In addition to working at The Bookloft, I am also a French teacher.
See more of my previous Staff Picks here!
Catherine's Staff Picks:
Title: American Nations
Most Americans today agree that we live in a nation divided. But what exactly divides us? What makes a red state red and a blue state blue? Maybe it’s a lot more complicated than two primary colors. Maybe the United States were never united in the first place! This is exactly what Colin Woodard suggests in his fascinating book, American Nations. This book came out in 2011, but the current political climate makes it perhaps even more relevant to readers post-November, 2016. If you are interested in American history, in national vs. cultural identity, and in what it means to be “American,” this book is a must-read. I believe, in fact, that this book should be required reading for all American high school students. My mother was born and raised in France, but she has been living in the United States full-time for the last three decades. I can’t count the number of times she has exclaimed, “I simply do not understand this country!” I gave her a copy of American Nations and after she read two chapters, she asked me to order five copies to give to friends. Read this book. You’ll be glad that you did.
Title: Behind Her Eyes
Looking for a book to escape into for a while? Well, you’ve found one! This psychological thriller falls into several of my favorite categories: The “I cannot put it down” books, the “I stayed up way too late reading it” books and “I need a break from serious stuff”books. Reading this book felt like a vacation, or a spa day for my brain. I am refreshed and ready to dig into some heavy-duty non-fiction! (PS: There is some magical realism which is not usually my thing, but I thought that it worked well in this book.)
Title: Mrs. Fletcher
Like many of Tom Perrotta's novels, Mrs. Fletcher revolves around a "hot" topic of our day, in this case, sexual harassment and the sexual norms of our society. It was refreshing to read about this topic in the form of a highly entertaining novel (I read it in two days) instead of by attending a mandated presentation on sexual harassment or by sitting in on an awkward meeting about a student whose parents do not want teachers to honor the student's request to be addressed with gender neutral pronouns. (I am a middle school teacher.) I loved this quote from the NYT's book reviewer, Chris Bachelder: "Mrs. Fletcher is the sweetest and most charming novel about pornography addiction and the harrowing issues of sexual consent that you will probably read." I would add that the sweetness and charm of this novel are mixed with healthy doses of humor and irony. Icky sweet, it is not. Sweet with a sly wink on the side is more like it.
Ann Patchett's newest novel, The Dutch House, does not disappoint. I am always a bit nervous when an author I like comes out with a new book. Will it be up to snuff? News flash: The Dutch House is up to snuff! From Goodreads: "Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two siblings who cannot overcome their past. Throughout their lives, they return to the Dutch House and to the well-worn story of what they've lost and how this made them who they are. " Lots of good stuff here: family dysfunction, love & loss, betrayal, forgiveness, and a very strong sense of place.