“Family” Time

Regardless of the alphabet, it’s hard to spell Thanksgiving without “family”. Whether you try to avoid them, love them like crazy, or just plain tolerate them, the fourth Thursday of November is often defined by them. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to eat a superb dinner while trying to navigate the tricky waters of the yearly family get-together.

Once you’re stuffed, sated, and sleepy – which may not be until Sunday – pick up one of these books about “family.” You may decide to give thanks that yours isn’t so bad!



The Empty Family: Stories – Colm Toibin

  • A collection of short fiction includes “The Street,” in which Pakistani workers in Barcelona pursue a taboo affair; and “Two Women,” in which a taciturn Irish set designer confronts repressed emotions while working in her homeland.

Extended Family – Patrick Kendrick

  • A fire marshal and FBI agent discover a frightening link between a series of gruesome fire-related murders and a sperm donor, a notorious serial killer who is supposed to be dead.

Family Album – Penelope Lively

  • All Alison ever wanted was a blissful childhood for her six children, with summers at the beach and birthday parties on the lawn at their family home. Together with Ingrid, the family au pair, she has worked hard to create a real old-fashioned family life. But beneath its postcard sheen, the picture is clouded by a distant father, Alison’s inexplicable emotional outbursts, and long-repressed secrets that no one dares mention.

Family Business – Michael Z. Lewin

  • A family of British detectives has its hands full with an insistent woman informing them of her husband’s suspicious acts, a persistent surveillance equipment salesman, a stranger claiming to be part of the family business, and a vicious murder.

The Family Corleone – Edward Falco

  • New York, 1933. The crime families have prospered in the Depression, but with the coming end of Prohibition a battle is looming… one which will determine which organizations will rise, and which will face a violent end. Vito Corleone pushes his oldest child, teenaged Sonny, to be a businessman. But Sonny– impatient and reckless– wants to become a part of the real family business.

The Family Man – Elinor Lipman

  • A successful but lonely man reconnects with a long-lost stepdaughter and her newly widowed mother and finds his life turned upside down.

Family Sold Separately – Kate Long

  • Raised by her eccentric grandmother Poll after the death of her father and disappearance of her mother, Katherine Millar finds her sheltered life forever altered by a package that arrives on the eve of her eighteenth birthday.

The Other Family – Joanna Trollope

  • After Richie Rossiter, a pianist and songwriter, dies suddenly, his companion, Chrissie, with whom he had three daughters, and the wife he left behind, with whom he had a son, are left to deal with each other and the unexpected terms of his will.

The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac – Kris D’Agostino

  • Twenty-four-year-old college dropout Calvin Moretti moves back home with his parents and two siblings and is forced to deal with their problems, which include his father’s cancer and his sister’s pregnancy, as well as his own.

The Swiss Family Robinson – Johan David Wyss

  • The fortunes of a family struggling to survive after being shipwrecked on an island with abundant plant and animal life.



97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement – Jane Ziegelman

  • Explores the culinary life that was the heart and soul of New York’s Lower East Side around the turn of the twentieth century-a city within a city, where Germans, Irish, Italians, and Eastern European Jews attempted to forge a new life (summary from the TFPL catalog).

The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition – Katherine S. Newman

  • Why are adults in their twenties and thirties boomeranging back to or never leaving their parents’ homes in the world’s wealthiest countries? Acclaimed sociologist Newman addresses this phenomenon in this timely and original book that uncovers fascinating links between globalization and the failure-to-launch trend.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris

  • In a collection of essays, the Rooster gets married at an uproarious wedding, an estrangement occurs over a rubber vs. plastic debate, and the author gets the upper hand during a slumber party game of strip poker.

Family Man – Calvin Trillin

  • The author reflects on the subject of children, discussing changing diapers, directing family movie musicals, marching in local Halloween parades, and helping his daughters move out.

First Family: Abigail and John – Joseph J. Ellis

  • A look at the lives of John and Abigail Adams through their prolific correspondence with each other.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic – Alison Bechdel

  • An unusual memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father, a historic preservation expert dedicated to restoring the family’s Victorian home, funeral home director, high-school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family – Martha Raddatz

  • Documents the two-day firefight in Sadr City that began the Iraqi insurgency, during which eight 1st Cavalry Division soldiers were killed and numerous others wounded, an engagement that was vigilantly monitored by their loved ones back home.

Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Families – edited by John Donohue

  • “Look who’s making dinner!” Twenty-one of our favorite writers and chefs expound upon the joys–and perils–of feeding their families.

Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope – Don Van Ryn

  • Describes the devasting accident and case of mistaken identity that left one family grieving for the young woman they thought was their daughter while the wrong family cared for the lone survivor, and describes the healing journey of survivor Whitney Cerak.

Slaves in the Family – Edward Ball

  • Explores the slave-holding dynasty of Elias Ball, a South Carolina plantation owner, the history of slave uprisings, and the memories of the descendants of those slaves.


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