Catie's Recommendations for Tatiana
What it's about: Characters spanning a huge time frame (Civil War era to present day) from the American South deal with the fleeting nature of life and their crumbling hopes.
Why I think she'll like it: I was introduced to Ron Rash through another installment of SMMDI, so it's only fitting that I should pay it forward in the same venue. I recently listened to the audio version of this collection and loved it even more than Rash's full-length novel, Serena. The audio version is just over four hours and has an incredible cast of narrators, but she doesn't need to listen to the whole thing. I particularly think she'd enjoy the title story, Nothing Gold Can Stay, about two childhood friends whose lives have changed since they discovered prescription drugs, Where The Map Ends because it has a great twist ending, Those Who Are Dead Are Only Now Forgiven because it broke my heart with how inevitable the conclusion felt, and Cherokee because it kept me at the very edge of my seat and gave me exactly what I was hoping for, only to make me realize just how awful and limited that hope was.
What it's about: Young Danny Griggs (Jonah's little brother!) struggles with overwhelming fear, especially for the horrible Gorgon which lives in the gully behind the play yard of his school. When he kicks a soccer ball into the Gully's lair, will he have the bravery to go after it?
Why I think she'll like it: This is the only Melina Marchetta novel that Tatiana has not read yet. Enough said. Bonus - I will mail it to her myself since I know it is hard to find.
(To be obtained at the library as separate books...unfortunately the "Mo Willems Sampler" is not a real product...yet.)
What they're about: Thoughtful, clever, and hilarious stories for kids that grown-ups won't mind having to read over and over and over (AND OVER) again.
Why I think she'll like them: As a new mom, Tatiana might enjoy discovering some wonderful children's book authors, and Mo Willems is one of the best. I recently ordered a bunch of the Elephant and Piggie books for my five year old daughter and couldn't help reading them all myself before giving them to her. His stories are entertaining for all ages and while they sometimes have a lot of emotion and heart, they're never overly preachy or didactic. Mo Willems always writes to children and for children and never down to children. My favorites are:
Hooray For Amanda And Her Alligator - about a little girl and her favorite stuffed alligator toy.
The Elephant and Piggie Series - about an Elephant and a Pig who are best friends.
The Knuffle Bunny Series - about a little girl who chronically loses her favorite toy (the series spans her life from babyhood to adulthood and my husband can't read the end of the last book without getting all emotional).
The Pigeon Series - about a pigeon who always wants what he can't have (great for younger kids and toddlers).
Tatiana's Recommendations for Flannery
What it's about: Short works (fiction and non-fiction) by one of the best American writers who never fully realized his potential (IMO).
Why I think she'll like it: I am cheating here a little bit. This collection is more than 200 pages long, but I wouldn't want Flannery to read it all, it is not even in quality. However, a couple of titles here are sure to catch her attention. Knowing that Flannery likes biographical non-fiction, a conversational portrait of Marylin Monroe "A Beautiful Child" should be of interest to her. "Handcarved Coffins" is a true crime story, and I think she will like it as well. As for the rest of the collection, short stories can be easily skipped, while some other conversational portraits are great too, but it's up to Flann if she wants to read more. I am only "assigning" these two:)
What it's about: A Middle East-flavored fairy-tale/time-travel story.
Why I think she'll like it: Well, I recommend Ted Chiang as often as I can (still waiting for Catie to read him, too). He is a SF author who writes cleverly and elegantly. This story is the most accessible of his. Flannery loves SF and time travel, plus, the story has a certain fairy-tale element to it that she, who enjoyed Fables so much, will appreciate. It is also available as an audio podcast for free here and can be easily found in iTunes.
What it's about: A lovely story of life of the author's working class parents.
Why I think she'll like it: While I don't think this graphic novel is the best ever, I think Flannery will be pleased by this charming, funny life story. It'll be a nice departure from her more beloved action-packed comics.
Flannery's Recommendations for Catie
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
What it's about: The Queen discovers a love of reading, despite the disapproval of many of her family and those around her.
Why I think she'll like it: This book reminded me why I love to read. All three of us have been having a frustrating reading life lately so I think Catie might enjoy the reminder as much as I did. It's quotable and the story made me chuckle a few times. She'll read it in one sitting if she chooses to go with this one and I think she will enjoy reading about a woman who discovers what it is like to get lost in the endless information and possibilities of books.
Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
What it's about: A strong-willed orphan girl is sponsored to go to a ritzy school and required to write letters to her anonymous benefactor.
Why I think she'll like it: Catie loves Anne of Green Gables as much as I do and it's hard going to find a heroine as unapologetic about her personality and as snarky as Anne can be, but Judy comes pretty close. Catie said she was in a romance reading type of mood and I think this one will suit her. She will like to imagine the school Judy goes to and the sense of humor in the book is surprising, given that it was written in 1912. It is available for free, though some editions have illustrations, and there are several movie adaptations if she wants to do a Book vs. Movie post.
The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
What it's about: A series of people, over time, ask a developing machine to explain the future of the universe.
Why I think she'll like it:I read that this is Asimov's favorite short story from his own writings and I think it is one that every fan of sci-fi should read at least once. I saw people on Goodreads, or maybe Reddit, discussing what a shock the ending is and I read it just preparing to be amazed. I'm not sure Catie will be blown away but she'll be happy to tick it off on her read list. It's available many places for free and will take her about five minutes to read.
So what do you think? Have any short recommendations for us?