• hollyrutchik

OverBOOKed August 2019

Too busy to read? Studies show that those who read tend to be smarter and live longer! Carve out some time in your busy schedule for some SHELFcare. For those who don’t have time to pick a book, we’ve curated a list just for you.

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home

By Tembi Locke

If you’re in the mood for: Deep feels, “star-crossed” (cross-cultural) lovers, a good cry, family drama, good food, a reminder to appreciate the people and life you love.

A Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick, From Scratch examines the nitty gritty of how a true loves story begins, but never ends.

This memoir, written by actress Tembi Locke, explores every side of love—even the dark sides. The book chronicles the love story between Tembi, a black American actress, and Saro, the Sicilian chef she meets on the streets of Florence, Italy, as a young student.

The book is anchored by the hot summers Tembi and her daughter spend with Saro’s mother in Sicily following his death. As Tembi continues her love story with Saro through the culture, traditions, countryside and food of his origin, she also embraces the family that initially rejected her, their small Sicilian village, and its cast of characters. Through diary-like depictions of daily work and meals, the book weaves together a tapestry of love and loss that leads to a full life of love.

Like your favorite soup or sauce, this book is a slow simmer with a big payoff. You’ll savor its flavors (and characters) long after the last page has been turned. With the Sicilian countryside as a character and some of the family’s favorite recipes in the back, this book will make you long for home—be it a person, place or favorite meal.


Ask Again, Yes

By Mary Beth Keane

If you’re in the mood for: Family saga, a mental health story, flawed/extraordinary characters, redemption/forgiveness

Ask Again, Yes is about how the most extraordinary challenges, and people, can be found in the most ordinary of places.

The book follows two men, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, whose lives are fatefully linked together for an unknown reason. They both start off as NYPD rookie police officers, but end up living next door to one another in the suburbs.

For years, the two remain linked through life’s struggles, the events of one fateful evening and the ripple effects life’s events have in the lives of those involved. Throughout this family saga, readers will ask (repeatedly) “Is this link happenstance, or is it more?”

What is a life of love and success? How far does the impact of mental illness reach? What mistakes can we rise up from and are there mistakes too big to come back from?

Ask Again, Yes will have you examining the effects of your own mistakes (on your life and the lives of those you love) and how much you’re willing to forgive those who are willing to forgive you.


The Immortalists

By Chloe Benjamin

If you’re in the mood for: Magic, sibling rivalry, mortality, love, free-will, faith

Named a best book of the year by several outlets (including the NPR and the New York Public Library) The Immortalists offers a new and creative take on mortality: if you knew the exact date of your death, would it change how you live you life? Are you sure?

Spanning five decades, this sweeping family drama follows four children from a religious Jewish family in New York City. In 1969, the siblings meet a traveling psychic who can tell people the date of their death.

As the book unfolds, the reader learns whether each child chooses to learn their death date from the woman and what impact it has on their lives. Do they die when the woman predicted? If so, what impact did that knowledge have?

The Immortalists will have you questioning what governs your life. For these four children, was it destiny or self-fulfilling prophecy?


The Clockmaker's Daughter

By Kate Morton

If you’re in the mood for: Mystery, suspense, history, art, murder

With a young woman who stands outside of time as its narrator, The Clockmaker’s Daughter has all the elements of a book you can’t put down!

A love affair, a mysteriously old photographer and a 150-year old mystery all draw the reader in to the modern-day life of Elodie Winslow, an engaged archivist planning her wedding in London. She discovers the 150-year old leather satchel of artist Edward Radcliffe. The satchel contains the photo of a beautiful young Victorian woman and the sketch of a riverside twin-gable home, which (for some reason) looks familiar to Elodie?

The plot alternates between present day, as Elodie questions what she has found, and 1862, as Radcliffe and his artist friends spend the summer at Birchwood Manor on the Thames River.

The summer leads to murder, stolen heirlooms and a mystery that carries the reader back and forth between Edward and Elodie—all while examining their lives, loves and ambitions. The Clockmaker’s Daughter is beautiful and thought-provoking story about the things that keep us up at night. And this book will do just that; I lost sleep because I couldn't put it down!


The Great Alone

By Kristin Hannah

If you’re in the mood for: Survival, pioneer life, perseverance, friendship, community, familial drama, coming of age story

Trigger warning: This book does contain themes of domestic violence

Fans of Kristin Hannah (The Nightingale) are no stranger to her ability to tell the darkest of stories with light and hope.

The Great Alone follows Leni Allbright, 13, and her parents, Cora and Ernt (a former Vietnam POW), as they uproot their lives and relocate to Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, in 1974. With the help of a small homesteading community, the family learns to survive the harsh winter conditions of an Alaskan winter, and the secret and consequences of domestics violence.

As Leni and Cora form new survival skills and communal bonds, the harsh conditions and isolation of winter magnify the trauma of fighting for Ernt, which makes the Alaskan winters even more dangerous for the Allbrights.

Leni finds comfort in neighbor-turned-best-friend Matthew. Through this relationship, Leni starts to question if she is destined to live this way or if she is made for something more, something better.

The Great Alone is a coming of age story with a twist. It uses one of the most extreme natural climates (Alaska) to depict both the majestic beauty (and the coldest bitter pains) of the human existence.

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