You Just Need a Good Book!

Recently Christin Rude from the University of Washington Bookstore came to the Everett Public Library and presented some reading recommendations to the Everett Woman’s Book Club. I have been attacking this list with fervor and have found the books to be not just good, but excellent.

index (19)The first book I picked up was non-fiction. I think we all know what we would learn if we read the book The Shallows: What the internet is Doing to Our Brains. We would find what author Nicholas Carr presents: that books and reading help to focus our minds and promote deep thoughts while the internet, with its rapid, distracted sampling of small bits and pieces, is making us good at scanning and skimming. What we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection. We don’t have time to read and even if we did, we’d be too distracted to concentrate.

That is exactly what we’d learn if we had time to read The Shallows. I know I don’t.  I’m too busy with Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and my other online obsessions. Until I find a good book. And, you guys, I have! I have found two from Rude’s list that I’ve read more quickly than any in recent memory because they grabbed me and I was consumed with their worlds. In the interest of fighting Internet distraction, I’d like to share them with you.

index (20)Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin is fabulous. This literary murder mystery won the Gold Dagger Award in 2011 because of wonderfully drawn characters and a setting which sucks you into the world of rural Mississippi of the 1970’s. Silas was the son of a poor, single black mother, and Larry was the child of lower middle-class white parents. Despite the racial tensions of the era, they become friends until a girl goes missing after a date with Larry. She is never found and Larry lives with the suspicion of her murder for years, spending his days as a lonely mechanic and becoming known as ‘Scary Larry’ to the folks in the town. He’s a compelling character as he visits his mother daily and keeps her chickens (named after the first ladies) and home up, all the while just hoping for a friend. His boyhood friend Silas returns after many years to become the town ‘constable’ who must investigate a new murder. It turns out that Silas does know something of the long ago murder and what he has left unsaid impacts his life and that of many others. Read this book if you want an engrossing novel which you will contemplate and reflect upon for many days.

index (1)The second book I read from Rude’s list has been a runaway number one best-seller in France and is the first work translated into English by author Gregoire Delacourt. My Wish List  is the story of Jocelyne, a wife and mother living in a small French town. She runs a haberdashery and writes a successful crafting blog. Her best friends work at the hairdressers next door and dream of winning big on the Euromillions. Convinced that Jocelyne will get a taste for their lottery habit, they encourage her to buy a ticket and, amazingly, Jocelyne wins 18 million euros. Before cashing her winnings, Jocelyne begins to list her ‘desires’ which are mostly simple, everyday objects.  She ponders whether money can truly bring happiness. Should she cash the check? Or will having such a large sum of money cause more problems than it solves?

My Wish List made me contemplate just how much influence money has over our lives, not just the opportunities it can afford but also affecting how you are perceived by others and whether it is healthy to be able to afford everything you wish for. From the opening sentence to the closing message, it was a literary, yet very accessible book. Touching and heart-wrenching, My Wish List lives up to the hype surrounding it. It is a well crafted and all-consuming novel.

I am looking forward to reading more books on Rude’s list and perhaps sharing them with you. But right now, I gotta go check my Facebook page. Squirrel!

Top Ten Books That Have Stayed With Us

If you’re on Facebook and have friends who read, you may have come across the recent meme which asks you to list the top ten books that have influenced and stayed with you in some way. You’re not supposed to think hard about this or take too long to do it. Just list ten!

I thought that it would be interesting to conduct a (very unscientific) poll of the library staff to see which books have stayed with us as a whole. The results included a lot of children’s books and that might be because we tend to read these books at a very impressionable age. Favorite books from these years are more likely to lodge themselves deeply into our memories. It’s probable that the book that made you love reading was a children’s book because that’s when you first had an all-night, under-the-covers, flashlight-lit reading binge.

So what did I do with my responses? I tallied them up, of course, and rated them by their popularity. That, unfortunately, left many favorites by the wayside. I have included a quote from each book that got at least two votes. Here they are in all of their glory:

index (1)The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder was the clear winner with a total of four votes. “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.”  I read the whole series over and over again and it was pure pleasure to read about a young girl who was happy to have an orange at Christmas.

index (3)Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montegomery was a close second with three votes. Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her. This series would make an excellent family read-aloud. Anne: “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

index (4)The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien was right up there with Anne and that’s no surprise. This book is a glorious account of a magnificent adventure, filled with suspense and seasoned with a quiet humor that is irresistible. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit” until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.

index (5)Rounding out the three vote category is (gasp!) an adult book: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. This is a humorous memoir of a Scottish vet who roamed the remote Yorkshire Dales treating every patient that came his way, from smallest to largest, and observing animals and humans alike with his keen eye. “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” This is superb comfort reading.

There were many, many books with one vote, but these are the ones which got two votes (in alphabetical order):

index (6)Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy isn’t one that I read as a child, but it was one I read in college and the one that taught me to love great literary works. It has been described as the best novel ever written and is considered flawless by many. Anna Karenina tells the story of the doomed love affair between the sensuous, rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

index (7)Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, the author of Stuart Little, is a classic of children’s literature that is just about perfect.  “Some Pig. Humble. Radiant.” These are the words in Charlotte’s web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter. E. B. White’s Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.

index (8)The Harry Potter series was THE most popular on Facebook, but just one of our books with two votes. We must be older. This is the book that ushered in an entire generation of readers, my children included. You know the plot: Harry is an orphan who lives a rather dismal life until he gets a message from an owl which summons him to a life of magic and quidditch at Hogwart’s School. “The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with caution.”

index (10)The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams was perhaps the first Sci-Fi book you read. Seconds before the Earth is demolished for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is saved by Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised Guide. Together they stick out their thumbs, travel to the stars and begin a wild journey through time and space. You either love this or put it down like a hot potato. “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

index (11)I read all of the Nancy Drew Series the summer before fourth grade and oh, how I loved Nancy and Ned! This series had an enormous impact on the popular imagination because it features a female main character who is smart and brave and rescues her boyfriend instead of the other way around. These books were so much better than the Hardy boys. “Nancy, every place you go, it seems as if mysteries just pile up one after another.”

indexPaddle-To-The-Sea  is a 1942 Caldecott Honor Book written and illustrated by Holling Clancy Holling. At Lake Nipigon Canada, a native boy carves a wooden model of an Indian in a canoe and sets it free to travel the Great Lakes to the Atlantic ocean. The story follows the progress of the little wooden Indian on its journey through all five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, finally arriving at the Atlantic Ocean. “Put me back into the water for I am Paddle-to-the Sea.” 

So, there you have it. Perhaps you can get some of these books into the hands of an impressionable reader, or would even like to re-read them yourself. I can’t leave you without giving you my own personal list. I love each and every one of these!

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Must Reads for Summer 2014

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There are good and bad things about working in a library. The good: all of the great books that you discover and get to read. The bad: all of the great books that you don’t have time to read. We all have excuses and these are mine: full-time work and a toddler who just turned two years old and a baby who is ten months old. Oh yeah, and a house and garden and that guy I married 33 years ago. So, I often feel like that funny old bird the pelican whose beak holds more than his belly can. I have a beak full of great reads these days which may interest you if you’re participating in the summer reading program at the Everett Public Library or if you’re lucky enough to be planning a vacation and need a good book to take along. This list has a little bit of everything so there may be just the right book for you. Let’s start with non-fiction.

indexCA1ADCTLFlash Boys: a Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis is on my list since I read Boomerang and I thought that it was the bomb. This guy also wrote Moneyball and The Blind Side and other excellent books. It reads like a John Grisham novel, but it’s a true story about stock exchanges, high frequency traders, and dark pools. The author is great at explaining complicated technical subjects and telling a good story around them. I want to read it!

indexCA63IMS4Leonardo and the Last Supper has been by my bedside for a few weeks now. It’s excellent! I was an art history major in college and I’ve learned so much more from this book about the creation of this Renaissance masterpiece. Mr. King has managed to focus on a particular theme and give the reader as much information as needed to really understand it. Another of his earlier books accomplished the same thing, Brunelleschi’s Dome, which I can also recommend.

indexCAAEEVC8The President and the Assassin: McKinley, terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century is a great book (obvious from the first chapter) by Seattle author, Scott Miller. He creates a portrait of turn of the century America going back and forth between an under-appreciated president, William McKinley and his anarchist assassin, Leon Czolgosz. This was a time when the powerful were growing more powerful and desperate men turned to terrorism. Sound familiar?

And now for some fiction:

index (16)I have to read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie because my daughter heard her give a talk recently in Copenhagen and apparently it’s wonderful. The author takes on immigration, race, and what it means to leave home and to return, all wrapped up in a love story. Adichie has also written Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus. The first chapter alone is marvelous. Let’s all get with it and read this one.

indexCAZNZBA7The Care of Wooden Floors by Will WIles was recommended to me by two co-workers so I checked it out and my husband read it while we were on vacation. Even though I couldn’t read it, he confirmed that it is funny and interesting and a good book.  It’s an odd couple story of a fellow who house sits for a composer friend. He accidentally spills wine on the apartment’s priceless wooden floor and endures a disastrous week of perfectionist repair and maintenance.

index (1)Delicious! is by Ruth Reichl. I’ve read all of her memoirs from Garlic and Sapphires to Tender at the Bone. This is her first attempt at fiction and she certainly writes about what she knows: the heroine is a woman who works for a venerable food magazine that suddenly ceases publication. It looks like a pretty fun and fast read, and if you’re looking for a souffle-type novel, you could do worse! Plus, the cover is lovely.

indexBroken Harbor is Tana French’s new ‘Dublin Murder Squad’ crime novel and it’s supposed to be every bit as brilliant as her three earlier books featuring that tough cop, Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy. This is a murder story which seems easy to solve at first until the details don’t add up. Read this one to get the atmosphere of an Ireland hit hard by the recession, an idea of police procedure and to become engrossed in a well written who dunnit.

index (1)The Possibilities is written by Kaui Hart Hemmings who also wrote The Descendants. You’ll remember that movie with George Clooney. This new book follows a similar theme of family and loss and is set in the paradise of Breckenridge, Colorado. A single mom is grieving the loss of her son, Cully, in an avalanche when a strange girl shows up with a secret from Cully’s past.

indexThe Vacationers by Emma Straub  will take you all the way to the beaches of Spain, where a family’s dramas are set against the beautiful background of a lush vacation. It will leave you feeling like you were just on a family trip — laughing, exhausted and filled with love.

So, check out one of these books to take on your next vacation or simply read one for a great ‘staycation’. Either way, enjoy!

Best of 2013: Fiction

It’s hard to believe, but 2013 is about to enter into our collective memory. Before we boldly go into the new year, it is important to take a moment to remember the significant events of the past year. For us here at the library that means remembering the many books, films and albums that we encountered int 2013. To that end, we are publishing a series of posts highlighting some of our favorites from the past year. Today we start with the ever popular fiction category. Prepare for your “to read” list to get much longer.

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The Circle  |  Dave Eggers
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime.  What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

This is a frightening modern 1984 where privacy is theft and the corporation becomes our pseudo-family.  – Esta

Dreams and Shadows  |  C. Robert Cargill
A brilliantly crafted modern tale from acclaimed film critic and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill — part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro, part William S. Burroughs — that charts the lives of two boys from their star-crossed childhood in the realm of magic and mystery to their anguished adulthoods

Cargill’s style of writing blends folklore, mythology, fantasy, and a wonderfully sarcastic sense of humor. – Lisa

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel  |  Helene Wecker
Chava, a golem brought to life by a disgraced rabbi, and Ahmad, a jinni made of fire, form an unlikely friendship on the streets of New York until a fateful choice changes everything.

Wecker’s descriptions of turn-of-the-century New York are just magical. –Lisa

Insane City  |  Dave Barry
Astonished by his imminent marriage to a woman he believed out of his league, Seth flies to their destination wedding in Florida only to be swept up in a maelstrom of violence involving rioters, Russian gangsters, angry strippers, and a desperate python.

The story cannot possibly get any more complex or ridiculous and then it does.  And then again. – Ron

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Seiobo There Below  |  László Krasznahorkai
A torrent of hypnotic, lyrical prose, Krasznahorkai’s novel explores the process of seeing and representation, tackling notions of the sublime and the holy as they exist in art.

The tone of the writing is refreshingly original. Seiobo There Below puts you in the presence of a keen intelligence and sensibility. – Scott

The Infatuations  |   Javier Marías
From the award-winning Spanish writer Javier Maras comes an extraordinary new book that has been a literary sensation around the world: an immersive, provocative novel propelled by a seemingly random murder that we come to understand — or do we? — through one woman’s ever-unfurling imagination and infatuations.

This is a thought-provoking look at the inscrutability of desire, motivation, and what Kant has termed ‘radical evil.’  It also includes some tremendous writing about a grief observed. – Scott

Tenth of December  |  George Saunders
A collection of stories which includes “Home,” a wryly whimsical account of a soldier’s return from war; “Victory lap,” a tale about an inventive abduction attempt; and the title story, in which a suicidal cancer patient saves the life of a young misfit.

Saunders brings it all: flesh-and-blood characters, inventive plots, vivid settings, and spot-on language. – Scott

Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales  |  Yoko Ogawa
Sinister forces collide – and unite a host of desperate characters – in this eerie cycle of interwoven tales. Murderers and mourners, mothers and children, lovers and innocent bystanders – their fates converge in an ominous and darkly beautiful web.

I’ve always been a fan of Ogawa’s sparse prose, which draws you in, gives you a false sense of security, and then yanks the rug out from under you. – Richard

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Deadbeat – Makes You Stronger  |  Guy Adams
Two old friends witness what they think is a living person being put into a coffin and carried out of a funeral home. They attempt to unravel the mystery around this tableau.

Each character narrates at different times and the story is filled with surprises. – Ron

Little Elvises  |  Timothy Hallinan
A crook, who acts as a detective for other crooks, tries to clear a record producer/possible mafia guy of murder. The producer’s claim to fame: a troop of attractive, untalented male singers in the early 60’s.

The protagonist is a criminal who has never been caught, sort of a Robin Hood type, and this makes for a spin on noir detective writing. – Ron

The Rosie Project  |  Graeme C. Simsion
Don, a professor of genetics, sets up a project designed to find him the perfect wife, starting with a questionnaire that has to be adjusted a little as he goes along. Then he meets Rosie, who is everything he’s not looking for in a wife…

An amazing debut novel written with warmth and intelligence, filled with laugh out loud moments and loveable characters… an entertaining feel-good romantic comedy. – Andrea

T.C. Boyle Stories II  |  T. Coraghessan Boyle
You can curl up and delight in this collection of 58 stories by a master storyteller, including 14 previously unpublished stories.  Whether it’s about facing mortality, first love, or fighting to survive, T.C. Boyle crafts a vibrant dramatic story.

You will be swept away by the power of his writing–there is every human emotion in these stories: fear, tenderness, savagery, longing.  This emotional storm is balanced with Boyle’s amazing sense of sarcasm, humor and irony. – Esta

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The Illusion of Separateness  |  Simon Van Booy
Six seemingly unconnected people that are linked in ways not revealed to the characters and only slowly revealed to the reader.  A tender story told in an unusual way.

This is beautifully written with passages I read and then read again to savor.  Loved it from start to finish. – Teri

The Cuckoo’s Calling  |  Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling
Working as a private investigator after losing his leg in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike takes the case of a supermodel’s suspicious suicide & finds himself in a world of millionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, desperate designers and hedonist pursuits.

I confess I placed my hold after the author’s true identity was revealed. But I am a sucker for old-school gumshoe PI mysteries and this one fits the bill. Hopefully this is the start of a series! – Carol

The Burgess Boys  |  Elizabeth Strout
A teen loner impulsively commits a hate crime — he places a pig’s head in the doorway of a mosque in a quiet Maine town. His actions upend his family and force them to confront their own repressed emotions and traumas of the past.

The story is filled with so much compassion and revelation that you almost fall in love with each character! – Esta

The Interestings  |  Meg Wolitzer
In the 1970’s, a group of six young adults vow to be true to their creativity and to stay connected. Their bonds carry them through years of trial and trauma into the present.

This is a saga of an era of social unrest and change. We can savor the details of each character’s exploration of their own sexuality, fears, and ambitions. – Esta

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves  |  Karen Joy Fowler
Rosemary grows up with a very peculiar and unusual sister, and years later she mourns the loss when Fern disappears. The family starts to crumble with anger and retribution as older brother Lowell becomes a radical animal-rights activist.

A dark story that bursts with surprises and secrets revealed, as it questions what it is to be human or animal. – Esta

Life After Life  |  Kate Atkinson
Ursula Todd is born on a cold snowy day in 1910, and dies before drawing her first breath. Almost immediately she is reborn on that same day. And so goes this novel of what ifs, as Ursula and her family continue to wend their way through the century.

Compelling characters and a fascinating plot — plus the most amazing chapter on the London blitz. You’ll feel as if you were there.— Eileen

Girl Books

The last student in the bookmobile wasn’t finding a book that she wanted. She finally asked me for a ‘girl book.’  I knew what she wanted: a Disney or Barbie Princess book. Those books are very poorly written but the little girls love them because of all of the pretty pictures. So, what did I do? I put my hand down and, without looking, grabbed the first book I could touch.  It was about Space.  “Here’s a girl book!”  I exclaimed.

index (5)index (4)The little girl said, “That’s not a girl book! It’s not pink!” The teacher and I exchanged sad looks before I brought out the pink princess books. Yay! She found the one she wanted: The Perfect Princess Tea Party. She left a happy customer.

Then I saw this awesome GoldieBlox ad on the internet which shows three little girls absolutely bored, bored, bored with a pink toy commercial. They turn off the TV and create a fantastic Rube Goldberg set-up in their home. It was inspirational! One of the lines set to the Beastie Boys tune says, “Girls!  Don’t underestimate girls!” It got me thinking about all of the little princesses out there and how to get better books into their hands so they’re not bored, bored, bored. Here are some great picture books for your little princesses.

index (6)Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson is one of my favorites. Cinder Edna lives next door to Cinderella and they each end up with the prince of their dreams but Cinder Edna is so much happier because she has her priorities straight. While Ella gets the help of her Fairy Godmother and ultimately lands Prince Charming, Edna figures out a way to get to the ball herself and has a rollicking good time! Guess who lives happily ever after?

index (7)In Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer, Olivia embarks upon a quest for identity with lofty goals and being a princess is NOT one of them. Olivia is having an identity crisis. There are too many ruffly, sparkly princesses around these days, and Olivia has had quite enough. She needs to stand out. She wants to do more than just fit in. So what will she be? The answer is marvelous!

index (8)Princess Me by Karma Wilson is a rhyming story about a little girl who imagines being a princess, with her stuffed animals serving as royal subjects:

Make way! Make way!
Here comes the princess of the land. She’s sweet and kind.
She’s oh-so-grand. And just who is she, this lovely Princess Me? Come inside this book to see!

index (9)Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen is a winner, pure and simple. These princesses dig in the dirt, kick soccer balls, and splash in muddy puddles–all in their sparkly crowns. I love the rhyming text:

Not all princesses dress in pink. Some play in bright red socks that stink, blue team jerseys that don’t quite fit, accessorized with a baseball mitt, and a sparkly crown.

Don’t forget to wear your sparkly crown!

index (10)In The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke, Violetta is a little princess who wishes she could be as big and strong as her brothers. But what she lacks in size, she makes up for in determination. At night Violetta slips out into the woods and secretly teaches herself to become the cleverest, bravest, most nimble knight in the land. She’s ready to fight as a knight and wins the prize of living happily ever after.

index (11)Pirates & Princesses by Jill Kargman is the story of Ivy and Fletch who have been best friends since babyhood. They’re in for a surprise when they start kindergarten. The girls play with the girls and the boys play with the boys on the playground. Ivy likes the girls’ princess game and Fletch likes the pirate game but they miss each other. I won’t say much more other than the book is sweet, hysterically funny in its narration, and has a great message about being who you want to be regardless of gender stereotypes.

index (12)If you’d like to read an adult book on this whole pink princess idea, try Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. The author concludes that parents who think through their values early on and set reasonable limits, encourage dialogue and skepticism, and are canny about the consumer culture, can combat the 24/7 “media machine” aimed at girls and hold off the focus on beauty, materialism, and the color pink somewhat.

Well, I hope that this list gives you a start on finding interesting and well written books for your little princesses. They surely won’t be bored, bored, bored with these great picture books!

Not Just a Pretty Face

The Magicians coverLike a literary magpie, I am drawn to pretty, shiny, exciting things. I often enter the library without a clue about what I want to read. I wander and browse until something jumps out at me – a cool spine design, a flashy cover, a witty title. It doesn’t take much.

I judge books by their covers.

Sometimes this approach backfires, but more often than not, I find that I like the book if I like the way the author has chosen to decorate it. It could be dumb luck, or perhaps the author and I agree on some deep, mystical, aesthetic level. Either way, I’ve been happy with my track record, and I’d like to share some of my favorite ‘window shopping’ finds:

Dreams and Shadows coverDreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill. This book will appeal to anyone who is into folklore, mythical creatures, and generally wizardy stuff. Cargill’s style of writing was right up my alley – a little bit edgy, but sprinkled with humor and an occasional academic interlude to fill in more information about some of the supernatural beings that are involved in his story. I feel this book was left open-ended enough that it could be turned into the first of a series, or it could remain as a good stand-alone work. Those who liked American Gods may be into this.

Utopian Man coverUtopian Man by Lisa Lang. This was a really lovely read from start to finish. I enjoyed getting lost in the world that Edward William Cole, our Utopian Man, was trying to create with his glorious Arcade. Setting the story in 19th-Century Melbourne made the book all the more fascinating, as it’s a time and place that is very unknown and exotic to me. I think the author brings this feeling of newness and excitement across very well to the reader. This is a light read full of beautiful imagery, a little bit of conflict, and a lot of imagination.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I’ve already raved about this book in another post, so I’ll get to the important part. This book jacket GLOWS IN THE DARK! Aside from it being a great book, what more do you need to know?

Deathless coverDeathless by Catherynne Valente. 2/3 Russian fairy tale, 1/3 history of Russia from the death of the Tsar through the Siege of Leningrad. It took me a couple of chapters to warm up to this book, mainly because I didn’t know what it was I was getting into: fantasy, a dream sequence, a paranoid delusion, or allegory. Once I figured out how I related to the book, I was drawn in. Deathless reads primarily like a folktale, punctuated with passages full of beauty, mystery, hardship, poetry, mythology, joy, and melancholy. While the library doesn’t own Deathless, I was able to get it through Interlibrary Loan. EPL does have many of Valente’s other titles on shelf.

Age of Wonder coverThe Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes. I picked this one up shortly after I finished grad school. I found a note I’d written about it on GoodReads while I was reading the book that made me chuckle: “Interesting subject matter, but perhaps a bit more dense than my poor brain wants to deal with so soon after graduating. Recovery is a long, hard road. I’m sticking it out though, for the greater good.” I am happy to report that it was worth it, and that I learned a lot about science in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. As grueling as I made it sound, the book was quite a pleasure to read.

Super Sad True Love Story coverSuper Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart. SSTLS is kind of an odd book for me. Generally when I love a book, I love it from the beginning. With this story, my feelings sometimes bordered on hate, and for the most part, hovered in the area of disinterest. Then a funny thing happened: I finished the story and let it marinate in my brain for a while. Soon enough, ideas from SSTLS started popping up in conversations with friends and they would immediately jump in saying that they’d read the same book and completely agreed. Similar to the movie Idiocracy, SSTLS delivers a darkly humorous appraisal of the future of mankind that occasionally seems prophetic when watching the news.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Kind of like Harry Potter, but for grown folks. I went on to read the sequel, The Magician King, and enjoyed it just as much. I would recommend Grossman for anyone who likes a little humor and sarcasm to go along with their fantasy reads.

Travels in Siberia coverTravels in Siberia by Ian Frazier. Before I knew that Ian Frazier was awesome, I stumbled upon his cover for Travels in Siberia. I thought it was lovely and that combined with my odd fascination with all things Russian was enough to get me to put it on hold. I was not disappointed. I think those who enjoy the kind of travel writing one gets from Paul Theroux or Bill Bryson would really connect with this author.

Lisa

What Deane Reads

My husband, Deane, is a voracious reader.  He’s always reading. He reads fast and furiously.  If he’s without a book he begins to twitch and then starts reading cereal boxes, magazines, anything, but is unsatisfied until he gets his hands on another book. Luckily for him I work at a library and can keep him in a constant supply of books, books, books, and more books.

Here is a photo of Deane showing his library spirit at the Everett Fourth of July Parade:

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I’ve gotten to know his reading tastes, of course, after 30 some odd years of marriage. I know that he’ll always read what I call ‘boy books':  the newest Tom Clancy, Lee Child, and the like. But he’ll also enjoy what I’d consider ‘better literature’ such as The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin which was on my night stand, but is now in Deane’s hands since he needed a book. In fact, his reading tastes have evolved so much that he thought Where’d You Go, Bernadette? was fluffy and vacuous while I really liked it! Who knew?

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Why am I telling you this? Because perhaps you didn’t know that the librarians at the Everett Public Library are ready and willing to provide reader’s advisory service to you and not just that lucky fellow, Deane. You should already know that you can ask the folks at the reference desk for information on the phone (425-257-8000) or better yet, in person, but they can also recommend fiction to you.  And you don’t have to sleep with them. Bonus!

If you can’t make it into the library but have access to the Internet, you can take advantage of  the Reader’s Corner part of EPL’s website which has loads of resources for readers. We also have a database called Novelist which is a fantastic way to find new reads or books similar to the ones you already enjoy.

I like to use the web site Goodreads as a resource for what to read next and to keep track of what I’ve read. It’s like a virtual bookshelf but also offers ways to explore the world of books such as recommendations and lists.

Also, one of our knowledgable reference librarians points out that another source he finds helpful for people just wanting to quickly identify some good new (and older) books is Bookmarks magazine available for use at the main library only.

So what is Deane reading this summer besides my copy of The Orchardist? He just finished reading Winter of the World by Ken Follett. Deane proclaimed that this was a great book with good characters, though he thought that it was somewhat contrived in places in order to weave all of the plot threads together neatly in the end.

Right now he’s sitting in the sun reading Truth Like The Sun by Jim Lynch. Deane says that Lynch describes a pivotal moment in Northwest history when Seattle came of age during the 1962 World’s Fair in a pretty good novel.

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I brought three books home from work today for Mr. Deane. He glanced at Barbara Kingsolver’s newest work, Flight Behavior, and said, “Oh, yeah.  I’ve read some of her books”. Deane remembered reading books by T C Boyle when I showed him San Miguel, a novel about the families who inhabited the islands off of Santa Barbara, California. But when he saw John Connelly’s newest, The Black Box, he said, ‘Oh, YEAH!’ and put Lynch down like a hot potato. Well, I guess you can’t change a tiger’s stripes or teach an old dog new tricks or some other such expression, but you can get the books of your liking at the Everett Public Library!

Leslie