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!
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!
Hi, faithful YAWYRers! While Jen is off playing in North Carolina, I (Stephanie) am filling in. We wouldn’t want to leave you with no new book recommendations just as it’s finally starting to feel like summer! And this week is full of great summer reads, including romance, Concord, Hemingway (will he ever go away?), and a DL staff favorite who is taking us to Mallorca. Yes, all of us. Pack your bags, we’re leaving soon!
Amanda read The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James, who is also one of my favorite romance novelists. "This is perhaps the best romance novel I've read. From the first sentence to the last, the story is engaging. Lots of stories give some multi-page introduction before getting into the meat of the plot, but this one dives straight in. There's even a totally unexpected but thrilling twist to the story—one that I never saw coming! It's wonderful that Daisy has such a level head on her shoulders. At the beginning, she's 17 and full of starry-eyed romance. The moment she stops seeing James as her almost-brother and starts seeing him as a man is believable and just like real life. Later on, she grows into a very competent, independent woman who has turned a failing estate into a very profitable one. She's a great heroine."
Virginia survived to tell us about her reading, and I am sure glad she did. “Consumption (ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a horrid summer cold) hit my household this past weekend, and the only thing that made it bearable was a bottle of Nyquil, the new season of Orange is the New Black and the historical novel Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood. I loved, loved, loved this book. My only complaint is that it was way too short, and I wanted more. Written in four parts and based on real love letters and telegrams, the book gives a glimpse of the life each of Hemingway’s four wives had with him and how they all came to this brilliant but tortured man. It is a captivating read and a perfect summer read. Also, I just started listening to The Vacationers by Emma Straub and I am already caught up in the dysfunction and strife of the family and friends vacationing together in Spain.”
But wait! You thought that was the last you’d hear about Emma Straub today? (Remember her first book, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures?) Think again. Jeanne is listening to it, too. “I’m recommending the audio version of Emma Straub's newest book, The Vacationers. It's kind of a beach read; in fact, it is set on the beaches of Mallorca (or Majorca) so the print version might be easier, but the day-to-day infidelities, backbiting and general dysfunction of the Post family and their friends is much more satisfying out loud. In the book, the NYC and Miami couples and singles converge on a borrowed house for two weeks, and Kristen Sieh has just the right voice and tone to let us enjoy other peoples' discomfort.”
As for me—I have been reaching way back into the past and re-reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau for a book group. And I’ve found it holds up remarkably well! How can any of us disagree with this sentiment? “Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them.”
And to send us into the weekend with a smile, especially because it looks like the sun will be making an appearance…The Playlist, which this week is SO FRESH IT’S HOT! Inspire us, DJ Jazzy Patty McC: “Being influenced by what we choose to consume, what we surround and immerse ourselves in is not a bad thing; subconsciously, we take things in, absorb them and then make them our own. Sometimes in our lives we need a little new, a little FRESH! My family has a tradition of creating a theme for our summer. This summer we’ve dubbed it “The Summer of Discovery & Exploration.” No doubt it grew out of our theme from last year “The Year of No Fear” and our move from Connecticut to Michigan. So I invite you this summer to create your own FRESH family theme, or borrow ours. Read something outside your normal genre. Plant something in the ground. Grab a cookbook and try a new recipe. Listen to some new music, a new band. Whatever you choose to do, make it FRESH and make sure you get outside to discover and explore. You just might be surprised at how much it fills you with joy. The surprise could even come from the realization and awareness that it was right there all along in your own backyard, and that’s NEVER a bad thing. Now go forth, discover and explore. Oh, I almost forgot, a BIG ‘Happy Father’s Day’ to all you Daddios!”
The message this week from the SoNo Loft is Adventure Awaits! And indeed it does! Next week I am going on vacation to what is referred to, without irony it should be noted, by the Traveling Companion as The Homeland. The rest of us call it North Carolina, specifically Southern Pines and Pinehurst. The real adventure here is that I will be attending my first major golf tournament. Those who know me realize that this may not be the best fit. But I am going in, I am excited and I will report back. Sweet Ann is also having an adventure next week and will be exploring areas of New York City with one of her sons that she has never been to before. She is excited. Erin and Mallory are going to the Ninety9 Bottle Craft Beer Fest tomorrow in SoNo as their adventure. And they are excited too. So I encourage you all to get out there. The weather promises to be glorious so no excuses will be accepted. Have an adventure this weekend! Try something new. Get excited about it and then report back and let us know what you did. This week we have a Painter, a biologist, a rotary phone, Australia, Norway, a pile, some drinking, Liverpool, Ozarks, pain meds, Nazis, and golf. Because it would appear all roads lead to golf. Playlist? You betcha! Would it be a weekend without one?
Let us begin!
John has been busy. Very, very busy. Here is what he has been working on. “First, there was The Painter, Peter Heller’s second novel. Hellers first book, The Dog Stars, was one of my favorites from 2012 so you can imagine I was anxious to read his second. The storyline was not at all what I expected and I found myself, once again, engrossed in his storytelling. Hellers prose is clean and clear and his descriptions of nature will leave you feeling like you’re standing in a mountain stream, underneath a clear, starry sky. If a novel about vigilante painters piques your interest, you will enjoy this one. I then moved on, and quickly through, the first two books in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation and Authority (the third book comes out in September). This is serious science fiction for connoisseurs of the genre. The series begins are we are dropped into the mysterious ‘Area X’ as a biologist representing an all-female, multi-disciplinary research team. But things start going wrong terribly wrong immediately, just as they did for the dozens and dozens of teams that came before them. This is an eerie and deeply psychological series that will give you goose bumps and keep you turning the pages.”
The Delightful Mallory joined our ranks as a full timer this week and we could not be more pleased. Here is what she has enjoyed recently. “Rainbow Rowell does this thing. She creates these characters, these deeply flawed, difficult characters, and makes you fall desperately in love with them. Rainbow's newest protagonist, Georgie, can be found in the July debut Landline. Georgie is career-driven to a fault, used to getting what she wants, a barely-there mother and wife and she is about to receive the opportunity of a lifetime. In saying yes to this new opportunity, she loses both her husband and two young daughters. And just what is her method of coping? Wearing awful velour track suits and utilizing a magical, time-traveling rotary phone! As Georgie rapidly spirals downward, she also begins to understand what truly matters and what it takes to fix it. Landline is as quick as it is touching, the perfect summer read.”
Miss Elizabeth of the CL has a new obsession. I’ll let her explain. “This week I discovered a new obsession streaming on Netflix (and soon to be available at the library!) Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Set in the roaring 20's in bustling Australia, the television series follows the entirely glamorous, fabulously wealthy, Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher as she solves crimes around Australia, flies planes, drives fast in wicked-looking cars, wears gorgeous clothing, and has innumerable flirtations with dangerous men. In short, the series is perfect and I cannot recommend it enough. So imagine my joy when I discovered my new favorite TV show is based on a series of detective novels! I raced through the first Phryne Fisher Mystery in just a few days. Cocaine Blues follows Phryne's return to the continent where she was born into poverty many years before, on a mission to determine if the wealthy daughter of an acquaintance is being poisoned by her philandering husband. Drama, intrigue, and delectable descriptions of clothing and luncheons follow. “
Sweet Ann has just finished Days in the History of Silence by Norwegian author Merethe Lindstrom. “I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is in my top favorite reads of this year. The novel takes place in Norway and centers on the long marriage of Eva, a former teacher and Simon, a retired doctor. It is a very thoughtful and wonderful reflection of a marriage and the secrets that a couple share between themselves. Simon has stopped talking and spends his days in silence and while Eva misses his voice she accepts that silence is the way he deals with his past. Their grown daughter thinks she would be happier if Simon was put in a home. This novel is described as unnerving and it is as Eva, the narrator of this novel, reflects on her marriage and the secrets their shared past. I can't recommend this novel enough and it will stay with you long after you finish reading it.
Abby was abroad last week. Here is one of the titles she is excited about. “BEA provided me with the opportunity to meet authors whose work I have long respected. I was charmed by David Mitchell and enjoyed hearing him speak because of the content of his talk, anticipation over his new novel The Bone Clocks, and on a more superficial note, his wonderful accent. I’ve read a few of his previous books and find him to be a thoughtful writer capable of creating complex worlds. His latest, The Bone Clocks, is at the Top ‘O the To Be Read pile.”
Steph has found some peace in between the covers of the following.” During this past crazy week my respite was Fourth of July Creek, a debut novel by Smith Henderson. I knew I had to check it out after hearing great things about it at BEA, and then getting an email from John with the subject line ‘OMG’ that contained only the link to this book. The story centers around Pete Snow, a social worker in rural Montana who is only slightly less troubled than the families he helps out. His wife and daughter are leaving him, he drinks like a fish, and lives on his own in a cabin. But that’s nothing compared to the dysfunction he sees on a regular basis, especially after he returns a kid to his backwoods survivalist father in a cabin where he is defacing US coinage in preparation for the end of the world. (Believe me, that sentence doesn’t come close to explaining the insanity of Jeremiah Pearl.) As Snow’s life and the lives he manages get increasingly chaotic, his daughter goes missing, her story popping up in between chapters and growing increasingly dire. Sounds cheery, right? Well, it’s a grim book, but a great one. Henderson’s writing is rough and oh-so American, reminding me of Cormac McCarthy by way of Bonnie Jo Campbell, and the story is addictive to the point of making me wish for a train delay. OMG is right!”
Introducing Julia our RA High School Intern! Take it away Julia! I went to my very first BEA last Thursday and met some very cool publishers and authors. I brought home plenty of books that are going on the list to read in the upcoming weeks, including We Are Called to Rise, about a child’s fate told through an immigrant boy, two women, and a young veteran. I’m excited to read these new books, but before I do I had to go back and read a book from years ago that I just never got around to, Gone Girl. I know everyone is probably over it by now, but I’m halfway through and enjoying it immensely. Also, in the past week I’ve gotten a recommendation from Stephanie, the head of Readers’ Services, about the book Red or Dead by David Peace. It’s about The Liverpool Football Club, who, with the help of their beloved coach, make it up the ranks and win the title. I haven’t heard such glowing reviews from a book in a long time, so it’s going on the ever-growing list of novels I’ll make time to read.”
Virginina the Tall Cool Texan is still on the treadmill. Still listening. Go Virginia! “I love a great mystery/thriller, especially as an audiobook, because it makes my workouts go so much faster, and The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh did not disappoint. In fact, it was so outstanding, I am actually sad I already finished it, and wished I would have paced myself a bit more. A young girl living in the Ozark Mountains is haunted by the gruesome death of a friend and goes searching for answers only to find they lead back to the mystery of her missing mother. If you liked Gone Girl, this dark novel is for you. Also, I just finished All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner. The main character, Allison Weiss, is a woman who supposedly has it all; the perfect home, a great husband, a precocious daughter and a wonderful, fulfilling job. Unfortunately, she also has a serious addiction to painkillers. When it spirals out of control her perfect life crumbles around her. While I am not sure I loved this book, I did enjoy it and parts of it have stuck with me. It is worth reading and I think it is going to be a very popular book this summer.”
Pat S is not happy this week. She found Flash Boys by Michael Lewis to be less than satisfying. Here’s her reasoning. ”Now, we all know that I am a longtime fan of all things Michael Lewis, so imagine my delight when I finally got my hands on Flash Boys. The first third of the book introduced the topic of high frequency traders in the finance industry and their ability to game the system by virtue of a technical glitch of ‘micro-seconds’, or ‘frontrunning’ thus affecting the transparency of the market. Lewis focuses on the technological developments in the operation of financial markets which have occurred at such a fast pace that the regulatory board (SEC) has not been able to keep up with them. In his usual style, Lewis gives us a narrative that includes heroes, villains-and the moral high ground. Unfortunately, where in books such as The Big Short, Liars’ Poker and Boomerang Lewis has been able to successfully de-mystify the complex world of the financial industry for the layperson, he misses the boat this time around. I stuck with the book for my book group, but am sorry to say that at the end, I am still not sure of what frontrunning is. On a happier note, neither were the other members of the book group!”
Babs B is doing things a little differently. “This isn’t my typical summer beach read but it is a beautiful novel that shows how courage and hope can be two of the most powerful motivators of all time. The Auschwitz Escape by Joel Rosenberg delves into one of the darkest moments of history. His main character, Jacob Weisz, is faced with the horrific reality of being Jewish in Germany during WWII. Fighting as part of the Resistance, Weisz is captured as he courageously works to free a train full of Jewish prisoners. Taken directly to Auschwitz, Weisz’ only goal is to escape and let the world know of the atrocities being committed at the death camps. Rosenberg was inspired to write this book after his visit to Auschwitz in 2011. You will be inspired at the lengths he goes to survive and I highly recommend this read!”
My pick for you all this week is one that is somewhat selfishly motivated. It’s the first ever pick for the Golf Channel’s newly formed book group and it’s called Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses and Championships by Bill Fields. As I stated in the intro I am going down to Pinehurst and I will be attending my first ever US Open. I am not a sportif person. I don’t really follow anything but Ohio State Football because in my family that is a non-negotiable. My brother Peter is the golf fan. He loves the game and he would take great delight in pointing his finger at me and stating with great confidence that someday I was going to need to know about golf. Of course, I told him with utter confidence I would never need this knowledge. I apologize to my brother and so now here I am, going off to the US Open with Bill Fields. There is a truth in the genius of really beautiful writing and it is this: even when you don’t care about the subject one whit, the writing alone carries you along and draws you in until without realizing it you do, indeed, care. Take for example this first paragraph from his essay entitled King of the Hill:
Sam Snead’s swing used to resemble a Faulkner first sentence. It was long, laced with the perfect pause, and blessed with a powerful ending. Now that he is eighty-four years old it is only slightly less so. He is driving off a tee beside me, on a piece of Florida land that was a swamp way back when and he still purrs.
See? Genius! So think of me next Sunday while I attend my first ever Open and Bill reports on his 30th. And pick up his book in the meantime. An entire channel devoted to the game can’t be wrong. And I know I’m not.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is in da house to let us know about what’s going on in The State Which Shall Not Be Named. It would appear that she is all about the Adventure. Take it away Patty! “It’s been a rainy week in the Midwest but who am I to complain when the weekends are resplendent with ALL that is summertime? The sun and temperatures here have granted the worker bees a bounty of weekend blessings. The grass is thickly growing underfoot and my organic container garden is sprouting on the balcony. If you have not kicked off your shoes and let loose your tresses, you really need to do that. Do it now, I’ll wait… Life here in the D is bursting with hope, promise and lots and lots of green. I’ve coined it the new Brooklyn. Skinny jeans, flannel and ironic facial hair can be found everywhere, thankfully mostly on the men folk. We are the testing site for self-driving cars, the 10.4 acre living roof of the Ford Rouge Center and home to Hantz Farms, the world’s largest urban farm. Life is an adventure for sure and humans are natural storytellers and creators. So, this week I invite you to get outside, start your own adventure and just for fun change your narrative. Let me know how that goes. Don’t forget to enjoy it with a frosty glass of lemonade. “
Jen Dayton is our Collection Development Manager (AKA she oversees and plans the direction of our book purchases). Jen is tireless in her search for great new books which maybe initially flying under your radar. A voracious reader, Jen, has the power to tell you what your next favorite book will be.
April 4, 2015
This week we saw Earth Day come and go and I have been thinking a lot about the nature of Nature. It seems to me that it’s been sort of creeping into places... Read More
April 4, 2015
This week I would like to address a breach of civility that I call Yucking the Yum. Many people have asked me by what I mean by this. Well it’s just this:... Read More
April 4, 2015
It’s just all too much sometimes isn’t it? The unrelenting bleak, the cold chill, a steel grey sky without a whisper of blue? It’s beginning to feel like winter is never going to... Read More
April 4, 2015
Happy Easter, Passover, Vernal Equinox, Grilled Cheese Month! Whatever it is that you celebrate we wish you a happy one. This weekend will bring us the Full Pink Moon named for the... Read More
Nice New Book Goodness
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!Read more
New eBooks from OverDrive
Here are the new titles available from OverDrive.
What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas
The Stranger by Harlan Coben
The Lost Boys Symphony by Mark Ferguson
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli and
New eBooks from 3M
Here are the new titles available from 3M.Read more
Nice New Book Goodness
Here is what you can find new to the shelves in the upcoming days.
Well the weekend we thought would never come is here! The official kick off to Summer 2014 begins with the arrival of this missive. Happy Summer! We made it! Break out those white pants/shoes and rejoice! Although I must say that I have broken that rule with a new pair of white jeans that I am wild about. The Fabulous Babs B has been kind and not chided me for it but I know that this is the one fashion rule she will never break. Sure the beginning of the weekend won’t be the best in terms of weather but it’s still better than what we have had to wade through to get to this point. All week I have had people tell me they were stocking up on library material for the great migration to wherever they Summer. I have heard about trips to the Adirondacks, Maine, Nantucket, The Cape, and Block. Places that we could only have imagined in our little frozen brains just weeks ago. And so I wish you a lovely three days filled with sun, sand, something festive to sip, a comfy chair and a great read. Please be aware that there will not be an issue of YAWYR next week. We will all be at Book Expo finding out what is coming up for the year in Books. We’ll be back in business though on the 6th. As an aside, if you are in the State Which Should Not Be Named at a certain golfing event on Sunday and you see the Traveling Companion wish him a Happy Birthday. He’d like that. This week we have some strange people, a need for sleep, the American Dream, a cold case, Daphne the Deb, a pilot and some Frank Campbell.
The Playlist? But, of course!
Let us begin!
Alan, our leader is finished but just with his latest read. No worries. He’s still around. “I’ve just finished Ingenious: A True Story of Invention Automotive Daring And the Race to Revive America by Jason Fagone. He followed 4 of the 100+ teams that entered the 2007 X Prize Foundation contest to build a safe, mass-producible car that could travel 100 miles on the equivalent of a gallon of gas for a prize of $10 million dollars. There are engineers, tinkerers, some amazingly interesting and accomplished (and strange) people who compete, and the author does a great job of telling the story of a resurgence of innovation and invention.”
Kim (you know…the one with the shiny boat shoes) is reading Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder by Arianna Huffington. “The book, about the dangers of personal burnout, gives statistics that universities and colleges have collected as well as examples of real events. It is a very informative and one of the main ideas it tells the reader is that more sleep leads to a better life!”
Sweet Ann has just finished Family Life by Akhil Sharma. “This is a beautifully written story about a family coming here to experience the American dream. The Mishra family, parents and two sons, immigrate to Long Island (Queens specifically) from India. Ajay and his older brother Birju find many things in the U.S. fascinating from elevators to escalators. Birju, a good student, takes the entrance exam for the Bronx High School of Science and with his whole family's support he passes. But the family’s happiness is short lived after Birju is injured in an accident. This accident will take its toll on the family and each member has to deal with it in their own way. Ajay narrates the story in a very realistic manner expressing fear, love and even jealousy as his parents focus their attention on their injured son. I highly recommend this book.”
Abby is sticking with a favorite. “Tana French’s latest in the Dublin Murder Squad series, The Secret Place, grabbed me from the first paragraph. As in her earlier works, she takes what has been a peripheral character and turns them into the main protagonist. In Secret Place, it’s Detective Stephen Moran. Working in cold cases, Moran has his eye on the homicide division. One cold case, which involves the murder of a young man at a posh boarding school, now has a very current lead, and allows him the opportunity to try the prestigious murder squad on for size. While I’m still in the early part of the book, I cannot wait to read more. French is one of the few writers whose work you can see evolving and I am a major fan.”
Pat S has just finished Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford. “Attempting to keep Downton Abbey withdrawal at bay, I picked up Cavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Set in Edwardian England, Cavendon Hall is home to Charles Ingham, the illustrious Earl of Mowbray and his family living side by side with the Swanns, the family of loyal retainers who have served the aristocratic family faithfully for generations. The story opens during the years leading up to WWI as one of the Earls’ daughters’, Daphne, is about to be presented at court. But on the eve of this debut, Daphne is assaulted, and the world as it was known, has been turned upside down. So begins the sweeping family saga, told through the eyes of the Earl’s six children, as well as the current generation of the Swann family, Bradford does a great job of presenting the historical landscape. This is a great, fun read filled with all the passion, intrigue, secrets and general mayhem one could hope for in a summer read.”
Sue S is having a blast with The Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick. “Normally I would devour a chick-lit book like The Cure for the Common Breakup in two evenings. However, I have been enjoying this book so much that I have had to force myself to read only a few chapters an evening because I do not want to see it end! The plot centers on Summer Benson, who we learn is a flight attendant and dating none other than a pilot who is supposed to be the most fabulous catch. Very early in the book Summer’s life is turned upside down by two significant events. Summer takes herself to heal in the town of Black Dog Bay. It is her time here that you will want to savor and revel in her interactions with the town’s characters. The way that Beth Kendrick writes you can easily imagine the people of the town and you find yourself happily transported into Summer’s world. A little bit of craziness, healing, heartache, laughter and people harboring long held grudges are what make The Cure for The Common Break Up a book that I hope you too will love.”
I have never made a secret of my love of a good tale of WASP dysfunction. I love reading about my tribe complete with all of our peculiarities and foibles. Throw in some McLean or Silver Hill, a poet or two, a waning fortune, two Sherries at 5 max and a big Frank Campbell send-off and I am in heaven. The May 5th edition of the New Yorker ran a piece called Pilgrim Mothers: The Ladies of the Four O’Clock Club by Sarah Payne Stuart which I found charming and it reminded me a lot of an outfit that I belong to; the $5.00 annual membership fee, the strict adherence to rules that were set forth in 1879, and some fierce dragons not to be trifled with but adored just the same. Imagine my delight when I came across the fact that I could get even more of the same when Perfectly Miserable: God, Guilt and Real Estate in a Small Town comes out next month! Stuart ran like the wind from her hometown of Concord, MA when she was 18 with the intention of never coming back, but when she begins a family of her own, she throws herself back into the thick of it. Stuart not only looks hard at her own domestic life, but the lives of some of Concord’s most famous women including the wives of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the forever suffering Abby May Alcott better known as Marmee of The Little Women. You can get your own fix if that is what thrills you when it comes out on June 12th.
DJ Jazzy Patty had a happy/sad week. I’ll let her explain: “One of the great paradoxes of life is change. Rarely do people like it, few seek it and yet it’s happening as you read these words. On a micro-cellular level we are constantly dividing, dying and regenerating. Every single day that we take a breath and our hearts beat, we engage in the cycle of aging. Babies are born, prefrontal cortex development happens, and then in the wink of an eye, wrinkles and grey hair. This week my family welcomed a baby and said goodbye to a great man in the space of two days. Last week I said we can’t know what’s going to happen day-to-day, but here’s something I do know. I know that we change all the time and that what we do in between birth and our last breaths is the good stuff. It’s the meat or portabella mushroom in your sandwich. It’s the important stuff. How we choose to live it and what happens will be different for us all. I’d like to believe that we all consciously choose kindness, express gratitude and share whatever our particular gift is with others. I am fortunate be in a family of storytellers. So this week we will share our stories about beloved John and we will hug each other, we will cry and we will all clamor to hold sweet baby Jayden. With the stories we share, time will feel like it’s stopped even though in that very moment we will be changing. “
Readers of YAWYR who have come late-ish to our party often ask me, “What is the SoNo Loft? How can a Loft have a message? Is this some kind of cult? Just what are you constantly referring to week after week? Do these pants make me look fat?” Well New Friends (no, not you Susan from Fairfield Cheese Company), the SoNo Loft is probably the only charming piece of my rather charmless commute these days. Whoever is living/working in the space attached to this deck takes great care every week to paint a banner and hang it from the railing of their deck. What makes this especially cool is that it is a message that is only visible from one side of the train, only going into New York and you can’t see it from the street. This is a message crafted just for us and it is without exception happy, upbeat, and thought provoking. It is a nice way to begin the work week and it can sometimes totally set the tone for what is to follow. I have been trying to get a picture via the cell phone for a while now and this week I succeeded! The Traveling Companion (thank you Bill F – now you know his real name) tried to smooth some of the rough edges and prettied it up for me so this week I present to you The SoNo Loft and its rather lovely message of ‘Keep Calm and Think On.’ And yes, I think those pants would be better served on someone else. This week we have a 12-year-old child , secret societies, Nazis, inspiration, a group home, another 12-year-old child, alien invasion, and Wall Street and yes, another 12-year-old. Playlist? Got that too!
Let us begin!
John has finished The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. “This is a brilliantly-crafted tour de force about the story of John Brown and his capture of the armory at Harpers Ferry. Told as a retrospective oral narrative from the point of view of a twelve year-old slave, freed by Brown, it reads like a Mark Twain novel. At times funny, sad, horrifying, and astonishingly tender, the importance of this book cannot be understated. It is truly a masterpiece. I needed to follow that with something a little different, so I opted for The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway. If you are an Anglophile who likes intelligent, witty prose about time-travelling secret societies, then this book is for you. I will say no more about it other than that it is wildly entertaining and written well enough to make you not feel like you’re slumming it.”
Barbara M is reading 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany by Steven Pressman. Bet you anything there were 12-year-old involved. “In his attempt to rid Germany of Jews, Hitler encouraged them to leave before World War II started. Unfortunately, this was not always possible as few countries would take them in and even those who were granted visas often lacked the money to leave. The author’s wife’s grandparents, Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, prominent members of the Jewish community in Philadelphia, decided to do something about the plight of Jewish children living in Austria under the Nazi regime. Government regulations about bringing unaccompanied children into this country were strict and not easily circumvented but with the help of a few people, and with their determination, the Krauses succeeded in saving the lives of 50 children who otherwise might have perished. This is a heart-warming story of a courageous couple who found a way to do something they knew was righteous.”
Blanche! A Librarian so legendary she needs only one name. Like Cher. Or Madonna. They aren’t librarians, but you understand what I am saying. This is her yearly rare appearance and here is her take on Everybody's Got Something by Robin Roberts with Veronica Chambers. “This is a touching and inspiring story about Robin’s fight against myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS as it is known. You can’t help but cheer her on from page one and I didn’t want to put the book down when I started to read it.
The Delightful Mallory is here with a surprise this week. “I hate movies. I get bored easily, can't commit, and just generally don't find them engaging as a medium. The last movie I saw in theaters was Les Misérables and that was only because my love for musicals and Hugh Jackman trumped my hatred for film. I say all of this to let you know that if I'm recommending a movie, it's gotta be pretty darn good. Short Term 12 follows Grace, a young 20-something, who works at a foster home for disadvantaged youth. The movie opens with Grace and her peers giving advice to a new coworker. It goes a little something like, ‘Lose the tie. Don't be their friend. They'll try and push you, just say no for a while.’ This is followed by a story of Mason, another group-home worker, who was so frightened on his first day on the job he actually pooped himself. Even with the given advice, it's clear that Grace does nothing more than absolutely adore and advocate for each of the children in her care. The film is equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting, as silly as it is raw, and above all, masterfully told in both cinematography and script. I will recommend this movie to every human I meet until the end of time.”
The Fabulous Babs B is here with You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz. “Grace Reinhart Sachs has it all. She loves her husband who is a pediatric oncologist, is a successful marriage counselor and she is about to have her first book published. But when her husband goes missing, everything falls apart. Not only has he cleaned out their joint checking account but he is a prime suspect for a murder! Little by little, Grace realizes that the warning signs were there about her marriage unraveling and she chose to ignore them instead of practicing what she preaches. Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her herself and their 12-year-old child if she wants to survive. I found it interesting how easily she and her son adapted to their new life. Not one of my favorite books but I had to finish it!”
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is like a Tall Cool Texan Gerbil on a Wheel. Literally. I will let her explain. “I love the recent hint of Spring and Summer in the air, and it has reminded me it’s time to get back to the gym. Thank God for the library’s Hoopla service, because my time on the treadmill is so much more bearable when I am listening to a good audiobook. The 5th Wave by Hugh Dancy is certainly making my gym time fly. This may be one of my favorite dystopian novels since the Hunger Games. A brutal alien invasion has nearly eradicated the human race by sending waves of darkness, tsunamis, disease, and deception to Earth. The few humans unlucky enough to survive are racing to save the world before the next and final wave hits. Read it now before the next installment of the book, The Infinite Sea, comes out in September. I also just started Flash Boys by Michael Lewis and so far I am thoroughly enjoying this look at the dark side of Wall Street. At times it's hard to believe this is non-fiction, because Lewis does such an amazing job of building the characters and explaining the complex financial markets. So far, I can see why Flash Boys is on the top of everyone's must reads for this summer. “
DJ Patty McC is taking the SoNo Loft message to heart and is Keeping Calm but Thinking about Stuff just the same. Here is Patty’s report from The State Up North and of course The Playlist. Take it away Patty! ”This week has been an interesting one weather-wise out here in the Midwest. In the space of a few days, we’ve experienced 87-degree temperatures, flash floods and tornado watches. It makes one ponder things happening to our planet that 97 percent of scientists agree on. The things that some media sources and politicians tell us, ‘It ain’t so! Not all the evidence is in.’ Greenhouse gases are increasing, causing significant climate changes around the world. This is a fact. There is no magical thinking involved in this claim just data and hard science. This week my 12 year-old-daughter had her first middle school tornado drill. This is old hat to me as I grew up in the Midwest. As a kid, my older sister derived pleasure by having us practice very precise and terrifying tornado preparedness drills. Those drills left me a fearful, neurotic mess. My daughter was unfazed by the tornado drill, but my 7-year-old-son appeared to be completely freaked out. I asked him if he was worried that we would have a tornado here. He shrugged. I very calmly and clearly explained that it was rare and that I had never had one in my town while I lived in Michigan. Then I lied and told him that it wouldn’t happen here and gave him our family plan should one occur. He spent the remainder of the day with his blanket firmly clenched between his first two fingers and thumb. We all need those touchstones; something that comforts us when life is unsure or off-kilter. It may not be socially acceptable for adults to carry around a blanket, but we have them nonetheless. We can’t know what’s going to happen day-to-day but we do know that we can affect change NOW one tiny step at a time. So this week I encourage you to have a difficult, honest conversation with your children or a friend about something that takes you out of your comfort zone without freaking out and don’t forget your blankie. A little music might help. At least it does for me.”