Thursday, June 28, 2012

How Long is Your To-Read List?

Perfect timing for this blog post - my favorite topic of finding a good book to read ties in with the challenge of today's Summerquest blog. A few years ago I was lucky enough to have some time to create the mother of all to-read lists from all of those tiny pieces of paper with titles scratched on them that I had been collecting forever. If I were to retire today, I still don't think I could get through the over 1500 titles in my Goodreads to-read pile. One thing I like to do is randomly select a title from that list and see what I think. And boy did I find a winner this time with Emily St. John Mandel's debut novel Last Night in Montreal.

Monday, June 25, 2012

All Tied Up

This week's SummerQuest challenge is to make a craft from a pattern. With so many great crafts out there, I thought I'd share mine.

I learned to knit in high school, and even whipped up some scarves and baby blankets, but dropped it somewhere around the end of college. About eighteen months ago, I picked up the craft again, and now I can't remember why I ever stopped in the first place. The patterns feed my precise librarian's soul, the colors and textures of the yarn nurture my artistic side, and when I just need to zone out, there's nothing like a long stretch of repetitive stockinette stitch to soothe me.

One of my favorite knitting writers is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, or as she calls herself on her blog, The Yarn Harlot. She has one how-to book, but in general, she writes essays and reflections on life, knitting, and the intersection of the two. She's hilarious, she's down-to-earth, and she acknowledges two very important things about knitters.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Staff Picks

Here are some titles that our staff enjoyed reading last month.

Helene liked The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan which follows a group of roommates from the class of 1989 as they prepare for their twentieth reunion weekend at Harvard.

Jenn enjoyed Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan.  The book goes behind the famous multiple-personality case, showing the willing patient, her ambitious shrink, and the imaginative journalist who spun their story into bestseller gold.

Vicki Ann liked Heft by Liz Moore.  Overweight Arthur hasn't left his apartment in 10 years.  Kel is a poor kid in a rich school.  These two opposites form an unexpected friendship that changes their lives. 


Monday, June 18, 2012


     Taylor Clark's impetus for writing Nerve : Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress and The Brave New Science of Fear and Cool was deeply personal. He had experienced a persistent stretch of anxiety and despite his best mental efforts and a devoted perusal of available stress-related books (some too clinical, others too preachy self-help) Clark remained clueless. Eventually, cluelessness evolved into curiosity.  He began to study and synthesize the latest research from neuroscientists, psychologists and scholars that cut to the heart of fear and its formidable first cousins - anxiety and stress.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Still Alice

Alzheimer’s.  It is a frightening word that represents an even more frightening disease for the elderly, their family and their caregivers. Right. For the elderly and their caregivers – not for fifty year old women such as Alice Howland, Harvard psychology professor. Yet in Still Alice, a novel by Lisa Genova, it is that 50 year old woman who is diagnosed with this tragic disease. 

This book chronicles Alice’s experience of the disease from its early stages, pre-diagnosis through the diagnosis and on to the later stages.  It is a touching story, one of progressive losses and one of the things that makes the story so powerful and unusual is that it is told from Alice’s point of view. It is Alice who first notices things about her memory, Alice that seeks a diagnosis and later, treatment.  And though we experience all of this from Alice’s point of view, in addition, we learn about her three children and her husband who also become victims of this disease.  

Still Alice is a sad book.  I don’t deny that.  However, it is much, much more.  It about parents and children, a husband and wife and about a family that finds a way to take care of one of its own.  It is a wonderful book.

Monday, June 11, 2012

From Fanfiction to Mainstream

The latest SummerQuest is a really fun challenge involving creating a map of an imaginary place. You have to be a true fan to be that inspired by an imaginary world. Some are inspired to make maps, while others are inspired to write stories. So between that, and the fact that the controversial Fifty Shades of Grey continues to be one of our most-requested books, this seems like a good time to recommend some other authors who, like E.L. James, started out writing fanfiction. (You probably know already that that book started out as Twilight fanfiction...le sigh.)

 There's a good chance that you've seen the multitude of pink, sparkly books we have by popular child, teen, and adult author Meg Cabot. But did you know that she started out writing fanfiction, and is still an active member of that online community? Find out what the heck fanfiction is, and check out some more popular authors who started out writing it, after the jump!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

While You Wait For Stolen Prey

Looking for something similar to Stolen Prey by John Sandford?  Here are some read-alike titles you might enjoy.

I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark.  Alexandra Moreland is plagued by identity theft.  Then, with overwhelming circumstantial evidence stacked against her, Alexandra is arrested for the murder of a woman she claims she's never met.

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner.  A young woman claims her murder is imminent, because her close childhood friends have been murdered on the anniversary of the same day and she is the only one still alive.

Monday, June 4, 2012

13 1/2

I like to read fiction books that take place in the location I am visiting, so I recently read Nevada Barr's stand-alone book, 13 1/2. Can you think of a better way to read a book than while eating beignets and drinking coffee at the Cafe Beignet on Royal Street in New Orleans? I originally avoided reading this book because it is a departure from her Anna Pigeon series, and I had been told it was really "different." It is very different.  13 1/2 is a very dark psychological suspense book that I did not want to put down. I really needed to know how it ended!

At the age of fifteen, Polly Deschamps escapes her abusive childhood by running away to New Orleans. On her first night there, a fortune teller at Jackson Square tells her that she will make something of her life. The fortune teller was right;