bergg (6): First person narrative from a 15 year old autistic who is trying to find a dog murderer. A insightful look into the mindset of persons with autism and the difficulty they have with normal situations.
bergg (4): Drawn in black and white, Persepolis is one of the most well-known graphic novels of the decade. It tells the immigration story of the author, Marjane, and how she dealt with it. The book is soaked with themes of nostalgia. -dailyiowan.com… (more)
bergg (40): Recounts the lives and experiences of two Afghan women Laila and Mariam starting with their separate lives as children and how they came to be best friends as two wives of a local shoe maker named Rasheed. During a time of war, poverty, gender issues, and abuse, this creatively written novel still offers a bit of hope.… (more)
bergg (9): The Tolstoy-esque family novel got its 21st-century upgrade early, and has withstood all comers since. The Lamberts’ disintegration under the pressures of work, illness, and love unfolds with a cynical humor that strips the family’s pretensions away until only their most craven selves survive as they struggle to break free. As these unsympathetic characters go through the wringer, Jonathan Franzen outlines the symptoms of modern malaise, whose only cure is being able to see through the layers of protective self-delusion. The modern dysfunctional family wriggles under Franzen’s microscope, but its features are all too familiar.
-A.V. Club… (more)
bergg (2): A girl with a big imagination thinks she sees something. She is wrong, but she sticks to her guns. Lives are ruined. As an old woman, she wonders if she can repair her irreparable mistake.
bergg (12): Kath, a seemingly ordinary British girl, goes to a special boarding school where she and her friends are groomed for a special fate while enjoying and suffering the loves and betrayals that come to young people everywhere. This odd, heartbreaking novel unfurls age-old conundrums about what it means to be a person; about the grievous sin of treating anyone, however unexceptional, as the means to an end; and about the unfathomable future that awaits each and every one of us.
-Laura Miller, Salon.com… (more)
bergg (7): Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the book follows Oscar Wao, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey. The book deals with themes of isolation and nostalgia while blending comedy and tragedy.
bergg (52): The Biafran War of the late 1960s is seen through the eyes of Ugwu, a 13-year-old peasant houseboy, and the beautiful, passionate twin sisters Olanna and Kainene. This stunning piece of writing won the 2007 Orange Prize.
bergg (19): A Memoir written by Dave Eggers recounting the events leading to his current adult life through the death of his mother due to Stomach cancer and also the death of his father from lung cancer. Becoming the soul caretaker of his younger sibling results is Dave maturing beyond his years which eventually leads to his need to be irresponsible and reckless mostly through sex and alcohol.… (more)
bergg (27): Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist-books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.… (more)
bergg (62): Aravind Adiga on The White Tiger “The White Tiger is set in one of the fastest-changing societies on Earth — modern-day India — but the story it tells is an old one: of a man’s quest to be free. One afternoon I was in the zoo in New Delhi, and saw a white tiger in its cage, and I thought, ‘A man who is prepared to do anything for his freedom — sacrifice his family, kill another man — would be as rare as that animal”
bergg (99): At the suggestion of an editor, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich attempted to live for two years on the wages of the average unskilled American worker. She worked as a waitress, maid and Wal-Mart clerk, shacking up in dives and dining on fast food, in an effort to find out how America’s working poor make it. Her answer: A lot of them don’t. If her efforts to suggest remedies are often rebuffed by her own subjects, her visceral dispatches from the ragged fringe of the American dream remain indispensable.
bergg (17): Two nice, mid-20th-century Jewish boys go to work in the nascent comic book industry, where the dreams and nightmares of the real world manifest themselves in the extravagant guise of entertainment for children. This buoyant tragicomic adventure story remains one of the most persuasive and gorgeously written depictions (and vindications) of the way popular culture transfigures our lived experience to become the modern-day equivalent of myth and folklore.
-Laura Miller, Salon.com… (more)
bergg (8): Following letters written by Rev. John Ames, this winner of the Pulitzer Prize centers on the memories and legacy of his life. Taking place in fictional Gilead, Iowa, Robinson explores themes of religion, family, love, and doubt.
bergg (41): America is no place for a divinity. Our soil isn’t fertile that way — myths don’t thrive the way they did in the old world. Reading American Gods, you can see why it takes a foreigner — Gaiman’s a Brit — to see what is invisible to the natives: the old deities scratching out a seedy living all around us — Norse, Slavic, Irish, Egyptian, voodoo, Egyptian — brought over by generations of immigrants and then left to die. Together they re-enact the old myths here on our barren soil, and Gaiman shows us that, even here, they still have their old power.
bergg (1): A father and son travel through a post-apocalyptic America, half-starved, choking on a never-ending stream of ash sifting down from the sky, and with no hope for an end to their suffering beyond dissolution and death. -A.V. Club… (more)
bergg (69): Much of America made it out of the 20th century badly equipped to deal with the 21st. Richard Russo’s Empire Falls is set in just such a place, a rust-belt Maine town that’s kept going even though the industry that led to its creation can no longer sustain it. Russo brought his by-then-familiar command of memorable characters and comic moments to a novel more ambitious than any he’d attempted before. The book captures a time and place unnerved by a future that offers no reassuring promises of a better tomorrow beyond the comfort its inhabitants can give each other.
bergg (22): Divided into five sections and just shy of 1,000 pages — “2666” is the funniest and most tender apocalyptic book you’ll ever read. The tortuous paths in the labyrinthine plot all lead to a brutal center — a collection of unsolved murders based on real serial killings in Mexico. Readers should cherish every page; Bolaño, a Chilean ex-pat, died in 2003 at age 50.
bergg (38): Retelling the story of Australian folk hero Ned Kelly where he writes the story for his daughter. Although set in Australia, you could say this is one of the best Westerns in a while.
bergg (48): tells the tale of fifty-nine people that were held hostage in an unnamed country in South America. The hostages, which include international ambassadors, Japanese businessmen, an opera singer, and local government officials, had gathered together to celebrate Katsumi Hosokawa's birthday. Hosokawa was being courted by local politicians to build a plant in their country. Bel Canto isn't the usual blood-and-guts tale of a hostage situation; instead, the novel focuses on the various hostages and terrorists and the relationships that grow amongst them all.
-Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, cmlibrary.org… (more)
bergg (73): ...a rich story about secrets, ghosts, winter, books and family. The Thirteenth Tale is a book lover's book, with much of the action taking place in libraries and book stores, and the line between fact and fiction constantly blurred. It is hard to believe this is Setterfield's debut novel (released in 2006), for she makes the words come to life with such skill that some passages even gave me chills. -Erin Miller… (more)
bergg (80): A sharp, elegant, sophisticated portrait of three smart New Yorkers about to hit 30, just before 9/11. Danielle is a TV producer, Julius is a freelance critic and poor “Bootie” has hopelessly dropped out. A meditation on modern morality.
bergg (25): Related from heaven after a brutal rape, Susie watches her family grieve and disintegrate, watches her friends and indeed watches her killer and the sad detective working on her case.
bergg (47): A twisty, Gothic tale that contains a story-within-a-story, it features a mythical "Cemetery of Forgotten Books," a reclusive author and a Barcelona that is still reeling from the Spanish Civil War. Part noir, part coming-of-age story and part mystery, this is 100% page-turner.
bergg (18): a six part novel, each part divided into two and connected with the next, with the first half chronological, the second half inverse chronological, so the middle of the novel is the whole sixth tale
bergg (16): A 21st-century book about the 20th century. The writer's fourth and final novel was told through a pastiche of memoir, invention, winding sentences, black-and-white photographs, architectural plans, and reproduced stamps. The Holocaust is the book's central trauma, but the novel anticipated fresher wounds, too.
bergg (75): This graphic memoir is an investigation of Bechdel’s childhood, spent in the ornate Victorian house that her father obsessively restored and maintained. After she came out of the closet to her parents at 19, her mom delivered a return whammy: Bechdel’s father had a lifelong history of affairs with men, including teenage boys. Not long after, he died under ambiguous circumstances. Bechdel’s years of drawing a serial comic strip have honed her ability to convey oceans of feeling in a single image, and the feelings are never simple; “Fun Home” shimmers with regret, compassion, annoyance, frustration, pity and love. -Laura Miller… (more)
bergg (50): In this intensely personal, deeply moving account, the author exposes the layers and facets of her life over a year of dramatic and unexpected events. Her daughter's serious illness and her husband's sudden death "cut loose any fixed idea I had about death, about illness, about probability and luck ... about marriage and children and memory ... about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."
(summary from ISBN 159887005X)… (more)
bergg (56): The book that revealed Barack Obama as not just an ambitious politician, but also as an eloquent writer and deep thinker. The fascinating story of his early life, first published in 1995, was reissued in 2004 and became a worldwide bestseller as momentum for the presidency built.
bergg (37): With all the elements of a penny dreadful – orphans, double-crossing, madness and pornography – this Victorian tale could have sunk to the level of picaresque pastiche, but while much ink has been spilled on Waters’s lesbian characters it is her ability to summon up the past in palpable, brooding detail that is her most striking characteristic. This is a novel that seems easy to categorise but doesn’t fit into any obvious genre.
bergg (70): In New York City, following 9/11, Hans, a banker from the Netherlands, finds himself marooned among the occupants of the Chelsea Hotel after his English wife and son return to London. Alone, untethered, and feeling lost in the country he'd come to regard as home, Hans stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where, thanks to a friendship with Trinidadian, Chuck Ramkissoon, Hans begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country. Ramkissoon, a Gatsby-like figure - part idealist and part operator - introduces Hans to an "other" New York populated by immigrants and strivers of every race and nationality. Hans is alternately seduced and instructed by Chuck's ability to a hold fast to a sense of possibility in which Hans has come to lose faith.
(summary from ISBN 1602853142)… (more)
bergg (51): A sweeping narrative history of the events leading to 9/11, a groundbreaking look at the people and ideas, the terrorist plans and the Western intelligence failures that culminated in the assault on America. Lawrence Wright's book is based on five years of research and hundreds of interviews that he conducted in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, England, France, Germany, Spain, and the United States.
(summary from ISBN 0713999764)… (more)
bergg (46): A peculiar, chilling fantasy. In an alternative America, the Aryan supremacist and aviator Charles Lindbergh becomes President in 1940 and persecution of the Jews begins — as narrated by an alternative Philip Roth. -http://aggsliterature.wordpress.com… (more)
bergg (63): There are six stories in this collection. Four of them are very good, and the other two are at least good -- a success average that is highly unusual for a short-story collection. If, like your humble reviewer, you had to regularly review short-story collections, you would soon discover that they almost always suck -- tinseling suburban dullness with some distant derivative of the Joycean epiphany until you want to scream: Basta! That Saunders stories are on such a high level is close to miraculous. -The Austin Chronicle, Roger Gathman (May 19, 2000)… (more)
bergg (88): Bryson, author of bestselling comic travelogues, bravely journeyed beyond his familiar territory to attempt a layperson’s guide to science.He manages to convey such subjects as the origins of the Universe with integrity, and without sacrificing his familiar humour.
bergg (89): Every so often there comes along a book that we all feel we have to read to be better educated. Rarely are such books as beguiling as Truss’s punctuation guide, which, amazingly, made us laugh while we learnt about semi-colons.
bergg (100): A novel about racism, prejudice and injustice in the post war years in London as Jamaicans, escaping economic hardship, move to the Mother Country. Told from four characters’ points of view, it deserves all the accolade and prizes it has received. Powerful yet light in touch, humorous yet high in drama, it is a most rewarding and touching read. Won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2004 and on the 25th Jan 2005 the Whitbread 2004 overall.
bergg (78): A brilliantly plotted tale of an outsider who finds himself sitting at the high table of Thatcherism. His young turks have a high — and gay — old time while the twin shadows of Aids and of being found out loom over them.
bergg (81): Just when you thought the Vietnam War and the 1960s had been thoroughly bled of all potential for artistic exploration, along comes Denis Johnson. Tree of Smoke somehow manages to crack new ground over what, in a lesser writer’s hands, would be thoroughly decimated territory.
bergg (10): A multicultural tapestry set in Northern London from the late sixties to the early nineties. Figuring prominently, are several families – two of whom are headed by WWII veterans who nurture a most unlikely friendship: Archibald Jones, a hopelessly indecisive white Brit and Samad Iqbal, a Bengali-born immigrant clinging to his Muslim heritage.
-Charlotte Mecklenburg Library… (more)
bergg (14): An analysis of the processes and mechanisms for which some trends achieve an incredible amount of popularity while others are never successful, and why this is so. As Gladwell states, “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.” Gladwell goes on to illustrate the similarities in such trends as spreadable viruses all the way to why a certain children’s television show has become so popular and how the smallest changes can become so influential.… (more)
bergg (28): 71-yr old Coleman Silk has lost everything, including his job as a distinguished professor, his wife (deceased), and his roots. The book examines the final tumultuous months of Silk's life and the tragic results of his romance with Faunia Farley, a troubled young woman. Told from the point of view of Nathan Zuckerman (a recurring Roth character who is a writer and a friend of Silk's), the reader learns of an incredible secret that Silk has kept for fifty years. This rich and complex narrative is full of memorable characters who come and go. Silk and Farley’s predicament is viewed in contrast with the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal which was then unfolding.
-Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, cmlibrary.org… (more)
bergg (29): What would compel a man, who was himself a former slave, to become a slaveholder? Are the attributes needed to become a slaveholder a learned behavior or are they innate? These are only a few paramount questions readers would most likely want to ask of Henry Townsend. Townsend is the main character in Edward P Jones’s debut novel The Known World. Set in ante-bellum Virginia, Jones’s many, many characters breathe life into the taboo topic of black people who become slaveholders. Jones is a brilliant storyteller who just recently received the Pulitzer for The Known World.
-Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, cmlibrary.org… (more)
bergg (36): An unlikely alliance forms between Kafka Tamura, a fifteen-year-old runaway, and the aging Nakata, a man who has never recovered from a wartime affliction, as they embark on a surreal odyssey through a strange, fantastical world.
(summary from ISBN 9626344059)… (more)
bergg (43): The novel ties together a lifetime of obsessions—with music, art, fathers and sons, comics, and more—and grounds them in the 1970s Brooklyn of Lethem’s childhood. It’s a place of sadness, peril, and racial unease, but it’s also overflowing with the imaginative possibilities of childhood, at least until crises and looming adulthood start to shut them down. It’s a novel immersed in the past, but deeply distrustful of nostalgia and fully aware that the pain of youth has a habit of lingering, and even the presence of magic does little to secure happiness.
bergg (66): Returning to Turkey from exile in the West, Ka is driven by curiosity to investigate a surprising wave of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear their head scarves in school. But the epicenter of the suicides, the eastern border city of Kars, is also home to the radiant and newly divorced Ipek, a friend of Ka's youth, whom he has never forgotten and whose spirited younger sister is a leader of the rebellious schoolgirls. As a fierce snowstorm descends on Kars, violence between the military and local Islamic radicals begins to explode, and Ka finds his sympathies drawn in unexpected and dramatic directions.
(summary from ISBN 0307700887)… (more)
bergg (71): Struggling with a stale marriage and the misguided passions of his three adult children, art professor Howard Belsey finds his family life thrown into turmoil by his son's engagement to the socially prominent daughter of a right-wing icon.
(summary from ISBN 078628319X)… (more)