Note to Shelf: May 25th Edition

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

First, we’d like to take a moment to recognize, honor, and celebrate those in the military who gave their lives for our country. We thank you for the freedom your service has provided us. It allows us to enjoy this weekend, and honor those who have sacrificed for this country.

Traditionally, Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start of summer. The white jeans will come out of the closet. The sun screen will be generously applied as some beaches open with appropriate social distancing. There is much to look forward to as our librarians have been hard at work cultivating a summer reading collection that will surely delight our patrons.

And please join us in celebrating Darien Library’s 126th anniversary on 1894 Day! On May 27th, we will launch our Second Annual Day of Giving. Now more than ever, we need your support to help ensure the long-term vitality of the Library.

Don't forget to check out our featured booklist with this week featuring some of our favorite Women's Fiction titles.

Now, on to our staff reviews. All of these titles are available at Hoopla or at Libby by Overdrive.

Marianne

My book group recently met to discuss Afterlife by Julia Alvarez. Rarely do we all agree about a novel—which, of course, makes for lively conversations. But, in this case, it was unanimous. We loved it! And, surprise, the discussion was nonstop.

The story centers around Antonia Vega who has recently retired from her position as a literature professor at a small college in Vermont. Her plans for a comfortable life with her doctor husband, Sam, are immediately disrupted by his sudden death. With almost no time to grieve, she is thrown into a family crisis involving her older sister, Izzy. And to complicate matters further, a young, pregnant, undocumented immigrant woman shows up at her door. Antonia has never thought of herself as particularly compassionate and caring—in fact, she left the carer role to her husband—but she must now figure out how to respond to those who need her help.

The author makes you laugh and cry almost at the same time while reading this book, and in the hands of a less skillful writer, these disparate themes could be very disjointed. Alvarez, however, weaves these topics into a sensitive and loving story that asks us to consider what we owe our family, our neighbors, and ourselves. A timely, wonderful read that offers much to talk about. Great for book clubs.

Diane

A Year in Flowers is a new favorite of mine. Author Erin Benzakein, owner of Floret Farms, has given us a wonderful resource designed to inspire even the uninitiated to create casual floral arrangements throughout the year. The book is broken down into four fundamental sections: getting started, design, techniques, and seasonal bouquets. The author also provides an A-Z Ingredient Guide featuring small color photos of all the flowers used throughout the book. Benzakein gives a "vase life " and harvest time for each bloom photographed. Check out Floret Farms Instagram account! From start to finish this beautiful book is incredibly inspiring.

Colleen

If, like me, you are fascinated by covert operations and how people are selected to work in spy agencies, then Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox won’t disappoint you! This is the fascinating story of a young girl who moves from country to country with her parents while growing up. Her international exposure gives her a unique understanding of the great diversity of people in the world and the extraordinary dangers they face. Amaryllis is a well-educated young woman who gives an honest account of her life in the CIA as a clandestine operative. While dealing with the most dangerous terrorists, she shares an intimate account of her struggles and relationships, and gives the reader an insight into just how passionate and courageous our intelligence agents are. I highly recommend this riveting memoir.

Note to Shelf, Teen

Mia

Most Likely by Sarah Watson follows four best friends through their senior year of high school as they deal with the rollercoasters of their lives. They’re worried about colleges, their local park being torn down, their mental health, and oh!, one of them is destined to be President of the United States. The prologue sets the scene, but the book will keep you in suspense until almost the last page about which girl will become Madame President. Most Likely is one of my favorite reads this year. Once I sat down with it, I didn't put it down until I’d read the last page! I fell in love with every character in this book, and was absolutely charmed start to finish. A must read!

Note to Shelf, Junior

Kaitlin

One of my all-time favorite children’s books, Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, is a wacky, laugh-out-loud story about a father left in charge of his children while Mom is away at a conference. When the siblings awaken to find there’s no milk in the fridge, they send dear old Dad out to get some. But ages and ages pass, with no sign of their father or the milk. When he returns “with a thump and a bang,” he has quite the story to tell - involving kidnapping, pirates, aliens, and even a time-traveling dinosaur.

Fans of such great comedic works as Calvin and Hobbes, Sideways Stories from Wayside High, and Fantastic Mr. Fox are sure to love this story of a shopping trip gone horribly – yet hilariously – wrong.

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