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For Readers: Blog

Living the island life

by Book Geniuses on 2022-04-08T16:16:25-05:00 in Fiction, Books & Reading | Comments

"Islands in the stream, that is what we are…" It’s easy to live that island life when all it takes to transport you is picking up a book. Islands are often a unique blend of locals with strong cultural roots and outsiders passing through that try to leave their mark (for better or worse), making for a robust storytelling tradition. Throw in mesmerizing landscapes, whether tropical or windblown, and it’s no wonder that authors are drawn to island settings. Surround yourself with all of the mythology, charm, and drama of islands both real and imagined in these riveting reads.

Covers of One Night on the Island by Josie Silver; What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad; Her Dark Lies by J. T. Ellison


One Night on the Island by Josie Silver walks the line between rom-com and drama in this story of soul-searching on a remote Irish island. Columnist Cleo has booked a one-room cabin at the behest of her boss, much to the surprise of Mack, who has flown in to stay at his family’s cabin. When bad weather delays the next ferry home, the pair are forced to get comfortable with each other and the baggage they’ve been trying to outrun. Heartwarming while still touching on serious topics, this is a journey of self-discovery, friendship, and maybe more, all without setting foot off the island. [e-book | print | large type]

Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise is a moving and thoughtful take on the human cost of the global refugee crisis. Readers follow young Amir as he leaves Syria with his family, eventually ending up the sole survivor on a Greek island after a tragic attempt to cross the Mediterranean. A chance encounter with a teen on the island where he washes up may be his only chance for survival. Alternating between the before and after of his journey, this ripped-from-the-headlines story is a meditation on the best and worst that humanity has to offer to each other during times of crisis. [e-book | print]

With hints of Rebecca and Lucy Foley’s The Guest List, Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison is about a society wedding on a private Italian island that quickly goes from dramatic to deadly. Artist Claire is eagerly awaiting her wedding at her fiancé Jack’s family villa when restoration work uncovers skeletal remains. What starts as an unfortunate coincidence becomes much more as menacing accidents intensify, and rumors about Jack’s first wife start surfacing. The intriguing cast of characters and stunning setting make for a twisty and suspenseful tale. [e-book | print | audiobook | large type]

Covser of When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo; Cuba: An American History by Ada Ferrer; Islands of Abandonment by Cal Flyn

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo is an atmospheric work of magical realism set in a version of Trinidad and Tobago where the lines between the living and dead are blurred. Yejide is unprepared to inherit her mother’s duty of accompanying souls to the afterlife. Darwin’s work as a gravedigger means denying his family’s Rastafarian beliefs. Meeting at the cemetery, the two are instantly drawn towards each other, but are their destinies pulling them in opposite directions? The lyrical language of the island adds to the rich detail in this love story about myth, grief, and family. [e-book | print]

Ada Ferrer takes us back to the real world with Cuba: An American History, a sweeping history of an island inextricably tied to our country. Ferrer’s personal insight into the Cuban identity combined with her comprehensive research and travel makes for a thorough look at more than five centuries of Cuban history. At the center of this narrative is the complicated Cuban-American relationship and how the role of the United States has evolved over the years, ranging from helpful intervention to outright interference. This is a fascinating and thought-provoking read for any history fan, or readers looking to learn more about their island neighbor. [e-book | print]

We’ll end on a metaphorical island with Cal Flyn’s Islands of Abandonment, perfect for readers who know that nonfiction doesn’t mean sacrificing lush language. Investigative journalist Flyn travels around the globe to visit places abandoned by humans after war and disasters both natural and manmade. What she finds is a curious combination of eerie and inspiring, as resilient ecosystems reinvent themselves to adapt to this new world. Hopeful without absolving humankind of our role in the destruction of nature, Flyn beautifully conjures these awe-inspiring places in this unique work of nature and science writing. [e-book | print]


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