Neshama’s Choices for January 8th

The titles and links below will direct you to print copies when available.  Click on the title to see all available formats, including recorded versions and eBooks.

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Holly by Stephen King   

In the midst of COVID-19, private investigator Holly gets a desperate call from Penny whose daughter has disappeared. Meanwhile, a retired academic couple is up to very peculiar doings that link the consumption of human brains with longevity.  Is there a connection? You betcha. As Holly comes upon pieces of evidence the police overlooked, she turns up more missing folks over a decade and slowly connects the sinister dots. A particular pleasure for me is the introduction of Olivia, the couple’s neighbor. She’s a very old poet who ends up mentoring Holly’s friend Barbara. Wonderful characterizations all around, and such suspense that it was hard for me to get out of the car—I was listening to the book on CD.  


Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld   

These cartoons by a Scotsman evoked aha’s, snickers, and outright guffaws with every turn of the page. He covers the gamut of library life and all manner of literature— booksellers’ ploys, classics skewered, authors mocked, book titles tweaked, and readers’ pretensions. For instance, wouldn’t you like to discover tragic deaths in badly written novels? Huge fun!  


Disobedient by Elizabeth Fremantle    

Artemisia Gentileschi showed incredible artistic promise from a young age, but she was under her father’s thumb though he was the inferior painter by far. In 17th-century Italy, she was essentially property, and her fate was to be married off. She defied her father and poured her rage into painting. (One of the few that still exists is her depiction of Judith after she’s decapitated Holofernes). Early trauma, rape, a terrifying witchcraft trial, but then she’s freed to leave Rome and continue painting. This historical novel is based on facts but fleshed out with vivid immediacy and a strong feminist perspective.  


The Turtle of Michigan by Naomi Shihab Nye  

8-year-old Aref is on a plane from Oman to Chicago with his parents who will attend graduate school, even though they’re already professors back home. Everything en route surprises and delights him (such a contrast to my jaded view of air travel). He attended an international school so his English is good, but adjustment is challenging on many levels. He especially misses Sidi, his grandpa, who is afraid to travel at his age. They correspond but it’s not the same. Yes, this is a kids’ book, but I’m recommending it here because the writing is so beautifully direct and deeply satisfying. (After a spate of murky, unsatisfying novels, I felt the need for a palate cleanser, as it were, and this did the trick.)