Friday Reads: Dangerous Years

 

New to our library shelves this month is an important book on climate change by a leading environmental thinker, David W. OrrDangerous Years:  climate change, the long emergency and the way forward, published by Yale University Press, is “a valuable addition to environmental and philosophical wisdom.” Says Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University.

The inner flap of the book states:

“This gripping, deeply thoughtful book considers the future of civilization in the light of what we know about climate change and related threats.  David Orr, an award-winning, internationally recognized leader in the field of sustainability and environmental education, pulls no punches:  even with the Paris Agreement of 2015, Earth systems will not reach a new equilibrium for centuries.  Earth is becoming a different planet – more thread bare and less biologically diverse, with more-acidic oceans and a hotter, more capricious climate.  Furthermore, technology will not solve complex problems of sustainability.

Yet, we are not fated to destroy the Earth, Orr insists.  He imagines sustainability as a quest and a transition built upon robust and durable democratic and economic institutions, as well as changes in heart and mindset.  The transition, he writes, is beginning from the bottom up in communities and neighborhoods. He lays out specific principles and priorities to guide us toward enduring harmony between human and natural systems.”

You can find this book shelved in the new nonfiction area with the call number 363.73874 ORR.  Close readers will be pleased to know there are copious notes and an index.

David W. Orr has written several other books on the environment and building design, but don’t confuse him with David Orr, (sans W.)  the New York Times poetry columnist, who has a new book on poetry out this year.   If your interests include poetry, as well as climate change, David Orr’s book, You, Too, Could Write a Poem:  selected reviews and essays, 2000-2015, is also in the new nonfiction area with the call number 808.1 ORR.

 

New Books are Blooming

Springtime is here and these new books are blooming with hilarious and human tales about life. What do you get when Elvis, Lucy, Vance, Nelson and Nadia share their stories? Books to add to your ‘must read’ list.

1. Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett

Twelve-year-old Elvis Babbitt has a head for the facts: she knows science proves yellow is the happiest color, she knows a healthy male giraffe weighs about 3,000 pounds, and she knows that the naked mole rat is the longest living rodent. She knows she should plan to grieve her mother, who has recently drowned while sleepwalking, for exactly eighteen months. But there are things Elvis doesn’t yet know–like how to keep her sister Lizzie from poisoning herself while sleep-eating or why her father has started wearing her mother’s silk bathrobe around the house. Elvis investigates the strange circumstances of her mother’s death and finds comfort, if not answers, in the people (and animals) of Freedom, Alabama. As hilarious a storyteller as she is heartbreakingly honest, Elvis is a truly original voice in this exploration of grief, family, and the endurance of humor after loss.

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2. The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

A hilarious and emotionally charged novel about a couple who embark on an open marriage-what could possibly go wrong?

 

 

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3. News From the End of the World by Emily Jeanne Miller

“A novel about the lovable but dysfunctional Lake family of Cape Cod and the four fraught days that will make or break them…Vance Lake is broke, jobless, and recently dumped. He takes refuge at his twin brother Craig’s house on Cape Cod and unwittingly finds himself smack in the middle of a crisis that would test the bonds of even the most cohesive family, let alone the Lakes. Craig seethes, angry and mournful at equal turns. His exasperated wife, Gina, is on the brink of an affair. At the center of it all is seventeen-year-old Amanda: adored niece who can do no wrong to Vance, surly stepdaughter to Gina, and stubborn, rebellious daughter to Craig. She’s also pregnant. Told in alternating points of view by each member of this colorful New England clan and infused with the quiet charm of the Cape in the off-season, The News from the End of the World follows one family into a crucible of pent-up resentments, old and new secrets, and memories long buried. Only by coming to terms with their pasts, both as individuals and together, do they stand a chance of emerging intact”– Provided by publisher.

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4. Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler


An epic novel of intertwining friendships and families set in the Northwoods of Wisconsin at a beloved Boy Scout summer camp–from the bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs

 

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5. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

“From the internationally bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, a love story that unfolds in a world being irrevocably transformed by migration. In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, twoyoung people meet–sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, thrust into premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors–doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As violence and the threat of violence escalate, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. Exit West is an epic compressed into a slender page-turner–both completely of our time and for all time, Mohsin Hamid’s most ambitious and electrifying novel yet”– Provided by publisher.

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Black Literature Matters

On Saturday, March 4,  Sara Hines (co-owner of Eight Cousins) and I hosted “Black Literature Matters: A Book Talk”. The event was a huge success and our thanks go out to everyone who braved the cold to hear about these important titles. As a part of a larger series entitled, “Books Build Conversations,” we focused on #ownvoices books. #OwnVoices is a hashtag coined in 2015 in order to highlight stories written by authors from marginalized communities featuring protagonists who are also a part of those same communities. For our purposes, we chose books by black authors with black protagonists.

A few days ago, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center released a graph on their blog chronicling the rise and fall of children’s books with black protagonists both by non-black authors and #ownvoices authors.

This graph would have been perfect to include in our talk. As the author of the blog points out, authenticity matters: books about black characters written by non-black authors, while well-intentioned, may fall into the problematic tropes and reinforce stereotypes and negative ideologies. Also, as the author of the blog states, black authors and illustrators need to be “given the same opportunities to tell their own stories”.

In order to give attendees the opportunity to really connect with each title, Sara and I limited our scope by each selecting one book from four categories: picture book, middle grade, teen/young adult, and non-fiction. We committed to reading each other’s selections to ensure an in-depth conversation. During the talk, we shared background on the #ownvoices hashtag, the need for diverse representation in children’s literature, and described how books serve as windows or mirrors depending on the reader. In addition, we dialogued about each of our eight selections, discussing the stories and our thoughts about them.

Each attendee was given a pamphlet that included all of the books highlighted during the talk, as well as additional recommended #ownvoices titles. You can view and print the pamphlet below and if you click on the booklist link, you will find a list with additional titles that feature black protagonist by authors/illustrators that may or may not be #ownvoices. All books are available within the CLAMS system. Both the pamphlet and the list are free and may be reproduced. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Sara (sara@eightcousins.com) or I (sseales@falmouthpubliclibrary.org) directly.

–Stephanie Seales
Falmouth Public Library Children’s Room

Click here to view the handout

Click here for the booklist

 

Friday Reads: The Encyclopedia of Journalism

Are you aghast at the prevalence of fake news swirling around? How is one to distinguish it from the real thing? Just in time, the library offered an  enlightening presentation by news professionals on how to spot fake news, and a blog that offered resources to help. One of these resources is The Encyclopedia of Journalism (REF 070.4 ENC 2009). Here you’ll find reliable, credible information, written by academics, to fill in some of the blanks you may encounter in reading the news. Need some background on what exactly is Al Jazeera? Maybe you’re wondering what the relationship is between the Supreme Court and the press? You’ll find it here.

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With all the misinformation swirling around, what is happening to our society all of a sudden? If you think today’s fake news is a new phenomenon, open volume 4 of the encyclopedia to the News Scandals section (page 1273) and discover prominent journalists of the past who plagiarized, fabricated, and otherwise misled their readers in well-known publications. Some even won Pulitzer Prizes before their fake news was discovered. It doesn’t sound all that different from today, except fake news lately seems to be seeping from every imaginable direction.

In the end it’s all about ethics. The press has a tradition of self-regulation. Yet there often is friction surrounding things like what is the truth and the right to know versus privacy issues. Volume 5 presents some key documents that reflect the ongoing struggle between journalists and the public and the courts to define where journalists’ professional rights end and legal restrictions begin.

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We Got Him with Elizabeth Searle

We hope you can join us for a special afternoon reading and signing with local author Elizabeth Searle on Saturday, March 25 at 3:00 pm. Ms. Searle will be speaking about and reading from her newest work of fiction, We Got Him

We Got Him

We Got Him is the story of one family’s inherited flaws, harbored guilts, and obsessive desires, whether for a child, a parent, or a second chance to do the elusive right thing. Powerfully worked against the unfolding events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Elizabeth Searle’s taut drama of a young, pregnant stepmother and her troubled stepson is a narrative tour de force, interweaving public and private acts of terror with the redemptive, but ever fragile, forces of love.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Searle is the author of five books of fiction and the librettist of Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera, which has drawn major media coverage and which was produced in Chicago in 2016 and at the New York Musical Theater Festival in NYC. Her previous books are: Girl Held in Home (New Rivers Press, 2011), Celebrities in Disgrace, a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize; A Four–Sided Bed, a novel nominated for an American Library Association Book Award; and My Body to You, a story collection that won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize. A Four–Sided Bed is now in development as a feature film. Her Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera had a sold–out extended run at the New York Musical Festival in NYC in 2015. Elizabeth lives with her husband and son in Arlington, MA.

Mysteries on The Point!

Today on The Point we talked about mysteries! If you missed the show, you can listen online. By the way, the great photo that WCAI used to illustrate the radio show was taken from the back cover of Killer Verse: poems of murder and mayhem. Jennifer Gaines of the Woods Hole Library (and enthusiastic mystery reader) joined Mindy Todd and Jill Erickson for a lively discussion on what a mystery is and why one kind of mystery appeals to one person and not another, not to mention the plight of a library cataloger trying to decide where to SHELVE a novel that might be a mystery and might not.

Jennifer asked if we could post our mystery lists, and they are now posted! The lists include Stand-Alone Mysteries, Mystery Series Set in Foreign Cultures, and Mysteries Set in the United States.

I mentioned the Twitter conversation with Neil Gaiman‘s twitter followers, which began here, and then continued over here. And thus began a cataloging conversation for the ages between an international world of public and academic librarians, and just readers who love Neil Gaiman. As Susan Wyndham commented: “Great question, great discussion. Can we have librarians unleash Dewey knowledge every week? Are there other tricky books?” To which Mr. Gaiman wrote: “probably another question for the librarians.” The conversation itself surrounded Gaiman’s newest book Norse Mythologyand you will see in the link that we have decided to put one copy in fiction and one copy in non-fiction.

But I digress! The real discussion was about how deeply librarians care about where to put mysteries, and thus what IS a mystery, and also some great books about mysteries. The list of books discussed are below. We hope you enjoyed the show! We did!

 

Jennifer’s Picks

MYSTERIES, American in which winter weather figures heavily:

William Kent  Krueger:  character Cork O’Connor in Minnesota;

Julia Spencer-Fleming:    “novels of faith, murder, and suspense” Characters Rev’d Clare Ferguson & police Chief  Russ Van Alstyne, upstate New York, town in the farm and factory land nestled against the Adirondacks, In the Bleak Mid-Winter, etc.

MYSTERIES, Canadian:

Louise Penny: province of Quebec, village of Three Pines

MYSTERIES/Thrillers, Scandinavian Noir

(Sweden) Hennig Mankell, Kurt Wallender series; Steig Larsson, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.

(Norway) Jo NesboKarin Fossum

(Iceland) Arnaldur Indridason

(Denmark) Peter Høeg , Smilla’s Sense of Snow

MYSTERIES, Travel Destinations

Cara Black: Paris

Martin Walker: South of France, the Dordogne with his Bruno, Chief of Police

Donna Leon: Venice

Janwillem Van de Wetering: Amsterdam

MYSTERIES, crossed with historical fiction

Jacqueline Winspear: Maisie Dobbs, mostly WW1, English nurse

Todd, Charles: Bess Crawford, WW1 battlefield English nurse (also Inspector Rutledge) “vivid period mystery series” (New York Times Book Review)

Kuhns, Eleanor: Will Rees, weaver, Shaker communities, 1790’s

King, Laurie R.: Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes

MYSTERIES, Cape Cod and the Islands  There are lots, but these are the ones we talked about:

Craig, Philip:  The Vineyard, fishing derby, Z

Phoebe Atwood Taylor, Cape Cod in the 1920’s, sleuth Asey Mayo charges along the sandy back roads of the Cape in his roadster

MYSTERY, LIBRARIES (who knew?)

Jenn McKinlay: Due or Die

 

 

Jill’s Picks

The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Mystery by John Charles, Candace Clark, Joanne Hamilton-Selway, and Joanna Morrison. (See how many people it takes to describe what a mystery is!)

The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery by Bruce F. Murphy

Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes by Michael Sims

On Conan Doyle or, The Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda

Buried Angels by Camilla Lackberg (And the Wellfleet copy is back! And copy should be available very soon!)

Killer Verse: poems of murder and mayhem edited by Harold Schechter and Kurt Brown

Pistols and Petticoats: 175 years of lady detectives in fact and fiction by Erika Janik

Women Crime Writers. Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s edited by Sarah Weinman

Women Crime Writers. Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s edited by Sarah Weinman

The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing by Michelle Spring and Laurie R. King

The Strand Magazine (Feb.-May 2016 issue has interview with Mark Gatiss, co-creator of Sherlock.)

Listener Picks

Louise Penny mysteries. The first one in the series is Still Life.

Michael Connelly mysteries. The first one in the series is The Black Echo.

Best of 2016: NEW Fiction at FPL*

FICTION Hawkins The Girl on the Train
FICTION Child Make Me: A Jack Reacher Novel
FICTION Baldacci The Guilty
FICTION Connolly A Song of Shadows: A Charlie Parker Thriller
FICTION Lowell Perfect Touch: A Novel
FICTION McLain Circling the Sun: A Novel
FICTION Sparks See Me
FICTION Steel Undercover : A Novel
FICTION Gerritsen Playing with Fire: A Novel
FICTION Atkins The Redeemers
MYSTERY Maron Long Upon the Land
MYSTERY Connelly The Crossing: A Novel
MYSTERY Parker Robert B. Parker’s the Devil Wins: A Jesse Stone Novel
MYSTERY James You are Dead
MYSTERY Penny The Nature of the Beast
MYSTERY Kellerman Breakdown: An Alex Delaware Novel
MYSTERY Cleeves Harbour Street
MYSTERY Evanovich The Scam: A Fox and O’Hare Novel
MYSTERY Evanovich Tricky Twenty-two: A Stephanie Plum Novel
MYSTERY Olson Hidden
SCI FI Cline Armada: A Novel
SCI FI Chu Time Salvager
SCI FI Jemisin The Fifth Season
SCI FI Martin A Game of Thrones
SCI FI Scalzi The End of All Things
SCI FI Martin A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
SCI FI Corey Nemesis Games
SCI FI Higgins Lightless
SCI FI Sandford Saturn Run
SCI FI Abercrombie Half a War
LP FICTION Baldacci Memory Man
LP FICTION Coben The Stranger
LP FICTION Blume In the Unlikely Event
LP FICTION Hawkins The Girl on the Train
LP FICTION Hilderbrand The Rumor: A Novel
LP FICTION Patterson 14th Deadly Sin
LP FICTION Thayer The Guest Cottage
LP FICTION Connelly The Crossing: A Novel
LP FICTION Moyes The Ship of Brides
LP FICTION Clark The Melody Lingers On

*Based upon titles checked out.

Friday Reads: In the Heart of the Sea

 

This month the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club was all hands on deck to discuss In the Heart of the Sea:  the tragedy of the whaleship Essex by Nantucket author, Nathaniel Philbrick.  In a nutshell, the book recounts in harrowing detail how an angry 85-foot sperm whale stove in the Essex in late 1820 and the men, some of them, survived at sea for more than 90 days with little more than some hard tack (dry biscuits) and their wits.

Not just a survival story of man against nature, we also are provided with thoroughly researched and well-presented historical context of Nantucket culture in the 19th Century and the whaling industry.   The shipwreck was well-known during its time, in part because the men resorted to cannibalism to survive.  Also noteworthy was the rarity of a whale, and an unusually large whale at that, attacking a ship.  The event was the inspiration for the climactic scene in Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick.

There was so much to talk about that the hour was quickly over, quite unlike the whaling voyages we were discussing.  Although a few in the group had read the book before, and many of us had some familiarity with whaling, we all were thoroughly engaged and felt enriched for having read this book.

If you are looking for an excellent work of narrative nonfiction about historical New England, then In the Heart of the Sea is for you.  Look for it on the Staff Picks shelf soon.

Next month we will be discussing Unbowed: a memoir by Wangari Maathai.  Join us on Thursday, March 2 at 10 AM in the Hermann Foundation Meeting room.  We look forward to seeing you.

Friday Reads: Great House

Great House is a great book.  Written by Nicole Krauss, author of the international bestseller The History of Love, the follow up novel, Great House is a “tour de force of fiction writing” according to a starred review in Booklist (2010).

In this complex novel we meet five very different people, including an American novelist, an antiques dealer in Jerusalem and a man in London caring for his dying wife.  “Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away.  As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.

Great House is a story haunted by questions:  What do we pass on to our children and how do they absorb our dreams and losses?  How do we respond to disappearance, destruction and change?” (Publisher’s summary)

Here in the library Great House was discussed by the Fiction Book Club some time ago and it is currently on the Staff Picks shelf, although not for very long – it is frequently checked out.

If you are looking for a book that is rich, intricately plotted, character-driven and demands close reading, then you will be hooked on this “soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.” (Publisher’s summary)

Money Books on The Point

Mindy Todd and I were delighted to have author Jacquelyn Mitchard join us on WCAI this morning to talk about books having to do with money. Thanks for all our listener suggestions as well!

 

Jackie’s Picks

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramonda Ausubel

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Hillbilly Elegy: a memoir of a family and culture in crisis by J. D. Vance

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

Negroland: a memoir by Margo Jefferson

Minimalism: how to de-clutter, de-stress and simplify your life with simple living by Simeon Lindstrom

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (also suggested by listener)

 

Jill’s Picks

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis Try Finances, Money, For Sixty Cents. There is also a story called Cape Cod Diary.

Shapinsky’s Karma, Boggs’s Bills, and other true-life tales by Lawrence Weschler

Wampum and the origins of American Money by Marc Shell

Payback: debt and the shadow side of wealth by Margaret Atwood

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Lydia Davis

The Diary of Virginia Woolf by Virginia Woolf, edited by Anne Olivier Bell

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Mind Over Money: the psychology of money and how to use it better by Claudia Hammond

Origami with Dollar Bills & Paper Airplanes with Dollar Bills by Duy Nguyen

Plotto: the master book of all plots by William Wallace Cook

 

Listener Suggestions

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Father Struck it Rich by Evalyn Walsh McLean. Available in the Internet Archive!

Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald. The first book in the series is The Deep Blue Good-By.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre. Available online.