Spot-Lit for April 2014

Spot-Lit

Lots of good fiction is headed your way this month. Click the titles below and then the Full Display button to read summaries or reviews or to place titles on hold.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction    

American Romantic    Frog Music    Storied Life    Lovers at the Chameleon Club    Plover

American Romantic  by Ward Just
Frog Music  by Emma Donoghue
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry  by Gabrielle Zevin
Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932  by Francine Prose
The Plover  by Brian Doyle

First Novels / Fiction

Whiskey Barons    Past the Shalllows    Sedition    Steal the Summer    Skookum

The Whiskey Baron  by Jon Sealy
Past the Shallows  by Favel Parrett
Sedition  by Katharine Grant
Steal the North  by Heather Bergstrom
Skookum Summer  by Jack Hart

Crime Fiction /Suspense

Until You're Mine    Destroyer Angel    Waiting for Wednesday    Cold Nowhere    By Its Cover

Until You’re Mine  by Samantha Hayes
Destroyer Angel  by Nevada Barr
Waiting for Wednesday  by Nicci French
The Cold Nowhere  by Brian Freeman
By Its Cover  by Donna Leon

SF / Fantasy / Horror

Goblin Emperor    Bird Eater    Days of the Deer    Afterparty    Battle Royale

The Goblin Emperor  by Katherine Addison
The Bird Eater  by Ania Ahlborn
The Days of the Deer  by Liliana Bodoc
Afterparty  by Daryl Gregory
Battle Royale – Remastered  by Koushun Takami  

Romance

                            Bet    Hotelles    Far Gone

The Bet  by Rachel Van Dyken
Hotelles  by Emma Mars
Far Gone  by Laura Griffin

To see all on-order fiction, click here.

Book Awards with a Twist

Gold Trophy

Many, many book awards are given out every year, but here are three unique awards you might want to add to your bookmarks.

On the whole, U.S. citizens have very little awareness of non-English language literature; for this reason alone the Best Translated Book Award deserves your attention. The award is offered through the website Three Percent and they recently announced the longlist for the 2014 award. Over the next few weeks they’ll be posting arguments for why each longlisted contender should win. The shortlist will be announced April 15th and the award on April 28th.

EPL currently owns 13 of the 25 BTBA contenders.

Another award that rewards a daily check on the action is the Tournament of Books, now in its tenth year. As described on their About page, “The ToB is an annual springtime event… where 16 or so of the previous year’s best works of fiction enter a March Madness-style battle royale. At the end of the month, the winner of the Tournament is blessed with the Rooster, our prize named after David Sedaris’s brother (because why not).”  This year’s tourney is now in the quarterfinals, but even if you’re late joining in, you can still revisit each bout in the links on the sidebar. In addition to the renowned individual judges who preside over each match, you’ll find great color commentary from the event hosts and a fan base commentariat that engages in lively extended discussions of the books.

EPL currently owns 14 of the 17 ToB contenders.

And finally, a new award is in the works to redress the wrongs of book awards given 50 years ago. The website Bookslut has come up with the Daphnes, and is currently reevaluating books published in 1963. They announced their shortlist last month (here’s the L.A. Times coverage of the announcement). The award categories include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s literature.

EPL currently owns 5 of the 7 Daphne fiction finalists.

One thing all these awards do is remind us that taste is subjective and each of these contenders will be considered the winner in some readers’ eyes; check the lists or follow the action and maybe you’ll discover a new (or new to you) favorite author or book.

Spot-Lit for March 2014

Spot-Lit

Here’s our hand-picked list of fiction titles coming out in March. Click the titles below and then the Full Display button to read summaries or reviews or to place holds.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction  

Bark    Orchard of Lost Souls    Curse on Dost    Blazing World    Boy, Snow, Bird

Bark: stories  by Lorrie Moore
The Orchard of Lost Souls  by Nadifa Mohamed
A Curse on Dostoevsky  by Atiq Rahimi
The Blazing World  by Siri Hustvedt
Boy, Snow, Bird  by Helen Oyeyemi

First Fiction

Redeployment    Burnable Book    Wives of Los Alamos    Precious Thing    Weight of Blood

Redeployment  by Phil Klay
A Burnable Book  by Bruce Holsinger
The Wives of Los Alamos  by Tarashea Nesbit
Precious Thing  by Colette McBeth
The Weight of Blood  by Laura McHugh

Crime Fiction /Suspense

Accident    Disappeared    Why Kings Confess    Black-Eyed Blonde    Watching You

The Accident  by Chris Pavone
The Disappeared  by Kristina Ohlsson
Why Kings Confess  by C.S. Harris
The Black-Eyed Blonde  by Benjamin Black
Watching You  by Michael Robotham

SF / Fantasy / Horror

Man Came Out    Undead Pool    Murder of Crows    Trpoic of Serpents    Code Zero

A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain  by Adrianne Harun
The Undead Pool  by Kim Harrison
A Murder of Crows  by Anne Bishop
The Tropic of Serpents  by Marie Brennan
Code Zero  by Jonathan Maberry

Romance

                    Evening Stars          Replacement Wife          Love Comes Calling

Evening Stars  by Susan Mallery
The Replacement Wife  by Tiffany Warren
Love Comes Calling  by Siri Mitchell

To see all on-order fiction, click here.

Let’s Go to Antarctica

life on the iceOf the many surprises I discovered while chuckling my way through this year’s Everett Reads selection, Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple, the one that stood out the most was the fact that Antarctica is now considered a tourist destination. As Bee repeatedly points out to Bernadette, this isn’t travel to the frigid South Pole that we are talking about, but a visit to the Antarctic Archipelago that reaches out to the tip of South America. Still I’ve always thought of travel to Antarctica as being limited to brave, perhaps foolhardy, explorers, penguins and the occasional shape shifting creature from another planet. Clearly I needed to do a little library research.

ridingthehulahulaWhile there aren’t any Frommer‘s or Fodor’s guides to the frozen continent as of yet, which makes sense since hotels with any star rating are nonexistent, Antarctic cruises are mentioned in a number of travel guides. These tend to be the ones that extol the virtues of ‘extreme or adventure’ tourism.  A cruise to the Antarctic Archipelago merits an entry in the rather ominously titled Unforgettable Journeys to Take Before You Die as well as 1000 Places to See Before You Die. The less morbidly titled Riding the Hulahula to the Arctic Ocean: A Guide to Fifty Extraordinary Adventures for the Seasoned Traveler details a trip to Antarctica that would actually get you on the continent itself, after a very bumpy ride in a cargo plane. Whichever option you choose, be sure to bring a healthy bank account and lots of Dramamine.

slicing the silenceIf you have dreams of an extended stay, however, you are beyond the realm of tour guides. You might be able to get a hint or two, however, from some of the autobiographies of the modern-day scientists and adventurers who have managed to gain access. Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica details the author’s trip with the Australian Antarctic Division to deliver a new team of winterers to Casey station. The author of Life on the Ice: No One Goes to Antarctica Alone got a commission from National Geographic to visit many of the bases in Antarctica and report back. His account is an intriguing look at the living conditions and the motivations of people who are drawn to the white continent. For an account of pure adventure and survival in the harshest of conditions, definitely check out No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women and Their Extraordinary Journey Across Antarctica which describes the journey of Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen as they became the first women to cross the continent on foot.

antarcticwildlifeIf like most of the world population you don’t have the money or connections to get to Antarctica, you can still view the landscape and wildlife vicariously. An excellent tool for doing this is Antarctic Wildlife: A Visitors Guide. Flip through the pages and imagine you are having trouble distinguishing the Leopard Seal from the Weddell Seal and the Gentoo Penguin from the Adelie Penguin. It certainly won’t be as cold a trip and icebergs should not be a problem. A final set of resources for armchair travel to Antarctica are the many webcams that have been set up at the various research bases that dot the continent. McMurdo Station, the South Pole Station and several from the Australian Antarctic Division are good ways to get your voyeuristic travel thrills. Just don’t expect to see much during the many months of darkness during the southern winter.

Ten Books that Impacted my Life

Lately there’s been a post bouncing around Facebook asking people to list 10 favorite books. As an avid reader I gladly offered up a list, with the caveat that if I made the list another day it might consist of entirely different entries.

And now it’s another day, I’ve another list, and it is mostly different. So, more or less in the order I read them, here are 10 books that have impacted my life.

Mixed up filesFrom the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
I discovered this book in fourth grade and was immediately enchanted. A brother and sister run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My imagination was carried away as I pictured the kids exploring the museum after closing time.

Time out of jointTime Out of Joint by Philip K. Dick
It is 1959 and the world’s crossword puzzle champion lives an idyllic life. Until one day when he reaches for a light switch that is not there and begins to question all aspects of reality. This book has continued to disturb me for decades, but it also led to a love of the writing of PKD.

HogfatherHogfather by Terry Pratchett
Post-modernism, which I think of as taking something familiar and putting it in a new, unfamiliar context, is something that has long enamored me. Pratchett is a master of taking commonplace fairy tales and folk characters and throwing them into completely sideways situations. Hogfather examines some of those characters (such as the Tooth Fairy) and ponders from whence they came.

Red Mars
Red Mars
by Kim Stanley Robinson
I read science fiction almost exclusively for 15 years before Red Mars was written, and even with all of the great books I consumed during that time I never suspected that writing like this could exist. Granted, this is not one of my favorite books and I frequently set it down from boredom whilst reading it, but the sheer immensity of this exhaustive history of a civilization from the future is simply astounding.

Notes from a small islandNotes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
Travelers’ Tales India, a book sadly no longer in the EPL collection, introduced me to the magic of travel writing. Notes from a Small Island introduced me to the concept of “some books should not be read in public or I will be labeled a lunatic while laughing maniacally, ending my days in a happy room with soft walls.” Bryson is a master of imparting information while being hysterically funny.
Wodehouse
Anything ever written by P. G. Wodehouse
Screwball comedies offer a literary format which I find quite intriguing. P. G. Wodehouse builds on this framework with the most original use of language I’ve encountered. Even while enjoying the stories, I learned what dialogue could be like in my own writings, and for this I am grateful. Wodehouse is perhaps the most important writing influence on my humble existence.

Eyre affairThe Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Perhaps the cleverest concept I’ve ever run across: In a slightly alternate reality characters in books are sentient, can move between books, and are part of a thriving industry that creates entertainment for those who read. Thursday Next, an actual living person, is able to enter books and influence the activity therein.  Mischief is afoot in Jane Eyre, and Thursday is called to rescue the novel before it’s too late. Fforde’s universe shows me the incredible level of creativity that can be achieved by a writer.

to say nothingTo Say Nothing of the Dog, or, How we Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis
Time travel, comedy, Victorian England, suspense – a perfect mix! One of the funniest books I’ve read mixed with a superior treatment of time travel (my hidden guilty pleasure) and appearances by historical as well as fictional characters (the men from Three Men in a Boat) all create a kaleidoscopic chaos of pure adventure and entertainment.

Madison houseMadison House by Peter Donahue
Photos of Seattle’s Denny Regrade are shocking, looking like scenes from a war-torn distant planet. This historical novel looks at how the regrade affected people living on Seattle’s hills, the corruption that shaped the decision-making process, and the bucolic geography of Seattle at a time when people were scarce. This tale has forever changed the image of Lake Union and the University district that I carry in my mind.

Doomsday bookDoomsday Book by Connie Willis
Glory was the first war movie I ever saw where I felt like I understood how the soldiers felt during battle. Doomsday Book, another Connie Willis time travel story, has a protagonist who accidentally goes to plague times. She ends up in a small village, feverish and incoherent, and is nursed back to health by a local family. Because of the error in the time travel process, she is unable to communicate with her peers and is unsure if she will be able to return to her present. So she becomes a member of the small community and watches people die at a rapid pace. And for the first time I had an inkling of what it would be like to be surrounded by bubonic plague with little hope for salvation.

There you have it, 10 books that have all stuck with me in various ways over the years.

Perhaps you would like to share your list?

Heartwood 4:1 – The Novel: an Alternative History

   The Novel I     The Novel 2

The Novel: an Alternative History
by Steven Moore
2 volumes.   1711 pgs.  2010 and 2013.

Steven Moore’s two-volume labor of love, The Novel: an Alternative History, is an astonishing and thorough exploration that goes back some 4,000 years. Moore defines the novel quite broadly and presents evidence that authors have been experimenting with it since its beginning, not just in the modern/postmodern era. Despite recent innovations, Moore believes that novelists in our time who attempt to step outside predominant mainstream practices are unjustly vilified by conservative critics – a reaction not nearly so prevalent for innovators in any of the other arts.

Moore includes titles many readers will recognize – Gilgamesh, The Golden Ass, Satyricon, Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy, the Decameron – but his worldwide focus brings to light many titles Westerners are likely to be completely unaware of. It’s interesting, for example, to see that quite a bit of fiction was written in Sanskrit in the first millennium, and that the Japanese novel in the 10th and 11th centuries was immensely popular. Irish fiction (8th C) and Icelandic sagas (13th) appear in Moore’s index before any fiction written in English (Le Morte d’Arthur in 1469). Readers may be surprised at the number of women authors active in earlier times, especially given present-day concerns that women writers are often neglected in terms of review coverage and critical assessment (see here, for example).

I won’t pretend to have read even half of the two volumes’ seventeen-hundred pages, but Moore’s lively, often humorous, and always informative writing has prompted me to read at length in sections I hadn’t really expected to explore. My approach has been to scan the chronological index of titles discussed, and then jump to the text after finding such curious and irresistible titles as The EggLugubrious Nights, and The Victim of Magical Delusion. Most of the titles in Moore’s book are in too little demand to be in the Everett Public Library’s relatively small collection (but you can submit requests for purchase, or ask for an interlibrary loan). We do, however, own some of these historic works, so I’ll share just a few, along with brief descriptions derived from Moore’s text (including a few of his quotes) to whet your appetite:

Life of an Amorous WomanThe Life of an Amorous Woman
by Ihara Saikaku  (1686, Japanese)
A “lively if sordid tale” that looks at the life of a woman who, when still a young girl, gives in to her sensual yearnings thus embarking on “a downward spiral into degradation.” As an old woman, after having had sex with maybe 10,000 men, it appears she has renounced her wanton ways and has devoted herself to the Buddha – until the reader reflects back to the framing device at the beginning of the book.

OroonokoOroonoko
by Aphra Behn  (1688, English)
Behn’s most famous novella features “one of the earliest examples of a conflicted narrator,” and includes such subjects as forced marriage, slavery, and colonialism. But principally, it delivers a sharp attack on religion for its failure to live up to its own ideals of nobility and justice. Moore calls Oroonoko a heroic romance at heart, but with graphic violence, and notes that it also employs the “noble savage” character type which would later be of interest to Voltaire and Rousseau.

EvelinaEvelina
by Frances Burney  (1778, English)
This novel was wildly popular at the time it was written. Its focus is a provincial young woman who goes to London for the first time, and the frequently humiliating, hilarious, and ridiculous situations she gets herself into. The book also looks at the dark side of courtship and marriage and portrays, well, just “how badly it sucked to be a woman in 18th-century England.”

But don’t settle for my boiled down accounts of these books, go to The Novel for Moore’s expanded, insightful appraisal and ebullient colloquial style – his infectious commentary will convince you that many of the books under discussion are ones you will want to check out. Moore’s history opens the doors to an expansive world of little-known fiction that awaits your exploration; let us know the titles you want to read and we will do what we can to get them into your hands.

I’ll close with a passage, pulled almost at random, characteristic of the kind of thing you can expect to find in The Novel. Here’s Moore talking about the Persian Adventures of Amir Hamza:

But the story doesn’t end there. A decade after the popular Lakhnavi/Bilgrami edition appeared, a publisher named Naval Kishar decided to bring out a complete unabridged version of the 800-years-in-the-making communal novel. He had the best Hamza storytellers (a class known for their use of performance-enhancing opium) come to his printing house and recite the portions they specialized in to scribes, and the result is the longest novel in world literature: his Urdu Dastan-e Amir Hamzah was published between 1883 and 1917 in 46 volumes averaging 900 pages each – in other words, a novel more than 41,000 pages long!

Fans of the novel owe it to themselves to poke around in The Novel.

For more on Steven Moore, see this interview in Music & Literature.

Heartwood | About Heartwood

Make This a Book Christmas

NationalAssnBookPublishers_1927_100

I think you’d agree that this 1927 poster from the National Association of Booksellers has a great message. Are you giving books this Christmas? I am! Spoiler alert. My father-in-law is getting an autographed copy of The Boys in the Boat and my mother-in-law will be opening Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927If you need some book buying ideas, here are some of the most popular gift books of the holiday season.

index (29)index (30)For kids, I like to give books that they’ll look at again and again. A perfect example is Guinness World Records which is always checked out at the library because the kids love it. You also can’t go wrong with The Animal Book. Every child loves animals and this book has them all.

index (13)index (14)For the drinker on your list, consider the World Atlas of Wine or The Complete Beer Course. This is the seventh edition of the great wine reference book and this new book on beer claims to teach you how to select and enjoy a brewski. Talk about a win-win.

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Everyone loves the indulgence of a beautiful coffee table book. Remodelista: a Model for the Considered Home is not just a primer on remodeling, but is also full of tips on creating a home full of personality and pizzazz. The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects is any history junkie’s dream.

index (16)index (19)Let’s face it, it’s always entertaining to gawk at people. If you’re a fan of Brandon Scranton’s blog, or even just people in general, Humans of New York offers hours of enjoyment. You could also try Awkward Family Holiday Photos which will surely become a holiday treasure.

index (17)index (20)I would love to receive a copy of Art Made From Books:  Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed (hint, hint). I mean, just look at the cover! Wish I could open it up right now. Or how about the luscious Wes Anderson Collection? You won’t be able to put it down.

index (22)index (23)For the cat lover on your list, here’s Kittenhood. It’s darling. And for the dog lover, give Shake which is a pictorial work of different breeds of dogs shaking after being wet.

index (24)index (25)For someone who needs a good laugh,consider Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Borsch. Apparently, it’s pee your pants funny. Or let Ron Burgundy entertain you with stories from his past in Let Me Off at the Top. Either may be the perfect gift for that young teenager or aging anchorman on your list.

index (26)index (33)For the history buff, try History Decoded by Brad Meltzer. This book, inspired by the History Network show, explores unexplained mysteries such as what the government is hiding in Area 51. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit will appeal to many history lovers on your list.

index (27)index (32)If you know someone who loves biographies, buy Lawrence in Arabia. It is one of the best books of the year, a history with flair and a fun read at that. I can also recommend Nancy, the Story of Lady Astor. It is a well written account of an American woman who was the first female member of Parliament.

index (28)index (31)Finally for the cook on your list, give the Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. This cookbook of Mediterranean food is exquisitely designed, entertainingly written, and the food is delicious. I’d also like to put a plug in for my friend Bob Donegan’s new book, Ivar’s Seafood Cookbook: the O-fish-al Guide to Cooking the Northwest Catch.

detail_21404082It may be too late to order online, but your local independent book dealer will have her shop open Christmas Eve. I hope these suggestions will help you make this a “Book Christmas” for a year of good reading ahead!

Best of 2013: For the Kids

Today we explore all the great picture books, fiction, how-to and much more in our list of the best books for children in 2013. Cats work construction? Who knew?

Children’s Fiction:

childrensf1

That is not a Good Idea!  |  Mo Willems
A surprising lesson about the importance of listening to one’s inner gosling ensues when a very hungry fox issues a dinner invitation to a very plump goose.

This is another genius picture book from one of my favorite authors. Told in the format of an old silent movie with villains and innocent damsels, this story builds suspense and ends with a surprise. Great for storytimes! – Andrea

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses  |  James Dean
Pete the cat is feeling glum, and a friend cheers him by giving him a pair of “magic” sunglasses that help him transform his world. A grouchy squirrel, an upside-down turtle, and a grumpy alligator want the glasses too.

Expressive paintings and lots of action make this a story that will help young children understand their own emotions. – Esta

Not Your Typical Dragon  |  Dan Bar-el
A young dragon tries to breathe out flames, but instead snorts out whipped cream, party streamers, and other hilarious things.  Other dragons are upset, but a knight who is also an oddball becomes his good friend.

Hilarious illustrations and a playful yet comforting story about being different. – Esta

childrensf2

The Long, Long Line  |  Tomoko Ohmura
A very long line of 50 animals is waiting anxiously and asking “What’s this line for?” It’s a wild and wacky roller coaster ride that they all want to try, with hilarious results.

The bold graphics invite kids to count, identify the animals, and talk about the actions that they see. Great for developing a young child’s pre-math skills! – Esta

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat  |  Anna Dewdney
Gilroy Goat bullies others in school — teasing, kicking sand, snatching toys.  Little Llama dares to speak back. He shows the others how to “walk away and tell someone.”  Then the compassionate teacher leads Gilroy into learning how to be a friend.

This gentle story helps young children understand that bullying often derives from the bully’s own unhappiness. This is also a comforting story focused on caring about others’ feelings.– Esta

Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow  |  David Soman
A brave girl in red-spotted boots and ladybug costume explores the outdoors after a snowstorm.  She and her dog Bingo get stuck, build snow creatures, and explore the magic of deep snow.

This daring, spunky little girl always shows her spirit of adventure!  This is the latest in the delightful “Ladybug Girl” series of books. – Esta

childrensf3

The Snatchabook  |  Helen Docherty
Young animals are reading or listening to stories at bedtime when a little creature called the “Snatchabook” sneaks in and steals the books…but why? He has no-one to read to him!  Brave rabbit figures out a delightful solution to the problem!

Lively rhyme and playful illustrations give this book great appeal.  It’s a sweet and reassuring story about the power and joy of reading. – Esta

Baby Bear Counts One |  Ashley Woolf
A young bear watches all the animals around him prepare for winter, and then sees his first snow.

This author/illustrator’s artwork is superb and dramatic, and young children will thrill as they find and count hidden details and end with snowflakes “too many to count.” – Esta

Construction Kitties  |  Judy Goodwin-Sturges
A lively crew of cats wearing their hard-hats work together with a dump truck, excavator, backhoe and other heavy trucks at a construction site.

Young children will enjoy the action as they see how these machines work.  The cats stop for their favorite lunch: sardines and milk. – Esta

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library  |  Chris Grabenstein
Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Luigi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape.

As an adult who thinks an awful lot like a 12-year-old, I found this book a hilarious adventure through one of my most favorite institutions: a public library. A “Ready Player One” for the middle-school crowd. – Carol

Children’s Non-Fiction:

childrensnf

Think Again! : False Facts Attacked, Errors Exploded, Myths Busted  |  Clive Gifford
Organized into five broadly themed sections the human body, the animal world, science, history, and popular culture this book tackles commonly held and commonly repeated mistaken beliefs head-on. Each falsehood is debunked in straightforward and factual explanations grounded in real scientific research, incorporating discussions of why the myth persists.

Colorful illustrations and tons of fascinating information.  You can open to any page and learn something new. – Theresa

The Big Book of Crafts & Activities  |   James Mitchem, editor 
This book is packed with crafts, recipes, games and activities for children who want to get creative and try new things-from growing tasty fruit and vegetables to customizing your furniture.

This book is full of crafts and activities that are fun and don’t require specialized materials or equipment. – Theresa

Myths Busted! Just When You Thought You Knew What You Knew– |  Emily Krieger 
From the origins of fortune cookies to alligators living in the sewers of New York City, this book gives kids the tools to break and bust wild and wacky myths from around the world.

More than 100 ‘myths’ are debunked, first with a suggestion of how they came to be believed and then with the science that disproves them. – Theresa

Star Wars: Science Fair Book  |  Samantha Margles
Presents thirty step-by-step instructions for science projects and experiments based on elements from the “Star Wars” film series, including how to create crystals, make a hydrometer, and move objects with “the force.”

An engaging concept to encourage young scientists with all the tips needed to make a great science fair project. – Theresa

Best of 2013: Just the Facts (Non-Fiction)

We continue our best of 2013 series of posts today with our favorites in Non-Fiction. Enjoy these books concerning history, science, humor, politics, and much more.

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Eminent Hipsters  |  Donald Fagen
The musician, songwriter, and cofounder of Steely Dan reveals the cultural figures and currents that shaped his artistic sensibility, as well as offering a look at his college days and a hilarious account of life on the road.

Covering everything from Jean Shepherd to jazz concerts to his own tour diary, Fagen writes with a wicked intelligence and wit. – Alan

The Boys in the Boat  |  Daniel James Brown
Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.

This is a fantastic story of everyday fellows from the pacific northwest who overcame many strikes against them to prevail and win gold at the 1936 Olympics. – Leslie

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal  |  Mary Roach
In her trademark style, Mary Roach investigates the beginning, and end, of our food, addressing such questions as why crunchy food is so appealing, how much we can eat before our stomachs burst, and whether constipation killed Elvis.

This book is not only informative, but also really funny in parts. – Leslie

One Summer:  America, 1927  |  Bill Bryson
Bryson examines closely the events and personalities of the summer of 1927 when America’s story was one of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy.

Bryson is always entertaining and informative and this book is up there with his best. – Leslie

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Humans of New York  |  Brandon Stanton
In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton set out on an ambitious project: to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in his attempt to capture ordinary New Yorkers in the most extraordinary of moments

If you’re a fan of the blog, you will love this collection. – Leslie

I Am Malala  |  Malala Yousafzai
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday October 9, 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price.

This is an inspirational book written by an inspirational young woman. – Leslie

The Faithful Executioner  |   Joel F. Harrington
Based on the journal of Frantz Schmidt, a Nuremburg executioner who died in the early seventeenth century, this endlessly fascinating book explores not just the life of a professional killer but also the times in which he lived.

This was a surprisingly engrossing read that raised many interesting questions about social status, justice, and what it takes to survive in any given society. – Richard

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls  |  David Sedaris
From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler’s experiences. Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten.

Sedaris writes for the New Yorker, but his writing—far from stuffy, is engaging and entertaining, and sometimes puts a spin on a topic when you least expect it. – Joyce

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Dad is Fat  |  Jim Gaffigan
Memoir. A stand-up comedian expresses the joys and horrors of life with his wife and five young children. It has been compared to Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood.

I love Gaffigan’s comedic style, and his routines always hint at the chaos he and his wife face living with 5 young kids in a 2-bedroom NYC apartment. Favorite quote: there is no difference between a 4-year-old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor. – Carol

The Time Between Dreams: How to Navigate Uncertainty in Your Life and Work  |  Carol A. Vecchio
With warmth, humor, and sincerity, Carol Vecchio provides a clear understanding of the natural cycles of change and guides us in defining our distinct needs and wants.

The book you’ll reach for whenever work and life changes have you seeking an inspiring transition plan. – Anita

Life at the Marmont: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Legendary Hotel of the Stars–Chateau Marmont  |  Raymond Sarlot, Fred E. Basten
From its perch overlooking the Sunset Strip, the glamorous Marmont reigned for decades as the spot for artists, writers, musicians, and actors of every stripe and remains a home-away-from-home for A-listers. Here, Sarlot and Basten share a wealth of scandalous and intriguing tales.

Hollywood history and celebrity gossip collide in this legendary volume back in print after 2 decades. As a book lover, I appreciated the style. As a film lover, I enjoyed a behind the scenes glimpse into the private lives of stars from Grace Kelly to John Belushi. – Alan

I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp |  Richard Hell
Punk pioneer Richard Hell, who coined the phrase “Please Kill Me” provides the details of an intensely interesting life in 1970′s New York City.

As a poet, the man also knows how to write compellingly about a rich subject, being in the nexus of the birth of New York Punk. – Alan

nf4

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family  |  Josh Hanagarne
An inspiring story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight-lifting.

A highly readable memoir; you don’t have to be a librarian to appreciate it. Hanagarne is a great writer as well as an insightful, inspiring person. – Alan

Kittenhood: Life-Size Portraits of Kittens in Their First 12 Weeks  |  Sarah Beth Ernhart
This book is 100% life-size photographs of kittens, including names and ages. Each turn of the page brings you face-to-face with adorable bundles of cuteness.

Because kittens! – Carol

Dessert Designer: Creations You Can Make and Eat!  |  Dana Rau
Step by step instructions teach readers how to create food art with cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and candies.

Update your kitchen to an art space with these beautiful and creative ideas for decorating goodies. My favorite ideas are the Treasure Chest made with Hershey Kit Kat Bars and embellishing a cake with rainbow sour candy strips. – Andrea

Spot-Lit for December 2013

Spot-Lit

Here at areadinglife, we’re getting ready to share our list of books published in 2013 that staff members have most enjoyed. Until then, take a look at our fiction buyer’s selection of notable new fiction coming your way this December.

Click the titles below to read more or to place holds.

General Fiction / Literary Fiction 

  Vatican Waltz      Brown Dog      Someone Else's      Supreme Macaroni

Vatican Waltz  by Roland Merullo
Brown Dog  by Jim Harrison
Someone Else’s Love Story  by Joshilyn Jackson
The Supreme Macaroni Company  by Adriana Trigiani

Crime Fiction / Suspense

  Innocence      Billionaire Blend      Noose      Going Dark

Innocence  by Dean Koontz
Billionaire Blend  by Cleo Coyle
Noose  by Bill James
Going Dark  by James W. Hall

First Novels

                                   Communion Town      Housemaid's Daughter

Communion Town  by Sam Thompson
The Housemaid’s Daughter  by Barbara Mutch

To see all the on-order fiction, click here.