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!
Welcome to the Thanksgiving Edition of You Are What You Read. We will be taking next week off to celebrate. Sweet Ann wants us all to be mindful of the small things in our world that make us grateful. Don’t be like the guest at a Thanksgiving I heard about last year. This particular family had a year that was less than stellar and yet as they went around the table everyone came up with at least something to be thankful for. Except for the one person who looked around the table, smirked and said, “Pass.” Who does that? Don’t be that person! As for me, I am going to be playing with my cousins who I would want to be my friends even if we weren’t related. Imagine us all gathered around the deep fat fryer praying this is not the year we end up on You-Tube as “that idiot family who tried to fry their turkey and ended up burning down a suburb.” The TC will be joining us for the first time. He has been warned that we tend to be ‘lively’. Honestly, I think he’s up for it and he will be fine. The SoNo Loft’s message is NSFW so here’s hoping they bring back a message more in keeping with the upcoming Hellidays. This week we have a dying wish, some married folk, a challenge, some botany, a love story, for good measure another love story, a helliday gift suggestion, lots of gratitude and of course, a playlist.
Let us begin!
Sue S. has just read The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe by Mary Simses who is a former Darienite! “Ellen Branford is an engaged and soon to be married up and coming lawyer. While she is visiting her dying Grandmother, she learns that her last wish is for Ellen to deliver a letter to a hometown boy her Grandmother once knew. Charged with making good on her promise, the task sends Ellen to the town of Beacon, Maine which is a far cry from the high society life that she knows in Manhattan. It is in Ellen's search for the hometown boy that she finds out secrets about her grandmother and which has her crossing paths with a man who winds up needing her as much as she needs him. I would love to see this book made into a movie!”
Amanda’s back with another dive into Regency era romances with Eloisa James’ Duchess in Love. “Cam is forced by his father to marry Gina. He jumps out a window a few moments after the ceremony and has been in Greece ever since. Twelve years have now passed and Gina summons Cam home so they can annul their marriage as she loves another. Will Gina keep her engagement as she turns to Cam for lessons in kissing? In a turn from the traditional romance novel structure, this story focuses on a group of married people who have their own extramarital love affairs. The thought being that marriage is to beget an official heir, while your heart belongs to your lover. This book is refreshing to me because it’s the first I’ve read that demonstrates this historical occurrence. “
Sweet Ann has just finished Vatican Waltz by Roland Merullo. “This is a short novel that tells the story of Cynthia Piantedosi who is having visions that are leading her to challenge her Catholic faith. She loves her church, not only her local parish, but the bigger church. She recognizes that there are problems in the church, but she finds such comfort there that she is willing to address them. She goes to Rome to meet with a Cardinal to present her idea of what her visions are leading her to believe her future in the church is which is a role not open to women in the Catholic Church. This is a very interesting, thought-provoking book. As a reader you will see Cynthia as a good daughter, granddaughter, really just a good person, searching for her place in the world.”
Barbara M. is putting her foot down. Hard and crushingly on the spine of The Signature of All Things. “In spite of the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love I started reading her new novel The Signature of All Things because Barbara Kingsolver gave it a great review in the New York Times. I was also attracted to the subject –the story of a woman botanist in the 1800s. I’m almost half way through and am getting bored with its repetitiveness. I like the idea of Alma, the strong woman protagonist, but she and many of the other characters feel like caricatures rather than real people. I don’t think I’ll be finishing this book, nor do I think I’ll read any more by this author. “
Pat T. has just finished The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. “This is a delightful and quirky love story about a college professor with Asperger's syndrome, who embarks on a scientific search for the perfect wife called the Wife Project. Along the way he meets a young lady in search of her biological father and together they commence the search for the Father Project. As the two projects become intertwined, the Professor and young lady find their lives upended too! Even though the story is predictable, you can't help but like these characters and muse on the unexpected twist that one can encounter along the journey of life and love!”
Jeanne is only doing one thing this week. Perhaps she feels too over extended by the upcoming Hellidays? “What’s so sad about reading a fictional account of a violently dysfunctional family is that it is true somewhere. If it weren't for the bittersweet love story that Rainbow Rowell writes for Eleanor & Park in the YA novel of the same name, it would be completely tragic. Eleanor is a big girl with crazy red hair and crazier outfits. Park is slender, half Korean and mostly wears black. They're just sixteen, they live in the Flats of Omaha and they meet on the school bus. It seems like the eighties judging from the comics they read together and they music they share on their Walkman, but it could be anytime, anywhere for these sweethearts learning about each other, knowing they are mismatched and falling in love anyway.”
Miss Elisabeth of the CL is now Mrs. Elisabeth! She is fresh back from her nuptials so won’t you join me in welcoming her back and saying Mazel! “This week I’ve been reading The Book of Jezebel, an encyclopedia/coffee table book from the women behind Jezebel.com, one of my favorite websites geared towards women. The book contains entries in alphabetical order (with cross references!) on topics ranging from Princess Jasmine in Aladdin to the Babysitter’s Club Books to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The entries can be funny, sarcastic, or heartfelt and sometimes they’re all 3! It would make a great gift this holiday season for the female millennial in your life; as it’s basically a cultural compendium of everything that makes our generation, well, ours.”
And what would time spent in the Kitchen be without music? Here is DJ Jazzy Patty with not only a playlist but a book pick for your down time. Take it away Jazzy Patty! “Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm, a memoir by Mardi Jo Link is my gratitude reading selection. After reading this, I assure you that you will be able to identify many things in your life to be grateful for like heat in your home, food in your refrigerator, money to pay your bills and mortgage, I could go on. Mardi Jo Link's memoir is heartbreaking and at times hilarious. (Yes, there are chickens involved.) It's a poignant story of will and resilience during divorce while raising three sons and struggling to make ends meet. This year marks the convergence of the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving or what’s being touted as Thanksgivukkah. I can’t imagine a happier time than getting to enjoy turkey and latkes on the same day. As I began to contemplate these holidays next week, I reflect on all the things that I have in my life. We all have something we can be grateful for no matter how small or seemingly simple. . How about this year we all practice a little more kindness? What if we all topped that kindness with a sweet cherry of forgiveness? For this auspicious beginning to our holiday season, my theme is Expressions of Gratitude. “
Greetings! I am back from my trip and have the following to relate. My Traveling Companion (henceforth known as The TC) always visits his hometown book store. This is a lovely bookstore with a robust Golf section and The TC likes to scope out product placement and see what his writing brethren are up to. I just love a bookstore and find no hardship in the visitation of them. On this particular Saturday, I did not see the need to put make up on, dress up or make any sort of effort at all. Do I need to tell you this was a huge mistake? Because who was in the back of the bookstore? Celia Rivenbark! The author whose book I was using as my Fodor’s guide! And I am here to tell you her manners are just as lovely as you would expect. Because when I rushed her, she did not bat an eye at the Insane Yankee Woman with the naked face and comfortable clothing. Nope. She was as gracious as she could be. So let this be a lesson to you all. Nowhere is safe. Make an effort. These are the Jen Words of Wisdom for the week. This week we have some jumping, a fierce love, a gem and some forgiveness, and some singing circus dwarfs.
Let us begin!
Steph has finished reading The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism, by Naoki Higashida. “This book recently got a lot of buzz when David Mitchell (of Cloud Atlas fame) did press for it after its publication, because Mitchell and his wife KA Yoshida translated it from Japanese. Why? Mitchell, who has a son with autism, states it plainly in his foreward: “The Reason I Jump was a revelatory godsend. Reading it felt as if, for the first time, our own son was talking to us about what was happening inside his head, through Naoki’s words.” And indeed, every page of this book is a revelation about Naoki’s inner world that reflected an entirely different way of being back at me. The writing is movingly simple and at times heartbreaking, and the book is so short that when I finished it, I went right back to the beginning and started again. Whether you or someone you are close to live with autism, this is a must-read and an incredible achievement.”
Sweet Ann has no words of wisdom this week. Maybe next week? Meanwhile this week she brings us her take on The Goldfinch by Donna Tart. “This is a beautifully written book that takes the reader on a journey that he or she will remember for a long time, not only for the story, but for the characters. Theo loves his mother and she loves him fiercely. So much so, that that you can feel it from the opening pages. Then there is a terrorist attack that alters Theo's life and carries him from living modestly with his mother to Park Avenue, Las Vegas, The Village and Europe. You will root and cheer for Theo and hope his life could have been easier. His childhood friend Andy will break your heart and Hobie, the antiques dealer who takes him in, will remind you of the good in people. His friend Boris on the other hand has a great heart coupled with quite an addiction problem that will have adult Theo on the adventure of his life. I greatly enjoyed this book but I did think it got slightly long winded at the end. I have enjoyed all of Donna Tartt's novels and I highly recommend them.
Jeanne. Back to two things at once. Thank goodness! “Sometimes I think the short story collection is the second cousin twice removed from the novel. But there are so many good collections and I had the great fortune to have The Isle of Youth by Laura van den Berg recommended to me by Greg Cowles. It is a gem and worth anyone’s reading time. With its seven stories about women who get into some kind of trouble and what they do to deal, I like the fast pace. These are stories to marvel at and are not so long you get tired of the women, but long enough for van den Berg to work the magic of her storytelling. I will be seeking out more such collections. On to Pat Conroy’s new memoir on audiobook, The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son. Why would Peggy Peck from Georgia stay with Donald Conroy a Marine Corps Fighter Pilot from Chicago, who abuses and beats her and the seven kids they have? The author reads his own introduction and this serves to set the turbulent, emotional tone of the book. The rest of the memoir is capably narrated by Dick Hill. As the eldest, Conroy grows up worrying about his siblings and hating his father. When I think of Pat Conroy, I picture a young Nick Nolte in The Prince of Tides in which he says, 'In New York I learned that I needed to love my mother and father in all their flawed, outrageous humanity, and in families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.' I am still thinking about this.”
While The TC was off doing Golfish Things in his Homeland, I was enjoying Love and Treasure the newest from Ayelet Waldman. Jack Wiseman is a tough New Yorker who is charged with guarding a train that was captured on the outskirts of Salzburg at the end of World War II. The train is filled with valuables taken from the Jews of Hungary before they were sent to Concentration Camps. Before he dies, Jack gives a mysterious necklace to his granddaughter, Natalie and asks her to return it to its rightful owner. Natalie soon finds herself immersed in a world of shady art dealers, suffragettes, Nazis and a family of singing circus dwarfs. This is a very rich story told over the entire course of the twentieth century. It comes out in April and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Explore the world of modern and contemporary art with the Darien Library Art iPad. Darien Library is collaborating with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to promote the exploration of art in a variety of mediums. By curling up with an Art iPad, you may:
Pick up your Art iPad at the Welcome Desk. Each Art iPad checks out for one week. We also welcome suggestions to adding more great art apps, so let us know by emailing us at email@example.com.
Art iPads are available to Darien residents, those who work full-time in Darien, and Friends who have donated $300 or more. Patrons must be 18 years old to checkout an Art iPad.
The SoNo Loft’s message this week feels a tad urgent. “Hey, change already” is the thought for the week. Did they forget about clocks? Or is it deeper than that? Maybe we all need to think about what we need to change to be better in our world. I don’t know what the intent is here, so I am just going to bring you the message. Do with it what you will. DJ Jazzy Patty McC. has a playlist this week that celebrates a change that we felt we had to make here at the Home. This week we have some LA, some shade, a supermodel, a message, grief, color, crocodiles, and some southern charm.
Let us begin!
Abby is reading ahead. “While I am a big fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch LA Detective series, his Lincoln Lawyer work has tended to leave me a bit underwhelmed. That said, The Gods of Guilt (release date Dec.2), the latest Lincoln Lawyer book came as a bit of a revelation. Attorney Mickey Haller, frequent defender of the lowest of the low, shows tremendous growth and complexity of character. Connelly is a terrific writer who appears to have gotten into a strong rhythm with his Haller character. He is one of the few prolific writers capable of maintaining and even elevating the quality of his work without it turning into a painful assembly line product.”
The Fabulous Babs B. just finished Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie. “It has to be a mother's worst nightmare; losing her child at birth. Geniver Loxley was told her daughter was stillborn and eight years later a stranger knocks on her door informing her that her daughter was actually taken away as a healthy infant and raised by another couple. So begins this nightmare of a story. Ignoring the warnings of her husband, who is shady to begin with, and friends, Gen begins to dig into the dark corners of her past, hoping she'll find a clue to her daughter's whereabouts. There are so many twists and turns in this psychological suspense that I never guessed the climatic ending and neither will you!”
John is reading The Cuckoo's Calling. “This is the detective mystery by J. K. Rowling written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. I'm not much of a DM buff, but I loved The Casual Vacancy and I admire Rowling's adult narrative voice. So far there is nothing terribly unusual or outstanding about the mystery at hand (supermodel takes a dive off a balcony--is suicide or not?) But for those of you who enjoyed the humanness of ‘Vacancy’, you'll easily slide right into the narrative style of this book. Her writing is very comfortable but I'm struck by the poignancy of her observations and the respect she affords every character--all of which have been gifted something likable--even if they're wholly unpleasant. The setting is London, so for those Anglophiles out there, the dialogue will leave you smiling and fulfilled. There is some indication that this may be the first in a series of DM novels by Rowling, and I will probably keep reading them.”
Pat T. has a message for all you book on CD fans. “I am happy to report the library has just received the unabridged audio book, The Guns at Last Light, by Rick Atkinson! This audio book concludes the Liberation Trilogy about the Allied forces that liberated Europe during World War II. So, all you history buffs who have listened to An Army at Dawn: the War in North Africa, 1942-1944; The Day of Battle: the war in Sicily and Italy, 1943-44 can now look forward to the final volume in this trilogy.”
Sweet Ann has just finished Levels of Life by Julian Barnes. “I listened to this audio book and I am conflicted in my reaction to it. The audio book is read by Julian Barnes and when he speaks of his wife's death and his life without her you feel for him but also feel awkward in sharing his grief. It is a raw raging grief and I wonder why he shared it with strangers as opposed to friends and family. With loss, people will do things and say things others might not understand but I question his motivation in making it so public. Perhaps he found it cathartic but it was difficult to hear him question other people's reactions and comments to his wife's death. He began this memoir with tales about nineteen century ballooning and famous early balloonists which he neatly tied together in the end. Perhaps if I read this book my reaction might have been different as opposed to hearing the actual widower tell his story. I wish him all the best and hope he finds the comfort he needs.”
Barbara M. is reading ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book about Color by Jude Stewart. “This is a fascinating, easy to read book. The book is divided into individual colors and each section is filled with trivia about that color. The short anecdotes or facts may be historic, scientific or just amusing. Many of us are aware that the color worn in one country to play tennis is the color worn for funerals in another, but did you know that many languages don’t distinguish between blue and green or red and orange? Or, did you know that the seven colors we believe the rainbow to be made of were devised by Sir Isaac Newton to correspond with the musical scale? I love the way this book makes you think about perceptions of things we take for granted.”
Jeanne. Only one thing. Discuss. “I am reading an Advanced Reading Copy on my Kindle of The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol and translated from the French by William Rodarmor and Helen Dickinson. The reading is sometimes a little rough because of the possible disconnect with foreign idioms, but I am enjoying the Cinderella story, the first in a trilogy. Joséphine Cortès throws her cheating husband Antonio out and he leaves for Kenya with his cheating girlfriend to manage a crocodile farm owned by the unscrupulous Mr. Wei. Who knew that one crocodile mommy can lay fifty eggs in her nest?! Joséphine is trying to scrape by on her twelfth century historian's pay, while paying her husband's loans and raising her two young daughters. There is a whole host of interesting characters in this novel based mostly in Courbevoie, outside Paris, and I am finding their actions both funny and shocking. I can't wait to see how Joséphine's doctorate in Middle Ages studies pulls her out of her emotional and financial slump.”
I think that when one visits a new locale it just makes sense to study up on the social mores of its denizens before you hit the tarmac. This will save you some embarrassment in the long run if you are up on the ways of the natives. In anticipation of my trip to a place that my traveling companion calls his ‘homeland’ (he does this without irony and frankly, it scares me a little), I picked up Rude Bitches Make Me Tired: Slightly Profane and Entirely Logical Answers to Modern Etiquette Dilemmas by Celia Rivenbark. Celia lives in North Carolina and she is just not having a lot of what passes for polite behavior these days and I have to say that I love her for it. With chapters that are entitled: Funerals: Now is Not the Time for Store-Bought Cakes and Backless Maxi Dresses from Forever 21, and Baby Steps: Is She Pregnant or is that a Booze-Inflated Liver? Hint: Don’t Ask! I also picked up this fact; that a true ‘mixed marriage” is one between a Duke grad and a UNC grad and should be avoided at all costs. Apparently no good can come of this and it will end with tears. This will be good knowledge to possess if we find ourselves in ‘mixed company’ this weekend. I have also learned that the hue of blue you choose to wear can mark you as readily as a gang member wearing his colors. Think Crips and Bloods but with lovely drawls and better manners. Frankly, I find all that exhausting and believe that I will just stick to my Buckeye Scarlet thank you very much. And here’s to 22 games this weekend! Let’s go Buckeyes.
And now a word from DJ Jazzy Patty McC! Who I do adore even if she is from The State Which Must Not Be Named. “If you’ve visited the library recently you might have noticed we have been making some improvements. We apologize for the inconvenience in the parking lot and for being closed this past Monday and sincerely thank you all for your patience. The good news is that from this inconvenience we now have a 400-kilowatt generator that will power our entire library during power outages as well as provide a source for keeping your phones and laptops charged. As a person who is frequently plugged-in, I think this is a GREAT thing. Maybe our new tagline should be, “Apocalypse? We’ve got you covered!” We’re still working on the zombie survival kit, but know that it’s in the works from the best and most paranoid among us. I think this deserves a playlist. And let’s hope we never need to use that generator…much. “