Audiobook of the Month: The Women in the Castle

Our April Audiobook of the Month is Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle. Set in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to Germany’s high society, The Women in the Castle is a propulsive, affecting, and ultimately redemptive novel chronicling the lives of three widows whose fates collide in the aftermath of World War II. You can listen to it right now or visit one of 450 participating stores on Saturday, April 29th to get a complimentary audiobook in celebration of Independent Bookstore Day!


“Three war widows and their children help each other survive at the end of World War II in this engaging novel filled with rich period details. Their husbands died as members of the resistance, but aside from that common thread, Marianne, Benita, and Ania bring very different backgrounds to their makeshift home in the castle’s kitchen. They also face repercussions from past choices and current secrets. Jessica Shattuck brings us into their world and shows us that the rules for love and loyalty are different in wartime.”
—Dawn Rennert, The Concord Bookshop, Concord, MA

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Listen to a preview of The Women in the Castle


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss The Women in the Castle. Use the hashtag #TheWomenInTheCastle and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Book of the Month: Hillbilly Elegy

Our January Book of the Month is J.D. Vance’s #1 New York Times Bestseller, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Vance, a former marine and Yale Law graduate, chronicles the struggles of the white working class from the lens of his family’s rust belt and Appalachian roots, in what David Brooks calls, “…essential reading for this moment in history.”

The publication of J.D. Vance’s memoir could not have been more timely. In his account of growing up in a so-called hillbilly family, Vance offers a deeply personal, loving but clear-eyed view of his people, poor whites of Scots-Irish descent, endangered not only by economic forces beyond their control, but by their own fierce insularity and resistance to outside influences…Vance also gives us indelible portraits of family members: a mother struggling with addiction, an absent father’s strict adherence to conservative Christianity, and, most movingly, of his grandmother, known as “Mamaw,” an awesome, gun-owning matriarch who provided the only real stability he knew. Hillbilly Elegy is an engrossing, readable memoir, as well as a necessary perspective on the failure of the promise of American prosperity.

– Ann T., Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington D.C.


Listen to a preview of Hillbilly Elegy.

 


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Watch J.D. Vance’s Ted Talk on “America’s Forgotten Working Class.”


Further Watching and Reading

Watch J.D. Vance’s interview on Charlie Rose.

Read Alec MacGillis’s, “The Original Underclass,” from The Atlantic, which discusses Hillbilly Elegy in contrast to other books—both contemporary and historical—that explore similar themes.

Read Oliver Lee Bateman’s, “Being a Bumpkin: Untangling White-Trash Identity,” from The Paris Review, which further contextualizes the discussion surrounding Vance’s memoir.


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Use the hashtag #hillbillyelegy and find us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Book of the Month: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Our December Book of the Month is Colson Whitehead’s bestselling novel, The Underground Railroad, winner of the 2016 National Book Award. Deemed by the New York Times, “a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present,” The Underground Railroad chronicles a young slave’s desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.

“Audiobook fans will certainly not be disappointed by versatile actor Turpin’s performance of Whitehead’s powerful historical novel, which tells the story of Cora, a teenage slave girl who lives on a cotton plantation in 1850s Georgia.”
– Publisher’s Weekly


 


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Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss The Underground Railroad. Use the hashtag #theundergroundrailroad and find us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.


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Read Oprah’s interview with Colson Whitehead

 


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Listen to Colson Whitehead on NPR’s Fresh Air

Book of the Month: The Woman in Cabin 10

Our November Book of the Month is New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10. Leaving behind the ill-fated bachelorette weekend of her acclaimed debut In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ware’s newest offering is set on storm-ridden luxury cruise in the North Sea, where her heroine witnesses a passenger being thrown overboard, and must prove that the crime did, in fact, happen. Called an “atmospheric thriller” by The Washington Post, this bone-chilling mystery explores one woman’s struggle with the horror she alone has seen, and what now she must do in response.


“When journalist Lo Blacklock sees someone throw a woman’s body over the side of a small cruise ship, it should be clear that a crime has been committed. The problem? No one is missing. This is far from the travel magazine assignment that brought Lo on board, but she can’t just give up. Something happened and she must find the answer. But can she do so without losing her own life? This is a fun read full of psychological thrills and twists that readers absolutely will not see coming.”
Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA


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Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss The Woman in Cabin 10. Use the hashtag #thewomanincabin10 and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


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Hear Ruth Ware interviewed on NPR

Listen to the interview on npr.org


Bonus: Ruth Ware’s favorite psychological thrillers.

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The Secret History
By Donna Tartt

Although we know from the first pages what crime has been committed, right down to the narrator’s own involvement, Tartt’s skill is to draw us inexorably into a world as tinged with nostalgic pain as Brideshead Revisited, and keep us there, desperate to understand the how, the why, and the consequences of what happens.

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Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn

Toxic marriage, exuberantly nasty characters, twisty plot—what’s not to like?

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Endless Night
By Agatha Christie

Christie is often (undeservedly, in my view) dismissed as a purveyor of cosy stories about twee detectives, but Endless Night is one of her genuinely creepy and disturbing standalone novels.

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We Were Liars
By E. Lockhart

While it was published as young adult, readers of any age will be gripped by this slow, hypnotic tale of a monied, uptight New England family, and the weight of a secret that unfolds with shocking violence.

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Rebecca
By Daphne du Maurier

I’m not 100% sure Rebecca qualifies as a thriller, given it’s three parts screwed-up love story and two parts ghost-story-without-a-ghost, but the mystery at the heart of the novel is what happened to Maxim’s first wife, the eponymous Rebecca, and it’s unravelled with the pacing and finesse of the finest psychological thrillers out there.

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The Woman in White
By Wilkie Collins

I’m not sure if there’s an agreed-upon “first” psychological thriller, but Collins surely has a claim with The Woman in White, a twisty, gothic tale of mistaken identity and deception that was so popular in Victorian England it inspired perfume and clothing lines in tribute.

Book of the Month: Commonwealth

Our October Book of the Month is bestselling author Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, an enthralling depiction of the lives of two families brought together after a chance romantic encounter. Deemed, “exquisite” by the New York Times, Patchett’s novel spans a half-century exploring the complex ties that bind families together.

Patchett leaves behind the exotic locales and intricate plots of State of Wonder and Bel Canto for an even darker and more difficult place to navigate – the interior of a blended family over the course of several decades. While more domestic than many of her previous novels, Commonwealth offers plenty of intrigue and surprises as Patchett explores the interaction of a group of children forced into each other’s lives because of their parents’ impulsive choices. With keen insight, tears of both sorrow and joy, and some real – if dark – humor, Patchett pulls readers into this complex family’s world, and we are eager for every detail.
John Christensen, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI


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Listen to a preview of Commonwealth:


On PBS, Ann Patchett discusses both her novel and how independent bookstores – like the one she owns, Parnassus Books – build community.


Ann Patchett talks about the significance of the cover artwork of Commonwealth.

Book of the Month: A Great Reckoning

Our September Book of the Month is Louise Penny’s highly-anticipated murder mystery, A Great Reckoning. For this, the twelfth novel in her acclaimed Chief Inspector Gamache series, Penny returns to the Québécois village of Three Pines, where the discovery of a peculiar old map the walls of a quaint bistro leads Gamache on a thrilling pursuit filled with danger, intrigue, humanity, and hope.


“There is something rotten at the Sûreté academy, and the now-retired Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has been brought in to clean it up. In the meantime, a strange map has been found in Three Pines. Old friends, new characters, murder, and history combine in another irresistible tale from Penny, whose writing is always compassionate, funny, and literate. This latest in the series is not to be missed.”
—Kathy Magruder, Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola, IA


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Listen to a preview of A Great Reckoning


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss A Great Reckoning. Use the hashtag #agreatreckoning and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


Watch Louise Penny discuss A Great Reckoning on PBS


Find culinary recipes inspired by the Chief Inspector Gamache series.

Books of the Month: Before the Fall and Course Correction

For July’s Book of the Month, we’re featuring two compelling titles. The first, Noah Hawley’s gripping novel, Before the Fall (narrated by Robert Petkoff), explores the intertwined mysteries behind a fateful oceanic plane crash. The second, Ginny Gilder’s inspiring memoir, Course Correction: A Story of Rowing and Resilience in the Wake of Title IX — narrated by Janis Ian and free through Libro.fm for the entire month—follows the author’s struggle to reach the top of the rowing world while also finding peace with her sexuality.


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“This award-winning writer’s newest novel opens with a real nail-biter: a private jet crashes into the Atlantic off the New England coast and the harrowing survival of two of its passengers raises more questions than answers. At first a hero for rescuing four-year-old JJ, artist Scott Burroughs soon becomes the object of suspicion. Through the stories of each of the passengers, this thrilling mystery unfurls to its spellbinding end.”
RobinForever Books, St. Joseph, MI

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Get twenty percent off Before the Fall (and all Libro.fm audiobooks) thru July by entering this code at checkout: SUMMER2016


“Beautiful and important on so many levels, Course Correction is about rowing and about so much more—hope and hopelessness, fear and courage, loss and redemption. Ultimately it is about the transforming power of love, and, dammit all, it made me cry.”
Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat

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Get your complimentary download of Course Correction (until July 31, 2016 at Midnight PST)


Listen to a preview of Course Correction


Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss Before the Fall and Course Correction. Use the hashtags #beforethefall and #coursecorrection, and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Book of the Month: My Brilliant Friend

Our June Book of the Month is Elena Ferrante’s, My Brilliant Friend. In the acclaimed first novel of her Neapolitan series, Ferrante—called “…one of the great novelists of our time,” by The New York Times Book Review—explores the struggles of friendship beneath the backdrop of tumultuous, post-war Italy.

“Many weeks have passed since I finished this novel and my only wish is that I hadn’t read it yet—it continues to haunt me in all the best ways. The narrator is Elena Greco, her best friend is Lila Carullo, and the story is of their psychologically complex friendship as girls, growing up in a rough, economically divided neighborhood on the outskirts of 1950s Naples. As children, their mutual fears and unusual imaginations bind them to each other. As adolescents, they drift and diverge but always return to their friendship… Dark, atmospheric, and untamed, My Brilliant Friend is brilliant. May it never leave me.”

Laura, TheBookloft, Great Barrington, MA

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Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss My Brilliant Friend. Use the hashtag #FerranteFever and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

For more about the mystery behind Elena Ferrante’s true identity, check out this article from the New York Times.

May Book of the Month: The Nest

Our May Book of the Month is Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s instant New York Times bestseller, The Nest. A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Listen to a preview

 

“Welcome to the strikingly dysfunctional Plumb family: four siblings connected by little more than ‘The Nest,’ a joint trust fund that each has earmarked to support their unrealistic lifestyles. When Leo, the older brother and the center of the Plumb family universe, injures himself and a 19-year-old waitress in a scandalous car accident and endangers ‘The Nest’ just months before the funds are to be made available, the siblings come together for damage control. Sweeney artfully touches on each family member as they scramble to save the precarious lives they have built for themselves, bringing light and humor to her characters’ various plights. Funny, thoughtful, and filled with unique and complex characters — this book is a must-read.”

– Jennifer Oleinik, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

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Let’s talk about The Nest

Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss The Nest. Use the hashtag #thenest and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Book of the Month: H Is for Hawk

Our April Book of the Month is H Is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald’s New York Times bestseller and award winner (on more than 25 best books of the year lists!)

“It’s a story of grief, of nature and friendship and loneliness, but it’s really the story of an encounter with a wild, alien intelligence, one that makes the author feel wild and inhuman herself, but then more human than before. Macdonald has trained many hawks—she’s been obsessed with them since she was a girl—but after her father’s sudden death, she decides to take on the wildest of their breed, the goshawk. With a wonderfully practical knowledge of the ancient art of falconry and an artful and honest understanding of her own reckless desire, she turns their partnership into a moving and bracingly intelligent book that I’m certain will become a classic.”
Tom Nissley, Phinney Books, Seattle, WA


Get the audiobook for only $9.95 


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Let’s talk about H Is for Hawk
Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss H Is for Hawk. Use the hashtag #hisforhawk and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.