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What to Read

Need a reading recommendation? Well, you've come to the right place. Each month our What to Read page highlights a few of our recent favorites, plus the latest best-sellers to hit our shelves and the hottest "coming soon" titles. 

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Remembering September 11

This month, we're commemorating the 20th anniversary with fiction and nonfiction books.
 

AN AMERICAN STORY

BY CHRISTOPHER PRIEST

Borrow this bookBen Matson lost someone he loved in the 9/11 attacks. Or he thinks he did – no body has been recovered, and she shouldn't have been on that particular plane at that time. But he knows she was.

The world has moved on from that terrible day. Nearly 20 years later, it has faded into a dull memory for most people. But a chance encounter rekindles Ben's interest in the event and the inconsistencies that always bothered him. The announcement of the recovery of an unidentified plane crash sets off a chain of events that will lead Ben to question everything he thought he knew.

Thoughtful, impeccably researched and dazzling in its writing, this is the story of Ben, the story of what happened to his fiancée and the story of all that happened on 9/11.

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CHANNEL OF PEACE: STRANDED IN GANDER ON 9/11

BY KEVIN TUERFF

Borrow this bookWhen Kevin Tuerff and his partner boarded their flight from France to New York City on September 11, 2001, they had no idea that a few hours later the world – and their lives – would change forever. After U.S. airspace closed following the terrorist attacks, Kevin, who had been experiencing doubts about organized religion, found himself in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, with thousands of other refugees, or “come from aways.”
 
Channel of Peace is a beautiful account of how the people of Gander rallied with boundless acts of generosity and compassion for the “plane people,” renewing Kevin’s spirituality and inspiring him to organize an annual and growing “giving back” day. His story, along with others, reached thousands of people when it was incorporated into the Broadway musical Come From Away. In Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11, you will find an unforgettable and uplifting tale of goodwill, the strength of the human spirit and hope.

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EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE

BY JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER

Borrow this bookJonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality: imagination.

Oskar Schell is an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist and correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is 9 years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of people who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.

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FALL AND RISE: THE STORY OF 9/11

BY MITCHELL ZUCKOFF

Borrow this bookIn the days and months after 9/11, Mitchell Zuckoff, then a reporter for the Boston Globe, wrote about the attacks, the victims and the victims’ families. After further years of meticulous reporting, Zuckoff has filled Fall and Rise with voices of the lost and the saved. The result is an utterly gripping book filled with intimate stories of the people most affected by the events of that sunny Tuesday in September: an out-of-work actor stuck in an elevator in the North Tower of the World Trade Center; the heroes aboard Flight 93 deciding to take action; a veteran trapped in the inferno in the Pentagon; the fire chief among the first on the scene in sleepy Shanksville; a team of firefighters racing to save an injured woman and themselves; and the men, women and children flying across the country to see loved ones or for work who suddenly faced terrorists bent on murder.
 
Fall and Rise will open new avenues of understanding for everyone who thinks they know the story of 9/11, bringing to life – and in some cases, bringing back to life – the extraordinary ordinary people who experienced the worst day in modern American history.

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A FALL OF MARIGOLDS

BY SUSAN MEISSNER

Borrow this bookA beautiful scarf connects two women touched by tragedy in this compelling, emotional novel from the author of As Bright as Heaven and The Last Year of the War.

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? 

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. When a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

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THE LOOMING TOWER: AL-QAEDA AND THE ROAD TO 9/11

BY LAWRENCE WRIGHT

Borrow this book The Looming Tower tells the story of September 11 through the interweaving lives of four men: the two leaders of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri; the FBI’s counterterrorism chief, John O’Neill; and the former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki al-Faisal.

As these lives unfold, we see revealed: the crosscurrents of modern Islam that helped to radicalize Zawahiri and bin Laden … the birth of al-Qaeda and its unsteady development into an organization capable of the American embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the attack on the USS Cole … O’Neill’s heroic efforts to track al-Qaeda before 9/11 and his tragic death in the World Trade towers … Prince Turki’s transformation from bin Laden’s ally to his enemy … the failures of the FBI, CIA and NSA to share intelligence that might have prevented the 9/11 attacks.

Brilliantly conceived and written, The Looming Tower draws all elements of the story into a galvanizing narrative that adds immeasurably to our understanding of how we arrived at September 11, 2001.

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ONE TUESDAY MORNING

BY KAREN KINGSBURY

Borrow this bookA devoted fireman and a driven businessman, strangers with the same face. On that fateful Tuesday, one will leave the Twin Towers alive – but will he ever find his way home?
 
The man in the hospital bed remembers nothing. Not rushing with his teammates up the stairway of the South Tower to help trapped victims. Not being blasted from the building. And not the woman sitting by his bedside who says she is his wife. Mistaken for a heroic World Trade Center victim, financial manager Eric Michaels, who is suffering from amnesia, struggles to relate to a family he does not remember, while his real wife, believing herself a widow, is comforted by her adoring brother-in-law.

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PEOPLE WHO KNEW ME

BY KIM HOOPER

Borrow this bookEmily Morris married at a young age to a man she loves passionately, building the life she always wanted. But when her mother-in-law becomes chronically ill, enormous stress threatens her marriage. Emily watches helplessly as the devotion Drew once showed her is transferred to his ailing mother. When she's thrust into an enforced caretaker role, it's too much to bear. Emily starts spending more and more time at work. That's when she falls in love with her boss. That's when she gets pregnant. Resolved to tell her husband of the affair and to leave him for the father of her child, Emily's plans are thwarted when the world is suddenly split open by 9/11.
 
Her lover is just one of the thousands of people who have been killed in the towers. It's amid terrible tragedy that she finds her freedom, as she leaves New York City to start a new life. It's not easy, but Emily – now Connie – forges a new life in California. But when a life-threatening diagnosis upends Connie's life, she is forced to confront her past for the good of her 13-year-old daughter.

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PORTRAITS 9/11/01 – THE COLLECTED "PORTRAITS OF GRIEF" FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

FOREWORD BY HOWELL RAINES, INTRODUCTION BY JANNY SCOTT

Borrow this bookSoon after the horrific events of September 11, newsroom staffers at The New York Times began to ask about the real people, the names and faces behind the unimaginable statistics. Their efforts, which grew into the daily "Portraits of Grief" feature, gathered force over the ensuing weeks and eventually became a cultural phenomenon on a national scale. Each day, readers in New York and across the country spent a few moments getting to know the doting fathers and loving spouses, gourmet cooks, fanatical sportsmen, partygoers, church elders, pranksters and perfectionists – the astonishing diversity of unique individuals. And as we made the transition from mourning our loss to celebrating these lives, a gentle note of uplift was sounded, and we began to think about healing.

Portraits: 9/11/01 brings together all the poignant memories and reminiscences and stands as a lasting tribute to these beloved souls.

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