It's the I've Got Nothing Edition

Greetings and welcome to the I’ve Got Nothing Edition of You Are What You Read.

This week’s weather has done me in. It should not be this cold this far into April. I find it depressing in the extreme and have spent the week fretting for our farming friends who can’t get anything in the ground. In fact I have heard that we are a month off from where we should be.

The Bare Leg is being sported by some of my very brave co-workers, but I just can’t do it yet. I did however pack away the winter gear such as heavy coat, gloves and hats on Monday. While this was my way of saying I am over it and done, I fear I may have jinxed it all.

So if any of you out there see a Hopeful Sign I’d love to hear about it. In the meantime enjoy this picture of Corgi puppies that cannot hide their sadness that their world is All Tundra All the Time. Like I said, I’ve got nothing this week.

This week we have some South, sourdough, a mother and a daughter, peonies, some kid lit, a war zone, advice, a mystery, Shakespeare, and a Tiger.

Let us begin!

Our Amazing Amanda is a Southerner. "Like many of my fellow mountain people, I've been side-eyeing a certain hillbilly book. Fortunately, Elizabeth Catte has come along to explain What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia. Catte is a public historian who takes everyone to task for their inaccurate portrayals of the region. She explains why Appalachians are repeatedly touted out for political blame and shame in U.S. history by outsiders. Catte is a witty firestorm with a take-no-prisoners attitude who writes about our beloved homeland. Level up your regional and political knowledge of an often maligned area by reading her book."

Abby is enchanted this week “Sourdough is a charming book by Robin Sloan, the author of cult favorite Mr. Penumbra’s 24 -Hour Bookstore. Another shortish novel, ostensibly about bread, it’s really about discovering and exploring your bliss. Lois Calry is a twenty-something mid-west transplant living and working in San Francisco. A robotics engineer without a social life, she puts in long hours at work. Not much of a cook, Lois starts to order take out from an obscure restaurant run by mysterious brothers who become an import lifeline in her unfulfilling life. When they give her a sourdough starter, it comes with strict instructions that the dough, like a soul, must be fed and nurtured. Not quite sure of the entire enterprise, Lois applies her engineering skills towards mastering sourdough. Her pursuit of the perfect loaf leads her to an underground community of artisans and visionaries who provide valuable lessons about finding contentment at work and in life. A very sweet read.”

Sweet Ann watched Lady Bird this week. “This enjoyable movie is about Christine, aka Lady Bird's, senior year of Catholic high school. The opening scene has mother and daughter returning from a college road trip finishing the audio book of The Grapes of Wrath. They are both touched and connected by this moment and it is perhaps the only time they will see eye to eye. Lady Bird wants to leave Sacramento and all of California for an East coast school. Mom, for various reasons, wants her daughter to stay in California. Lady Bird's dad is a special champion for his daughter. It is a great coming-of-age movie. The wonderful cast includes Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf and Lucas Hedges to name a few. I can't recommend it enough.”

Diane is here with the latest installment of pretty. “It is always nice to see pretty and peonies are not only pretty, they are beautiful. Peonies by Jane Eastoe who is the author and the absolutely beautiful photography is by Georgianna Lane. Who knew there were so many varieties of peonies from pure white, shades of pinks and reds to bright yellows. I certainly learned some history about this beloved flower. Three chapters in this book are devoted to pure, dramatic or romantic colors of peonies. There is also chapter about fragrant peony varieties. There is one page dedicated to a particular blossom with quick reading headings about the variety and a short paragraph about the particular peony history. Stunning color photos capture each blossom. I found the book a great quick reference to the coming season of peonies."

Kim is looking at some kid lit this week with Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman. “I found this in the 2018 Nutmeg Nominee section of the Overdrive catalog and I finished it within the hour that I checked it out! This book is a compilation of short stories for kids but I think that this book could be meant for all ages. As you follow Isabel, who is Bunjitsu Bunny, in each of the stories in this book you are offered a lesson and some wisdom. For example in the "Lucky Cricket" short story, we learn that we bring our own luck through practice and perseverance- -no need to bring a physical object for a good luck charm to the next challenge you take on during the week!”

Jeanne just doing one thing this week. “In Hotel Silence by Auđur Ava Ólafsdóttir we meet Jónas Ebeneser. He is middle-aged and divorced, feeling alone and despondent about his empty life and searching for a way to end it. He is good at fixing things so he takes his small tool kit and flies to a faraway place which happens to be a former war zone where he tells people he is on vacation. The author portrays in an almost surreal way a war-torn place where remaining citizens are devastated, but picking up the pieces of their lives. Jónas, who is staying at the only open hotel, then dines at the only open restaurant, Restaurant Limbo, where mushrooms have been removed from the menu since it is too dangerous to pick them when there may still be land mines. How can he tell these survivors that he has come here to kill himself? So he does what he knows how to do. Fix things.”

Mia the Teen Whisperer is excited. “I finished Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist last night and it was incredible. Written by the author of The Boston Globe’s Love Letters column, Meredith Goldstein uses the warmth and humor found in her column to write a hilarious and touching memoir. Each chapter covers a different aspect of her life and job, beginning when the Globe launched her column while her own love life was falling apart. All the vignettes she shares are tied to actual letters she received and answered, along with hilarious comments from her followers. I laughed, I cried, I found awesome bits of advice, and I’m certainly going to read her column from now on.“

Virginia the Tall Texan has just finished Force of Nature by Jane Harper.“ Jane Harper might be one of my new favorite writers because she knows how to create an intense and highly atmospheric mystery that makes you feel like you are right there in the middle of Australia with her characters. In her new book, Force of Nature, Harper brings back Detective Aaron Falk who gets pulled into a missing person case but with a twist. During a corporate team building retreat, five women went into the Australian bush but only four came out. The missing woman, Alice, it turns out is a whistleblower for a money laundering case Detective Falk is investigating. The night she went missing, Alice was able to make one phone call and it was to Detective Falk but the only thing that could be heard on the message was “hurt her.” The story alternates between the present day search and investigation, and the earlier hike into the wilderness. We discover that all of the women on the retreat had reason to be angry with Alice, but the big question remains did anyone know that she was an informant and if so, what would they be willing to do to keep her from revealing the company’s secrets?"

Alan our Leader loves himself some Bernard Cornwell. “Bernard Cornwell’s Fools and Mortals is a very well researched novel set in Elizabethan and Shakespearean London, in fact it’s all about Shakespeare, set it the midst of muddy, smelly, sometimes violent London. William Shakespeare’s brother, Richard, is a just-about-starving actor, disrespected by his much more accomplished brother, and his striving for success finds him in a depth of trouble, both as an actor, and as someone with dodgy sidelines to provide his past due rent, and to have enough to eat. Will the beautiful maid servant who befriends him provide a way to success? Cornwell bases much of the plot on rehearsals of the Bard’s new play, and it’s a fascinating look behind the scenes of a fascinating time.”

The Always Charming Pat S is reading out of her comfort zone this week with Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian. “While I rarely read about sports or sports figures, recent Masters’ coverage had once again put Tiger Woods’ name in the news on a daily basis, and I am so glad I happened upon this most recent biography of Tiger Woods. Rich in detail (including every golf swing Woods ever took), and based on extensive (over 400) interviews, this is a fresh retelling of the golf icons life-with the authors connecting the dots of his meteoric rise to his fantastic fall in a sensitive portrait of unrelenting pressure and unrealistic expectations. Woods, an only child, was raised by loving parents who so believed in their sons’ God-given talents that they made it the sole focus of all their lives. Extremely bright, Tiger was encouraged to do well in academics and golf to the exclusion of all else. He never played on a team sport, or enjoyed afterschool activities with other children-it was all golf, everyday, including weekends. Initially coached by his father, in time Earl Woods became his manager, and managed every decision in supplication of his son being the greatest golfer the sport had ever known. This outsized talent isolated Tiger early, and exclusively. And Tiger Woods handled the pressure-with a maturity rarely seen in adults. While he methodically tackled and conquered challenge after challenge on the golf course, his emotional development stalled through lack of normal interaction with people and experiences outside of golf. Add to that a level of celebrity few have achieved-all before the age of 21. When his fall came he had no idea of how to handle any of it-mentally, emotionally, or physically. This is a tragic story that cannot help but have the reader wondering at the breadth of Tiger Woods’ talent and the depth of his loneliness.“

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