Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bliss, Remembered

Do you listen to NPR on Wednesday mornings? Do you enjoy listening to Frank Deford talking about sports? You may not know that in addition to writing for Sports Illustrated and talking about sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO, Deford has written 15 books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Bliss, Remembered is the most recent book written by Deford and is one of my current favorites. Set in both in 1936 and 2004, the story is about a woman named Sydney Stringfellow, an Olympic swimming hopeful in 1936. While in Berlin for the Olympics, Sydney falls in love with a young German man – the son of a German diplomat. Once back in the States, another young man enters her life. Fast forward to 2004. Sydney is dying of cancer and wants to tell her son a story about a secret part of her life. What follows is a wonderful conversation between mother and son, as she tells him things about herself he has never known.

I was enchanted by this story and thrilled with the ending. Whether or not you like Deford on Wednesday mornings, give this book a try. It’s wonderful!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Death, Cataloged

I'm a big believer in judging a book by its cover! I browse the library's new arrivals all the time, looking for a catchy title, an author I've heard good things about, or a description that grabs me. The Suicide Index by Joan Wickersham was one that appealed to two very different sides of me: the one that loves catalogs (naturally, since I work at the library!), and the one that morbidly enjoys grief memoirs. In this National Book Award finalist, Wickersham crafts the stark, painful story of her father's suicide, organized in an index.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Finding Christian Fiction

I am often asked for the location of the Christian fiction section in the library. Fiction, in the library, is shelved by author. So, how does one find sub-genres within the fiction section?

Christian fiction may be mystery, romance, suspense, science fiction or horror. My first suggestion is to use the "find popular authors by genre" link in the Books and Reading section on library's website. Another suggestion is to try using subject headings. A search for Christian fiction as a subject heading will yield 1509 results. If you have read your way through all the Beverly Lewis Amish books and want to find more Christian fiction Amish books, use the sort/limit function in the catalog by adding Amish as a subject. The results will be other Christian fiction books with Amish themes. You will discover the author Cindy Woodsmall by using this method.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Seriously cute

I love browsing coffee table books. When I say coffee table books I mean books with fantastic photography and just enough text to make for good browsing. I rarely purchase them, but it's fun to look. That's where the library is great. I can reserve all kinds of interesting ones, take them home, and browse to my heart's content; all without breaking the bank. In particular, I am a sucker for ones featuring cute animals. A new favorite that just came in is Friends by Catherine Thimmesh. It features unusual animal friendships like the orangutan and the kitten, and the giraffe and the ostrich. The photography is great and because all the stories are true there are little snippets of background information to keep things interesting. For one featuring cute puppies (wait aren't they always cute as puppies?) try Snog a Puppy's Guide to Love by Rachael Hale.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Staff Picks

Here is what our staff is reading this month. 

Helene enjoyed The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin.  Follow the heroine who conquered the country with a heart as big as her dreams. 

Michelle liked Rip Tide by Kat Falls.  When Ty finds a sunken township chained to a submarine, it's the first clue in an underwater mystery that threatens his family.

Karen recommends Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward.  When the headless corpse of her ex-fiancee turns up on their property siblings Paul and Lacey Hansen investigate.  This mystery is written tag team between the two authors and as they disagree about how the story should proceed the suspects and the body count rise.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson

OK, this title didn't send me scurrying to the shelves, but when I saw that Shakespeare: The World as Stage was written by the incomparable Bill Bryson I was delighted with my find. I love the way Bryson serves up information that's good for you and presents it with so much great storytelling, wry observation and outright wit that its impossible not to get smarter just reading him--sometimes in spite of yourself.

Shakespeare the man is a challenging subject. There's not much known about the Bard, who departed this good life in 1616 without leaving posterity much of a personal record. As Bryson points out, there are only a handful of days in Shakespeare's entire life about which we can say "...with absolutely certainty where he was." So, four hundred years later, to know Shakespeare the man one must understand the world in which he lived.

Bryson is a jolly tour guide to this world, clearly at home in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. He happily walks us through these calamitous times and covers all manner of diverse topics along the way, from economics (a well-paid headmaster earned 20 pounds annually) to societal norms (40 percent of brides were pregnant on their wedding day), and from jurisprudence (you could be fined for letting your ducks wander in the road) to diet (folks liked their food sweet, so black teeth, rotted from sugar, were commonplace. Poor people blackened their teeth so as to look more prosperous). There's fascinating stuff to learn about the theater, too (the Puritans believed theaters were "hotbeds of sodomy [and] wanton liaisons," and blamed them for all sorts of social ills and even a few natural calamities, like the earthquake of 1580).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Strong Women

Traveling with Pomegranates: a mother-daughter story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor

In this intimate memoir, novelist Kidd and her daughter, Taylor, travel through Greece, Turkey and France. Each woman chronicles her unique quest to navigate a stage in life. Fifty-something Kidd is anxious about her health, menopause and creativity. Twenty-something Taylor struggles with depression and rejection as she tries to figure out what to do with her life. Both women seek to redefine and strengthen the mother-daughter bond.

Although this book moves slowly, almost too slowly, I'm glad that I fought the urge to stop reading. The resolution is satisfying. Ultimately, inspired by the lives of Athena, the Virgin Mary and Joan of Arc and strengthened by a renewed understanding of each other, each woman finds clarity. The message is moving, memorable and thought-provoking. Additionally, the alternating narration adds interest and depth to the story, as do the descriptions of the fantastic travel destinations.

The story of this journey will resonate with women everywhere. Get ready to plan a trip--for your mother or your daughter, or maybe just for yourself.


Monday, September 5, 2011

The Poacher's Son

When I think of Maine, I have visions of beaches, lobster pots, yachts and lighthouses. It's easy to forget that the state is also known for timber, toothpicks and paper. The Poacher's Son is set far from the beaches, in the heart of the deep woods of Maine.

Rookie Game Warden Mike Bowditch returns home from investigating a pig-stealing bear to find a message from his estranged father, Jack, on his answering machine. It doesn't seem like a coincidence when Jack turns out to be the primary suspect in a double murder and the target of a statewide manhunt. No matter how many times he was disappointed in the past by his father, Mike can't believe that Jack is a cold-blooded murderer. Mike puts his career on the line when he heads out to find his father and discover what really happened.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Warm Bodies: A Novel by Isaac Marion

I know, I know, another zombie book. But what makes this one so special, you may ask?

How about if the zombie story was told from the point of view of the zombie? That's exactly what Isaac Marion has done in his beautifully written debut novel Warm Bodies.

The world of "R," the zombie narriator, is one in which all of the cities have fallen, zombies live in groups, and the surviving people have created survival cities inside sports stadiums. The newest generation of children have not known a world without zombies.

Now throw in a zombie-human romance and you have a book you won't be able to put down!

Find it at your local library!

~Roller Derby Librarian