Karen's Staff Picks

Bookseller Karen loves these books!

The Woman Next Door: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250124579
Availability: Available from Warehouse
Published: Picador - February 7th, 2017

The fractured relationship between two next-door neighbors (widowed women retired from professional careers) drives this unforgettable, well paced story.  Set in modern day Katterijn, an affluent South African residential community, a life-altering event tests their life-long grudge, an unfortunate remnant of the country’s history of Apartheid.

O's Little Guide to the Big Questions (O’s Little Books/Guides) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250070128
Availability: Available from Warehouse
Published: Flatiron Books - January 2nd, 2018

This sixth installment in a series of Oprah’s books taps the O Magazine archives and finds standout selections. It’s focus: “tackling...crucial questions:” timing a significant change, dealing with unexpected loss, or finding compassion in the midst of anger. The book aims high; and the result is a compilation of heartfelt pieces that do, in fact clarify, motivate, and empower.

The Tortilla Curtain Cover Image
ISBN: 9780140238280
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - September 1st, 1996

Published over twenty years, this story of the complexities in areas of US immigration is spot-on and unrelenting-much as it was when I first inhaled it. Boyle's story intertwines the lives of a White, privileged California couple with those of a poor Mexican couple who have crossed the border having no formal authority to do so. Still timely and crafted with useful irony, Boyle holds up a mirror that is may be hard to look into, but contains an insightful reflection. I continue to appreciate this book for all that it teaches me each time I revisit it.

The Glitch: A Novel Cover Image
Currently Unavailable
ISBN: 9780385542784
Availability: Currently Unavailable
Published: Doubleday - May 22nd, 2018

The Glitch is a funny, yet cautionary tale: one in which a life is tightly tied to one’s career and one’s willingness to strive for nothing less than perfection. When taken overboard, as is the choice of the book’s main character, things can fall drastically apart, events become crazy-making, and gunk the heck out of life. A nice reminder that success isn’t always what it seems.

Heads of the Colored People: Stories Cover Image
Currently Unavailable
ISBN: 9781501167997
Availability: Currently Unavailable
Published: 37 Ink - April 10th, 2018

A very special kind of ‘tricky’’ faces the upper middle-class Blacks who elect to dwell in the neighborhoods and workplaces predominated by their white counterparts .  This story collection captures the essence of that experience, my own experience, in a most validating way.   Provocative, witty, with a rewarding bit of snark, these stories illustrate the heavy lifting that comes with being  the "Black few" among the "white many." Here, characters learn that equalities in wealth, education, or space only take them so far.

How to Eat a Lobster: And Other Edible Enigmas Explained Cover Image
By Ashley Blom, Lucy Engelman (Illustrator)
Currently Unavailable
ISBN: 9781594749216
Availability: Temporarily Unavailable
Published: Quirk Books - April 4th, 2017

When reading etiquette books, I feel pressured by what seem like  unjustified "shoulds and should nots." Blom's book feels quite different. Her content is fresh, inclusive, more how-to than should-do, a dining survival manual for everyone. I, for one, found this difference refreshing. Some of Blom's insights: how to eat unfamiliar fruits or other foods that are new to us; how to eat something spicy, or messy, how to use bread as a utensil.