Synopsis: Rob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a bad record collection? Rob seeks refuge in the company of the offbeat clerks at his store, who endlessly review their top five films; top five Elvis Costello songs; top five episodes of Cheers. Rob tries dating a singer, but maybe it's just that he's always wanted to sleep with someone who has a record contract. Then he sees Laura again. And Rob begins to think that life with kids, marriage, barbecues, and soft rock CDs might not be so bad.
Brandon Says: I like High Fidelity not only because it’s funny, but because the protagonist is so realistic. When it comes to elitist opinions and cynicism, the character of Rob is hilariously on point. But what really drew me into the story is how he transitions—kicking and screaming—into maturity. It tickles me how he can go from a philosophy reflected in the phrase, “…what really matters is what you like, not what you are like,” into begrudgingly admitting, “maybe, given the right set of peculiar, freakish, probably unrepeatable circumstances, it’s not what you like but what you’re like that’s important.” This book is a good read for music collectors, people having trouble maintaining relationships, and those that despite their world crumbling around them still choose to live in their own head.
Brandon's Past Staff Picks
Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase
Synopsis: Roberta, a lonely thirty-four-year-old bibliophile, works at The Old and New Bookshop in England. When she finds a letter inside her centenarian grandmother's battered old suitcase that hints at a dark secret, her understanding of her family's history is completely upturned. Running alongside Roberta's narrative is that of her grandmother, Dorothy, as a forty-year-old childless woman desperate for motherhood during the early years of World War II. After a chance encounter with a Polish war pilot, Dorothy believes she's finally found happiness, but must instead make an unthinkable decision whose consequences forever change the framework of her family. The parallel stories of Roberta and Dorothy unravel over the course of eighty years as they both make their own ways through secrets, lies, sacrifices, and love. Utterly absorbing, Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase is a spellbinding tale of two worlds, one shattered by secrets and the other by the truth.
Brooke Says: Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase is a novel packed with love, heartbreak, humor, and secrets. Because we follow not only Roberta, but also Dorothea, through their life trials, all of that love and heartbreak doubles. They may seem to live different lives decades apart but as the pages turn, the women’s similarities reveal themselves. Whether it’s Roberta and her collection of old letters she finds wedged between book pages or Dorothea and her diligent laundry skills, their voices pull you in. These two strong females will lead you through a whirlwind of emotion and show you how love remains the same whether it’s found in a war-stricken world or nestled safely in the Old and New Bookshop.
Brooke's Past Staff Picks
Emma in the Night
Synopsis: One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.
Donna Says: If you enjoy psychological suspense stories with complex character relationships and involved plotting, then try Walker’s Emma in the Night. Wendy Walker is the author of 2016’s popular psychological suspense title, All is Not Forgotten and her sophomore novel does not disappoint.
Donna's Past Staff Picks
The Stranger Beside Me
Synopsis: Utterly unique in its astonishing intimacy, as jarringly frightening as when it first appeared, Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me defies our expectation that we would surely know if a monster lived among us, worked alongside of us, appeared as one of us. With a slow chill that intensifies with each heart-pounding page, Rule describes her dawning awareness that Ted Bundy, her sensitive coworker on a crisis hotline, was one of the most prolific serial killers in America. He would confess to killing at least thirty-six young women from coast to coast, and was eventually executed for three of those cases. Drawing from their correspondence that endured until shortly before Bundy's death, and striking a seamless balance between her deeply personal perspective and her role as a crime reporter on the hunt for a savage serial killer the brilliant and charismatic Bundy, the man she thought she knew.
Elizabeth Says: This book will make you ask yourself just how well do you know anyone. Ann Rule worked beside Ted Bundy for months with no idea he was a serial killer. Told in chilling detail and is a must for any true crime fan.
Elizabeth's Past Staff Picks
His Bloody Project
Graeme Macrae Burnet
Synopsis: In 1869, a brutal triple murder in the remote Wester Ross village of Culduie leads to the arrest of a seventeen-year-old crofter, Roderick Macrae. There is no question of Macrae’s guilt, but it falls to the country’s most eminent legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to his bloody deeds. Ultimately, the young man’s fate hinges on one key question: is he insane? The story ingeniously unfolds through a series of found documents, including police statements; the accused’s prison memoir; the account of renowned psychiatrist, J. Bruce Thomson; and a report of the trial, compiled from contemporary newspapers.
Megan Says: His Bloody Project is a psychological thriller masquerading as a slice of true crime; a collection of “found” documents that play lovingly with the traditions of Scottish literature; an artful portrait of a remote crofting community in the 19th century that showcases contemporary theories about class and criminology. It is also a blackly funny investigation into madness and motivation, which perhaps leads no further than one character’s grim conclusion: “One man can no more see into the mind of another than he can see inside a stone.” This is a fiendishly readable tale that richly deserves the wider attention the Man Booker Prize (finalist) has brought it.
Megan's Past Staff Picks
An Extraordinary Union
Synopsis: Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South to spy for the Union Army. Malcolm McCall, a Scottish immigrant, is a detective for Pinkerton's Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he's facing his deadliest mission yet--risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia. Two undercover agents who share a common cause--and an undeniable attraction--Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy's favor.
Nina Says: “Extraordinary” is the perfect adjective for the first in Cole’s Loyal League series: extraordinarily charming, intelligent and sexy. Elle is whip smart and brave, and Malcolm loves her the more for it. Most of all, this story is based on real people who fought during the Civil War to preserve the country, shedding light on rarely explored parts of the African American experience.
Nina's Past Staff Picks
The Art of Choosing
Synopsis: Every day we make choices. Coke or Pepsi? Save or spend? Stay or go? Whether mundane or life-altering, these choices define us and shape our lives. Sheena Iyengar asks the difficult questions about how and why we choose: Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose? Sheena Iyengar's award-winning research reveals that the answers are surprising and profound. In our world of shifting political and cultural forces, technological revolution, and interconnected commerce, our decisions have far-reaching consequences. Use THE ART OF CHOOSING as your companion and guide for the many challenges ahead.
Randall Says: In The Art of Choosing, Columbia Business School professor Sheena Iyengar examines the ways we – both consciously and subconsciously – navigate choice in everyday life. Discover how culture influences our decision-making and how too much choice can be a problem. This is a thought-provoking book recommended for fans of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow and Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.
Randall's Past Staff Picks