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We recognize that each patron has different reading tastes and our staff is no exception. Below is a listing of some titles that our staff found interesting/enjoyable. All titles on this list are available in the library, or through Overdrive. Be sure to follow the library on Pinterest to find these and other great book suggestions.
RETURN TO OAKPINE by Ron Carlson is a book I never would have picked up but because I read some favorable reviews, I decided to try it. Although I am glad I read it, I found the style and the plot a bit troubling. Four old friends part right after high school. One goes to New York and returns 30 years later to die. One goes to Denver and returns at the same time to examine his life. One goes to war and returns after. One stays. They reunite and, as the story unfolds, the past is explained. I think the most interesting thing about it, is that is a this story of male friendships. There are many, many books based on the friendship of women, but not so many about men. It is the story of friendship, loss and hope.
Attention Mystery Lovers! For those of you who like a good historical mystery such as those by Tasha Alexander, Jacqueline Winspear or Anne Perry, may like to try Fiona Buckley. The main character in the Ursula Blanchard series is Ursula, illegitimate half-sister of Queen Elizabeth I. She is a servant to the queen, but her main job is to spy and solve mysteries for Elizabeth. Being at the Queen’s beck and call is a bit trying for Ursula. The books are intriguing, not violent and make a good winter read.
I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET by Adrian McKinty is the second mystery featuring Detective Sean Duffy. Both this one and the first one, COLD, COLD GROUND are set in Ireland during the Troubles. Sean is a complex, compelling, dark, violent police officer. He is a bit of a mystery to everyone who knows him. He is a Catholic in Northern Ireland, but is a detective in the predominately Protestant police force. No one knows what to think of him and no one knows if he is trustworthy. The books are full of action, great characters, good writing and ethical dilemmas as Sean takes justice into his own hands. There is a level of violence, but it is in context of an embattled Northern Ireland.
MY BRILLIANT FRIEND by the Italian author Elena Ferrante is such an interesting story and setting. It is set in Naples, Italy in the 1950s and is the story of two girls who are best friends. Both are smart, but one is really smart. There neighborhood is tough and poor. Elena is timid and does well in school. Her teacher convinces her parents to allow her to continue her education after elementary school. Lila is fearless and brilliant, but no amount of begging can convince her parents to allow her to get an education. She finds a way to escape that is more like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. The is the first in a trilogy. It is beautifully written.
I love Young Adult books. In fact Young Adult books are great favorites with the library staff. The most recent one I read is ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell. It is a wonderful story for young adults and adults. Eleanor and Park meet on the school bus. They live in a rough neighborhood and Eleanor's family is quite awful, abusive and extremely poor. Both are smart, do well in school and once they warm up to each other, discover that they have so very much in common and end up falling, first, "in like" then in love. They grow, learn about friendship and survival. They also learn about trust and love. It is well written and hard to put down.
AMAZING PEACE, A CHRISTMAS POEM by Maya Angelou is a very small book that has the poem she read at the 2005 lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Her poems and books are full of beauty. This particular one contains a line that I think summaries the holiday spirit.
"It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time."
She is a great believer in peace and never gives up hope for humanity. A poem that will speak to many.
TEN YEARS IN THE TUB, A DECADE OF SOAKING IN GREAT BOOKS by Nick Hornby is an insightful, hilarious collection of ten years of his columns written for the believer. Every chapter starts with a list of the books he bought that month and a list of the books he actually read. His intelligent and perceptive comments are fun and unique. This book would make a great gift for any reader.
READER’S BOOK OF DAYS by Tom Nissley. For every day of the year, there are several events described from the lives of an incredible number and variety of authors both historic and current. It’s a book that is different and interesting.
STONE’S FALL by Iain Pears. One would be hard-pressed to find a more interesting, intricate historical mystery than STONE’S FALL. As the mystery unfolds, the “truth” is difficult to discover because there are so many layers to the characters and events. The story begins in 1909, but goes back to events that happened in the 1890s and are told from Matthew Braddock’s point of view. The second half of the book is told from Henry Cort’s viewpoint and takes place in 1867. The person at the heart of the book, Elizabeth, is a mysterious, complicated beautiful woman. This is a must read for those who enjoy historical mysteries.
Maybe a quiet, late fall evening is the perfect time to read Mary Oliver’s collection of poetry, DOG SONGS, which celebrate our special friendships with our beloved dogs. Books about dogs are extremely popular. Hopefully, the dog lovers and the poetry lovers will find this book.
POETRY IN MICHIGAN IN POETRY edited by William Olsen and Jack Ridl is a lovely collection of poetry about Michigan by Michigan poets. Needless to say, several of the poems have winter or cold as their subject!!! This collection also includes photographs and paintings. Both DOG SONGS and POETRY IN MICHIGAN IN POETRY are great books to give as gifts.
GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jojo Moyes. I was so happy I had read Moyes’ wonderful book, ME BEFORE YOU so that I was on the lookout for her new book. This is the story of a painting and what it means to two women in two time periods. The painting called The Girl You Left Behind was a portrait of Sophia painted by her husband, who was a famous artist, just before he left for WWI. Sophia loves the painting more than anything, but war happens and her fate is sealed when the German commandant becomes obsessed with the painting. Nearly 100 years later a young couple on their honeymoon purchase the painting and it becomes Liv’s most loved possession especially after her husband dies too young. This is a story of love, courage, justice and, ultimately, joy. It is a lovely book full of stories within stories.
LET HIM GO by Larry Watson. You know from page one that there is no way for this story to end well. Margaret has convinced her husband, George, to go with her to find their grandson. After their son's death, their grandson, Jimmy, and Lorna, the boy’s mother, had been living with them. Then she married a drifter and took off with Jimmy. Margaret wants him back. Although George is a former sheriff and knows what they are about to do is not legal, he loves Margaret and has never been able to dissuade her from anything.
Unfortunately, they do find Jimmy, Lorna, her new husband living in the midst of Donnie’s extremely violent clan. So, here is a story about good people coming up against ruthlessness and cruelty and of what we will do for love.
Larry Watson is an author who can tell a great story in a short book. His use of language is evocative and he has a beautiful turn of phrase. In describing footsteps George hears as Margaret walks away…”It’s a sound he didn’t hear when she approached, but then the human ear is tuned differently for departures than arrivals, as anyone who listens to train whistles knows.” At one point George and Margaret are eating with some friends. “The meal set out is by and for people whose only confident judgment about food is based on its quantity.” If you found Watson's MONTANA, 1948 compelling,you will love this book.
FIN AND LADY by Cathleen Schine. Fin is orphaned and is raised by his half sister, Lady in Greenwich Village in the sixties. Even by the standards of the sixties, Fin's upbringing is so unconventional that it borders on the bizarre. However, there is genuine love and fierce loyalty between the two siblings. This is an appealing, but not particularly deep, read. This is a book that redefines the concept of 'family.' It is worth reading." -Cathy
WHISTLING SEASON by Ivan Doig. Imagine a single father in Montana in the early 1900s who hires a house keeper based on a newspaper ad that says, “Can’t cook, but doesn’t bite.” When the housekeeper arrives her brother, who becomes the school teacher of the local one-room school house, arrives with her. The story is funny, poignant and the characters are interesting. Ivan Doig’s superb writing evokes a time and place long vanished. After you read this book, there are two more in the trilogy.
ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes. Louise is interesting. She dresses outrageously, is observant and is insightful. She is hired by Will’s mother to be a companion to Will. Will is a quadriplegic who participated in extreme sports and was a mover and shaker in the business world. The evolution of their relationship and the way both characters grew in the story is beautiful. In the hands of a less gifted story teller this could have been maudlin. Moyes tells a story so personal and moving that you can’t stop reading it. A perfect book. Cathy
SWEET THUNDER by Ivan Doig. If you have read the library’s newsletter over the years (available online) or have asked for book suggestions, you know that I love Ivan Doig. ENGLISH CREEK is one of my favorite books. His most recent trilogy starts with WHISTLING SEASON, about a new teacher who comes into a lonely family’s life. The second is WHISTLING SEASON, which tells the story of mining in Butte. The most recent is SWEET THUNDER which is again about the mining industry in Butte. Doig’s writing is funny and poignant and his characters are all so unique. If you just want a really good story that is well-written without being pretentious, Ivan Doig is the author for you.
PAINTED GIRLS by Cathy Buchanan. How surprised I was to like this book! The reviews sounded good, but I thought the story might be too sad. It is a really interesting story of the ballet girls during the start of the impressionist movement. The story follows three, impoverished sisters and their struggles through the world of the ballet. It is loosely based on a real family and historical personages and events are included. It ties the works of Degas to the dancers he paints.
THE GOOGLIZATION OF EVERYTHING: (AND WHY WE SHOULD WORRY) by Siva Vaidhyanathan is a very interesting book on the pervasiveness and power of Google. The author examines the cultural and knowledge-based impact Google has on society and the world. One point is that Google actually filters and tailors information to fit each individual. On the other hand, librarians search for information within a local and personal context. Google, according to the author, is not providing services, but is using individuals as products. This book is thought-provoking. Still, when I search for something on the Internet, I am most likely to start with Google….but now I THINK about it!
THE SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD: AND HOW THEY GOT THAT WAY by Amanda Ripley is a provocative, intriguing look at education in countries where the educational systems seem to be outstanding. The author gives us hope that providing the best education for every child in this country is possible.
THE ART OF TRAVEL by Alain De Botton is a philosophical approach to why we travel. It is full of splendid, original observations. He talks about the anticipation and expectations before a trip and the reality of the destination. There is a chapter on Alexander von Humboldt, who was an extraordinarily observant, scientific traveler and Xavier De Maistre who wrote a book about the journey he took around his bedroom. When you read THE ART OF TRAVEL, you will want to have a paper and pencil handy to write down the many intuitive things the author has to say.
MONUMENT’S MEN by Robert Edsel. In light of the recent discovery in Germany of an apartment full of art that the Nazis had stolen from Jewish families during WWII, this books is a must read. Several art historians, museum people and other men who were not traditional soldiers were recruited to go with the troops in the European War to try to locate and save as much of the stolen art work. This is a real page turner. In the midst of war zones, they are trying to recover art before it is destroyed by German troops or moved to places it will never be found. They faced danger, imprisonment and death but every single one of them was totally devoted to his mission. This is a book that opens up a whole new aspect of WWII.
AGE OF MIRACLES by Karen Thompson Walker. This book imagines the coming-of-age story of young Julia, whose world is thrown into upheaval when it is discovered that the Earth's rotation has suddenly begun to slow, posing a catastrophic threat to all life.
READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
WONDER by RJ Palacio
WORLDS STRONGEST LIBRARIAN by Josh Harnagan is a great bio of extreme case of Tourette Syndrome Mormon man finding innumerable ways to live with his affliction. Great reader, librarian, weight trainer, husband, son, dad. Crazy. Wonderful description of libraries p. 204-217, including on p. 209 “At its loftiest, a library’s goal is to keep as many minds as possible in the game, past and present, playful and in play.
OH, PIONEERS! By Willa Cather. Great narration, very fine classic book. Story of Swedish immigrant family in Nebraska at turn of 20th century. 1st in Prairie trilogy- then Song of the lark, and My Antonia. This title is avaiable in print, or MP3 audiobook through the library's Overdrive collection.
A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozecki
TAPESTRY OF FORTUNES by Elizabeth Berg
FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver
JUST ONE EVIL ACT by Elizabeth George. This is perhaps too complicated and drawn out, but quite worth reading for a fan of her Inspector Lynley series (this one focusing especially on DS Barbara Havers).
PETERSON REFERENCE GUIDE TO SEAWATCHING: Eastern Waterbirds in Flight by Ken Behrens and Cameron Cox. Seawatching is the act of identifying waterbirds in flight, and this includes those of the great lake. Very detailed information and wonderful photographs for identifying or just enjoying.
I just read Louise Penny's HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN (9th in the Three Pines series). Once again, I was carried away to Quebec and the little village of Three Pines--with the quirky characters I've grown to love... Inspector Armand Gamache, most especially! I've never been to Montreal and surrounds, but Penny has made it incredibly appealing.
A couple of new children's titles about trains are worth a look-see: HOW TO TRAIN A TRAIN by Eaton and TRAIN by Cooper. Eaton's book is beautifully illustrated by John Rocco, and is a humorous story featuring the choosing of a train as a 'pet.' Cooper's TRAIN is also a visual delight, with passengers boarding a Commuter Train in the East, switching to a Passenger Train in the midwest, a freight train to cross the mountains and a high speed train racing to the West Coast. All aboard!
TURNING PRO by Steven Pressfield is a little 'kick in the pants' book for those who feel compelled to be creative and make the shift from amateur to professional. If you have an impulse to write, paint, start a business or just put everything you have into the life you're already living--check this little bit of a book out and Go Pro!
HOROLOGICON: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language by Mark Forsyth
This book is so much fun! It reminds me of playing the "Dictionary Game" when I was growing up although the words the author features are far more obscure than any that I remember finding. This is a nice read if you enjoy words and, secondly, if you're looking for something that you can read little bits of at a time.
IT'S NOT LOVE, IT'S JUST PARIS by Patricia Engel is about Lita del Cielo whose parents have given her a year to study in Paris after college before returning to the States to work in the family business. While in Paris, Lita meets Cato and falls in love. Of course, nothing is simple and complications arise. Each character in the novel is unique and Lita, as the protagonist, speaks from a perspective of a level headed and a keen observer of those around her. Engel's writing is descriptive and thought provoking, and certain passages reminded my of Milan Kundera's writing. For example, "...and Tarentina theorized that monolingual English-speakers are thus long-winded and corny due to their verbal confinement because people can only experience emotions for which their language already has a name." This book contains a nice balance of beautiful and descriptive writing and an engaging story.
THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS by R.L. LaFevers. My 11 year-old daughter and I have read a lot of book series together and this one is among the top 3 - up there with the "Harry Potter Series" and the "Penderwicks Series". Theodosia Throckmorton is an 11 year-old girl living in London in the early 1900's. Her parents run a museum which contains numerous artifacts that her mother "digs up" in Egypt. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to her mother and father many of the artifacts she brings back are cursed. In this particular story, one of the items must be returned to Egypt or chaos will ensue threatening all of the British Empire. Theodosia is so smart and so funny. This is a wonderful book to read out-loud together. The elements of suspense and danger, paired with Theodosia's wit and bravery make for a completely endearing book.
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