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!



After a brief Helliday Hiatus we are back!  This week’s offerings include a William T. Sherman reference, a happily married woman looking forward to getting to know a man who is not her husband, some recklessness, alternative history, and some deaf people.

Let us begin!

Barbara M reports that, “I'm late to the show I know but I'm finally readingUnbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and it's a riveting piece of World War II history. So far, war is hell.”

Pat T says, “Along with many other readers, I was ‘gifted’ the new biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson for Christmas and have just started this long read on cold winter nights! I am looking forward to better understanding this multi-faceted man who revolutionized our world with his technology innovations.

Jeanne who is finally back with us after a rather unfortunate spill weighs in with the following: “ I read and enjoyed A Good Hard Look - Ann Napolitano. Set in Flannery O'Connor's hometown of Midgeville, Ga, she plays a part in the rather sad, but hopeful cast of characters who were looking for happiness, but found tragedy as a result of their reckless but human actions. This was well-scripted; artfully drawn characters and landscape.

Abby has moved away from a Swedish Mystery and asks us the following:   “If you were given the key to change history, would you?  Should you? 11/22/63 by Stephen King  explores that question in regards to the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Love him or hate him, how would the butterfly effect have impacted our country had Oswald's bullet missed it's mark?  This exploration was a fun and interesting read.”

I am loving Burn Down the Ground by Kambri Crews so much so that I keep almost missing my train stops!  Kambri and her brother were hearing children born to deaf parents.  Her mother was smart, beautiful and kind.  Her father was a bad boy with a bad temper.  A very bad temper.  Such a bad temper that the book begins with Kambri visiting her father in prison.  This is a fascinating look at two very different worlds; the hearing and the Deaf.  

Have a great weekend!


Darien Library's Top 20!


It's that time of year when everyone picks their favorites of the year and we are no exception.  Here is what we have loved this year.   We have multiple copies of these and encourage you to come and visit us for something wonderful.  Have a lovely Holiday!

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

Here are some new titles to tempt you!

Here is what's new in books this week!

Here is what is coming in just in time for the long Holiday Weekend!


New Fiction for the week of 11/14/11

Here is what you can expect to find on the shelves next week. 


This week the Desketeers are remaining pretty true to form.  No big surprises this week.  I think we are still a tad waterlogged.

The offerings are as follows:  red, not pickled herrings, polygamy, a dabbling in a nasty business, an abandoned book, times gone by, and some healing.

Let us begin!

Abby wants to remind us all that “It's no secret I'm a fan of Scandinavian crime fiction and have really enjoyed Norwegian author Jo Nesbo's Detective Harry Hole series.  Headhunters is a standalone novel.  Roger Brown is the top corporate headhunter in Norway.  What he lacks in height he more than makes up for with ego, a sweet car, and exceptionally good hair.  Height is actually an obsession with him as it factors in strongly when considering job candidates and just about everything else. Roger has a lovely (tall) wife, and appears to have everything...except money to finance their lifestyle.  A smart fellow, he comes up with a risky way to keep him and his wife in the style they have become accustomed. There are lots of twists and turns in the story, which become a bit much.  In the end I felt Nesbo was somewhat self-congratulatory about what a clever writer he is to have come up with this plot.    It has some very nice Holy Cow moments along the way, but overall, a bit too many tricks and red herrings.”


Citizen Asha reports, “I am reading Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage. The book is about the Mormon family (Joe, Vicki, Valerie and Alina Darger) who inspired the HBO series Big Love. As a fan of the television show it was fascinating to read about the actual people, sadly it’s not as risqué and drama filled as the show. They live a fairly normal life; PTAs, minivans and blackberries which offers a different view of Mormonism. I just started reading Johannes Cabal: The Detective by Jonathan L. Howard. I am a major fan of Johannes Cabal. He is witty, cranky, arrogant, amoral and he also dabbles in necromancy but don’t hold it against it him. Cabal just wants to practice his experiments in peace and yet, he always finds himself in trouble. Apparently necromancy is not considered a proper way to make a living. Who knew?”


Barbara M. weighs in with the following: “I have done something I do not do easily. I just stopped reading The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. What started as a somewhat interesting book turned into a very strange disjointed one two thirds through and so I abandoned it. I have just begun Still Alice by Lisa Genova about a woman experiencing early onset Alzheimer’s disease and it promises to be a more satisfying read. “




Pat T. has just  “finished listening to the audio book Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, and I would highly recommend this audio book because the narrator had the perfect voice for the book's main character, Katey Kontent. It is a good story that realistically depicts the era, styles, and the well-to-do and working singles of the late 1930s and early '40s just as the nation is coming out of the grips of the Depression into a robust manufacturing economy before World War II.”



I am in love with The Healing which is due out in February.  When the mistress of the plantation has a breakdown after her 12 year old daughter dies she takes in a new born slave baby and renames her Grenada.  Master Satterfield has not only his wife’s increasingly fragile mental state and opium addiction to worry about. Something is causing his field hands to die off in large numbers.  He buys Polly Shine who is a healer to help determine what can be done to halt the epidemic.  In Grenada, Polly recognizes a fellow healer and proceeds to apprentice her.  

Have a great weekend!


All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travellers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken. Thomas Wolfe

Yes Tom.  October does bring out the nesting instinct in us all.  And what better to bring into the house as the nights get longer than some wood for a fire and some books to read?

This month we are looking forward to new works by 4 old favorites. 

The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff brings us the story of 35 year old  English portrait painter Ella Graham.  Ella’s gift is that she can see right away what makes a person unique and can then translate it onto canvas.  When her sister Chloe asks her to paint a portrait of her American fiancé Nate, Ella feels some hesitation at doing so.  Ella feels Nate and sister may not the right fit for each other.   As the portrait comes to life will Ella discover her hunch is correct or will some trick of light prove her wrong?  We loved Wolff’s first book A Vintage Affair and we are really looking forward to this one.

When She Woke is the newest offering from one of our favorite authors,  Hilary Jordan.  In this Dystopian retelling of The Scarlett Letter, Hannah Payne finds herself accused of murder.  The victim?  Her unborn child.  Her punishment?  She is now a Red .  Literally.  Hannah is red so that everyone will know her crime.   




In The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides asks the question, in this age of unromantic love brought about by pre-nups, sexual freedom and divorce can  a traditional love story or marriage plot survive?  Meet Madeline, the English Major, her boyfriend Leonard, the boy science genius, and Mitchell their friend with a strong interest in Christian mysticism who is convinced the Madeline is his romantic destiny.  It is the early 1980s and they have just graduate from Brown University ready to embark on their lives.  Over the next year they learn things and have experiences that will color their lives forever.  


Boomerang;  Travels in the New Thrid World  by Michael Lewis takes a hard look at the United State's financial crisis and its ripple effect on markets world wide.  We look forward to hearing his take on a rapidly changing reality.



Here’s to crisp cool days and falling leaves!



This week we offer you the following:  hilarity at the expense of a country, talking dogs and lusty werewolfs, shattered dreams, an errant scholar, and a Sardinian grandmother.

Let us begin!

Citizen Asha reports: “I just finished The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo by Lars Arffssen. It’s his irreverent and absurdist parody of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. I loved it, I think everyone should read this book—he has fun poking at Swedish society. I laughed so hard, I think I may have to reread it. “




Abby is reading One Dog Night by David Rosenfelt and The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan.  “Sometimes a light read is just what you need, and I have needed that around 9 times now with the Andy Carpenter series.  Set in the non-glam city of Paterson, New Jersey, Andy is a defense attorney who can afford to be choosy with the cases he accepts.  Andy's top assistant is Tara, a Golden Retriever he rescued and to whom he is deeply devoted.  Along with Tara, Andy's colorful group of associates provides fun banter as they investigate cases and pursue romance. In this book, Andy's accepts a seemingly hopeless case when he learns the defendant was Tara's original owner. Owing the man a debt for bringing Tara into his life, the defense teams kicks into high gear.

“Last week I said that despite the title, The Family Fang was not a werewolf book.  The Last Werewolf, as the title states, most definitely is. Jake Marlowe is the last of his kind, a real werewolf and all that goes with it.  He's lusty, physical and feels some conflict over what he must do to survive.  Being the last also means he is a target for the greatest werewolf slayer of them all.  While Jake is ready to say goodbye and pack it in without a fight, Jake's hunter will not be denied the fight he has dreamed of and believes he deserves.  This book is not to be confused with the recent werewolf teen fad.  This, is a werewolf book.”



Marianne is weighing in with The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuko.  “Let me start by saying how much I love Julie Otsuko's writing style.  She conveys in spare and haunting prose the plight of Japanese mail-order brides who were brought to this country in the 1920's expecting to enjoy a prosperous and full life.  Once here, their dreams were shattered as they became field hands, house servants and low level laborers.  In addition, they faced racial prejudice and ultimately the internment camps during WWII.  To really appreciate the poetic aspect of this book, I think it should be read in small increments of a few pages at a time. If read, straight through, the author's use of repetition can become a little monotonous and the impact of the tragic lives these women led may become lost.”


Jeanne is reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.   “I am about 200 pages in.  I want to put it in a headlock and give it a big noogie.  Hope I can sustain this bonhomie through another 300 pages. It's really the first book that I have read in a while that keeps me from my studies!”




Barbara M is reading a From the Land of the Moon by the Italian author, Milena Agus.  “An unnamed granddaughter tells the story of her Sardinian grandmother who, because she was thought to be crazy, didn’t marry until she was 30, had one child (the narrator’s father), and dreamed of true love. Although it is a translation the language is beautiful and poetic.”



Have a great weekend!



This week we have the usual fabulous offerings, moments of head scratching, and shenanigans.  We are pleased to present to you the following:  some drama, the City of Lights because it would seem we ALWAYS have Paris in these reviews (would someone please just go ahead and send us all to Paris.  We’d be eternally grateful), children,  some toiling, a sensational scandal and a friend that no one should have.

Let’s get started!

Citizen Asha has just finished “ Mice by Gordon Reece. Shelley and her mother compare themselves to mice: small, meek, easily targets. Both women deal with conflict from their friends and her father. They move to the English countryside to escape the drama, however, one night the drama comes to find them. The women find themselves tested and pushed to their breaking point. This causes Shelley to question whether or not they are “mice” and if they are not, what are they?”



Barbara M can as usual be found dreaming of her beloved Paris. “I’m reading A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway. This edition supposedly presents the book as the author intended it to be as opposed to what his fourth wife Mary edited it into. It’s a wonderful portrait of Paris in the 1920s.”



Abby has just read a favorite amongst the Desketeers,The  Family Fang.   “This one may sounds like yet another vampire book, but it is not. The Fang Family is made up of Caleb, Camille, Annie, and Buster. Caleb and Camille are wholly committed (and committable?) performance artists who fully immerse themselves in their art.  Their children, referred to as Child A & B in art publications to give them a false sense of privacy, have no choice but to be full participants in their parents "events." While the parents may believe art is the tie that binds, it can also be a destructive force.  Creating beauty can be an ugly business. It is an interesting mix of humor, rejection, and conditional love.”

Pat reports in with the following: " I have just finished reading The Buddha in the Attic by Jukie Otsuka. It is a short book with powerful story about the young Japanese brides traveling to America to meet their new husbands; spending their days toiling in the fields enduring hard work and much humiliation; and ending up in the round up of the Japanese in the Internment camps. The author's writing style was different because she focused on subject matter more than character development, but I still enjoyed the message of the book.”


Marianne is doing some rethinking with her pick of Faith by Jennifer Haigh. "This is a story of a priest accused of sexual abusing a young boy.  The priest's sister narrates the tale that is filled with the complicated interactions of their Irish-Catholic family.  And while I couldn't put it down and read it cover to cover, I later questioned whether or not I, the reader, had been manipulated by the author who was exploiting a sensational scandal.  However, after talking with others who've read the book and didn't see it that way at all, I've reconsidered and decided to take a second look at this book."


I love  the hilarious Practical Jean by Trevor Cole.  After watching her mom waste away from a painful and ultimately fatal cancer Jean decides that no one she loves should have to suffer like that ever again.  And Jean?  She is just the woman to help you out with that.  So if Jean happens to be your “friend” I would be very very careful if I were you.  Honestly?  I was snickering on the train this morning.  Which makes me look as unhinged as Jean herself.  I am totally fine with that  if it means I get my own seat.   


Have a wonderful weekend.


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