January 2020 Book Discussions

The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7:00 p.m. on January 28 to discuss Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts, a biographical novel about Maude Gage Baum, whose husband wrote The Wizard of Oz. Finding Dorothy is a Library Reads pick, and I’m one of many readers advisors who nominated it. Here’s my earlier review, which I shared with the author at a book signing.

The Crime Readers will meet at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 16 at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien to discuss the Japanese crime thriller The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino. The Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library. Optional dinner is at 6:00 p.m.

Copies of both titles are available for checkout at the Circulation Desk.

Brenda

Staff Favorites

Staff Favorites, 2019

These are some of the most memorable books we read or listened to in 2019. Look for a Staff Favorites display in January. Happy reading! Brenda

Fiction
Aciman, André. Call Me By Your Name (Korey)
Bardugo, Leigh. Ninth House (Denise)
Brennert, Alan. Daughter of Moloka’i (Brenda)
Chevalier, Tracy. A Single Thread (Brenda)
Collins, Bridget. The Binding (Meghan)
Frankel, Laurie. This is How It Always Is (Brenda)
Franqui, Leah. America for Beginners (Brenda)
Harris, Robert. Second Sleep (Brenda)
Heller, Peter. The River (George)
Hill, Joe. Full Throttle: Stories (George)
Jones, Tayari. An American Marriage (Meghan)
King, Stephen. The Institute (George)
Kwan, Kevin. Crazy Rich Asians (Debbie)
Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus (Korey)
Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere (Katie)
Prior, Hazel. Ellie and the Harpmaker (Brenda)
Ryan, Jennifer. The Spies of Shilling Lane (Brenda)
Setterfield, Diane. Once Upon a River (Katie)
Stein, Garth. The Art of Racing in the Rain (Debbie)
Waxman, Abbi. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (Brenda)
Williams, Beatriz. The Golden Hour (Brenda)

Graphic Novels
Arakawa, Hiromu. Silver Spoon (Denise)
Semikawa, Natsuya. Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu (Denise)

Mystery
Harper, Jane. The Lost Man (Brenda)
Hillerman, Anne. The Tale Teller (Brenda)
Montclair, Allison. The Right Sort of Man (Brenda)

Science Fiction and Fantasy
Chambers, Becky. Records of a Spaceborn Few (Brenda)
Cherryh, C.J. and Jane Fancher. Alliance Rising (Brenda)
Polk, C.L. Witchmark (Meghan)

Teen Fiction
Keyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon (Korey)
Lee, Stacey. Under a Painted Sky (Katie)
Shusterman, Neal. Scythe (Korey)
Thomas, Angie. On the Come Up (Katie)

Non-Fiction

Alexievich, Svetlana. Voices from Chernobyl (Denise)
DiAngelo, Robin. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism (Denise)
Dumas, Firoozeh. Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America (Katie)
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (George)
Higginbotham, Adam. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster (George)
Ingraham, Christopher. If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now : Why We Traded the Commuting Life for a Little House on the Prairie (Brenda)
Keefe, Patrick Radden. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (George)
Land, Stephanie. Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive (Brenda)
Magnuson, Margareta. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (Korey)
Mickelson, Phil. One Magical Sunday: (But Winning Isn’t Everything) (Debbie)
Pan, Jessica. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come : One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes (Katie)
Perry, Alex. The Good Mothers : The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia (Debbie)
Rich, Nathaniel. Losing Earth: A Recent History (George)
Rubenhold, Hallie. The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper (Meghan)

November 2019 Book Discussions

The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7 p.m. on November 19 (a week earlier than usual) to discuss The River, by Peter Heller. This is a contemporary thriller set in the Canadian wilderness that I found very hard to put down. Here’s my review.

The Crime Readers will meet at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien at 7 p.m on Thursday, November 21 to discuss The Song of the Lion, by Anne Hillerman, a Navajo mystery. Optional dinner is at 6 p.m. The Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library. I enjoy listening to this series on cd; this book is also available as a downloadable audiobook.

Copies of both books are available now at the Circulation Desk. Enjoy!

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

Books I’ve Enjoyed Reading in 2017

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille
An entertaining thriller with plenty of twists & turns, armchair travel to Cuba, and a hot romance.

Endurance by Scott Kelly
Astronaut’s record-setting stay on the International Space Station, along with growing up with twin Mark.

Gap Year Girl by Marianne Bohm
I don’t think the title was a good fit, but it’s an entertaining memoir about an empty-nester couple that travels around Europe for a year, focusing on France, to help Marianne fulfill her dream of becoming a French teacher.

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Unexpectedly charming, as the premise of a young widow attending a Saturday gardening class with her girls and sister for a work project didn’t grab me. The book did, and my sister liked it, too.

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn
Time travellers on a project try to meet Jane Austen and recover some papers for the future.

A Tale of Two Kitties and other Magical Cats mysteries by Sofie Kelly
Boston librarian moves to small Minnesota town to oversee library renovations. She misses her family, mostly involved in the theater, but finds friends, a possible love interest, and adopts to very unusual kitties. Appealing characters and setting, even a bit about tai chi, food, and art. The first book is Curiosity Thrilled the Cat.

Caroline: Little House, Revisted by Sarah Miller
Authorized by the Little House Trust, this reimagines the book Little House on the Prairie from the point of view of Laura’s mother, including a pregnancy. Also excellent to reread.

Artemis by Andy Weir
Second science fiction book by the author of The Martian. Artemis is the only colony on the moon, and Jazz Bashara is a courier and small-time smuggler who ends up in big trouble and has to save the colony with help from her friends and her estranged father.

Break Up by Dana Stabenow
A dark and very funny mystery set in small town Alaska. The ice thawing brings out the crazy in everyone and every thing, and private investigator Kate Shugak has to bring order out of chaos. This is still fun to reread.

Jackie’s Girl by Kathy McKeon
This memoir of Jackie’s young, Irish personal assistant is charming. Madam, her family and household are fun to read about, along with visits to the Kennedy compound on Cape Cod.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A long, leisurely read set mainly in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, from the point of view of a former count on house arrest. Just lovely!

The Penric and Desdemona novellas by Lois McMaster Bujold, set in the world of the Five Gods
For readers who like fantasy, humor, adventure, and a little romance with a very appealing protagonist.
“Penric’s Demon” (2015)
“Penric and the Shaman” (2016)
“Penric’s Fox” (2017) (3rd story chronologically)
“Penric’s Mission” (2016)
“Mira’s Last Dance” (2017)
“The Prisoner of Limnos” (2017)

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
Real life adventure in the Honduran rain forest.

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton
Adventure story set in 1876, with two competing paleontologists hunting dinosaur fossils in the American west. The manuscript for Dragon Teeth predates Jurassic Park.

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
Little Women author’s little sister, May, who does not enjoy being mistaken for Amy March or having her book illustrations panned. May takes art lessons in Boston and Europe, clashing frequently with family breadwinner Louisa.

Design for Dying by Rene Patrick
Enjoyable historical mystery set in Hollywood, with salesgirl Lillian teaming up with costume designer Edith Head to solve a murder.

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer
Accidental time travel by Beatrice, an overworked neurosurgeon, to Italy right before the plague strikes; full of art, romance, and suspense.

 

This list is full of some of the books I really enjoyed reading this year. There are so many list of best books and literary award-winners, that I wanted to focus on enjoyable books. I also read quite a few children’s books this year, but that’s outside the scope of this blog.

Enjoy!

Brenda

November 2017 Book Discussions

It’s strange to be writing about November discussions when it’s warm and sunny outside. The Tuesday Morning Book Group will meet at 10am on November 21 to talk about Lab Girl: A Story of Trees, Science, and Love by Hope Jahren, a memoir on several best books of 2016 lists, including mine.

On November 28 at 7pm the Tuesday Evening Book Group will discuss The Second Mrs. Hockaday, by Susan Rivers, a historical novel set during and after the Civil War.

On Thursday, November 16, the Crime Readers will meet at Home Run Inn Pizza in Darien to discuss The Round House, by Louise Erdrich. Co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library, the Crime Readers gather at 6 pm for optional dinner.

Copies of the books are available at the Adult & Teen Services Reference Desk.

Brenda

Gap Year Girl

Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer Adventure across 21 Countries by Marianne Bohr

Marianne and her husband Joe are preparing to do what many dream about but few accomplish: take a year to explore Europe. They are turning 55, and their children, Chris and Caroline, have finished college. They sell their Maryland house after a year, and camp out with friends until it’s time to give notice at work, get their long-term French visas, and head for a studio apartment in Paris. Marianne loves all things French and is changing careers to become a French teacher, so Paris is where they start and end their year abroad, with a week in the middle to run the Paris Marathon. Joe, a marine engineer, doesn’t speak much French, but loves history and is willing to drive rental cars as needed. They run, hike, and canoe because they enjoy being active, but also to indulge their love of food and wine. I like Marianne’s writing style, sketching the places they visit in a few sentences, focusing on the people they encounter as well as the scenery. It’s easier to share what they didn’t enjoy in their whole year of travel: a lonely town in France, the markets in Morocco, and train stations in Austria. Otherwise, they find kind, helpful people wherever they go, along with wonderful food. They mix budget accommodations and picnic food with the occasional splurge, and get very tired of their limited wardrobe. Highlights include skiing with their children in Italy’s Dolomites, and hiking the Tour de Mont Blanc with a guide and other travelers. Greece wins the award for friendliest country.  In the end, Marianne’s favorite country is still France, although Joe likes the food in Italy best. A very enjoyable travel memoir.
Brenda