by Jackie LaPlante –
The Lincoln Highway | Amor Towles
In paperback at last, The Lincoln Highway is just as engaging as Amor Towles’ 2016 novel A Gentleman in Moscow. A 1954 road trip west from Nebraska to New York City brings together Emmet, fresh from state detention, and his precocious eight-year-old brother alongside two young stowaways from the detention centre. Love, friendship and disappointment accompany the sympathetically depicted foursome in a well-told and occasionally fantastical tale.
Invention and Innovation | Vaclav Smil
Popular scientist Vaclav Smil turns his attention to human ingenuity, its successes and its failures. Without poking fun at questionable inventions, Smil details some innovations that have been dangerous (DDT), others that have failed to live up to their hype (supersonic flight), and several that have been long-promised (travel in a vacuum) but not yet realized. His conclusion offers a pragmatic list of things that are needed to confront 21st century challenges.
We Should Not be Friends | Will Schwalbe
Will Schwalbe, a small-statured book nerd, and Maxey, a super-sized jock, met through a secret society at Yale in the 1980s. Their close friendship has weathered divorces, career highs and lows and changing interests for over 40 years. As he did in The End of Your Life Book Club, Schwalbe uses books as a backdrop to this memoir, integrating author quotations, book lists and literary references in a poignant and amusing memoir.
The Great Air Race | John Lancaster
Nearly 10 years before Lindbergh’s famous New York to Paris flight, a 1919 transcontinental air race awakened the public to the adventure and possibilities of flight. Former daredevil pilots of WWI, led by Brigadier-General Billy Mitchell, risked their lives in the race. Some 50 planes crashed; several of them were repaired and returned to the race by their dogged “birdmen.” John Lancaster, journalist and private pilot, brings his passion and expertise to this gripping story.
Love, Pamela | Pamela Anderson
Vancouver-Island-born Pamela Anderson recounts her own story of a small-town girl who lost her way in the Hollywood maelstrom. She is an amusing storyteller, concentrating on the positive aspects of her life – her children and her passion for animals – and peppering the narrative with snippets of her own introspective poetry.
Briefly, A Delicious Life | Nell Stevens
Nell Stevens loves fictionalizing the lives of historical authors, and has previously taken on Dickens and Mrs. Gaskell. This time she reimagines George Sand and her lover, Frederic Chopin, as they holiday in a Spanish village in 1838. Their unconventionality enchants Blanca, the ghost of a long-dead teenaged girl, who aims to protect the couple, creating an otherworldly love triangle that explores creativity, desire and life after death.
Victory City | Salman Rushdie
Set in the 14th century on the Indian subcontinent, Salman Rushdie blends the magical into a historical fantasy that confronts the ever-present questions of race, religion, class and the place of women in society. Young Pampana becomes an ageless vessel for a goddess who wishes to orchestrate the rise of the great city of Bisnaga. For 250 years, Pampana witnesses humanity’s successes and failures as she tries to make good on the tasks the goddess has determined.