens has left of her is a mysterious picture of a Black Madonna, with the words “Tiburon, South Carolina” written on the back. After a run-in with the law, Lily and her Black nanny Rosaleen must flee the police and Lily’s abusive father to find the answers Lily has been seeking. With the backdrop of Civil Rights transition occurring around them, the greatest change takes place in Lily and Rosaleen as they discover much more than they expected about love, friendship, and family.
Summerlost by Ally Condie | BG Condie | [Reserve Now]
Ally Condie wrote the popular young adult trilogy Matched; here she writes a middle-grade novel about friendship, adventure, and dealing with loss. A year ago, Cedar’s father and brother Ben were killed by a drunk driver, and to help everyone cope her mom has moved what’s left of her family to the small town of Iron Creek, Utah. Cedar finds a friend, the quirky Leo, who helps her get a job at the town’s Shakespeare Festival, Summerlost. When they’re not working, the two friends discuss the mysterious life of an actress who haunts the sets of the festival’s stage. Her experiences with Leo, the theater people, and the mystery help her to begin to learn how to live with her grief. This sad, sweet tale is one you’ll cherish.
Walking Across Egypt by Clyde Edgerton | BG Edgerton | [Reserve Now]
Mattie Rigsbee is the spunky center of this funny story. At 78, Mattie wishes for grandchildren, but her kids won’t seem to settle down and deliver the goods. Just as she’s beginning to slow down, teenage delinquent Wesley Benfield enters her life, in need of good cooking and grandmotherly affection. Despite the concern of family and friends, Wesley and Mattie forge a bond in this endearing comic novel.
The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg | BG Flagg | [Reserve Now]
This gentle book tells the 130-year history of the small town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri…via its cemetery. When Lordor Nordstrom, an immigrant from Sweden, founded the town, he set aside a large hill as the town’s cemetery, not knowing how it would impact the residents. From sad to thrilling, mysterious to charming, the townspeople are born, live, and die in Elmwood Springs, adding their lives’ tales to the town’s history.
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough | BG 921 Wright | [Reserve Now]
Mankind’s historic first flight, accomplished at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina by the Wright brothers, is a well-known tale. Pulitzer-Prize winning writer David McCullough develops the details of the story that are not as widely known, especially the help of Wilber and Orville Wright’s sister, Katharine, whose assistance had a far-larger role that most people know. Known for his historical accuracy and flair for bringing history to life, McCullough illuminates the tenacity, intelligence, and ability that created the early days of flight.