An Homage to Public Libraries

In this age of digital “everything” (or so it seems) libraries remain a public treasure.  Here’s a review from the New York Times Book Review last week about a work of fiction set in one of the oldest public libraries in the world.

Book Review | FICTION

Library As Muse

By EDMUND WHITE

http://nyti.ms/2gUW1Sa

Chetham’s Library in England, one of the world’s oldest public libraries.img_4617

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

PUBLIC LIBRARY
And Other Stories
By Ali Smith
220 pp. Anchor Books. Paper, $16.

This collection of stories by one of England’s best novelists is both playful and serious in the manner of Laurence Sterne, the 18th-century author of “Tristram Shandy,” one of the most original novelists of all time, who influenced European literature in a way comparable only to that of the later James Joyce. Sterne was the master of the marginal, the random, the inconsequential. In our own day, David Foster Wallace, Geoff Dyer and Ali Smith have become the paladins of this goofy manner. Like Dyer, who wrote an essay ostensibly about D.H. Lawrence, “Out of Sheer Rage,” and then turned it into a report on his own health, Smith seems obsessed with Lawrence as well.

In a story called “The Human Claim,” she juxtaposes an investigation into what happened to Lawrence’s ashes with a dispute she had with Barclaycard over unwarranted charges. The two themes don’t seem related — but that may be the point. Just as Dyer travels to Oaxaca to research Lawrence but ends up distracted by his own health problems, in the same way Smith’s speculations about who might have charged a Lufthansa flight on her credit card crowd out her questions about whether Lawrence’s widow’s new husband, tasked with cremating Lawrence’s corpse and bringing it back to New Mexico, may have dumped the cremains and substituted unrelated ashes in their place. Maybe that was the connection. “I began to wonder . . . who the person was, the person who’d pretended, somewhere else in the world, to be me. What did he or she look like?” If Lawrence’s ashes could be replaced with someone else’s and no one suspected the substitution for decades, maybe that could be related to contemporary identity theft.

This book, as the title suggests, is a homage to public libraries at a time when budget cuts in the United Kingdom (or the disunited Kingdom, now that Scotland and Ireland seem to be on the brink of seceding) and new ways of communicating are closing these free, life-changing institutions. Seeded throughout the text are brief testimonials by established writers, often from a humble and not especially literate background, for whom an early access to books made all the difference. Referring to the earlier British edition of the book, Smith notes that “by the time this book is published there will be one thousand fewer libraries in the U.K. than there were at the time I began writing the first of the stories.” Libraries are lauded because they too offer the randomness, the “serendipity” that characterizes Smith’s style. A woman starts out reading up on chemistry but keeps drifting back to the philosophy shelves — and soon has changed her major. Books in general are called “the best possible medium of the transmission of ideas, feelings and knowledge.” One letter writer even has a political take, that libraries are essential to a democracy so voters can be educated, “and that there is therefore an ideological war on them via cuts and closures.”

If the testimonials are part of a campaign to save libraries, the stories are more fanciful. Smith begins one with a gesture — a young poet throwing a Walter Scott novel on the floor only to notice when she picks it up that the binding is lined with sheet music. All of which allows the story to exfoliate into a host of subjects — the poet’s unhappy mother (she can hear her “shifting about upstairs like a piece of misery”), the poet’s witchiness, her prizes and eventually her confinement in a mental hospital. It ends: “Think of the Waverly collection on the shelves, the full 25 novels, their spines sliced back and open and the music inside them visible.” In Smith’s prose, the music inside is certainly visible.

Take this paragraph from the same story, when the poet is wondering if her badness is contagious: “Would it ruin the feel of the mouth of the hill pony on the palm of her hand when she went the hike by herself and gave it the apple she had for her lunch, the bluntness of the mouth, the breath of it, the whiskers round the mouth she could feel, the warm wet and the slaver on her hand that she wiped on her skirt and got into the trouble about?”

In the way of all successful art, Smith’s book triggered little chains of association that resonated with the other books I was reading at the time — the heart-stopping phrases in Rebecca West’s “The Fountain Overflows,” the wonderful tribute to the power of fiction to reconcile us to bright particulars in Martha Nussbaum’s “Love’s Knowledge,” that great homage to serendipity in Xavier de Maistre’s 18th-century “Voyage Around My Room.” As distinct and idiosyncratic as “Public Library” is, these intersections reveal how its themes are also timeless and universal.

In one of the first stories, the narrator is arguing with her father (who’s been dead for five years) about the past. He has seemingly perfect recall, remembers which prize she won for what, how she studied German years ago and how some German girls from Augsburg came over as exchange students; they had just learned about the Holocaust from a documentary and were speechless. The narrator, adrift in trivia, remembers that during World War I a man recorded all the various English and Irish dialects spoken by the soldiers (many of these dialects having since vanished). This idea of how people spoke in the past emphasizes how ephemeral both people and language can be. She thinks of her grandfather, who died before her birth: “I’ll never know what his voice sounded like.” She has a vision of a sort of huge golem that haunted her as a girl: “He speaks with all the gone voices.”

Books, libraries, writers, words — these are all Smith’s subjects. She tells us of the astonishingly common English words that were invented by John Milton. She tells us the original meaning of familiar words (“cheer” once meant “face”). She seldom fashions a good story in the usual sense; instead she gives us nosegays of associations, but these flowers have burrs. They stick in the imagination.

Unhappy romances (between women) are frequently the so-called back story. One woman wants to tell the other about her dream, but her partner doesn’t want to hear it. She accuses the narrator of playing stupid. There’s a lot about Dusty Springfield showing up in the unconscious.

These stories may be shattered or partial or half-buried, but the grateful reader does recognize that, unlike the more severely erased plots in some of Smith’s previous work, they contain the visible outlines of real and intriguing stories.

Edmund White’s most recent book is a novel, “Our Young Man.”

 

 

Inspiring books for the upcoming holiday season

Inspiring Books to help bolster a feeling of wonder when in comes to the power of humanity and to help prepare our outlook for the coming holiday season.

The following list is from the Buzzfeed.com “31 Books that will restore you faith in humanity.”   Buzzfeed.com

Wonder by R.J. Palaciowonder

One incredibly moving aspect of this book is its message on kindness. Through the eyes of August Pullman, we see what it’s like to be on the receiving end of dirty looks, terrified stares, and ugly words. Because it’s told from multiple points of view, we also get the chance to tap into the mind of a bully, a friend, and a loved one during these events. The ending of this book and the way the characters dealt with these situations is what restored my faith in humanity. We can ALWAYS choose kindness.

malala I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

 

You must, must, must, must , MUST read this book! Malala’s story is as unbelievable as it is inspirational: She survived a point-blank gunshot to the head, continued in her fight for girls’ right to education around the world, and, at the age of 17, became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is an unstoppable force for good and this book allows us all to learn from her incredible wisdom.

 Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kiddermountains

Whenever a friend is a little lost, or trying to figure out what to do with their life, I send them Mountains Beyond Mountains, the incredible story of Dr. Paul Farmer. His ambition? Attempting to cure the entire world of disease, one patient at a time, starting in the poorest towns in one of the poorest countries in the world, Haiti. Here’s proof that we can all dream a little bigger — there’s no challenge too great.

heartbreakingA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

The moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother.”

When I read this, I had no idea what I was getting into — it was so much more than it seemed from the start (make sure you read everything, even the ISBN/Library page small print) and frequently left me in tears.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backmanove

This book is infuriatingly heartwarming andcharming and loveable! It’s about a total grump named Ove who is an old, mean, loner. He has nothing to live for besides policing his neighbors and arguing with strangers until he meets a young family that needs his help. He takes it upon himself to help this young family and becomes the most sweet and loyal friend to them and others who need him. Such a gem of a book!

This week’s recommended books from the New York Times

The New York Times New Books Recommended This Week (Nov 10, 2016)

nyt-book-review

Sometimes looking at ALL the books on the NY Times bestseller lists is overwhelming and just a bit too time consuming for the start of your week.  In each Book Review there is a recommendation list you can use to simplify your search for some new books to put on your “TO READ” list.

attention-merchants

THE ATTENTION MERCHANTS: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, by Tim Wu. (Knopf, $28.95.) The history of the slow, steady annexation of our attention — whether by television commercials or war propaganda or tweets — is the subject of this expertly synthesized survey by Tim Wu, the star professor at Columbia Law School who coined the term “net neutrality.” The critic Jennifer Senior especially loved the book’s ending, which is “written so rousingly that it just may make you reconsider your priorities.” Delete your accounts.

ROGUE HEROES: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit rogue-heroesThat Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War, by Ben Macintyre. (Crown, $28.) Nobody tells a true-life spy story with as much excitement and style as Ben Macintyre. Dig into his latest, an entertaining history of the S.A.S. from its North African desert origins, to watch the good guys outwit the Nazis.

CITY OF DREAMS: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York, by Tyler Anbinder. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35.) “Immigrants, we get the job done” is one of the many lines from the musical “Hamilton” that so many of us have had stuck in our heads this past year. (It’s from the song “Yorktown [The World Turned Upside Down],” for those who don’t know.) Anbinder’s history tells the much broader story, offering a richly textured guide to the past of the nation’s chief immigrant city.

the-man-who-knewTHE MAN WHO KNEW: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan, by Sebastian Mallaby. (Penguin Press, $40.) This thoughtful and provocative biography says Greenspan knew the dangers of financial success. Why then, Sebastian Mallaby asks, didn’t he put on the brakes? A thorough account of the former Fed chairman’s rise depicts him as political to a fault.

THE WORD DETECTIVE: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English the-word-detectiveDictionary, by John Simpson. (Basic Books, $27.99.) From a former chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, a charmingly frank account of a 35-year career dedicated to lexicography.

american-philosophyAMERICAN PHILOSOPHY: A Love Story, by John Kaag. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) In this book, John Kaag, a philosophy professor, discovers a hidden library that changes his life. What follows is a spirited lover’s quarrel with the individualism in our national thought.

THE MOTHERS, by Brit Bennett. (Riverhead, $26.) the-mothersBrit Bennett marks herself as a young writer to watch in her much-buzzed-about (and already best-selling) debut. In this complex, ferociously moving novel, three young people come of age in a black community in Southern California.

the-mortificationsTHE MORTIFICATIONS, by Derek Palacio. (Tim Duggan, $27.) This sweeping debut novel, full of literary allusions, follows a Cuban family’s journey to America and back.

RICH AND PRETTY, by Rumaan Alam. rich-and-pretty(Ecco/HarperCollins, $25.99.) Two friends — one getting married, the other the maid of honor: It’s a familiar premise, but in this astute debut novel, the characters and situation feel fresh and three-dimensional.

 

Interested in Feminism?

There is a lot of information (and misinformation) swirling around about what feminism is and isn’t, where did it come from and what does it call for. What is “First Wave” feminism vs “third wave” feminism, and who are some feminist authors writing academically and in fiction form?

I’ve selected a few titles from this very comprehensive BookRiot list of “100 Must-Read Feminist Books” which I hope helps you explore a little deeper where this important movement comes from, where it is going, and what it means to different women, and authors. This is a subjective list, there are many other titles, fiction and nonfiction, and many other schools of feminism out there. Go forth and explore!

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Books becoming Films in 2017

Read them before the film versions are released! Below are a few books being made into movies, to be released in 2017. Read the entire list here and here.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger

“Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters, The Dark Tower series is King’s most visionary feat of storytelling, a magical mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that may well be his crowning achievement. In The Gunslinger (originally published in 1982), King introduces his most enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting, solitary figure at first, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland is a good man who seems to leave nothing but death in his wake.” ~GoodReads

 

   The Long Home                                 Splinter Cell                                                A Wrinkle in Time
                                    

 

The Bell Jar

“Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity.  Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.”~GoodReads

 

   Lost in the Jungle                        All the Bright Places                               The Lost City of Z
            

Ready Player One

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.“~ GoodReads

 

        Live By Night                                        Wonder                                         The Death Cure
                                    

 

 

 

What I Read This Summer

Every year, our book club takes a break for the busy summer months and reconvenes in early September. This meeting is dedicated to our dozen or so members’ summer reading lists. As a Readers’ Advisory librarian, this is my favorite meeting of the year! I come home with a long list of books recommended (or NOT recommended) by a wide variety of readers.

I submit my summer reading list below, followed by the others in the book group and a few from the SWHPL staff.

Limber by Angela Pelster
Poetic essays on life as told through trees. Some are analogies, some are literal, historical, human, emotional. From the story of Indian yellow pigment and mangoes, to a tree that owns itself, this collection is juicy and gorgeous and deeply philosophical. I look forward to reading more from her. ~Lisa

“Angela Pelster’s startling essay collection charts the world’s history through its trees: through roots in the ground, rings across wood, and inevitable decay. These sharp and tender essays move from her childhood in rural Canada surrounded by skinny poplar trees in her backyard to a desert in Niger, where the “Loneliest Tree in the World” once grew. A squirrel’s decomposing body below a towering maple prompts a discussion of the science of rot, as well as a metaphor for the ways in which nature programs us to consume ourselves. Beautiful, deeply thoughtful, and wholly original, Limber valiantly asks what it means to sustain life on this planet we’ve inherited.” ~Goodreads

 

How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball
14 and teetering on the edge of everything (poverty, sexuality, failure, enlightenment, trouble, ideology), Lucia is a brilliant observer and thinker. She is searching and experimenting, but her actions, and non actions, are deliberate and controlled, or she’d like you to think. My only complaint is I wish it were much longer because I wanted to spend more time with this complicated young woman. ~Lisa

“Lucia’s father is dead; her mother is in a mental institute; she’s living in a garage-turned-bedroom with her aunt. And now she’s been kicked out of school—again. Making her way through the world with only a book, a zippo lighter, a pocket full of stolen licorice, a biting wit, and striking intelligence she tries to hide, she spends her days riding the bus to visit her mother and following the only rule that makes any sense to her: Don’t do things you aren’t proud of. But when she discovers that her new school has a secret Arson Club, she’s willing to do anything to be a part of it, and her life is suddenly lit up. And as her fascination with the Arson Club grows, her story becomes one of misguided friendship and, ultimately, destruction.” ~GoodReads

 

Barkskins by Annie Proulx
Annie Proulx is one of my favorite authors for her intensely researched topics and skillfully written characters, often focusing on the darker sides of human nature (Postcards might be one of my favorite books), and her newest offering does not disappoint. Do not be intimidated by it’s heft; the 700 pages are immersive and engaging, exposing a Maine and Nova Scotia I knew little about culturally or economically. The first 3/4 of the book were the most interesting to me, but Proulx was able to do a good job bringing the modern day challenges back full circle to the late 1600’s.~Lisa

“In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur,” for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters—barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years—their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions—the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.

Proulx’s inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid—in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope—that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable and compelling American writers, and Barkskins is her greatest novel, a magnificent marriage of history and imagination.” ~GoodReads

 

Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III
Linked novellas explore the nature of people seeking gratification while they attempt to dispel loneliness. Painful to read at times, watching all too familiar personalities slowly spiral downward as a result of their own selfish yearning, I had to put this one down a few times, despite its skilled writing. Dubus is not one of my favorite authors, but he was able to avoid his heavy contrived characters for the most part. By linking the novellas Dubus creates a sense of a small Massachusetts seaside town and the area where most of these stories take place, and place plays as much a role in these stories as the characters. ~Lisa

                 
“In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.

In these linked novellas in which characters walk out the back door of one story and into the next, love is “dirty”—tangled up with need, power, boredom, ego, fear, and fantasy. On the Massachusetts coast north of Boston, a controlling manager, Mark, discovers his wife’s infidelity after twenty-five years of marriage. An overweight young woman, Marla, gains a romantic partner but loses her innocence. A philandering bartender/aspiring poet, Robert, betrays his pregnant wife. And in the stunning title novella, a teenage girl named Devon, fleeing a dirty image of her posted online, seeks respect in the eyes of her widowed great-uncle Francis and of an Iraq vet she’s met surfing the Web.

Slivered by happiness and discontent, aging and death, but also persistent hope and forgiveness, these beautifully wrought narratives express extraordinary tenderness toward human beings, our vulnerable hearts and bodies, our fulfilling and unfulfilling lives alone and with others.”~GoodReads

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Book Club Reads

Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets
” The POV switches back and forth between a woman who gets lost in the woods while hunting, and the lady ranger who is out searching for her. It’s frickin’ awesome!”

Confederates in the attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz

Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot 
Stiff, Bonk, Gulp (3 separate books) by Mary Roach
Love is a Mixed Tape by Rob Sheffield
 


Hillary’s Summer Reads
Jill Mansell, British fiction, mixed family challenges
Abridged version of Princess Bride by William Goldman
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

 

 

Kate McM’s Summer Reads

The Electors by Roy Neel, not great writing, but interesting hypothetical about “faithless electors”

Kate Braestrup’s Anchors and Flares, and Here if you need me, Chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, i.e. comforting families of missing people and giving death notices – see Ted X talk.

John Palfrey and Urs Gasser’s Updated Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in the Digital Age, Palfrey also wrote Bibliotech: Why libraries matter more in the age of google

Naomi Novik, Temeraire series, Napoleonic wars w dragons – FUN! And Wonder by RJ Palacio

Kate S’ Reads

Klansville USA: The rise and fall of the civil rights-era Klu Klux Klan 1965, North Carolina largest kkk population, policies attracting business

Amanda’s Reads
Harry Potter And the cursed child by  JK Rowling.
Trumpet of the Swan by EB White
Some Writer! The Story of EB White by Melissa Sweet

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo -other great books by DiCamillo include  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and Because of Windixie

The Edge by Roland Smith, the sequel to Peak
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Don Fendler
Lost Trail, a graphic novel version of Fendler’s by Lynn Plourde illustrated by Ben Bishop
Recommendations: anything by Gary Paulson, Graham Salisbury’s Night of the Howling Dogs

 

 

Juba by Walter Dean Meyers

The Points of my Compass, EB White

Nevada Barr’s new book, Boar Island, has a national park ranger protagonist and is set in Acadia

Listened to Circling the Sun by Paula McLean (fictionalized life of Beryl Markham)

Carrie’s reads
March by Geraldine Brooks,  loved it
Winter girls,  rough, eating disorders
Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen, first book good, second graphic domestic violence
Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, ghost story with a messed up family

 

 

 

Raney’s reads

The Argonauts recommend by Hilary, goooood

Christopher Moore’s books The Serpent of Venice, Dirty Job, also wrote Lamb and Fluke

Shelled and Shucked (The Rachael O’Brien Chronicles #3), by Paisley Ray series mysteries, 80s college

The Daughter of Union County by Francine Thomas Howard

The Hotel on Place Vendome by Tiler Mazzeo author of The Widow Cliquot
The Kingmakers Daughter and the Taming of the Queen by Philippe Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl.
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

 

 

 

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STAFF READS

Janet

Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith
I found it a delightfully uplifting book of stories describing unusual ways in which relationships can unfold into life changing loves.  It does not quite feel like reading short stories, although that is what it is, but instead it feels like you are taking a glimpse into private relationships in a way which is not intrusive but merely out of interest.  Each story comes from a photograph.  You look at the photograph and imagine what the story will be about and then you are pleasantly surprised by the author’s creativity in working backwards from the photograph to examine the relationship which resulted in the chance meeting.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
A non-fiction exploration of loss and love, power and discipline, and a look back into the life of T.H. White (The Once and Future King author).  This author re-examines her own childhood and her relationship with her recently deceased father through her passion of practicing falconry in England.  She draws parallels with the life and experiences of T.H. White who also took up falconry during his day.  It is a fascinating, if at times a bit too detailed, examination into how we all experience loss and grieve and how our passions (work, hobby, art, etc.) can help us along in the process.

 

Vesta

The Republic of Imagination, by Azar Nafisi

This is a thoughtful, engaging look at contemporary American culture through some of America’s classic authors. Nafisi became an American citizen while she was working on this book. In it, she turns her clear critical eye toward life in America, contrasting our experience with living in freedom to her experience of living under tyranny in Iran. I found this a very timely book for our current political turmoil. ~Vesta

Ten years ago, Azar Nafisi electrified readers with her million-copy bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran, which told the story of how, against the backdrop of morality squads and executions, she taught The Great Gatsby and other classics to her eager students in Iran. In this exhilarating followup, Nafisi has written the book her fans have been waiting for: an impassioned, beguiling and utterly original tribute to the vital importance of fiction in a democratic society. What Reading Lolita in Tehran was for Iran, The Republic of Imagination is for America.

Taking her cue from a challenge thrown to her in Seattle, where a skeptical reader told her that Americans don’t care about books the way they did back in Iran, she challenges those who say fiction has nothing to teach us. Blending memoir and polemic with close readings of her favorite American novels—from Huckleberry Finn to The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter—she invites us to join her as citizens of her “Republic of Imagination,” a country where the villains are conformity and orthodoxy, and the only passport to entry is a free mind and a willingness to dream.”~Goodreads

 

Mary Anne

When We Were the Kennedys by Monica Wood

1963, Mexico, Maine. The Wood family is much like its close, Catholic, immigrant neighbors, all dependent on a father’s wages from the Oxford Paper Company. Until the sudden death of Dad, when Mum and the four closely connected Wood girls are set adrift. Funny and to-the-bone moving, When We Were the Kennedys is the story of how this family saves itself, at first by depending on Father Bob, Mum’s youngest brother, a charismatic Catholic priest who feels his new responsibilities deeply. And then, as the nation is shocked by the loss of its handsome Catholic president, the televised grace of Jackie Kennedy—she too a Catholic widow with young children—galvanizes Mum to set off on an unprecedented family road trip to Washington, D.C., to do some rescuing of her own. An indelible story of how family and nation, each shocked by the unimaginable, exchange one identity for another.~GoodReads

 

Candy

Don’t Look Back by Gregg Hurwitz

It’s not his newest, which was also good. It is not the best written book but I have ever read but it sure is fun! If you want a thriller that will make your heart beat on every page, this is the book for you.

In Don’t Look Back, Eve Hardaway, newly single mother of one, is on a trip she’s long dreamed of—a rafting and hiking tour through the jungles and mountains of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. Eve wanders off the trail, to a house in the distance with a menacing man in the yard beyond it, throwing machetes at a human-shaped target. Disturbed by the sight, Eve moves quickly and quietly back to her group, taking care to avoid being seen. As she creeps along, she finds a broken digital camera, marked with the name Teresa Hamilton. Later that night, in a rarely used tourist cabin, she finds a discarded prescription bottle—also with the name Teresa Hamilton. From the camera’s memory card, Eve discovers Teresa Hamilton took a photo of that same menacing looking man in the woods. Teresa Hamilton has since disappeared.

Now the man in the woods is after whoever was snooping around his house. With a violent past and deadly mission, he will do anything to avoid being discovered. A major storm wipes out the roads and all communication with the outside world. Now the tour group is trapped in the jungle with a dangerous predator with a secret to protect. With her only resource her determination to live, Eve must fight a dangerous foe and survive against incredible odds—if she’s to make it back home alive.~GoodReads

 

KateHis Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, #1)

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik (Temeraire Book #1)

So much fun! Napoleonic wars with DRAGONS! Very authentic historic voice (not that I really know how folks sounded then, but can easily picture Russell Crowe as the gallant captain). There are 9 books in the series and I am on #4. They are holding up very well, and thoroughly satisfied my escapism during both sailing trips this summer! Also, I would like to read her 2015 novel Uprooted, not a Temeraire book, that has received good reviews.

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.”~GoodReads

 

Susan

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

My favorite book of the summer or maybe even the year. A story about a “bad boy” abandoned, abused and a father. At 14 he is in foster care and has a daughter he has never seen. The telling is spare and powerful in the voice of the foster brother. As the two boys slowly bond we learn of Joseph’s abusive father and that his deepest wish us to see his daughter, Jupiter. She was named by her young mother for the planet Jupiter which Joseph always pointed out in the night sky. the story is heartbreaking but the spirit in this abused child shines bright and reveals the heart of a warrior, a savior, a father. Realistically things do not work in Joseph’s favor but the heartbreak is tempered by the inspiration gained by a child labeled “bad.”

 

Most popular digital materials

We hope you use your library card to access free audiobooks, ebooks and music online. To learn about these services go here for Overdrive digital books and audio, or here for Freegal music downloads.

Below are the digital titles with the most checkouts and downloads this summer.

eBooks

A Murder in Time: A Novel
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
Hunter’s Moon
Queen of Shadows
The Girl on the Train: A Novel
City of Heavenly Fire
You and Everything After
Brush with Death
The Bat: Harry Hole Series
Silken Prey: Prey Series

 

Audiobooks

Dealing with Dragons: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
The Salmon of Doubt
The Venetian Betrayal
That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
The Goldfinch
Tell the Wolves I’m Home: A Novel
Circling the Sun: A Novel
The Crossing
The Long Way Home
Up From the Grave

 

Freegal Music, Most Downloaded Songs of the Summer
Adele: Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
Adele: Hello
Adele: I Miss You
Johnny Cash:   A Boy Named Sue
Bill Withers:  Ain’t No Sunshine
The Doobie Brothers:   China Grove
The Vaccines:    Do You Want a Man?


Tony Bennett with Ray Charles:   Evenin’
Van Morrison & Mark Knopfler:  Irish Heartbeat
The Clash:  Somebody Got Murdered
The Clash:  The Magnificent Seven
The Clash:  Train in Vain
Bryan Adams:  Straight from the Heart
Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps:  You Promised Me

Maine’s Most Wanted

What do Mainer’s want in August (aside from a quiet place away from the crowds to enjoy the fleeting beauty that is summer in Maine?) From libraries they want books and DVDs, music CDs and graphic novels. Below is a list of the top holds in a variety of categories, so get your name on the list soon!

Books
1)      Widowmaker (Doiron)
2)      A Great Reckoning (Penny) *
3)      The Black Widow (Silva)
4)      Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Thorne/Rowling)
5)      Truly Madly Guiltly (Moriarty)
6)      A Man Called Ove (Koch)
7)      Before the Fall (Hawley)
8)      Here’s to Us (Hilderbrand)
9)      Barkskins (Proulx)
10)   Bullseye (Patterson)
11)   Crisis of Character (Byrne)
12)   Sweet Tomorrows (Macomber)
13)   Insidious (Coulter) *
14)   Smoother Operator (Woods)
15)   Heroes of the Frontier (Eggers)
16)   White Trash (Isenberg)
17)   Belgravia (Fellowes)
18)   Wired (Garwood) *
19)   Apprentice in Death (Robb) *
20)   Curious Minds (Evanovich) *

 

Audiobook
1)      Before the Fall (Hawley)
2)      Barkskins (Proulx)
3)      Lilac Girls (Kelly)
4)      The Black Widow (Silva)
5)      Truly Madly Guiltily (Moriarty)
6)      Alexander Hamilton (Chernow)
7)      Among the Wicked (Castillo)
8)      A Great Reckoning (Penny)
9)      Sapiens (Harari)
10)   Alexander Hamilton (Chernow)

 

Graphic Novels
1)      Monstress Volume 1
2)      The Vision 1
3)      Deadpool  Collection 1
4)      Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 1
5)      Black Panther Collection 1
6)      Bombshells vol 2
7)      Marvel Zombies Dead Days
8)      My Little Pony Friends Forever
9)      Preacher 7
10)   LEGO Ninjago, masters of Spinjitzu

DVD
1)      Zootopia
2)      My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
3)      Hello, My Name is Doris
4)      Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
5)      Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
6)      London Has Fallen
7)      Miracles from Heaven
8)      Allegiant
9)      Gods of Egypt
10)   Triple 9

 

TV Series
1)      House of Cards: Season 4
2)      Vera: Set 6
3)      Rizzoli & Isles: Season 6
4)      Shameless: Season 5
5)      DCI Banks: Season 4
6)      Lost Girls: The Final Chapters
7)      The Magicians: Season 1
8)      Father Brown: Season 3, Part 2
9)      Janet King: Series 1
10)   Haven: The Final Season

 

Music CDs
1)      The Getaway (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
2)      Johannesburg (Mumford & Sons)
3)      I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (The 1975)
4)      A Moon Shaped Pool (Radiohoead)
5)      Muscle Shoals soundtrack

Summer Reading is Here!

Is it finally summer? From the looks of the lists I keep coming across it is certainly time to start considering your summer reading line-up. Be it beachy fluff, travel tales or an indepth nonfiction, summer reading just seems to have a different feel than other seasons. Here are some staff suggestions as well as links to a wide variety of reading lists. As always, please share your suggestions with us!

 

Lisa Murray

 

I just started in on Neil Gaiman’s “The View from the Cheap Seats.” I am a serious Gaiman fan but not wild about essays, but this has proven to be quite good so far. The book compiles 60 of his essays, forwards and other writings into one huge volume. It feels very intimate and genuine to me so far, and I look forward to learning more about Gaiman and his world. It doesn’t need to be read in order, which is perfect for my sporadic and somewhat hectic summer schedule.

 

 

I am most excited about reading Annie Proulx’s latest, “Barkskins,” about the decimation of the world’s forests. Ranging over 300 years it exposes the deforestation of not only the United States but the world, through the stories of two brothers and their generations of descendants. Proulx’s “Postcards” and “Accordion Crimes” are two of my favorites of hers and her ability to meld history and personal story with an object, issue or social phenomena is unsurpassed. The reviews for “Barkskins” have been phenomenal and I can’t wait for it to be available at the library!

 

Vesta Kowalski

“The Truth According to Us,” by Annie Barrows. Another witty and heart-warming read from the author of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” Anyone who has ever lived in a small town will identify with the characters and the situations.

 

 

“The Year of the Runaways,” by Sunjeev Sahota. Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Details the lives of four very different young people with different problems who try to make a better life in England than is possible for them in India. I particularly enjoyed learning about many aspects of Indian culture through very fine storytelling.

 

 

More Summer Reading Lists…

Publisher’s Weekly

Redbook

Chicago Tribune

Real Simple

 

NoveList’s Best of 2015

The Library’s new display featuring some of NoveList’s best books of 2015. Titles include:

Fantasy:The Mechanical” “The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Thriller/Suspense: “Little Black Lies” “The Killing Lessons
Science Fiction:Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits“, “The Water Knife
Fiction:Black River” “Undermajordomo Minor
Historical Fiction:Saint Mazie” “Cleopatra’s Shadows
Horror:The Damned” “A Head Full of Ghosts
Mystery:Badlands” “The Nature of the Beast

Bestof15