Caroline and Kiera's MUOMS Picks

Caroline and Kiera's MUOMS Picks
Caroline and Kiera's MUOMS Picks

Caroline's Picks

Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected - by Stanley Kunitz.  If you read no other poetry book, take a look at this one.  In honor of National Poerty Month, I'm drawing attention to this collection by Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006).  He was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 2000, and continued writing and promoting poetry until he passed away at the age of 100.  His unique and meaningful poems center largely on the themes of life and death, and he was once quoted as saying, "The deepest thing I know is that I am living and dying at once, and my conviction is to report that dialogue."  My favorite in this collection is "The Layers."

The Gilly Salt Sisters - by Tiffany Baker.  This is an unusual story about a small town in Cape Cod.  The story centers around two estranged sisters, Claire and Jo.  Their family farm, Salt Creek Farm, produces all of the salt for the town and the surrounding areas, and the salt believed to have unexplained powers.  Every restaurant must have bowls of salt on all of the tables, and every grocery store must stock it or else they are doomed to fail.  Every year, the town gathers for a bonfire and one of the sisters throws salt on the flame - if the flame turns blue there is a good year to come, red means love, and black is bad news for the town.  Secrets, scandals and a beautiful setting keep the story moving and engaging.

Kiera's Picks

The Up Series (DVD) This longitudinal documentary series began in 1964 with fourteen British children chosen to represent a diverse array of socio-economic classes. A new film, looking at their lives and development was produced every seven years. The latest installment, 56 Up, debuts on BBC this May. The series asks the question: Does socio-economic class predetermine future success or failure?

The Big Oyster - by Mark Kurlansky.  Before it was the Big Apple, New York City could have rightfully been called the Big Oyster. Kurlansky cleverly tells the story of the greatest city in the world- its history, its culture, its cuisine- through the lens of that gastronomical delight: the oyster. The Big Oyster will satisfy foodies and history buffs alike.

 

You Won't Find These Movies on Netflix Instant...

But you will find them at Darien Library!

At the end of February, Starz ended their contact with Netflix, the online media streaming subscription service. Because of this, the following movies are no longer available to be streamed instantly on Netflix. However, you can still check them out from Darien Library! From creepy (Beetlejuice) to campy (Twins) to critically- acclaimed (Toy Story 3), we think these films belong in the echelon of our film collection. Happy viewing.

NPR Bestseller Lists Week of April 5, 2012

Here's a list of the top ten bestsellers from NPR.

New York Times Bestsellers: Fiction

Top Ten Hardcover Bestsellers from the New York Times for the week of April 8th

Erin and Ann's MUOMS picks

Erin and Ann's MUOMS picks
Erin and Ann's MUOMS picks

Erin's Picks

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - I recently read this short novel (it's only about 80 pages!) because some friends and I have started a "Bookfast Club" in which we discuss a book over breakfast. I had never seen the movie and I am so glad I read the book first because Holly Golightly is not at all the Example of Class we all believe her to be. In the book, she is flighty, irresponsible, drunk, shallow, and all too eager to keep the company of terrible (yet wealthy!) men. So then I decided to watch the movie to see how the two stack up...

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" (Movie) - In the film, the nameless narrator becomes some Ken-like guy named Paul who falls in love with Holly while at the same time taking money from his wealthy female "decorator." Holly is no longer racist like her character in the book, but rather a beautiful waif of  a woman who can't commit to any man because she is "too scared." I was amazed at how differently Holly Golightly is depicted in the book versus the movie.

Ann's Picks

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philippe Sendker -  A wonderful love story of Tin Win returning to Burma to be with his first love. He lived a great life in New York as an entertainment lawyer with a wife and adult children. One day he just disappears. His daughter finds an old love letter and searches for her father in his native Burma. She will discover things about her father that she never knew and will feel the great love in his heart.

When We Were the Kennedys: A memoir From Mexico, Maine by Monica Wood - A touching story of a family growing up in the 1960's whose father dies the same year as President Kennedy is killed. This is a family saga where you are pulling for this family from page one. The family has a grown son who has his own family, an older school teacher daughter who will change her life for her younger siblings and then three little girls. It is the second youngest daughter Monica who tells the story of her loving childhood and sacrifices made for the family to continue without their beloved father.

Pat and Marianne's MUOMS picks

Pat and Marianne's MUOMS picks
Pat and Marianne's MUOMS picks

Marianne's Picks

Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison – Set in the last days of the Romanov Empire, this part love story, part history lesson is told in such exquisite prose that you’re truly left wanting more.

Emily, Alone by Stewart O’Nan – The author follows Emily Maxwell, an 80 year old widow, through a year in her life.  A quiet story of a woman coming to grips with her past mistakes in a world that is becoming more and more narrow. It’s hard to believe this book was written by a man.  How is the author able to portray Emily’s emotions and thoughts with such sensitivity?  A member of the Library book group commented, “The author was talking about me.”  Even though this story is about an elderly woman, there is much here for all of us to learn.

Defending Jacob by William Landay- Could there be anything worse for a parent than to have your fourteen year old son accused of murdering a classmate?   On one side, the father does whatever he must do to believe that his son is innocent no matter what. However, his mother has doubts. Protecting their child is obviously what good parents should do but at what point does it cross the line?  While I enjoyed reading this book, there were times when I felt the author was asking the reader to accept too much regarding the father’s blind faith in his son. 

Pat's Pics:

A Good American by Alex George. This is a wonderful historical fiction story about an immigrant family from Prussia spanning  four generations and what it means to be an American.

Quiet by Susan Cain. A fascinating look at the introvert personality. Our society promotes the extroverts, otherwise known as the people of action, while the introverts are looked at as a second class personality type. In this book, Susan Cain shares the introverts unique qualities as cerebral thinkers and the value they play in our society. Remember that Susan Cain will be here on April 19th!

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton. From the author of Sister comes another thriller about a mother who will do anything to save her children - one child from a burning building and the second child from being accused of setting the fire.

 

Priscilla and Pat S.'s MUOMS Picks

Priscilla and Pat S.'s Picks for MUOMS
Priscilla and Pat S.'s Picks for MUOMS

Priscilla's Picks:

That Woman: The life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor  by Anne Sebba - What is the fascination after all these years? Anne Sebba is a sympathetic author and describes Wallis as a woman who enjoyed the fling for a time but never wanted to marry Edward and tried to persuade him not to abdicate. She loved her second husband Ernest but unfortunately played her hand badly. This story comes across not  as the great romance of the century but two selfish, not too smart, self absorbed individuals who out smarted themselves. It is still a fascinating read!
 
Heft by Liz Moore - The two main characters in the novel , Arthur Opp at 550 pounds and Kel Keller, are given such wonderful voices that I was rooting for them all they way in this sometimes heartbreaking story. Arthur has given up his job as professor and after gaining so much weight, never leaves his house anymore. He hires an unlikely cleaning person who arrives on his door and opens up the world to him once again. Kel Keller's story runs parallel. He is high school student whose mother once was a student and friend of Arthur. She dies leaving Kel on his own and the reader wondering if Arthur is the father. How and when will their lives intersect?
 
More Room in a Broken Heart: The True Adventures of Carley Simon
by Stephen Simon - From her parents backgrounds right up through Carley's present day this  biography certainly is full of details. Who knew Carley's kindergarten music teacher was Pete Seeger? Not a bad way to begin your music career. Did you know that the Simon family had a wonderful summer estate on Newfield Avenue? Carley wrote so many of the wonderful songs we can all sing by heart and in the book the author gives background on how they came about, sometimes too much.  Through all her ups and downs, anxiety attacks and marriages all one can say is, what a life. Try reading Girls Like Us by Sheila Weiller too.
 
Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil
by Tom Muller -  You will never look at that bottle of olive oil in cabinet the same way ever again. You may even throw it out! This author became an expert in all things EVOO. From the history in medicine, as a beauty aid, and in religion. It covers fraud, deception, globalization and crime in the food industry. Did you know most bottles on our grocery shelves marked Extra Virgin and not? Marked made in Italy, maybe not. You can even get a degree in olive oil tasting. Darien now has it very own olive oil store called the Olivette on the Post Road. After reading this book I believe I'll be visiting it soon.
 

Pat S.'s Picks:

Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E. L. James.  Well, well, well. . . After all the hype, I finally succumbed and took on this trilogy. Essentially, it is a love story with a bit of a twist-the twist being BDSM. It is not particularly well written so stretching out this thin story into three volumes is the real story here.


Elizabeth the Queen:  The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedall Smith.This is a well written, and expertly researched biography. For all that, it is painfully dull. Turns out that Queen Elizabeth leads a rather dull and scripted life. If nothing else, you do come away with a clearer view of English history in the twentieth century. Much more interesting, is the current biography of Prince Philip by Philip Eade. Talk about turbulent! His birth family was alternately unbalanced, philandering, and profligate and provided a childhood which was only just short of Dickensian in scope. The fact that he survived it, in fact rose above it, is remarkable. In reading this I came to understand the strong attraction he would have found in Queen Elizabeth's sense of family. Fascinating reading.


The Darlings by Christine Alger. Another story based on the Medoff ponzi scheme-but an excellent one. This is thinly based on the Noel family of the Fairfield Greenwich Group which was in fact the largest feeder fund involved with Medoff. However, this is not an fullscale indictment of people with money but rather a sensitive exploration of how good people can be led astray. Compelling.


 

Here's what's new in Books this week!

This weeks offerings involve a ready-made family, some hippies, a sniper, some illicit behavior, a home on the range, a macabre obsession, some sun, some hoodoo, and the police.

Either come on in and see the Book Goodness yourself  or reserve your copy on line.  We'll let you know when it's ready to be picked up!

 

 

You Are What You Read!!!

This week we have some Gypsies, charlatans, a Valley Girl, a little lubrication, some dead friends, and some Mexico.  Mexico Maine that is.


Let us begin!


Barbara M
. had left Paris and is reading Gypsy Boy by Micky Walsh.  “It is an unromantic look into the life of a British Romany. It is raw, eye-opening, brutal and compelling.”

Citizen Asha
is working her way through a major tome. “I am reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It's taking me a bit to push through the novel, as the copy that I bought is over eight hundred pages, however, it is amazing. Magick is no longer relevant, or if it is, it is being used by charlatans for monetary gain. Someone has to step in and take control.”  And make no mistake. The Citizen could just be the girl for the job.


Pat S. weighs in with White Girl Problems by Babe Walker.  “Essentially, Babe is a Valley Girl on steroids-with all the attendant issues that involves. A product of the excesses of Beverly Hills and an indulgent motherless family, Babe sashays from Barney's to Brown University-barely breaking stride. Her intense self interest in all things 'Babe' is a riot. Perfect for beach reading, or teenage girls-who may or may not miss the fact that this is a parody.”


The Lovely Priscilla is reading and recommending Extra Virginity:  The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil  by Tom Mueller.  “You will never look at that bottle of olive oil in your cabinet the same ever again! This is the remarkable history of olive oil which has been used as a beauty product, as a medicine and in religious practices.  Delve into the globalization, fraud, deception and crime of this amazing oil."


Marianne reports that she is working her way through Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan.  “This quiet book follows the everyday activities of Emily Maxwell, an eighty year old widow who lives alone in the home where she and her husband raised their children and spent most of their married years. Her children are grown and have moved far away and many of her close friends have died.  Now this is Emily's time alone.  While this could be a depressing time of life Emily finds joy in her new found independence and the author shows us in very sensitive prose that life can be filled with joy at any age.  My book group is reading this book right now and I can't wait for our discussion.”


I am in love with Monica Wood’s memoir When We Were Kennedys:  A Memoir from Mexico Maine by Monica Wood.  It’s 1963 and Monica’s beloved father has just died from a heart attack on his way to work in the town’s paper mill  Can Monica's Mom and her three sisters survive this personal and economic tragedy?  The language here is gorgeous and the story is compelling.  It is due out in July.  

Miss Kiera and Jen's MUOMS Picks

Miss Keira and Jen on Meet Us On Main Street
Miss Keira and Jen on Meet Us On Main Street

Kiera’s Picks:

Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer.  Have you ever lost your keys, forgotten where you put your glasses, or have a name on the tip of your tongue but cannot seem to call it up from the depths of your memory? If you are like author and science journalist Joshua Foer (yes, he is the brother of Jonathan Safran Foer) you probably forget everyday things but have some incredibly vivid memories. Why is that? Foer investigates the science behind memory building. His journey begins at the U.S. Memory Championship and propels him into a world that quickly becomes a near-obsession.

Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult  by Jayanti Tamm.  This poignant and fascinating true story details Tamm’s childhood growing up in the Sri Chinmoy cult. Tamm’s parents, who met in the Guru’s apartment and were subsequently married, violated the rule enforcing celibacy (even between married couples.) Rather than expel the offending couple, the Guru Chinmoy decreed that the unborn child was “The Chosen One.” Thus begins Tamm’s life as a child messiah of sorts living one life within the strict boundaries of the cult and another as a young woman trying to find her identity. Her desire to remain a part of the Guru’s inner circle and her competing will to live a normal life will keep you rapt until the very last page and leave you wanting to know more about this amazing woman.

Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin.  In this fictionalized memoir, Alice Liddell looks back on her life as, most famously, the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Alice’s relationship with the author (whose real name was Charles Dodgson) was complicated to say the least. As a thirty-something year old mathematics professor at Oxford, his obsession with seven-year-old Alice would be deemed almost criminal by today’s standards. What is most interesting about Alice was her life after Wonderland and her struggles to define herself as more than ‘Alice.’

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey ” (2011; 80 minutes).  Viewers need not be children, parents, nor Muppet fans to fall in love with the shy, soft-spoken man behind Elmo. Kevin Clash grew up in a rough area outside Baltimore and dreamed of one day working with Jim Henson and the Muppets. Despite the odds and the pressure to do something more typical for a teenage boy, Kevin pursued his passion and has been working as a professional puppeteer ever since. His story is inspiring and unexpected. On Friday, March 9 at 7:30pm Darien Library will be showing the film and hosting a Q&A with the director and a young puppeteer who is featured in the movie.     


Jen’s Picks:


Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst.  This is WASP dysfunction at its’ very finest.  Jeanne’s father was convinced he could pull their family out of their gentile poverty   and restore their social position by writing the Great American Novel.  He moved the family from St. Louis to the North Folk of Long Island to do just that.  But for her parents it’s always 5:00 somewhere.  When Jeanne grows up, she too discovers that writing can be a salvation but only if she too is willing to put down the bottle.  At times side splittingly funny, at other tragic this is a wonderful memoir.    


Burn Down The Ground by Kambri Crews.  Think The Glass Castle.  With deaf people.  Kambri is the hearing child of deaf parents.   When the book opens she is visiting her father in a maximum security prison.  How did he get there?  And how do Kambri and her brother overcome their challenging childhoods.  This is a fascinating look at a usually closed culture.


The Good American by Alex George.  One hundred years in the life of an immigrant family who end up settling in the small town of Beatrice Missouri.  This is heartwarming story and its quirky characters will stay with you for a long time after you close the book.


The Darlings by Cristina Alger.  This amazing first novel fictionalizes the economic crisis of 2008. The Darlings are a 1% family thrust into a regulatory investigation after a tragic event. Will the family be able to withstand it?  The Darlings will be on everybody’s lips this spring and summer. 

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