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"How it all Starts" Reading List

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It all starts with a line. A line can be a beginning. Of a journey. Of a road less travelled. Of a path that you never thought you'd take. A line can be a "what if?" Where does that line lead? Does it take you home or on a new adventure? Who's at the end of that line? Sometimes a line can be a barrier. A wall. A fence. Something you must overcome to achieve your dreams. But no matter what, remember, it all starts with a line...

Simsion, Graeme C.
Two steps forward

The Chemin, also known as the Camino de Santiago, is a centuries-old pilgrim route that ends in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Every year, thousands of walkers--some devout, many not--follow the route that wends through quaint small villages and along busy highways alike, a journey unlike any other. Zoe, an artist from California who's still reeling from her husband's sudden death, has impulsively decided to walk the Camino, hoping to find solace and direction. Martin, an engineer from England, is road-testing a cart of his own design...and recovering from a messy divorce. They begin in the same French town, each uncertain of what the future holds.

Warren, Natalie.
Hudson Bay bound

The remarkable eighty-five-day journey of the first two women to canoe the 2,000-mile route from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay Unrelenting winds, carnivorous polar bears, snake nests, sweltering heat, and constant hunger.

Patrick, Phaedra.
The library of lost and found

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people--though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she's invisible. All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend--her grandmother Zelda--who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth.

Ali, Kazim
Northern light

Kazim Ali's earliest memories are of Jenpeg, a temporary town in the forests of northern Manitoba where his immigrant father worked on the construction of a hydroelectric dam. As a child, Ali had no idea that the dam was located on the unceded lands of the Indigenous Pimicikamak, the "people of rivers and lakes." Deeply rooted in place, Northern Light is both a stunning exploration of home, belonging, and identity and an immersive account of contemporary life in one Indigenous community.

Brouwer, Sigmund
Broken angel

In this addictively readable futuristic Christian dystopia, Brouwer takes readers inside a state run by literalistic, controlling fundamentalists. There, reading is a serious crime; citizens are drugged into submission; and those who break rules are either sent to slave labor factories or stoned to death. Occasionally, a few brave souls try to escape to "Outside." At the center of this novel is Caitlyn, a disfigured but graceful and brave young woman whose father essentially orders her to make a run for it. And thus begins her journey...

Anand, Madhur
This red line goes straight to your heart

An experimental memoir about Partition, immigration, and generational storytelling, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart weaves together the poetry of memory with the science of embodied trauma, using the imagined voices of the past and the vital authority of the present.

Cantú, Francisco
The line becomes a river

For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Driven to understand the hard realities of the landscape he loves, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. Plagued by a growing awareness of his complicity in a dehumanizing enterprise, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the full extent of the violence it wreaks, on both sides of the line.

Crandall, Susan.
Whistling past the graveyard

This is a wise and tender coming-of-age story about a nine-year-old girl who runs away from her Mississippi home in 1963, befriends a lonely woman suffering loss and abuse, and embarks on a life-changing roadtrip. In the summer of 1963, nine-year-old spitfire Starla Claudelle runs away from her strict grandmother's Mississippi home. Walking a lonely country road, Starla accepts a ride from Eula, a black woman traveling alone with a white baby. The trio embarks on a road trip that will change Starla's life forever.

Benedict, Marie.
Carnegie's maid

In the industrial 1860s at the dawn of the Carnegie empire, Irish immigrant Clara Kelley finds herself in desperate circumstances. Looking for a way out, she seeks employment as a lady's maid in the home of the prominent businessman Andrew Carnegie. Soon, the bond between Clara and her employer deepens into love. But when Clara goes missing, Carnegie's search for her unearths secrets and revelations that lay the foundation for his lasting legacy.

Boyne, John
The boy in the striped pajamas

Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called "Out-With" in 1942, Bruno, the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence.

Doerr, Anthony
All the light we cannot see

*Winner of the Pulitzer Prize* From Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Hannah, Kristin.
The great alone

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America's last true frontier. In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt's fragile mental state deteriorates. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own.

Gevisser, Mark.
The pink line

More than seven years in the making, Mark Gevisser's The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World's Queer Frontiers is an exploration of how the conversation around sexual orientation and gender identity has come to divide-and describe-the world in an entirely new way over the first two decades of the twenty-first century. Eye-opening, heartfelt, expertly researched, and compellingly narrated, The Pink Line is a monumental--and urgent--journey of unprecedented scope into twenty-first-century identity, seen through the border posts along the world's new LGBTQ+ frontiers.

George, Nina
The little Paris bookshop

Monsieur Perdu can prescribe the perfect book for a broken heart. But can he fix his own? Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. Yet he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened. After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story.

Palma, Félix J.
The map of time

Spanish author Palma makes his U.S. debut with the brilliant first in a trilogy, an intriguing thriller that explores the ramifications of time travel in three intersecting narratives. In the opening chapter, set in 1896 England, aristocratic Andrew Harrington plans to take his own life, despondent over the death years earlier of his lover, the last victim of Jack the Ripper. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Claire Haggerty plots to escape her restrictive role as a woman in Victorian society by journeying to the year 2000. A new commercial concern, Murray's Time Travel, offers such a trip for a hefty fee. Finally, Scotland Yarder Colin Garrett believes that the fatal wound on a murder victim could only have been caused by a weapon from the future. Linking all three stories is H.G. Wells, the author of The Time Machine.

Niffenegger, Audrey.
The time traveler's wife

A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap.

Lanchester, John.
The wall

Ravaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall-an enormous concrete barrier around its entire coastline. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and are a constant threat. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself. Beset by cold, loneliness, and fear, Kavanagh tries to fulfill his duties to his demanding Captain and Sergeant. A dark part of him wonders whether it would be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if he had to fight for his life...

Evans, Richard Paul.
The broken road

A broken man. A twist of fate. A second chance. Chicago celebrity, Charles James can't shake the nightmare that wakes him each night. He sees himself walking down a long, broken highway the sides of which are lit in flames. Where is he going? Why is he walking? By day, he wonders why he's so haunted and unhappy when he has all he ever wanted-fame, fans and fortune. Coming from a childhood of poverty and pain, this is what he's dreamed of. But now, at the pinnacle of his career, he's started to wonder if he's wanted the wrong things. Then a twist of fate changes everything. Charles is granted something very remarkable: a second chance. The question is: What will he do with it?

Rowell, Rainbow.
Landline

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it's been in trouble for a long time. Two days before they're supposed to visit Neal's family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can't go. She doesn't expect to him to go without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she's finally done it. If she's ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It's not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she's been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Joyce, Rachel.
The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie--who is 600 miles away--because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die. So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside.