Read On: New and notable winter reads

“The Book of Strange New Things” By Michel Faber; $28

Faber has written a novel that will take your breath away and leave you wanting more. Does Peter ever find his way back to his wife, Bea, who is left on Earth to witness the destruction that is reigning while Peter is being a missionary to a community of aliens somewhere galaxies away? Do they each have enough faith in themselves, in humanity and in their religion to fathom the distances between them? Faber’s writing is brilliant and captivating, so much so that I finished this book one morning reading nearly 300 pages without pause. Stunningly brilliant and an impressive feat.

“Station Eleven” By Emily St. John Mandel; $24.95

Hope and apocalypse in one brilliant read. I could not put this down. This novel will be one of those hand-selling phenomena that everyone is talking about this winter.

“Love Me Back” By Merritt Tierce; $23.95

I loved the freshness of this novel, the rawness of the writing. I don’t use rawness to describe writing that isn’t polished but more that it is gritty, grabs and strikes you with a vitality one doesn’t always see in a debut novel. A young single mother, Marie lands a job at an upscale Dallas steakhouse. She quickly learns to hide her private struggle behind an easy smile and a crisp white apron. In a world of long hours and late nights, where everything runs on a currency of favors, cash and cachet, Marie gives in to brutally self-destructive impulses. Tierce puts it all out there in a weirdly thrilling way that sucks you right into Marie’s crazy life.

“Lila” By Marilynne Robinson; $26

What a writer. A story of love, two lives coming together from different ends of the earth. One from poverty and a backwoods life of mere survival, and one immersed in religion and morality as a preacher. In a strange way they both need each other, and create a child together who needs them both as well. Beautifully crafted, “Lila” will affect the way you look at faith and love.

“The Missing One” By Lucy Atkins; $24.99

If you have ever seen the magnificence of an Orca breeching, ever lived with a secret long enough that it hurts everyone around you, or just love a great mystery, this is for you.

“Neverhome” By Laird Hunt; $26

Brilliantly written novel about an incredibly strong and determined woman making her way into the Civil War dressed like a man, and acting like a man. It takes a very talented writer to bring on this prose and make it get right under your skin and into your heart.

“Leaving Time” By Jodi Picoult; $28

I will always think differently about elephants each time I see one after reading “Leaving Time.” Brilliantly researched and written, Jodi Picoult knocks this emotional novel out of the park. The interweaving stories and characters are so well done; the ending will bring you to tears, and good ones they will be.

“We Are Not Ourselves” By Matthew Thomas; $28

Every word is chosen carefully and leads you to the next in a wonderful way. Thomas gets right at the core of what makes a family love one another despite whatever faults or illnesses exist. This story will appeal to everyone.

“One Kick” By Chelsea Cain; $25.99

Chelsea Cain grips you from the get-go. This is a new series, PG in its graphic content but don’t let that fool you. She still writes about mind-sick people who do bad things, doesn’t describe the act in such detail as her other series but the psychological suspense is intense. I wish I could have stayed in bed reading this all day.

“Fives and Twenty-Fives” By Michael Pitre; $27

“Fives by Twenty-Fives” is a work of fiction, but it is a clear look at the men and women of war, their pain, their fear, their deaths. It also shows us the background leading to the Arab Spring. Pitre existed in this world, came out alive, and in a work of unsurpassed clarity of brilliance brings us a novel where the atrocity of war is placed into our hands.

“The Trace” By Forrest Gander; $22.95

Hot desert Texas and Mexico, a marriage trying to crumble under the heat, a wayward son who doesn’t communicate. Terse, sparse and very good writing. A little gem from a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

“The Bone Clocks” By David Mitchell; $30.00

I had to read the ending chapter over and over again as it brought to light then entire book and just blew me away, and scared me to death for our future. This will make you think and think about what we should be doing differently to ensure we are all here and thriving in the many years to come.

Annie Philbrick is the co-owner of Bank Square Books in downtown Mystic; www.banksquarebooks.com.

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