Reading Recommendations: Adult Fiction

Curated in partnership with Rochester Public Library, this list includes classics, modern award-winners, Minnesota authors, detective stories, science fiction, short stories, and plays.  Fiction with a side of truth, these page-turners will take you on a journey in someone else’s shoes and give you a glimpse of the world through different eyes. Want to be moved? Every one of these books is an excellent place to start.

Note: The Diversity Council does not endorse the views presented in these books. We believe that story is one of the best ways to come to understand and empathize with people who are different from yourself, even when you disagree with their actions or ideas, and that understanding and empathy are vital pillars of a pluralistic society.


The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. In a divided country on the verge of war, two childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, are about to be torn apart forever. It's a glorious afternoon in Kabul and the skies are bursting with the exhilarating joy of a kite-fighting tournament. But in the aftermath of the day's victory, one boy's fearful act of betrayal will mark their lives forever and set in motion an epic quest for redemption. Place on hold at the library

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. This haunting novel by the author of The Kite Runner is at once an incredible chronicle of thirty years of Afghan history and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, faith, and love. Place on hold at the library

A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear, by Atiq Rahimi. Farhad is a typical student, twenty-one years old, interested in wine, women, and poetry, and negligent of the religious conservatism of his grandfather. But he lives in Kabul in 1979, and the early days of the pro-Soviet coup are about to change his life forever. Translated from the Arabic. Place on hold at the library

A Cup of Friendship, by Deborah Rodriguez. From the author of the "New York Times" bestseller "Kabul Beauty School" comes a fiction debut as compelling as real life: the story of a remarkable coffee shop in the heart of Kabul, and the women who meet there--each with a story and a secret. Place on hold at the library


The Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andrić. A great stone bridge built three centuries ago in the heart of the Balkans stands witness to the countless lives played out upon it. A remarkable historical novel that introduces readers to the history of Bosnia from the late 16th century to the beginning of World War I. Place on hold at the library
The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway. While a cellist plays at the site of a mortar attack to commemorate the deaths of twenty-two friends and neighbors, two other men set out in search of bread and water to keep themselves alive, and a woman sniper secretly protects the life of the cellist as her army becomes increasingly threatening. Based on a true story. Place on hold at the library

Remember Me, by Sanela Ramic Jurich. At the innocent age of fifteen, Selma’s family is murdered, and she is sent to a concentration camp where she experiences unimaginable horrors. A story of brutality, courage, love, and faith. Place on hold at the library



In the Shadow of the Banyan, by Vaddey Ratner. Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this novel is based on the author's personal story. As she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood, the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. Place on hold at the library

The Disappeared, by Kim Echlin. Anne Greeves is sixteen years old when she first meets Serey, a Cambodian student and musician forced by his family to leave his country during the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime. When the borders of Cambodia are reopened, Serey risks his life to return home, alone, in search of his family. A decade later, Anne will travel halfway around the world to find him, and to save their relationship from the same tragic forces that first brought them together. Place on hold at the library


The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende. Chilean writer Isabel Allende's classic novel is both a richly symbolic family saga and the riveting story of an unnamed Latin American country's turbulent history. Place on hold at the library

The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolaño. On New Years Eve, the two founders of the visceral realist movement in poetry leave Mexico City on a quest to find a missing poet. A violent showdown turns their search into a desperate flight. Translated from Spanish, The Savage Detectives has been called “the first great Latin American novel of the twenty-first century.” Place on hold at the library

Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel. This charming, quirky romance set in Mexico at the turn of the century quickly became a best seller. Featuring recipes at the beginning of each chapter. Place on hold at the library

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez. This much loved and critically acclaimed novel by a Nobel Prize-winning author tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. Place on hold at the library


Hmong & Lao

The Coroner’s Lunch, by Colin Cotterill. Laos, 1975. The Communist Pathet Lao has taken over this former French colony. Dr. Siri Paiboun, a 72-year-old Paris-trained doctor, is appointed national coroner. Although he has no training for the job, there is no one else; the rest of the educated class has fled. He is expected to come up with the answers the party wants, but crafty and charming Dr.Siri is immune to bureaucratic pressure. At his age, he reasons, what can they do to him? And he knows he cannot fail the dead who come into his care without risk of incurring their boundless displeasure. Eternity could be a long time to have the spirits mad at you. Witty detective story meets political satire. Like this one? Good news—it’s a series! Place on hold at the library


The Rope, by Kanan Makiya. From the best-selling author of Republic of Fear, a gritty, unflinching, haunting novel about Iraqi failure in the wake of the 2003 American war. Told from the perspective of a Shi'ite militiaman whose participation in the execution of Saddam Hussein changes his life in ways he could not anticipate, the novel examines the birth of sectarian politics out of a legacy of betrayal and victimhood. Called “nuanced and essential reading for every global citizen” by the Booklist Review. Place on hold at the library 

The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq, by Hasan Balāsim. The first major literary work about the Iraq War from an Iraqi perspective, The Corpse Exhibition shows us the war as we have never seen it before. Here is a world not only of soldiers and assassins, hostages and car bombers, refugees and terrorists, but also of madmen and prophets, angels and djinni, sorcerers and spirits. Blending shocking realism with flights of fantasy, Hassan Blasim has been called “perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive.” Place on hold at the library

Native American

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, by Louis Erdrich. The Minnesota-born Chippewa author writes with sensuality, spirituality, and humor in this story of the wife of a murdered German farmer who impersonates a dead priest on an Ojibwe reservation. Place on hold at the library

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie.  In this darkly comic collection of 22 interlocking short stories, Native American author Sherman Alexie weaves memory and imagination to paint a complex portrait of life on the Spokane Indian Reservation. A Diversity Council staff member says that the title story resonated most, offering understanding of how a long history of oppression and discrimination against a people and their culture can affect their intimate personal relationships today. Place on hold at the library


The Painted Drum, by Louise Erdrich. Native American antiquities specialist Faye Travers stumbles onto an ancient ceremonial drum from an Ojibwe reservation and falls under its spell when she hears music although no one is playing. Gracefully weaving together the threads of lives the drum has touched, Erdrich details a multigenerational Native American history. Place on hold at the library



Crossbones, by Nuruddin Farah. Completing the trilogy that began with Links and Knots, Jeebleh returns to Somalia, now in a religionist grip, along with his journalist son-in-law, Malik, and Malik's brother Ahl, who is in search of his stepson-turned-pirate. A compelling novel from one of today’s most acclaimed African authors. Place on hold at the library

The Orchard of Lost Souls, by Nadifa Mohamed. This memorable and lyrical novel charts the descent of Somalia into civil war through the entwined lives of three women. Place on hold at the library



What is the What, by Dave Eggers. Fleeing from his village in the mid-1980s, Valentino Achak Deng becomes one of the so-called Lost Boys--children pursued by militaries, government soldiers, lions and hyenas and myriad diseases, in their search for sanctuary, first in Ethiopia and then Kenya. Eventually Deng is resettled in the United States with almost 4,000 other young Sudanese men, and a very different struggle begins. Place on hold at the library

Lyrics Alley, by Leila Aboulela. Their fortune threatened by shifting powers in Sudan and their heir's debilitating accident, a powerful family under the leadership of Mahmoud Bey is torn between the traditional and modern values of Mahmoud's two wives and his son's efforts to break with cultural limits. Set in the 1950’s on the brink of Sudan’s independence from Britain and Egypt. Place on hold at the library



The Calligrapher’s Secret, by Rafik Schami. Even as a young man, Hamid Farsi is acclaimed as a master of the art of calligraphy. But as time goes by, he sees that weaknesses in the Arabic language and its script limit its uses in the modern world. In a secret society, he works out schemes for radical reform, never guessing what risks he is running and how far the purists are willing to go to stop him. His beautiful wife, Nura, is ignorant of the great plans on her husband's mind. She knows only his cold, avaricious side and so it is no wonder she feels flattered by the attentions of his amusing, lively young apprentice. And so begins a passionate love story--the love of a Muslim woman and a Christian man. Place on hold at the library

The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, by Mohja Kahf. Syrian immigrant Khadra Shamy is growing up in a devout, tightly knit Muslim family in 1970s Indiana, at the crossroads of bad polyester and Islamic dress codes. Along with her brother Eyad and her African-American friends, Hakim and Hanifa, she bikes the Indianapolis streets exploring the fault-lines between "Muslim" and "American." Place on hold at the library

In Praise of Hatred, by Khālid Khalīfah.  In the secluded house of her grandparents a young Muslim girl is raised by her aunts but as tensions in Syria through the 1980s rise, the walls are no longer enough to shield them from the political and social chaos outside. A finalist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Place on hold at the library


Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam. A collection of short stories from some of Vietnam’s greatest modern authors. Translated from Vietnamese. Place on hold at the library

Love Like Hate, by Linh Dinh. A dysfunctional family saga that doubles as a portrait of Vietnam in the last 50 years. Protagonists Kim Lan and Hoang Long marry in Saigon during the Vietnam War, uniting in a setting that allows Dinh's dark, deadpan humor to flourish. Place on hold at the library

The Lotus and the Storm, by Lan Cao. An epic tale of love, loyalty, and war from the acclaimed author of Monkey Bridge. In her triumphant new novel, Cao transports readers back to the war, illuminating events central to twentieth-century history through the lives of one Vietnamese American family. Minh and his daughter Mai live in a close-knit Vietnamese immigrant community in suburban Virginia. As Mai discovers a series of devastating truths about what really happened to her family during those years, Minh reflects upon his life and the story of love and betrayal that has remained locked in his heart since the fall of Saigon. Place on hold at the library

The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen. A spy novel, an exploration of extreme politics, and a love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and in the wars we fight today. Place on hold at the library 



Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. One of the seminal works of the twentieth century, Invisible Man follows a black man on his journey from the South to Harlem. "I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me." Place on hold at the library

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, by Heidi Durrow.  Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. father, moves in with her grandmother in a black neighborhood after she is orphaned in a mysterious tragedy. In a world that demands she either be white or black, Rachel is forced to come to grips with her mixed race identity. Based on the author’s own background. Winner of the Bellwether Prize for best fiction addressing social justice issues. Place on hold at the library

Welcome to Braggsville, by T. Geronimo Johnson. A dark and socially provocative southern-fried comedy about four liberal UC Berkeley students who stage a mock lynching during a Civil War reenactment. Named one of the best books of 2015. Place on hold at the library  

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. The beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that spawned a tidal wave of high school book reports views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father--a crusading local lawyer--risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime. Voted one of the best books of the twentieth century. Place on hold at the library

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison. The first novel from this Pulitzer Prize-winning author tells the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove -- a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others -- who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning, and the tragedy of its fulfillment. Place on hold at the library


The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi, where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver, Help tells the stories of the maids on whom the country club set relies, stories of prejudice and mistrust, stories of mistreatment and secret revenge, and stories of love and kindness across all boundaries. This book brings to life the stories of the women who had no voice. Place on hold at the library


“Master Harold” … and the Boys, by Athol Fugard. Set in apartheid South Africa, “Master Harold” tells the story of a white teenage boy and two black servants. Named one of the best plays of the eighties, the story depicts how bigotry and hatred can be absorbed by those who live under it. Place on hold at the library

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. Set in the year of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, this warm debut novel tells the story of fourteen-year-old Lily Owens, who is haunted by the accidental death of her mother, which left her in the care of her brutal, angry father and Rosaleen, a strong, proud black woman. After Rosaleen is thrown into jail for standing up to a trio of racists, Lily helps her escape from the hospital where she is being kept, and the two find refuge with the Boatwright sisters, three black women who keep bees. Lily finds solace among the strong women who surround her and in a forbidden relationship with a black teenaged boy. Place on hold at the library



How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julie Alvarez. The vivid lives of the García sisters, four privileged and rebellious Dominican girls adapting to their new lives in America. Place on hold at the library

Breath, Eyes, Memory, by Edwidge Danticat. At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from the impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York to be reunited with her mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know and gains a legacy of shame that can only be healed when she returns to Haiti, to the woman who first reared her. Place on hold at the library

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America, by Firoozeh Dumas. Dumas finds humor in her quirky family’s struggles to adapt to American life. Place on hold at the library

Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri. This Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of short stories tells stories of Indian immigrants that transcend culture. Place on hold at the library

Giants in the Earth, by O.E. Rolvaag. A saga of the prairies dealing with the hardships of Norwegian farmers who set out in 1873 to settle in the Dakota country. Place on hold at the library

Americanah, by Chimananda Ngozi. Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion--for each other and for their homeland. Winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. Place on hold at the library

White Teeth, by Zadie Smith. This uproarious novel set among London’s underclass tells the intertwined stories of the Joneses and the Iqbals. Place on hold at the library


Voice of America, by E.C. Osondu. Set in Nigeria and the United States, this short story collection moves from the fears and dreams of boys and girls in villages and refugee camps to the disillusionment and confusion of young married couples living in America, and then back to bustling Lagos. Place on hold at the library  

In the Shadow of the Banyan, by Vaddey Ratner. Told from the tender perspective of a young girl who comes of age amid the Cambodian killing fields, this novel is based on the author's personal story. As she endures the deaths of family members, starvation, and brutal forced labor, Raami clings to the only remaining vestige of childhood, the mythical legends and poems told to her by her father. Based on the author’s own experiences. Place on hold at the library

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave. A haunting novel about the friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers—one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from posh suburban London. Place on hold at the library


What is the What, by Dave Eggers. Fleeing from his village in the mid-1980s, Valentino Achak Deng becomes one of the so-called Lost Boys--children pursued by militaries, government soldiers, lions and hyenas and myriad diseases, in their search for sanctuary, first in Ethiopia and then Kenya. Eventually Deng is resettled in the United States with almost 4,000 other young Sudanese men, and a very different struggle begins. Place on hold at the library

Sexual Orientation

The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith. Patricia Highsmith's story of romantic obsession may be one of the most important, but still largely unrecognized, novels of the twentieth century. Based on a true story from Highsmith's own life, this cult classic tells the riveting drama of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose routine is forever shattered by the appearance of Carol Aird, a customer who comes in to buy her daughter a Christmas toy. Therese begins to gravitate toward the alluring suburban housewife, who is trapped in a marriage as stultifying as Therese's job. They fall in love and set out across the United States, ensnared by society's confines and the imminent disapproval of others, yet propelled by their infatuation. Place on hold at the library

Stone Butch Blues, by Leslie Feinberg. Published in 1993, this original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgendered existence. Woman or man? That's the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue-collar town in the 1950's, coming out as a butch in the bars and factories of the prefeminist '60s, deciding to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early '70s. This powerful and deeply moving novel sees Jess coming full circle as she learns to accept the complexities of being a transgendered person in a world demanding simple explanations. Place on hold at the library  

Beauty Salon, by Mario Bellatin. In this uncomfortable short novel by Mexican author Bellatin, a gay salon owner turns his premises into a hospice for men dying of AIDS. Place on hold at the library

The Absolutist, by John Boyne. In this sad novel set in the trenches of World War I, twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of Will Bancroft, the man he fought alongside during the Great War. A masterfully told tale of passion, jealousy, heroism and betrayal from the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Place on hold at the library

God in Pink, by Hasan Namir. Set in war-torn Iraq in 2003, this debut novel captures the anguished dilemma of being gay and Muslim.  Ramy is a closeted university student who lives under the close scrutiny of his strict brother and sister-in-law. Under pressure to find a wife, he seeks the advice of Ammar, a sheikh at a local mosque, whose tolerance is challenged by the contradictions between Ramy's dilemma and the teachings of the Qur'an, leading him to question his own belief system. Place on hold at the library 

A Home at the End of the World, by Michael Cunningham. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours comes this widely praised novel of two boyhood friends: Jonathan, lonely, introspective, and unsure of himself; and Bobby, hip, dark, and inarticulate. In New York after college, Bobby moves in with Jonathan and his roommate, Clare, a veteran of the city's erotic wars. Bobby and Clare fall in love, scuttling the plans of Jonathan, who is gay, to father Clare's child. Then, when Clare and Bobby have a baby, the three move to a small house upstate to raise "their" child together and, with an odd friend, Alice, create a new kind of family. Place on hold at the library

In One Person, by John Irving. The author's most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany, this novel is an intimate and unforgettable portrait of the solitariness of a bisexual man who is dedicated to making himself "worthwhile." Place on hold at the library

Gender Identity & Gender Roles

The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff. Loosely inspired by a true story, this tender portrait of marriage asks: What do you do when the person you love has to change? Uniting fact and fiction into an original romantic vision, The Danish Girl eloquently portrays the unique intimacy that defines every marriage and the remarkable story of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in transgender history, and the woman torn between loyalty to her marriage and her own ambitions and desires. Now a major motion picture. Place on hold at the library

Trans-sister Radio, by Chris Bohjalian. Four people in a small Vermont village are about to have their lives inexorably intertwined by the uncertainties of love and the apparent absolutes of gender. Allison Banks, the long-divorced mother of a teenager, has fallen in love with Dana Stevens, a professor at the nearby university. Carly watches with pleasure her mother's newfound happiness, but her ex-husband Will is jealous. The stumbling block? Dana has known always that in actuality he is a woman, and he will soon be having a sex change operation. At first Allison runs, but overwhelmed by the depth of her passions, she returns. But can the pair's love transcend both the biologic imperatives that are their bodies, as well as their ingrained notions of sexual preference? Moreover, can their love survive the outrage of the small community in which they live? Place on hold at the library  

Annabel, by Kathleen Winter. In 1968, into the spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret--the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy's female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as "Annabel," is never entirely extinguished. Place on hold at the library  

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin. When the human ambassador Genly Ai is sent to Gethen, the planet known as Winter by those outsiders who have experienced its arctic climate, he thinks that his mission will be a standard one of making peace between warring factions. Instead the ambassador finds himself wildly unprepared. For Gethen is inhabited by a society with a rich, ancient culture full of strange beauty and deadly intrigue - a society of people who are both male and female in one, and neither. This lack of fixed gender, and the resulting lack of gender-based discrimination, is the very cornerstone of Gethen life. But Genly is all too human. Unless he can overcome his ingrained prejudices about the significance of male and female, he may destroy both his mission and himself. Place on hold at the library

Orlando, by Virginia Woolf. In her most exuberant, most fanciful novel, Woolf has created a character liberated from the restraints of time and sex. Born in the Elizabethan Age to wealth and position, Orlando is a young nobleman at the beginning of the story--and a modern woman three centuries later. Place on hold at the library



All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. From this highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning author comes a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Place on hold at the library

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. A  family drama written by a neuroscientist, Still Alice traces the descent of an accomplished professor into Alzheimer’s disease. A primer in story form on an incurable disease that strikes at the heart of identity. Place on hold at the library

Best Boy, by Eli Gottlieb. Sent to a "therapeutic community" for autism at the age of eleven, Todd Aaron, now in his fifties, is the "Old Fox" of Payton Living Center. A joyous man who rereads the encyclopedia compulsively, he is unnerved by the sudden arrivals of a menacing new staffer and a disruptive, brain-injured roommate. His equilibrium is further worsened by Martine, a one-eyed new resident who has romantic intentions and convinces him to go off his meds to feel "normal" again. Undone by these pressures, Todd attempts an escape to return "home" to his younger brother and to a childhood that now inhabits only his dreams. Achingly funny and unforgettable. Place on hold at the library

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. Narrated by a 15-year-old autistic savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, this dazzling novel weaves together an old-fashioned mystery, a contemporary coming-of-age story, and a fascinating excursion into a mind incapable of processing emotions. Place on hold at the library
The Ha-Ha, by Dave King. It's been 30 years since a Vietnam War injury left Howard Kapostash unable to speak, read or write. Since then he has only been able to communicate with sounds and gestures - a condition that makes him appear slow and disturbed, but inside his head Howie is the same man he was before the war -- longing for his sweetheart Sylvia, mourning his parents and his chance at a family. However, his solitude is cut short when Sylvia goes into rehab and leaves her nine-year-old son, Ryan, in the care of Howard. What ensues is an engaging tale of triumph and heartbreak. Place on hold at the library

I Know This Much is True, by Wally Lamb. A 900-page masterpiece that portrays a multi-generational sage of mental illness, dysfunctional families, and domestic abuse. Place on hold at the library

The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon. In the future, diseases are a condition of the past. Most genetic defects are removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Lou Arrendale, a high-functioning autistic adult, is a member of the lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the rewards of medical science. But then he is offered a chance to try a brand-new experimental “cure”. With this treatment Lou would think and act and be just like everyone else. But if he was suddenly free of autism, would he still be himself? Would he still love the same classical music—with its complications and resolutions? Would he still see the same colors and patterns in the world—shades and hues that others cannot see? Most important, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Now Lou must decide if he should submit to a surgery that might completely change the way he views the world . . . and the very essence of who he is. Place on hold at the library
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. The classic novel of migrant workers in the Great Depression and of friendship between two young men, one of them developmentally disabled. Place on hold at the library

The Free, by Willy Vlautin. Severely wounded by a head injury in the Iraq war, Leroy Kervin has lived in a group home for eight years. Frustrated by the simplest daily routines, he finds his existence has become unbearable. Freddie McCall, the night man at Leroy's group home, works two jobs yet still can't make ends meet. Pauline Hawkins, a nurse, cares for the sick and wounded, including Leroy. Yet she remains emotionally removed, until she meets a young runaway who touches something deep and unexpected inside her. The lives of three struggling individuals intersect as they search for meaning in dark times. Place on hold at the library

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, by Jonathan Evison. Having lost virtually everything - his wife, family, home, and livelihood - Benjamin Benjamin enrolls in The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he is instructed in the art of inserting catheters, avoiding liability, and keeping distance between client and provider. But Ben soon discovers that this has done little to prepare him for the reality of caring for a tyrannical nineteen-year-old in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Place on hold at the library

Generation Gap and Aging

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. 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 from a Swedish author. Place on hold at the library  

Walking Across Egypt, by Clyde Edgerton. She has as much business keeping a stray dog as she would walking across Egypt, which not so incidentally is the title of her favorite hymn. She's Mattie Rigsbee, an independent, strong-minded senior citizen who, at seventy-eight, might be slowing down just a bit. When teenage delinquent Wesley Benfield drops in on her life, he is even less likely a companion than the stray dog. But, of course, the dog never tasted her mouth-watering pound cake. Wise and witty, down-home and real, Walking Across Egypt is a book for everyone. Place on hold at the library

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. Confined to a nursing home and about to turn 100, Allan Karlsson, who has a larger-than-life back story as an explosives expert, climbs out of the window in his slippers and embarks on an unforgettable adventure involving thugs, a murderous elephant and a very friendly hot dog stand operator. Place on hold at the library

Deaf Sentence, by David Lodge. A witty, tender novel about the travails of old middle age, from a Booker finalist. Desmond Bates is a recently retired linguistics professor vexed by his encroaching deafness and at loose ends in his personal life. Without the purposeful routine of the academic year, he finds his role reduced to that of escort and house-husband while his wife’s late-flowering career as the owner of a home design store flourishes. A funny, moving account of one man’s effort to come to terms with deafness and death, aging and mortality, the comedy and tragedy of human life. Place on hold at the library

Life After Life, by Jill McCorkle. Jill McCorkle takes us on a journey through time and memory as the residents, staff, and neighbors of the Pine Haven retirement center share some of life's most profound discoveries. Among them are retired third-grade teacher, Sadie, who believes we are all eight years old in our hearts; Stanley, a prominent lawyer feigning dementia to escape life with his son; Marge Walker, the town's self-appointed conveyor of social status who keeps a scrapbook of every local murder and heinous crime; and Rachel Silverman, recently widowed, whose decision to leave her Massachusetts home and settle in Fulton is a mystery to everyone but her. Place on hold at the library



The Good Muslim, by Tahmima Anam. From prize-winning Bangladeshi novelist Tahmima Anam, her deeply moving second novel encompasses the rise of Islamic radicalism in Bangladesh seen through the intimate lens of a family. Place on hold at the library


The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, by Mohja Kahf. Syrian immigrant Khadra Shamy is growing up in a devout, tightly knit Muslim family in 1970s Indiana, at the crossroads of bad polyester and Islamic dress codes. Along with her brother Eyad and her African-American friends, Hakim and Hanifa, she bikes the Indianapolis streets exploring the fault-lines between "Muslim" and "American." Place on hold at the library

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig. Few books transform a generation and then establish themselves as touchstones for the generations that follow. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one such book. Years in the writing and rejected by 121 publishers, this modern epic of a man's search for meaning became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974. An autobiography of the mind and body, the book is a narration of a motorcycle trip taken by a father and his eleven-year-old son; a summer junket that confronts mortal truths on the journey of life. As the miles pass, the mind expands, and the narrator's tale covers many topics, from motorcycle maintenance itself through a search for how to live, an inquiry into "what is best," and the creation of a philosophical system reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Place on hold at the library

Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse. This classic chronicles the spiritual evolution of a man living in India at the time of the Buddha--a tale that has inspired generations of readers. Place on hold at the library

Breakfast with Buddha, by Roland Merullo. When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he'd planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger--and amuse himself--he decides to show the monk some "American fun" along the way. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world--and more important, his life--through someone else's eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing. Place on hold at the library

The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie. One of the most controversial and acclaimed novels ever written, The Satanic Verses is set in a modern world filled with both mayhem and miracles. When a London-bound jet explodes in mid-air, two Indian actors fall to earth, transformed into living symbols of what is angelic and evil – one with a halo and one with horns. Allegory, mythology, reincarnation, good and evil all collide in this magical tour de force. Place on hold at the library

The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. A much-loved classic set in New York toward the end of WWII, this is the story of two teenage Jewish boys, one the son of a Zionist, the other of a Russian Hassidic.  A baseball accident turns the two enemies into unlikely friends. If you like this one, try Potok’s other novels as well. Place on hold at the library

Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, by Harry Kemelman. Judaism with a side of murder. Conservative Jewish rabbi David Small solves mysteries using his Talmudic training, which gives him an understanding of logic and the ability to see the third side of a problem. Like this one? Read the whole series!  Place on hold at the library

The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene. In a poor, remote section of southern Mexico, the Red Shirts have taken control, God has been outlawed, and the priests have been systematically hunted down and killed. Now, the last priest strives to overcome physical and moral cowardice in order to find redemption. Named one of the best novels of the modern era by TIME magazine. Place on hold at the library

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. One of the most influential novels ever written, The Brothers Karamazov is a sweeping, passionate tale of romance, patricide, and faith. Place on hold at the library

The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan. One of the most widely read novels in history, this 17th century allegory has shown remarkable staying power. The pilgrim Christian, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Giant Despair, Hopeful, and Ignorance take their places in an epic journey to Paradise. Place on hold at the library




The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis. Hattie flees Jim-Crow Georgia at age 14 for the freedom of the North, but a young marriage, nine children, and constant hardship and poverty leave her wondering what she has gained. A beautiful novel of race, money, crushed dreams, sexuality, and family. Place on hold at the library

Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck. Adopting the structure and themes of the Arthurian legend, Steinbeck created a "Camelot" on a shabby hillside above Monterey on the California coast and peopled it with a colorful band of knights. As Steinbeck chronicles their thoughts and emotions, temptations and lusts, he spins a tale as compelling, and ultimately as touched by sorrow, as the famous legends of the Round Table. Place on hold at the library


American Salvage Stories, by Bonnie Jo Campbell. In rural Michigan, the American dream, if it ever existed, lies discarded like so much rusty scrap metal. For the inhabitants of Campbell's short story collection, the real truth of life can be found in industrial accidents, soul-deadening labor, and the comfort of five drinks too many. But even amid the despair of meth labs and empty pocketbooks, Campbell's characters yearn for something, anything, to raise them above it all--and sometimes, impossibly, they find it. Place on hold at the library

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