Summer 2014 Recommendations

What a perfect Maine summer it has been so far! We hope you are out in the thick of it enjoying the sun, warm lakes and cool breezes. Of course we highly recommend you bring along a good book and keep several on deck for rainy days. We have compiled a few staff and patrons favorites below:

*Lisa’s Picks*

I have been consumed with the Southern Reach Trilogy this early summer. VanderMeer is the kind of writer who engages you with surprising and rich language, plot and character, but also challenges you to think beyond the mundane and into the fantastic yet plausible without dropping you off into outer space. The third installment in the trilogy will be out in September, so I’m biding my time with a few entertaining memoirs, one about women and bar culture and another about the unromantic, unbucolic side of Appalachia. I may also reread one of my all-time favorites, the rich, heartbreakingly well-written, gorgeous War epic  “A Soldier of the Great War” by Mark Helprin.

From Goodreads:
“From acclaimed novelist Mark Helprin, a lush, literary epic about love, beauty, and the world at war. Alessandro Giuliani, the young son of a prosperous Roman lawyer, enjoys an idyllic life full of privilege: he races horses across the country to the sea, he climbs mountains in the Alps, and, while a student of painting at the ancient university in Bologna, he falls in love. Then the Great War intervenes. Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, tall and proud, meets an illiterate young factory worker on the road. As they walk toward Monte Prato, a village seventy kilometers away, the old man—a soldier and a hero who became a prisoner and then a deserter, wandering in the hell that claimed Europe—tells him how he tragically lost one family and gained another. The boy, envying the richness and drama of Alessandro’s experiences, realizes that this magnificent tale is not merely a story: it’s a recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and above all, a love song for his family.”

 

“Annihilation” (Southern Reach Trilogy #1) by Jeff VanderMeer

 From Goodreads:
“Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.
This is the twelfth expedition.Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.”

“Authority” (Southern Reach Trilogy #2) by Jeff VanderMeer

From Goodreads:
The bone-chilling, hair-raising second installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy. For thirty years, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored expeditions into Area X—a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. After the twelfth expedition, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (aka “Control”) is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and more than two hundred hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve.

“Drinking with Men: A Memoir” by Rosie Schaap

From Goodreads:

“A vivid, funny, and poignant memoir that celebrates the distinct lure of the camaraderie and community one finds drinking in bars.Rosie Schaap has always loved bars: the wood and brass and jukeboxes, the knowing bartenders, and especially the sometimes surprising but always comforting company of regulars. Starting with her misspent youth in the bar car of a regional railroad, where at fifteen she told commuters’ fortunes in exchange for beer, and continuing today as she slings cocktails at a neighborhood joint in Brooklyn, Schaap has learned her way around both sides of a bar and come to realize how powerful the fellowship among regular patrons can be.In Drinking with Men, Schaap shares her unending quest for the perfect local haunt, which takes her from a dive outside Los Angeles to a Dublin pub full of poets, and from small-town New England taverns to a character-filled bar in Manhattan’s TriBeCa. Drinking alongside artists and expats, ironworkers and soccer fanatics, she finds these places offer a safe haven, a respite, and a place to feel most like herself. In rich, colorful prose, Schaap brings to life these seedy, warm, and wonderful rooms. Drinking with Men is a love letter to the bars, pubs, and taverns that have been Schaap’s refuge, and a celebration of the uniquely civilizing source of community that is bar culture at its best.”

“Crapalachia: A Biography of Place” by Scott McClanahan

From Goodreads:

When Scott McClanahan was fourteen he went to live with his Grandma Ruby and his Uncle Nathan, who suffered from cerebral palsy.Crapalachia is a portrait of these formative years, coming-of-age in rural West Virginia.

Peopled by colorful characters and their quirky stories, Crapalachia interweaves oral folklore and area history, providing an ambitious and powerful snapshot of overlooked Americana.
“The book that took Scott McClanahan from indie cult writer to critical darling is a series of tales that read like an Appalachian Proust all doped up on sugary soft drinks, and has made a fan of everybody who has opened it up.”
Flavorwire“McClanahan’s deep loyalty to his place and his people gives his story wings: ‘So now I put the dirt from my home in my pockets and I travel. I am making the world my mountain.’ And so he is.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

*Candy’s Picks*

“I just finished a delightful little book, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang with charming illustrations by Nomoco. It is a beautifully written fable about dreams, determination, self-realization and love. The story takes place during the second half of a hen’s life when she comes to understand what is important to her and that she has the ability to change her destiny. I was sad when it was over but the author did a wonderful job of foreshadowing the end so that I wasn’t shocked. I closed the book with a smile on my face and a nod to Sprout,the hen.”

*Staff and Patrons*

“Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America” by John Waters

From Goodreads
“John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads “I’m Not Psycho,” he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash?

Before he leaves for this bizarre adventure, Waters fantasizes about the best and worst possible scenarios: a friendly drug dealer hands over piles of cash to finance films with no questions asked, a demolition-derby driver makes a filthy sexual request in the middle of a race, a gun-toting drunk terrorizes and holds him hostage, and a Kansas vice squad entraps and throws him in jail. So what really happens when this cult legend sticks out his thumb and faces the open road? His real-life rides include a gentle eighty-one-year-old farmer who is convinced Waters is a hobo, an indie band on tour, and the perverse filmmaker’s unexpected hero: a young, sandy-haired Republican in a Corvette.

Laced with subversive humor and warm intelligence, Carsick is an unforgettable vacation with a wickedly funny companion—and a celebration of America’s weird, astonishing, and generous citizenry.”

 

“BAD FEMINIST” BY ROXANE GAY

from Goodreads

“A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to becool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.”

 

“Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do” by Wallace J. Nichols

From Goodreads

“A landmark book by marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols on the remarkable effects of water on our health and well-being.

Why are we drawn to the ocean each summer? Why does being near water set our minds and bodies at ease? In BLUE MIND, Wallace J. Nichols revolutionizes how we think about these questions, revealing the remarkable truth about the benefits of being in, on, under, or simply near water. Combining cutting-edge neuroscience with compelling personal stories from top athletes, leading scientists, military veterans, and gifted artists, he shows how proximity to water can improve performance, increase calm, diminish anxiety, and increase professional success.

BLUE MIND not only illustrates the crucial importance of our connection to water-it provides a paradigm shifting “blueprint” for a better life on this Blue Marble we call home.”