In November the nights get longer and colder, which makes this the perfect month to snuggle up with a good novel. The latest LibraryReads list – the top 10 books publishing in November that librarians across the country recommend – is heavy on the historical fiction but still includes a few thrills, mystery and even some fairy tales to keep you warm on cold nights. Happy reading!
“The Japanese Lover” by Isabel Allende
“Irina is a young Moldavian immigrant with a troubled past. She works at an assisted living home where she meets Alma, a Holocaust survivor. Alma falls in love with Ichi, a young Japanese gardener, who survived Topaz, the Japanese internment camp. Despite man’s inhumanity to man, love, art and beauty can exist, as evidenced in their beautiful love story.” – Ellen Firer, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY Continue reading “Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The November 2015 List”
November will be year 17 of National Novel Writing Month. (I promise “NaNoWriMo” has a certain ring to it after you say it enough times!) Those who finish the challenge write rough drafts of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. Whether you’re NaNoWriMo-curious or a seasoned finisher, be sure to check the calendar for events at both the Columbia and the Callaway County Public Libraries, including starter sessions later this month and write-ins in November.
The thought of writers across the nation sharpening their pencils (okay, double-clicking on the shortcut for their word-processing program of choice) makes me want to read short novels. Here are a few I have loved. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Inspiration: Favorite Short Novels”
Does this gentleman’s influence know no bounds? First there’s the Gentleman’s Quarterly periodical that I presumably inspired and thus have no need to read, then there’s the fact that one of my recommendations was so convincing that an entire city banded together to read the same book. What’s next? A discount at the local deli? A trend of tattooing my face upon one’s own? No one knows (but at minimum I will surely be spared the glares and grimaces directed my way by fellow delicatessen patrons during my sampling hour). One thing is certain: I have tremendous clout and a duty to wield it wisely. So, friendly reader, I’m going wield it with incomparable wisdom and recommend Jess Walter. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Jess Walter”
The library recently added a copy of “The Ferguson Report” to the collection, and it is very much worth reading. The report covers an in-depth investigation into both the police department and the judicial system in Ferguson, Missouri where black teenager Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer. The report shows a systemic and “implicit bias” in these institutions. For those who have had to live as the targets of this system, this is not news and not isolated to this one municipality. The report is very critical, but it also offers specific recommendations, such as a publicly accessible database to track use of force.
For a broader understanding of race in America, pick up one of these excellent, recently published books. Continue reading “Race in America”
Halloween is around the corner, but the list of books publishing in October that librarians across the country love isn’t scary. Well, unless you fear your to-read pile growing too tall. This month’s LibraryReads list includes novels from big names in literary fiction, like Geraldine Brooks (“March,” “Caleb’s Crossing“), David Mitchell (“Cloud Atlas,” “Bone Clocks“) and Margaret Atwood (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” MaddAddam Trilogy) – perfect for longer nights and cooler days. Enjoy!
“City on Fire” by Garth Risk Hallberg
“WOW! An excellently executed work with intricate plot lines and fascinating characters. It’s a story of how the stories of many different people of New York City in the late seventies crash into each other like waves on rocks. This work may encapsulate the whole of New York City, as it has wealth, love, filth, passion, aimless angst and a myriad of other aspects of humanity swirling in that amazing city.” – Racine Zackula, Wichita Public Library, Wichita, KS
“After You” by Jojo Moyes
“I loved ‘Me Before You‘ and thought it ended in the perfect place, but any doubts I had about continuing the story were quickly erased when I started this sequel. Jojo Moyes is a master at tugging on your heartstrings. I laughed, I cried and I nearly threw my Kindle against the wall at one point. Give this to anyone in your life who has experienced a tragic loss. With a box of tissues.” – Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cleveland, OH
“A Banquet of Consequences” by Elizabeth George
“Still reeling from a previous fall from grace, police detective Barbara Havers has a chance to redeem her standing–if she can unravel the very twisted threads that led to the murder of a prominent English feminist. Meanwhile, her superior officer Thomas Lynley pursues a love interest even as he keeps a sharp lookout for any slip-ups by Havers. This is the strongest addition to the series in years.” – Starr Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, Falls Church, VA
Here are the remaining October titles for your holds-placing pleasure! Continue reading “Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The October 2015 List”
As I read this year’s One Read selection, “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel, I repeatedly thought of the Ray Bradbury classic, “Fahrenheit 451.” In my mind, the two books convey many of the same ideas, yet in much different ways.
In “Station Eleven,” a plague has decimated the population. Those who remain are left with a world where infrastructure and social systems have collapsed. The characters in “Fahrenheit 451” have everything Mandel’s lack: health, ample food, material comforts, advanced technology. But I believe Bradbury’s characters suffer more. Continue reading “Classics for Everyone: Fahrenheit 451”
As I perch at my word processor stroking my mustache, adjusting my top hat and considering how to write a blog post recommending a historical meta-fictional novel that is nearly as concerned with how to tell the story of the plot to assassinate monstrous Nazi Reinhard Heydrich as it is with telling the story, I have a eureka moment: I simply needed to stop massaging my elegant mouth parka and making minute adjustments to my headgear and start typing words.
I wonder how to convey that, though time is spent with the author during his research and his periods of doubt, and that we hear quite a bit about the problems inherent in writing historical novels, the story never loses its considerable propulsion. A good recommender would give some sort of proof, but for some reason my head is in tremendous pain and also my top hat is way too tight, so I’m just going to muscle on and assume that my audience knows that they should always trust a gentleman, and that I am one, which is obvious because I am wearing a top hat, and I say I’m a gentleman, and a gentleman never lies, unless it is a white lie and meant to spare someone’s feelings. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Laurent Binet”
There are some writers you wish you could befriend, they seem so warm and endlessly fascinating. You want them at the table during dinner parties. You want to meet up with them for long walks or coffee. Oliver Sacks is one of those writers.
The neurologist and author passed away this weekend of cancer at the age of 82. Sacks was curious – always investigating – and a wonderful storyteller. Even after learning his time on this earth was nearing its end, he continued to write. He became introspective, focusing “on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life – achieving a sense of peace within oneself,” as he states in his final piece for the New York Times. Continue reading “Celebrating the Life and Works of Oliver Sacks”
The death throes of summer will soon be marked by Labor Day weekend. Many of us will spend that time barbecuing or taking advantage of Great Labor Day Savings! This was not the original purpose of Labor Day. The intended meaning of the day was to honor “the social and economic achievements of American workers.” This purpose has mostly been lost, except most American workers do get a free day off. Unless they are one of the over 4,500,000 employed in retail. Then they are probably helping people take advantage of those Labor Day sales.
We spend so much time working that it’s surprising there aren’t more more books on the subject. There’s a constant stream books about job interviews, changing careers or finding fulfilling work, but books that evocatively capture this experience that composes so much of our lives are rare. There are some good ones, and even some classics, but the number days we spend laboring isn’t really matched by the books out there. Continue reading “Labor Days”
The kids are back in school, and the September LibraryReads list is here! Time to brew a cup of tea and enjoy a freshly published book. Here are the books hitting shelves next month that librarians across the country recommend, including the latest from the hilarious, refreshingly honest, irreverent, library-loving Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess. “Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things” has gone immediately on to my personal holds list. Add a few of these forthcoming titles to your list, and enjoy!
“The Art of Crash Landing” by Melissa DeCarlo
“At once tragic and hilarious, this book is a roller coaster of a read. You’ll find yourself rooting for the snarky and impulsive but ultimately lovable Mattie. At the heart of this tale is a beautifully unraveled mystery that has led Mattie to her current circumstances, ultimately bringing her to her first real home.” – Patricia Kline-Millard, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH Continue reading “Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The September 2015 List”