Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
There's not a lot of high-paced action in Jill McCorkle's latest novel, Life after life. Set around a retirement home in a small town in North Carolina, it is a set of intertwined stories that are both reflective and relatable, with main characters ranging in age from 12 to 85. Funny, poignant, and surprising, this novel does not leave the reader with easy answers, or even a clear view of what the future holds for the characters, but instead with a hopeful regret.
Life after life
Today while maintaining the shelves to the high standard of orderliness to which you have become accustomed, I found this book: Killer librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin, and I immediately wanted to read it. However, duty called (sadly, my duties do not include dropping everything to read every fun book I run across while at work) and I am adding yet another title to the list. This happens a lot, and the list is long. I plan to check this out some day when I want a quick and easy read, as it looks to be the sort of cozy mystery to curl up with on a lazy afternoon, and finish by bedtime with no fear of nightmares.
As Andrea says below, teen books are great ffun to read for adults as well as teens. As additional prooff, I offer you The song of the Quarkbeast, by Jasper Fforde. Fforde, who has written several series for adults, started a series for a younger crowd with The last dragonslayer. In this sequel, you will find light spheres that run on sarcasm, additional references to marzipan as a controlled substance, and an enlightening and thought-provoking view on how trolls view the human species (on page 200), as well as the most delightful sentence I've read recently.
"She was so crabby, in fact, that even really crabby people put their crabbiness aside to write her gushing yet mildly sarcastic fan letters."
The song of the Quarkbeast
Like many of us, I have an extensive 'to-read' list. (Actually, it's multiple lists and collections of clippings and hastily scribbled notes). In my email today, a newsletter of recent releases had an item that caught my eye: Of dice and men: The story of Dungeons and Dragons and the people who play it by David Ewalt, which has now been added to the list. Though I've never been a fanatical player, I am definitely a nerd, and I have a soft spot in my heart for dice with more than six sides, so this book looks like a fun read.
The library has this book on order, so I can place a hold, or (more reasonably given the number of items I already have checked out) place it on one of my KPL lists. Do you know about this great feature? From the item record, I can click on the "Select an Action" button and choose "Add to My Lists" which will put the item on a list that is either temporary (if I'm not logged in) or attached to my account (if I am). In the latter case, I can log in and look at the titles on my list, and place a hold from there.
Of dice and men
When I heard Dan Savage, the renowned sex & relationship advice columnist/podcaster and co-founder of the It Gets Better project, had a new book on the way, I was very excited; I failed to realize that it would result in so much loss of sleep. Having enjoyed his previous books on marriage and adoption and the pursuit of happiness, I was eager to read American Savage : insights, slights, and fights on faith, sex, love, and politics as well. A collection of 17 essays on everything from end-of-life decisions to healthcare to sex education, I intended to savor it slowly. However, Dan’s writing is so enjoyable (though be aware that some of the issues he writes about may be hazardous to your blood pressure, and there is the occasional use of profanity), that I devoured it quickly, to the detriment of my intended bedtime, and it is now on its way to the next reader.
A new book by Mary Roach is always a treat, and her latest volume is no exception. This weekend I Gulped it down with great pleasure. Previous books have focused on death, sex, the afterlife, and space travel. This time she examines digestion, with all the glee of the 19th century doctor she describes who seemed to take unprofessional pleasure in igniting stomach gases (p227).
My favorite part of this book is getting to know her “favorite snake digestion expert” (p172), who pops up throughout the book with, among other interesting and sometimes gross tidbits, a biological explanation of dragons (p230). If you are familiar with Mary Roach’s work, you are likely a fan, and may already be on the holds list for Gulp. If not, why not grab one of her earlier works and dig in.
Bagels may not often described with the above adjectives, but Sharon Kahn’s Fax me a bagel definitely fits the bill. The first in her Ruby, the rabbi’s wife series, it is a quick and enjoyable read, with quirky characters and old technology (published in 1998 – can that really be fifteen years ago already – facsimile technology and the necessary accoutrements of a business have come a long way). If you enjoy this title, you’ll be pleased to know that we have the rest of the series, which are six in total. Just beware: you may finish reading with a craving for bagels, though you may be as lucky as I was – and coincidentally be offered one. Just in case it wasn’t a coincidence, my next read may be about winning the lottery!
Fax me a bagel
I was excited to discover that Fay Weldon has a new novel out, Habits of the house, the first of a planned trilogy. Set in England at the end of the 19th century, it follows the attempts of the Earl of Dilberne to solidify his family’s financial situation. From a brief summary I’ve read, it sounds like a rich American heiress might save this titled British family teetering on the brink of financial ruin, but in Weldon’s hands, it is sure to be a compelling and surprising read (and surely all the Dilbernes’ problems will not be solved by the end of the first book).
When I learned of the existence of this book, I immediately placed a hold on it, and I’m going to read it while I await the arrival of Mary Roach’s newest book, Gulp.
Habits of the house
Culinary Visions® Panel says pickling and fermenting are going to be big in 2013. Get on board with The art of fermentation, the latest book from Sandor Ellix Katz, an expert in the fermentation field.
The art of fermentation
…the library has you covered. The world may end in nine days (and many of our survival skill books are checked out already), but if it doesn’t, you may want to check out The worst-case scenario survival handbook: holidays. According to the cover, it will show you how to prevail against hordes of shoppers OR reindeer. I think it also has tips for tough family situations.
The worst-case scenario survival handbook. Holidays
Have you ever read a romance novel? Romance is the highest selling segment of all published fiction. From Whitney, my love to the currently trending 50 Shades of Grey (73 holds on it as of this writing), one feature they all seem to share is poor communication between star-crossed lovers. If they had self-awareness and the ability to communicate honestly and openly, there would be a very different story, of course, but whenever I have picked up a bodice-busting paperback the most notable feature is an astounding lack of communication. This results in several hundred pages of uncertainty and misery. To help you avoid these pitfalls in your own life, take a look at some of our books on communication skills. The book I have featured here, Conversation Transformation, is one place to start.
[The Life is not a romance novel series started with Only connect, continued with Into the kitchen and Not so fast. Stay tuned for further installments, and please leave suggestions for future topics in the comments. Or comment on my reading choices.]
Conversation transformation : recognize and overcome the 6 most destructive communication patterns