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Open Books--Open Minds shortlist of books for 2015/2016   Tags: open_books_open_minds  

One of these books will become the 2015/2016 Open Books--Open Minds common book. Please read one and tell us what you think of it!
Last Updated: Jun 10, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Help select the OBOM 2015/2016 book! Print Page

One of the books on the list below will be the 2015/2016 Open Books--Open Minds common book. (Descriptions are by publishers.)

Read some of these books. Tell us what you think. 


Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil

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Zahra's Paradise - Amir; 'Imad al-Din Khalil (Illustrator)
Call Number: PN6790.I64 Z34 2011
ISBN: 9781596436428
Publication Date: 2011
Set in the aftermath of Iran's fraudulent elections of 2009, Zahra's Paradise is the fictional story of the search for Mehdi, a young protestor who has vanished into an extrajudicial twilight zone. What's keeping his memory from being obliterated is not the law. It is the grit and guts of his mother, who refuses to surrender her son to fate, and the tenacity of his brother, a blogger, who fuses tradition and technology to explore and explode the void in which Mehdi has vanished. Zahra's Paradise weaves together fiction and real people and events. As the world witnessed the aftermath of Iran's fraudulent elections, through YouTube videos, on Twitter, and in blogs, this story came into being. The global response to this gripping tale has been passionate-an echo of the global outcry during the political upheaval of the summer of 2009. nbsp; Zahra's Paradise is a first on the internet, a first for graphic novels, and a first in the history of political dissidence. Zahra's Paradise is being serialized online at nbsp; Zahra's Paradise is a Publishers Weekly Best Comics title for 2011.


The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery; Alison Anderson (Translator)
Call Number: PQ2662.A6523 E44 2008
ISBN: 9781933372600
Publication Date: 2008
The enthralling international bestseller. We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence. Then there's Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renée's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.


Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr.

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Everything Matters! - Ron Currie
Call Number: PS3603 .U774 E94 2010
ISBN: 9780143117513
Publication Date: 2010
"Startlingly talented . . . he survives the inevitable, apt comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut and writes in a tenderly mordant voice all his own." -Janet Maslin, The New York Times In this novel rich in character, Junior Thibodeau grows up in rural Maine in a time of Atari, baseball cards, pop Catholicism, and cocaine. He also knows something no one else knows-neither his exalted parents, nor his baseball-savant brother, nor the love of his life (she doesn't believe him anyway): The world will end when he is thirty-six. While Junior searches for meaning in a doomed world, his loved ones tell an all-American family saga of fathers and sons, blinding romance, lost love, and reconciliation-culminating in one final triumph that reconfigures the universe. A tour de force of storytelling, Everything Matters! is a genre-bending potpourri of alternative history, sci-fi, and the great American tale in the tradition of John Irving and Margaret Atwood.


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Díaz
Call Number: PS3554.I259 B75 2007
ISBN: 9781594489587
Publication Date: 2007
This is the long-awaited first novel from one of the most original and memorable writers working today. Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukœ-the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim. D’az immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao confirms Junot Diaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time. .


After: A Novel by Marita Golden

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After - Marita Golden
Call Number: PS3557 .O3593 A69 2006
ISBN: 9780385512220
Publication Date: 2006
Police officer Carson Pierce is cocky and confident and, he believes, untouchable, until the night he pulls over a young man for driving his Lexus without headlights. A brief scuffle leaves the son of an affluent black family dead, his hand holding the cell phone Pierce assumed was a gun. With a surgeon’s precision, Marita Golden gets inside the mind of a man caught in a nightmare. She traces his descent through a maze of self-recrimination and shame; his bouts of drinking; the humiliation he suffers when his wife and children leave him; and his alienation from his colleagues. As Pierce struggles to put his life back together, Golden creates rich and telling portraits of his family: his devoted wife, Bunny, who watched as years of wearing the “suit”—the phrase she uses to describe her husband’s uniform—changed the man she married; his estranged father; and his son, Juwan, whose uneasy relationship with his father grows more difficult as Juwan accepts his identity as a gay teen. Marita Golden is known for taking on controversial subjects and uncovering hidden truths. In AFTER, she brings to life the tensions between black policemen and the black community and paints a searing yet compassionate picture of how a man and his family face—and recover from—a life-altering mistake.


The Age of Orphans: A Novel by Laleh Khadivi

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The Age of Orphans - Laleh Khadivi
Call Number: PS3611 .H315 A73 2009
ISBN: 9781596916166
Publication Date: 2009
The story of a Kurdish boy forced to betray his people in service of the new Iranian nation, and the tragic consequences as he grows into manhood.Before following his father into battle, he had been like any other Kurdish boy: in love with his Maman, fascinated by birds and the rugged Zagros Mountains, dutiful to his stern and powerful Baba. But after he is orphaned in a massacre by the armies of Iran’s new shah, he is taken in by the very army that has killed his parents, renamed Reza Khourdi, and indoctrinated into the modern, seductive ways of the newly minted nation, careful to hide his Kurdish origins with every step.   The Age of Orphansfollows Reza through his meteoric rise in rank, his marriage to a proud Tehrani woman, and his eventual deployment, as a colonel, back to the Zagros Mountains and the ever-defiant Kurds. Here Reza is responsible for policing, and sometimes killing, his own people, and his carefully crafted persona begins to crack.Told with an evocative richness of language that recalls Michael Ondaatje or Anita Desai, the story of Reza Khourdi is that of the twentieth-century everyman, cast out from the clan in the name of nation, progress, and modernity, who cannot help but yearn for the impossible dreams of love, land, and home.


Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

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Flight Behavior - Barbara Kingsolver
Call Number: PS3561.I496 F55 2012
ISBN: 9780062124265
Publication Date: 2012
Flight Behavior transfixes from its opening scene, when a young woman's narrow experience of life is thrown wide with the force of a raging fire. In the lyrical language of her native Appalachia, Barbara Kingsolver bares the rich, tarnished humanity of her novel's inhabitants and unearths the modern complexities of rural existence. Characters and reader alike are quickly carried beyond familiar territory here, into the unsettled ground of science, faith, and everyday truces between reason and conviction.

Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.

Flight Behavior takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.


Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

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Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann
Call Number: PR6063.C335 L47 2009
ISBN: 9781400063734
Publication Date: 2009
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people. Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author’s most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s. Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth. Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the “artistic crime of the century.” A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a “fiercely original talent” (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.


The Iguana Tree: a Novel by Michel Stone

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The Iguana Tree - Michel Stone
Call Number: PS3619 .T6569 I48 2012
ISBN: 9781891885167
Publication Date: 2013
Michel Stone’s debut novel, set against the backdrop of illegal immigration, is one family’s story of fateful decisions, risky border crossings, and a struggle for humanity. With a dream of a more prosperous life for his family, Héctor crosses into America on a harrowing journey in a welded-shut metal compartment under a delivery truck, making his way to job on a tree farm on Edisto Island, SC. He tells Lilia, his young wife, to stay behind with her newborn until he can pay for her travel. Impulsive and impatient, Lilia abandons her village, hands off her baby to a smuggler who should not have been trusted, and swims the dark Rio Grande. The tragedy unfolds across the southern United States. As Michel Stone weaves her tale of hope and human dignity, of sorrow and suffering, we see not only the devastating consequences of Lilia’s and Héctor’s decisions, but the consequences of decisions we have made as a society and as a nation. With its themes of loss, betrayal, and redemption, The Iguana Tree has the resonance of myth.


Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North - Luis Alberto Urrea
Call Number: PS3571.R74 I56 2009
ISBN: 9780316025270
Publication Date: 2009
Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to theUS to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn't the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village--they've all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men--her own "Siete Magníficos"--to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over. Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, Into the Beautiful North is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the fence.


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