You Are What You Read!

This week we have a trilogy, a twerp, a love story times 2, another love story, the royal yacht, a Degas (or is it!?), some science and faith and some blues, and some nostalgia. 

Let us begin!

John is ready for the next installment! “I've finally gotten around to starting The Twelve the second installment of Cronin's hit Passage trilogy.  If you haven't read The Passage, I highly recommend it.  It's a blast and Cronin knows how to entertain.  These are long books, but he brings the reader up to cruising speed quickly and before you know it, you're completely absorbed in the story.  He's a great writer, though this installment is not quite as strong as The Passage.  But if you're like me, you finished the first book and were dying to move on to the next.”

Alison our Numbers Woman is reading Wanted Man by Lee Childs and is perplexed by some forthcoming cinematic casting. “This is the new Reacher book and it’s getting better.  I can’t believe that Tom Cruise was cast to play Reacher in the movie. Reacher is a big guy at about 6’4’. Cruise is a little 5’6” twerp.”

Gretchen is reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. “I didn’t want to read this book, I generally shy away from cancer stories, but it is a book being considered for our OBOC as well as a possible Printz contender so I figured it was high time I cracked that spine. I am about halfway through and really enjoying it. Hazel is suffering from cancer and meets Augustus (Gus) who also has cancer. They are perfectly suited in wit and intelligence and though their individual tastes certainly vary from literary novels and violent video games – they fall in love. Cancer stories could be sappy, emotional tales, but Hazel and Gus face the world with an honesty and wit that is refreshing to read. The Fault in Our Stars is a glimpse into what life as a teen with cancer is like and a way to celebrate life as it is, ‘Living our best life today!’”

And here is Stephanie’s take on the same book. “This week I jumped on the bandwagon and finally read The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. This YA novel is an unwinding love story between protagonist Hazel and a boy she meets named Augustus. Which is where a lot of YA novels start, but this one has an extra urgency—Hazel has terminal cancer, and she meets Augustus, a survivor of osteosarcoma, at Cancer Kid Support Group. No surprise, I cried like a baby through a lot of this book (and many thanks to the lady across from me on the train, who politely ignored the tears dripping down my face), but it’s not a sappy tearjerker. It’s smart, thoughtful, and genuine. I think even adults who don’t normally read YA would enjoy it. In fact, if you’ve been thinking about trying a YA book, this might be a good one to start with. But it’s also a sterling example of what YA books can do for teens, and I know teens love it, just based on some of the outpouring of writing and art I’ve seen related to this book online. So it would be a great read for teens as well, and maybe even a good holiday gift for the teen in your life (just double-check they haven’t read it yet, since this book has been on bestseller lists all year).”

Miss Kiera has just revisited something I consider to be a masterwork. “I just reread The Great Gatsby for the first time since high school. The movie is coming out this spring and I wanted to refresh my memory before having Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DeCaprio completely obliterate my own imaginings of Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby. I had forgotten how much I love Fitzgerald's writing. Despite how awful and self-involved almost every single character is throughout the story, you nevertheless fall in love with these flawed, melodramatic people. Fitzgerald's lush descriptions of New York in the 1920's (lights twinkling on Long Island Sound, raucous dance parties dripping with diamonds and champagne thrown in Gatsby's immense garden, Daisy's fabulous, flowing silk gowns... ah!) bring you immediately to the time period. I also rewatched the 1974 film starring Mia Farrow (as Daisy Buchanan) and the delicious Robert Redford (as Gatsby.) Whether the remake will live up to the sumptuous set design and costumes that won the 1974 film two Oscars remains to be seen.” 

Miss Elisabeth has just started Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, by William Kuhn. “I'm only about 30 pages in but so far am finding it delightful. Miss Marian recommended it to me, and she hasn't given me a title that I've disliked yet! In this book, Queen Elizabeth II is feeling rather discouraged by the rigors of modern life and the rapidly changing world she finds herself a part of. One day, she decides to take herself on holiday to visit the formal royal yacht. She leaves without telling anyone and is accompanied only by some loyal servants who happened to see her leave and followed her. There's a great Upstairs-Downstairs, Downton Abbey-esque feel to the story, and I love the British monarchy!”

Poor Ann.  Superstorm Sandy is still an intrusion into her world of sunshine, rainbows and unicorns.  Here is what she has to report.  “Sadly to say with the holidays coming and contractors in and out of the house, (from the tree damage), I have only been able to finish Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  This is at first look a light read and fun book but then you realize Bernadette is going through a difficult time.  She has a daughter, Bee, who is her main support and the one who believes in her mother coming back home.  It is also the story of competitive parents, Microsoft and people in general who we can all recognize in our daily lives.  This book made me smile.”  And honestly isn’t that all we can ask for in times of stress and strife?  Ann we wish some normality for you soon!

Barbara M. Not in France.  Not a Nazi in sight.  Discuss.”I’m reading The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro, a novel loosely based on the theft in 1990 of thirteen works of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Claire Roth, an artist, supports herself by copying famous paintings for Reproductions.com. When gallery owner Aiden Markal asks her to make a copy of a stolen Degas in return for a show at his gallery Claire faces a difficult decision. The writing is good but not extraordinary and the plot takes many twists but what makes this book really interesting for me is the information about art forgery.”

Jeanne is, no surprise, doing two things at once.  “I am making my way slowly through Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver's latest novel of human frailties and foibles. Slowly because for me, anyway, Kingsolver's writing is always beautiful but very dense. Kind of like the roosts of monarch butterflies in this story of man vs. environment and man vs. man. And like the monarchs, Dellarobia Turnbow, the young mother who lives with her family and her husband's family on a farm in rural Appalachia, longs to spread her wings. There's usually the element of teaching from this author and I am enjoying the tests of science and faith as well as the exposure of public opinion as (mis)reported by the media.  I also just finished listening to Laura Lippman's Baltimore Blues: The First Tess Monaghan Novel on audio. Lippman was a reporter for twenty years at the Baltimore Sun and she weaves a great tale of murder, mystery, law and journalism. And of course there is sex (not too much), deceit (plenty) and money (whose?) throughout. Tess Monaghan, our heroine, is an unemployed former reporter who a) wants to be employed, b) wants to find her friend's killer and c) gets up at 5:00 in the morning to do her rowing workouts on the Patapsco River. This is a great story to listen to in the car as you make your way through your week.”

Pat T. is feeling festive! “'Tis the season and I like Pete Hamill, so I picked up his latest book titled The Christmas Kid  which is a collection of short stories first published in the Daily News in the 1980's. Anyone who hails from Brooklyn will enjoy this collection  of stories because they capture a period of time when Brooklyn was a borough filled with lower middle class homes where the immigrants from Italy, Ireland and Eastern Europeans settled with their families. The stories are nostalgic and poignant!”

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new this week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

This week we have a Jinxy McDeath sighting, some war, some predicions, an island, the Queen(!), an adventure, a geeky mom in a hurry and some families!

Let us begin!

Miss Elisabeth of the CL is reading a most decidedly un-childlike book and one of my personal favorites! “I’m re-reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. I picked it up again after I saw Lincoln, the movie. The book is hysterically funny but also a really in-depth look at the people who murdered (and tried to murder) presidents of the United States. I loved this book the first time I read it and gave it as presents to everyone I knew for several years. The author goes on a series of road-trip pilgrimages to the museums, former homes, and sites of Presidents and their assassins and would-be assassins. She calls Robert Todd Lincoln “Jinxy McDeath” because he was present at the assassinations of 3 out of our 4 slain presidents.

John has just started The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.  “This book has been heralded as the Iraq War's The Things They Carried.  My first impression is that the writing is superb and I already care deeply about the two main characters--and I'm only 30 or 40 pages in. I formed very high expectations for this short novel as soon as I read the exquisite opening paragraph: ‘While we slept, the war rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer. When we pressed onward through exhaustion, its eyes were white and open in the dark. While we ate, the war fasted, fed by its own deprivation. It made love and gave birth and spread through fire.’"

Stephanie is working her way through The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver. “I’ve been curious about this book since I heard about it, but had to put it on hold after his predictions for the 2012 elections were almost perfect. And what I’ve found is that rarest of birds in the non-fiction arena: an expert who is willing to admit what he doesn’t know. In fact, as he amply demonstrates, one of the biggest problems the world of predictions has is experts who think they know too much. From baseball to weather to the economy, Silver is precise and thoughtful in his examinations of what we know, what we think we know, and what we still have to learn. He’s good not only at discussing the practical, on-the-ground application of predictions, and how they are used in our daily lives, but also at explaining the hard math in a way that makes sense to this sad mathphobic librarian who had to take a class on Excel to escape her math class requirement in college. Those familiar with Silver’s blog will find this to be a great extension of the thorough, complex work he does regularly already. Those new to his work will be delighted to find at least one person in the media world who is more interested what the facts really say rather than what he wants them to. “

Pat T. just finished reading Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. “I enjoyed this good, but sad book. A couple living on a remote island off the coast of Australia made a moral decision that had life altering consequences for all involved.”

Miss Marion lets us all in on one of her obsessions!  “A book for Anglophiles (like me), Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn imagines what happens if Queen Elizabeth took a day off.  The Queen is starting to feel her age.  Times are changing, the Prime Minister is taking away the royal train, and although Prince Edward set her up with a Twitter account, its way over Lillibet’s (the nickname she calls herself) head and she’s feeling nostalgic for the simpler times of her childhood.  Her spontaneous decision to take a quick trip to the cheese shop for a treat for one of her horses turns into a bigger adventure for her, and potential disaster for her personal staff.  Told from multiple points of view, the Queen, her dresser, a lady-in-waiting, the cheese shop worker, this story is both fantastical and very plausible.  The characters are so well-written, they could be real people.  It’s a great holiday read.”

Ann steps out of her comfort zone this week with Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. “I am just in the middle of this fun quirky book.  It is definitely a different type of book for me and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  Bernadette is a married mom of a fifteen year old girl, Bee.  She was a world famous architect who has moved to Seattle and left her career to become a full time mom.  She has great difficulty handling her day to day life and has an assistant who lives in India who keeps her life in order.   Life will get too stressful for Bernadette and she will disappear.  This story is told from Bee's point of view, e-mails of her mom's she discovers and some other creative writing techniques by the author.  So far  this is an adventure to take.”

Gretchen is like working moms everywhere!  She is in a hurry so step aside! “I have something but no time to write big description. Read Geek Mom  which is filled with cool activities and support for moms like me with geek tendencies. Easy read, authors are bloggers for Wired magazine.  I also just picked up Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker. I'm a HUGE fan of her Clementine books and based on recommendation of other children's librarians can't wait to read this as well.”

Abby is devouring Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon.  “The book explores families that include children who are not copies of their parents. So far I have read the chapters dealing with deaf children of both hearing parents and deaf parents, dwarfism, Down Syndrome, and am mid-chapter on autism.  Some of the topics have taken me back to my days as a manager of group homes for developmentally disabled adults so it has been interesting to re-visit some of the clients and families I experienced back when I worked in that field. I must say, I found the chapter on Deaf culture especially fascinating. I have the highlight feature on my e-reader working overtime on this one.  This is a really staggering, fantastic book.

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new this week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

This week we have some back hair, the need for a restraining order, some quirk, hallucinations, horses, and a language I don’t even pretend to understand.

Let us begin!

Amanda is listening to Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson.  “The narrator awakes in an unfamiliar room. She discovers that next to her is a strange, older man with graying hair and back hair. She cringes and looking around realizes that she must have left the bar with a married man. Out into the hallway she creeps onward to the bathroom. Then she reaches for the bar of soap and notices that something is amiss – the skin on her hand is wrinkled. This can’t be! She’s only in her early twenties! Christine Lucas suffers amnesia brought on by an accident. Each day she wakes up with no recollection of the previous day or of the past 20 some years.   Christine’s life is seemingly straightforward with her mind erasing what she does each day. However, as Christine works with a doctor behind her devoted and doting husband’s back, she realizes that it is her husband she should be wary of. He’s lying to her – but to cover up what?”

Erin is listening to Tiny Beautiful Things as a book on CD. “If Cheryl Strayed knew how much I love her, she would issue me a restraining order. I have already read the paperback of this book but I picked up the audio because it’s read by the author. Audiobooks that are narrated by the author just can’t be beat in my opinion. It’s a collection of advice columns originally published on The Rumpus, a website for literary people. It’s different from your typical advice column though because it includes the author’s own experiences. Cheryl Strayed has had a messed up life! But she’ll make you feel good about yours. I think this would make a really nice gift for the holidays, especially for that person on your list who is going through a life transition. “

Gretchen who is somewhere in America in a car on an Interstate is, “listening to and LOVING Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. Read by the author, it has us laughing out loud in the car! This is a memoir recounting his life as a stand-up comic and is interwoven with personal stories of family and relationships. It is seriously quirky, seriously funny, seriously Steve Martin!”


Barbara M. is reading Oliver Sack’s latest book, Hallucinations.  “He explores different kinds of hallucinations both auditory and visual and not necessarily those caused by psychosis. As is usual in Sack’s books, the subject is fascinating and the scientific writing accessible. “ I am sure that Barbara wishes she could summon a Paris hallucination.


Stephanie has just wrapped up Blood Horses by John Jeremiah Sullivan.  “Here is a book that combines the quick pleasures of the magazine with the book-length that justifies a hardcover. Blood Horses reads like a very long magazine article, and I mean that as the highest compliment. It could have kept going for another 100 pages and I wouldn’t have complained, though I doubt Sullivan would have wanted that. Its pacing is about as perfect as I have ever experienced in non-fiction. It was actually relaxing!  It was like a savasana pose, but reading. Sullivan is focused on a few core ideas but keeps wandering away from them and circling back; the circles get bigger, and weirder, but are always on their way back to horses, or Sullivan’s father, or Kentucky, or a combination of the three. My admiration of his curiosity and research borders on idolatrous. It was just joyful to read this book, even though it is not necessarily a happy one. The last twenty pages or so left me stunned.”


John is about a quarter of the way into Alif the Unseen and his geek is showing. “This is an interesting debut novel about Alif (screen name "A1if") a young computer hacker in the Middle East whose true love is betrothed to someone else.  Using his uncanny skills as a programmer, he is able to make himself invisible to her on the internet by using some kind of baysian algorithm (they don't call it that, but that's essentially what's described).  In the process, he triggers a series of unusual events and brings down the harsh hand of censorship.  Wilson is an American author who converted to Islam and it's clear that her interest is in Islamic studies and not computer science.  The 'tech' in this novel doesn't pass muster, but I doubt that would interfere with most people's enjoyment of the story--incorrect usage of the term 'hypervisor' and flawed assumptions about how the TCP/IP protocol works aside, this is a very entertaining read.  It's clear from the beginning that this is an a commentary on Islamic fundamentalism and the story draws on some of the more mystic elements of the Quran.  Wilson blends technology, fantasy, history, current events, and political subversion together in this curried yarn.  The result is a novel that has shades of Snow Crash mixed together with mythologies that seem to come right out of Arabian Nights.  I'm looking forward to seeing where this story leads, but I first had to accept that it is not the best writing in the world--Wilson is better known for her work as a graphic novelist and her transition to prose still needs some work.  Regardless, pick up this book, it's worth it and if you don't believe me, it's also a New York Times 2012 Notable.”

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new this week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

Such Sweet Sorrow

The headlines have been shocking: is the Twinkie really going to disappear? A quick check of nearby stores confirms that at the moment, it's an endangered species. Hostess Brands is closed and production has been halted. No more Drake's cakes, Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs, or Twinkies until further notice.

What exactly makes that "Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling" so irresistible? Author Steve Ettlinger wrote an in-depth study of the Twinkie after his daughter asked him, "Where does Polysorbate 60 come from, Daddy?" Ettlinger found that Twinkies are "the archetype of all processed foods" -- he traced each ingredient to its source, whether it was a corn field, mine, or heavily-guarded plant using dangerous chemicals. Then he followed the process of mixing, baking, and packaging that creates this modern day Proustian treat.

Ettlinger also addresses some of the urban myths around Twinkies in his book. What's the shelf life of a Twinkie? Which iconic television character had one in his lunch box every day? Why does this little snack cake have such a visceral hold on our cravings? Twinkie, Deconstructed tells the whole story. Now, if only you had a fresh Twinkie and cool glass of milk to wash it down...
 

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

More Tech Books Have Arrived!

What will you be learning this fall?
What will you be learning this fall?

At just before 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 6th, these tech books are not quite available to be picked up. However, these new books are so exciting, that I could not wait to post about them! These new books were selected for every day programs like Microsoft Office and to enchance your skills before you head to the Digital Media Lab!

Look for these books to be on the shelves tomorrow. Make your holds request now so you can be first in line! Look forward to more tech books to be arriving soon.

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