As 2018 winds down, its a customary tradition for staff to compile a list of those books, movies and albums that have inspired us, made us laugh, made us cry, stoked our imagination, and provoked us to think deeply about the relationship between fact and fiction, reality and fantasy and art and life. Here are a few of my favorites.
Winter, Karl Ove KnausgaardBecoming, Michelle ObamaWKW: the Cinema of Wong Kar Wai, John PowersTime Pieces: A Dublin Memoir, John BanvilleMeaty, Samantha IrbyMy Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa MoshfeghThese Truths: A History of the United States, Jill LeporeThe Largesse of the Sea Maidens, Denis Johnson
I had THE BEST compliment from a patron recently. He said
that telling him about Hoopla changed his LIFE!
That’s right folks! I thought to
myself, well we must spread the good news!
Recently I listened to an amazing audio book by Amanda Palmer about “The
Art of Asking“on Hoopla. I do not know
if you’re anything like me but the dinner making, laundry and dog bathing waits
for no man. I am usually not still enough for reading. I am always on the move.
Always cooking, driving, and all the things!
So I LOVE Hoopla. In her audiobook, not only do you get to hear her
reading and listen to some of her music, you also get to learn about her
husband, Neil Gaiman. Through this audiobook, I became a fan of both. Such a talented couple with such great
creativity. Amanda has always asked her fans and audience for what she needs,
and they are thrilled to rise to the occasion. I like the message about giving
the blessing to others of receiving the gifts they want to give you. I do want to warn you Amanda is a fan of the f-bomb . I was
listening to this book when I was desperately trying to pick up my dog’s cremains.
I had a ceremony and a locket to give to my husband and it was going to be
awhile before I could arrange for all the stars to align to do the ceremony.
The flooding in town made me run late. The vet’s office would already be
closed. My husband really wanted these
cremains. I was listening to the book
and I just thought, “You know what? I'm going to go, and if I can catch someone,
I'm going to ask!” So I pulled up and
asked my newly met veterinarian if there was any way and he ran right in and
got them for me. I had tears in my eyes when he gave it to me and I had to hug
him. I was so grateful. He gave me the gift. All I had to do was ask.
I loved Elizabeth Strout’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Olive Kittredge, but for some reason did not go on to read any of her other books until just recently. While packing to go on a short trip, I wondered out loud if I had enough books for all the reading time I would have in airports, on planes, and in hotel rooms. My wife said that I could take one that she had just started, Anything Is Possible.
Once again, I was drawn in by her beautiful prose that illuminates all the corners of her characters’ hearts and minds. Do you ever read books and just get the feeling that you are settling into a comfortable chair?
I didn’t know that Anything Is Possible echoes back to an earlier Strout novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton, so I had to read that one next. Now I’m listening to The Burgess Boys and have the Olive Kittredge tv miniseries checked out.
Elizabeth Strout has moved into my favorite authors category. Settle into one of her novels and enjoy how she weaves together the stories of her character’s flawed lives, often making you upset with and then sympathetic towards them.
Susan Faludi, a feminist writer probably most famous for writing Backlash: the Undeclared War Against American Women, has a new book exploring her family’s history titled In the Darkroom. It begins when she is contacted by her father from whom she has been long estranged and he informs her that he is now Stephanie, having gone through sex reassignment surgery. As they renew their relationship, Faludi takes you on a fascinating journey into her father’s identity and the idea of identity itself.
She explores her father’s history as a photographer, adept at manufacturing and manipulating images and weaves this into the many changes her father has gone through in life. Then she layers on top of that the history of Hungary, her father’s homeland and current place of residence, which she reveals to be a most willing accomplice in the extermination of Jews during World War II. This was the back drop for her Jewish father’s early years in Hungary before emigrating to the United States.
It seems like a mystery novel with Faludi as the detective, turning up clues and illuminating her father’s story.
When more than one patron and all the youth librarians you know, say you should listen to a particular audiobook, you must listen. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is an incredible book but it might be the best audiobook I've ever listened to. It's so good that I want to keep driving around instead of parking my car and getting to work. It's a story within a story about a young boy named Frederik, living in the heart of the Black Forest, during the early Hitler years. His father, an accomplished cellist, is deemed a Jewish sympathizer and is arrested and taken from Frederik. He's left to figure out how to navigate this most dangerous new world without him. But did I mention, Frederik does carry with him a magical harmonica. And that's just Part 1. Part 2 opens in Pennsylvania! This incredible story is suspenseful and superbly performed, with multiple voices and musical pieces throughout. It's historical fiction and fantasy combined into one amazing story. Available from KPL in print, Ebook, and audiobook as Compact Disc or through our downloadable service, Hoopla.
Over the years, I have enjoyed reading Matt Taibbi’s current events articles in Rolling Stone, although I did feel at times that his over the top, (but funny) vitriolic name calling cut into his credibility. He is undeniably intelligent and is excellent at explaining complex issues in easy to understand and entertaining prose.
For the first time, I delved into one of his books, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. Here Taibbi investigates the banking/housing financial crisis of 2008, where clearly fraudulent business practices led to the loss of 40% of the world’s wealth, but almost no one went to jail, alongside the proactive policing of the poor that is filling our jails even though crime is declining.
One thing he uncovers is that government agencies are reluctant to go after wealthy corporations because it would cost so much to bring those cases to trial and would be harder to win, because of the top notch lawyers these corporations can employ. On the other hand, the poor are vulnerable and easy to convict; low hanging fruit.
I ask myself if this is anything new. Hasn’t this divide always existed? Taibbi argues that the divide is growing and threatens our country’s foundational values.
I’m deeply in love with the book We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. She writes with a candor that can be uncomfortable at times, but with a purpose: self-reflection that compels the reader to see their own humanity. This book is about what it is to be a person, because being a person is horrible a lot of the time, occasionally all right, and usually ridiculously funny. Irby is so incredibly funny that I spit out my coffee multiple times while reading this book because I couldn’t control my laughter. Read this book.
On the eve of publishing a book of poems about a murdered aunt, whose 1969 death was thought to have been part of a killing spree of a serial killer who targeted college age women near the Eastern Michigan and University of Michigan campuses, author Maggie Nelson unexpectedly received a phone call from a police detective in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who tells her that he believes he's cracked the case and is about to arrest a new suspect. This is where The Red Parts, Nelson's brilliant true crime memoir begins.
Local readers may recall the case given the suspect was employed at Borgess Hospital and lived in nearby Gobles. More than simply a straightforward account of the criminal trial, Nelson critically probes her own complicated family history in addition to trying to make sense of our culture of violence and sexism. Available to stream using your Hoopla account and in book form, The Red Parts is a fascinating page turner from a writer with a fresh, bold voice.