Hello, readers! Welcome to another #5OnMyTBR update. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme.
This week’s theme: Title Starting with an ‘H’
5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!
Title: The Hotel New Hampshire
Author: John Irving
Synopsis: Rarely in recent times has a voice so captured the imagination of critics and readers everywhere as JOhn Irving in his internationally acclaimed novel The World According to Garp.
In Mr. Irving’s newest novel, The Hotel New Hampshire, the reader is again seduced by the unfolding of a singular world. As John Berry, the narrator and middle son in a family of five children (and one bear and a dog named Sorrow), explains: “We were a family whose favorite story was the story of my mother and father’s romance: how Father bought the bear, how Mother and Father fell in love, in rapid succession, Frank, Franny, and me (‘Bang, Bang, Bang!’ as Franny would say); and, after a brief rest, how they then had Lilly and Egg (‘Pop and Fizzle,’ Franny says).”
That voice – at once nostalgic and direct – describes the Berry family growing up in three different hotels and on two separate continents. “The first of my father’s illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels.” What happens to Father’s dreams (and to the children upon whom those dreams are visited) is the subject of John Irving’s fifth and finest novel.
Title: How High We Go in the Dark
Author: Sequoia Nagamatsu
Synopsis: For Fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven, a spellbinding and profoundly prescient debut that follows a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years as humanity struggles to rebuild itself in the aftermath of a climate plague – a daring and deeply heartfelt work of mind-bending imagination from a singular new voice.
In 20130, a grieving archaeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika Crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.
Once unleashed, the Arctic plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects – a pig – develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenage granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.
From funerary skyscrapers to hotels for the dead to the interstellar starships, Sequoia Nagamatsu takes readers on a wildly original and compassionate journey, spanning continents, centuries, and even celestial bodies to tell a story about the resilience of the human spirit, our infinite capacity to dream, and the connective threads that tie us all together in the universe.
Title: The Horseman on the Roof
Author: Jean Giono
Synopsis: n the white heat the sky is opaque, the air leaden and the light intense. A single cavalryman wonders at the oppressive atmosphere of the unfamiliar countryside he is entering. Exile from his Italian homeland as well as an innate, stubborn pride compel him onward, into the heart of Provence and into the acute cholera pandemic which ravaged the country in the 1830s.
Giono here directs a hallucinatory, lyrical narrative in which the mortal odours, the violent contractions of those who meet with the disease and the fear of a people confronted with insuperable natural forces are palpable. Death pervades the novel, but Angelo does not cease journeying, dodging blockades and quarantine imposed by troops – even seeking temporary refuge on the roofs of one town – determined to find his childhood friend, Giuseppe. Others join him on the road, and leave him. Only the young woman, Pauline de Theus, who calmly receives the intruder who one night descends from the roofs, proves a worthy travelling companion.
Title: Homeland Elegies
Author: Ayad Akhtar
Synopsis: A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at tis heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.
Ayad Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and the gods of finance rule, where immigrants live in fear, and where the nation’s unhealed wounds wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerrilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one – least of all himself – in the process.
Title: Hotel du Lac
Author: Anita Brookner
Synopsis: Edith Hope is in disgrace and working out her probation on the shores of Lake Geneva. Friends and family have banished her to seemly Swiss solitude – out of season – until such time as she may recover her lost senses. Her crime? It all subtly unfolds in Hotel du Lac.
Edith reminds herself that the hotel at least provides an excellent opportunity to finish writing her latest romantic novel. Fantasy and obfuscation are her business: they are also in her nature. In the quiet opulence of the Swiss dining room pampered widows languish in luxury, providing irresistible diversion to such an imaginative and compulsive observer: the carefully elegant Iris Pusey, ‘respectable duenna’, so utterly fulfilled in her desires that she prompts daring thoughts of possession even in the likes of someone as unprepossessing as Edith; Iris’s daughter Jennifer, determinedly gamine, who has inherited her mother’s profound, if good-natured, indifference to anyone but herself. Edith finds their simple greed heartening, enviable.
Enter Mr. Neville, devil’s advocate, also spreading the gospel of seizing what you want. ‘If your capacity for bad behaviour were being properly used,’ he tells Edith, ‘you would not be moping around in that cardigan… Whoever told you that you looked like Virginia Woolf did you a grave disservice.
With characteristic wit and beautifully observed detail, Anita Brookner has created perhaps her most memorable heroine yet. Edith Hope, as reluctant to be recruited by the ultra-feminine as by feminists, adept as a romantic writer yet contending with her own puzzled view of romance comes marvellously to life in this humorous and touching new novel.