Although it may not feel like it yet (I’m talking to you, 100-degree-weather), autumn is nearly upon us. School is already in session, football is kicking off (literally) in just a couple of weeks, and I’ve already seen Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations at Target (the true harbinger of new seasons). That means it’s time for the fall installment of the Health Sciences Library Book Club! This session we’ve chosen a fiction novel: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is an enthralling, brilliant mystery told from the eyes of a charming protagonist: 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison and a penchant for sticking her nose in other peoples’ business. From the back cover: “In the summer of 1950, at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, Flavia is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. As she says: ‘I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.'”
The book club meeting to discuss The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie will take place on Thursday, November 3, 2016 from noon – 1:00pm in room 210E in the library. The meeting will be in a B.Y.O.L. (Bring Your Own Lunch) style, with dessert, coffee, and fun giveaways supplied by the HSL. Click here to RSVP for the meeting! Book Club participants will be responsible for supplying their own copy of the book selection and reading it prior to the meeting. The book can be purchased as a hard copy, an ebook, or an audio book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Once you get your copy and start reading, be sure to let us know your thoughts with #UCFCOMbookclub!
If Flavia’s story isn’t enough for you and you’re looking for more stories to dive into, here are some other great fiction books to curl up with this autumn:
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Despite their differences, sisters Viann and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Viann is content with life in the French countryside with her husband and daughter. When the Second World War strikes and Viann’s husband is sent off to fight, Isabelle returns to Viann so they can face the war together. As the war progresses, and Nazi officers are stationed in their home, the sisters’ relationship is tested as Viann is degraded to a prisoner of her own home to protect her daughter, and as Isabelle finds her own dangerous way of undermining the Third Reich.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Disclaimer: this is probably the strangest book I’ve ever read, but it’s also one of the most beautiful. The writing is enchanting, and you’re never quite sure if the magical world explored in the book is real, or if you’re being taken in by the imaginings of the seven-year-old protagonist as he battles very real demons.
As a middle-aged man returns to his childhood home in Sussex, England to attend a funeral, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable–something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
If you’ve already read Gone Girl and you’re looking for another psychological thriller, this might be for you. Fast-paced and compulsively readable, I ripped through this book in one weekend just to find out what happened.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. Soon she is deeply entangled not only in a murder investigation, but in the lives of everyone involved.
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.