This month’s staff picks display will be dedicated to fiction. Story engages us in all the worlds our collective experience encompasses. Whether you’re a devotee of fiction or just want to give something new a try, check out the Mechanics’ Institute Library staff’s favorites.
Taryn recommends Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles, she finds herself transported suddenly to a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. Time travel, mystery, romance, and war are the themes that permeate this epic story. Be prepared, you’ll spend the rest of 2014 reading the subsequent novels. Move over Game of Thrones!
Chris recommends A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava
Initially self published in 2008, and reprinted last year by University of Chicago Press (who rarely deal in fiction, we follow the tremendously talented but overworked New York City public defender Casi. Despite his proficiency and the respect earned from his clients and coworkers, he begins to find his work increasingly futile. Frustrated, he begins to entertain acting on the other side of the law. Just shy of 700 pages, the novel may be initially intimidating, but his authentic voice (De La Pave himself works as a public defender), hilarious dialogue, and genuine concern for social justice makes it difficult to put down.
Semple’s epistolary tale is about Bernadette, a brilliant Los Angeles architect, who suffers a nervous breakdown following a calamitous confrontation with a neighbor and moves to Seattle with her Microsoft-employed husband and her daughter. In a story told through emails, letters, shopping bills, report cards, etc. the reader comes to understand the forces that changed Bernadette into a near agoraphobic who shuns human interaction until forces beyond her control sent her on a journey she never intended to take. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is a funny and heartwarming novel about a dysfunctional family as well as a satiric portrayal of an entitled society.
Jussi Adler-Olsen is a prize-winning mystery writer and the most popular crime writer in Denmark. The Keeper of Lost Causes is the first in a series of novels featuring Carl Mørck, one of Copenhagen’s best homicide detectives. However, when two of Carl’s colleagues are killed in an ambush, without him having even pulled his gun, Carl is re-assigned to Department Q to re-investigate cold cases. In a department of one, until he hires an untrained but enthusiastic assistant, Carl desultorily looks through old cases until his attention becomes riveted on the case of the disappearance and presumed death of a beautiful, liberal politician. The police procedural is compelling, and the portrayal of a slightly damaged detective is both darkly comic and heartrending.