Did you hear that? Did you hear that collective sigh of relief when the mercury in the thermometer edged up past 32 degrees, when the snow started melting and when the stuff coming down from the sky was just water? I think that we have turned a corner here, People. Sure, it’s still less than charming out there but our standards are so low at this point that just that little bit of improvement does wonders. I swear it’s like all my Train Friends have had Prozac slipped into their hot beverage of choice, so buoyant is the atmosphere on the platforms. The words from The SoNo Loft are Kickstart Your Life. Timely, given that when the weather makes that turn for the better, you feel like things are possible again. One more week of Winter, People! Hold tight! We can do it. The Fitbit Challenge update: As many of you who visit are aware we were soundly thrashed by our friends up the road. We salute you Fairfield Public! We salute you and what have to be the bloody stumps that you all now call your legs. This week we have some fuss, some Grace, naughtiness, charisma and a hot mess. Of course, we have The Playlist.
Let us begin!
Asha. Sometimes she’s here and sometimes she’s not. Here’s what she gathered up from the last time she was here. “I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Girl on the Train and I can see why people would be enthralled by it; the voyeuristic aspect, the unreliability of our narrator, and the utter failure that is her life. Still, I was disappointed, mostly because rather early on I was aware of who did the act and why. This is not to say that it wasn't a good book, I just wished it was a bit more insidious and not so lacking in its sketchiness. I'm not sure what that says about me as a person.”
Diane is new to YAWYR and Darien Library. She can be spotted on the Welcome Desk. Welcome Diane! “Saving Grace by Jane Green is a book I would like to recommend. Meet Grace and Ted Chapman a well-respected couple living outside New York City. Ted is an author and Grace is an active volunteer in their community. Life becomes chaotic when Ted's longtime assistant leaves her job and Ted can't handle his career without her. He becomes nasty, threatening and difficult to live with. When a young woman appears in the couple's life, Ted's life finds balance again while Grace suddenly finds hers falling apart. The book had a slow start but suspense and mystery became part of the story. In the end I couldn't put the book down.”
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is here with an old favorite that she somehow missed. “Delicious and a little bit naughty, but laced with a sharp edge of regret and sorrow is how I would describe Charles Dubow’s book, Indiscretion. Harry and Madeleine Winslow are the quintessential East coast couple. You know the type: gorgeous, successful, with the brownstone in NYC, and the cottage in the Hamptons. Harry and Maddy have been married for twenty years with a beautiful child, and are still madly in love with each other. Together they radiate that special charisma that draws people in and makes them feel at home. Like a moth to a flame, that very magnetism draws in a young woman who will ultimately shatter the idyllic world of the Winslow’s in tragic ways. One of the things I most enjoyed about the book is the narrator, Maddy’s childhood friend, Walter, whose reflection provides insight, and innate Waspish tone provides moments of humor. This was a book that made me long for a beach, a sunset and, of course, an umbrella drink. Luckily Dubow’s second book, Girl in the Moonlight, is being released soon. “
Steph! What’cha doing? “Everyone seems to be on the hunt for lighter reads now that the snow is finally melting. As a result, I am gearing up to recommend The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (recognize those names? perhaps you know their amazing snarky fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself?) when it comes out in a few weeks. The Royal We is their retelling of the courtship of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and both women are notoriously obsessed with that coupling, so you know this’ll be good. In this story, Prince William becomes Prince Nicholas, and Kate becomes Bex, an American who literally runs into him on her first day studying abroad at Oxford. Despite everything, they fall madly in love, but when their love goes from secret fling to something more serious, the drama increases about as much as you’d expect. Hysterically funny and such a delight to read, but not too frothy, there’s enough seriousness to the plot that gives it more depth than a tabloid rehash. I predict that this will be one of the big beach reads of 2015. Anyone who had opinions on Kate Middleton’s wedding dress (or Pippa’s dress, for that matter!) will love this one.”
On the one day a week that I drive to work I can be found in my tiny little car listening to the totally charming I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style with a Twist by Betty Halbreich and read by Jane Curtin. Babs B pressed it into my hands promising me that I would soon be in love with Betty. And as usual, Babs is right. Eighty-six-year-old Betty has spent nearly 40 years at the Shopping Mecca that is Bergdorf Goodman. She has seen a lot; the good, the bad, and the severely unfortunate and she’s not afraid to tell you to take that hot mess off, put down that over-priced handbag and remind you that to look good is to feel good. Jane Curtin is doing an amazing job of bringing Betty and her story to life. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
DJ Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named. “This has been a week of endings but also an opportunity for beginnings. This week we offer our condolences over the death of our friend, and library lover Lisa Bonchek Adams. She asked me a few years ago to remind everyone that she was not ‘lost’ and that she never ‘gave up a battle’. Cancer doesn’t work like that and the language that our society uses to discuss it bothered Lisa. She will be missed by the thousands of lives she touched through her kindness and grace. I think she would have liked this week’s playlist. In honor of Lisa’s daily mantra, let’s all go out, find a bit of beauty in the world and share it.”
Here are the new titles available from 3M.
Mallory and Erica presented to a smaller than usual Meet Us On Main Street crowd. (Must be the warm weather.) Today we got some baby basics from Erica who let us in on the "literary tools" that she and her infant son have enjoyed during their first year together: actual baby "classics" in board book format, easy and healthy baby food puree recipes, and the essential sleep help guide. Mallory presented hot-off-the-press titles and one soon-to-be-published title that librarians at the ALA Conference raved about because of its fantastic portrayal, in graphic novel style, of the growing pains of a tween girl and her mom. As for DVD's, this year's Academy Award winner, plus a wonderful documentary on ageless beauty and fashion. The final title, a suggestion from the group themselves, is a chick-lit -- light and breezy to read -- but ends with a controversional choice that gets book groups talking. The list begins below:
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!
What if we all just lie back and think of England this week with some great selections from across The Pond?
Not sure what this is? Read all about it here.
Welcome to the Full Worm Moon edition of You Are What You Read! I consider this to be the ultimate irony and here’s why. The moon is thusly named because of the softening ground and the reappearance of earthworms. As we all now know, this is not the case and may never be the case ever again. We live on the Tundra and that is that. It is also known as the Sap moon because allegedly this is the time when the tree sap begins to flow. People, there is no sap on the Tundra. So let that notion go. I am sure that by now, you, like me are done and undone. I just can’t do another week like this one. Phil. Please. We are begging you. Undo the evil that you have wrought. The words of the SoNo Loft are “You are forgiven”. I have to believe that these words are in no way directed at Phil. In addition, kindly remember it is Spring Ahead weekend. This will go a long way to sweetening our moods I am sure. Check those batteries in the smoke detector! By the time you all get this, The Fitbit Challenge will be in its death throes and so will its participants. We tip our caps to our Friends at Fairfield; they are not only worthy opponents but just damn fine people! We are honored to be your colleagues in LibraryLand! Be sure you check the service desks next week to find out the outcome. It’s been a close one. This week we have some Poland, Germany, Macy’s, a whole lotta likker, and a labyrinth of lies!
The Playlist? Of course!
Let us begin!
Laura is here with something that she recently enjoyed. “Ida is a beautiful film about a young woman who was raised by nuns within the safe walls of a Catholic convent located in the countryside of Poland. Her family placed her in the convent soon after World War II when she was a child and it is the only life she has known. The story begins as Ida, now in her twenties, visits her one remaining relative before she takes her vows. When she meets her, Ida is told that she is Jewish. They then strike out to find her childhood home that was stolen away from her family by the Nazis. The black and white cinematography lends beautifully to the story, and complements the harrowing artistic undertone of the film. This is a worthy film to watch for the history alone.
Babs B has just started The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen. How goes it Babs? “This is a psychological thriller set in WWII Germany that centers on two British pilots who have been shot down in enemy territory. They know they will be executed if captured, so with an enemy patrol in pursuit they manage to jump aboard a train reserved for Senior SS officers wounded on the Eastern Front. In a state of panic, they throw two dead patients off the train and take their places, hoping they can escape. But that is not to be as they end up in the Alphabet House, a mental hospital located far behind enemy lines where German doctors' experiment on their patients with shock treatments and experimental drugs. The pilots' only hope of survival is to fake insanity until the war ends but they find out they are not the only patients using this ploy. I just started this book last night and hated to put it down!”
Barbara M loves the demented world of David Sedaris. “In December NPR rebroadcast their yearly piece of David Sedaris reading his essay The Santaland Diaries about his experience working as an elf named Crumpet for Macy’s Department Store. It is in the Audio book Holidays on Ice and is laugh-out-loud hilarious. In one incident, he recounts how one day ‘a woman was standing at one of the cash registers paying for her pictures while her son lies beneath her, kicking and heaving, having a tantrum. The woman said, Riley, if you don't start behaving yourself, Santa's not going to bring you any of those toys you asked for. The child said, he is too going to bring me toys, Liar. He already told me. The woman grabbed my arm, and said you there, Elf, tell Riley here that if he doesn't start behaving immediately, then Santa's going to change his mind and bring him coal for Christmas. I said that Santa changed his policy and no longer traffics in coal. Instead, if you're bad, he comes to your house and steals things. I told Riley that if he didn't behave himself, Santa was going to take away his TV and all his electrical appliances and leave him in the dark. The woman got a worried look on her face and said, all right, that's enough. I said, he's going to take your car and your furniture and all of your towels and blankets and leave you with nothing. The mother said, no, that's enough really.’ Although I had read this essay and many others hearing Sedaris read them with his deadpan delivery adds a whole other dimension. For these cold, cold days I’ve decided that funny is the way to go while driving and am now listening to When You Are Engulfed in Flames. I just worry about laughing too much to concentrate on driving. “
Sweet Ann is back to doing two things at once which I find oddly reassuring. “The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a fun thriller. And in the beginning, you can relate to the main character Rachel's obsession of watching people from her daily train commute. However, you quickly realize that Rachel has a drinking problem and is completely obsessed with her ex-husband and his new wife and their baby. There are quite a number of conflicts between Tom, Rachel's ex-husband, and Anna his new wife as Rachel cannot let go of her new lonely existence. There are lies and deceptions throughout this novel as well as a missing woman who lives on the same street as Tom and Anna. This is a novel that you should read with suspended belief and just jump aboard the commuter train and see where it will take you. I am also listening to There was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me by Brooke Shields. This audio book is read by Brooke Shields as she tells about being raised by her mother, Teri, an alcoholic. Her mother tried her best but often her drinking would get in the way of her parenting, whether it was setting bedtimes or routines, or orchestrating Brooke's career. It was an interesting story especially because I remember The Blue Lagoon, the Calvin Klein ads and I did in fact see Brooke on Broadway when she performed in Cabaret. I think Brooke recognized that her mother had flaws and has spent a lifetime coming to terms with her upbringing. This was an enjoyable audio book.”
The Ever Delightful Pat S is here with something I have been dying to get my hands on. “Black Diamonds is a must read for all the Downton fans who have just finished season five. Catherine Bailey is back with the tale of a crumbling aristocratic dynasty during the twentieth century, the Earls of Fitzwilliam. With a fortune based in the Sheffield coal industry, the sixth Earl of Fitzwilliam left the second largest inheritance to his heir upon his death in 1902, somewhere in the neighborhood of three billion dollars in today’s money. He also left what remains the largest private home in England, with 365 rooms, one for every day of the year. Yet all of this was about to change. The new century would see the collapse of the Yorkshire coal industry, (which is meticulously detailed here) after the most horrific human rights abuses. Oddly enough, the Fitzwilliams were among the best of the land owners, always implementing the newest safety measures in the mines and making genuine strides in quality of life issues in the lives of the miners. But for all the 'nobility' inferred in the Fitzwilliam title of Earl, the lives of the family were a labyrinth of lies, falsehoods and complicated cover-ups! Illegitimacy, alcoholism, chronic philandering, gambling-it's all here, in vivid detail! This will get even the most stalwart fan through the post season letdown!
Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC as always with some final thoughts about life. What’s good Pats? “I’ve had a Phil update from my weather paranoid friend. The latest email from the band of rogue rodents states that even they are tired of the weather they’ve inflicted on us so they’re migrating to warmer climes while they let the rest of us suffer this unending winter. Since the airlines are no longer letting them board (they’ve got a beef about that too) they’ve taken to hopping free rides on birds.
Phil was the last of the rodents to be allowed to board a plane so he hopped down under to enjoy the last days of summer. He’s warming his fur and is moving on from his Valentine breakup with Eula. He said he’s impersonating one of his friends who has been helping him heal his wounded heart. He’s taking selfies with folks all over Australia under the guise of being a quokka. Apparently he’s been listening to a LOT of Chet Baker, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto and I just can’t hate on anyone, rodent or otherwise who has this music in their wheelhouse. So if we’re going to be stuck indoors let’s listen to some great jazz and hope that Phil remembers to set his clock forward.
Stephanie declared to the Meet Us On Main Street group that winter should be over! So she brought, to fulfill that promise, "warm" stories/memoirs that take place far from the Connecticut snow: the island of Majorca, the jungles of Vietnam, the hills of San Francisco, the beach shores of the Caribbean, the steamy nightlife of Mexico City, and, surprisingly, but yes, the bottom of a mineshaft in Chile. What a welcome relief from the cold! The group couldn't have been happier. The final three titles on the list are books the group has read, enjoyed and wanted to share. Start your summer "early" with the list below: