If you never miss "Car Talk" ...or wake up to "Morning Edition"...or catch up on your drive home with "All Things Considered"...NPR has collected 40 years' worth of outstanding broadcasts in a new collection that you will love. If you're not familiar with any of these programs, NPR: The First Forty Years is a great way to find out what you've been missing.
The four discs in the set feature best-of broadcasts from the 1970s through the 2000s. Early segments include live coverage of Viet Nam protests, a scientific examination of whether Wint-O-Green Life Savers candy really gives off sparks, Nixon's resignation, the hidden codes and secrets found in five-dollar bills, into the 80s and 90s with the Car Talk guys, analysis of the Challenger disaster, Red Barber's insights on baseball and camellias, the fall of communism, and more recently, international news stories like 9/11. NPR was there for all of the events, tears, and laughter over the past 40-plus years -- this set will send you back in time and is a must for NPR fans and new listeners alike.
This week we have an evolving relationship, a trip to Iceland, some problems that just might turn into a stalking, love, Paris (of course! We always have Paris!) and two fabulous women named Muffie and Ali.
Let us begin!
Ann is working on, “American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar. I am just in the beginning of this story but I am hooked to see how the relationship between young Hyat is going to evolve with his mother's friend Mina. As a college student he is now telling a friend why he blames himself for what happened to Mina when he was younger. “
Marianne says” I've just read Operation Napoleon, a new (at least to us in this country) novel from my favorite Icelandic author, Arnaldur Indridason. While I really don't think it's up to his police procedurals featuring Inspector Erlander, it certainly had me reading into the night. The author's description of Iceland's landscape is so central to his novels that it becomes a character in its own right. For a change of pace I always enjoy a bleak, dark and fast-moving thriller. “
Citizen Asha worries us yet again this week with her pick, White Girl Problems by Babe Walker. She says “because let's face it, I can totally relate. That being said, it is the most hysterical thing I have read in a long time. Poor Babe is a vapid, self-centered, fashionista who has lots to say about the world around her. Did I mention that I want to be her friend? I even look at her blog, does that make me a stalker? I hope not because she makes me so happy. “ Babe, our advice to you is to run. Run like the wind.
Pat T. states “Since we celebrated Valentine's Day this week I found the perfect book to read as I was shelving it on Main Street - All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps by Dave Isay the founder of Story Corps. StoryCorps is a oral history project and the participants record, share and preserve the stories of their lives. In this book, the storytellers reveal their stories of falling in love: remembering a loved one; and finding love unexpectedly. The most poignant story was from a woman who honored her husband who died in 9/11 and then she tragically passed away in a plane crash a few years later.”
Barbara M. is back in Paris , in her mind anyway with this selection: “ I’m reading Tatiana de Rosnay’s new book, The House I Loved and in spite of its flaws I don’t want it to end. It’s set in Paris during the 1860s when Haussmann was modernizing the city and as in her other books it involves a secret.”
I am in love Ali Wentworth’s new book Ali in Wonderland: And Other Tall Tales Ali’s memoir about growing up as the daughter of the fabulous Muffie Cabot who was Nancy Reagan’s social secretary. This book literally can have you laughing so hard you are crying one minute (the chapter on the family’s nannies is worth the price of the book. Trust me.) and the next you are really feeling for Ali during her darker periods. But through it all Muffie is there with her ultimate sense of WASP Suck-It-Up, No Wallowing Allowed and a toasted English muffin with tomato. And don’t tell Asha but I want them to be my friends too. But they are real and I promise no stalking.
This week we have some more greatness, a broken hip, divorce, some self exploration, toast in a boat, Wall Street shenanigans, a Prince, dementia, and some seriously creepy writing.
Let us begin!
Barbara M. says, “Undaunted by its size I’m still reading Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie and it just keeps getting better and better. Massie’s writing makes the era come alive. “
Ann has just finished reading How It All Began by Penelope Lively. “Charlotte, an elderly woman, breaks her hip and that has repercussions for many people in her life including her daughter, her daughter's boss and his niece. It is fun and poignant at the same time, quite an enjoyable read.”
Citizen Asha is reading The Postmortal by Drew Magary. “What would you do if they found the cure for longevity? Would you take? The novel follows the post-cure life John Farrell who was once a lawyer but when cycle marriages are introduced he leaves that to become an “end of life specialist.” Apparently, since no one is dying the population is increasing, and the divorce rate is now 100%. Who would have thought that would happen? “As an aside I just want to put out there that Asha is young and innocent. She will learn in time.
Abby ponders the following: “Do you think before you leap? Think before you speak? Become revitalized by solitude? Actually look forward to an evening alone with just you and a book? In a world that values the gregarious and extroverted; Susan Cain's book Quiet; The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking explores the mighty tools of introverts. The book presents an interesting opportunity for self-exploration and empowerment.”
Pat T. checks in with the following: “After reading Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt I knew I wanted to read his newest book Kayak Morning: Relflections on Love, Grief and Small Boats. In this book, Rosenblatt has taken up kayaking in hopes of finding solitude as he attempts to come to terms with his grieve over the sudden death of his 38 year old daughter two years ago. He laments that "they do not tell you how to live in this world without your daughter" and yet as he moves forward in his kayak, as well as in life, he knows that Amy lives in his love for her.
Pat S. has two reads that are very different from each other. “Bond Girl by Erin Duffyis a new light and very entertaining take on Wall Street. If you liked The Devil Wears Prada, you should enjoy this one as well. Young college co-ed gets first job in a big firm on the street! The reality doesn't quite match the dream. Moves right along-perfect for that February island vacation.”
“Prince Philip: A Turblulent Early Life of the Man Who Married Queen Elizabeth II is a riveting biography of the ' man in the shadows' to the Queen of England. While he survives a childhood which only just stops short of Dickensian in description, it does explain why she and her solid family links were so appealing to him. As well, it gives an excellent historical narrative of the English monarchy in the 20th century. It is very interesting reading.”
Jeanne, who has been felled by a mighty and awful cold, chimes in with the following: “I just finished Bill Warrington's Last Chance by James King who happens to be from Wilton. It's not the great American novel or even the great Fairfield County novel, but not bad for a debut. Widower and former marine, Bill Warrington who has always been a take charge, no nonsense guy, realizes he is developing dementia or Alzheimers and has an idea of bringing his three estranged children together for group redemption while he still has the chance. He manages to take his 15 year old granddaughter on a misguided cross-country trip (with the granddaughter driving!) to a place his kids will remember from their childhood. The granddaughter/grandfather exchanges are often humorous and spot on. The book is rife with dysfunctional relationships, anger and angst, but King writes with humor and empathy about complicated feelings. A quick read that may ring all too true.”
I am LOVING the new Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl. For those who are unfamiliar Gillian is an RA obsession. If you like dark, creepy fiction with a serious twist Gillian is your girl. Gone Girl introduces us to Amy and Nick Dunne. It begins as your classic Dateline NBC story. Wife disappears and the husband seems oddly cool about it. Perhaps too cool. But remember this is Gillian Flynn. Things are about to get a whole lot darker, creepier and weirder before all is revealed. This comes out in June so in the meantime check out her previous books, Dark Places and Sharp Objects. And we can’t help but wonder if Gillian’s husband sleeps with one eye open. Because he should. He’d be a fool not to.
Little Princes by Conor Grennan. For readers who enjoyed Three Cups of Tea, this is the story of a young man who volunteers at an orphanage in Nepal, as a sort of self-justification before embarking on further world travels. Nepal is emerging from a civil war, and the 18 children at the orphanage are not actually orphans…they are victims of kidnappers and extortionists. Grennan finds purpose and his own future in the plight of the children, whose smiles and energy will stay with you long after you’ve finished this life-affirming book.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Ever wonder why some people thrive on social activity and others need “down time” to re-charge? It turns out that there are more introverts in the world than you might think – at least one out of every three people meets the criteria. In our culture of celebrity and social media, the value of a quiet, more thoughtful disposition is getting buried. Susan Cain reminds us that our world was built, to a large extent, on contributions from introverts like Rosa Parks and Dale Carnegie. Quiet tells us how we can all live and work more productively by understanding our own selves better, no matter where we fall on the extrovert-introvert scale.
NPR: The First Forty Years. All Things Considered. Fresh Air. Car Talk. Morning Edition. They’ve been mainstays for years, and this new collection gathers the best, by decade, of NPR broadcasts. We move from live commentary on Viet Nam protests in the 70s to the Challenger explosion of 1986, the Clarence Thomas hearings, September 11, and less weighty topics like whether the Wint-O-Green Life Savers candy really sparks when chewed in the dark (it does!). This four-disc CD set is a perfect travel companion through the past forty years of NPR. And no fundraising breaks!
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Wilder Life (2011) reminded us of the cherished series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, tracing her childhood in pioneer America. Although they’re technically children’s books and classified as fiction, this series taught many young readers about life in the 1800s: log cabins, one-room schoolhouses, primers, prairie bonnets, and so many more details that are remembered by readers years later. The books actually hold up quite well and can be appreciated by adult readers as well. Re-connect with a beloved childhood friend or discover Laura and her family for the first time!
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Anne (note the "e") Shirley is probably the first redheaded orphan in literature. She was a mistake--sent from the orphanage when the Cuthbert siblings really needed was a boy to help around the farm. Instead, Anne wins them over and still 100+ years later, is one of the most resourceful, positive, and is always-getting-herself-into-trouble-and-back-out-again heroines ever written! The entire series is a must-read.
Three Junes by Julia Glass. This is a book divided into three sections which correspond to three different Junes in 1989, 1995, and in the early 2000s. We begin with the Scottish patriarch, Paul, who heads to Greece after his wife dies. He meets and tries to cultiviate a relationship with a young female painter, Fern. Then the book jumps to Paul's gay son, Fenno. Paul's children are gathering at the homestead to prepare for their father's funeral. Most of the book focuses on Fenno. The final section unites Fern with Fenno at a dinner party in the Hamptons. This is a story of misunderstandings, how to survive after a loved one's death, things we never said, and how to keep on living.
The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. In a kingdom divided between the lowlands and the highlands (mountains), there is a mountain village that is famous for the rocks it quarries. In this village is a girl named Miri who desperately wants to help in the quarry but is forbidden. Then the messanger comes -- all eligible girls are to be trained in lowland manners in preparation for being the Prince's bride as ordained by the kingdom's priests. Who will become princess? Who will foil the kidnapping plot? Will Miri find her place in life?
Quick Fix Meals: 200 Simple, Delicious Recipes to Make Mealtime Easy by Robin Miller. When I moved away from home the first time, I needed to learn to eat more than sandwiches. I searched the cookbooks at the local library until I came away with this gem. I wowed my parent with my seemingly complicated but simple chicken parmesan!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. 74 years ago, the thirteen districts rebelled against the Capitol. The districts lost but now they must pay by sending two tributes--teenagers--to fight to the death. There can only be one survivor. For Katniss Everdean, the choice was instinctive when her little sister's name was called, "I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!" The movie for this hit series comes out next month.
We love Pinterest here at Darien Library! Now you can share your favorite books, movies, and games, by just clicking the Pin It! button on any item in our catalog.
Pinterest is an online pinboard website that lets you pin things you like, discover new items, and engage in one of the fastest growing communities online. People create boards on any topic and then "pin" items that are relevant to that topic. Pinterest can be used to help plan redecorating your home, a wedding, finding recipes, and more. Currently this is an invite only website, but you can request an invitation.
Once you have created your Pinterest account, you can create boards to keep track of what books to read and movies you have watched -- all from our catalog. Let us know what you think!
Madame Toussaud by Michelle Moran (audio book). A fictional account of the life of Mdm. Toussaud from her wax museum in Paris depicting famous people of her lifetime to the "death masks" of the Reign of Terror. A fascinating life of a woman who enjoyed the favor of the royals, the respect of the revolutionaries, and then spent months in prison.
The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow. A nonficiton account of a family-run bridal shop in small town Michigan. An enjoyable read of brides and their dresses through the generations, and a interesting account of the stresses that occur from working with your family and difficult economic times.
11/22/63 by Stephen King. A wonderful book containing time travel, intrigue, and romance. It is a fun ride back in history and you are rooting for Jack/George the entire time.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. 13 year old Connor's mother is dying of cancer. His father lives in America with his new wife. His grandmother hates him. Bullies at school beat him up. His best friend betrayed him. Then one night, a monster comes to his window and offers to tell him three stories in exchange for something Connor might not be able to give: the truth.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. When Hazel was 13 she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Now 16, a miracle drug has prolonged her life but not changed her prognosis. Believing she's depressed, her doctor sends her to a support group that meets "literally in the heart of Jesus." There she meets August, a hottie in remission who shares her disdain for misuse of the word 'literal.' Heart-warming and heartbreaking, this is a story of life and love in the face of certain death.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. A finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer prize. Dave is 21 when his father dies suddenly of cancer, months before his mother dies after her own three year battle with the disease. As the youngest and least tied-down of his siblings, Dave is left the care of his 8 year-old brother, Toph. By turns angry, anxious, hysterical, and beautiful, AHWOSG is a memoir that stays with you long after you turn the final page.
This week’s offerings bring us a precocious lad, an Empress, a type of obsession or perhaps an obsession of type, a little sweetness, a little murder, a little love and the end of the world.
Let us begin!
Pat T. reports that “In anticipation of seeing the newly released movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close I have just started reading the book by Jonathan Safran Foer. The story is about a young boy's loss when his father dies in the World Trade Towers on September 11th and his search throughout New York City to unlock the clues of a key his Dad left behind. The young boy is smart, precocious and his quest is an outlet for dealing with his grieve and loss.”
Barbara M. is “reading Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, Robert Massie’s wonderful biography and I’m loving it so far.”
Abby says, “Before reading Just My Type by Simon Garfield, I had a passing interest in fonts and design. Now, I have a mild obsession. Type is everywhere. One man who tried to live a day without Helvetica ended up having to become a recluse with no access to media or mass transportation to avoid the omnipresent font. The histories of some fonts are filled with scandal and thievery, as in the case of when IKEA changed its signage and catalog font from Futura to Verdana, tempers flared. One downside to this book: I now have a hard time selecting fonts due to the added burden of knowing more about them. Show me a list of fonts, and over thinking sets in following by brief decision-making paralysis. A very fun read!”
The Lovely and Delightful Priscilla has enjoyed a recent staff favorite The Good American by Alex George she feels that, “This is a sweet story of Frederick and his wife Jette immigrating to America at the turn of the last century. It made me laugh and cry.”
Marianne weighs in with A Lonely Death by Charles Todd. “This American mother-son writing team has a lock on the British police procedural especially dealing with the aftermath of WWI. This is their 13th novel featuring Scotland Yard Inspector, Ian Rutledge who himself has to cope with PTSD and the relentless voice in the back of his head. Once again, this book kept me glued right up to the last page.”
Asha is reading something relatively normal. “I'm listening to Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James and it is fantastic! I adore Pride and Prejudice, so it is nice being able to revisit characters that I have come to know and love. “
I am really loving The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. This is not the sort of thing I enjoy normally, but Walker's way with a story has me hooked! Julia is an 11 year old who is not only navigating the rocky way of adolescence but the fact that the world has slowed its spin and is dying. Walker is an amazing writer who totally remembers what it feels like to on the cusp of something big and can totally imagine something big we can only hope would never happen. This one comes out in June.
Have a great weekend!
A Good American by Alex George. A sweet story of Frederick and Jette immigrating to America. Family, Love, and a wonderful cast of charcters. Made me laugh and cry.
Navigating Traps & Maps by Maura Laughlin Carley (local author). Great handbook to help you find your way through health care issues and problems. Transitioning from one health care program to another.
Bomerang: Travels in The New Third World by Michael Lewis. The credit boom told country by country. Mr. Lewis delves into the culture of each country and how differently each came to embrace this phenomenon. I found it hilarious but sad.
"Perfect Host". Perception is not always reality, that being said you should probably be careful about the people who seem unassuming. I found the movie to be disturbing but hilarious. I'm not sure what that says about my sense of humor.
Ed King by David Guterson. An interesting adaption of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. Gutereson took a few liberties with the characters but I think it was fastastic. A new, and fresh take on the Oedipus saga.
Little Children by Tom Perotta. I listened to the audiobook and the characters in this book were so unlikable, I could not relate to any of them but that does not take away from how wonderfully written the book is.
This week’s offerings show us back in Paris (like we ever really leave), in the English countryside, enjoying a parody and the real thing, and a philosophical musing regarding leadership.
Let us begin!
Barbara M. reports that she is “plodding through The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough, about the Americans who ventured to Paris in the early 1800s. It’s very informative but not an easy read.”
I am really enjoying The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley. This is the perfect read for those of us waiting for the new Kate Morton to show up again. Julia Forester, world famous concert pianist, has come back to Wharton Park, where her grandfather was the gardener in charge of the greenhouses, after a personal tragedy to heal. She discovers an old diary and sets out to find out what really happened when Harry, a former heir to Wharton Park, married Olivia in the days before World War II. This one while not in the catalog yet will be by the beginning of next week and it is due out on February 14th.
Citizen Asha says, I just started Option$: the Secret Life of Steve Jobs by Daniel Lyons. It’s a fascinating, and irreverent parody on the life of Steve Jobs. I’m a fan.
Pat T. reports that she is “Continuing with Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and I am enjoying the biography about this multi-faceted man. Jobs was a man of contradictions - on a personal level he was Zen like in his life style, yet his business dealings were with multimillion dollar corporations. “
Pat S. spins it this way:” I cannot say enough how much I (unexpectedly) enjoyed Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson.The surprise is the history of Silicon Valle-while it was becoming Silicon Valley! Every company name, CEO, and mover and shaker in the industry is easily recognized and remembered. Oddly enough, it took much of the 'mystery' out of the myth of Silicon Valley. For those of us of 'a certain age' it is like a companion piece to ones' professional life. As to Jobs himself, he is really no more than a misanthrope-albeit a brilliant one. However, no tears were shed for what some might refer to as his 'untimely' passing. Issacson did an outstanding job-on all accounts.”
Priscilla muses on the following: Catherine the Great : Portrait of a Woman by Peter Massie is a wonderful read. So many women during this period were running countries and we have not had a woman president yet?
Have a great weekend!