Literary Links: Visiting Mars

Posted on Friday, January 13, 2017 by Ida

cover of "Packing for Mars"The first close-up images of Mars made it back to earth only days after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. NASA’s Mariner 4 spacecraft did a flyby in July, 1965 and sent vacation photos. Since then, the red planet has become home to a population of roving robots. Anyone with an internet connection can view video from the planet’s surface, and multiple projects are underway with the goal of sending human colonists to join their mechanical forebears. How did we get this far?

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Nonfiction Roundup: January 2017

Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 by Kirk

Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released in January. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.

TOP PICKS:

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston book coverThe Lost City of the Monkey God” by Douglas Preston

Bestselling author Douglas Preston joins a team of scientists on an exciting and treacherous journey to the rain forests of Honduras in search of the ruins of a mysterious, ancient metropolis. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: January 2017”

Mysteries to Keep You Cozy

Posted on Friday, December 30, 2016 by Anne

photo of girl reading in front of fireplaceHopefully during these busy last days of the year, you’ll be able to take a few moments for yourself. I can’t think of a better way to spend that time than with a good mystery and a cozy blanket, with cup of hot cocoa in hand. Here are a few cozy mysteries I highly recommend:

Agatha Christie is the first author who comes to mind when I think “cozy mystery.” Time after time, she flawlessly pulls together a masterful And Then There Were None book coverwhodunit that you simply cannot put down. If you’ve never tried her books, “And Then There Were None” is a great introduction to the Queen of Mysteries. This stand-alone mystery is a gripping read that finds 10 strangers on an island off the coast of Britain in 1939. When they start dying off, the hunt is on to find which one of them is actually the murderer. Continue reading “Mysteries to Keep You Cozy”

The Gentleman Recommends: Nathan Hill

Posted on Monday, December 19, 2016 by Chris

It is understandable that the average American is pressed for time, what with all the vacation butlers take, and the various board meetings, galas and cocktail hours that beckon so vigorously. So, as you study the 12 recommendations this gentleman has made in 2016 searching for the one that is most worthy of your limited reading time, consider this a clue: The GENTLEMAN’S ULTIMATE RECOMMENDATION for 2016 is “The Nix” by Nathan Hill.

The Nix book coverI’d like to write a few thousand considered and enthusiastic words about how great this novel is, but because I must prepare for a gala, I’m going to plagiarize myself from an article printed in last week’s Columbia Tribune and quote from the book. The quotes from the novel should be sufficient to persuade you that Nathan Hill has written a genius novel, and lazily plagiarizing myself should convince you that thoughts of the impending gala are thoroughly distracting me. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Nathan Hill”

Literary Links: Satire

Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2016 by Chris

The days are shorter, the air is colder and holiday stress threatens to overwhelm holiday cheer. Distractions that provoke laughter, or at least inward chuckles, are in order. A satirical novel (or two), could be just what you need to divert your attention from your heating bill and anything else that ails you.

cover of Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company, 1996) is encyclopedic in size and scope, and satire features heavily among the hundreds of ideas battling for attention in its thousand-plus pages. Years are no longer represented numerically, but by whichever corporation has secured their naming rights. Much of the novel’s events take place during the “Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.” And while “Infinite Jest” may not have forecasted the reach of the internet, it did take time to satirize the pull of entertainments. Specifically via the cartridge known in the novel as “The Entertainment,” a video so fatally compelling that its viewers become unable to do anything but repeatedly view it. It can be a challenging book, but it’s also bursting with pleasures and heart. Continue reading “Literary Links: Satire”

Classics for Everyone: Shirley Jackson

Posted on Monday, December 12, 2016 by Ida

If life were fair, Shirley Jackson would have lived to a ripe old age and given us a dozen more books. Because life isn’t completely unfair, her influence lives on in the works of writers such as Neil Gaiman and Suzanne Collins. Jackson was born 100 years ago on December 14, 1916 and died unexpectedly of heart failure in 1965, at the age of 48. In that span of time, she managed to create a substantial collection of groundbreaking literature while simultaneously raising four children. All without a wife to help her.

Book Cover: Life Among the SavagesHer experience of family life led to two memoirs of the snort-your-coffee variety. “Life Among the Savages” and “Raising Demons” are the forerunners of Erma Bombeck’s books, only with more edge. They need to be read as products of their time, as all of the adults smoke and nobody wears a seat belt. But many of the issues she coped with will still resound with parents today: playing musical beds when the whole family is sick, sports equipment everywhere, dealing with the IRS. Continue reading “Classics for Everyone: Shirley Jackson”

WWII Fiction for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

Posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 by Katherine

Today, December 7, marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into World War II. With the popularity of “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr there has been an surge of interest in fiction about WWII. So, in memory of Pearl Harbor and all the lives lost during WWII, here are some books that deal with the horror and hope, and the fear and courage found in wartime.

The German Girl” by Armando Lucas Correa

Berlin, Germany 1939. Nazi flags and emblems are draping the streets, and Berlin is becoming a dangerous place for Hannah Rosenthal and her family. Their home and possessions are taken away from them, but an escape route is offered via the SS St. Louis, an ocean liner that will carry fleeing Jews from Germany to Cuba. Even as they leave Berlin behind and begin to feel safe, tensions and rumors from Cuba once again cast a shadow of dread. Decades later, Anna Rosen receives a package from her unknown great-aunt Hannah that sends her and her mother on a quest to uncover their family’s past.

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Nonfiction Roundup: December 2016

Posted on Monday, December 5, 2016 by Kirk

Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released in December. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.

TOP PICKS:

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis book coverThe Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis

Perennial best-seller Lewis takes an in-depth look at the partnership between Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two Nobel Prize winning psychologists, whose work transformed our understanding of human thinking and decision making. Kahneman wrote the highly popular “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

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Exploring Winston Churchill in Fiction

Posted on Monday, November 28, 2016 by Anne

“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.” — Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Churchill is a historical figure who certainly was larger than life. The impact his life made on the last century is far-reaching. Churchill managed to capture much of this through his own writings, and there are numerous fascinating biographies that explore his long life, as well. The nonfiction connected to Churchill’s life is quite fascinating and can provide hours of good reading. For people who are more drawn to fiction, though, it’s worth noting that his life and role in history have inspired quite a few tales of fiction. Here are few of those books which you can check out from the library:

Winton's War book coverIf you tend to generally stick with nonfiction, you may want to try “Winston’s War: A Novel of Conspiracy” by Michael Dobbs. This book is truly historical fiction — telling the story of real events from a fictional perspective. Churchill, an outcast from the British government during the 1930s, warned of the impending troubles of Hitler’s Nazi regime. Dobbs’ book offers a fictionalized look at how various figures in England during that time, including Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, King George VI, US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy and the BBC’s Guy Burgess, responded to Churchill’s warnings. Dobbs’ story is ultimately fiction, but it offers a lot of insight into why the real events played out the way they did. Continue reading “Exploring Winston Churchill in Fiction”

2016 National Book Award Winners

Posted on Monday, November 21, 2016 by Katherine

Awarded by the National Book Foundation every year since its establishment in 1950, the National Book Award winners for 2016 were announced November 16 during a ceremony hosted by Emmy Award-winner Larry Wilmore.

Fiction

Book cover: The Underground RailroadThe Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

In a twist on the Underground Railroad of history, escaping slaves in Whitehead’s novel travel on an actual train which runs underground, carrying them north. Cora, a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, joins with fellow slave Caesar in a desperate bid for freedom as they travel on the Underground Railroad. Whitehead offers readers a close look at the cruelty and horror of slavery.

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