Cheryl Strayed wrote about how the death of her mother changed her life in the best-selling Wild. In a similar and yet very different vein, Kelly Corrigan writes about the effects of her mom’s presence in a wonderful new memoir, Glitter and Glue.
Three of the best books of 2013 are now available in paperback—and guaranteed to delight your reading group. Spanning the globe from Texas to Italy to Chechnya, these memorable stories are sure to spark discussion.
When your mom is the president of the United States, you’d think your life would be perfect. But, as eighth grader Audrey Rhodes is discovering, living at “1600” (as she calls her new home) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Having friends over becomes an issue of national security, a Secret Service agent follows her everywhere and class trips are out of the question.
On the heels of solving her first mystery in the Newbery Honor book Three Times Lucky, Mo LoBeau faces more intrigue in her tiny North Carolina town of Tupelo Landing. Just when her adoptive kin buy the old Tupelo Inn, now abandoned and rumored to be haunted, her sixth-grade teacher assigns an oral history report to coincide with the community’s 250th anniversary. Extra credit goes to the student who can interview the town’s oldest member, so Mo decides to interview the ghost of the Tupelo Inn because “[t]here ain’t nobody older than dead.”
Author Matthew Quick probably is tired of hearing the word “quirky,” but it really is the singularly best way to describe his storytelling. After his first novel, The Silver Linings Playbook, was adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, Quick delivers a new story featuring Bartholomew Neil, a uniquely likeable protagonist who at nearly 40 has lived with his mother his entire life.
At the time of his death, Abraham Lincoln was immensely popular with the Northern public. The country’s political elite, however, regarded him as a good country lawyer ill-suited to deal with the heavy responsibilities of a wartime presidency. Influential writers and politicians of all stripes blamed him for a series of political blunders.
Wild, irregular and free, Henry Thoreau cut a distinctive figure in 19th-century Concord, Massachusetts, whether carving “dithyrambic dances” on ice skates with Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne or impressing Ralph Waldo Emerson with his “comic simplicity.” More at home in the woods than in society, Thoreau began the first volume of his celebrated journals with a simple word that also functioned as his motto: solitude.
Billy Collins, a two-term Poet Laureate of the United States who can fill large auditoriums and appears on “A Prairie Home Companion,” has made poetry miraculously accessible without dumbing it down or making it any less profound. His voice is plain but eloquent, his style easy, without complicated meter; he makes the ordinary meaningful and the everyday beautiful. His latest collection, Aimless Love, is his first in a dozen years.
George Eliot’s Middlemarch is a crowning achievement among Victorian novels—a canon with its fair share of weighty masterworks. Admired by generations of writers, including Virginia Woolf, who called it “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people,” it holds primacy of place on many readers’ “to be read” lists, though many probably never get to the somewhat daunting task. Not so Rebecca Mead, a staff writer for The New Yorker, who first read the novel when she was 17 and has re-read it many times since.
The most exciting part of Carson Fender’s day was supposed to be his role in the fourth-biggest prank in Erik Hill Middle School history (it involved fainting goats). That all changed when a mysterious man pressed a mysterious package into Carson’s hands and ran away, only to be abducted by two men with painted white faces. In Codename Zero, by Chris Rylander, Carson learns quickly that crazy, frightening and awesome things can happen anywhere. Even in North Dakota.