The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides; Reader: David Pittu (2011, MacMillan Audio)
Many readers may have heard of Jeffrey Eugenides for either of his first two novels: The Virgin Suicides, which is his first novel and was turned into a movie, or Middlesex, his second novel which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003. The Marriage Plot is the third novel by Eugenides and came out in 2011. Like Middlesex it is a lengthy book, and also similar to Middlesex it creates a detailed and exact portrayal of the characters it follows.
In The Marriage Plot, readers not only get the narratives of the characters, but also the inner workings of their minds, their mental blind spots, and the underlying needs that drive their actions. The book takes place in the early 80's at Brown University, and follows three characters--Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell--as they graduate from Brown and maneuver into their first year of adult life outside of school. While Eugenides follows the characters using the overarching theme of romantic relationship, the novel is not so much about marriage as it is about people grappling with what it is to be human and to try to connect with other humans. The main female character confronts issues of feminism, while one of the male characters learns how to live as a medicated person with bi-polar disorder, and the other searches for spiritual meaning in his life. While these characters orbit each other and romantically entangle and disentangle with each other, it is their personal journeys that drive the novel.
The audiobook version of the novel is a delight to listen to (and we have this version here in the Sitka Public Library), and reader David Pittu does an entertaining job of making each character come to life with accents, and tonal shifts. Overall, The Marriage Plot is an entertaining and engrossing read.
Find this title in our catalog: The Marriage Plot
Recommended by: Brooke
MR. PENUMBRA'S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE -- a gleeful and exhilarating adventure tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, young love, and the secret to eternal life
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan; Reader: Ari Fliakos (2013, Macmillan Audio)
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone--and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead "checking out" impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he's embarked on a complex analysis of the customers' behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what's going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.
With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that's rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.
This is a great read! It's funny and relevant, good for book lovers and techno nerds.
Find this title in our catalog: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Recommended by: Joanna