Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy, recommended by Trish

If you have read any of Cormac McCarthy’s novels, this one does not disappoint.  Alicia checks herself into Stella Maris, a psychiatric facility, with a bag of money.  Alicia is avoiding the grief and longing she has for her brother, her understanding of the world and how she does not fit in it. This book is a conversation between Alicia and her therapist.  It is classic McCarthy style and prose. 

Your Thoughts: A patron had some thoughts: “This book was a slog. I pushed through. A prize winner and author of great import according to his obit but not my cup of tea. Reminded me of philosophy classes in college, which I hated. No ‘joy to read’ (San Francisco Chronicle blurb) for me.”

The Distant Dead by Heather Young, recommended by Vicki

After leaving his prestigious university position, mild-mannered math teacher Adam Merkel barely causes a ripple when he arrives in Lovelock, Nevada. Seven months later, gossip flames when his body is found, bound and burned in the desert outskirts. Breathless speculation runs through the town, including how young Sal Prentiss, that hapless boy living on a hardscrabble ranch with his outlaw uncles, discovered the body. But many living out their lives in that nowhere town have skeletons–some just buried deeper in the high desert sediment. Told in three narratives, this psychological thriller unfolds at a deliberate, lyrical pace. The malevolent atmosphere of Lovelock and its luckless residents is subtly relentless. While Young’s windswept desert setting is sparse, she breathes life into her characters and the weight of their resentments, regrets and familial obligations.

The Distant Dead is a “Southwest Book of the Year” Pick. The review originally was published in its 2021 publication.

The Cloisters by Katy Hays, recommended by Dennis

A small-city girl is excited about a summer apprenticeship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When she arrives, she finds her position has been dropped, but she is recruited by another department head to assist at The Cloisters, a gothic museum. During her summer there, she becomes friends with another associate while they both assist the department head in his research of divination. Their work leads to the discovery of a set of 15th century tarot cards which are the missing piece for a highly-anticipated research paper.  When the Department head dies from poisoning, the police investigate the possible suspects, revealing secrets about her and her coworkers.

Your Thoughts: In response to what their favorite part was, a patron responded, “Probably the ending. Very unexpected. The story was interesting, twisting, and well written. Descriptions of people, objects, locations, etc. really brought the story to life. An excellent first novel. I enjoyed the complexity and the discomfort the characters created.”

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, recommended by Dennis (He read so many good books this month, we couldn’t pick just one!)

One of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read in a long time. We know who committed the murder but not why.  We don’t know because the murderer is in a physiatrist facility and hasn’t spoken since the murder occurred. The patient/murderer is an artist, the therapist is new to the facility and admires her work. Can he get her to speak and help her?  But, does  everyone at the facility want her to speak and share her story?

Musical Tables by Billy Collins, recommended by Megan C.

A perfect foray into poetry for those wanting to read more of the genre! With over 100 mini poems in this collection, former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins explores nature, writing, love, and humanity – in just a few lines. Though these poems are short, they do not lack cleverness or profundity, and make the genre accessible to all. With some poems being only 3 lines, even just a few minutes is enough to enjoy his tiny packages of wit and wisdom. A must-read for any pastoral poet!