Staff Reading Picks
Final Exam: a Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality
by Pauline W. Chen
Final Exam follows Chen over the course of her education, training, and practice as she grapples at strikingly close range with the problem of mortality, and struggles to reconcile the lessons of her training with her innate knowledge of shared humanity and to separate her ideas about healing from her fierce desire to cure.--BOOK JACKET.
The Saffron Kitchen
by Yasmin Crowther
"On a blustery day in London, the dark secrets and troubled past of Maryam Mazar surface violently, with tragic consequences for her daughter, Sara, and her newly orphaned nephew Saeed. Consumed with guilt, Maryam leaves the safe comfort of her suburban home and mild English husband to return to Mazareh, the remote village on Iran's northeast border where her own story began. There she must face her past and the memories of a life she was forced to leave behind, in the days when she was young, headstrong, and beautiful." "Back in England, Sara, who has never felt a strong tie to Maryam's birthplace, tries to understand what could have compelled her mother to leave. Together with Saeed and her distraught father, she begins to unearth Maryam's story from amid her memories of opium poppies, family lore and fragments of conversation, photographs and a few lines of poetry.
In her quest to piece their life back together, Sara follows her mother to Iran to discover the roots of her unhappiness and to try to bring her home. Far from the streets of London, in a land of minarets, among the snow-capped mountains and dusty plains that have haunted her mother's dreams for half a century, Sara finally learns the terrible price Maryam once had to pay for her freedom, and of the love she left behind."--BOOK JACKET.Resource Link
by Tyler Knox
"It is the mid-1950s, and in a fleabag hotel off Times Square, Kockroach, perfectly content with life as an insect, awakens to discover that somehow he's become, of all things, a human. This tragic turn of events would be enough to fling a more highly evolved creature into despair, but cockroaches know no despair. Firmly entrenched in the present tense, they are awesome coping machines, and so Kockroach copes. Step by step, he learns the ways of humans - how to walk, how to talk, how to wear a jaunty brown fedora." "In Times Square he discovers a blistering sea of lights, a great smoking god, walls of glass laden with food, and the opportunity to rise in the human world. Two companions guide him on his way: Mite, an undersized gangster suffering an acute case of existential angst, and Celia Singer, a reserved woman with a disfigured body who finds in Kockroach a key to unlocking her hidden passions."
"As Kockroach, led by his primitive desires and insectile amorality, navigates through the bizarre human realms of crime, business, politics, and sex, he meets with both great triumph and great disaster. Will he find success or be squashed flat from above? Will he change humanity, or will humanity change him?" "Packed with love, violence, and a perverse sense of humor, Kockroach is the classic tale of an immigrant's search for the American dream as seen from a new perspective."--BOOK JACKET.Resource Link
Silent in the Grave
by Deanna Raybourne
When her husband dies under suspicious circumstances, Lady Julia Grey investigates and discovers "disturbing truths about a husband she never truly knew and a world of deception, disease and sexual obsession she could never have imagined" ("Publishers Weekly").
Returning to Earth
by Jim Harrison
"In Returning to Earth, Harrison has delivered a novel about life, death, and finding redemption in sometimes unlikely places." "Donald is a middle-aged Chippewa-Finnish man, married to a white woman who renounced the wealth she was raised with, and father to two grown children." "He is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease and realizes no one alive will be able to pass on to his children their family history once he is gone. He begins dictating to his wife, Cynthia, stories he has never shared with anyone - about how three generations ago his family settled in Michigan at the height of the logging industry; about his own relationship to his unique spiritual heritage. Meanwhile, around him, his family struggles with how to lay him to rest with the same dignity with which he always lived."
"Over the course of the year following Donald's death, his loved ones struggle to make sense of their loss. His daughter begins studying Chippewa ideas of death for clues on her father's religion, and her mother, Cynthia, is at loose ends for how to protect or guide her. Bereft of the family she created to escape the malevolent influence of her own father, Cynthia and her eccentric brother, David, find, all these years later, that redeeming the past is not a lost cause." "Jim Harrison writes about the heart of this country like no other writer - about the culture of Native America, the natural world and our place in it, the loss that has shaped our history, and the pleasures that raise life to the sublime."--BOOK JACKET.Resource Link
by Vikram Chandra
"Vikram Chandra's novel draws the reader deep into the life of Inspector Sartaj Singh - and into the criminal underworld of Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted gangster in India." "Sartaj, one of the very few Sikhs on the Mumbai police force, is used to being identified by his turban, beard and the sharp cut of his trousers. But "the silky Sikh" is now past forty, his marriage is over and his career prospects are on the slide. When Sartaj gets an anonymous tip-off as to the secret hide-out of the legendary boss of G-Company, he's determined that he'll be the one to collect the prize."--BOOK JACKET.
The Teahouse Fire
by Ellis Avery
Relocated from 1866 New York to Japan by an abusive missionary guardian, young Aurelia Bernard befriends the daughter of Kyoto's most influential tea master, who instructs her about the fading tradition of the tea ceremony.