Staff Picks: Books

Staff-recommended reading from the KPL catalog.

The Girl You Left Behind

Wow! I loved this book! I want to read The Girl You Left Behind  by Jojo Moyes again immediately but I already know what happens so I don't think it would be the same. I do hope someone makes it into a movie!

If you like fast-moving, historical fiction with some mystery, you might love this book that begins in in Northern France in the middle of the First World War and features a painting, a woman named Sophie, and her family and small town. As they struggle to survive impossible conditions the story of the painting unfolds. Then the story skips forward to present day England where Liv is desperate to hold onto the painting. She risks everything in a court case that eventually ties up all the loose ends of the story from the previous century and her own story. 

This is the second book I've read by Jojo Moyes and I'm looking forward to reading more. KPL has many of her books available in both print and ebook format.  

Book 

The Girl You Left Behind

9780670026616

AndreaV

The Word Exchange

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words cause permanent damage. And that certainly holds true in Alena Graedon’s inventive debut novel The Word Exchange. The book is equal parts page-turning dystopian thriller and cautionary tale about the cultural costs of our society’s mass-reliance on technology, with some questions about the nature of love thrown in for good measure. The Word Exchange imagines a near future in which our mass-addiction to devices and the associated intellectual sloth creates the opportunity for malevolent corporations to corner the market on language itself, usurping the authority of dictionaries and monetizing access to word meaning. But when the plan spirals out of control and a fast moving digital virus that manifests itself physically in humans causing word flu, because it causes a peculiar form of aphasia in its victims, it is left to the stories unlikely heroine Anana Johnson, daughter of the chief editor of the North American Dictionary of English Language, the genius lexicographer Doug Samuel Johnson, to try and piece the plot together and save the world from descending into a babbling incoherent mess. This is a great read and I can't wait for more from Graedon.

Books

The Word Exchange
9780385537650
mykyl

Americanah

I’m certain that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s engrossing novel Americanah will top my personal list of the best books of 2014.  Americanah follows the lives of two Nigerian students as they make their way in the world; Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love as teenagers and make a plan to spend their lives together, but circumstances lead them to places and situations they wouldn’t have imagined.  Ifemelu heads to the U.S. to study and finds herself confronted by a culture of racism and classism, while Obinze struggles to survive as an undocumented worker in London.  They are very well-crafted characters—this is one of those rare books where the characters seem utterly genuine and real. The novel offers a profound discussion of race, immigration, and homeland without being heavy-handed; it is a must read for fans of literary fiction.

Book

Americanah
9780307271082
CaitlinH

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children(1)

A co-worker read and recommended the Teen title “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs, and his  description sounded intriguing.  What sets the story apart and adds to the book’s mystique are old photographs that are interspersed with the text.

Sixteen year old Jacob has had to endure the sudden death of his grandfather, which occurred   under decidedly odd circumstances. Jacob ventures to a remote island in Wales with his father, to try and unravel the mystery. Miss Peregrine’s orphanage does indeed contain a host of children with peculiar talents.    Time travel, strange and rather horrific beings, and a strong sense of place make this fantasy hard to put down.

There is a 2014 sequel as well, titled “Hollow City”, which continues the adventures and which I certainly intend to read.

Book


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 

9781594744761

 

NancyS

The Husband’s Secret

If you found a letter from your spouse or partner, not to be opened until after their death and they were still very much alive, would you open it now?  OK, so you opened it and discovered a big, not-good secret, what would you do?

This is a page-turner, light summer read, but one that generates spirted discussion.

Book

The Husband’s Secret
9780399159343
AnnR

Judging a book by its title... again!

While matter-of-factly performing my duties here at KPL -- NOT looking for another book to read -- I saw a book with a title that made me laugh.  Beth Harbison's Chose the wrong guy, gave him the wrong finger looks like an amusing beach read.  Alas! I have more work to do (in addition to a long to-read list), so this book won't be taken off the shelf today -- at least by me.

Book

Chose the wrong guy, gave him the wrong finger
9780312599133
EleanoreC

Friends with Benefits with Benefits

After hearing a great deal of positive word-of-mouth from the pop culture hoi polloi, I went out of my way to check out Sex Criminals, the brazenly-titled, tantalizingly hilarious, M-for-Mature graphic novel written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by ChipZdarsky. Volume one, entitled One Weird Trick, introduces us to Suzie, a young librarian desperate to save her workplace from foreclosure. Suzie befriends an actor named Jon, and together they each discover that the other possesses the same unusual ability that had previously seemed personally unique: they can freeze time whenever they get…romantic. As their relationship deepens and her library’s financial situation grows bleaker, they decide to do what many people would do if they could freeze time: they rob banks. But Suzie and Jon soon learn that their erotic capers may not be as easy to get away with as they think.

Not for the faint of heart, nor prude of taste, Sex Criminals is nevertheless a riotously entertaining coming-of-age caper comedy with a sci-fi twist. It’s irreverent and chockfull of pop culture references and I’d recommended it to anyone at the appropriate level of maturity who doesn’t easily blush.

Book

Sex Criminals. Volume 1, One Weird Trick
9781607069461
DanHoag

Going Camping?

I’m going camping this summer, and I can’t wait to be outdoors 24/7 for a few days. If, like me, camping is in you and your family’s future this summer, take advantage of the resources KPL offers as you gather your gear, plan your meals, prep the kids and decide where to go.

We have books about cooking outdoors, camping and wilderness survival skills and stories to help children get over fears of camping and excited about sleeping under the stars. We have plenty of camping directories and even a movie for beginning campers.

Are you a district resident cardholder? You can go to Zinio and read digital magazines like Backpacker or check out shows on Hoopla. (Sign in, click on the Browse page, choose Television, scroll down and find the ‘Travel around the World’ topic.) Find titles such as Ken Burns: The National Parks, and Trekking the World.

What’s your next adventure?

Book

Camping Michigan : a comprehensive guide to public tent and RV campgrounds
9780762782505
Christine

Requiescat in pace

Sometimes I have this craving – I have to find a book. You may see me wandering from aisle to aisle here in the library, eyes fixed on the shelves, looking for that volume that will somehow take hold of me and say “Here I am – the book you’ve been looking for your whole life.” I’m seized by these feelings often: I remember one week at university, I had just finished finals and papers for the semester, and I needed a book. Not just any book. A book that would suck me in and change me. A book that would overwhelm me and leave me in a deep breathing, inchoate sort of awe. One of the first of these books to take me over and leave me a new person was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I was very saddened to hear about this author’s death on April 17; so, in honor of his work, and to mourn the fact that there will be no more stories from his pen, here are some reflections on some of my favorite things he has written, which in many ways have spoiled me as a reader for anything less challenging or delightful.

I first encountered Marquez when I purchased his collection of novellas and short stories called Leaf Storm at a bargain bookstore in upstate New York. The story from this volume that grabbed me was “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World.” It was such a simple story, and the people in the village seemed real because the narrative made them so commonplace, so rooted to their unremarkable, hardworking and physically hemmed-in existence. The narrative made me feel sympathy for them, and then eventually to find myself among their number. The arrival of this corpse – not so very surprising; for a people who catch their living in the sea, drowning is all too common, really – changes this village and the villagers. The size of this man. As the villagers go through the familiar rituals associated with preparing the body for the funeral, they discover his differences. He is enormous. He is not from their village, or another one nearby. He is like nobody and nothing they have seen before. In the face of the mystery of this man, they have to make up some kind of life for him, a way to understand him. They create an identity for him: they give him a name, Esteban, and a history of sorts. The work to lay him to rest in his death becomes an imaginative creation of a life that somehow matches the greatness his dead body suggests to the villagers. When they hold the funeral, he is mourned as one of their own, and they have fallen in love with him. They are now his. This was a love story like one I had never read before, and I was sucked in. I was in love with Esteban, too, and shivered in the bittersweet pleasure of the story as it was told, and the sense of loss it created. 

And then, I can’t remember exactly when or why, I found myself reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. Talk about shivering in bittersweet pleasure. The thought of sitting down and opening the book even now means I must have the leisure of time. I want balmy weather, so I can open my window to feel the breeze move around me. I want light refreshments. I must be prepared for company. The characters who stride across these pages are driven: the desire for children, for revolution, for freedom, for gold, for each other; the unending hunger surges through their blood and family and tugs you along with them. They are never fully satisfied. Sometimes it comes close, but that just sharpens the coming up short. This family and this village are small and insular, but they are the whole world. Everything is shocking, yet you shake your head and enlarge your heart to take it all in, because you love these people, and you know them, because you have come to recognize the patterns repeating themselves over and over again in the house and the family. Somehow, the unspoken desires, the unknowns, the unfinished and unsatisfied elements from your life find a place here in Macondo, too, and you can sigh over them while you marvel at the events of the hundred years. 

And then there is his short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” that I read and discussed with literature students for a couple of years. It gave time to discuss the genre Marquez is best known for, magic realism, as well as other rhetorical devices like antithesis, allegory, and allusion. It’s a charming fairy tale, from one perspective, seemingly best suited for children with the appearance of angels and disobedient daughters turned into spiders. But it’s also a story about the hard work and disappointments that characterize so much of adult life, and that blind adults to the magic and inexplicable all around them. 

The library has three pages in the catalogue of books written by Marquez, some in the original Spanish; most of them are English translations. Try One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera, both in the fiction section. Maybe you will be like me and fall in love with the people engendered in Marquez’s brain. Maybe you will be fascinated by the real history and political tragedy that gets woven into every narrative. Maybe you will long for the sultry and soporific Caribbean landscapes that somehow spread across your own mind as you enter his world. Read something, then come talk about it with me.

Book

One Hundred Years of Solitude
9780060919658
KarenN

Surprise! Surprise!

Karen Joy Fowler’s new book We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves has one of the best surprise plot twists ever. I was in a hotel room reading on a Spring break trip with my kids when I reached the surprise and I had to tell them about it. After that, they kept asking me if I was going to tell mom. I swore them to secrecy, because I was going to get her to read the book. 

 
The same goes for you. I’m not going to say anything else about the book, because I don’t want to give anything away. I can tell you that it is written well and got great reviews. But don’t read them. They will give the surprise away. In fact, don’t even read the tiny summary included in our catalog when you look the book up to put it on hold, because it gives the secret away. 

 
Don’t read the jacket cover. Don’t read the blurbs. Just check it out and start reading.

Book

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
9780399162091
Steve S
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