Janet and Amanda's MUOMS Picks

Janet and Amanda's Picks
Janet and Amanda's Picks

 Janet's Picks

Little Princes by Conor Grennan. For readers who enjoyed Three Cups of Tea, this is the story of a young man who volunteers at an orphanage in Nepal, as a sort of self-justification before embarking on further world travels. Nepal is emerging from a civil war, and the 18 children at the orphanage are not actually orphans…they are victims of kidnappers and extortionists. Grennan finds purpose and his own future in the plight of the children, whose smiles and energy will stay with you long after you’ve finished this life-affirming book.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Ever wonder why some people thrive on social activity and others need “down time” to re-charge? It turns out that there are more introverts in the world than you might think – at least one out of every three people meets the criteria. In our culture of celebrity and social media, the value of a quiet, more thoughtful disposition is getting buried. Susan Cain reminds us that our world was built, to a large extent, on contributions from introverts like Rosa Parks and Dale Carnegie. Quiet tells us how we can all live and work more productively by understanding our own selves better, no matter where we fall on the extrovert-introvert scale.

NPR: The First Forty Years.  All Things Considered. Fresh Air. Car Talk. Morning Edition. They’ve been mainstays for years, and this new collection gathers the best, by decade, of NPR broadcasts. We move from live commentary on Viet Nam protests in the 70s to the Challenger explosion of 1986, the Clarence Thomas hearings, September 11, and less weighty topics like whether the Wint-O-Green Life Savers candy really sparks when chewed in the dark (it does!). This four-disc CD set is a perfect travel companion through the past forty years of NPR. And no fundraising breaks! 

Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Wilder Life (2011) reminded us of the cherished series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, tracing her childhood in pioneer America. Although they’re technically children’s books and classified as fiction, this series taught many young readers about life in the 1800s: log cabins, one-room schoolhouses, primers, prairie bonnets, and so many more details that are remembered by readers years later. The books actually hold up quite well and can be appreciated by adult readers as well. Re-connect with a beloved childhood friend or discover Laura and her family for the first time!

Amanda's Picks

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Anne (note the "e") Shirley is probably the first redheaded orphan in literature. She was a mistake--sent from the orphanage when the Cuthbert siblings really needed was a boy to help around the farm. Instead, Anne wins them over and still 100+ years later, is one of the most resourceful, positive, and is always-getting-herself-into-trouble-and-back-out-again heroines ever written! The entire series is a must-read. 

Three Junes by Julia Glass. This is a book divided into three sections which correspond to three different Junes in 1989, 1995, and in the early 2000s. We begin with the Scottish patriarch, Paul, who heads to Greece after his wife dies. He meets and tries to cultiviate a relationship with a young female painter, Fern. Then the book jumps to Paul's gay son, Fenno. Paul's children are gathering at the homestead to prepare for their father's funeral. Most of the book focuses on Fenno. The final section unites Fern with Fenno at a dinner party in the Hamptons. This is a story of misunderstandings, how to survive after a loved one's death, things we never said, and how to keep on living. 

The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. In a kingdom divided between the lowlands and the highlands (mountains), there is a mountain village that is famous for the rocks it quarries. In this village is a girl named Miri who desperately wants to help in the quarry but is forbidden. Then the messanger comes -- all eligible girls are to be trained in lowland manners in preparation for being the Prince's bride as ordained by the kingdom's priests. Who will become princess? Who will foil the kidnapping plot? Will Miri find her place in life? 

Quick Fix Meals: 200 Simple, Delicious Recipes to Make Mealtime Easy by Robin Miller. When I moved away from home the first time, I needed to learn to eat more than sandwiches. I searched the cookbooks at the local library until I came away with this gem. I wowed my parent with my seemingly complicated but simple chicken parmesan!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. 74 years ago, the thirteen districts rebelled against the Capitol. The districts lost but now they must pay by sending two tributes--teenagers--to fight to the death. There can only be one survivor. For Katniss Everdean, the choice was instinctive when her little sister's name was called, "I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!" The movie for this hit series comes out next month.

Patrons' Picks

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

The Marriage Plot

Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, And Lost, 1934-1961

What Alice Forgot

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

Stieg Larsson: The Real Story of the Man Who Played with Fire

The Leopard 

Ann and Elisabeth's MUOMS Picks

Ann and Elisabeth's Picks
Ann and Elisabeth's Picks

Ann's Picks

Madame Toussaud by Michelle Moran (audio book). A fictional account of the life of Mdm. Toussaud from her wax museum in Paris depicting famous people of her lifetime to the "death masks" of the Reign of Terror. A fascinating life of a woman who enjoyed the favor of the royals, the respect of the revolutionaries, and then spent months in prison.

The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow. A nonficiton account of a family-run bridal shop in small town Michigan. An enjoyable read of brides and their dresses through the generations, and a interesting account of the stresses that occur from working with your family and difficult economic times.

11/22/63 by Stephen King. A wonderful book containing time travel, intrigue, and romance. It is a fun ride back in history and you are rooting for Jack/George the entire time.


Elisabeth's Picks

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. 13 year old Connor's mother is dying of cancer. His father lives in America with his new wife. His grandmother hates him. Bullies at school beat him up. His best friend betrayed him. Then one night, a monster comes to his window and offers to tell him three stories in exchange for something Connor might not be able to give: the truth.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. When Hazel was 13 she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now 16, a miracle drug has prolonged her life but not changed her prognosis. Believing she's depressed, her doctor sends her to a support group that meets "literally in the heart of Jesus." There she meets August, a hottie in remission who shares her disdain for misuse of the word 'literal.' Heart-warming and heartbreaking, this is a story of life and love in the face of certain death.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. A finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer prize. Dave is 21 when his father dies suddenly of cancer, months before his mother dies after her own three year battle with the disease. As the youngest and least tied-down of his siblings, Dave is left the care of his 8 year-old brother, Toph. By turns angry, anxious, hysterical, and beautiful, AHWOSG is a memoir that stays with you long after you turn the final page.


Priscilla and Asha’s MUOMS Picks

Priscilla and Asha’s MUOMS Picks
Priscilla and Asha’s MUOMS Picks

 Priscilla's Picks

A Good American by Alex George. A sweet story of Frederick and Jette immigrating to America. Family, Love, and a wonderful cast of charcters. Made me laugh and cry.

Navigating Traps & Maps by Maura Laughlin Carley (local author). Great handbook to help you find your way through health care issues and problems. Transitioning from one health care program to another.

Bomerang: Travels in The New Third World  by Michael Lewis. The credit boom told country by country. Mr. Lewis delves into the culture of each country and how differently each came to embrace this phenomenon. I found it hilarious but sad.


Asha's Picks

"Perfect Host". Perception is not always reality, that being said you should probably be careful about the people who seem unassuming.  I found the movie to be disturbing but hilarious. I'm not sure what that says about my sense of humor.

Ed King by David Guterson. An interesting adaption of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. Gutereson took a few liberties with the characters but I think it was fastastic. A new, and fresh take on the Oedipus saga.

Little Children by Tom Perotta.  I listened to the audiobook and the characters in this book were so unlikable, I could not relate to any of them but that does not take away from how wonderfully written the book is. 



Caroline and Sally's MUOMS Picks

Caroline and Sally
Caroline and Sally

Sally's Picks

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in an Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo: A deep look into the lives of the  families of Annawadi, a slum city on a half-acre abutting the Mumbai airport. It brings a new level of meaning to the concepts of hope and courage. Highly recommended.

The House at Tyneford  by Natasha Solomons: For those who can't get enough of Downton Abbey, a wonderful story of a young Viennese woman forced to leave her glamourous life in Austria and become a parlor maid at Tyneford House.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: A rich story about the intertwining lives of three students at Brown University in the early 1980s, filled with the requisit existential soul-searching of the times. This is one of our picks for our Spring Book Discussion Series.


Caroline's Picks

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman: A disturbingly realistic story of a wealthy family living in New York City.  The teenage son, Jake, is at an exclusive private school when he is emailed an explicit video from a girl and forwards it to a friend, who forwards it to a friend, and the video goes viral.

Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours by Mario Batali: Mario's newest cookbook, divided into months rather than courses for seasonal cooking.  Each month features a couple dishes (usually pasta, his specialty), and then includes one whole meal from appetizers to dessert.  Accessible and enjoyable family style recipes - and Mario is hilarious!

No Angel by Penny Vincenzi: The first book of a trilogy, set in London, which starts right before World War I.  If you may be stuck inside during a snowstorm in the near future, or on a beach this summer, you should definitely pick this up.  Especially if you like Downton Abbey, because it's the same world.  One of her newer books, The Best of Times is also a great page turner.

Louise and Alan's MUOMS Picks

Alan and Louise
Alan and Louise

 Louise's Picks

"Moneyball" DVD starring Brad Pitt: A story about Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's who changed baseball by using computer generated analysis to find undervalued players.  Oakland won a record 20 games in a row with the smallest payroll in baseball in 2002 and changed the industry forever. Based on the book by Michael Lewis.

Catherine the Great by Robert Massie: Massie is a biographer with the instincts of a novelist according to the New York Times Book Review. Catherine  was the longest ruling female leader of Russia ( ruling from 1762-1796). Her rule was considered the Golden Age of the Russian Empire, and a period of enlightenment.

Jerry Thomas' Bartender Guide: My personal copy printed from the Espresso Book Machine. First published in 1862.  Cocktails are enjoying a huge revival, and some of the best cocktail books are reprints of old guides. Available from EBM for $8.99. Please contact On Demand Books for information about the Espresso Book Machine.


Alan's Picks

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson:  This biography of Steve Jobs was released immediately after his death, and Isaacson does an extraordinary job of presenting the dual sides of Jobs’ personality: the modern-day Edison redefining technology used by millions, and strong personality who cared only what he thought and who was someone you either liked or loathed. Well-written and researched, a definitive treatment of an American icon. 

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman:  Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist and Princeton professor, won the Nobel Prize for Economics for his ground-breaking studies of how we think, and how our brains make decisions, sometimes rapidly, sometimes stupidly. This is a book of insights, with great examples of how we think and why we should be careful about the decisions we make. Far and away one of the best books of the year. 

Willpower by Baumeister and Tierney: Baumeister is one of the world experts on how the mind works with respect to decision-making, and his focus here is how you exercise willpower. Two points to think about: you only have so much willpower, and if you burn it out during the day making decisions, you’ll not have it later, and are likely to just go with the flow. So spend it carefully on important decisions. And guess what? Exercising willpower burns up energy in your brain, and when it burns out, you can get your brain back up to speed to make a few more good decisions by taking in a few pieces of candy, or something with sucrose. Yup, a piece of chocolate to the rescue!


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