"...that's really what history mostly is: masses of people doing ordinary things."
~ from Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life
In the Unlikely Event by Judy BlumeFiction. A plane crash is an unlikely event; three within a period of three months in the same town is so statistically improbable that it beggars belief. Yet this is precisely what happens in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1951. Miri Ammerman, 15 years old when the planes fall out of the sky, is already grappling with the chaos and confusion of adolescence. What is she supposed to do when tragedy turns her world upside-down? Based on events from the author's own childhood, In the Unlikely Event marks Judy Blume's first foray into adult fiction since 1998's Summer Sisters.
Armada by Ernest ClineScience Fiction. High school senior Zack Lightman is a lackluster student, but a skilled gamer -- he's ranked number six worldwide among players of his favorite video game, Armada. But when Zack looks out the window and sees an enemy spacecraft from the game, he starts to worry that he's been overdoing it. Alas, the ship is all too real and soon it's up to Zack to use his experience shooting fake aliens to save the world from a real invasion. Packed with references to 1980s pop culture, this latest action-packed science fiction adventure from the author of Ready Player One should entertain fans of Ender's Game or the film The Last Starfighter.
Go Set a Watchman: A Novel by Harper LeeFiction. Much has changed in Maycomb, Alabama, in the 20 years since the events of To Kill a Mockingbird. Now 26 and living in New York City, Jean Louise "Scout" Finch returns home for a visit. That's when she discovers that her father, 72-year-old Atticus, who once defended African American Tom Robinson in court, has become a staunch segregationist at a time when the Civil Rights movement is gaining momentum. Originally written in the 1950s, this atmospheric, bittersweet exploration of family ties and race relations serves as a thought-provoking companion piece to its predecessor.
The Marriage of Opposites by Alice HoffmanHistorical Fiction. The daughter of Jewish refugees, Rachel Pomié grows up on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas, but dreams of traveling to Paris, the home of her ancestors. Instead, her father arranges for her to marry Isaac, a local widower with three children. When the much-older Isaac dies, his nephew Frédéric arrives to settle the estate. Rachel and Frédéric fall in love and start a family together, despite the disapproval of their entire community. Inspired by the life of the woman who would become the mother of Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, The Marriage of Opposites also offers a lush, lyrical depiction of 19th-century Jewish life in the Danish West Indies (now the U.S. Virgin Islands).
The Book of Speculation: A Novel by Erika SwylerFiction. His mother, a carnival mermaid, drowned herself when he was a child; his sister, Enola, ran away from home to join a traveling circus. Librarian Simon Watson knows that his family is strange, but doesn't realize exactly how strange until he's given an old book documenting his family's unusual history, one that answers some of his questions but raises many more. Melancholy and whimsical, The Book of Speculation adds a spellbinding layer of supernatural intrigue to a suspenseful story of one family's cursed legacy.
At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill BrysonHistory. Award-winning author Bill Bryson invites listeners into his home, a former Victorian parsonage in Norfolk, England, to see what the contents of each room reveal about human history. From what the bathroom says about evolving attitudes regarding health and hygiene to the kitchen's role in trade and nutrition, Bryson skips lightly from subject to subject in the witty, engaging style that has won him many fans.
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen GreenblattHistory. In the early 15th century, papal scribe Poggio Bracciolini discovered a tattered copy of De Rerum Nature (On the Nature of Things), by classical Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius. The discovery was rife with subversive content: Lucretius damned religion as superstition, while writing that all earthly matter (including humans) consisted of tiny particles, swerving in constant motion and full of energetic potential. Given the risk involved in keeping the book, Bracciolini could have destroyed it, but chose not to. This decision marks the first of many unexpected, meaningful "swerves" -- sudden, unpredictable changes -- that shaped modern philosophical, political, artistic, and scientific thought.
The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan JonesHistory. Meet the Plantagenets, England's longest-reigning royal dynasty. Beginning with Angevin Henry II's ascension to the throne in 1154 and ending at Bosworth Field in 1485 with the death of Richard III, this family's impact on English history has been profound. The Plantagenets covers the fractious clan's first 250 years, ending with Richard II's usurpation by Henry IV; its sequel, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors, chronicles the bloody conflict between the House of Plantagenet's cadet branches, rivals York and Lancaster.
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton SidesHistory. This fast-paced, compelling chronicle of a famously ill-fated 1879 Arctic expedition introduces U.S. naval officer and explorer George Washington De Long, who led the crew of the USS Jeannette through the Bering Strait in an attempt to find an open-seas passage to the North Pole. Backing De Long's venture was New York Herald owner James Gordon Bennett, Jr., who hoped to increase his sales by publishing an exclusive account of the voyage. Unfortunately for all parties involved, the Jeannette ended up trapped in pack ice for two years, prompting the crew to abandon ship and trek across the ice fields in hope of a rescue that never materialized. Kirkus Reviews calls In the Kingdom of Ice a "grand and grim narrative of thrilling exploration."
Contact your librarian for more great books!