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Sybil's List: December 2023

Sybil's List: December 2023

Sybil Steinberg

Sybil Steinberg 1933-2024

Remembering Sybil 

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

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 North Woods by Daniel Mason in the catalog

As centuries pass, occupants of a small house in Massachusetts provide a kaleidoscopic view of American history and the vicissitudes of human lives.


Link to The Bee Sting by Paul Murray in the catalog

A prosperous, respected Irish family begins to fall apart when financial troubles escalate and long-held secrets are revealed.



Link to Absolution by Alice McDermott in the catalog

Two wives of American officials in Vietnam perform misguided charity while unaware of our country’s catastrophic military policy.



Link to Day by Michael Cunningham in the catalog

Three days in the lives of one Brooklyn family, three years apart—before, during and after Covid— reveal the cracks in domestic harmony, the toll exacted on loved ones and the possibility of healing.

Link to The Vulnerables by Sigrid Nunez in the catalog

Isolated during the pandemic, a New York novelist finds mental clarity and the resumption of social communication when she is asked to caretake a parrot.


Link to The Wren, the Wren by Anne Enright in the catalog

Three generations of women—the wife, daughter, and granddaughter of a semi famous Irish poet—explore the aftermath of his decision to abandon the family.

Link to Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward in the catalog

With the help of spiritual mentors, a courageous Black woman endures a brutal death march in the era before the Civil War.


Link to Night Watch by Jayne Anne Phillips in the catalog

Harrowing events during the Civil War bring a young wife and mother to a pioneering mental hospital in West Virginia, where a miraculous coincidence occurs.

Link to The Fraud by Zadie Smith in the catalog

A trial contesting an outrageous claim by an imposter to the estate of an English aristocrat beguiles Victorian England, and reveals class and social divisions.

Link to The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride in the catalog

Narrative panache and dark humor vitalize this story of a mixed Black and Jewish community in Pennsylvania during Prohibition.


Link to Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead in the catalog

What it takes for a Black man to succeed in 1970s Harlem requires some shaky deals.


Link to Somebody's Fool by Richard Russo in the catalog

Another wise and witty chronicle of small-town life where characters first met in Nobody’s Fool continue their lives.


Link to Tom Lake by Ann Patchett in the catalog

Confined by the pandemic to the family cherry orchard in northern Michigan, three sisters try to elicit the details of their mother’s youthful romance with a famous actor.

Link to Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad in the catalog

The Palestinian writer ‘s novel is a resounding picture of the tensions between Jewish residents of Haifa and Palestinians in the West Bank.


Link to The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng in the catalog

A murder and a scandal in Penang, Malaya—plus visits from Somerset Maugham and Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat Sen—are seen through the eyes of a woman married to a British official.

Link to Land of Milk and Honey by C.Pam Zhang in the catalog

In the dystopian near future, when an environmental catastrophe has killed most agriculture on earth, a young chef works at a secretive food research community.

Link to The Romantic by William Boyd in the catalog

The panoramic life of a man who is present at many pivotal historical events during the early 1800s as he pursues his multiple careers on several continents.

Linked to Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue in the catalog

An adolescent love affair at boarding school between a real British woman, Ann Lister, who came out as gay during the 19th century, and her adoring fictional friend.

Link to Held by Anne Michaels in the catalog

Beginning after a World War I battle in France where an English soldier lies wounded, this poetic novel follows him and his family across four generations of love and war.

Linked to Chenneville by Paulette Jiles in the catalog

During the tumultuous years after the Civil War, a veteran soldier embarks on a grueling trip to avenge the murder of his beloved sister.

Link to The Librarianist by Patrick de Witt in the catalog

A librarian who is unmoored by retirement and plagued by memories of the wife who ran away finds social kinship at a neighborhood senior center.

Link to After the Funeral and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley in the catalog

In these 12 short stories, British writer Hadley’s literary dexterity connects small events in everyday lives with insights that mark a character’s psychological watershed.

Link to Roman Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri in the catalog

Nine short stories convey the lives of characters who are both natives of Rome and foreigners who have settled there.


Link to The Rediscovery of America by Ned Blackhawk in the catalog

The accepted history of our country is incomplete without an understanding of how government policy toward Indigenous people is inescapably entwined.

Link to The Best Minds by Jonathan Rosen in the catalog

The failings of our mental health system are dramatized in this deeply felt account of how a brilliant young man’s schizophrenia led to tragedy.

Link to Flee North by Scott Shane in the catalog

A Black man who worked secretly with a white abolitionist coined the descriptive term “underground railroad.”

Link to The Burning of the World by W. Scott Berg in the catalog

A new look at the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 reveals how the city was politically changed in its aftermath.


Link to A Memoir of My Former Self by Hilary Mantel in the catalog

A collection of the British author’s nonfiction pieces provides another memorable treasury of her literary contributions.

Link to Hunting the Falcon by John Guy & Julia Fox in the catalog

Fresh and exciting research provides new insights into the relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Link to The Deadline by Jill Lepore in the catalog

A collection of Lepore’s historical and political essays shows the range of her penetrating analysis.

Link to Up Home by Ruth Simmons in the catalog

The youngest of 12 children raised by Black sharecroppers became the president of Smith College and later, of Harvard.

Link to Necessary Trouble by Drew Gilpin Faust in the catalog

A former Harvard president describes her commitment to fighting for educational equality.

Link to The Upstairs Delicatessen by Dwight Garner in the catalog

Eating and reading have a symbiotic relationship in literary critic Garner’s delightful memoir.

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