It’s the Shorter Short List!


The One Book list has gotten shorter. If you were waiting for a manageable number of books to read, get started now. We are down to 6 titles and counting. The Selection Committee meets again next month…what will the finalists be? Here are the 6 books still in the running:

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Molly Ayer is a Penobscot Indian who has nearly reached the maximum age for staying in the comforts of foster care. If she isn’t able to find a job or volunteer position, she will be sent to a youth detention center, and maybe then to prison. With no other option left, Molly takes up a service position helping an old woman, Vivian, empty out her house of clutter. The pair’s relationship is strenuous at first, as Molly’s heart is simply not in rummaging through Vivian’s old knickknacks. But over time, Molly begins to realize that the two are more similar than they seemed at first. Vivian tells Molly that she emigrated from Ireland when she was a little girl, but that her parents left her orphaned in New York City. She was then sent to the Midwest on a train packed with orphans just like her. They all hoped the new land would bring them a better life. Molly slowly begins to understand Vivian, and together they work through the hazy details of Vivian’s past to discover the truth that can finally satisfy them both.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

Reif Larsen’s The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet follows a 12-year-old map maker named T.S. Spivet. He lives in Montana with his rancher father, scientist mother, and younger sister. He makes maps of everything, but he hides them from his family, fearing they would not approve. One day shortly after the death of his brother, he receives a call informing him that he has won an award for his maps from the Smithsonian. He embarks on an adventure to Washington, D.C., to accept the award. He travels mostly by train meeting a cast of characters, including a preacher with homicidal tendencies, a racist trucker, and more. He learns much about himself and his family along the way. The text is accompanied by charts, diagrams, illustrations, and notes from T.S.

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

A young woman finds an otherworldly World War II romance in this novel by Rhonda Riley. Evelyn Roe is just 17 when she is shipped off to work on her aunt’s North Carolina farm. She takes to rural life immediately, and the years pass quickly. When she is 20, Evelyn finds what seems to be a burn victim on the property. As Evelyn nurses the nondescript body back to health, the strange being assumes Evelyn’s appearance. Evelyn names her new companion Addie, and the two women forge an intimate relationship. Evelyn and Addie must keep their forbidden love secret, and both women realize their relationship cannot produce children. When a transient man passes through the area, Addie leaves with him and assumes his appearance. When Addie returns–now called Adam–he resumes his relationship with Evelyn and they start a family. A happy ending may still be out of their reach, however.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Theo Decker narrowly escapes death when an explosion occurs at the museum he attends with his mother; unfortunately, his mother is not that lucky. Abandoned by his father at a young age and now orphaned, Theo is sent to live with a pair of wealthy family acquaintances. Yet Theo is consumed by guilt and grief, and his classmates have no idea how to speak to the boy with the dead mother. The few positive aspects of Theo’s life include his love for a girl named Pippa and his possession of a goldfinch painting, which he salvaged from the site of his mother’s death. It is that painting by Dutch artist Carel Fabritius that carries Theo through his life. He remembers his mother’s final words and decides to never, ever let her memory go. Meanwhile, as he matures he finds himself involved in an underground world of art dealing and struggles to come to terms with his mother’s untimely death.

Bone Deep (A Doc Ford Novel) by Randy Wayne White

Doc Ford’s friend Tomlinson asks for his help to retrieve a stolen relic for the Crow Indian nation. Doc Ford is only too happy to assist. While Doc might be known in town as a marine biologist now, he was once a skilled operative of the National Security Agency, and he knows how to hunt for clues. Their investigation leads them to Bone Valley, Florida, which is a place that has a reputation for being the home of a dangerous, illegal market for artifacts like the one stolen from the Crow Indians. It is also home to the very lucrative phosphate industry. The landscape is a hodgepodge of excavations, pits, and clay-slurry ponds, where it would be easy to dispose of something–or someone–that could never again be found. Neither the black marketers nor the phosphate companies have any interest in making the headlines, so they do not appreciate questions coming from Doc and Tomlinson. If the two are not careful, they just might find themselves in very deep trouble.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

What would you do if your life fell apart? Cheryl Strayed answers this question in her memoir as she describes her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). When Strayed was 22, her mother died of cancer. Soon after that, Strayed’s family moved away and her marriage fell apart. Strayed began making questionable life decisions involving drugs and promiscuity. Then, at 26, she decided that she would find herself by hiking the PCT from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon and into the state of Washington. And she did it alone. With no long-distance hiking experience, Strayed set out completely unprepared for what she would encounter. In her autobiography, she relives her encounters with wild animals, intense climates, and reptiles. She writes about the beauty of the trail and of the people she meets during her travels. More a tale of self-healing than a hiking guide, Strayed not only completes her quest but also finds herself in the process.

All book summaries are from Books and Authors, Gale, June 16, 2014

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