Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
The book A summer to die is one of KPL’s oldest titles by popular young adult author Lois Lowry. I read this book as a teen in the 80s, re-read when I worked in a school library, and now read for a 3rd time before I placed it on KPL’s new “I geek teen books” display, geared for not just teens. This book follows an unforgettable year in the life of 13 year old Meg, beginning when her family moves to the country so her college professor father can finish the book he’s been working on. As the harsh Maine winter turns into spring and then a flower-filled summer at their 1840s country rental house, Meg watches her beautiful older sister, Molly, wither away and eventually succumb to a mysterious disease that causes frequent nosebleeds. With Molly’s illness never fading from the foreground, Meg develops friendships with her few neighbors while following her passion for photography…photographing her elderly neighbor, Will, the home childbirth of her neighbors Ben and Maria, and the last pictures of her sister Molly.
Look for this book and lots of other great teen/adult crossover books in our new “I geek teen books” display – located near the self-checkouts at Central library.
A summer to die
I just finished reading Secrets of an organized mom by Barbara Reich, and after just a couple days my house is at least 100 pounds lighter, and the Three Rivers Goodwill store has got some fresh inventory, thanks to me. This book takes you through all the problem areas in your house and how to purge, design, organize, and maintain them. I have focused mainly on the purge and organize phases--So far I have rid our home of many bags of no-longer-worn clothes (or clothes that I wore even though I hated…which was most of them!) and 1 pair of skis that hasn’t been used in 10 years (I can always just rent them if I ever ski again, right?)…and I haven’t even gotten to the basement storage area yet—yikes! The main things that are beneficial about this book is that it is motivating, takes each room one at a time so you are not overwhelmed, and is practical. It throws in a little bit of psychology with common sense (are you really attached to the item, or is it the person that gave you the item?). I am excited for the weekend so I can hit up that hideous storage area!
Secrets of an organized mom
Like most identical twins, Christa and Cara Parravani shared a deep bond that went beyond being sisters or best friends…until Cara turned to drugs after a traumatic experience and died suddenly of an overdose at the age of 28. Her : a memoir describes Christa’s years of struggle after losing her beloved twin and while writing this memoir, which in parts was as if her sister was writing through her. Writing this memoir is what made her able to continue living.
KPL’s collection has many fascinating memoirs of twins. These include Divided minds, about twin schizophrenics, Identical strangers, about twins separated as infants and reunited as adults, and Twin : a memoir, about a twin sister who was separated from her brother and institutionalized at age 8 (and much later diagnosed with autism). To find other books on this topic, search the catalog under subject : Twins Biography.
I have been a loyal follower of American Idol since season 2, despite my annoyance with how the show in general treats some of the contestants. So, when I saw the book Elimination night come across my desk, I could absolutely not resist it. The book is a parody of American Idol (or “Icon” in the book), and is supposedly written by someone with insider knowledge of the show (author = “Anonymous”). The main character is a stand-in assistant producer on the show (Sasha, a female who is called “Bill” because it is easier for the higher-ups to continue to call her the name of the person she is filling in for). The plot mirrors season 10, when judge Simon Cowell (“Nigel Crowther”) left the show to pursue X Factor (“The Talent Machine”) and was replaced by Jennifer Lopez (“Bibi Vasquez”) and Steven Tyler (“Joey Lovecraft”). If you know your Idol, you will be able to recognize every character in the book immediately. One warning, though…the book is less than flattering to basically every single person affiliated with the show, with the exception of Randy Jackson (“DJ Coolz”). I didn’t mind this, but it made me absolutely squirm when I read some of the details and didn’t know how much was accurate and how much was exaggerated for good storytelling. Read it, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Piggybacking on Christine's post (2 down from this one), I also just finished a book about living with autism. This is a topic many of us can relate to, as 1 in 88 children are identified with having an autism spectrum disorder (http://www.autismspeaks.org). The book I read is The cat who came back for Christmas by Julia Romp. The book details single mom Julia's extremely difficult time raising her son George, who was eventually diagnosed with autism. He communicated poorly, had many behavior issues, was never affectionate or loving, and rarely showed happiness...until they took in a stray cat when he was 9 years old. George and the cat, Ben, had an instant connection and George quickly came out of his shell, beginning to communicate on a level (both with the cat, and with his mom) that Julia had never thought possible, even showing affection toward Julia that she had longed for since his birth. Then the worst thing possible happened...when Julia attempted to take George on their first real vacation, Ben went missing. As the months dragged on with no sign of Ben, grief-stricken George regressed, and Julia searched desperately, knowing the only way to get her son "back" was to find their cat. I won't give away anything else (although the title doesn't leave much to the imagination), but I must say this is one of the BEST books I have read in a long time...could not put it down.
Cat who came back for Christmas
Recently, more and more nonfiction books are being published in graphic novel format. Although I have not yet succumbed to the traditional fiction graphic novels, no longer can I ignore the intrigue of these new nonfiction ones that include biographies, social histories, and loads of other topics. My first official selection was My friend Dahmer, a graphic novel by Derf Backderf. Derf was a teenage acquaintance of Jeffrey Dahmer, and the book tells the back story of Dahmer's adolescence, mainly his increasing social isolation and dysfunctional family life in the years before he became a serial killer. The story concentrates only on Dahmer and the author as teenagers, so while disturbing, I did not find it gory or difficult to read. The illustrations were captivating and the story was heartbreaking. This was a good choice for my first graphic read...it has hooked me into a new genre that I didn't think I would like...but did.
My friend Dahmer
So...I've been looking for a while for a fiction author to get into, and I thought that during 2012 summer reading would be a great time to find one. I usually read nonfiction, often kind of heavier stuff, and I really have been wanting to find something lighter and more entertaining. Enter The rock star in seat 3A by Jill Kargman! In Rock star, New Yorker Hazel ends up not only meeting her celebrity crush, singer Finn Schiller, after a chance encounter on an airplane, but dating him and finding out what the L.A. rock-star lifestyle is really all about. This book was such a thoroughly entertaining read, that I moved on to an older title by Jill Kargman [Arm candy, 2010], which also takes place in New York and involves aspects of celebrity. So far Kargman's novels could be described as chick lit with slightly older characters (30s-40s). I am looking forward to reading The ex-Mrs. Hedgefund and Momzillas next.
The rock star in seat 3A
Do you know the commercial I'm talking about? A hand holds an old photograph in each frame, and the background is the same as in the photo, except as it appears today? Well, KPL just got in the book from the author that [may have...it's controversial] inspired the technique used in the Chevy commercial. Dear Photograph by Taylor Jones, which evolved from Jones' blog, is creative, nostalgic, and makes me want to do the same thing with my old photographs! Seriously, Taylor...great idea! No wonder your blog has over 23,000 followers...
A while back, I posted a blog about the book In front of my house by Marianne Dubuc. My two-year-old daughter loved it, but I actually found it to be a great book to read aloud to a variety of ages of children. KPL just got in Dubuc's newest book, Animal masquerade, which has the same format : tons of colorful illustrations, sparse text on each page (but with plenty of "big" words), and much longer than the average picture book (over 100 pages, but less than a ten-minute read). If you've got a 1-year-old, 4-year-old, and 7-year-old that you'd like to read to at the same time, this is your book. Animal masquerade features a huge variety of animals (from millipedes to platypuses) getting ready for a masquerade party, each disguising himself as another animal as the story progresses. It is very cute and clever...I am a huge fan of this author/illustrator!