2014 Darien Library Best Books of the Year

Every year, we ask our staff to nominate and vote on their favorite books of the year. This year, the top ten books that got the most nominations were:

1. All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
3. Some Luck, by Jane Smiley
4. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast
5. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
6. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
7. I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, by Courtney Maum
8. Not My Father’s Son, by Alan Cumming
9. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
10. One Pot, by the editors of Martha Stewart Living

However, many other books were nominated, and all are deserving of your attention. The complete list of nominated titles can be found below. Happy 2015, and happy reading!

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!

What are my neighbors up to?

Here is a list of the most popular items this week.

You Are What You Read!

Greetings and welcome to the Hellidaze edition of You Are What You Read!  It’s hard to believe that this time next week we will all be standing in line trying to return that gift that leaves us scratching our head and pouring ANOTHER glass of eggnog.  The words from The SoNo Loft remain ‘Just Breathe’ so, as always in the coming days, heed the message, stop, and take a deep breath.  I know that for myself, this weekend will be spent tying up those loose ends and then as a reward for just getting it done, a Sunday Morning Meet Up with a selection of some of my Outlaws for a catch-up and some breakfast.  Remember People!  The important stuff always gets done and the most important piece of the Hellidaze is being with your people!  As a reminder we are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but we will see you bright and early on the 26th for our regular hours.   Next week, we will have our big reveal as to what the Library’s Top Ten Reads of 2014 are.  So put your heads down, power through it with a bit of joy, a whole lotta eggnog, maybe some pants with an elastic waist and we’ll catch up next week. This week we have Lord Byron, whimsy, Miss Alabama, genius, and some Little House. Of course we have The Playlist for your dashing through the snow, rain or ice, or whatever it is the Weather Gods will be slinging at us.

Let us begin!

Abby explores the history of the seemingly newish Tech Industry with The Innovators by Walter Isaacson.  “My biggest takeaway from The Innovators is that even the most creative and brilliant minds need to master the art of collaboration in order to bring about progress. The book opens with the story of Ada Lovelace, born in 1815, who was the daughter of Lord Byron. Ada was an accomplished mathematician and early logic theorist whose work set others on the road to computing. In fact, throughout the book, women are the unsung heroes of early computer programming. While men tended to build the machinery, it was women who were instrumental in making the contraptions work. The Innovators is an enjoyable and educational book; that’s a tough combination to master, but Isaacson has again shown he has found the right formula.”

Pat T has a solution for us this week. “If you are feeling stressed with the holiday rush, I suggest you take 10 minutes to read the delightful, Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow. Basically, this whimsical book agrees that yes, the holidays are a lot of work, but it also reminds of us what we would be missing if we didn't celebrate. So keep it simple and enjoy this special time with family and friends!
Happy Holidays!”

Sweet Ann is breaking out of her usual fare and doing things a little differently “I am listening to I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg.  It’s read by Ms. Flagg and it's a hoot.  I am known for reading on the side of dark and depressing but occasionally I need a chuckle.  You wouldn't think this book would make you smile since it opens with the main character, Maggie Fortenberry, a former Miss Alabama, planning her demise in the local river. Maggie is an interesting woman who can't stop putting other’s needs before her planned departure.   This novel contains race relations, a little person, a murder mystery and a cast of characters that will make you smile. “

Steph is getting that jump on 2015. “I’m using the holidays to start getting ahead on my 2015 reading. This week, I read Kelly Link’s short story collection Get in Trouble, which comes out in February. She is a genius who brings a new life to everything she writes. Whether you’re a lifelong short story lover, or have been coming back to stories thanks to writers like George Saunders, or perhaps don’t like them at all, you’ll find something to love in this book. Link combines the clarity and structure of an Alice Munro story with the imagination of our best fantasy writers. Each story has a surreal element (for instance, superheroes are real and they have conventions like every other profession) and is set in a world that is otherwise our own.  The tension between reality and fantasy is spectacular, taking most of the stories to a whole new level. While not all of them are perfect, there are 5-6 stories in here that blew me away. I can’t wait to start recommending this one.” It comes out in February and will be in the catalog next week.

How am I avoiding the Hellidaze? The same way I always have; with my nose in a book.  I have never been shy about my love of The Little House Books. In fact, not only was the next installment in the series was always one of my favorite gifts under the tree growing up but if I am being totally honest, it was probably the first of many obsessions that I cultivate to this day.   I had nothing but contempt for the TV series by the way.  They weren’t faithful to the stories and Melissa Gilbert just plain annoyed me.  So I will be tucked away in a corner with Pioneer Girl:  The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill, editor.  Hidden away from the world since the 1930’s, Wilder’s biography has a lot of surprises in it.  Think a not-so-sunny prairie with financial insolvency, early death and child labor.   Add to that some meticulous foot notes by the folks at the South Dakota Historical Society who researched each and every sentence, added photos pertaining to the text when they could be found and I will be in Little House Heaven. For those hankering for more on the true story there is this New Yorker article that I reread every couple of years and don’t forget another favorite of mine Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure. 

DJ Jazzy Patty McC from That State Up North.  What’s doing Pats? “Greetings from the Motor City! Chanukah is here and Christmas is right around the corner. Seems like everywhere I turn there’s a procession of cars with menorahs on top or a car grille with a wreath strapped on to it. How is this not a fire hazard? Folks here take their holidays VERY seriously. Plastic Santa’s line the rooftops, 12-foot blow-up Chanukah Bears holding dreidels sit on lawns and Hines Drive Lightfest will celebrate its 21st year. It’s a 4-mile light show spectacular complete with 55 animated holiday-themed displays. Because here in the Motor City, we do everything with our cars, holiday driving through a light show on a roadway is just part of the seasonal merriment. So may you have a dusting of snow for your holiday, enjoy a steaming mug of Glögg in front of the old Yule log and share it with those you love. This year it seems appropriate to share something from The Godfather of Soul. Happy Holidays everyone!”


New eBooks from OverDrive

Here are the new titles available from OverDrive.

Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Deadline by John Sandford

The Escape by David Baldacci

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Full Force and Effect by Mark Greaney


New eBooks from 3M

Here are the new titles available from 3M.

New DVD Releases

Here is what you can find new to the shelves in the upcoming days.

What's the Hoopla?

How about some Holiday music? Don't forget!  Our present to you is an extra 10 downloads until the end of January.  Happy Holidays!

Not sure what this is? Click here for some more information.

What are my neighbors up to?

Here is a list of the most popular items this week

You Are What You Read!

Greetings!  This week’s brilliant message from the SoNo Loft is one we all need to heed this time of year.  The Loft is reminding us to ‘Just Breathe.’   It’s very easy to get sucked into the insanity of the season this time of year and rush about like a four-year-old on an extreme sugar high.  Cathy the sister-in-law posted the above list on Facebook earlier this week and tracked it down for me so I could share it with you all. Thanks Cath, you’re the best.  It’s a to-do list that we all could use as a blueprint for the upcoming days. This weekend, take a moment to look around, breathe and be present in the moment.  We have a gift for you all!  Instead of just 10 Hoopla downloads for this month, starting Monday and going through the end of January we are allowing 20!  If you haven’t played around with Hoopla you really should.  There are no pesky holds to deal with, no need to fret about returns, and there is something for everybody including music, movies, series and documentaries, and audio books. To learn more click here. So Very Merry from us!  Enjoy!  This week we have a midwife, a trio of anthropologists, obsession, Russia and some monsters under the bed.

You know we have The Playlist.  Don’t even worry your pretty heads about that.

Let us begin!

Babs B has just finished My Notorious Life by Kate Manning.  What did you think Babs? “I absolutely loved this one!  Based on a true story, this is a well-researched, beautiful historical novel that traces the life of Axie, an impoverished Irish girl from the slums of New York City.  How she becomes a midwife in the second half of the 19th century is really the heart of this story.  Axie came from nothing and ended up being a very wealthy woman.  Even spending time in jail didn't deter her from helping women deliver their babies or performing abortions on women who had been raped.  Axie was way ahead of her time on this subject, which can still be a debate in this day and age.  The end of this book will shock readers in a good way. I never saw it coming!

Laura has just finished a book we have been shouting about for a long time now and has won a well-deserved place on the New York Times Best of 2014 list.  Here is what she thought of Euphoria, by Lily King. “Taking place between the two world wars, you meet Nell and her husband Fen, anthropologists who are running for their lives from a blood-thirsty tribe deep in the jungles of New Guinea.   When they meet Bankson, an English anthropologist who introduces them to the female-dominated tribe, the Tam, a love triangle of epic proportions is set in motion.  Tragedy ensues and the reader is left wondering who is more civilized; the well-educated scholarly scientists or the actual natives who have patiently taken them into their societies.  I listened to the audio book and was entranced each and every hour.”

Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is here to tell us what her latest obsession is.   “Guilty or not guilty?  After binge listening to the addicting Serial podcast, I remain undecided.  Is there reasonable doubt that Adnan Syed committed murder at the age of 17? Absolutely! If you don't know what I am talking about, then you are missing out on one of the best crime dramas produced in years and it’s not even on TV.   From the creators of This American Life and hosted by Sarah Koenig, Serial is a podcast that follows one true story over an entire season.  For its debut, Koenig conducts an investigation into the 1999 Baltimore murder of Hae Min Lee and whether or not Lee's ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was wrongly convicted for her murder.  Koenig is a masterful storyteller and how she presents her investigation is absolutely enthralling.  You get sucked into the real time play-by-play of what she finds in the case files, interviews with the very likable Syed, the other key players and witnesses. For any true crime fan, the inconsistencies and details that went unexplored are not all that surprising, but as a listener you find yourself shocked. For Adnan Syed, the buzz and cult-like following the show has generated has had major impact for his case.  But how much impact remains to be seen, as Serial continues to play out in real-time. For all of you other Serial addicts, join me next Thursday at the library as we play the final episode in the podcast with a follow up discussion of the case.”

The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished Midnight in Siberia by David Greene.  “Part travelogue, part cultural snapshot, David Greene has created a remarkable portrait of the Russian everyman today. Greene spent three years as an NPR Moscow Bureau chief, ending in 2012. During this time, he clearly developed a deep infatuation with the people, the culture and the country. He wanted to discover what Russians really thought of the changes they had experienced in the post-Soviet years. In order to do this, he wanted to get out the globalized environment he found in Moscow. So he and his former colleague and interpreter Sergei embark on a 6000 mile cross-country Trans-Siberian rail journey from Moscow to Vladivostok. Through conversations with fellow travelers, as well as in-depth interviews with individuals in stops along the way, we are offered a rare portrait of a people who are deeply conflicted about democracy. While grateful for the end of much of the commonplace oppression suffered during Soviet times, they still miss the economic stability inherent in such a system; who maintain deep religious and spiritual ties and who seem married to the idea that being Russian and suffering go hand in hand. Greene creates a new window from which to view Russia in the twenty first century. This book is extremely compelling and I couldn’t put it down.

Stephanie has never made a secret of her love of Stephen King.  So what does she think of his latest? “This week I was delighted to read Stephen King’s latest, Revival. Despite being burned many times by some slouches, I still read each of his books. I can’t resist! Revival wasn’t as fantastic at 11/22/63, but it was still a great read. You will be stunned to hear that this book opens in a small Maine town, and features a young boy who turns into an adult with a drug problem. Crazy, right??? But no matter how many times King goes back to that well, there’s still more water for him to draw on. In this story, King explores the nature of devotion and religious belief. Protagonist Jamie is haunted throughout the book by his childhood minister, who leaves the church after a horrific tragedy and re-enters his life years later as a very changed man. Though much of the book reads like King’s more recent novels, which focus more on human relationships than monsters under the bed, it does take a turn for the horrific, and has one of the most frightening endings I’ve read in one of his books. If you’re looking for a holiday distraction, or to feel grateful for your life in the real world and not in a Stephen King novel, look no further.”

DJ Jazzy Patty McC is in residence with some final thoughts.  Here’s what is going on in her world.  “This year my son will not celebrate Christmas in his school classroom and this makes me happy. I’ve got nothing against celebrating holidays it’s just that his classroom is so diverse that if one religious holiday were singled out it would be unfair.  I was a theology minor in school and feel that part of my job as a mother has been to teach my children about different religious celebrations. I consciously chose to not raise my children with a religion but rather expose them to everything and when the time came for them to make a choice (or not) they would be educated in that decision. The choice will be theirs, not mine. I believe we should all have choices. Often folks who need choices the most don’t ever get to enjoy that privilege.”


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