Chris Siebeneck, Library Associate
The beginning of a new year is a fine time for considering past successes and failures, reflecting on their lessons and setting goals. Reading provides an efficient way to absorb lessons from numerous lives over a short period of time. In addition to offering lessons, the books listed below are populated with memorable characters and written with panache. They are also debut novels, and therefore examples of someone reaching a goal and, in all but one sad case, reaping the rewards. Whether your “debut novel” is about shedding weight, conquering a vice or writing a novel, one should remember that every lofty accomplishment is preceded by, if not staggering amounts of failure, years of practice. Continue reading “Literary Links: Debut Novels”
Do you love listening to audiobooks? Have you ever run all over town trying to find the book for your book club’s next meeting, only to discover that the slightly faster members of your book club already grabbed every copy available within a 50-mile radius? Hoopla can help! Hoopla is a media service that allows you to stream and download audiobooks, eBooks, comics, movies and television shows. Sign up for an account (this quick start guide shows you how), and borrow up to 10 items per month. The best part? Everyone in your book club can borrow the same book on Hoopla – there’s no limit to how many people can borrow an item at once!
Here are just a few of the book club-worthy titles available as audiobooks on Hoopla:
“My Brilliant Friend” is the first novel in the popular Neapolitan series by Italian author Elena Ferrante. Set in a downtrodden neighborhood, this story of female friendship is told in luscious prose. Book clubs will find lots to talk about in the forces that shape Elena and Lila’s evolving friendship.
Need a thriller that will keep you guessing? Try “The Good Girl” by Mary Kubica. Told in “before” and “after” and by multiple characters, this novel keeps the tension high as readers piece together the story. Continue reading “Audiobooks for Book Clubs on Hoopla”
Sure, you can resolve to make 2016 the year to lose 10 pounds, run a marathon or learn to speak Spanish. Those are all fine goals. But here at the library we like our resolutions literary, and book challenges fit the bill quite nicely.
What’s a book challenge? Basically, you read books according to a certain set of guidelines and share your reviews of those books with other readers. There are food writing challenges, debut author challenges and “to be read pile” challenges, just to name a few. Continue reading “Your New Year’s Reading Resolution: Read Harder Book Challenge”
New books for the New Year! Here is the latest LibraryReads list, the top 10 books publishing in January 2016 that librarians across the country recommend. The list includes new novels from Elizabeth Strout (“Olive Kitteridge“) and Melanie Benjamin (“The Aviator’s Wife“), as well as nonfiction from the incomparable Bill Bryson (“A Walk in the Woods“)!
“My Name Is Lucy Barton” by Elizabeth Strout
“Set in the mid-1980s, Lucy Barton, hospitalized for nine weeks, is surprised when her estranged mother shows up at her bedside. Her mother talks of local gossip, but underneath the banalities, Lucy senses the love that cannot be expressed. This is the story that Lucy must write about, the one story that has shaped her entire life. A beautiful lyrical story of a mother and daughter and the love they share.” – Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA Continue reading “Top 10 Books Librarians Love: The January 2016 List”
How would you live your life if you didn’t have a home? These documentaries explore various homeless populations and examine the challenges they face in everyday life.
“Dark Days” (2000)
For years, a homeless community took root in a train tunnel beneath New York City, braving dangerous conditions and perpetual night. “Dark Days” explores the surprisingly domestic subterranean world, unearthing a way of life unimaginable to those above. Continue reading “On the Street: Docs About Homelessness”
Like most people, I find new books by reading library blogs, or visiting askjeeves.com and typing “please show me a good book,” or perusing the shelves at my local library until I find a book with a cover that seems sufficiently gravy resistant. Occasionally though, a human will recommend a book. Such is the case with this month’s recommendation: a colleague said “Bats of the Republic” sounded like one of the weird books I like. I tipped my hat, gave my monocle a friendly shake and asked Jeeves about this weird book. (I’m compelled to note that while I do often enjoy literary oddities, in general my tastes lean to the conventional, and I have the crystal decanter collection to prove it.) Jeeves obliged and showed me a picture of the author’s tremendous mustache (or perhaps the mustache’s tremendous author?). I swooned, such was my joy at finding a novel so presumably suited to my tastes. After a quick trip to the market for a crystal decanter or two, I eagerly set to reading the words birthed by such an inspiring swatch of follicles. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Zachary Thomas Dodson”
Keen readers might notice this is the second time I’ve recommended Patrick deWitt’s work. Some will exclaim, “Sir, are there not a practically infinite number of worthy writers to recommend? Why recommend an author twice?” I will respond, “Indeed, there is a seemingly endless sea of writers deserving of my endorsement, but several factors conspire to cause a repeat recommendation of his work. I’m particularly enamored with Mr. deWitt’s writing. His newest novel was published subsequent to my previous recommendation and it is amazing. And while some quick and dubious math tells me I read upwards of 8,000 books a year, I cannot read everything, but I did recently read “Undermajordomo Minor.” Furthermore, as I saunter around town twirling my cane and mustache, my query of, ‘Have you yet mined the depths of Patrick deWitt’s talents?’ is nearly always met with either confusion, averted eyes or a non-sequiturial admonishment to ‘be careful with that cane, you nearly hit my baby.’ (I’ve said this countless times, but I will reiterate here: I never twirl my cane with anything less than utmost precision, and your baby could stand to toughen up.) Clearly, I have not been sufficiently persuasive. So until passersby respond to my deWitt-centric interrogations with a tip of their headgear and an enthusiastic, ‘Yes. And by the way, you are rather precise in the manner with which you twirl both your mustache and your cane,’ I must continue to espouse the virtues of Mr. deWitt’s work.” Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Patrick deWitt (again)”
I love reading about history, especially histories with unique perspectives! Traditional histories omit so much, and what we know has been carefully shaped by what schools usually teach and promote. The myths these texts create often overshadow the realities.
“An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” is a book that dispels many of the myths surrounding indigenous people, such as the myth that the “New World” was sparsely populated at the time of first contact by Europeans or that their cultures were unsophisticated. The indigenous populations were actually much denser than European societies at the time, and they were “supportable because the people had created a relatively disease-free paradise. There certainly were diseases and health problems, but the practice of herbal medicine and even surgery and dentistry, and most importantly both hygienic and ritual bathing, kept diseases at bay. ” Continue reading “Staff Book Review: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States”
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”