The Avid Reader is a podcast for book lovers. Sam’s podcast includes a history of over 450 interviews over the past decade ... listen on iTunes, Podomatic, Spotify and Tunein.comBelow are a few of Sam's most recent interviews.  Enjoy!
The Lions of Fifth Avenue: A Novel Cover Image
$24.30
ISBN: 9781524744618
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Published: Dutton - August 4th, 2020

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August 05, 2020 11:10 AM PDT

It's 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn't ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she is drawn to Greenwich Village's new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women's rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she's forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she's wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie's running begin disappearing from the library's famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library's history


Bronte's Mistress: A Novel Cover Image
$24.30
ISBN: 9781982137236
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Published: Atria Books - August 4th, 2020

Bronte's Mistress Finola Austin

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July 30, 2020 01:10 PM PDT

This dazzling debut novel for fans of Mrs. Poe and Longbourn explores the scandalous historical love affair between Branwell Brontë and Lydia Robinson, giving voice to the woman who allegedly corrupted her son’s innocent tutor and brought down the entire Brontë family.

Yorkshire, 1843: Lydia Robinson—mistress of Thorp Green Hall—has lost her precious young daughter and her mother within the same year. She returns to her bleak home, grief-stricken and unmoored. With her teenage daughters rebelling, her testy mother-in-law scrutinizing her every move, and her marriage grown cold, Lydia is restless and yearning for something more.

All of that changes with the arrival of her son’s tutor, Branwell Brontë, brother of her daughters’ governess, Miss Anne Brontë and those other writerly sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Branwell has his own demons to contend with—including living up to the ideals of his intelligent family—but his presence is a breath of fresh air for Lydia. Handsome, passionate, and uninhibited by social conventions, he’s also twenty-five to her forty-three. A love of poetry, music, and theatre bring mistress and tutor together, and Branwell’s colorful tales of his sisters’ elaborate play-acting and made-up worlds form the backdrop for seduction.

But Lydia’s new taste of passion comes with consequences. As Branwell’s inner turmoil rises to the surface, his behavior grows erratic and dangerous, and whispers of their passionate relationship spout from her servants’ lips, reaching all three protective Brontë sisters. Soon, it falls on Lydia to save not just her reputation, but her way of life, before those clever girls reveal all her secrets in their novels. Unfortunately, she might be too late.

Meticulously researched and deliciously told, Brontë’s Mistress is a captivating reimagining of the scandalous affair that has divided Brontë enthusiasts for generations and an illuminating portrait of a courageous, sharp-witted woman who fights to emerge with her dignity intact.


Want: A Novel Cover Image
$23.39
ISBN: 9781250247544
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Published: Henry Holt and Co. - July 7th, 2020

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July 30, 2020 02:56 PM PDT

Elizabeth is tired. Years after coming to New York to try to build a life, she has found herself with two kids, a husband, two jobs, a PhD—and now they’re filing for bankruptcy. As she tries to balance her dream and the impossibility of striving toward it while her work and home lives feel poised to fall apart, she wakes at ungodly hours to run miles by the icy river, struggling to quiet her thoughts.

When she reaches out to Sasha, her long-lost childhood friend, it feels almost harmless—one of those innocuous ruptures that exist online, in texts. But her timing is uncanny. Sasha is facing a crisis, too, and perhaps after years apart, their shared moments of crux can bring them back into each other’s lives.

In Want, Lynn Steger Strong explores the subtle violences enacted on a certain type of woman when she dares to want things—and all the various violences in which she implicates herself as she tries to survive


Migrations: A Novel Cover Image
$24.29
ISBN: 9781250204028
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Published: Flatiron Books - August 4th, 2020

Migrations Charlotte McConaghy

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July 22, 2020 09:46 AM PDT

Young adult novelist McConaghy (the Chronicles of Kaya series) makes her adult debut with the clunky chronicle of Franny Stone, a troubled woman who follows a flock of endangered Arctic terns on what is believed to be their final migration home. Franny’s mother, who vanished when Franny was seven, warned her that women in their family are unable to resist the urge to wander. While working at a university in Galway, she meets ornithologist Niall Lynch, who immediately declares they’ll spend their lives together, and they implausibly marry. Unfortunately, Franny’s overwhelming desire to travel, her sorrow over their stillborn daughter, and a sleepwalking episode in which she chokes Niall drive a wedge in their marriage. Niall had always longed to track the terns, and Franny does so by convincing a fishing boat captain that she can help him find fish in exchange for transportation. Despite the ragtag crew’s initial distrust of Franny, she becomes part of the team. McConaghy divulges more about Franny’s dark past as she writes Niall letters and reflects on their relationship, as well as the true nature of her quest. While McConaghy’s plot is engaging, her writing can be a heavy-handed distraction (“out flies my soul, sucked through my pores”). Lovers of ornithology and intense drama will find what they need in this uneven tale


Members Only Cover Image
$14.39
ISBN: 9780358379928
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Published: Mariner Books - July 7th, 2020

Members Only Sameer Panda

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July 15, 2020 08:34 AM PDT

Raj Bhatt is often unsure of where he belongs. Having moved to America from Bombay as a child, he knew few Indian kids. Now middle-aged, he lives mostly happily in California, with a job at a university. Still, his white wife seems to fit in better than he does at times, especially at their tennis club, a place he’s cautiously come to love. 

But it’s there that, in one week, his life unravels. It begins at a meeting for potential new members: Raj thrills to find an African American couple on the list; he dreams of a more diverse club. But in an effort to connect, he makes a racist joke. The committee turns on him, no matter the years of prejudice he’s put up with. And worse still, he soon finds his job is in jeopardy after a group of students report him as a reverse racist, thanks to his alleged “anti-Western bias.” 

Heartfelt, humorous, and hard-hitting, Members Only explores what membership and belonging mean, as Raj navigates the complicated space between black and white America.


Tyll: A Novel Cover Image
By Daniel Kehlmann, Ross Benjamin (Translated by)
$24.26
ISBN: 9781524747466
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Published: Pantheon - February 11th, 2020

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June 08, 2020 08:28 AM PDT

From the internationally best-selling author of You Should Have Left, Measuring the World, and F, a transfixing retelling of the German myth of Tyll Ulenspiegel: a story about the devastation of war and a beguiling artist’s decision never to die 

Daniel Kehlmann masterfully weaves the fates of many historical figures into this enchanting work of magical realism and adventure. This account of the seventeenth-century vagabond performer and trickster Tyll Ulenspiegel begins when he’s a scrawny boy growing up in a quiet village. When his father, a miller with a secret interest in alchemy and magic, is found out by the church, Tyll is forced to flee with the baker’s daughter, Nele. They find safety and companionship with a traveling performer, who teaches Tyll his trade. And so begins a journey of discovery and performance for Tyll, as he travels through a continent devastated by the Thirty Years’ War and encounters along the way a hangman, a fraudulent Jesuit scholar, and the exiled King Frederick and Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia. 

Tyll displays Kehlmann’s remarkable narrative gifts and confirms the power of art in the face of the senseless brutality of history.


The Oppenheimer Alternative Cover Image
$15.29
ISBN: 9781647100131
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Published: CAEZIK SF & Fantasy - June 2nd, 2020

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June 08, 2020 08:15 AM PDT

Writing with “a sense of wonder that hasn’t prevailed since the days of Heinlein” (Books in Canada), best-novel Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Robert J. Sawyer brings you “a truly science-fictional work of alternate history” (S.M. Stirling). 
While J. Robert Oppenheimer and his Manhattan Project team struggle to develop the A-bomb, Edward Teller wants something even more devastating: a weapon based on nuclear fusion — the mechanism that powers the sun. But Teller’s research leads to a terrifying discovery: by the year 2030, the sun will eject its outermost layer, destroying the entire inner solar system — including Earth.

After the war ends, Oppenheimer’s physicists combine forces with Albert Einstein, computing pioneer John von Neumann, and rocket designer Wernher von Braun — the greatest scientific geniuses from the last century racing against time to save our future.

Meticulously researched and replete with real-life characters and events, The Oppenheimer Alternative is a breathtaking adventure through both real and alternate history.


How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel Cover Image
$23.40
ISBN: 9780525537205
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Published: Riverhead Books - April 7th, 2020

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May 20, 2020 10:20 AM PDT

An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape—trying not just to survive but to find a home.

Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future. 

Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and re-imagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it's about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home.


Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art Cover Image
$25.20
ISBN: 9780735213616
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 26th, 2020

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How to Pronounce Knife: Stories Cover Image
$23.40
ISBN: 9780316422130
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Published: Little, Brown and Company - April 21st, 2020

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May 20, 2020 10:18 AM PDT

Named one of The New York Times' "7 New Books to Watch Out for in April," this revelatory debut story collection from O. Henry Award winner Souvankham Thammavongsa honors characters struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the necessary "grunt work of the world."

In the title story of Souvankham Thammavongsa's debut collection, a young girl brings a book home from school and asks her father to help her pronounce a tricky word, a simple exchange with unforgettable consequences. Thammavongsa is a master at homing in on moments like this -- moments of exposure, dislocation, and messy feeling that push us right up against the limits of language.

The stories that make up How to Pronounce Knife focus on characters struggling to build lives in unfamiliar territory, or shuttling between idioms, cultures, and values. A failed boxer discovers what it truly means to be a champion when he starts painting nails at his sister's salon. A young woman tries to discern the invisible but immutable social hierarchies at a chicken processing plant. A mother coaches her daughter in the challenging art of worm harvesting.

In a taut, visceral prose style that establishes her as one of the most striking and assured voices of her generation, Thammavongsa interrogates what it means to make a living, to work, and to create meaning.


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Novel) Cover Image
$25.19
ISBN: 9781338635171
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic Press - May 19th, 2020

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Red Dress in Black and White: A novel Cover Image
$24.26
ISBN: 9780525521815
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Published: Knopf - May 26th, 2020

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May 20, 2020 10:15 AM PDT

From the widely acclaimed author of Waiting for Eden: a stirring, timely new novel that unfolds over the course of a single day in Istanbul: the story of an American woman attempting to leave behind her life in Turkey--to leave without her husband.

Catherine has been married for many years to Murat, an influential Turkish real estate developer, and they have a young son together, William. But when she decides to leave her marriage and return home to the United States with William and her photographer lover, Murat determines to take a stand. He enlists the help of an American diplomat to prevent his wife and child from leaving the country--but, by inviting this scrutiny into their private lives, Murat becomes only further enmeshed in a web of deception and corruption. As the hidden architecture of these relationships is gradually exposed, we learn the true nature of a cast of struggling artists, wealthy businessmen, expats, spies, a child pulled in different directions by his parents, and, ultimately, a society in crisis. Riveting and unforgettably perceptive, Red Dress in Black and White is a novel of personal and political intrigue that casts light into the shadowy corners of a nation on the brink.


Oona Out of Order: A Novel Cover Image
$24.29
ISBN: 9781250236609
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Published: Flatiron Books - February 25th, 2020

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May 01, 2020 06:11 PM PDT

A remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of order.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order...

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.


Galileo's Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness Cover Image
$24.26
ISBN: 9781524747961
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Published: Pantheon - November 5th, 2019

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May 01, 2020 06:07 PM PDT

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another edition of The Avid Reader. Today our guest is Philip Goff, whose latest book, his second, is Galileos Error: Foundations For A New Science of Consciousness, published in November last year by Pantheon.

His first book, by the way, was Consciousness And Fundamental Reality

He is a philosopher and consciousness researcher at Durham University.

Galileo’s Error is centered on the idea of panpsychism, a construct, if you will, that consciousness is fundamental and all encompassing and threads it way throughout the universe. Philip admits that this idea sounds a “bit crazy”, the idea that even the most constituent particles of nature, electrons, quarks, gluons contain, retain a certain very simple ability, characteristic of self-awareness, if you will. I may be misstating this theory somewhat, but I don’t blame myself, I blame the concept. One, I may be too ignorant to grasp the concept, two the possibility that all of what Philip posits is wrong.


The Book of Longings: A Novel Cover Image
$25.20
ISBN: 9780525429760
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Published: Viking - April 21st, 2020

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April 20, 2020 05:08 PM PDT

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by O, the Oprah Magazine, Good Morning America/ABC-TV, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, TIME, Marie Claire and The Millions

An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything.

Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana's pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome's occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history. 

Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus's life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman's bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer at the height of her powers


American Harvest: God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland Cover Image
$25.20
ISBN: 9781644450178
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Published: Graywolf Press - April 7th, 2020

 

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April 17, 2020 01:58 PM PDT

An epic story of the American wheat harvest, the politics of food, and the culture of the Great Plains

For over one hundred years, the Mockett family has owned a seven-thousand-acre wheat farm in the panhandle of Nebraska, where Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s father was raised. Mockett, who grew up in bohemian Carmel, California, with her father and her Japanese mother, knew little about farming when she inherited this land. Her father had all but forsworn it.

In American Harvest, Mockett accompanies a group of evangelical Christian wheat harvesters through the heartland at the invitation of Eric Wolgemuth, the conservative farmer who has cut her family’s fields for decades. As Mockett follows Wolgemuth’s crew on the trail of ripening wheat from Texas to Idaho, they contemplate what Wolgemuth refers to as “the divide,” inadvertently peeling back layers of the American story to expose its contradictions and unhealed wounds. She joins the crew in the fields, attends church, and struggles to adapt to the rhythms of rural life, all the while continually reminded of her own status as a person who signals “not white,” but who people she encounters can’t quite categorize.

American Harvest is an extraordinary evocation of the land and a thoughtful exploration of ingrained beliefs, from evangelical skepticism of evolution to cosmopolitan assumptions about food production and farming. With exquisite lyricism and humanity, this astonishing book attempts to reconcile competing versions of our national story


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