“The Jade Peony” by Wayson Choy

Recommended to me by: atdelphi

This novel is an intricate work of art, assembled from one precise detail after another, illuminating the lives of a Chinese family of immigrants to Vancouver, B.C. in the 1930s and early 40s.

The story is told in three sections, from the viewpoints of three children. First the girl, […]

“The Necessary Beggar” by Susan Palwick

Recommended to me by: Loved Susan Palwick’s first book Flying in Place

The Necessary Beggar begins with a flurry of long hyphenated names and fantastical pronouncements. “It’s an allegory,” I told myself, and kept reading. The story soon descends into grimness at a US internment camp, but does not lose its fairy tale tone. […]

“Voices from the Inside” by David A. Karp and Gretchen E. Sisson

Subtitle: Readings on the experiences of mental illness

I found this book because I was curious about Caroline Knapp’s writing after reading Gail Caldwell’s memoir about their friendship, and I read it because I wanted to learn about mental illness without its stereotype of causing violence. In fact, [v]iolence is not a symptom of […]

“Torch” by Cheryl Strayed

Recommended to me by: Willamette Writers Portland

In this novel, a rural Minnesota family reels from the mother’s cancer diagnosis. We see Theresa, only 38, and her partner and children grappling with her illness.

I loved the finely detailed setting. The trees, the bears, the snow, and the routinely-traveled distances all bring rural Minnesota […]

“When Food is Love” by Geneen Roth

Recommended to me by: a client.

Geneen Roth has written several books about overcoming compulsive eating by removing external rules around food and listening to one’s own body instead. She also talks about the source of compulsive eating – not an internal lack of control, but a survival strategy to overcome the lack of […]

“Beck House” by Janie Hopwood

Recommended to me by: a friend in Tifton, GA.

Janie Hopwood creates a colorful panorama of characters and events in this historical novel about her grandmother Rena Beck’s boarding house.

When Rena Beck’s husband died, leaving her a house but nothing else, she decided to take in boarders in order to provide for […]

“Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes” by Chris Crutcher

Recommended to me by: Tess Alfonsin

A hard-edged book for teens that takes on multiple tough issues:

Children’s cruelty to each other for being fat or disfigured What it’s like to grow up fat or disfigured Surviving parental abuse and abandonment Abortion Hypocrisy Religious intolerance by some Christians

While I applaud the author’s courage […]

“Mister God this is Anna” by Fynn

I bought this book about 20 years ago for the delightful drawing on the cover. At the time, I read it as a rescue story, set in the 1930’s in London’s East End. 5 year old Anna has run away from an intolerable home life, and is found and adopted by gruff, kind, 19 […]

“The Conquest” by Yxta Maya Murray

Recommended to me by: Cofax

This layered novel combines plot-driven swashbuckling adventure with a more cerebral battle over the contents and authorship of the historical record.

In the first layer of story, Sara, a proficient rare-book restorer, is absorbed by her work on a sixteenth century manuscript allegedly by a Spanish monk, to the […]

“Not Even My Name – From a Death March in Turkey to a New Home in America, a Young Girl’s True Story of Genocide and Survival” by Thea Halo

Recommended to me by: Joe Graziosi in a East European Folklife Center (EEFC) mailing list post Re: Books on Pontos/Pontian People?

Thea Halo and her mother Sano Themia Halo present a gorgeously detailed first-person account of the countryside, daily life, and people living in a tiny village in the Pontic mountains of Turkey south of […]