Darien Library continues to shower their patrons with a multitude of on-line resources during these trying times. E-books, movies, magazines, as well as virtual programs provide a welcome respite from the continued news on the pandemic.
The Library just launched its latest offering - Book Matchmaker Express! This innovative online tool connects participants with a quick reading or audio recommendation. Simply fill out this form to access this great new resource for your reading or listening pleasure. Allow yourself to regroup, disconnect or simply unwind for a while with a title picked specially for you.
A particular favorite series of mine, especially when I’m in need of an escape, is Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti Detective Mysteries.
While there are many reasons why I find Leon’s writing riveting, some highlights include the complexity of her characters, including the Commissario himself. Long-suffering in his work, Brunetti’s return home every evening to his loving family gives the reader a glimpse into his off-duty personality and the best aspects of Italian family life. The contrast between Brunetti’s on-the-job persona and his demeanor at home is especially well illustrated in Unto Us a Son is Given.
The series is set in Venice where the famous city’s seductive neighborhoods and contrasting underbelly of corruption and crime make for an endless supply of intrigue. Beastly Things, in particular, is steeped in the atmosphere of this unique setting.
Always interesting are the urgent issues that the author highlights in her novels, each drawing attention to specific problems facing Italy and the world. But the real attraction of this series is the masterly way Leon has conceived each novel and her uncanny ability to keep the reader glued to the pages. Start with her first, Death at La Fenice, or any other book in the series. You won’t be disappointed.
The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russel is a moving historical fiction account of life in the copper mining town of Calumet, Michigan in the early twentieth century. Annie Clements grows up in Calumet, where the men labor in the mines for meager wages and the women are always braced for the dreaded announcement of the next mine disaster and the loss of their loved ones.
Annie has always stood out because of her tall stature but, at a young age, she stands out for something else: challenging the largest copper mining company by forming the Women’s Auxiliary. She leads daily marches through the town center, carrying a huge American flag to rally the families, light a fire under the miners, and keep the townspeoples’ spirits up, all while fighting for the establishment of a union that will give the people of Calumet a better life, honorable wages, and good working conditions.
The battle is not without hardship, great sacrifice, and fear that the strike will leave the town worse off instead of better. In Annie’s words: “This fight might not be won, but there will be another fight in the hopes that one day, because of our sacrifice, courage and determination, the world will be a better place for the children of the children who are with us today.”
This was one of those books that I didn’t want to end. Annie Clements is an ordinary character who does extraordinary things. If you liked Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes you are sure to enjoy this book, too!
From Scratch: a Memoir of Love, Sicily and Finding Home by Tembi Locke is one of the most poignant love stories I’ve ever read. Locke, an African-American actress originally from Texas, was studying in Italy when she met Saro Gullo, a chef from a very traditional family in Sicily. This improbable love story is beautifully written and well worth a read.
Note to Shelf, Jr**
If your family exclaims over the Elephant & Piggie book series, cackles at creepy underwear, and is tickled by taco-loving dragons, have I got a series for you! Jan Thomas’s Giggle Gang books, which feature a rotating cast of goofy barnyard animals, are a perfect next-read for fans of comedy masterminds like Mo Willems and Aaron Reynolds. My personal favorite, My Toothbrush is Missing, follows Dog and his friends as they search for Dog’s missing toothbrush.
Zaniness ensues as everyone realizes Donkey has no idea what a toothbrush looks like. Interested in some extension activities? Check out Jan Thomas’ website which features a variety of coloring pages, finger puppets, and more!
Note to Shelf, Teen
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot is a deep-cut classic YA title from Miss Mia’s ‘most favorite books’ list. The Princess Diaries series follows Mia Thermopolis through the trials and tribulations of learning she’s actually a princess while just trying to get through high school. There are princess lessons, school dances, crushes, and many amazing friendships in the pages of these “Diaries” and they are the perfect light, yet heartwarming stories for crazy times like these. Yes, you may have seen the movie, but the book series is its very own, equally awesome experience. Plus, if you have thoughts about the second movie… well let’s just say this librarian likes the way things work out for Mia and Michael MUCH better in print.