Jojo Moyes /
Penguin Books /
A New York Times bestseller—with more than one million copies sold—by the author of One Plus One and* The Girl You Left Behind* They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . . Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living. A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart? Amazon.com ReviewAmazon Best Books of the Month, January 2013: Before Louisa met Will, her plans didn't reach beyond their tiny English town. Will, when he wasn't closing multimillion-dollar deals, blew off steam scaling mountains, leaping from planes, and enjoying exquisite women--until an accident left him paralyzed and seriously depressed. When his mother hires Lou to keep his spirits up, he meets her awkward overtures with caustic contempt, but she's tenacious and oddly endearing. Their fondness grows into something deeper, gaining urgency when she realizes his determination to end his life, and her efforts to convince him of its value throw her own bland ambitions into question. Plumbing morally complex depths with comedy and compassion, Jojo Moyes elevates the story of Lou and Will from what could have been a maudlin weepie into a tragic love story, with a catharsis that will wring out your heart and leave you feeling fearless. --Mari MalcolmFrom BooklistIn The Last Letter from Your Lover (2011), Moyes presented a heavily plotted novel that spanned decades and featured parallel romances. Her newest work dials down the intricacy, and the result is a far more intimate novel. Moyes introduces us first to Will Traynor, a formerly high-flying, thrill-seeking executive now confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. Twentysomething Louisa “Lou” Clark has been hired as his caretaker, despite a total lack of experience. As the prickly Will and plainspoken Lou gradually warm to each other, she learns that the six-month length of her contract coincides with the amount of time Will has agreed, for his parents’ sake, to postpone his planned assisted suicide, a subject Moyes treats evenhandedly. Armed with this information, Lou sets about creating adventures for Will, hoping to give him a reason to live. Simultaneously, Will encourages Lou to expand the expectations of what her life could be. All signs point to romance and a happy ending for the pair, but Moyes has something more heartbreakingly truthful in mind: Sometimes love isn’t enough. --Patty Wetli
George Orwell /
Penguin Books /
Since its publication in 1946, George Orwell's fable of a workers' revolution gone wrong has rivaled Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea as the Shortest Serious Novel It's OK to Write a Book Report About. (The latter is three pages longer and less fun to read.) Fueled by Orwell's intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing, both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal. Everyone willingly works overtime, productivity soars, and for one brief, glorious season, every belly is full. The animals' Seven Commandment credo is painted in big white letters on the barn. All animals are equal. No animal shall drink alcohol, wear clothes, sleep in a bed, or kill a fellow four-footed creature. Those that go upon four legs or wings are friends and the two-legged are, by definition, the enemy. Too soon, however, the pigs, who have styled themselves leaders by virtue of their intelligence, succumb to the temptations of privilege and power. "We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." While this swinish brotherhood sells out the revolution, cynically editing the Seven Commandments to excuse their violence and greed, the common animals are once again left hungry and exhausted, no better off than in the days when humans ran the farm. Satire Animal Farm may be, but it's a stony reader who remains unmoved when the stalwart workhorse, Boxer, having given his all to his comrades, is sold to the glue factory to buy booze for the pigs. Orwell's view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy. --Joyce Thompson --This text refers to the Paperback edition.