Seen in Pittsburgh!

Here in Pittsburgh, we are fortunate to receive visits from a number of outstanding authors.  Some of the authors are favorites of mine, but quite a few of these visits have prompted me to read books that I would not have chosen.  Not only have I expanded my reading horizons, but I have devoured a number of books that I would never have discovered on my own.  I would consider the following list not to be book recommendations, but rather, author recommendations.  I had many reactions after listening to each of these writers – some left me stunned by their articulate intelligence and ability to communicate so clearly.   Some were so energetic that I departed the lecture hall exhausted by the journey through their imagination.  And, some left me daydreaming that they were my new best friend because they were so open and charming.  Whatever my response may have been, one thing remains constant: the opportunity to meet an author only enhances the experience of reading their works.  Keep your eyes and ears open for upcoming author visits and take advantage of these occasions to find your new favorite writer.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Set during the Chechen war, the characters in this novel face a bleak reality.  Despite the fear and violence that they live through, a glowing light of hope keeps them afloat, and each finds something that is so worth preserving that the vitality of hope and connection becomes his or her strength.

The Crossover

Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.

Dear Mr. You

In actress Mary-Louise Parker’s debut book, she recounts her memories through a series of letters to some of the important men in her life. From the Grandfather she never met to the future man who loves her daughter, each letter is heartfelt and unique.

Fates and Furies

An intriguing portrait of a marriage that proves the old adage, “There are two sides to every story.”

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

Alan Cumming’s memoir examines his childhood with a cold and distant father and allows us to accompany him on his journey of acceptance.  Throughout his struggles, Cumming’s charm and graciousness shine and ultimately carry him to peace.

Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge is a grouchy former teacher who keeps those around her feeling intimidated, put off, or antsy. Elizabeth Strout has brilliantly given us a 360 degree external view of this iceberg while matching it with Olive’s own straightforward view of life. Strout’s acute precision in looking at the mundane moments that make up our lives is memorable.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell takes us to a Dutch trading outpost in Nagasaki harbor in the year 1799 where we follow Jacob, a young Dutch trading clerk, and his encounters with Orito, an intelligent and driven Japanese woman, and Dr. Marinus, a scholar (and a familiar presence to Mitchell readers).  This historical novel depicts some real events, but its unique and magical journey will take the reader far beyond reality.

The Underground Railroad

Cora is a young slave who escapes her bondage and is spirited away on an actual underground railroad. Cora’s optimism for a better future is challenged in each society that she encounters as she begins to understand that discrimination and hatred is not always overt.