Literary Fiction

The Topeka school book cover

The Topeka school

Ben Lerner

Literary Fiction

Frannie's picture

This coming of age novel had special resonance for me growing up in a similar time, place, and milieu where much of the book unfolds. While the book is mostly centered around the fictionalized version of the author, other characters too have their story told from their point of view. Another thing that drew me in was the intimation of events occurring outside the main plot. Additional selling points for highlighting competitive speech and debate, something I dabbled in when in high school and one rarely sees in pop culture. -Frannie

Difficult women book cover

Difficult women

Roxane Gay

FICTION Gay Roxane
Short Story, Literary Fiction

"Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State and the New York Times bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial). Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection. The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister's marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls' fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July"--

Frannie's picture

Far from "Chick Lit" (no shade!), this short story collection of various female characters captures the spirit and struggle of every woman. -Frannie

Dear life : stories book cover

Dear life : stories

Alice Munro

FICTION Munro Alice
Literary Fiction, Short Story

Frannie's picture

Varied and beautiful, a collection of Alice Munro's stories is an essential to every bookshelf, but this entry in particular is from an artist at her peak. -Frannie

A manual for cleaning women : selected stories book cover

A manual for cleaning women : selected stories

Lucia Berlin

FICTION Berlin Lucia
Literary Fiction, Short Story

"Stories from a lost American classic "in the same arena as Alice Munro" (Lydia Davis) "In the field of short fiction, Lucia Berlin is one of America's best kept secrets. That's it. Flat out. No mitigating conditions." --Paul Metcalf A Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With her trademark blend of humor and melancholy, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday--uncovering moments of grace in the cafeterias and Laundromats of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Northern California upper classes, and from the perspective of a cleaning woman alone in a hotel dining room in Mexico City. The women of Berlin's stories are lost, but they are also strong, clever, and extraordinarily real. They are hitchhikers, hard workers, bad Christians. With the wit of Lorrie Moore and the grit of Raymond Carver, they navigate a world of jockeys, doctors, and switchboard operators. They laugh, they mourn, they drink. Berlin, a highly influential writer despite having published little in her lifetime, conjures these women from California, Mexico, and beyond. Lovers of the short story will not want to miss this remarkable collection from a master of the form"--

Frannie's picture

Taking you all over, Berlin's stories give reader's the perspective of characters often unseen on the page. -Frannie

The yellow wallpaper and other writings book cover

The yellow wallpaper and other writings

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

FICTION Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
Short Story, Literary Fiction

Frannie's picture

The classic story "the Yellow Wallpaper" will not only affect your home decorating decisions but provide unique insight into mental illness that can feel a bit too real. -Frannie

The count of Monte-Cristo book cover

The count of Monte-Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

FICTION Dumas, Alexandre
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Classics

Casey's picture

Riveting, heart breaking, and beautifully told, prepare to watch as nineteen year old, Edmond Dantes's life comes crashing down around him through no fault of his own. Fourteen years in prison later, we see him rise from the ashes only to descend to the depths of villainy. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and unabridged. -Casey

A tale of two cities book cover

A tale of two cities

Charles Dickens

FICTION Dickens, Charles
Literary Fiction, Classics, Historical Fiction

Casey's picture

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." This may be my favorite Dickens, be ready to shed some tears! I'm planning on picking this one up again in March. -Casey

The shortest day book cover

The shortest day

Susan Cooper

jE Cooper
Picture Books, Nature, Literary Fiction

A celebration of the winter solstice and the Yuletide season. As the sun set on the shortest day of the year, early people would gather to prepare for the long night ahead. They built fires and lit candles. They played music, bringing their own light to the darkness, while wondering if the sun would ever rise again. Written for a theatrical production that has become a ritual in itself, Susan Cooper's poem "The Shortest Day" captures the magic behind the returning of the light, the yearning for traditions that connect us with generations that have gone before-- and the hope for peace that we carry into the future. Richly illustrated by Carson Ellis with a universality that spans the centuries, this beautiful book evokes the joy and community found in the ongoing mystery of life when we celebrate light, thankfulness, and festivity at a time of rebirth. Welcome Yule!

Casey's picture

Lofty, elegant, and achingly beautiful, Carson Ellis's illustrations are the perfect pairing for Susan Cooper's poem. Don't miss this true winter solstice celebration from and for the ages! -Casey

The bookshop book cover

The bookshop

Penelope Fitzgerald

FICTION Fitzgerald, Penelope
Fiction, Literary Fiction

In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop the only bookshop in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town's less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence s warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn t always a town that wants one.

Anne M's picture

Need a book to put you in the mood for Fall? The Bookshop is a biting, moody little book that takes on the attitudes of the provincial residents of a British coastal town. It is a sad book, but it is also a funny book. And it is a book about books. -Anne M

The seven or eight deaths of Stella Fortuna : a novel book cover

The seven or eight deaths of Stella Fortuna : a novel

Juliet Grames

FICTION Grames Juliet
Literary Fiction

Death has always been a part of Stella Fortuna life. Ordinary situations like cooking eggplant or feeding the pigs inexplicably take lethal turns. In her Italian village, Stella is considered an oddity-- beautiful and smart, insolent and cold. She uses her peculiar toughness to protect her slower, plainer baby sister Tina from life's harshest realities. Her father Antonio is a man who demands subservience from women and whose greatest gift to his family is his absence. When the Fortunas emigrate to America on the cusp of World War II, Stella learns that her survival is worthless without the one thing her family will deny her at any cost: her independence. -- adapted from jacket

Mari's picture

Mariastella Fortuna's story is told as memoir written by a descendant in the family, from her early life of poverty in an Italian village to her family's immigrant experience adjusting to American life in the 1940's. The title refers to a family curse that leads to several brushes with death over her lifespan, but the story is much more about Stella's complicated relationships with family members and how she is forced into roles of wife and mother. -Mari