Know Your Dystopias: Christmas Edition?

Posted on Friday, December 8, 2017 by Eric

“And so we rode out that Christmas morning from the ruins in which the Tipmen had discovered ‘The History of Mankind in Space,’ which still resided in my back-satchel, vagrant memory of a half-forgotten past.”

 -Robert Charles Wilson, “Julian: A Christmas Story”

Merry Christmas from the theocratic neo-Victorian 22nd century created by Robert Charles Wilson! Climate change and the end of peak oil have caused a technological reversion. The social order is structured by a hierarchy with feudal indenture, property-based representation in the senate and a hereditary line of succession to the presidency. The titular character, Julian Comstock, is the nephew of the sitting president sent to a22nd Century America book cover remote district by his mother for his safety. That safety is threatened two days before Christmas when reservists arrive to impose a draft for the war with the Dutch in Labrador. Maps and geopolitical relationships have changed significantly — our flag has 60 stars and Julian’s father was a hero of a war against Brazil. Julian’s father was also hanged for a dubious charge of treason, and the president now sees Julian as a threat. Conscription into the war would be a convenient way for the president to eliminate his teenage nephew. Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: Christmas Edition?”

LibraryReads: Favorite of Favorites 2017

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 by Kat

LibraryReads logoThroughout the year, I’ve shared the LibraryReads Top 10 favorite books that librarians love each month. From those lists, a vote is held to determine the top 10 of the entire year. Without further ado, here is the Favorite of Favorites 2017:

Little Fires Everywhere book coverLittle Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng

“’Little Fires Everywhere’ delves into family relationships and what parenthood, either biological or by adoption, means. We follow the members of two families living in the idyllic, perfectly-planned suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio: Mia and Pearl, a mother and daughter living a less traditional lifestyle, moving from town to town every few months, and the Richardsons, the perfect nuclear family in the perfect suburb … until Izzy Richardson burns her family home down. Ng’s superpower is her ability to pull you into her books from the very first sentence!”
~Emma DeLooze-Klein, Kirkwood Public Library, Kirkwood, MO

And here are the rest:

Continue reading “LibraryReads: Favorite of Favorites 2017”

Nonfiction Roundup: December 2017

Posted on Monday, December 4, 2017 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

No Time to Spare book coverNo Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters” by Ursula K. Le Guin

A collection of essays from the legendary author’s blog that express her thoughts on aging, belief, the state of literature and the state of the nation. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: December 2017”

Debut Author Spotlight: November

Posted on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 by Katherine

Here are the authors making their debuts this November. It’s a pretty sparse crowd as we head toward the end of the year, but there are still some fantastic books waiting to be discovered. I’m especially excited about “The City of Brass” by S. A. Chakraborty.

City of Brass book coverThe City of Brass” by S. A. Chakraborty

Con artist Nahri uses her wits and sleight of hand to survive the streets of 18th century Cairo. She gets by, by performing palm readings and healings, but she doesn’t believe in magic — that is, until she accidentally summons a mysterious djinn. Together they journey to Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, where Nahri is drawn into a world of magic and politics that she doesn’t understand and learns secrets about her past that change everything.

 

The Library at the Edge of the World” by Felicity Hayes-McCoyLibrary at the Edge of the World book cover

Set in the villages of Ireland’s West Coast, librarian Hanna Casey returns to the rural town she grew up in to rebuild her life after discovering her husband in bed with another woman. Even as she works to become independent, she finds herself at the center of gossip and her library is threatened with closure. So Hanna begins a battle to save the library and her community, along the way forging relationships with the neighbors she had worked so hard to keep at a distance.

Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: November”

Know Your Dystopias: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Posted on Monday, November 27, 2017 by Eric

What does life mean when you are living on a dead world? How do you remain human when most of what surrounds you is artificial? Questions of authenticity and what it is to be human haunt Philip K. Dick’s dead and sparsely populated vision of Earth in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”  

While best known as the source material for the classic movie “Blade Runner” and the recent sequel, the novel is its own unique story. It describes a post-apocalyptic Earth where a radioactive atmosphere caused mass emigrations to colonies on other planets. Most who live on Earth are not there by choice — they do not have the means, nor do they pass genetic or intelligence thresholds that would permit them to live “off-world.” Status in this world is exemplified in the quest of the protagonist, Rick Deckard, to own a real, live animal. Most animals are extinct and rare specimens are coveted. When we first meet Deckard he is making do with a robotic sheep he passes off to his neighbors as real. Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

A Month of Gratitude

Posted on Friday, November 24, 2017 by Reading Addict

Photo of trees in autumn

Sometimes it’s easy to be grateful because some things simply demand gratitude, such as avoiding a collision or winning a lottery — or even just finding $20 in an old coat pocket. But it can also be hard to be grateful. Every day. Day after day. Life gets busy and overwhelming partly because of the big things swirling around us, but also because of the small and petty things that demand our attention. It can be hard to refocus and reflect on our blessings. That is why November, the month of Thanksgiving, has become my time to make a concerted effort by focusing on a different gratitude each day. And, as with most things in my life, that includes a healthy dose of books. Continue reading “A Month of Gratitude”

The Gentleman Recommends: Hari Kunzru

Posted on Monday, November 13, 2017 by Chris

Like any gentleman of means, I’m fond of gallivanting around the world. Though I may not travel as much as I’d like, what with the estate, the cats and the pending transactions needing looking after, my attache case is always packed with books and monocles so that I may use the wonders of literature to mitigate the horrors of public transportation. On two of my most notable excursions, novels by Hari Kunzru helped eat several hours that would have otherwise been occupied by fretting over what sorts of messes the cats were making in the estate. Given space constraints, my obligation to save the details of my travels for my visitors’ parlor, and two lawsuits, I’ll sum it up by saying that I have a soft spot for Kunzru’s writing. He earned the soft spot, though. It wasn’t just because he succeeded in distracting from the snores of the man taking up most of my seat: Kunzru is a brilliant writer.

The Impressionist,” which I read when I was little more than a pup easily startled by every ticket taker and fuel-efficient vehicle I saw, is his debut novel, and one that garnered a lot of praise on publication. It’s about a brown boy born with white skin. My memory is fuzzy on specifics, but it was great. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Hari Kunzru”

Literary Links: Veterans Day

Posted on Sunday, November 12, 2017 by Seth

I come from an extended family that has always prided itself on military service. My Grandpa Smith was a combat engineer in France during World War II, and numerous uncles and cousins have served in the Army and Navy. For me, Veterans Day is always a day of profound appreciation for all veterans in this country. The holiday, which was originally called “Armistice Day” to celebrate the signing of the treaty that signaled the end of World War I on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, is now a federal holiday. The library offers a variety of books for readers interested in learning more about the veteran’s experiences.

Civilianized book coverReturning home from war can be difficult, and countless books have recounted the perilous journey after discharge. One of the more recent titles to come out about this struggle is Michael Anthony’s memoir, “Civilianized.” Anthony immediately struggled with depression, severe anxiety and an escalating drinking habit after returning to the States, before he got back on his feet and became a published author. Some of Anthony’s fellow soldiers continue to battle far worse demons; several members of Anthony’s unit have taken their own lives. Continue reading “Literary Links: Veterans Day”

Quintessential Comics: Top Five Must Reads

Posted on Friday, November 10, 2017 by Josh

Do you find yourself wanting to explore the worlds of graphic novels, but are unsure as to where you should start? Have you perhaps caught yourself wishing that you, too, could learn to love this particular form of storytelling? Trying to familiarize yourself with this new and uncanny world of literature can seem daunting at first. Well, have no fear! This volume of “Quintessential Comics” should hopefully give you a good place to start. These titles are in no particular order and some contain mature content, so be advised. Okay then, let’s get started.

Watchmen

Watchmen book cover

Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” almost has to be on this list if only for the fact that it is one of the most recognizable and influential graphic novels to date. Set in an alternate Earth timeline in which the United States is on the brink of World War III with the Soviet Union, this graphic novel contains a grittiness unlike any other work of its kind. With pencils by Dave Gibbons and color by John Higgins, this work really captures the “realness” of the world in which the story takes place. With their help, Moore manages to create a bold world in which the heroes might not always win and even if they do, it begs the question, “Does the end justify the means?” If you’re looking for something raw, or just want a change of pace from most comics, be sure to check this out.

Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come book coverThis one makes the list for two main reasons. First, the artwork by Alex Ross is some of the best I’ve seen. His style perfectly captures the iconic nature of the heroes and the battle of good versus evil. Second, it holds a special place in my heart. This graphic novel is one of the first that I read back in high school and remains one of my favorites to this day. This one also takes place in an alternate timeline, but in a future where metahumans (individuals with powers) are running rampant across the globe, and the heroes of the golden age have all but retired. What happens in a world where Superman himself has lost hope in humanity? If you want to find out, pick this one up at your library.

Saga

Now, this entry technically can’t be classified as a singleSaga book cover graphic novel, as it’s a series of comics that is still running. However, it’s such a wonderful series that I can’t leave it off this list. Have you ever wondered what Romeo and Juliet would be like if it took place in space? Well, look no further. Full of rich character development, action, suspense and that very awesome sci-fi/fantasy mix, “Saga” is sure to keep you captivated for the long haul. I can’t think of a series that I’ve read in recent memory that rivals the extent to which this work fleshes out its characters. If this one sounds like something you’d like, stop by the library for more blaster fire, space travel and romance than you can handle.

Maus

Maus book cover

I can’t imagine creating a “Top Five” list for graphic novels and not including this title. Creator Art Spiegelman delivers a tale of the anguish brought about by the Holocaust in a format unlike any you’ve seen before. This one is framed by an interview with Spiegelman’s father, accounting his experiences during the war. By depicting the Jewish characters as mice and the Nazi soldiers as cats, Spiegelman evokes emotions that I feel are unique to this method of storytelling. The first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize, “Maus” has since been praised by critics, in addition to gaining its academic merit. Anyone who believes that graphic novels can’t be powerful needs to give this one a read.

Persepolis

Persepolis book cover

Rounding out this list is another moving tale featuring a young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. Categorized as a graphic autobiography, this piece by Marjane Satrapi really brings something new to the table. Accompanying beautifully simplistic black and white panels, this poignant story effortlessly captures the tumultuous period of adolescence amidst such a harrowing event. Don’t miss out on this one.

 

Image credit: Sam Howzit, Comic Books via Flickr (license)

Nonfiction Roundup: November 2017

Posted on Monday, November 6, 2017 by Kirk

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

TOP PICKS

Promise Me, Dad book coverPromise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose” by Joe Biden

This chronicle of the vice president’s experiences in the most momentous and challenging year of his life describes how in 2015 he struggled to balance the requirements of his job with the realities of his eldest son’s failing health, a challenge marked by international crises, his growing friendship with Barack Obama and his deepening perspectives on his family ties.

Bunk book coverBunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists,Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News” by Kevin Young

The award-winning author traces the history of the hoax as a distinct American phenomenon, exploring the roles of stereotype, suspicion and racism as factors that have shaped fraudulent activities from the heyday of P. T. Barnum through the “fake news” activities of Donald Trump. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: November 2017”