A room with a view book cover

A room with a view

E. M. (Edward Morgan) Forster

FICTION Forster, E. M.

A Room with a View is a 1908 novel by English writer E. M. Forster, about a young woman in the restrained culture of Edwardian era England. Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a humorous critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Became the 1985 film of the same title, directed by James Ivory and starring Maggie Smith and Helena Bonham Carter. -Beth

The godfather book cover

The godfather

Mario Puzo

FICTION Puzo, Mario

Originally published in 1969 the novel details the story of a fictional Mafia family in New York City (and Long Beach, New York), headed by Vito Corleone. The Corleone family fights a mob war with the Five Families of the New York Mafia in the years after World War II. The novel covers the years 1945 to 1955 and provides the back story of Vito Corleone from early childhood to adulthood.

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Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo turned the book into the screenplay that eventually became Coppola's 1972 classic film starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. -Beth

Sing, unburied, sing : a novel book cover

Sing, unburied, sing : a novel

Jesmyn Ward

FICTION Ward Jesmyn
Fiction, Diverse Characters, Read Woke

"A searing and profound Southern odyssey through Mississippi's past and present"--

Jason's picture

Ward's story grapples with the trauma of racism, gun violence, and incarceration via a multi-generational household. Her story is set in rural southern Mississippi yet these themes are familiar to many in America. Chapters are told from alternating character's point of view including those of a ghost. -Jason

The Thorn Birds book cover

The Thorn Birds

Colleen McCullough

FICTION McCullough, Colleen

A magnificent saga of dreams, struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian outback. The Thorn Birds is a chronicle of three generations of Clearys—an indomitable clan of ranchers carving lives from a beautiful, hard land while contending with the bitterness, frailty, and secrets that penetrate their family. It is a poignant love story, a powerful epic of struggle and sacrifice, a celebration of individuality and spirit. Most of all, it is the story of the Clearys' only daughter, Meggie, and the haunted priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart—and the intense joining of two hearts and souls over a lifetime, a relationship that dangerously oversteps sacred boundaries of ethics and dogma.

Beth's picture

Adapted into the 1983 television miniseries The Thorn Birds starring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. -Beth

Nobody's fool book cover

Nobody's fool

Richard Russo

FICTION Russo, Richard

This slyly funny, moving novel about a blue-collar town in upstate New York—and in the life of Sully, of one of its unluckiest citizens, who has been doing the wrong thing triumphantly for fifty years—is a classic American story.

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Adapted into the 1994 feature film Nobody's Fool starring Paul Newman, Bruce Willis and Jessica Tandy. -Beth

Forrest Gump : a novel book cover

Forrest Gump : a novel

Winston Groom

FICTION Groom Winston

Six foot six, 242 pounds, and possessed of a scant IQ of 70, Forrest Gump is the lovable, surprisingly savvy hero of this classic comic tale. His early life may seem inauspicious, but when the University of Alabama’s football team drafts Forrest and makes him a star, it sets him on an unbelievable path that will transform him from Vietnam hero to world-class Ping-Pong player, from wrestler to entrepreneur. With a voice all his own, Forrest is telling all in a madcap romp through three decades of American history.

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Robert Zemeckis directed the 1994 film version that starred Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise. -Beth

The midnight library : A Novel book cover

The midnight library : A Novel

Matt Haig

Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Literary Fiction

"'Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?' A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time. Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better? In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place"-- Provided by publisher.

Anne M's picture

Before I begin, The Midnight Library contains themes of depression and a description of a suicide. Nora Seed believes she has made some very wrong choices in her life and none of it can be rectified. In trying to end her life, Nora finds herself in a library--a library of her own somewhere between life and death. All the books on the shelf contain different versions of her life if she had made different choices along the way, both small and large. Nora Seed gets to explore these lives from pursuing Olympic swimming to fronting a rock band with the opportunity to make a permanent swap. But Nora begins to understand that there are many things about her original life that were significant and meaningful. Carey Mulligan narrates the audio and she is wonderful. -Anne M

Snow book cover


John Banville

MYSTERY Banville John
Fiction, Mystery

1957. Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate when a parish priest is found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family. The Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist, and Strafford-- a Protestant-- faces obstruction at every turn. There is a culture of silence in this tight-knit community, and Stafford learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem. When his own deputy goes missing, Strafford must work to unravel the ever-expanding mystery before the community's secrets, like the snowfall itself, threatens to obliterate everything. -- adapted from jacket

Candice's picture

I've been saving this to read over the holiday break...set in 1957, in County Wexford, Ireland. A craggy inspector investigates the murder of a priest in the local aristocratic home of the town's wealthy family. He has to deal to with a family with dark secrets and a small town that doesn't give up much to outsiders, all while battling the winter weather and snow as far as the eye can see. Perfect. -Candice

Hamnet book cover


Maggie O'Farrell

Historical Fiction, Fiction

"A thrilling departure: a short, piercing, deeply moving novel about the death of Shakespeare's 11 year old son Hamnet--a name interchangeable with Hamlet in 15th century Britain--and the years leading up to the production of his great play. England, 1580. A young Latin tutor--penniless, bullied by a violent father--falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman--a wild creature who walks her family's estate with a falcon on her shoulder and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. Agnes understands plants and potions better than she does people, but once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose gifts as a writer are just beginning to awaken when his beloved young son succumbs to bubonic plague. A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a hypnotic recreation of the story that inspired one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down--a magnificent departure from one of our most gifted novelists"--

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This was my favorite book of the year. Maggie O'Farrell beautifully writes about the loss of a child and its impact on a family, specifically the loss of Hamnet, the young son of William Shakespeare. It was incredibly written. Descriptions are vivid. Characters become familiar. The story well-paced. It was one of those books where I kept wanting to listen--I would dutifully find more chores to do, run another mile, and organize my house just to keep listening. It is a novel that will stay with me. -Anne M

The women in black : a novel book cover

The women in black : a novel

Madeleine St. John

FICTION St. John, Madeleine
Fiction, Historical Fiction

"The women in black, so named for the black frocks they wear while working at an upscale department store called Goode's, are run off their feet selling ladies' cocktail dresses during the busy season. But in Sydney in the 1950s, there's always time to pursue other goals... Patty, in her mid-thirties, has been working at Goode's for years. She's married to Frank, who eats a steak for dinner every night, watches a few minutes of TV, and then turns in, leaving Patty to her own thoughts. She wants a baby, but Frank is always too tired for that kind of thing. Sweet Fay wants to settle down with a nice man, but somehow nice men don't see her as marriage material. The glamorous Magda runs the high-end gowns department. A Slovenian émigré who met her Hungarian husband in a refugee camp, Magda is clever and cultured. She finds the Australians to be unfashionable, and dreams of opening her own boutique one day. Lisa, a teenager awaiting the results of her final exams, takes a job at Goode's for the holidays. She wants to go to university and secretly dreams of being a poet, but her father objects to both notions. Magda takes Lisa under her wing, and by the time the last marked-down dress has been sold, all of their lives will be forever changed" --

Anne M's picture

Looking for a light and funny read? Set in an Australian 1950's department store during the holiday season, Madeleine St. John's "The Women in Black" is delightful. You'll meet Lisa, Patty, Fay, and Magda--all at different points in their lives--all with different hopes and dreams--as they work during the busiest time of the year. Christmas does not play a major part in this book other than it being a specific time and adding additional stress both at work and at home. What is important here is the relationships of the women, the changes they experience...and of course, the department store. -Anne M