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"The book takes you from 1960s Italy in (during filming of the Burton/Taylor Cleopatra) to present day Hollywood and American heartland in the present.” And, "This book is well-written, at times very funny, cynical, and sweeping. It apparently ties together the Italian sea coast of the 1960s to Hollywood today and has been very well reviewed. Well written, and will make you chuckle."
“Romantic, historical fiction that will take you away. Very enjoyable read. It comes together beautifully in the end.”
“I loved the tone and the voice of the narrator, the way the story was sparsely told and yet so full of life. Toibin shows us so much about the time and experience of Irish immigrants in the years after World War II without telling us explicitly." (Great interview with author here: BBC)
“I can’t possibly explain why I loved this book so much. But it says something about the state of literary fiction that it took me until halfway through this book to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Just because she’s putting her suitcase in a shed while she spends the day with her brother before her ship sails, does NOT mean it will be stolen. There are actually people who can be trusted. You can have a whole novel populated with decent human beings and have it still be so compelling that readers fly through it and are left wanting more.”
“Modern day version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Very interesting story about life on an Indian reservation in the Southwest.”
The Twelve Tribes of Hattieby Ayana Smith. This book, like many these days, hovers between short story and novel, with stories eventually woven together to form a whole, growing richer as it progresses. Readers learn about a mother, Hattie Shepherd, through the stories of her many children. “Yes, it felt like an Oprah book but still very good.”
“It's a novel in which each chapter tells the story of one the main character's children. So it's a bit like short stories that are woven together. It is easy to get into and it follows a large family from the segregated south who struggle to find their way out amid poverty and racism. It is compelling and well written and on Oprah's book list.”
Where'd You Go, Bernadetteby Maria Semple. The author, among other accomplishments, wrote for Arrested Development, which might give you some notion of what you’re in for. The book is about a Seattle mother who disappears just as the family is about to go on a trip to Antarctica. Her 15-year-old daughter takes on the task of finding her. It’s an epistolary novel, but entire chapters consist of medical reports and faxes and police reports. It’s satirical – lots of humor about Seattle (I don’t know that much about Seattle, but that’s not necessary to appreciate it).
“This book doesn't constitute ‘proof,’ but it's an interesting addition to the literature on this topic. The author makes his case from his perspective as a neurosurgeon who underwent a critical illness and had a near death experience.”
(pssst... you're not done! top picks are just the beginning - see our other lists for 2013: newer fiction, non-fiction and older fiction! Navigate from the "blog archive" to the left.)