The kids are back at school, and maybe that has some readers feeling overwhelmed by the orientations, sports practices, rehearsals and other related events suddenly filling up the family calendar. Or perhaps the back-to-school spirit has you ready to learn something new. Whether you want to read for escape or for self-improvement, this month’s LibraryReads list has you covered. Here are the 10 titles publishing in September that librarians across the country recommend.
“Leave Me” by Gayle Forman
“Aren’t there days when you just want to leave it all behind? After a life threatening event, that’s exactly what Maribeth Klein does. Maribeth, wife, mom of 4-year old twins, and editor of a glossy magazine is told to rest. Sure! The choice she makes is not the one for most, but following Maribeth on this journey is compelling nonetheless. Fast paced narrative and terrific writing make this one hard to put down. Recommended!” – Carol Ann Tack, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY Continue reading “Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The September 2016 List”
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Last year I broke my foot and had to have surgery. That meant recovery time, which actually meant reading time. During the week following my surgery, between bouts of nausea and fatigue, I read the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I also exclusively drank Harney & Sons Green Tea with Coconut Blend. Now anytime I drink that coconut green tea, the scent bombards me with reminders of magic, time travel, alchemy and romance.
While my magical fantasy + coconut green tea pairing happened organically, it inspired me to think up some other tea and book pairings.
Classics like “Jane Eyre,” an enduring romance centered around a strong, non-traditional heroine, or Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea,” in which a fisherman battles with a marlin, need a classic tea, no? I suggest an English Breakfast tea (decaf, if you’re reading past your bedtime). Continue reading “Book and Tea Pairings”
When the summer began, I had all sorts of plans. One of my plans was to add variety to my reading by reading more fiction. Yes, you read that right — more fiction. This was sparked by a conversation with my husband.
Husband: Why don’t you read something for fun for a change?
Me: I am reading something fun!
Husband: But all you read is nonfiction.
Yes, that’s me. I like nonfiction. This summer was going to be different, but here it is, time for school to start up again. Those lazy days of summer have led to me reading mostly… nonfiction. In my defense, there are a lot of really good nonfiction books that have been published this year! I won’t mention all of them, but I will tell you about three that I really loved.
“Lab Girl” by Jahren Hope
“Because I am a female scientist, nobody knows what the hell I am, and it has given me the delicious freedom to make it up as I go along.” Jahren is a botanist who is passionate about her field. She weaves the insights she discovers in the lab and in the field seamlessly with her personal day-to-day life. “Lab Girl” is one of those odd books that is part science book, part memoir, with a bit of philosophy thrown in, and it reads more like poetry at times. “Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.” Continue reading “Is Summer Over Already?!”
Noah Hawley is a great example of a writer who does not need this gentleman’s boost. In addition to the thousands of projects he has in the works (including a television adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle“), Hawley is the showrunner of “Fargo,” one of my favorite television shows ever. He’s also a novelist, because apparently brilliant, hard-working people get to experience all manner of professional satisfaction. (Join me, won’t you, in declaring it’s high time some of this good fortune is distributed to all the frequently recumbent and mostly slovenly gentlemen out there just trying to peaceably make their way through the world’s bakeries without having their various flasks constantly confiscated.)
“Before the Fall” is Hawley’s latest novel, and anyone who has experienced the rich tapestry of detailed characterization, deft and often hilarious dialogue, and rapid-fire plotting of “Fargo” will not be surprised to learn that is a delightful piece of entertainment. It tells the tale of a plane crash and the lives it ended or, in the case of two passengers, the lives it upended. The crash and the surviving passengers’ harrowing journey to safety occur in the first several pages, then the novel gives us a mix of flashbacks (fleshing out the characters and the possible reasons for the plane crash) and post-crash scenes largely concerned with one of the surviving passengers and government efforts to determine why the plane crashed. In reading the dead’s stories, the reader will learn some theories about the how the plane crashed (with one seeming particularly likely). Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Noah Hawley”
There once was a time that I scoffed at romance books, and I certainly wouldn’t be caught dead reading one. “They’re not literary,” I would say, high on my horse. Maybe my mind started to change when I read the genre-defying “Outlander,” or maybe I matured a little and realized I was being judgmental. I just know that at some point I found myself checking out “The Duchess War” by Courtney Milan, complete with a young woman in a poofy ball gown on the cover. And, guys? I loved it! The book was smart, well-written, had great dialogue and believable development of the romantic relationship — basically all the things I like in any book. And it’s not alone; there are a ton of great romances out there! In honor of August being Read-a-Romance Month, here’s a short list of books to help ease you into the waters of romance novels.
“A Knight in Shining Armor” by Jude Deveraux
A distraught, modern woman, abandoned by her lover, suddenly meets a real knight, complete with clanking armor, in a cemetery. Also, according to the gravestone next to her, he died in 1564. This classic romance, by the legendary Jude Deveraux, includes time travel, grand adventure and, of course, excellent romance. Continue reading “Read-a-Romance Month: Romance for Newbies”
Lauren Williams, Public Services Librarian
“…sometime, at least once, everyone should see someone through. All the way home.”
– George Hodgman, “Bettyville”
As you may already know, this year’s selection for One Read, the community-wide reading program sponsored by the Daniel Boone Regional Library, is George Hodgman’s memoir “Bettyville” (Viking, 2015). This is the story of a son’s return from New York City to small-town Missouri, where he finds himself thrust into the uncomfortable role of caregiver. His deep love for his mother is complicated by the gulf of silence between them. Hodgman is gay, something his mother Betty has never directly acknowledged, and he is also a recovering addict, a fact he could not allow himself to reveal to his parents. Betty is likewise intensely private about her feelings and her past. Hodgman declares, “If I could ask her anything, it would be this: ‘What was it, Mother, that just shut you up, so tight and quiet?’” Continue reading “Literary Links: Aging Parents”
If you’re reading this in English, thank Geoffrey Chaucer. His “Canterbury Tales”, published in 1400, was the first book of poetry written in English, rather than Latin or Italian. By using the common language, he made literature accessible to the common person. Having opened the way for everyone from William Shakespeare to Janet Evanovich, Chaucer can rightly be called the father of English literature.
The poems in his book relate the stories shared by travelers in a group heading from London to Canterbury. The members of the group come from disparate backgrounds, and their tales run the gamut from bawdy comedy to sober religious parables. Pieced together, they provide a picture of life in Medieval England. The larger story, about the trip itself, serves as a frame for this picture.
Though this story-within-a-story framing wasn’t new with Chaucer, his use of it influenced later writers. “Canterbury Tales” is well worth reading, but the Middle English requires some effort. If you want a Chaucer-like read without as many trips to the footnotes, I can recommend a few titles with layered narratives. Continue reading “Classics for Everyone: To Canterbury and Beyond”
Have you ever been in a reading slump? Your to-be-read pile can be bursting with books you’ve been meaning to read, but nothing sounds good, or, once you start to read one, it just doesn’t stick. A slump happens to me occasionally, and I’m in one now. I’ve tried reading books from various genres, I’ve tried new authors, and I’ve even tried revisiting old favorites, but to no avail! So now I turn to you, fellow readers. I’ve gathered a few books that look promising and want your feedback so I can decide what to try next.
“A Man Called Ove” has been receiving praise as a New York Times bestseller. It’s quite popular here at DBRL, with a long holds list and more copies on order. This debut novel by Swedish author Fredrik Backman tells the story of a cranky old man whose wife has recently died. His depression leads him to consider ending his own life, but when a young family moves in next door and runs over his mailbox, a comical string of interactions begins. This book is promised to be witty and heartwarming.
Martha Woodroof’s first novel, “Small Blessings,” is touted as a book for bookish people. Sign me up! The story follows Tom Putnam, an English professor with a wife who, because of an affair between Tom and a poetess a decade earlier, is a complete shut-in. When the two take part in a social engagement for the first time in a long while, Tom hopes that things are changing. However, when they return home, he finds a letter from the poetess telling him that he fathered a son, and the 10-year-old is on a train heading his way. The vibrant, quirky cast of characters carries this sweet tale of life and the unexpected. Continue reading “A Reading Slump: Pick My Next Read”
It’s my favorite LibraryReads list yet! Why, you may ask? Because this month’s list of forthcoming titles that librarians across the country recommend includes “Arrowood,” the latest from local author Laura McHugh. The novel follows Arden Arrowood as she returns to her declining Iowa hometown and her childhood home after a failed attempt at graduate school. She is haunted by the memory of her twin sisters, kidnapped from the front yard while they were in her care. McHugh is masterful when it comes to vividly rendering place and setting, as well as the psychology of her main characters. This novel is moody, atmospheric and melancholy with a delicious undercurrent of suspense. Place your hold now, and enjoy this month’s other recommendations!
“A Great Reckoning” by Lousie Penny
“Armand Gamache is back, and it was worth the wait. As the new leader of the Surete academy, Gamche is working to stop corruption at its source and ensure the best start for the cadets. When a copy of an old map is found near the body of a dead professor, Gamache and Beauvoir race against the clock to find the killer before another person dies. A terrific novel that blends Penny’s amazing lyrical prose with characters that resonate long after the book ends. Highly recommended.” – David Singleton, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC
“The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena
“This book is so full of twists and turns that my head was swiveling. Who took baby Cora? Marco and Anne decide to leave their baby home alone. After all, they share a wall with their neighbors, with whom they are partying. They would take turns checking in on her baby monitor. But when they return to their flat, the first thing they find is an open door and no Cora. Who’s to blame? Could it be an unlikely suspect that you won’t see coming? If you like a book that keeps you guessing until the very end, you won’t be disappointed.” – Debbie Frizzell, Johnson County Library, Roeland Park, KS Continue reading “Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2016 List”
The dog days of summer are upon us. Long stretches of 90 degrees-plus temperatures are the norm. And this being Missouri, it’s not the heat but the humidity that makes it so uncomfortable, right?
Finding a nice place in the shade with a good book is a great way to keep cool. And if that book happens to be set during the dead of winter, that’s even better. Here are some books that will chill you to your core on these hot days!
If a dark and icy-cold New England winter sounds perfect right about now, you should try Jennifer McMahon’s “The Winter People.” Set in a small town in Vermont, the novel recounts the mysterious murder of Sara Harrison Shea outside her home in 1908. A hundred years later, Ruthie, Fawn and their mother move into Sara’s old house. The girls find Sara’s diary hidden under the floor, revealing what may have actually happened to her. This sets into motion a series of horrific events that threaten to destroy their family. McMahon’s writing is spell-binding in this unique approach to the typical ghost story. You won’t want to put this one down! Continue reading “Bone-Chilling Reads for the Dog Days of Summer”