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Shelf Renewal

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Nobody puts backlist in a corner—readers'-advisory experts Karen Kleckner Keefe and Rebecca Vnuk bring attention to older titles by featuring "dusty books" and offering read-alikes for what’s hot on the holds list.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013 9:35 am
Road Trippin’
Posted by: Rebecca Vnuk

Karen and I are taking our act on the road and heading to the Indiana Library Federation Annual Conference this week, to talk about books n’ blogs. Which means ROAD TRIP! Now of course, we’re professionals, which means this isn’t your college-era road trip (you know, the ones fueled by Combos, Funyuns, and the promise of bar-hopping with far-flung friends).  But still.  We’ll have a good time. Look for the handouts posted here tomorrow afternoon.

While I’m sure our adventure won’t be worthy of a novel (now the college road trips… that’s a different story, no pun intended), here are some good road trip novels for you (and no, I’m not pointing out the obvious On the Road, or Travels with Charley, sorry).

Jess Riley’s Driving Sideways is a book I am constantly recommending to people.  In this laugh-out-loud road trip novel, 28-year-old Leigh travels cross-country to visit the family of her organ donor. Diagnosed with kidney disease as a teen, Leigh had always been a homebody, carefully choosing her next steps. Since her transplant, she’s been trying all kinds of new things and decides to throw caution to the wind to set out on an adventure – and she’s convinced that this must be a trait that her donor had.

The Flying Troutmans: A Novel by Miriam Toews is the tale of the troubled Troutman clan. Min is bedridden by mental illness and her teenage son has been expelled from school, so Min’s sister Hattie has arrived to try and save her sister’s family from falling apart. When Min is hospitalized after attempting suicide, Hattie takes the kids on a road trip across America to find the children’s long-absent father. Biting wit and quirky characters abound.

In Jim Harrison’s The English Major, Cliff leaves his teaching career, his cheating wife, and his lost family farm behind to take a year-long, cross country road trip.  He hooks up with a former student, searches for the meaning of life, and ponders a reconciliation with his wife.

In Kris Radish’s Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral, Katherine is left with her best friend Annie’s ashes (enclosed in red high-top sneakers) and instructions to gather her four best friends from across the country for a road trip, to scatter her ashes in meaningful places. Secrets about the women are revealed as they get to know one another better on the trip.

Nowhere Is a Place by Bernice McFadden is a  multi-generational saga.  Sherry, a wanderer, is always looking for a place to belong. She sets off with her estranged mother, Dumpling, on a days-long road trip to a family reunion in Georgia. Along the way, Sherry gets Dumpling to tell her family stories, from slavery to the present, and uncovers family secrets.


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