Adult Summer Reading Challenge

The Staff at the Okotoks Public Library have chosen 13 titles to compete in our sixth annual ADULT SUMMER READING CHALLENGE! We invite you to read our recommendations and give us your ratings. The book with the highest average rating will win.

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Beartown

Beartown

Backman, Fredrik, 1981- author
2017

"You'll love this engrossing novel." -- People

"Backman is a masterful writer, his characters familiar yet distinct, flawed yet heroic....There are scenes that bring tears, scenes of gut-wrenching despair, and moments of sly humor....A thoroughly empathetic examination of the fragile human spirit." -- Kirkus Reviews

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream--and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

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Being mortal : medicine and what matters in the end

Being mortal : medicine and what matters in the end

Gawande, Atul, author
2014

In Being Mortal , bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.

Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.

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Crazy rich Asians

Crazy rich Asians

Kwan, Kevin, author
2013

THE OFFICIAL MOVIE TIE-IN EDITION: Soon to be a major motion picture from Warner Brothers, the funny, juicy first novel in the bestselling Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, in which the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend home to meet the family ... without telling her that they're loaded.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian jet set; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

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Elevation

Elevation

King, Stephen, 1947- author
2018

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The latest from legendary master storyteller Stephen King, a riveting, extraordinarily eerie, and moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together--a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences.

Although Scott Carey doesn't look any different, he's been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn't want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King's most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade--but escalating--battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott's lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face-including his own--he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott's affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

From Stephen King, our "most precious renewable resource, like Shakespeare in the malleability of his work" ( The Guardian ), Elevation is an antidote to our divisive culture, as gloriously joyful (with a twinge of deep sadness) as "It's a Wonderful Life."

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The escape artist

The escape artist

Meltzer, Brad, author
2018

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "Meltzer is a master and this is his best. Not since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have you seen a character like this. Get ready to meet Nola. If you've never tried Meltzer, this is the one."--Harlan Coben

WHO IS NOLA BROWN? Nola is a mystery Nola is trouble. And Nola is supposed to be dead.
Her body was found on a plane that mysteriously fell from the sky as it left a secret military base in the Alaskan wilderness. Her commanding officer verifies she's dead. The US government confirms it. But Jim "Zig" Zigarowski has just found out the truth: Nola is still alive. And on the run.
Zig works at Dover Air Force Base, helping put to rest the bodies of those who die on top-secret missions. Nola was a childhood friend of Zig's daughter and someone who once saved his daughter's life. So when Zig realizes Nola is still alive, he's determined to find her. Yet as Zig digs into Nola's past, he learns that trouble follows Nola everywhere she goes.
Nola is the U.S. Army's artist-in-residence-a painter and trained soldier who rushes into battle, making art from war's aftermath and sharing observations about today's wars that would otherwise go overlooked. On her last mission, Nola saw something nobody was supposed to see, earning her an enemy unlike any other, one who will do whatever it takes to keep Nola quiet.
Together, Nola and Zig will either reveal a sleight of hand being played at the highest levels of power or die trying to uncover the US Army's most mysterious secret-a centuries-old conspiracy that traces back through history to the greatest escape artist of all: Harry Houdini.

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Feeding my mother : comfort and laughter in the kitchen as my mom lives with memory loss

Feeding my mother : comfort and laughter in the kitchen as my mom lives with memory loss

Arden, Jann, author
2017

The many people who are dealing with a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer's will find inspiration and strength in Jann's wholehearted, loving response and her totally Jann take on the upside-down world of a daughter mothering her mother. Feeding My Mother is one heck of an affirmation that life just keeps on keeping on, and a wonderful example of how you have to roll with it.

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A gathering of secrets

A gathering of secrets

Castillo, Linda, author
2018

A deadly fire exposes the dark side of Amish life in A Gathering of Secrets , a harrowing new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series (July 2017) by Linda Castillo.

When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside--burned alive--Kate suspects murder. Who would want a well-liked, hardworking young Amish man dead? Kate delves into the investigation only to find herself stonewalled by the community to which she once belonged. Is their silence a result of the Amish tenet of separation? Or is this peaceful and deeply religious community conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about? Kate doubles down only to discover a plethora of secrets and a chilling series of crimes that shatters everything she thought she knew about her Amish roots--and herself.

As Kate wades through a sea of suspects, she's confronted by her own violent past and an unthinkable possibility.

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Heart berries : a memoir

Heart berries : a memoir

Mailhot, Terese Marie, author
2018

*Canada Reads 2019 Longlist

*National Bestseller
* New York Times Bestseller

*Finalist for the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
*Finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Awards
*Longlisted for the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize
*Winner of the Blue Metropolis First Peoples Prize
*Winner of the Spalding Prize for the Promotion of Peace and Justice in Literature
*Winner of the 2019 Whiting Award for Nonfiction
*Shortlisted for the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize

*A New York Times Editor's Choice
*A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2018
*A CBC Best Book of 2018
*A Toronto Star Best Book of 2018
*A Walrus Best Book of 2018
*An NPR Best Book of 2018
*A Chatelaine Best Book of 2018
*A Bustle Best Book of 2018
*A GQ Best Book of 2018
*A Thrillist Best Book of 2018
*A Book Riot Best Book of 2018
*An Electric Lit Best Book of 2018
*An Entropy Best Book of 2018
*A Hill Times Best Book of 2018
*A BookPage Best Book of 2018
*A Library Journal Best Book of 2018
*A Goodreads Best Book of 2018
*A New York Public Library Best Book of 2018

*Named one of the most anticipated books of 2018 by: Chatelaine , Entertainment Weekly , ELLE , Cosmopolitan , Esquire , Huffington Post , B*tch , NYLON , BuzzFeed , Bustle , The Rumpus and Goodreads

*Selected by Emma Watson as the Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick for March/April 2018

Guileless and refreshingly honest, Terese Mailhot's debut memoir chronicles her struggle to balance the beauty of her Native heritage with the often desperate and chaotic reality of life on the reservation.

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in British Columbia. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II, Terese Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries , a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father--an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist--who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

Mailhot "trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain and what we can bring ourselves to accept." Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people and to her place in the world.

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The help

The help

Stockett, Kathryn, author
2011

The #1 New York Times bestselling novel and basis for the Academy Award-winning film--a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't--n ominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read .

Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She's full of ambition, but without a husband, she's considered a failure.

Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town...

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Hillbilly elegy : a memoir of a family and culture in crisis

Hillbilly elegy : a memoir of a family and culture in crisis

Vance, J. D., author
2016

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."--The Economist

"A riveting book."--The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."--David Brooks, New York Times

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis--that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

Skloot, Rebecca, 1972- author
2009

Now a major motion picture from HBO® starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne.

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons--as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vacci≠ uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the "colored" ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta's small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia--a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo--to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Henrietta's family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family--past and present--is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family--especially Henrietta's daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother's cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn't her children afford health insurance?

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.

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The readers of Broken Wheel recommend

The readers of Broken Wheel recommend

Bivald, Katarina, 1983- author
2015

A debut novel to charm all readers, that shows beyond all doubt that it's books, along with love, that make the world go round.
It all began with a correspondence between two quite different women: 28-year-old Sara from Haninge, Sweden, and 65-year-old Amy from the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. After years of exchanging books, letters and thoughts on the meaning of literature and life, Sara, mousy, disheveled, who has never been anywhere in her life--has really lived only for her work in a beloved bookshop, which has just closed its doors for the last time--bravely decides to accept her unknown friend's invitation to visit. But when she arrives, she finds her house empty, the funeral guests just heading home. . .
Sara finds herself alone. And what choice do the inhabitants of Broken Wheel have but to take care of their bewildered tourist? And what choice does Sara have, faced with a town where nobody reads and her desire to honour her friend, but to set up the perfect bookshop with all the books she and Amy shared--from Yann Martel's Life of Pi to Iris Murdoch and Jo Nesbo, to Bridget Jones and Doug Coupland's All Families Are Psychotic to Little House on the Prairie ? And then watch as the townsfolk are, one by one, transformed in unexpected ways. . .
In the glorious tradition of 84 Charing Cross Road , The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society , Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café , Will Schwalbe's The End of Your Life Book Club , Jane Austen, and movies such as You've Got Mail and Love Actually , The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a big-hearted, witty book about books, friendship, love--and always being open to the unexpected.

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Two steps forward

Two steps forward

Simsion, Graeme C., author
2018

A story of mid-life and second chances from Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project, and his wife Anne Buist

Soon to be a film produced by Ellen DeGeneres

Two misfits walk 2,000 kilometres along the Camino de Santiago to find themselves and, perhaps, each other along the way.

Zoe, a sometime artist, is from California. Martin, an engineer, is from Yorkshire. Both have ended up in picturesque Cluny, in central France. Both are struggling to come to terms with their recent past--for Zoe, the death of her husb∧ for Martin, a messy divorce. Looking to make a new start, each sets out alone to walk two thousand kilometres from Cluny to Santiago, in northwestern Spain, in the footsteps of pilgrims who have walked the Camino--the Way--for centuries. The Camino changes you, it's said. It's a chance to find a new version of yourself. But can these two very different people find each other? In this smart, funny and romantic journey, Martin's and Zoe's stories are told in alternating chapters by husband-and-wife team Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist.

Two Steps Forward is a novel about renewal--physical, psychological and spiritual. It's about the challenge of walking a long distance and of working out where you are going. And it's about what you decide to keep, what you choose to leave behind and what you rediscover.

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