The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (1948)

This eerie short story will make you question your faith in any long standing traditions. The whole town has gathered for the annual lottery, but no one seems too happy about it. There is a general uneasiness about the crowd which Jackson masterfully cultivates until the final shocking moment. You will never look at your neighbors the same again. Check out The Lottery today.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (2012)

The Age of Miracles is a moving story about coming of age during a time of great uncertainty in the world. Eleven-year-old Julia navigates the trials and tribulations of middle school while the Earth’s rotation has begun to slow. As Julia deals with the loss of friends and the joy of a first love, birds begin to drop dead from the sky and daylight lasts 48 hours. Emily Janice Card does an excellent job of narrating Karen Thompson Walker’s haunting and beautiful prose. This is a must read that will stay with you long after you have finished.

 
 
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The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895)

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is a ridiculously funny play that will make you laugh out loud. It starts with two English gentlemen (Jack and Algernon) discussing how they each have one identity for the city and an alias for the country. Jack uses his city alias (Ernest) to woo his true love, but he has no money to secure a marriage, and living the double life is starting to catch up with him. Jack decides he may have to “kill” off Ernest, but not before Algernon has a little fun himself. This is a masterpiece of mistaken identities and a lot of fun.
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The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani (2012)

As the development of the characters evolved, I was drawn into the story of Enza and Ciro.  Although The Shoemaker’s Wife was relatively easy to read, the novel was packed with a variety of situations and events. The story flowed and kept me involved as a reader.

We (along with nine other libraries) created a lot of discussions and programming around Adriana Trigiani’s novel capturing the immigrant experience of the early 1900s as part of The Big Read 2013. Visit thebigread.org for more information.

Tell us: What was your favorite Big Read event or favorite part of the novel?

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is one of those timeless classics that is best read on a dark night. The plot is familiar to most people thanks to television and the movies: Doctor Frankenstein works secretly in his laboratory to bring to life a slow, dim-witted monster. Imagine, if you will, that the monster is not dull, but rather a genius who can move at incredible speed and he is coming after you! Is there any place on Earth that you could hide?

The View from Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman (2013)

Two sisters, Gwen-Laura and Margot, are at crossroads in their lives. Gwen-Laura has been recently and unexpectedly widowed while Margot has gone through a messy public divorce and then lost her money in Bernie Madaff scandal. Deciding to join forces and resources, Gwen-Laura moves into Margot’s penthouse where they take their first steps towards dating.

Check out The View from Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman today.

Devil's Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke (2012)

Had enough of summer heat and humidity? Why not escape to Lake Eden, Minnesota, in February and help Hannah Swensen solve another murder! Hannah’s adventures are intriguing, yet light. That's why the cliff hanger ending at the end of Devil's Food Cake Murder surprised me. Is it finally time for Hannah to choose between her two suitors?

I enjoyed the mystery and my family enjoyed Hannah's delicious Chocolate Euphoria Cookie Bars and Chocolate-Covered Raisin Cookies. Fluke's character uses chocolate to soothe murder induced stress and pry information out of potential suspects.

Check out Joanne Fluke’s Lake Eden Cookbook for all of Hannah’s recipes.

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear (2011)

Maisie Dobbs is a fearless, independent woman in the 1930s who runs her own detective agency and has taken on an undercover assignment for the British government. Maisie calmly solves mysteries and helps people along the way. A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear is the eighth book in the Maisie Dobbs series.

Holes by Louis Sachar (1998)

Louis Sachar’s Holes is a young adult book with short, bite-sized chapters that make you want to read the whole thing in one sitting—and you do. It follows young Stanley Yelnats who is unjustly sent to a correctional facility in the desert, most likely on account of a 100-year-old family curse, where he is forced to dig holes to “build character.” Every detail in the book is intertwined into a well-crafted plot which bounces back and forth between the present and past. It has quickly become one of my favorite books.

After you read the book, be sure to check out the movie version of Holes.
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Sutton by J. R. Moehringer (2012)

William Sutton or “Willie the Actor” led quite a remarkable life robbing banks, stealing an estimated two million dollars during his lifetime. J.R. Moehringer’s characterization of the notorious bank robber in Sutton is of an intelligent “Robin Hood” figure. Told from Sutton’s perspective, the story begins on Christmas Eve 1969 when Willie is released from prison for good behavior and ailing health, after spending half his adult life behind bars. A reporter and photographer from the newspaper get an exclusive with Willie in exchange for room at a luxury hotel. However, Willie insists that they drive him around to locations in New York City as he recounts his story in chronological order. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the actor Dylan Baker who does an amazing job capturing all of the different characters.

Monkeewrench by P. J. Tracy (2003)

This thriller mystery jumps right through cyberspace. A killer begins murdering victims on a computer game. By duplicating each murder exactly, the police department of Minneapolis must try to outwit and out think a psychopathic genius. The story is easy to follow and sure fun to read. Get started with Monkeewrench then read the rest of the series by P. J. Tracy.

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos (2009)

Sing Them Home is an imaginative novel that covers familiar themes of loss, grief, and family; a moving portrait of three siblings who have lived with unresolved grief since their mother’s death in the tornado of 1978. When they’re summoned home to Emlyn Springs, Nebraska, after their father’s death, each is forced to revisit the childhood tragedy that has defined their lives.

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos is a wonderful story – told with a touch of magical realism – of lives connected and undone by tragedy who find redemption by returning home.
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Death is a Cabaret by Deborah Morgan (2001)

This is the first book in the Antique Lover's Mystery series. Both the premise and the characters have potential, but the plot drags in parts. Jeff Talbot is a retired FBI agent who has turned his passion for antiques into a business. He retired early from the FBI for a little peace and quiet with his wife who suffers from agoraphobia and cannot leave their home. His antique buying trip to Mackinac Island is anything but peaceful and quiet. Jeff finds himself using his FBI skills once again when dead bodies turn up at the Grand Hotel. Morgan adds authenticity to the story with her extensive knowledge of antiques. Download the audiobook of Death is a Cabaret today.

 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman (1999)

In Stardust young Tristran Thorn grows up in the Village of Wall which lies on the edge of Fairie land. The villagers only enter the land beyond their walled town once every nine years when they mix with magical folk at a temporary market. Following his heart, Tristran embarks on a journey into Fairie which reveals his gifts and subjects him to great challenges. Gaiman's fantasy is entertaining, at times amusing, and very engrossing.

Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough (2012)

In the early thirties, Rex Stout created the eccentric private detective Nero Wolfe who lived in a New York brownstone, raised orchids, ate gourmet dinners, drank beer, and solved crimes from the comfort of his chair, aided by the leg work of Archie Goodwin. In this prequel by Goldsborough, we see how this famous partnership started.

Fresh in Depression-era New York from Ohio, Archie is willing and ready. He gets a job with another private eye, solves some cases, and then when the son of a wealthy Long Island millionaire goes missing gets his chance to work with the great man. Archie has all the ironic humor and wry eye we know from the classic series. Check out Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough today.