Yes, yes, we know you are inundated by year-end Best Book Lists. But ours is special, and specially curated by the CFP staff for all you devoted readers who want something unique and selected by those in the know! Here are our recommendations for great reads as the weather gets cold, the shopping old, and the urge overwhelming for a story well told.
The German Girl, by Armando Lucas Correa
Germany, 1939: an ocean liner, the St. Louis, filled with Jewish refugees sets sail for Havana, where the government has promised the passengers asylum from Hitler’s reign of terror. Hannah Rosenthal, age 11, a precocious and spirited young girl, and her mother Alma are among the lucky permitted to disembark after the Cuban government reneges on its promise. Adrift, desperately missing her homeland and her father (who is forced to return to Europe and the concentration camps), Hannah struggles to find her identity in a strange, sultry land. Cut to modern-day New York, where Hannah’s niece Anna Rosen, also 11, struggles to cope with her father’s death on 9/11 and her mother’s retreat into despondency and dependency on her young daughter. In this remarkably moving historical novel of fraught lives and fragile souls by Armando Lucas Correa, the Editor of People en Español, the worlds of the two young women are intertwined by family, fate, and crushing circumstances. As the narrative moves from Berlin to the high seas, and then to Havana, Correa brings alive the horrors of Nazi Germany, the kaleidoscopic chaos and joy of Cuba pre-revolution, and the somber reality of post-9/11 New York. Told through the eyes of two highly sensitive young women, the story is a coming-of-age tale set against some of the most tragic moments in our history. Yet, there is resilience and redemption… and a great read.
Director, Center for Publishing: Digital and Print Media
The Girls, by Emma Cline
In the sultry summer of 1969 in Northern California, Evie Boyd is a disaffected and lonely teenager. Her parents have recently divorced, her mother is too distracted to take much notice of her, and she is due to be shipped off to boarding school in the fall. Desperate to escape her boring suburban life, Evie sees a group of girls in a park. She is transfixed by their abandon, their careless dress—and their aura of danger: “I looked up because of the laughter and kept looking because of the girls.” Drawn into this circle under the spell of Suzanne, a seductive older girl, Evie starts frequenting their ranch, controlled by a man who is their charismatic leader. Longing to belong, Evie begins spending time away from home, stealing money from her mother and breaking into the home of a family friend. Despite subtle hints and murderous undertones, Evie does not realize that she is coming closer and closer to unspeakable violence. Although inspired by the Charles Manson killings, The Girls is not a study in the nature of evil but an exploration of how a teenage girl’s insecurities and desire to be accepted can lead to unforeseen and dangerous consequences.
Non-Teaching Adjunct Consultant, Center for Publishing: Digital and Print Media
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old Simon Spier is cynical, sarcastic, self-aware, geeky—and not-so-openly gay. But when an e-mail falls into the wrong hands, Simon finds himself facing down an ultimatum: help class clown Marty hook up with the girl of his dreams or have his pen pal flirtation with “Blue”, a boy he met on the anonymous class Tumblr, exposed. Suddenly Simon has to face how his sexuality might change the way his best friends see him, what a “big deal” his overly-supportive parents will make of the situation—and how he can possibly convince a very private Blue that it’s finally time for them to meet in person. Sweet, down to earth, and full of laugh- out-loud moments, the book steers away from angst and obvious drama to focus instead on the dynamics of Simon’s close-knit group of friends and a budding romance built on grammar-related humor. Part mystery, part romance, and part coming-of-age story, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda will keep you reading late into the night.
Assistant Director, Programs, Center for Publishing: Digital and Print Media
Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells and Lose Weight Permanently, by Dr. David Ludwig
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is losing weight; however, most who embark on this journey are not successful in achieving or sustaining weight loss. After years of research and a sixteen-week pilot program with 237 participants, Dr. David Ludwig discovered that low-fat/low-carb diets and calorie counting are no longer as effective as they were thought to be 20 years ago. In his bestselling book Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells and Lose Weight Permanently, Ludwig explains that instead of following outdated weight loss plans, we must train our bodies with his three-phase diet to conquer cravings, retrain fat cells, and lose weight permanently. To sustain weight loss, we need to feed our bodies proteins, “good” fats, and natural carbohydrates and eliminate highly processed foods which can potentially increase weight gain. One of the key takeaways is the explanation that all calories are not alike; Ludwig explores how the body responds differently to the 200 calories in a soda versus the 200 calories in a handful of natural nuts. Ludwig explains how we must retrain our thought process about eating, fat cells, and relationship with food through “diet without deprivation” to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy body.
Assistant Director, MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media