By Elizabeth Buzzelli
Yes, another list of books to read while on vacation, sitting on a
quiet beach, in a summer house, in a gardenany place you dream of
being and dont often get to.
Or just a sampling of books not to miss; maybe to stockpile for long
winter evenings. And for our summer people, a list of Michigan books
that shouldnt be missed.
In other words, a non-discriminating, highly subjective, even
downright self-serving list with a little nepotism thrown in for
good measure. So on to this years picks which will cause
consternation, disagreement, and, perhaps, a bounty on my head.
The choices come from me, from local writers, booksellers, and
librarians. Those who have contributed picks include writers Doug
Stanton and Aaron Stander, bookseller Margaret at Horizon Books, and
Deborah Bull at the Kalkaska Country Public Library.
Of course I will begin with our own Doug Stantons best sellers:
Horse Soldiers and In Harms Way, for their view of war as told
through the eyes of men who live it every day. (Doug recommends:
Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and
the International Manhunt for His Assassin by Hampton Sides.)
Isadores Secret by Mardi Link. This story of a small northern
towns terrible secret was chosen a Michigan Notable Book for 2009.
The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and
Betrayal by Ben Mezrich. A high-energy tale of how two socially
awkward Ivy Leaguers, trying to increase their chances with the
opposite sex, ended up creating Facebook. Eduardo Saverin and Mark
Zuckerberg were Harvard undergraduates and best friends. They shared
both academic brilliance in math and a geeky awkwardness with women.
Rigged: The True Story of an Ivy League Kid who changed the world
of oil, from Wall Street to Dubai, also by Ben Mezrich. The
startling rags-to-riches story of an Italian-American kid from the
streets of Brooklyn who claws his way into the wild, frenetic world of
the oil exchange.
The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow a tale of a friendship
between a group of women, from college through the next 40 years.
Pearl of China by Anchee Min. The pearl in the title of Anchee
Mins sixth novel, Pearl of China, is the Nobel Prize-winning author
Pearl S. Buck, who died in 1973 and spent much of her life in China.
Mins latest explores the friendship between Buck and a Chinese girl
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. This
charming novel is both a tale of New England grad-student life in 1991
and the Salem witch hunts in 1692. Howe is a descendant of two women
who endured the Salem panic of 1692, one of whom survived, one who
didnt. Her central thesis in this novel is that, while we may think
of the witch hunts as symbolic of the decline of the Puritan theocracy
or as a cultural shiver between the age of superstition and the Age of
Enlightenment, the good folk of Salem thought they were hunting real
Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell. The Traverse City
Reads yearly pick offers an amazingly authentic voice telling the
story of 40-year-old Agnes Shanklin, a schoolteacher from Ohio, who
gets to travel to Egypt and mingle with people such as Lawrence of
Arabia, Winston Churchill, and Lady Gertrude Bell.
Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. Do you remember the best
summer of your life?
New York City, 1945. Marjorie Jacobson and Marty Garrett arrive fresh
from the Kappa house at the University of Iowa to miraculously find
jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co., becoming the first women to ever work
on the sales floor. Great fun, with celebrities, such as Judy
Garland, dropping by the store.
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen. A coming back
home story with an unusual twist. This book is not just beautiful and
intelligent, but also painfully -- even wincingly -- funny.
At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream by Wade Rouse.
A hilarious romp with two gay guys settling down in Michigans back
woods, beginning with an attack by an angry raccoon.
An American Map: Essays by Anne-Marie Oomen. Oomen uses moments
from her life to facet experience, finding small and large truths in
Driving With Dvorak by Fleda Brown. In this non-linear
examination of a single life, Brown delivers biography through
philosophy and a poetic voice never consciously poetic.
As If We Were Prey by Michael Delp. Lessons learned in Delps work
are never the ones we suspect were learning.
American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell. Each story is a small
room where people you dont want to know live. The trouble is you
find you need to know.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn
Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to
start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way
women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends -- view one another. A
deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help
is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the
ones we dont.
That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo. A novel of deep
introspection as a middle-aged man confronts his parents, their failed
marriage, his own troubled marriage, a daughters new life and what he
thought he wanted as opposed to what in fact he has.
I Thought You Were Dead by Peter Nelson: A guy and his aging dog
share a life that grows closeincluding a shared fear of thunderstorms
and seedy bars. Ond reviewer said: dialogue is smart, sweet, and
Deer Season by Aaron Stander (Mystery)Northern Michigan is
caught (as if in amber) under an unusual blanket of snow. A good
solid mystery with great characters.
My own mysteries of course: (the Dead Series): Dead Dancing
Women, Dead Floating Lovers, Dead Sleeping Shaman all laid in
Northern Michigan where dead bodies keep appearing in the lives of
edgy friends, Emily Kincaid and Deputy Dolly Wakowski.
The Mapping of Love and Death (The Newest Maisie Dobbs mystery) by
Jacqueline Winspear. . . . seems a pivotal novel in the series and
will be life altering for some of the characters.
61 Hours by Lee Child. the 14th novel in the Jack Reacher
series, Child endeavors to push the envelope and his readers
expectations. He puts Reacher on the clock, on the phone and on the
harrowing end of a scorched-earth encounter with a full load of jet
Rules of Vengeance by Christopher Reich, a new thriller by the
author of Rules of Deception. The New York Times bestselling
author delivers a riveting sequel to his smash hit that catapults him
to the distinction of master of the espionage thriller.
Intervention, by Robin Cook. This thriller has an interesting
plot, good characters, the whole enchilada. Id recommend it,
especially if youre a fan of Robin Cook and a follower of the Jack
The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly. Connelly, who has the nerve
and timing of a whole SWAT team, gives Jack two weeks to find the
creep whos been raping and killing attractive long-legged women and
dumping their remains in car trunks if his young replacement doesnt
beat him to the story.
And there you have it for this year. So many favorites left out. So
many good books to read. So little time.
Elizabeth Kane Buzzellis newest mystery is in book stores now.