Staff Summer Picks 2015

Take a look at what the Southwest Harbor Librarians are reading, and share with us the titles you have been enjoying this summer.



“Testament of Youth” by Vera Brittain

This book is an autobiography of a young woman’s experiences from 1914-1919 during WWI when life changed completely for the youth of England as they went to war as nurses and their loved ones went to fight in the trenches.  Most of the literature written about The Great War was from men’s perspectives while this is from someone who chronicles her life from her teens through young adulthood from the female perspective during the war.

This is the book on which the newly released  movie is based as well as the original Masterpiece Theatre production from the 1970s.





I am reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It is a finalist for the Maine Readers Choice Award. This is the perfect book to be reading right at this moment as Charleston comes to terms with what the Confederate flag stands for and means to people. The story takes place in the slave heyday and is divided between Charleston and Philadelphia. It is told through two voices; a free white woman and a non-free slave woman. It certainly has shattered some assumptions I had about Quakers and the views of northerners concerning slavery and race. I’m almost finished so don’t tell me how it ends!




I am reading Hold Still, by the photographer Sally Mann. A memoir, mainly, the book covers the usual autobiographical bases, in this case an unorthodox upbringing, rowdy behavior at Putney School and Bennington and her beginnings as an artist. But most interesting among these discursive chapters is the larger picture of the South, what it used to be like when the author was growing up there and how it has changed and what it means to her to be an unabashed Southerner. Don’t expect mint juleps in the company of courtly gentlemen, however. Prepare instead for warm gin alone in the back of a Suburban plus murder, suicide, drugs, drink, illicit sex, cuckoldry and accounts of violence and racism. Add to this a long discourse on Immediate Family, her controversial 1994 book of photographs which brought her accusations of child pornography and exploitation of her own children. Mann is fierce, wise, funny and she writes some of the most evocative sentences about the South I’ve ever read. Hold Still has received rave reviews from all quarters and they are well deserved. Her story is by turns harrowing, heartbreaking and hilarious.



Lost in Shangri-la by Michael Zuckoff.Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

“A lost world, man-eating tribesmen, lush and impenetrable jungles, stranded American fliers (one of them a dame with great gams, for heaven’s sake), a startling rescue mission. . . . This is a true story made in heaven for a writer as talented as Mitchell Zuckoff. Whew—what an utterly compelling and deeply satisfying read!” —Simon Winchester, author of Atlantic
Award-winning former Boston Globe reporter Mitchell Zuckoff unleashes the exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War II rescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S.military personnel into a land that time forgot. Fans of Hampton Sides’ Ghost Soldiers, Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor, and David Grann’s The Lost City of Z will be captivated by Zuckoff’s masterfully recounted, all-true story of danger, daring, determination, and discovery in jungle-clad New Guinea during the final days of WWII.” ~Goodreads


 My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgård
 My Struggle: Book 1I just cracked open this biography this weekend and if the rest of this book is half as good as the opening paragraph, I won’t need to wonder what I will be reading for the rest of the summer and fall! Even though I’ve only made it through 20 or so pages I was instantly caught up in his love of language and words. The controversy surrounding the title only makes it more interesting!

“Until the recent publication of My Struggle, a 3,600-page work in six volumes, the career of the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard had followed a fairly conventional trajectory: A young man besotted by the beauty of words, nature, music and painting writes a coming-of-age novel that earns him prizes and praise and then tries something more ambitious, which becomes an international best seller and wins more prizes. But with his latest project, My Struggle, whose title deliberately evokes Hitler’s infamous autobiography and political screed, everything has changed. Though My Struggle, a minutely detailed examination of Mr. Knausgaard’s family life, has done extremely well in Europe—in Norway, about half a million copies have been sold, the equivalent of one for every 10 people—it has also put Mr. Knausgaard (pronounced Kuh-NOWS-guard) squarely at the center of a debate about literary ethics and made him a kind of bad boy of European letters.” —Larry Rohter, The New York Times

My Struggle is the provocative, audacious, brilliant six-volume autobiographical novel of Karl Ove Knausgaard that has unquestionably been the main event of contemporary European literature. It has earned favorable comparisons to its obvious literary forebears A la recherche du temps perdu and Mein Kampf—but it has also been celebrated as the rare magnum opus that is intensely, addictively readable.” ~Goodreads



I am reading Chanterelle the 2nd book in the the Five Stones Trilogy by G.A. Morgan.  Genevieve was here last Monday launching the book for us while the book didn’t actually come out till Tuesday. Quite an honor. She grew up using this library and the fantasy world she has created is her re-imagining of MDI. Chanterelle is great! I loved the first one too. It’s a rich multi layered fantasy with beautifully written characters and settings along with non stop adventure.


~Mary Anne~
I’m reading Closer All the Time  by Jim Nichols.  Great read, beautifully written, nominated already for next year’s Maine Readers’ Choice Award, AND he’s coming to the Library in September!

“The inhabitants of Baxter, Maine, are going nowhere fast—but not for lack of trying. In this deftly written jewel of a novel, veteran author Jim Nichols strings together the bittersweet stories of several different characters bound together by shared geography and the insular nature of small-town life. There’s Johnny Lunden, a well-meaning war veteran with a penchant for the local bar and a deep but doomed love for his family. There’s eight-year-old Ted Soule, who shares a first kiss with the Ophelia-like Nadia, the daughter of his Russian neighbors, and Tomi Lambert who observes the confusion of the adults around her as they struggle with accepting their fates.

With the coastal waters of Maine as a backdrop, Nichols artfully explores the nature of connection—hoped for, missed, lost, and found—in Closer All the Time, that very special novel that delivers quick-moving, compelling storytelling with a lasting emotional wallop. You’ll devour it in one sitting, but its characters will linger at the edges of your day like memories of old friends and lovers.

Author Monica Wood has given it advance praise, saying: “His men and boys become so real, I feel as if I know what it might have been like to grow up surrounded by brothers. Nichols is one of my favorite writers.” ~Goodreads