There is a tremendous amount to like about the novel Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross. It contains all the ingredients for a spectacular story – romance, murder, religion, sibling rivalry, sex, greed, war, politics, revenge and secrets. Set in the 9th century, young Joan desires to use her intelligence to read and write even though women and girls of her day were destined to housewives at best. When Joan’s brother is murdered, she disguises herself as a man and enters a monastery. There she becomes a healer and scholar and eventually makes her way to Rome and the Papacy. The historical research that went into this book enhances every page. Many worthwhile themes are floating throughout this story including, the limitations of gender roles, religion practiced as blind faith versus a continually questioning process and what we may gain or lose when we love someone. Fantastic!
Welcome 2015 by trying something new! Join us at 1:00 PM on January 19th for our afternoon book group. This month we will discuss Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. Hope to see you then.
During this hectic time of year it can be hard to dive deep into a novel but the longing to escape into a book is still strong. The perfect solution is two books of essays by the brilliant Nora Ephron. I Feel Bad About My Neck: and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman and I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections contain equally witty, funny and observant essays dealing with everyday life. Her words will have you laughing and reflective – just the perfect thing for the season.
Reference and Adult Services Librarian
The New York Times recently listed the year’s best books, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Take a look….
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Euphoria by Lily King
Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Redeployment by Phil Kay
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast
On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss
Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life by Hermione Lee
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David by Lawrence Wright
Could you live in a 350-square-foot apartment in New York City with your significant other and a baby on the way? New Slow City by William Powers is his story of purposely living slowly and meaningfully in the midst of all the fast energy of Greenwich Village. I enjoyed this book, (even though I didn’t always care for him much) mainly because he strives to incorporate as much nature into his life as he can. By valuing, respecting and enjoying nature, he is able to appreciate all things. It’s a nice thing to remember and strive for.
Reference and Adult Services
‘Tis the season for “best of the year” awards.
Goodreads Choice Awards were announced this week, the only major book awards decided by readers. I’ve noted below the winners for fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, mystery/thriller and romance. For a complete list of winners in all 20 categories, go to the following link. https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014
FICTION: Landline by Rainbow Rowell – Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now. Maybe that was always beside the point. Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . . Is that what she’s supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened
NON-FICTION: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan – An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.
HISTORICAL FICTION: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall. In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure. Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.
MYSTERY/THRILLER: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King – In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy. Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands. Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.
ROMANCE: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon is the eighth novel in the world-famous OUTLANDER series. In June of 1778, the world turns upside-down. The British army withdraws from Philadelphia, George Washington prepares to move from Valley Forge in pursuit, and Jamie Fraser comes back from the dead to discover that his best friend has married Jamie’s wife. The ninth Earl of Ellesmere discovers to his horror that he is in fact the illegitimate son of the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser (a rebel _and_ a Scottish criminal!) and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for Ian’s Quaker betrothed. Meanwhile, Claire Fraser deals with an asthmatic duke, Benedict Arnold, and the fear that one of her husbands may have murdered the other. And in the 20th century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna is thinking that things are probably easier in the 18th century: her son has been kidnapped, her husband has disappeared into the past, and she’s facing a vicious criminal with nothing but a stapler in her hand. Fortunately, her daughter has a miniature cricket bat and her mother’s pragmatism.
Reference and Adult Services
Are you looking for a new book to read? The National Book Award winners were announced this week. The winners were:
Fiction: Redeployment by Phil Klay
Nonfiction: Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos
Poetry: Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück
Young people’s literature: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is a slim book about the virtues of simplifying and organizing your home. Some of this book comes off as hokey but much of the author’s information is intriguing. Rolling you socks and clothing instead of piling things on top of each other, purging by category instead of physical area and getting rid of most paper, are just a few of her many dictates. She is not without sentiment though and acknowledges we all have something dear to us we should cherish, whether it be a book, or drawing, or even a t-shirt. Marie does stress to remember we live in the present, so not to hang onto things because they have given us pleasure in the past. “Thank” the gift for the happiness it gave you then let it go. She also suggests you “thank” your house, wallet and other practical items you use each day. Her overall message is if an item doesn’t spark joy in you get rid of it! Even gifts that loved ones have given us that we don’t enjoy we need to discard.
There must be a worldwide desire to purge and organize as this book has been an international bestseller with more than 2 million copies sold. If you want to be happier, read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, put your home in order and declutter.
Reference and Adult Services
Recently, my son had an assignment to read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. I have picked this Newbery Honor Medal book up dozens of times, yet never got around to reading it. Well, don’t I feel silly for not having read it sooner. Hatchet is the powerful story of Brian Robeson, a thirteen-year-old boy stranded in the wilderness with nothing but a hatchet and the power of his thoughts. He struggles to overcome his fears while at the same time becoming emotionally and physically stronger. Brian’s appreciation for his surroundings grows as he realizes the many ways nature can help him survive. This is a terrific book for a reluctant reader. On the surface it is a tale of survival but a bit deeper is the realization that in growing up we lose something – an innocence that there is only one way to see things.
Find Hatchet by Gary Paulsen in our YA collection.
Reference and Adult Services
It’s not too late to join us for our Afternoon Book Club next Monday, November 17 at 1:00 PM. We will be discussing The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure. I hope to see you then.