What's Shirley Wells Reading?

Shirley Wells's Reading Page

Shirley is a retired high school English teacher who has been working as a Watermark bookseller since 2010. She is the Book Club Coordinator, leads the Watermark Classic Book Club, and gives book talks to various clubs and organizations all over town. Shirley is an eclectic reader who enjoys literary fiction, historical fiction, memoirs, mysteries, creative non-fiction, history, psychological thrillers, YA--pretty much anything and everything is on her radar!

To see an archived list of the books Shirley has read, click HERE

The Lager Queen of Minnesota: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399563058
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Pamela Dorman Books - July 23rd, 2019

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Ask Again, Yes: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982106980
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - May 28th, 2019

Mistress of the Ritz: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399182242
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delacorte Press - May 21st, 2019

Comedy Sex God Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062803979
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Wave - May 14th, 2019

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101947869
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019

I Miss You When I Blink: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982102807
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - April 2nd, 2019

Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781324001270
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 2nd, 2019

Cemetery Road: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062824615
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - March 5th, 2019

Daisy Jones & The Six: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524798628
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - March 5th, 2019

Little Faith: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062469717
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - March 5th, 2019

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Finding Dorothy: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525622109
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - February 12th, 2019

Bowlaway: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062862853
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - February 5th, 2019

Part mystery, part dysfunctional family, part magical realism...Bowlaway is a fractured fairy tale with all the warmth, humor, and quirkiness that entails.

Bertha Truitt's arrival in turn-of-the-century Salford, Massachusetts, is a mystery.  She's discovered unconscious in a cemetery with only a bowling ball, candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold in her possession.  The citizens soon learn that with Bertha, there is no explaining--either her past or her present.  No one knows where she's come from or why she's landed in their small New England town.  She marries the doctor who revives her, employs the young man who discovers her, and builds the bowling alley around which this novel revolves. But it doesn't end there.  Bertha Truitt's past and present go on to influence the town and its residents for generations to come. 

With her intensely poetic metaphors and exuberantly weird and wonderful characters and plot lines, McCracken again proves herself a masterful storyteller. We've waited eighteen years for this one...and it's worth it!

The Man in the Willows: The Life of Kenneth Grahame Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643130071
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pegasus Books - February 5th, 2019

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Shameless: A Sexual Reformation Cover Image
ISBN: 9781601427588
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Convergent Books - January 29th, 2019

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524732714
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - January 15th, 2019

Testing your DNA is so easy nowadays.  There are several companies to choose from, but they all work about the same way--spit into a tube, send it in, and in four to six weeks, you’ll find out who your blood relatives are...or who they aren’t.  

Dani Shapiro was raised in an observant Jewish family.  She knew the history and ancestry which had shaped her identity.  The walls of her home were lined with portraits and photographs of her Eastern European relatives, especially her paternal ones.  She had written several memoirs and delved deeply into her personal life, religion, and family. None of this, however, prepared her for the shock of discovering that the man she had been raised by and had lost at a young age was not her biological father.  To say this shook the foundation of her life is an understatement.

Shapiro had adored her father; her mother--not so much.  It was confusing to find out that the parent who she felt closest to was not her biological dad.  This sent her on a journey to uncover the fifty-four-year old secret of her parentage. With the help of the Internet and her husband’s sleuthing skills, she was able to identify her biological father fairly quickly--even viewing a YouTube video of him, his face and mannerisms eerily resembling her own.  He had been a young medical student when he donated to a sperm bank. Her parents, struggling with infertility issues, had used this sperm bank in order to conceive a child--her. Now many of the life-long questions she and others had posed concerning her identify resurfaced: Why didn’t she look like her family?  Why did she always feel a longing to belong to a different family? And the question that haunts the author the most and the one that is the most difficult to answer is whether her father had known she was not his biological daughter and had kept it a secret from her. Of course, he would always be the beloved man who had raised her and whose love and kindness had provided consolation for her difficult relationship with her mother.  But did he know? Or suspect? Or was this just her mother’s secret? At the time of her conception, religious leaders of every faith viewed artificial insemination as an abomination and the resulting child as a bastard. Had her family’s secret protected her--or them--from this judgment?

One of the most fascinating aspects of Inheritance concerns the medical ethics of DNA analysis.  In 1961, when the poor young medical student donated his sperm, he was assured of anonymity.  Is it fair that he loses his right to privacy now with the advent of DNA analysis and sharing?  Does he now have any legal--or financial--obligations to this child who shares his DNA? And how many others might be out there?  After all, he had donated several times; he had needed the money back then. And did Shapiro have the right to contact him now after all these years?  Shapiro’s story raises lots of thorny questions, some which prove difficult to resolve.

Six months after her startling discovery, Shapiro told her story to a rabbi who was her friend and colleague.  His quiet response was brilliant: “You can say, ‘This is impossible, terrible.’ Or you can say, ‘This is beautiful, wonderful.’  You can imagine that you’re in exile. Or you can imagine that you have more than one home.”

I am one of the millions who have had their DNA analyzed.  I’ve discovered and reached out to distant cousins, traced two different lines of my ancestry back to 11-12th century Scotland, and have uncovered a few family secrets of my own. If you’re like me and find genealogy fascinating, or if you’ve pondered the question of nature vs nurture and what shapes our personality and identity, or even if you’ve ever watched a tv episode of “Finding Your Roots” or “Long Lost Family,” you’ll want to read Inheritance

The Man Who Wrote the Perfect Novel: John Williams, Stoner, and the Writing Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9781477317365
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Texas Press - October 15th, 2018