Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
The engaging and darkly humorousCare of Wooden Floors, a debut novel by UK journalist Will Wiles, tells the tale of a nameless house-sitter who is given the opportunity to get away from his rather drab life in London and visit a nameless eastern European city to watch over the sleek and ultra-modern apartment of an old college friend and finally concentrate without distraction on the creative writing that he tells himself he has in him. Oscar, the friend, a renowned minimalist composer and beyond serious neat freak, leaves nothing in his life to chance. As the narrator discovers a series of obsessively specific notes concerning the care of the flat, and particularly the unique wood floors, it becomes clear that there is more to the house-sitting, and more to the relationship with Oskar, than was assumed. As the story unfolds, and then absurdly unravels, a sense of schadenfreude sets in and readers will revel in the “it can’t get any worse” twists and turns as the simple house-sitting assignment morphs into a downright Kafkaesque existential struggle.
Care of Wooden Floors
Charlie Collier: Snoop for Hire
Growing up I read every Encyclopedia Brown book. Recently Donald Sobol, the author of this series died and I was feeling nostalgic. Then I came across Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire by John Madormo. It's not nearly the caliber of the Encyclopedia Brown series (Sorry John) but it was good enough to scratch the itch. If you recall Encyclopedia Brown had a desk and charged to solve crimes and had a girl named Sally as his "enforcer" and a bully named Bugs Meanie. Charlie has a desk in his garage and his "enforcer" is named Henry. Encyclopedia Brown had the support of his parents (his father was the police chief). Charlie has to sneak his detective work and if his parents come home too soon Henry and Charlie have to hurriedly clean up the garage. But luckily Charlie's grandmother is supportive, in more ways than you would think, but you have to read the book to find out more. Some of the solutions Charlie comes up with are a bit of a stretch. For example, his father reads in the newspaper that a man was found on the beach in Miami, no foot prints, his bones were broken but they were broken after death, cause of death was hypothermia. Charlie has the one and only possible solution, The man was a stowaway on an airplane . He stowed away in the landing gear and when it got to thirty thousand feet he froze to death, when the landing gear came down, he fell out and on to the beach. Throughout the main story there are little brain teasers like this, mostly from his assistant Henry who wants to try and stump him. You can find this book in our Children section of the library.
Charlie Collie Snoop for Hire
When I heard a buzz about a British bestseller written by a very funny woman who wasn’t afraid to talk about feminism, I thought, “This is the book for me!” And when I checked out the book and found a blurb on it that referred to it as “the British version of Tina Fey’s Bossypants,” I thought, “this is definitely the book for me!” Although I see only a few similarities between Bossypants and Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman (both written by funny women who are willing to acknowledge the difficulties of being a mother), it really was the book for me.
Caitlin Moran began her career as a columnist for Melody Maker (a British music magazine) at the ripe young age of 16. Her book is a funny but pertinent look at feminism and women in the Western world today, told through important events/mistakes over the course of her life and career. She’s warm, irreverent, and a bit crass. Reading this book felt to me like getting back in touch with an old friend and laughing about ridiculous life choices made in an effort to be a woman.
How to Be a Woman
If you can get past the title, you'll love the book. The story takes place in Oslo, Norway, days before the annual Norwegian Independence Day celebration. 11 year old Nilly has just moved to his new house where he meets his new neighbor, 11 year old Lisa. Nilly is very small - which is important to remember. Living next door to Lisa is the inventor, Doctor Proctor. Doctor Proctor has invented many things, including a powder that makes you glow green and the all important fart powder (regular strength) and fartonaut powder (extra strength). You'll also meet the not so nice twins Truls and Trym, and Anna Conda. You can decide what you think of Anna. There is intrigue, revenge, adventure, lots of laughter and of course - farts! The humor and magic has been compared to Roald Dahl. There are two more books in the series to enjoy, Bubble in the Bathtub and Who Cut the Cheese? My youngest son and I really liked the book and will be starting the next one tonight.
Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder
If you are looking for a book that has a guy who can open any lock, one who can disappear in a puff of smoke, a guy who dresses in medieval armor and carries around a sword, spells that only partially work and an extremely smart monkey then Janet Evanovich's latest book "Wicked Business" might be for you. (You should read "Wicked Appetite" first). In "Wicked Business" Lizzy, the cupcake maker and sensor of magical objects, and Diesel, a magically enhanced good guy are tracking down the Luxuria stone (Latin for lust) one of the seven ancient stones that hold the power of the seven deadly sins. Professor Gilbert Reedy is tossed out of his fourth floor window. When Diesel and Lizzy show up with Carl the monkey, Carl runs up the professor's body and comes away with a tiny key in his hand. Lizzy and Diesel have to find out what the tiny key opens, solve some riddles, and find the magical stone before Wuff the magically enhanced not good guy cousin of Diesel. The fun of reading Janet Evanovich's novels is not so much the actual solve the mystery, but the journey, all the mishaps that occur along the way. Enjoy.
Guess who is observing a 60th this year? It's Lucy. In this large commemorative volume are summaries of all the episodes of "I Love Lucy," complete with photos to accompany each. Also included are recipes of foods they ate on the show, lyrics of songs they sang, and little-known facts about the production. At the back is a section that has information about, photos of, and comments by Lucille Ball's real-life family. I'm a long-term Lucy fan, and I've looked at a lot of Lucy books, but this one has much that I had never seen before. KPL also owns the DVDs for those who would be interested in watching the show.
"I love Lucy" : a celebration of all things Lucy : inside the world of television's first great sitcom
Last year when we got 11 points guide to hooking up (by Sam Greenspan, who created the site 11points.com, where he posts funny lists of 11 items “because top ten lists are for cowards”), I thought it would be funny to put it here on the blog, and then I promptly forgot all about it. Last month, while looking up relationship books for a patron, I stumbled across it again, and checked it out for a fun, fast read. I wasn’t expecting it to contain much in the way of helpful advice, but it actually does, with lists including "11 Ideas for Fun, Memorable Dates", "11 Tips for Proposing, Wrangling, and Shining during a Threesome", and "11 Ways to Transition a Friendship into a Relationship". You’ll find it shelved with humor books, and it definitely entertains; it also hits home a lot of the time.
11 points guide to hooking up
Those of you who have read my previous posts here, will be well aware of my weakness when it comes to cats. We currently live with three domestic felines, and I have had the pleasure of the company of quite a few others over the years, all of whom I dearly love. However, this does not mean that I am indifferent to, much less prejudiced against, those of the canine persuasion. In fact, my affection for all animals began with dogs.
It started when as a small child living in the Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Parma, I laid eyes upon my first hound. I don’t really recall it’s looks, just the fact that I was instantly drawn to it and it to me. All dogs were now officially identified by me in my naïve way of thinking as my best friends ever. And there was nothing more important in my life at that time than to make friends with each and every one as soon as I saw it. By the time I was six, I was often never to be found anywhere around our house, since I was out chasing dogs of all breeds and sizes in the neighborhood. They led and I followed. Not being able to locate me and growing somewhat desperate, my mother would often resort to calling my seventeen year old cousin who had just attained his driver’s license to track me down in his ‘55 Oldsmobile. His task was to bring me home in one piece, preferably without any motley mutts in tow. My behavior never resulted in my family actually getting a dog of our own, since my mother was dead set against the idea, and her veto power was absolute. But still I was on affable terms with each and every pooch in a four block radius around our house. And to this day at family get-togethers, my childhood obsession with dogs is rich material for nostalgic anecdotes that are always good for a chuckle or two.
Just as much as I am attracted to dogs, so too am I attracted to fiction about them. As a result, I very much looked forward to reading A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. Sometimes hilarious, and oftentimes heartrending, this is a rather unique work of fiction since it’s told from the dog’s perspective and is a search for the true meaning of life. While this task may be too much for most humans to contemplate, much less to seriously consider undertaking, the book proposes that it can be that much more daunting for canines. The story follows a dog who finds himself reincarnated over the course of several lives. As a result it tries to weave together a common purpose for these lives and discover how best to fulfill that purpose.
Somewhat reminiscent of Garth Stein’s 2009 novel The Art of Racing in the Rain, where a lab terrier mix narrates his experiences as a canine and observes what makes human beings “human,” Cameron’s work similarly produces a wealth of insight and emotions. As a bonus for Michiganders, Cameron, being a Michigan native himself, sets the story in various state locations.
So, if you have ever gazed into the eyes of a dog and wondered what that creature in front of you was capable of thinking, this book might help answer that question. It certainly suggests that there might be much more than just walks, sniffs, supper and squirrels on the agenda.
A Dog’s Purpose
Smokin" Seventeen by Janet Evonavich
The Stephanie Plum novels are a fun quick read. Leave reality, immerse in the characters and have fun.
Take a look at the back cover and you tell me who Stephanie is modeled after. I was very upset when it was announced that they were making a Stephanie Plum book into a movie. I love that they will make it a movie I hated that they chose Katherine Heigel for the role of Stephanie Plum. My fellow CAMP workers at the library tend to agree with me on that aspect. They do think that the person picked to play Ranger is definitely drool able. Ranger is a major hunk so this actor has an almost impossible task ahead of him. In this novel there are a bunch of bodies being buried in shallow graves at Vincent Plum Bail Bonds temporary location. Not good for business to have police roping off crime scene areas right in front of your trailer which is your office. Yeah the killer of these victims is sought but the greater thrust is Who will Stephanie pick; will it be the Hunky Ranger who can send her into orgasmic heaven or will it be Morelli who was Mr. Bad boy but is now a cop and can give her a night of passion that has her passing out from delight. These books have a rough plot of solve the crime and Stephanie has colorful friends like Lulu but mostly the book is about Stephanie's urges. Her quandary about which man to hook up with solely. She wants them both and has them both. As do we vicariously as the author describes the mounting passion and the trip to heaven. Personally I think she needs to settle down and choose Morelli, but she is still in the have your cake and eat it too phase. So she sleeps with both, mostly Morelli kinda in the roll of husband (or steady lover) but she also keeps taking a trip on the wild side with Ranger as he has the ability to blast her into outer space. There is debate in CAMP as to who she should choose. But there is not debate that even the thought of being with Ranger makes you weak in the knees. But Ranger is so transient that he is only good for a roll in the hay. Morelli is the one she should marry but not until she has the ability to quit getting it on with Ranger. She has to choose someday but the longer she puts it off the longer she has the best of both worlds and lives in orgasmic bliss. As to the story, it's incidental but yes she solves the mystery. I love the Stephanie Plum novels. I love the quirky way she brings in a bond jumper and I love her internal debate over who to choose and I love her descriptions of her trips to the heavenly delights.
We usually travel to my sister’s place in Cleveland, Ohio to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It’s a hectic, yet fun time for all, but especially so for the kids. In this case, I’m talking about my niece’s two young girls Zoya, age 7 and Maya, who is 4. To keep the tykes from being underfoot in the kitchen while celebratory meals are being prepared, I have taken to bringing a bag full of children’s books to read to them. All three of us find a comfortable sofa, oversized pillows or bed in a quiet nook of the house and settle in for some choice holiday stories. After doing this for the last 3 years or so, the girls eagerly look forward to our holiday read-together times.
During Thanksgiving our favorites have included Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr, as well as A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting. In both of these humorous kid’s tomes, the turkey does not get eaten on Thanksgiving Day and instead a vegetarian meal is served. In Run, Turkey, Run! the meal substitution is completely unintentional, when the turkey manages to outwit the farmer and his family who have to settle for grilled cheese sandwiches as a result. However in A Turkey for Thanksgiving, a non-turkey menu is planned from the very start, as the moose family (all fervent vegetarians by birth) invite their local turkey neighbor to sit down with them for the feast as their guest of honor. And of course as befits this special status, he is placed at the head of the table.
For the Christmas holidays, some of our past favorites have included: What Dogs Want for Christmas by Kandy Radzinski, The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot, Wake Up Bear...It’s Christmas! by Stephen Gammell, as well as the British classic, The Church Mice at Christmas by Graham Oakley.
On occasion, I like to mix-up the repertoire a little by also including stories not related to the holidays. One of these is Frankie Works the Night Shift by Lisa Westberg Peters, which happens to be Zoya’s particular favorite, and which I have had to read numerous times due to the incessant clamor of an unyielding, adoring (and adorable) audience. To further keep interests high, along with the stories I will sometimes incorporate a craft or two that relates either to the holiday theme or the main character of a book.
So if you have kids, nephews, nieces or friends with children, go to your local library to stock up on some fun titles. Then take some time out, gather up the troops, read, laugh and enjoy.
Reading together: It’s a great way to put that memorable, extra special, human sparkle into the next generation’s holiday season!
Run, Turkey, Run!