A list of hot picks from owner Laura Cummings for the New Year!
DODGERS by Bill Beverly
Bill Beverly’s stunning debut is a dark, haunting, literary crime novel that is also a powerful coming-of-age narrative, and one that will be sure to appeal to fans of Richard Price or The Wire. Paperback Due: 1/3/17
THE GIRL IN GREEN by Derek B. Miller
This novel begins in 1991 at the end of Desert Storm. It ends 22 years later in another place and during another war. It a war story, a mystery and also a great fiction read. Due: 1/3/17
THE SLEEPWALKER by Chris Bohjalian
When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee’s disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee’s husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs’ Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers, she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body? Due: 1/10/17
THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH by Lindsey Lee Johnson
In an edenic community of wealthy Bay Area families, Molly Nicholl, a replacement teacher from a poorer, scrubbier version of California arrives in the middle of the school year and soon becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to her, a tragedy from middle school years continues to reverberate for “her” kids. These teens are all navigating a world in which every action may become public—postable, shareable, indelible, a world that Molly finds both alluring and dangerous. Due: 1/10/17
LUCKY BOY by Shanthi Sekaran
A heart-wrenching novel that gives voice to two mothers: a young undocumented Mexican woman and an Indian-American wife whose love for one lucky boy will bind their fates together. Due: 1/10/17
THE NOWHERE MAN : AN ORPHAN X NOVEL by Gregg Hurwitz
Spoken about only in whispers, it is said that when the Nowhere Man is reached by the truly desperate, he can and will do anything to save them. Evan Smoak is the Nowhere Man. Due: 1/17/17
LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK by Kathleen Rooney
Set on New Year’s Eve, 1984, 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish walks the length of Manhattan and encounters a vibrant cross-section of fellow urbanites and recollects an eventful life. Due: 1/17/17
THE GIRL BEFORE by JP Delaney
A damaged young woman gets the unique opportunity to rent a one-of-a-kind house. When she falls in love with the sexy, enigmatic architect who designed it, she has no idea she is following in the footsteps of the girl who came before: the house’s former tenant. The eerie parallels in the two girls’ lives lay bare an enthralling story…and make this novel the must-read thriller of the season. Due: 1/24/17
RIGHT BEHIND YOU by Lisa Gardner
Is he a hero? Is he a killer? All she knows is that he’s back. For the first time in ten years, Gardner will check in on some of her best-selling characters, Pierce Quincy and Rainie Conner, as they become embroiled in an intense case that will capture fans old and new alike – a case tied far too closely to their new roles as adoptive parents to broken teen, Sharlah May. Due: 1/31/17
THE SILENCE OF THE SEA by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
In Silence of the Sea, the sixth installment in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, a luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbor with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew and the family who were on board when the yacht left Lisbon? An Icelandic thriller! Paperback Due: 1/31/17
4 3 2 1: A Novel by Paul Auster
Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Due: 1/31/17
PACHINKO by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko is a new masterpiece from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, and is great for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone. Sweeping in scope yet deeply personal, Pachinko follows one Korean family’s desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs across generations – from the 1910 Japanese annexation through the late 1980’s. As they experience great joy, dark yearning, victory and despair, this hugely satisfying novel explores the enduring questions of faith, family and identity. Due: 2/7/17
A DIVIDED SPY by Charles Cumming
Thomas Kell thought he was done with spying. A former MI6 officer, he devoted his life to the Service, but it has left him with nothing but grief and a simmering anger against the Kremlin. Then Kell is offered an unexpected chance at revenge. Taking the law into his own hands, he embarks on a mission to recruit a top Russian spy who is in possession of a terrifying secret. As the mission reaches boiling point, the threat of a catastrophic terrorist attack looms over Britain. Kell is faced with an impossible choice. Loyalty to MI6—or to his own conscience? Due: 2/14/17
LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders
On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body. Due: 2/14/17
THE MOTHER’S PROMISE by Sally Hepworth
Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two all their lives. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works – until it doesn’t. Due: 2/21/17
EDGAR AND LUCY by Victor Lodato
There’s his mother, Lucy, who, though she has moments where she loves him, mostly disappears at night with her various “suitors.” And then there’s his grandmother, Florence, who dotes on him to the point where she is at a loss when he isn’t around. When Florence suddenly dies, Lucy is thrown into the role of main caretaker and doesn’t know how to handle her new job. But as Edgar and Lucy adjust, they must also deal with Ron, a local butcher who wants to court Lucy, and Conrad, an unsettlingly attentive adult whose intentions are at one more sinister and more innocent than Edgar could ever know. Due: 3/7/17
NORSE MYTHOLOGY by Neil Gaiman
Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths. Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. Due: 2/7/17
We have a great series of North Conway, NH book store events coming up and we keep adding on, so do check regularly! See when our book groups are meeting and what they’re reading and meet our many visiting authors – there really is something for everyone. And if you can’t make it to the event, just send us an email or give us a call and we can get a book signed for you – no problem!
We had so much fun with our Happy Hours in December that we are going to continue them each month in 2017!
The fourth Thursday of each month from 4-6pm we will have specials, munchies, beer, wine and specific help on finding that perfect book! PLUS 15% off the featured books of the night! Featured books of the night will be New Age, Health & Fitness, Self-Help and Spiritual.
– See more at: http://whitebirchbooks.com/#sthash.sb1BMcY0.dpuf
Author Afternoon with Annie Harnett
Thursday, March 16 at 5pm
Thursday Night Book Group – Thursday, March 23 at 7pm
Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo
Happy Hour – Stop by for a relaxing, fun, late March afternoon at the bookstore!
Thursday, March 23rd – 4-6pm
Mystery Book Group – Thursday, April 13 at 7pm
An Unexpected Corpse, A White Mountain Mystery by Cathy Strasser
WILL’S RED COAT Book Launch Event
Tuesday, April 25, 7 p.m. at KHS Auditorium
Thursday Night Book Group – Thursday, April 27, 7 p.m.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte
One thing that we can count on when we head into a new year is year-end best of lists. For books, there are always the best-selling lists, the critic’s lists and, of course, the White Birch Books Local Top Ten list. Let’s dig right in!
Holding the top spot this year is The Finest Hours by Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman. Although not a local book per se, it was our community read selection this year. White Birch Books partnered with local libraries across the Valley to promote and discuss this book, ending with a grand finale event with the author that was attended by more than 150 people. The story of a near impossible Coast Guard rescue resonated with readers as they compared it to the amazing work our local rescuers do time and again. A great read AND a great movie!
A perennial favorite and annual chart topper, Following Atticus by Tom Ryan, sits up high again this year. For a book that was originally published five years ago, this is a pretty amazing feat. For those who do not know the book, it is the story of Tom, an unlikely hiker, and Atticus, a miniature schnauzer, and their attempt to climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4000-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. We are very much looking forward to the continuing this story when Will’s Red Coat comes out in late April.
Our next author is always in the annual top ten, too. Lisa Gardner has the number three spot for 2016 with Find Her, a thriller where we enter the world of a young woman who was abducted and terrorized for 472 days. Gardner gives us an inside look at the FBI and the victim advocate’s role. This is a thriller in the truest sense. Gardner’s next book is Right Behind You. White Birch Books will once again collaborate with Horsefeathers for the debut book event. This year it is scheduled for Monday January 30, starting at 7 p.m. I suspect we will see Lisa Gardner on the list next year, too.
Desperate Steps: Life, Death, and Choices Made in the Mountains of the Northeast, written by Peter Kick, was also a late addition to last year’s list and kept the momentum to reach again this year. The book recounts 20 true tales of backcountry misadventure and misfortune, including incidents along the Appalachian Trail, and seeks the lessons to be learned. Weather is unpredictable and even the best laid plans go awry – sometimes, the best decision is to just read the book!
Other popular outdoor books, and basically staples of our local book section, are AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains by Robert Buchsbaum and the White Mountain Guide by Steve Smith, also published by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Both books are must-haves for the region. Together they offer almost all of the hiking advice, trail descriptions and suggestions that any local or visitor might need to fully enjoy the area.
A newcomer to the list this year is Not Just A Recipe: Celebrating People, Places and Food by Pat Altomare. Pat was a guest of the Cold River Radio Show and made an appearance at the bookstore. Her cookbook is full of recipes from her family, as well as from her travels all over the world.
Another book on our list is Death at the Day Lily Cafe, set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We can’t even pretend that’s local, but it makes our list because the author, Wendy Sand Eckel, is related to one of our former employees. This is the second book in the series and features recipes as well as sleuthing and was given the thumbs up by our Mystery Book Club.
Two novels round out our local top ten list. The first is The Major’s Daughter by J.P. Francis (also known as N.H. author Joe Monninger). This novel is based on the true story of German prisoners of war held in Stark, N.H., during World War II. It’s a great bit of mostly unknown history and Joe has turned it into a wonderful little novel.
Breaking Wild by Diane LesBecquets takes the final spot. The book is set out west, but Diane is from New Hampshire. It tells the story of two women, one lost in the wilderness and the other working to find her. They are both complicated and strong – fantastic women characters who work and play in the great outdoors.
So that’s it!– the second annual White Birch Books Local Top Ten List for 2016. What will 2017 bring in the way of local favorites? Only time will tell!
Laura Cummings owns and operates White Birch Books, an independent full service bookstore serving the Mt. Washington Valley – and beyond – for 24 years and counting.
The Mystery Book Club meets at the store on the second Thursday of every month with Barb as the fearless leader. A small group, discussion books range from historical mysteries to contemporary thrillers. Books are usually picked a couple months in advance, but sometimes the group goes crazy and lines up books for several months. As with all of our groups, the Mystery Book Club is open to anyone interested and can be a great place to meet fellow readers. We’ve seen wonderful friendships form and grow while discussing murder and mayhem –as it should be!
Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths
Mortal Fall by Christine Carbo
OLLI – Best Books for the Holidays and Beyond by Laura Cummings – November
THE SLOW WALTZ OF TURTLES by Katherine Pancol
In this mega-bestseller from France and the follow-up to The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles, a woman contends with divorce, family trouble, and even murder in her journey to discover who she really is. As Joséphine struggles to find her voice and her confidence amidst a messy web of relationships and a string of murders, she and those around her must learn to push on with determination, like headstrong little turtles learning to dance slowly in a world that’s too violent and moving too fast. Paperback Due: 11/1/16
ORPHANS OF THE CARNIVAL by Carol Birch
London had the best freaks, always had. The Egyptian Hall, the Promenade of Wonders, the Siamese twins, pinheads, midgets, cannibals, giants, living skeletons, the fat, the hairy, the legless, the armless, the noseless, London had seen it all. In the Hall of Ugliness the competition was stiff. But no one had ever seen anything quite like Julia…. Pronounced by the most eminent physician of the day to be “a true hybrid wherein the nature of woman presides over that of the brute,” Julia Pastrana stood apart from the other carnival acts. Due: 11/8/16
SWING TIME by Zadie Smith
Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.
THE DEVIL IN THE VALLEY by Castle Freeman
By the author of the acclaimed novel Go With Me, which has now been adapted to a film, a modern reimagining of Doctor Faustus, set in Castle Freeman Jr.’s trademark depiction of rural Vermont. In his quiet Vermont home, a man named Taft sits and wonders what’s missing from his life. He’s at a loss until a strange voice startles him from the rocking chair, where a stranger has seemingly appeared out of nowhere: well-dressed and smooth-talking, this man offers Taft the chance to have anything he’s ever wanted—for a price. Due: 11/15/16
CONCLAVE by Robert Harris
Harris has done extraordinary research into the workings of the Vatican – Conclave is as narratively thrilling as any of Harris’s previous best-selling novels, but it also gives us an insider’s portrait of one of the most shrouded places on earth. Due: 11/22/16
I’LL TAKE YOU THERE by Wally Lamb
New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb weaves an evocative, deeply affecting tapestry of one Baby Boomer’s life—Felix Funicello, introduced in Wishin’ and Hopin’—and the trio of unforgettable women who have changed it, in this radiant story of the American Century that is an homage to the resiliency, strength, and power of women. Due: 11/22/16
MOONGLOW by Michael Chabon
In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis for the novel Moonglow. Due: 11/22/16
STORM CELL: A Lewis Cole Mystery by Brendan DuBois
Lewis Cole is back! In his tenth outing, retired intelligence analyst Lewis Cole faces his most daunting challenge yet: Trying to save his friend Felix Tinios from being sent to death row after a conviction on first degree murder—but Felix refuses to accept Lewis’ assistance. Due: 11/22/16
THE SPY by Paulo Coelho
Over the past twenty years, Germany, Holland, and MI5 in the UK have released their files on Mata Hari, and it provided Coelho with a trove of information as he was researching his novel. Using first-person narrative, Coelho reimagines Mata Hari’s life through her final letter, which was written the week before her execution. There, from prison, Mata Hari reveals the choices she made in pursuing her own truth–from her childhood in a small Dutch town, to her unhappy years as the wife of an alcoholic diplomat in Java, to her calculated and self-fashioned rise to celebrity in France. At her death by firing squad — as she stared down her executioners and refused to be blindfolded — Mata Hari famously said, “I am ready.” Coelho says of that moment, “her only crime was to be an independent woman.” Due: 11/22/16
VICTORIA by Daisy Goodwin
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle, William IV, has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this tiny teenager can be the ruler of the greatest nation in the world. Her mother and her venal advisor, Sir John Conroy think that they will rule through her, and her uncle the villainous Duke of Cumberland thinks he would be a more suitable monarch than a hysterical young woman. The young Queen is no puppet. Despite have been kept in seclusion at Kensington Palace, she has very definite ideas about the kind of Queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name. Due: 11/22/16
THE WHOLE TOWN’S TALKING by Fannie Flagg
Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening out at the cemetery. “Still Meadows,” as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, this novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride Katrina, their neighbors and descendants, as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways. Flagg reminds us, in The Whole Town’s Talking, that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies. Due: 11/29/16
THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF PORTUGAL by Yann Martel
In this allegorical novel—quixotic quest story, ghost story, and contemporary realism—all set in Portugal (in Lisbon and in the fictional High Mountains of Portugal)—in the 17th century, at the turn of the 20th century, mid-20th century, and today—Yann Martel presents us with three intersecting narratives that explore our relationship with faith. Harkens back to Life of Pi. Paperback Due: 11/29/16
A WRETCHED AND PRECARIOUS SITUATION: IN SEARCH OF THE LAST ARCTIC FRONTIER by David Welky
Based on a trove of unpublished letters, diaries, and field notes, A Wretched and Precarious Situation is a harrowing Arctic adventure unlike any other. What began as a 2 year expedition became a 5 year ordeal & disaster. Remarkable true story of adventure, betrayal and trial. Due: 11/1/16
RAY & JOAN: THE MAN WHO MADE THE MCDONALD’S FORTUNE AND THE WOMAN WHO GAVE IT ALL AWAY by Lisa Napoli
The dramatic relationship between Ray Kroc, the man who amassed a fortune as chairman of one of America’s most controversial and iconic companies–McDonald’s–and the passionate woman, his wife, Joan, who then gave that fortune away. Due: 11/15/16
A MATTER OF HONOR: PEARL HARBOR: BETRAYAL, BLAME, AND A FAMILY’S QUEST FOR JUSTICE by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan
A gripping narrative about the downfall Admiral Kimmel, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and his family’s 75 year fight to exonerate their father. The New York Times-bestselling authors have had unprecedented access to documents, interviewees, and other materials in their investigation, and the book is timed for the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Due: 11/15/16
OUR REVOLUTION: A FUTURE TO BELIEVE IN by Bernie Sanders
An inside account of Sanders’ extraordinary campaign—and a blueprint for future political action. In Our Revolution, Sanders shares his personal experiences from the campaign trail, recounting the details of his historic primary fight and the people who made it possible. And for the millions looking to continue the political revolution, he outlines a progressive economic, environmental, racial, and social justice agenda that will create jobs, raise wages, protect the environment, and provide health care for all—and ultimately transform our country and our world for the better. The campaign may be over, but the struggle goes on. Due: 11/15/16
THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE: AN OPTIMIST’S GUIDE TO THRIVING IN THE AGE OF ACCELERATIONS by Thomas L. Friedman
A BRIEF THEORY OF EVERYTHING. In this book, Friedman ties together all the major developments of the past ten years – from the rise of cloud computing to ISIS – and explains why they happened, and why they happened together. Due: 11/22/16
THE DAILY SHOW (THE BOOK): AN ORAL HISTORY AS TOLD BY JON STEWART, THE CORRESPONDENTS, STAFF AND GUESTS by Jon Stewart, Chris Smith
The complete, uncensored history of the award-winning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as told by its correspondents, writers, and host. Due: 11/22/16
BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD by Trevor Noah
The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of a young man’s coming of age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Due: 11/15/16
THE PRINCESS DIARIST by Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher, the most idiosyncratic of Hollywood stars, again explores her life as the child of Tinseltown royalty, her adventures as Princess Leia, and her misadventures as Bi-Polar Woman of the Year—with another series of hilarious, jaw-dropping and interconnected autobiographical essays. Due: 11/22/16