Book Critic and Author, Ellen Heltzel, joined us today with her top 5 picks for Fall's hottest books.
1. "The End of Your Life Bookclub," by Will Schwalbe. This should be a sad book, a memoir about a son watching his beloved mother die from cancer. But it's amazingly uplifting, instead, because it's also a story about a mother and son who share a love for books and reading -- a passion that bonds them and gives them so much to talk about when he takes her to have chemo. Starting with Wallace Stegner's "Crossing to Safety" and finishing with a poem by Mary Oliver, Schwalbe shows us how reading can enrich any life, even one that's near its end.
2. "Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy," by Ken Follett. Fall to Christmas is the BIG season for the book business, so publishers are rolling out their big guns starting now. And this is one of the biggest fiction picks out there (literally and figuratively), following the terrific "Fall of Giants," which dealt with the first part of the 20th century. In the new one, Follett mixes real historical figures with his own characters to give us a panorama of the rise of the Third Reich, the Spanish Civil War and WWII.
3. "In Sunlight and in Shadow," by Mark Helprin. Another door stopper read, this one is also a big-picture novel, focusing on post-World War II New York, a couple in love, and the ruthless hold of the Mafia on small businesses and city services. Follett has many heroes, but Helprin has one, a former paratrooper named Harry Copeland who isn't afraid to take on the mob. This is a beautifully written story.
4. "The Round House," by Louise Erdrich. Erdrich may be the best Native American novelist around because of her ability to write thoughtfully and well about life on the reservation. This coming-of-age story combines realism with a sense of mysticism as a boy goes after the man who raped his mom.
5. "San Miguel," by T.C. Boyle. Learn your geography in this new novel from an accomplished veteran, who spins a novel about two different families who inhabit one of the Channel Islands near Santa Barbara between the end of the 19th century and the early 20th. It was sort of like going to the moon back then -- isolated and wet and windy, a place for raising sheep but nothing else -- and Boyle captures both the place and the effect on its lonely inhabitants.