Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
Wow! I loved this book! I want to read The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes again immediately but I already know what happens so I don't think it would be the same. I do hope someone makes it into a movie!
If you like fast-moving, historical fiction with some mystery, you might love this book that begins in in Northern France in the middle of the First World War and features a painting, a woman named Sophie, and her family and small town. As they struggle to survive impossible conditions the story of the painting unfolds. Then the story skips forward to present day England where Liv is desperate to hold onto the painting. She risks everything in a court case that eventually ties up all the loose ends of the story from the previous century and her own story.
This is the second book I've read by Jojo Moyes and I'm looking forward to reading more. KPL has many of her books available in both print and ebook format.
The Girl You Left Behind
How profound! That Maya Angelou’s last book would be His Day Is Done! Like Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, the “global renaissance woman”, has been a crusader for many. For me, her life has paralleled Mandela’s. She, too, has opened many doors and as she says in the book about Mandela she has enlarged many hearts with tears of pride.
Though this is a small book of poetry, it makes an awesome footprint
and melts a little bit of your heart. And now we can say Her Day is Done.
His Day is Done: a Nelson Mandela Tribute
I heard a story on Michigan Radio yesterday that was about the future of medicine, and it reminded me of this book. The future of health care, as imagined by this author, is basically this: people take DNA tests at home to figure out what’s wrong with them. Meanwhile, the government deregulates the pharmaceutical industry (political argument), which allows them to create a drug for every specific thing that’s wrong with people (molecular medicine). Then, armed with my detailed knowledge about what’s wrong with me, I go to Walmart and buy the exact drug that I need. And, lucky for me, there’s a generic version (economic argument)—cheap! And, the author thinks, this solves the problem of expanding health care costs—we cut out the very expensive middle-man—doctors and hospitals (which he calls “helpless care”). That’s the nutshell (oversimplified) version.
Recently I talked to a person who actually makes drugs for a large pharmaceutical corporation. I asked him “do you think drug companies are too regulated?” His answer was complex. First, he partly disagreed with this book—he said they are not too regulated. Instead of getting rid of the FDA, he said they need more people on staff; expand it. He also mentioned that the FDA needs to “get into the 21st Century,” which agrees precisely with this book. They are using outdated science (read the book for details) which slows down drug production.
the cure in the code
When Saroo was five years old, he became separated from his older brother and lost on a train in India that took him about a thousand miles from his small village. With a limited vocabulary making it difficult to properly communicate who he was and where he was from, and unable to trust most people he encountered, he spent several weeks surviving on the streets of Calcutta alone, until he eventually landed in an orphanage and was adopted by a family in Australia. Twenty-five years later, studying satellite images on Google Earth, he was able to locate his village. Saroo Brierley’s biography A Long Way Home begins with Saroo returning to his small village for the first time since he was lost as a small child, finding his tiny former home, and asking current neighbors if anyone knows his mother, brothers, or sister. Then a man says, "Come with me. I'm going to take you to your mother."
I don't know yet exactly how his story ends, as I am only halfway through the book. I am almost to the photo spread in the center of the book and I must admit I have peeked ahead. I am completely engrossed in this book and can't wait to finish it. It is just an astounding story.
A long way home
Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words cause permanent damage. And that certainly holds true in Alena Graedon’s inventive debut novel The Word Exchange. The book is equal parts page-turning dystopian thriller and cautionary tale about the cultural costs of our society’s mass-reliance on technology, with some questions about the nature of love thrown in for good measure. The Word Exchange imagines a near future in which our mass-addiction to devices and the associated intellectual sloth creates the opportunity for malevolent corporations to corner the market on language itself, usurping the authority of dictionaries and monetizing access to word meaning. But when the plan spirals out of control and a fast moving digital virus that manifests itself physically in humans causing word flu, because it causes a peculiar form of aphasia in its victims, it is left to the stories unlikely heroine Anana Johnson, daughter of the chief editor of the North American Dictionary of English Language, the genius lexicographer Doug Samuel Johnson, to try and piece the plot together and save the world from descending into a babbling incoherent mess. This is a great read and I can't wait for more from Graedon.
The Word Exchange
I’m certain that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s engrossing novel Americanah will top my personal list
of the best books of 2014. Americanah follows the lives of two
Nigerian students as they make their way in the world; Ifemelu and Obinze fall
in love as teenagers and make a plan to spend their lives together, but
circumstances lead them to places and situations they wouldn’t have imagined. Ifemelu heads to the U.S. to study and finds
herself confronted by a culture of racism and classism, while Obinze struggles
to survive as an undocumented worker in London.
They are very well-crafted characters—this is one of those rare books
where the characters seem utterly genuine and real. The novel offers a profound
discussion of race, immigration, and homeland without being heavy-handed; it is
a must read for fans of literary fiction.
A co-worker read and recommended the Teen title “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs, and his description sounded intriguing. What sets the story apart and adds to the book’s mystique are old photographs that are interspersed with the text.
Sixteen year old Jacob has had to endure the sudden death of his grandfather, which occurred under decidedly odd circumstances. Jacob ventures to a remote island in Wales with his father, to try and unravel the mystery. Miss Peregrine’s orphanage does indeed contain a host of children with peculiar talents. Time travel, strange and rather horrific beings, and a strong sense of place make this fantasy hard to put down.
There is a 2014 sequel as well, titled “Hollow City”, which continues the adventures and which I certainly intend to read.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
If you found a letter from your spouse or partner, not to be opened until after their death and they were still very much alive, would you open it now? OK, so you opened it and discovered a big, not-good secret, what would you do?
This is a page-turner, light summer read, but one that generates spirted discussion.
The Husband’s Secret
Library of Congress American Folklife Center: an Illustrated Guide…the title sounds bland, but the book/CD set is anything but! It covers a wide cross-section of folk art and folk lore in the United States.
Most amazing is the accompanying CD. With 35 tracks in all, there are songs from all over the U.S., including a song sung by Zora Neale Hurston, storytelling, personal interviews with many different people about aspects of daily living and the impacts of war and slavery. Some recordings are over 100 years old. Altogether they demonstrate the richness and variety of cultural experience in our country. This would be a great teaching tool to help bring an American history topic to life for your students.
Library of Congress American Folklife Center: An Illustrated Guide
Do your kids go to school at MLK Westwood? If so, I am confident that they are reading this summer! This sign made me smile when I saw it:
We are having fun with kids at the library this summer; kids are playing the reading games and earning prizes, they are attending the wide variety of programs that are underway, and we seeing a lot of families spending time at the library. Have we seen you here? Kids need to be reading and writing and thinking all summer long and KPL is the perfect place to help with that. Make sure they have plenty of books and make sure that they see YOU reading, too. Be a good role model for the kids around you and READ!