It was such a dreary week, wasn’t it? We have been so spoiled that when a bit of rain does happen to fall it befuddles us. I did have a patron say to me that she had been craving weather such as this so that she had an excuse to hole up and read. I for one never felt the need for excuses but, hey, if that makes you feel better have at it. It looks like a nice weekend is in store and really isn’t that what we hope for anyway? This week we have wisdom, a spy, some hype, PTSD and a new favorite. Of course there is a playlist. Of course!
Let us begin!
Abby is back to reading one of her favorites. “When I finished Louise Penny’s 9th Chief Inspector Gamache novel last year I wondered where she would take the series. Her latest, The Long Way Home while a satisfying read, leaves me with the same question: what’s next? Newly retired Armand Gamache and his wife have set up house in Three Pines, the serene village outside of Montreal too small and hidden to appear on maps. Gamache gets drawn into helping one of his neighbors locate a missing person. While the mystery piece is not strong here, Penny continues to go deeper into the lives of her characters granting them a lovely mix of vulnerabilities, strengths, and quirks. The emphasis here is on how even the strong must tend to themselves and the wisdom we can all take away from the four things Gamache teaches new officers to express: I was wrong, I'm sorry, I don't know, I need help. “
Sweet Ann has just finished Red Joan by Jennie Rooney. “This is quite an engaging spy novel based on a true story of an eighty-seven-year-old British woman arrested as the longest KGB spy in Great Britain's history. Joan, the main character, is a brilliant young woman who in the late 1930's is studying science at Cambridge. Her life is that of a typical student until Sonya, a Russian student, enters her life. She introduces Joan to her cousin Leo who will introduce Joan to the world of espionage. Joan is quite reluctant at first to get involved but circumstances change. The story alternates between Joan as an elderly woman being questioned by M15 and her days at college working for the British government during the beginning of World War ll. This is an intriguing read about the choices people make and the reasons for doing so. I thought it was well written although perhaps a little bit long.”
The Tall Cool Texan Virginia has just finished one of my favorites of the year. What did you think VA? “Believe the hype about Jane Smiley’s newest book, Some Luck, because it deserves all of the praise and accolades it has been receiving. This epic saga tells the story of Iowan farmers, Rosanna and Walter Langdon, and their children over a 30 year time period, starting in the 1920s. Each chapter represents a new year in their lives and is told from the perspective of different family members. Smiley does a masterful job of creating the personalities of each character and giving the reader an intimate look at their unique realities, from the highs and to the lows. Nothing is spared. While reading Some Luck, I am not sure if I felt more like a fly on the wall or a distant cousin, but all I know is by the end of the book I cared about the Langdon family and wanted to know where the next 30 years would take each of them. Luckily, Smiley has planned this as a trilogy so we can expect to see more of the Langdon family.“
Steph is here and she has taken to heart a patron recommendation. I’ll let her tell you all about it. “Over the weekend, I read A Test of Wills, by Charles Todd, after a book group read it and highly recommended it. This is the first of sixteen books in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, a detective mystery series set in Britain after the First World War. In this book, Rutledge is still suffering from what we would now call PTSD, which he experiences primarily as a voice in his head, of a young man who he sentenced to death during the war. He rejoins Scotland Yard after coming home, and is sent to the countryside to investigate a politically sensitive murder in a town where nobody wants to talk to him. He’s plunged into several small town dramas and, having no one to trust, tries to solve the crime alone. It’s not a book with a lot of twists, but it definitely kept me guessing right up until the end. The book rotates through several points of view, but really focuses on Rutledge’s, giving it the same feel as a Tana French or Denise Mina novel. It’s a great series for fans of those writers, or any reader who likes the combination of a detective’s psychology and a well-plotted mystery. I can’t wait to read more books in this series!
Now that the night comes on faster and the weather has turned cooler, I can be found back playing in my kitchen which most of you know makes me happy. This time of year brings out the nesting instinct in us all I think. My latest companion in the kitchen is One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More by the Editors of Martha Stewart Living. The conceit here is that you can make your dinner in one pot, be that pot a Dutch oven, a sheet pan, or a slow cooker. The chapters are dedicated to whatever vessel you choose to be using and there are some really great recipes in here. So far the favorites are salmon roasted with kale and cabbage and dressed in a lemon vinaigrette, and sausages and potatoes braised in ale. The other thing I love about this book is that it takes one basic recipe and changes it up 4 different ways. I can totally see this as a wedding gift with one or more of the pots alongside. Make sure you grab a copy for yourself!
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State That Shall Not Be Named (35 days until The Game!) and she has some questions for us. What’s good Pats? “Are we what we read? That seems to be the thesis of this weekly missive. But an interesting debate has once again emerged. This dialogue always fascinates me, and finds me swimming right into the deep end of this meta-discussion. The debate is about reading, specifically the types of books children should be allowed to or encouraged to read. There are two camps in this debate. The ‘just so long as they’re reading’ camp versus the ‘from pulp to Proust? No way, start them with real literature and classics’ camp. I would like to offer another version. While there may be some truth to You Are What You Read, it is far too reductive and simplistic. Aren’t we more complex than that? Take, for example, my seven-year-old son who frequented the reference desk asking for books on fighter planes, as he had already read all the books on planes in the Children’s Library. His interest that began with planes led him naturally to want more complex texts as he desired more knowledge. As a culture we get anxious when it comes to our children and reading. There exists anxiousness that, as parents, if we don’t give our children the right kind of books they will somehow be deficient. My daughter is a voracious reader and my son is well on his way. I trust that their love of stories and what’s going to happen next will serve them well and that they will go on to read difficult texts with complex storylines. As adults don’t we sometimes need a little light reading to break up an otherwise steady stream of serious novels or non-fiction? Does anyone exclusively read serious literature 24-7? What is wrong with a slice of pulp fiction or a light-hearted beach book with a side of romance or danger? I say, nothing. After all, We Are What We Read…DL WHY ARE YOU WHAT YOU READ? 2014
Here are the new titles available from OverDrive.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Crooked River by Valerie Geary
Edge of Eternity The Century Trilogy, Book 3 by Ken Follett
Neil Patrick Harris Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean
Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon
Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann
Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
Here are the new titles available from 3M.
Sue and Elisabeth met with the Meet Us On Main Street group presenting an assortment of newly released titles that patrons can find on the Library's Main Street area. Elisabeth, whose usual beat is the Children's Room, presented adult tales of magic, dark mystery and adventure. She also brought, from the children's room, a touching true story (book and DVD) about a gorilla named Ivan who, for 27 years, was held captive in a glass display cage in a mall. It is a story appreciated by all ages. Sue, the Library's self-appointed Queen of Romance, delivered varied titles, book and DVD, that did not disappoint the group. Hurry to get this popular genre, the books almost fly off the shelves.
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!
Not that long ago, the northeast was the capital of the college basketball world. The Big East coaches were all larger than life: Jim Boeheim, Rollie Massimino, John Thompson, Lou Carnesecca, PJ Carlesimo, and Rick Pitino, coaching fierce rivalries that filled Madison Square Garden every spring. Georgetown vs. Syracuse. Patrick Ewing vs. The Pearl. Chris Mullin and Coach Louie's sweaters. Ed Pinckney and Villanova's improbable championship. The UConn men's team may have four titles now, but back in the 80s, they were just one of many Big East teams trying to claw their way to the top.
ESPN's new 30 for 30 documentary, Requiem for the Big East, takes us back to the time when college basketball overshadowed the NBA in our region, when Big East teams weren't from Wisconsin and Nebraska, when it was all right here. If you missed the heyday or just want to remember a time when college hoops ruled in the northeast, Requiem for the Big East is the perfect way to get ready for the start of the new season in a few weeks. Let's go, Huskies!
Another week of not very good news I am afraid. There’s sickness, bad behavior everywhere, the Market is tanking. Everyone’s mood seems to veering somewhere between hysteria and a shoulder shrugging fatalism. I know that for myself my nerves are frayed and I found myself asking a woman who cut in front of me in a line if she was aware of how rude she was being. And just to let you all know, she didn’t care. Look, it’s not pretty People. We are supposed to have a lovely weekend with a partly sunny day tomorrow and highs in the 70’s with Sunday also being partly sunny but with slightly chillier temps. I am charging all of you to do something that brings you peace and happiness. So bake a cookie, go for a walk by the sea, play with a puppy, have lunch with a friend, go to The Marshalls. Do one thing so that for the next week you can look back on it and remember with fondness and perhaps bring a little tranquility to your world. This week we have secrets (ssshhh), Old Boys, bodies of water, an island, a muddle and a vow. Playlist? Another twofer week! Bonus!
Let us begin!
Barbara M told me she was pleasantly surprised at how much she enjoyed her offering this week. “Not My Father’s Son by actor and now author Alan Cumming is a heart wrenching, beautifully written memoir. The book is organized into alternating chapters entitled ‘Then’ and ‘Now.’ The ‘Then’ chapters focus on the abuse Cumming and his brother suffered from their father. The ‘Now’ chapters tell the story of the filming of the BBC show Who Do You Think You Are which uses genealogical research to uncover family secrets. The subject they chose to investigate was the disappearance of Cumming’s maternal grandfather who never returned home after serving in France during World War II. He eventually moved to Malaysia and died there under mysterious circumstances. The book is poignant, sometimes funny and very engrossing. “
Erin as we all know, loves herself a memoir. Here is her take on Lena Dunham’s Not that Kind of Girl. “The creator/writer/star of HBO’s Girls has written a highly entertaining collection of personal essays on the topics of falling in love, losing her virginity, accepting her body, and sitting at the table of the Old Boys Club that is Hollywood. While Dunham can be very polarizing, I found her essays to be well written and frequently hilarious. She is, after all, sharing her own experience as a young woman coming into her own.”
Laura is hanging on to summer. Here are two books that have stuck with her. “I wanted to let you know of some special reading that I did over the summer that I think many would enjoy. These books are not new, but both are perspectives on our region, Long Island Sound and the Hudson River Valley, that will make you want to explore and know more about these amazing waterways. First is The Hudson, A History, by Tom Lewis. What I didn't know was the Hudson River was the engine behind the development of our country. Albany was the most important city during the 1800's, and when Lincoln was campaigning for President, Albany was the place he needed the votes, because industry and westward expansion was at its utmost. Not only were artists mesmerized by the river's landscape and beauty; industrialists and inventors were captured by its potential which, in turn, fueled the emerging region into the powerhouse it still is today. As well, the story about Long Island Sound is beautifully rendered in Tom Andersen's This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound. From the Indians, to pirates, to the colonies fighting for independence, to the present day city expansions and pollution; this is the story about how the Sound is coming back thanks to the efforts of environmental watch groups. It is a strongly written account of the history of our failures and our successes. This is a must read.”
The Ever Delightful Pat S has just finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. “ This is a charming tale which reads almost as a fable and yet is not a fable. So I have settled on it being a sort of love letter to readers. Set in an independent bookstore on an island off the coast of Massachusetts, we are introduced to a childless middle aged widower. In the two years since his wife died, A. J. has become angry and bitter due to his personal loss and as a bookseller in a failing business. Lo and behold, something completely unexpected is dropped into his lap-providing the catalyst for a new and wonderful life. Peopled with the local denizens of an island colony, it is reading that ties everyone together at first until the bonds of love and friendship have become established. Each chapter is introduced with a synopsis of a book or short story which mirrors A.J. Fikry’s life philosophy and provides a very respectable reading list for the reader as well. This is a book which celebrates the power of reading and art to heal and nurture. If the news is getting you down, this is the book for you.”
Steph has discovered another favorite of the year. “Here is another best book of the year; On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss. Biss, who has won practically every award you can win for essay and non-fiction writing, has produced one of the most thoughtful pieces of personal writing I have read in a long time. When she became pregnant with her son, Biss was instantly confronted by the many dilemmas facing modern mothers, and none was more urgent and muddled than the decision to vaccinate. Should she vaccinate? When? Which diseases? This puzzle led her to research the history of vaccination and how it’s been regarded over the years. The result is a book that moves effortlessly between personal story and well-researched non-fiction. The book is relatively short, but Biss’s writing is so powerful that I often took breaks while reading it to absorb everything she’d thrown at me. This book would obviously be great for parents, doctors, and nurses, but will also appeal to readers who like Andrew Solomon, Rachel Carson, and Carolyn Kellogg. This is essay writing and science writing at its finest.”
The Fabulous Babs B saw the play of one of my favorite movies of all time. She is begging us all to take a train into New York and experience for ourselves. Here is what she thought of You Can't Take It With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. “On Wednesday a dear friend took me to see the play You Can't Take It With You, with the great James Earl Jones. Set in New York City 1936 it's the story of the zany Sycamore family who march to the beat of a different drummer! When the young Miss Sycamore falls in love and meets her fiancée’s parents who are extremely cold and worlds apart from her loving family, she cancels her engagement. Her Grandfather (James Earl Jones) will have none of this however, and proceeds to tell her how lucky she is to have found love and to go for it because you can't take it with you and life is too short not to take a shot at being happy. The moral of this story really hit home with me and I intend to seize the moment and do things in life I want. Remember, you can't take it with you!”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named (BTW 42 days until The Game). She is working on focusing on What’s Good. So Pats? What’s Good? “ This week I’d like to focus on The Happy. What makes me happy is probably different than what makes you happy so I’ll share first. This week it made me very happy to hear that folks are enthusiastically lining up to get their flu shots. It makes me feel as though my endless preaching has been heard, so thank you for that! And for those who have not yet done so, please go get a flu shot.
It’s no secret that I am a picture book enthusiast. So it made me very happy to learn that one of my favorite authors has a new picture book, Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers. I’m lucky number three in the hold queue and will be anxiously awaiting that pick-up email. I’ve no doubt that this book will meet my expectations. In fact, the anticipation of reading it makes me happy and frankly just a tiny bit giddy. Read more about it here.
Discovering good new tunes also makes me happy. This week I’ve curated a short playlist with some new songs that you may not have heard though I’m fairly certain you’ve heard the first tune. DL A SHORT PLAYLIST OF NEW TUNES 2014
I’m also including a throwback to the DL SUMMER FIND UR HAPPY PLACE 2013 playlist because it’s just plain chock-full of happy. I recommend you listen to it in the shuffle mode.
If you find that you need some help in finding your own Happy, I’ve got good news. There’s an app for that! Check these out.
So this week I encourage you to go forth, find your own Happy and share it with us. The world could use a little more Happy right about now.