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Arts & Culture
There are one million new books published each year. With so many books and so little time, where do you begin to find your next must-read? There’s the New York Times Bestseller list, the Goodreads app, the Cape Library’s Staff picks shelf and now Martin’s Must-Reads.Every Wednesday at 6:42 and 8:42 a.m., and Sunday at 8:18 a.m., Betty Martin recommends a must read based on her own personal biases for historical fiction, quirky characters and overall well-turned phrases. Her list includes WWII novels, biographies of trailblazers, novels with truly unique individuals and lots more. Reading close to 100 titles a year, Betty has plenty of titles to share.Local support for "Martin's Must Reads" comes from the Cape Girardeau Public Library and the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library.

Martin's Must Reads: 'Wish You Were Here'

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“The most pervasive emotion that we have all felt this past year is isolation. What’s odd is that it’s a shared experience, but we still feel alone and adrift. That got me thinking of how isolation can be devastating...but can also be the agent of change. And that made me think of Darwin. Evolution tells us that adaptations is how we survive. ...But I also wanted to talk about survival. About the resilience of humans. Then I turned to those who had such severe COVID that they were on ventilators...nearly every person I interviewed experienced incredibly detailed, lucid dream states - some that were snippets of time and others that lasted for years.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and that’s a little of how Jodi Picoult came to write her newest novel Wish You Were Here. When the story opens the main character, Diana O’Toole, is an associate specialist at Sotheby’s with a detailed plan for the rest of her life. Her boyfriend Finn, a surgical resident at a New York hospital, arrives home saying their planned vacation to the Galapagos must be cancelled due to the impending surge in COVID cases.

Diana decides to go by herself and ends up quarantined for two months on Isabela island where she befriends an islander and his teenage daughter. And then there’s a twist to the story. I won’t give it all away, but Diana contracts COVID, survives a week on a ventilator and spends a month in rehab. Anyone who has read Picoult’s other works knows, she is a one-of-a-kind writer.

If you’re ready to read a novel about the COVID experience, one that is about the triumph of the human spirit, then you must read Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult.