Reading Group Favorites

 

 

 

 

 

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“Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end
of a long day makes that day happier.” — Kathleen Norris 

 

 

 The Zookeeper’s Wife

By Diane Ackerman (W.W. Norton and Co. $15.95)

After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these “guests,” and human names for the animals, it’s no wonder that the zoo’s code name became “The House Under a Crazy Star.” Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story–sharing Antonina’s life as “the zookeeper’s wife,” while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism.

 

 

Lilac Girls

By Martha Hall Kelly (Penguin Random House $17)

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939–and then sets its sights on France.
An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.
For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbruck, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents–from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland–as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

 

 My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry

By Fredrik Backman (Washington Square Press $16)

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy–as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

 

Bless Me, Ultima

By Rudolfo Anaya (Hachette Publishing Co. $15)

A masterpiece of Hispanic literature from “one of the nation’s foremost Chicano literary artists” (Denver Post). This is the involving story of Antonio, a boy facing the conflicts in his life with the help of Ultima, a curandera who cures with herbs and magic. At each turn of Tony’s life, she is there to nurture his soul.

Dead Wake: Last Crossing of the Lusitania

By Erik Larson (Penguin Random House $17)

Full of glamour and suspense, “Dead Wake” brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. Gripping and important, “Dead Wake” captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.