Arriving shortly

Pssssst!  Have I got a reading group tip for you:  at least an hour of animated give-and-take practically guaranteed, and it’s less than thirty pages long. 

Leading a discussion for Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short story “Hell Screen” is a dream job.  That text was June’s topic for the Baca Center Great Conversations group on Tuesday.  The selection is so rich with intriguing themes that I didn’t agonize over my choice of questions, figuring that the group’s commentary and participation would be high-quality no matter what–and they were.  Whether you focus on the question of great art requiring sacrifice or one of the other eye-opening facets (which I’ll refrain from divulging here), rest assured you won’t lack for conversation.

Try a less-than-book-length choice with your reading group sometime.  As with poetry, short stories derive power from conciseness.  And, during an activity-laden summer, who doesn’t appreciate brevity for its own sake? 

With convenience in mind, I scanned reviews for new and forthcoming fiction, mining for choice bits (thank you, clever reviewers!) that encapsulate the appeal of these promising–and full-length–titles.  

Please do follow up and consult full reviews online, or come to the library and let us find some for you.  In the meantime…


  • Jen Lancaster, If You Were Here: “snappy”

  • Steve Earle, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive: “heartfelt”


  • Kate Christensen, The Astral: “satisfying redoing of a man undone”

  • Daniel Wilson, Robopocalypse: “frenetic”

  • Josh Ritter, Bright’s Passage: “hard to forget”

  • Erica Bauermeister, Joy for Beginners: “resonating”

  • Gabrielle Donnelly, The Little Women Letters: “beautifully crafted”

  • Elin Hilderbrand, Silver Girl: “sensitive”

  • Karin Slaughter, Fallen: “unrelentingly suspenseful”

  • Steve Martini, Trader of Secrets: “high-octane”

  • Helen Grant, The Glass Demon: “cerebral blend of horror and mystery”


  • Sarah Bird, The Gap Year: “memorably realistic”

  • Amanda Eyre Ward, Close Your Eyes: “elegant” “incisive”

  • Monica Ali, Untold Story: “daring and engrossing”

  • Amor Towles, Rules of Civility: “quotable”

  • Jim Knipfel, The Blow-Off: “morbidly playful

  • William Dietrich, Blood of the Reich: “diverting”

  • Paul Lawrence, A Plague of Sinners: Being the Second Chronicle of Harry Lytle: “outstanding”

  • Gwendolen Gross, The Orphan Sister: “emotionally charged”

  • Robert Browne, The Paradise Prophecy: “cinematic”

  • Elizabeth Kane Buzzeli, Dead Dogs and Englishmen: “gripping”

  • Diana Rowland, My Life as a White Trash Zombie: “hilarious”

  • Patricia Rice, The Devilish Montague: “endearing”

  • Emily Arsenault, In Search of the Rose Notes: “deeply satisfying”


  • Ernest Cline, Ready Player One: “dazzling”

  • Amy Waldman, The Submission: “frighteningly plausible”

  • Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers: “enchanting”

  • Jennifer Close, Girls in White Dresses: “artfully spare


  • Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus: “vibrant”

  • Hector Tobar, The Barbarian Nurseries: “panoramic”


  • Rebecca Coleman, The Kingdom of Childhood: “nicely creepy”

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