Archive for the ‘Award-winning Books’ Category

National Book Critics Circle Awards

Friday, April 4th, 2014

March 13, 2014 the National Book Critics Circle announced its Award Winners for Publishing Year 2013.

The annual National Book Critics Circle awards are the only literature honors given out by book reviewers and critics.  Click on a highlighted title to go straight to our catalog.

Biography – Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, by Leo Damrosch.

“Jonathan Swift is best remembered today as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, the satiric fantasy that quickly became a classic and has remained in print for nearly three centuries. Yet Swift also wrote many other influential works, was a major political and religious figure in his time, and became a national hero, beloved for his fierce protest against English exploitation of his native Ireland. What is really known today about the enigmatic man behind these accomplishments? Can the facts of his life be separated from the fictions?

In this deeply researched biography, Leo Damrosch draws on discoveries made over the past thirty years to tell the story of Swift’s life anew. Probing holes in the existing evidence, he takes seriously some daring speculations about Swift’s parentage, love life, and various personal relationships and shows how Swift’s public version of his life—the one accepted until recently—was deliberately misleading. Swift concealed aspects of himself and his relationships, and other people in his life helped to keep his secrets.

Assembling suggestive clues, Damrosch re-narrates the events of Swift’s life while making vivid the sights, sounds, and smells of his English and Irish surroundings. Through his own words and those of a wide circle of friends, a complex Swift emerges: a restless, combative, empathetic figure, a man of biting wit and powerful mind, and a major figure in the history of world letters.” (Yale University)

Fiction – Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi.

“As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.” (Random House, Inc.)

General Nonfiction – Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sheri Fink.

“Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina — and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing. In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters–and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis.” (

Poetry – Metaphysical Dog : Poems, by Frank Bidart.

“In “Those Nights,” Frank Bidart writes: “We who could get / somewhere through / words through / sex could not.” Words and sex, art and flesh: In Metaphysical Dog, Bidart explores their nexus. The result stands among this deeply adventurous poet’s most powerful and achieved work, an emotionally naked, fearlessly candid journey through many of the central axes, the central conflicts, of his life, and ours.

Near the end of the book, Bidart writes:

In adolescence, you thought your work

ancient work: to decipher at last

human beings’ relation to God. Decipher

love. To make what was once whole

whole again: or to see

why it never should have been thought whole.

This “ancient work” reflects what the poet sees as fundamental in human feeling, what psychologists and mystics have called the “hunger for the Absolute”—a hunger as fundamental as any physical hunger. This hunger must confront the elusiveness of the Absolute, our self-deluding, failed glimpses of it. The third section of the book is titled “History is a series of failed revelations.”

The result is one of the most fascinating and ambitious books of poetry in many years.”

John Leonard Prize – A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra.

“Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together. “On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones.” Havaa, eight years old, hides in the woods and watches the blaze until her neighbor, Akhmed, discovers her sitting in the snow. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, and there is no safe place to hide a child in a village where informers will do anything for a loaf of bread, but for reasons of his own, he sneaks her through the forest to the one place he thinks she might be safe: an abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded. Though Sonja protests that her hospital is not an orphanage, Akhmed convinces her to keep Havaa for a trial, and over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate” (Random House, Inc.)


Military Book Award

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Allen C. Guelzo has won the inaugural Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, honoring “the best book in the field of military history published in English during the previous calendar year,” for Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Find in our catalog). The award, which carries a prize of $50,000, was announced in a recent ceremony at the New-York Historical Society.


Chairman of the judging committee Dr. Andrew Roberts commented: “Gettysburg will stand out as a lasting and important work in the military history genre.”

Here’s what it says in our catalog about the book: ”

From the acclaimed Civil War historian, a brilliant new history—the most intimate and richly readable account we have had—of the climactic three-day battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), which draws the reader into the heat, smoke, and grime of Gettysburg alongside the ordinary soldier, and depicts the combination of personalities and circumstances that produced the greatest battle of the Civil War, and one of the greatest in human history.

Of the half-dozen full-length histories of the battle of Gettysburg written over the last century, none dives down so closely to the experience of the individual soldier, or looks so closely at the sway of politics over military decisions, or places the battle so firmly in the context of nineteenth-century military practice. Allen C. Guelzo shows us the face, the sights, and the sounds of nineteenth-century combat: the lay of the land, the fences and the stone walls, the gunpowder clouds that hampered movement and vision; the armies that caroused, foraged, kidnapped, sang, and were so filthy they could be smelled before they could be seen; the head-swimming difficulties of marshaling massive numbers of poorly trained soldiers, plus thousands of animals and wagons, with no better means of communication than those of Caesar and Alexander.

What emerges is an untold story, from the trapped and terrified civilians in Gettysburg’s cellars to the insolent attitude of artillerymen, from the taste of gunpowder cartridges torn with the teeth to the sounds of marching columns, their tin cups clanking like an anvil chorus. Guelzo depicts the battle with unprecedented clarity, evoking a world where disoriented soldiers and officers wheel nearly blindly through woods and fields toward their clash, even as poetry and hymns spring to their minds with ease in the midst of carnage. Rebel soldiers look to march on Philadelphia and even New York, while the Union struggles to repel what will be the final invasion of the North. One hundred and fifty years later, the cornerstone battle of the Civil War comes vividly to life as a national epic, inspiring both horror and admiration.” – (Random House, Inc.)


Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Find in our catalog) has won the 2014 Dilys Award, which honors the mystery that members of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association  most enjoyed selling during the previous year. The announcement was made Thursday, March 20 during the Left Coast Crime 2014 conference in Monterey, Calif.

This is what it says in our catalog: “NOMINATED FOR THE 2014 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. – (Simon and Schuster)


RUSA Nonfiction Awards

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Here is a list of the RUSA nonfiction notable books for 2014.

Lawrence in Arabia: war, deceit, imperial folly and the making of the modern Middle East by Scott Anderson.

Year Zero: a history of 1945 by Ian Baruma.

On Paper: the everything of its two-thousand-year history by Nicholas Basbanes.

To the End of June: the intimate life of American foster care by Cris Beam.

The Boys in the Boat: [nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics] by Daniel James Brown.

Five Days at Memorial: life and death in a storm-ravaged hospital by Sheri Fink.

The Riddle of the Labyrinth: the quest to crack an ancient code by Margalit Fox.

On the Map: a mind-expanding exploration of the way the world looks by Simon Garfield.

Johnny Cash: the life by Robert Hilburn.

The Skies Belong to Us: love and terror in the golden age of hijacking by Brendan I. Koerner.

Animal Wise: the thoughts and emotions of our fellow creatures by Virginia Morrell.

Command and Control: nuclear weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the illusion of safety by Eric Schlosser.

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit.


RUSA Fiction Awards

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Here is the list of notable fiction chosen for 2014 by the Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association.

Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat.

Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey.

Enon by Paul Harding.

Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma.

The Dinner by Herman Koch.

Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.


LJ’s Best Romances 2013

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Check these out!  Click on a title and go straight to our catalog.

Balogh, Mary. The Arrangement

Brockway, Connie. No Place for a Dame

Carr, Robyn. The Wanderer

Dare, Tessa. Any Duchess Will Do

Gracie, Anne. The Autumn Bride

Higgins, Kristan. The Best Man: A Blue Heron Novel

MacLean, Sarah. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover

McMaster, Bec. Heart of Iron

Thomas, Sherry. The Luckiest Lady in London


Goodreads Reveals Favorite Books of 2013

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Are you experiencing best books lists overload?  Nearly everyone in media or publishing is coming out with their best books lists for 2013.   Goodreads is slightly different because its favorite books list has been compiled by Goodreads members – readers like you and me.  Click here to see the complete list.



Interview with James McBride, National Book Award Winner

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

The author of The Good Lord Bird, (Find this book in our catalog), James McBride, winner of the National Book Award in fiction, appeared on PBS News Hour. He talks about why he wanted to write a funny book about John Brown, a man who had “no sense of humor at all,” but a man he grew to love.  Click here for the interview.


LJ’s Best Books 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

These titles were chosen by Library Journal review editors as the Top Ten of 2013.  See if you agree!  Click on a title and go straight to our catalog.

Danticat, Edwidge. Claire of the Sea Light







Fagan, Jenni. The Panopticon

Fink, Sheri. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital







Frankel, Glenn. The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend







Hill, Joe. NOS4A2







Marra, Anthony. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena







Moore, Wendy. How To Create the Perfect Wife: Britain’s Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest To Train the Ideal Mate






Pollan, Michael. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation







Pynchon, Thomas. Bleeding Edge







Shacochis, Bob. The Woman Who Lost Her Soul









Pritzker Prize for Military Writing

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

On Saturday, November 16 Tim O’Brien was presented with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library’s Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing at the Chicago Hilton. O’Brien is the author of, among other books, The Things They Carried (find this book in our catalog)

This is what it has to say in our catalog about The Things They Carried:  “One of the first questions people ask about The Things They Carried is this: Is it a novel, or a collection of short stories? The title page refers to the book simply as “a work of fiction,” defying the conscientious reader’s need to categorize this masterpiece. It is both: a collection of interrelated short pieces which ultimately reads with the dramatic force and tension of a novel. Yet each one of the twenty-two short pieces is written with such care, emotional content, and prosaic precision that it could stand on its own.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and of course, the character Tim O’Brien who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other. In their relationships we see their isolation and loneliness, their rage and fear. They miss their families, their girlfriends and buddies; they miss the lives they left back home. Yet they find sympathy and kindness for strangers (the old man who leads them unscathed through the mine field, the girl who grieves while she dances), and love for each other, because in Vietnam they are the only family they have. We hear the voices of the men and build images upon their dialogue. The way they tell stories about others, we hear them telling stories about themselves.

With the creative verve of the greatest fiction and the intimacy of a searing autobiography, The Things They Carried is a testament to the men who risked their lives in America’s most controversial war. It is also a mirror held up to the frailty of humanity. Ultimately The Things They Carried and its myriad protagonists call to order the courage, determination, and luck we all need to survive. – (Random House, Inc.)

O’Brien is also author of If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.