This month, Alan, our Library Director and a Vietnam Conflict Marine Corps veteran, joined Marianne to talk about his five favorite World War II novels. Our theme is "Book Groups Read About War" for August to commemorate the many battles that are reaching a milestone this year. For example, this August is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.
To reserve any of these books for your book group, please use the "Request a Book in a Bag" button at darienlibrary.org/bookgroups
Your Team. Your Troops. Your Tribe. Whatever you want to call them. These are the folks who cheer you on when you think you can’t take another step. Yesterday I had the privilege to run the Fairfield Corporate FunRun 5K with some of my co-workers. We had cool t-shirts made with the Library logo on the front and our team name “The Dewey Decimators” on the back, a lovely summer evening to run and the promise of a free beer at the end. Our team had folks that weren’t even running themselves. Our Leader drove up to cheer us on and The Traveling Companion was appointed as our Official Photographer and Team Mom despite the fact he forgot the orange slices and juice boxes (check out more pics on Tumblr). We had a great time cheering each other on, laughing at our shared hatred of The Hill from Hell and remembering just how lucky we are to have such outstanding team members in each other. One thing that I found very telling about our team was that we were one of the only teams waiting for each other at the finish line to cheer each other on as we completed the race. While other racers went running for the beer tent at the end, Team Dewey Decimator waited at the finish to give each other that final push to finish strong. And in the end, isn’t that what you want from your team? This week we have a real melt-down, some kickbutt women, a farm and an actress, icebergs in August, and the Long List. Of course we have The Playlist to ease us into the first weekend in August!
Let us begin!
Sweet Ann has just finished Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian. “Emily Shepherd, the sixteen- year- old narrator of this novel, takes you through her heart wrenching roller coaster of survival following a nuclear power plant disaster in northern Vermont. Her father, the plant's engineer, is being blamed for the meltdown and Emily flees before the authorities can question her about whether or not he had been drinking. Emily ends up in the city of Burlington, Vermont and there will be challenges to who she really is as she searches for redemption and friendship. Mr. Bohjalian has created a character that is truly believable as Emily tells her story in a random manner that makes her seem young and vulnerable. As a reader you shudder at some of Emily's choices, but you will have great hope for her and her future.”
This week we welcome our new McGraw Fellow Miss Lisa! She can be found in the Children’s Library and here is her take on a staff favorite. “ I've been reading Code Name Verity by Jennifer Wein and want to advocate for it, though it's older and already been buzzed about, as a book for adults who have been curious about YA fiction. Code Name Verity takes place during WWII, and tells a story of friendship, sacrifice, and some kickbutt women. The novel begins as a written confession by one of the women, who is locked in Gestapo headquarters in occupied France, and alternates between her current situation in prison and the story of how she made it to France in her friend Maddie's airplane on a semi-legal mission. If you're into military history, you'll be excited to learn about women in the military, British pilot training, and spy training in the form of an exciting story. If you're just into a story and want one that tugs on your emotions, I can attest to this book's power: I've just moved to a new place far away from my family and friends and this story helped unlock a much needed cry. It also has it all - spies, Resistance fighters, Scottish castles, fighter planes, women soldiers, and an incredible friendship, and because it's YA, it reads quickly. You know how the children's movie Frozen made such a splash because instead of being about a prince and princess falling in love it's about the deep bond between two sisters? This book should inspire similar enjoyment of a refreshing (and tear-inducing) relationship. I haven't yet read the sequel, Rose Under Fire, but am looking forward to it. You'll find this book in the YA section - don't be afraid, go check one out (or send a teenage spy to do your dirty work for you).”
Virginia, everyone’s favorite Tall Cool Texan is here this week with not just one but two summer reads. “I am going to cut to the chase because I have a whole lot of new book goodness this week starting with what might be my favorite thriller of the summer, Tom Rob Smith’s, The Farm. This is a psychological thrill-ride that grabs you from the first page and keeps you enthralled until nearly the end. The narrator, Daniel, receives a phone call from his father informing him that he has to have his mother committed to a mental hospital for creating conspiracies and accusing him and others of horrible things. Before Daniel can even board a flight to Sweden, his mother has called him to say she is on her way to London with proof that everything his father has said is a lie. Daniel is left to figure out what is the truth. Do not miss this complex thriller. I know Tom Rob Smith will be on my radar from this point forward. Next up is Amy Sohn’s The Actress, is a gritty tale about the dark side of Hollywood. It is somewhat of an addicting read, but be forewarned it isn’t for the light-hearted. There are some graphic scenes and it probably isn’t too far off the reality mark for some in the entertainment business, which I find overwhelmingly sad. Overall, it is an entertaining read, but in a dark and depressing way. “
Here is Laura talking about what she’s been up to this summer. “My husband and I were planning to visit the island of Newfoundland to hike and bird watch and also to see icebergs. Most people would not think of Newfoundland as a destination for a summer vacation, but years ago I read The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. The story takes place in Newfoundland and I loved the remote quality of the island, the fog that always hangs over the cliffs, the rock that is everywhere, and the taciturn people who inhabited the book. I always wondered, was it just like that? I wanted to know. My husband, the sailor, wanted to see the churning ocean and big gleaming white icebergs. Unfortunately, that trip will have to wait. So instead, while my husband worked, I set off on my own to our sailboat that is moored in RI. I spent three beautiful days floating the waves of Dutch Harbor and reading The Girls of Atomic City, by Denise Keirnan and All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. I enjoyed both, the non-fiction of "Atomic" was factual, but not heavy reading; "Light" was deep, moving, emotional and beautifully written. It was a great few days of rest!”
I was lucky enough to land a copy of Us by David Nicholls this week. This is coming out in October in the States and it was named to the Long List for the Booker Prize. I have long suspected that the Booker prize was just a little too smart for me. Past winners have been The Luminaries and Bring Up the Bodies. Pretty heavy lifting actually. So when I heard that he had been added to the Long List I got excited. This could be my year! I loved his last book One Day and Us is more of the same wonderfully witty and at the same time heartbreaking storytelling. Us begins with Connie waking up Doug, her husband of many years, and telling him that she thinks their marriage has run its course. This does not sound like the most promising beginning of what is essentially a love story. But in Nicholls’ hands it is. It comes out in October and I know what I am rooting for to make the short list.
Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC to wrap us up this week. Take it Miz Patty! “ A dear friend once said, ‘No one gives you an award at the end of life for doing it all by yourself.’ The choices we make on a daily basis impact those around us whether we like it or not. Life is not a race or a competition yet it requires a team to get us through the endless series of left-hand turns. I’ve been fortunate to work with a group of people who are the best at what they do. Together we tinker, brainstorm, collaborate and create wonderful things even if I’m in Michigan and they’re in Connecticut. Our world is a connected place and we carry our relationships with us. Everyone needs a pit crew. Everyone needs a cheering section. Everyone needs the support of a team. In the end, there may be one person at the finish line but it took a team to get them there.”
Here are the new eBook titles for the week of 7/21 that are available from OverDrive.
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!
I have been thinking a lot this week on The State of The Book and Print (yes with a capital P) and it’s not a pretty state. It’s rather like the worst stretch of the Jersey Turnpike littered with jack-knifed tractor trailers. Newspapers are struggling and letting their people go at an alarming rate. Magazines are folding without warning and book publishers are scrambling. Most of you know that I read on my Kindle for my commute but I have to tell you that while reading the new Jane Smiley this week (totally tied for first place with All the Light We Cannot See for favorite book of 2014) I loved coming home to the physical copy of the book. I loved holding it in my hand, would get nervous if it wasn’t close by and I didn’t even mind one little bit when I woke up this week with a dent in my forehead from falling asleep on it. Earlier this week, The Traveling Companion shared with me this piece from the New York Times about the joys of slowing down, turning off the gadgets and reading from the actual paper source. Weather willing, this weekend we will be heading for a beach, and there will be the cooler containing the Contraband Beverages and Solo cups (sshhh! Discretion please!), some lunch, the beach chairs and the beach bag containing towels, sunscreen, the most recent issue of the New Yorker, the Weekend Edition of the New York Times and books. This morning on the train I started one that is coming out in January that I first heard about in May at a lunch with some Hachette editors. They were using words like masterpiece, magical, and comparing it to To Kill A Mockingbird. Editors don’t use those words or comparisons lightly. Even more remarkable is that The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton is a first novel. So while on my commute I will be reading it digitally, this weekend will find me holding the ARC at a lovely quiet beach. I hope the same holds true for you too. Slow down; grab a deck chair, a hammock, an Adirondack chair, whatever the seat of preference is and a piece of true print. This week we have some cringing, swirling maelstroms, love for books, princesses, surgery, a survey, four wives, and a diaper bag. Playlist? Of course!
Let us begin!
Thomas is reading an old favorite of mine and Stephanie’s. We have been begging him to do it for a while now and he finally listened. And this is the closest he will ever come to admitting we were right. “I’m eternally late on everything that is ‘decent’ in literature. To continue this theme, I have just started reading May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes. The novel tells the story of a middle aged Nixon professor named Harold who is always living in the shadow of his alpha male, short-tempered younger brother, who is an executive at a very prominent news network. When Harold's kid brother snaps and commits a senseless act of violence, Harold suddenly finds himself taking care of his brother's two adolescent children, Nathaniel, an emotionally disturbed twelve year old with a taste for controlled substances, and Ashley, a six year old trapped in the body of an eleven year old. Together, the three of them begin to learn just how much life can make one cringe. I'm cringing as I write this to be totally honest.”
I love how whenever we hear from Miss Elisabeth of the CL she is so enthusiastic about what she has just consumed it just shines through her review. This week is no different. What’s up Miss E? “This week I read, no, devoured, a new release by a debut author. The Queen of the Tearling, by Ericka Johansen, is everything you could possibly ask for in an adult fantasy - there's excellent world building, great character development, a breakneck pace, and most importantly, a strong, confident, intelligent heroine at the center of a swirling maelstrom of political intrigue. It's the best thing I've read in a long, long while. The book begins as our heroine, Kelsea, turns 19 and is escorted by armed guards from her secluded, secret childhood home to the castle of the kingdom she is meant to rule - The Tearling. The story is set on a continent that erupted from the sea after a natural disaster several thousand years in the future, and the world is an intricate blend of acknowledgements of things we have now such as eBooks, and the seven volumes of Rowling, medieval feudal societies, and grim references to the events that caused a modern world to be replaced so thoroughly. Although the character is young, the book is decidedly adult - language and references to sex means this is NOT a good crossover title for 14 year-olds. The author was inspired to create her heroine after hearing then presidential hopeful Barack Obama speak about hope and change in 2008. The movie rights have already been sold, the script is being written, and Emma Watson is set to star. I can't wait for the sequel and the movie!”
Speaking of Steph, here she is! “I read Books & Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich, after it was recommended to me by a good friend. I love Erdrich, and this book is fantastic. For her fans, it offers insight that’s not found in her other books. For those who haven’t read her yet, it’s a fantastic extended essay, and an American memoir of real substance. What I loved best about it is the overarching question: ‘Books. Why?’ Even though she meanders off to explore the geography and history of Ojibwe Country, her family, the language of Ojibwemowin, the resurgence of traditional belief, and her internal life she always returns to this one question. She offers a number of specific answers throughout the book: ‘Because our brains hurt," and ‘Because they are wealth, sobriety, and hope.’ She is always thinking about what books have meant to her and mean to so many of us. What book lover can resist?”
Pat S is reading The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport. “As a longtime student of Russian history, I really enjoyed this study of the four Romanov princesses. While frequently grouped together, almost as a collective, Rappaport aims to delineate distinctive personalities for each of the four ,Olga;stalwart, Tatiana;composed and private, Marie;merry and empathetic, and Anastasia;fiery. Using primary source material previously unavailable, Rappaport is able to draw credible portraits not just of the four princesses, but also of their parents in their family roles. And may I say, hemophilia wasn’t the only illness that was passed down in that family. While not a page turner, it is an interesting read for the history buff.”
Pat T enjoyed a medical thriller Doing Harm, by Kelly Parsons to be specific. “Steve Mitchel, a young, confident surgical resident is in line for a good position when he completes his residency. However, he soon discovers that life can change on a dime when one of his patient's dies, and another’s surgery is compromised. With the help of his junior resident, Luis, they try to uncover the person responsible for all these deadly escapades. I suspect this gripping novel will keep you up past your bedtime, as it did me!”
Julie Rae began as a student intern this spring and we thought she was so awesome we asked her to stay for the summer. She will be leaving us all too soon to begin her freshman year at Ursinus College. Here is what has been in her beach bag. “Recently I've read two quick summer books that are perfect for a day at the beach. The first one is The Rosie Project, about a genetics professor who is attempting to find a wife in the only way that makes sense to him: by conducting a survey. But his logical method turns up with nothing but dead ends until he meets Rosie, a woman who meets none of his criteria. The Rosie Project is a wonderful book with tinges of hilarity and depth. The other book worth mentioning for a summer read is Mrs. Hemingway. This book follows the marriages of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives. I left the book with a sense of awe for the author because it was researched meticulously that I felt connected to each of the wives. “
Jeanne. Only one thing. So worrisome. “I read The Objects of her Affection by Sonya Cobb. Cobb’s first novel is interesting, page-turning and describes an all too possible turn of events. Sophie Porter is a bright young woman who is trying to get back into the tech working world after having two children. Having grown up feeling ungrounded, she craves a home of her own. She and her husband, who works at the Philadelphia Museum of Art curating Renaissance pieces, buy what seems the perfect home until the bills start coming in. Sophie is desperate to manage without telling her husband of their predicament. Then she meets Harry, owner of an antique shop in Manhattan. How can one woman, a diaper bag and antiques possibly mix to solve her money woes?”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here with The Playlist. Hey Patty! What’s good? “Summertime marks the longer, slower days we all enjoy. Extra daytime hours feel like stolen time to be shared with friends and family while sipping freshly squeezed lemonade, eating berries, biking, swimming and lots and lots of beach time reading. This weekend marks the annual Maker Faire Detroit event held at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. It’s a big deal. Seriously, if you don’t know what a Maker Faire is, you’ve been missing out on GREAT innovation and talent steeped in a pool of sweat, commitment and healthy risk-taking. Yes, I will be attending with my kiddos. One can’t help but think about past brilliant makers like Johannes Gutenberg. His invention of the printing press is touted as the most important event of the modern period. Without his invention we’d have no Renaissance, Reformation, Age of Enlightenment, Scientific Revolution or dare I say, LIBRARIES! Librarians and media folk are often asked about the viability of physical print with the suggestion that it’s passé. All the folks I know including makers give a resounding NO! We need a beautiful glossy magazine, a book to be opened and its fresh new goodness inhaled. (yes, there’s even a perfume for that) Print is not dead. Every psychologist will tell you that human beings require, crave and need touch. While I am a huge proponent and consumer of digital media I still love the touch and smell of a book and magazine. This will never change, so Make On, Create and Long Live Print!”
In the immortal words of Rocket J. Squirrel, "That voice! Where have I heard that voice?"
The plucky cartoon squirrel's voice was provided by June Foray, who also lent her talents to Cindy Lou Who, the Smurfs, Natasha Fatale, and countless others. She is just one of dozens of voice actors featured in a new documentary, I Know That Voice, that puts faces to the voices we've heard for decades.
Voice actors are more than imitators or readers -- they bring life to the characters they portray. We learn how to get started in this unique field, what it's like to be part of a voice acting project, and hear plenty of great show business stories along the way. This new film is a treat for the ears and eyes, a unique look behind the mike at decades' worth of unsung talent. That's all, folks!
Here are the new eBook titles for the week of 7/21 that are available from OverDrive.