Saturday, February 28, 2015

FFTNFR, Volume VII - It's Been A Year, People

I can't believe that it's been over a year since I posted my last volume of Fiction for the Non-Fiction Reader (FFTNFR).  Can you?  You mean that you didn't even notice that it's been over a year?  Well, it has.  For those of you have been living in a literary cave-i.e. have started reading my blog only recently-FFTNFR is a list of those books that even non-fiction readers would enjoy.  And here's the next batch (#7):

Christine Baker Kline - Orphan Train.  This book came highly recommended and at least matched, if not exceeded, the hype.  The story, which is purely fiction, is based on the fact that between 1854-1929, 200,000 orphans from NYC were shipped, by train, to the Midwest.  They were taken in by families for a large variety of reasons, including the equivalent of slave labor.

Daniel James Brown - The Boys in the Boat.  This is the true story of the University of Washington's rowing team and how it got to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  It's a fascinating read, with a lot of fun historical facts that I, as a history major, no less, knew nothing about.  It's 1 of 2 non-fiction books on this list.

Natalie Baszile - Queen Sugar.  A modern-day, Los Angeles-based black woman inherits her father's 700 acres of sugar cane in Louisiana.  Not only is this a very good book; but it's also going to be a TV series on Oprah's network later this year.  AND Ava DuVernay, the director of Selma, will be writing and directing the series!

Greg Iles - Natchez Burning.  This is Iles' 1st book in 5 years because of a serious car accident.  It was well worth the wait.  It's the 1st of a trilogy and is based on some serious racist acts in Mississippi  during the '60s.  Everything Iles writes is good.  But this is one of his best.  It was my highest rated book of 2014.

Jonathan Tropper - This Is Where I Leave You.  Maybe you saw the movie, starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda.  It was a terrific movie, but an even better book.  I had never heard of Tropper before Bob told me to read it.  But I will be going back to his others.  There's humor, poignancy, drama, and a whole slew of great characters.  I felt an emotional connection to many of them.

C. Lee McKenzie - The Princess of Las Pulgas.  This is the 1st YA (young adult) I've ever posted on these lists.  No matter what age you are, you will be drawn to the 16-year old female protagonist, her 14-year old brother, and their mother.  On page 2, the father dies, and everything changes for the family.  You will not be able to put this one down (plus, the author will be coming to Recycle Books, Campbell, on Tuesday, March 24, at 7:00, for the RBC).

Harlan Coben - The Stranger.  It might look like I automatically put every Coben on some kind of list.  But the truth is that he can really write.  His latest, which doesn't hit the shelves until March 24, is one of my favorites of his.  It's all about an upscale East Coast town and what happens when a stranger shows up and tells the protagonist a secret about his wife.  It's extremely creative, with lots of suspense.

Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See.  This is a hugely popular book club book. So, normally, I would pass on reading it.  In this case, though, it was our assigned book for the Books, Inc. 4th Tuesday Night Book Club.  It's 2 stories - 1 about an orphan boy in Berlin, and the other about a blind girl in Paris.  The stories converge during WWII.  Good stuff.

Tara Conklin - The House Girl.  The story goes back and forth between 1852 and 2004. Did a slave paint a number of pieces that were accredited to her mistress?  That's what a 1st-year law student, in a prestigious law firm, stumbles upon while working on a very important assignment for one of the partners.  I know that a lot of authors choose to alternate between 2 different time periods.  In this case, Doerr does it well.

Jamie Ford - Songs of Willow Frost.  Jamie's 1st book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, made my Volume VI.  Like that one, Songs of Willow Frost takes place in Seattle. It also alternates time periods.  But it's the Depression vs. the 1930s, a pretty short gap. In this case, a 12-year old orphan (it looks like I have some obsession with orphans!) gets to see a famous singer for his birthday and is convinced that it's his mother.  Jamie can flat-out write.

Joshua Safran - Free Spirit:  growing up on the road and off the grid.  Joshua was our November RBC author.  His book is a memoir of his childhood in Northern California.  It's a real head shaker.  He makes Jeanette Walls' childhood, brought to life in The Glass Castle, look like a cakewalk.  This is fascinating stuff and very well-written.

Rachael Herron - Pack Up the Moon.  This one takes place in the East Bay (Northern California).  A woman who lost her 9-year old son years before has to deal with discovering a 22-year old daughter that she gave up at birth.  Add an ex-husband to the mix, and you've got a story with a lot of pieces to it.  Rachael creates characters that we can emotionally connect with.

Until next time (I've already got 3 lined up for volume VIII)...


  1. I've read, and loved, two of those and have quite a few of the others on my shelves. Great list!

    1. Thanks, Kathy. As you well know, it's always fun to get feedback on the books we recommend.