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Sybil's List: October 2022

Sybil's List: October 2022

Westporter Sybil Steinberg, contributing editor and former book review section editor for Publishers Weekly, returns with her ever-popular talk on the best new reads. 

Click here for the printable version of Sybil's Listor click on the image of any of the books below to place your hold now!


Link to catalog: Lessons by Ian McEwan

Seduced by an older woman when he was a teenager at a British boarding school, the protagonist of this haunting novel drifts through the rest of his life with a sense of longing.

Link to Catalog: Lucy by the sea by Elizabieth Strout

Lucy Barton’s former husband moves her from Manhattan to a house by the sea in Maine where she endures the pandemic and finds solace in new relationships.

Link to Catalog: our missing hearts by celeste ng

A 12 -year-old boy is determined to find his missing mother, a Chinese American poet and activist who has become a fugitive in the dystopian world of the near future.

Link to catalog: the latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz

The Oppenheimer triplets, born into an upscale New York family, carry their animosities and rivalries into adulthood, while, as the title suggests, a surprise awaits them. 

Link to catalog: Properties of Thirst by Marianne Wiggins

A scorching family drama set on a southern California ranch during World War II, when Japanese American families were interned nearby in inhospitable desert terrain.

Link to catalog: Fellowship Point by alice Elliott dark

Two aging women, life-long friends from wealthy Philadelphia families, become conflicted over a plan to donate their beloved vacation community in Maine to an ecological trust.

Link to Catalog: Learning to Talk by Hilary Mantel

Twelve semi-autographical short stories by the late novelist depicts young girls who grow up in a poor industrial village in England in the “bizarre circumstances” she acknowledges in the Preface.

Link to catalog: Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah

In an absorbing story of love, loss and indomitable endurance, the current Nobelist portrays the suffering of East Africans during German colonial control in the 1880s.

Link to Catalog: Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo

All the characters in this biting satire are animals who speak and act with human behavior as they fight for decent lives in an African country ruled by brutal tyrants.

Link to Catalog: Trust by Hernan Diaz

The life of a ruthless financial tycoon is reflected in four long sections, each related from a different perspective, that eventually reveal a dark secret.


Link to catalog: THE MARRIAGE PORTRAIT by  Maggie O’Farrell

Robert Browning’s famous poem, “My Last Duchess,” inspired this imaginative narrative about the fate of Lucrezia de Medici d’Este, married at age 15 to a power-hungry duke.

link to catalog: French Braid by anne tyler

A middle-class wife and mother’s desire to achieve an independent artistic career results in a superficially happy but dysfunctional family life that conceals a sad failure to communicate.

Link to Horse by Geraldine Brooks

Enslaved Black grooms were indispensable in training thoroughbred horses, as seen in the story of Lexington, the legendary steed that made racing history in the 1850s.

link to catalog: Mercury Pictures Presents by Anthony Marra

This witty, poignant, irresistible comedy/drama set in Hollywood during the tumultuous 1940s melds history with satire and characterizes recognizable motion picture tycoons. 

Link to catalog: less is lost by andrew sean greer

The endearing, befuddled, gay, self -styled “minor American author” Arthur Less is back in another literary and romantic misadventure that takes him across the country.

link to catalog: Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

Assassin John Wilkes Booth is one of the members of the eccentric family brought to life in this poetically imaginative history of a clan whose brilliance was dimmed by dysfunction.

link to catalog: Vigil Harbor by Julie Glass

In a near future when America is sliding into environmental and political devastation, warmly believable characters live in a close-knit, liberal Massachusetts town hoping to stay safe.

link to catalog: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel

The future of the world is grim in these ingeniously intertwined chapters in which time travel and paranormal experiences rule the lives of characters on a devastated earth and on moon colonies.

link to catalog: Either/or by Elif Batuman

The delightfully cerebral Harvard student heroine of Batuman’s previous novel, “The Idiot,” is still puzzling about how she can become a writer.


Link to catalog: The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li

Two teenage girls who live in rural poverty in post WWII France engage in a literary hoax that illuminates the mystery and the value of artistic creation.

Link to catalog: Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

When an ordinary man of modest means finds the courage to challenge the nuns who rule his Irish village church, he saves a life and his own soul.

Link to catalog: Independent People by Halldor Laxness

Just reissued, this brilliant novel that won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955 evokes Icelandic society and culture through the stoic lives of vividly portrayed characters.


Link to catalog: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man by paul newman

The life of the Hollywood star and Westport resident, in his own words, recorded several years before his death, recently discovered by his family.

Link to catalog: shy by dorothy rodgers

The daughter of Richard Rodgers is anything but shy, as she tells all in a zesty memoir that reflects on her life and spares the feelings of no one in her musical theater orbit. 

Link to catalog: Left on Tenth by delia ephron

Ephron recounts her brush with death from the same disease that her sister Nora succumbed to, and a new romantic relationship that arose at a crucial time.

Link to Catalog: Jersey Breaks by Robert Pinsky

Former poet laureate Pinsky describes the inspiration for his career after growing up in a dysfunctional family in which his grandfather was a bootlegger.

Link to catalog: DEER CREEK DRIVE by Beverly Lowry

The Mississippi Delta in the 1940s is the setting of a dramatic narrative and memoir that explores the racial politics that allowed a woman to go free after murdering her mother.

Link to catalog: The Familia Grande by Camille Kouchnner

This bestselling memoir by a member of a highly respected French family revealed a scandal that obsessed the country.


Link to Catalog: The Summer Friend by Charles McGrath

The former editor of The New York Times Book Review and deputy editor of The New Yorker reflects on idyllic years when he formed a friendship with a man from a different social class.

Link to catalog: Who Killed Jane Stanford? by Richard White

A speculation about the coverup of the never-solved murder of the eccentric, domineering, founder of Stanford University.


Link to catalog: THE SEWING GIRL’S TALE	John Wood Sweet

The first published rape trial in colonial America occurred after a young seamstress was attacked in 1763 by a wastrel from a wealthy family.


Link to catalog: O Say Can You Hear? by Mark Clague

A fascinating look at the history of our national anthem as it has been interpreted in sports, politics, war, immigration, and social justice movements.

Link to catalog:  My old kentucky home by Emily Bingham

How Stephen Foster’s song about the sorrows of slavery became a segregationist anthem, a popular song, and a nostalgic ballad.

Link to catalog: American Harvest by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

This eye-opening account of a summer spent with evangelical wheat harvesters provides an empathetic glimpse into the lives of ultra-religious people who vote right-wing.

For even more booklists...

Link to Reading the Rainbow Resource Guide (Get book recommnedations by color of cover!)
Link to Resource Guide: World Literature in Translation