#10 in our new feature that offers up staff-selected recommendations for your consideration.
Yes this book is getting a lot of attention — but deservedly so. With a palpable Scandinavian tone, this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, features a grumpy yet loveable man who finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon–the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness, that Backman unfolds elegantly for us. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.
A feel-good story in the spirit of “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry “and “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,” Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.
#9 in our new regular feature that offers up staff-selected recommendations for your consideration.
A fun and compelling read from the creator of the New York Times dialect quiz that ignited conversations about how and why we say the words we say, a graphically stunning and delightful exploration of American language.
Did you know that your answers to just a handful of questions can reveal where you grew up? In December 2013, Josh Katz released an interactive dialect quiz in the New York Times that became the most viewed page in the paper’s history. Now a graphics editor, Katz harnessed the overwhelming response to that quiz to create Speaking American, an extraordinary and beautiful tour through the American vernacular.
How do you pronounce “pecan”? What do you call a long sandwich with varieties of meats and cheeses? Do you cut the grass or mow the lawn?
The answers to these questions—and the distinctions they reveal about who says what and where they say it—are not just the ultimate in cocktail party fodder; they are also windows into the history of our nation, our regions, and our language. On page after page, readers will be fascinated and charmed by these stunning maps of how Americans speak as they gain new insights into our language and ourselves.
For fans of Eats, Shoots and Leaves and How the States Got Their Shapes, Speaking American is an irresistible feast of American regional speech.
#7 in our new regular feature that offers up staff-selected recommendations for your consideration.
This week I’m going with an oldie but a goodie by the amazing Michael Crichton. His retelling of the Beowulf saga, Eaters of the Dead, is masterful and a gripping read, with all the drama and grounding in fact that this prolific writer brings to all of his work.
In A.D. 922 Ibn Fadlan, the representative of the ruler of Bagdad, City of Peace, crosses the Caspian sea and journeys up the valley of the Volga on a mission to the King of Saqaliba. Before he arrives, he meets with Buliwyf, a powerful Viking chieftain who is summoned by his besieged relatives to the North. Buliwyf must return to Scandanavia and save his countrymen and families from the monsters of the mist….
Crichton shares how the retelling came to be when a friend of his was giving a lecture on the “Bores of Literature”. Included in his lecture was an argument on Beowulf and why it was simply uninteresting. Crichton stated his views that the story was not a bore and was, in fact, a very interesting and compelling work. The argument escalated until Crichton said that he would prove to him that the story could be interesting if presented in the correct way. And he more than proved his point with this amazing tale, replete with adventure, daring, swordplay, Vikings, Neanderthals, demons, and battles with both actual and mythical creatures, along with real and fictional details and footnotes and sources and characters that blur the lines between fact and fiction and keep you turning pages.