Range

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

Conventional wisdom is turned upside down in Epstein’s appealing look at generalists and how they may be more successful than specialists. Generalists, who may have experience in several different fields or a wide variety of interests, may be better at problem solving, inventing, creativity and even science or sports. A variety of colorful anecdotes from generalists in business, science, technology, sports, and music make for an entertaining, thought-provoking read. Intriguing if not always practical, this book is sure to be popular, and is a good readalike for books by Malcolm Gladwell, Charles Duhigg, and The Optimist’s Telescope by Bina Venkataraman, along with Grit by Angela Duckworth, who reaches a different conclusion.

Brenda

Downton Abbey

Books and Videos for Fans of Downton Abbey

Fiction

Bradford, Barbara Taylor. Cavendon Hall
Follett, Ken. Fall of Giants
Galsworthy, John. The Forsyte Saga
Goodwin, Daisy. An American Heiress
Harper, Karen. American Duchess
Hollinghurst, Alan. The Stranger’s Child
Ibbotson, Eva. A Countess Below Stairs
Ishiguro, Kazuo. Remains of the Day
Kinghorn, Judith. The Echo of Twilight
Morton, Kate. The House at Riverton
Steel, Danielle. Beauchamp Hall
Waugh, Evelyn. Brideshead Revisited
Weldon, Fay. Habits of the House; Long Live the King; The New Countess
Wharton, Edith. Buccaneers; The House of Mirth
White, Roseanna. The Lost Heiress

Mysteries

Arlen, Tessa. Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman
Eccles, Marjorie. Heirs and Assigns
Fellowes, Jessica. The Mitford Murders
Maxwell, Alyssa. A Murderous Marriage

Non-Fiction

Carnarvon, Countess of. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
Fellowes, Jessica. Downton Abbey: A Celebration
Gardiner, Juliet. Manor House
Livingstone, Natalie. The Mistresses of Cliveden
Moran, Mollie. Minding the Manor
Powell, Margaret. Below Stairs; Servants’ Hall
Rowley, Emma. Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey
Warwick, Sarah. Upstairs and Downstairs

Videos

Brideshead Revisited
The Forsyte Saga
Gosford Park
Howards End
Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate
Remains of the Day
The Shooting Party
Secrets of Iconic British Estates
Secrets of the Manor House
Upstairs, Downstairs

Enjoy some of these titles before, after, or instead of watching the new Downton Abbey movie. Enjoy!

Brenda

The Right Sort of Man

The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair

Despite the title, this appealing first novel is a historical mystery, not a romance. In 1946, Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge, a war widow, have combined their unique talents to open The Right Sort Marriage Bureau in Mayfair, London. Iris can’t talk much about her work during the war, but she has all sorts of contacts and can pick locks. Wealthy Gwen has a young son and a gift for matchmaking. After their latest client, shop clerk Tillie La Salle, is found dead and her match, accountant Dickie Trower is charged with her murder, Iris and Gwen team up to save their business. They investigate Tillie’s connections to the black market and Gwen learns to travel around London by bus, visiting Dickie in prison, where he’s worried about his goldfish. The postwar London setting is richly detailed, the characters are likeable and believable, and the dialogue is witty. I’m already looking forward to Montclair’s next book, A Royal Affair, to be published next June.

Brenda

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Nina Hill is funny, smart, anxious, organized, and loves books. She’s also excellent company in this novel about a bookstore clerk in Los Angeles who finds out that her previously unknown father has mentioned her in his will and discovers a big, complicated family. When she’s not at a book club or competing in a trivia contest, Nina would rather be home, reading. Her other favorite activities include avoiding yoga class and planning her week, even if she doesn’t always follow her plan and scolds herself when she runs out of toilet paper. There is a cute guy on a rival trivia team, but it might be hard to work a date into her schedule, especially with new relatives to meet. Nina is also intense and likes to share random facts; this has gotten her trivia club in trouble. Numerous funny scenes add to the book’s appeal, including a woman trying to return a Jane Austen novel, her kids book club, and an ice cream fight outside the bookstore. Witty and heartwarming, I wanted the book to be longer, even after a satisfying conclusion. Her first book, The Garden of Small Beginnings, is also a good read, if not quite as funny.

Brenda

 

Gabriel’s Road

Gabriel’s Road: A Novella of the Devil’s West by Laura Anne Gilman

After a year spent mentoring Isobel, Gabriel has completed his bargain and is free of obligations in the territory. But the Devil’s West and especially the call of the river aren’t done with Gabriel Kasun quite yet. Starting out on a solitary journey in this alternate western America, Gabriel looks back on his past, worries about how Isobel is doing on her own, then has encounters with strange and wild beings. There is a strong sense of place in this mostly uninhabited and dry part of the West, and Gabriel is intriguing company. When he needs shelter from a storm, a small community takes him in and then asks for his help protecting their well and their village. This novella can be read before or after the fantasy trilogy beginning with Silver on the Road, and is available as an e-book in our Media on Demand collection from Overdrive, along with the short story collection West Wind’s Fool.

Brenda

The Big Ones

The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them) by Dr. Lucy Jones

Seismologist Lucy Jones describes a wide variety of natural disasters and ways communities can prepare for the future. I started reading this book after the recent 7.1 magnitude earthquake in eastern California, the day after a 6.4 magnitude quake, both of which she discussed at news conferences and at multiple television stations. As well as being a noted scientist, Dr. Jones is also an excellent storyteller, making the science behind volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and floods accessible to readers.

Two points she made repeatedly stand out for me: humans dislike randomness, look for patterns, and sometimes demand prediction even though many natural disasters are very hard to predict. In addition, we tend to forget events that happened more than three generations ago, even major natural disasters. Many Japanese coastal villages have stone tsunami markers, which saved some villages in 2011 but went unheeded in others. I had never heard about the megafloods in California and other western states in the winter of 1861-2. Huge lakes covered telegraph poles over an area larger than the state of Connecticut. Villages and farms were wiped out, and cities like Sacramento were completely regraded on a higher level. But a similar flood today would be even more devastating.

Jones writes about Pompeii, modern Italy, Lisbon, Iceland, Hurricanes Katrina and Maria, and much more. She also talks about working with Los Angeles to make the city more resilient to a future quake, and stresses the importance of planning for events that are very likely to happen, even though we don’t know exactly when or where. Suggested for readers interested in science, history, or natural disasters.
Brenda

September 2019 Book Discussions

The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7:00 pm on September 24 to discuss The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson. The wedding is that of Princess Elizabeth in post-war Great Britain, and the main characters are two women embroidering the wedding gown, the design of which is being kept secret from the press and public. A related program, Becoming Queen Elizabeth II, will be held on Tuesday, October 8, with  Elizabeth being portrayed by historian Leslie Goddard.

The Crime Readers will meet at 7:00 pm on Thursday, September 19 at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien to discuss Bloodhounds, by Peter Lovesey, with optional dinner at 6:00 p.m. Bloodhounds is a British police procedural set in Bath, England.

Copies of both titles will be available soon at the Circulation Desk.

Brenda