Tag: Tara Conklin

Bookstr's Three to Read: 'The Border' by Don Winslow, 'The Last Romantics' by Tara Conklin, 'Women' by Mihail Sebastian

Bookstr’s Three to Read This Week 3/1/19


February may be over, but winter definitely isn’t. Fortunately, there’s an easy remedy: book, fireplace, blanket, hot beverage of your choice. We’d advise you to kick back and relax… but some of these books are certain to get your heart racing. This week, we’ve got a timely and incisive look at the war on drugs, an exploration into the enduring value of art, and a classic rediscovered after nearly eighty years.

Here are Bookstr’s Three to Read: the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week!


Our Hot Pick


'The Border' Don Winslow



What do you do when there are no borders?  When the lines you thought existed simply vanish?  How do you plant your feet to make a stand when you no longer know what side you’re on?

For over forty years, Art Keller has been on the front lines of America’s longest conflict: The War On Drugs. His obsession to defeat the world’s most powerful, wealthy, and lethal kingpin—the godfather of the Sinaloa Cartel, Adán Barrera—has left him bloody and scarred, cost him people he loves, even taken a piece of his soul.

Now Keller is elevated to the highest ranks of the DEA, only to find that in destroying one monster he has created thirty more that are wreaking even more chaos and suffering in his beloved Mexico. But not just there.

Barrera’s final legacy is the heroin epidemic scourging America. Throwing himself into the gap to stem the deadly flow, Keller finds himself surrounded by enemies—men that want to kill him, politicians that want to destroy him, and worse, the unimaginable—an incoming administration that’s in bed with the very drug traffickers that Keller is trying to bring down.

Art Keller is at war with not only the cartels, but with his own government. And the long fight has taught him more than he ever imagined. Now, he learns the final lesson—there are no borders.

In a story that moves from deserts south of the border to Wall Street, from the slums of Guatemala to the marbled corridors of Washington, D.C., Winslow follows a new generation of narcos, the cops that fight them, the street traffickers, the addicts, the politicians, money-launderers, real-estate moguls and mere children fleeing the violence for the chance of a life in a new country.


Don Winslow‘s The Border is much more than your average crime novel—in terms of accolades and subject matter. Stephen King called Winslow’s writing “balls-to-the-wall,” which means you’re pretty much guaranteed to put your nose to the book. A former investigator and antiterrorist trainer himself, Winslow is familiar with the darkness he portrays. But darkness isn’t all Winslow uncovers: throughout the novel, he explores how to live “decently in an indecent world,” searching for humanity amidst the violence and desperation of the drug trade and addictions that come with it. Winslow’s complex portrait of the drug trade and those involved on both sides of the border.

As interested as the novel is in the intricacies of human nature, it’s also a thorough examination of phenomena and institutions: the opioid epidemic, the war on drugs, the U.S. border. Politically incisive and deeply human, this astounding conclusion to Winslow’s best-selling trilogy is as relevant as it is intoxicating.


Our Coffee Shop Read


'The Last Romantics' by Tara Conklin



When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected. Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love.

A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.


Here’s what the back jacket doesn’t mention: poet Fiona Skinner is 102 years old, writing in a world ravaged by climate change. Set in 2079, Tara Conklin‘s expansive and devastating The Last Romantics explores our modern times from a unique nostalgic viewpoint. The Female Persuasion author Meg Wolitzer called this novel “richly observed… welcoming,” and it’s been welcomed onto quite the series of best books lists: literary trendsetters Bustle, Goodreads, and Lithub are calling this one of the hot picks of the year. Despite the broad scope and tremendous ambition of the novel, it never ceases to be deeply personal.

Although family is a well-trafficked theme, Conklin takes a more original path, examining both the pain and strength inherent in the bond of siblings. Conklin’s protagonist is a writer, and it shows: the novel explores the power of storytelling as a means to endure hardship—and this book is an excellent example of stories profound enough to do just that. Readers will appreciate the novel’s deep human intimacy and timely, ambitious exploration of all the decades ahead of us.


 Our Dark Horse


'Women' by Mihail Sebastian



Stefan Valeriu, a young man from Romania who has just completed his medical studies in Paris, spends his vacation in the Alps, where he quickly becomes entangled with three different women. We follow Stefan after his return to Paris as he reflects on the women in his life, at times playing the lover, and at others observing shrewdly from the periphery.

Women‘s four interlinked stories offer moving, strikingly modern portraits of romantic relationships in all their complexity, from unrequited loves and passionate affairs to tepid marriages of convenience.


Mihail Sebastian (1907 – 1945) is a classic Romanian writer whose work was censored under an anti-Semitic establishment. He believed in “intelligent revenge,” and, in 1934, he actually got it. His novel, For Two Thousand Yearsdepicts life as a Jewish man in Romania and the existential questions that arise when one’s identity is in conflict with one’s nationality. Although the western world didn’t discover his world until after his death, it’s not too late to celebrate his life and achievements. It wasn’t until 2016 that the novel was available in English—now, we have the chance to discover yet another classic. Women is a masterful portrayal of love and relationships from one of history’s great lost writers.


If one of these sound like a match to you, let us know! But hey, it is called Three to Read—maybe that’s the number of books you want to try.


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