Ten years ago I fell in love with Julia Glass’ writing. It was a rainy day and I was in Positano, Italy, looking out over the aquamarine Mediterranean and delighted to have survived a white-knuckle drive along the Amalfi Coast. I curled up with Three Junes, a book I’d been meaning to read for a long time, and fell in love with the writing. Most notably I was pulled into the stories, loved the characters, and grieved for the one of the main characters, Malachy Burns (who was dying of AIDS) and his beloved friend, Fenno McLeod (who lovingly cared for him). I look forward to each new Julia Glass book and enjoy her storytelling and how she weaves stories, characters, and places together. It’s like canoeing down a meandering stream, encountering interesting people along the way, and enjoying the journey as much as the moment.
I was delighted when Malachy and Fenno popped up in Glass’ new book, And the Dark Sacred Night. Once again readers are taken on a journey and details are not shared until Glass is ready to share them. The book begins with the main protagonist, Kit Noonan, and a view into his stalled life. Kit is an unemployed art professor who is struggling in his roles as husband, father, and (not by choice) person designated to manage his household. When it’s obvious he must be jarred from his rut, his wife’s wish for a separation serves as the catalyst to send him on a journey of personal discovery. The journey begins in Vermont at the home of Kit’s Stepfather. From there readers are propelled through time and memories in a story woven together in classic Julia Glass style. I was sad when the story ended, but enjoyed the journey and always appreciate a great story!
Think you can’t read 5 books in 10 days? If more than 2.7 million people can attempt the 30-day Ab Challenge, then a goal that only challenges you to find leisure time rather than workout time should be no sweat.
ICPL’s Adult Summer Reading Program asks you to either read 5 books between June and August or read 3 books and attend 2 SRP events. Why take this challenge? Not only can you meet the first SRP goal and get a free book and lunch on us, you can experience books you never would have thought to read otherwise. And you can mix and match!
Find the 5-in-10 crib sheet that follows. The idea is that you books in each category shouldn’t take you longer than a day or two to read. These books are also easy to pick up and jump right in whenever, so if you have downtime with coffee in the morning, or a 10-minute bus ride home, you can squeeze some reading time in. Read the rest of this entry »
The newest installment of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, Top Secret 21, is out and it’s a page-turner. While I thought the last couple Plum books were not up to Janet Evanovich standards, I though with this book she was back on target with quirky characters, humor, and more adventures for bounty-hunter, Stephanie Plum. If you are looking for a quick summer chick-lit read, this is a great option.
If you haven’t read the Stephanie Plum series, we have many of the earlier books in multiple formats including regular print, large print, spoken word, eBook and eAudiobook. The plot is easy to follow and it’s not necessary to start at the beginning.
If you are a Janet Evanovich fan and looking for similar authors, there are quite a few I would recommend including Lisa Lutz (Spellman Files), Mary Kay Andrews, and Diane Mott Davidson. These authors have books that are fast paced, funny and perfect for summer reading. If you need help finding a good book, Library staff are always happy to help. Happy Summer Reading!
Europe during World War II is the setting of many novels and it’s really no surprise. Such horror, fear, and devastation create an environment ripe for personal conflicts, long odysseys, and overcoming trials on an unimaginable scale. And, as with anything, there are novels that use this setting to their advantage and others that fall flat. Anthony Doerr’s latest work, All the Light We Cannot See, works with the period very well and you would do well to check it out.
For the most part, the novel intertwines the stories of two young individuals from different sides of the conflict. There is Marie-Louise, the visually-impaired daughter of the locksmith and keeper of keys for the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Her father’s position aides in her curiosity about the natural sciences and she loves to read Jules Verne. Before the occupation of Paris, she is forced to flee with her father to Saint-Malo and there is the possibility that they are carrying one of the Museum’s most prized possessions. Or is it a decoy? Marie-Louise’s story is paired with Werner’s, a German orphan with an innate understanding of radios and radio frequency. His ability opens the door for him to attend an elite military school to work on special radio projects and prepare for working with radio units in the field. Of course, this leads him to Saint-Malo on a mission to find French resistance fighters using radio transmissions, right before the allies began a bombing campaign on the port city.
There are many surprising links between Marie-Louise and Werner before this Saint-Malo connection and Doerr reveals them skillfully. I also appreciated how Doerr played with time in the narrative, starting with the bombing of Saint-Malo and weaving in the back story steadily. Many novels work this way, but his was well-paced and structured.
Anchored by terrific performances and beautifully shot, True Detective is so much more than your typical police procedural. The story follows Louisiana State Police Detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hart–played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson– as they are asked to recollect a bizarre homicide that they solved in 1995. As they get deeper into the questioning, it becomes obvious that the investigation wasn’t as open-and-shut as it appeared.
The show has a deliberate pace that may turn off some viewers, but stick with it! Give it until the fourth episode which has a six-minute tracking shot that will blow your mind. Personally, I was hooked right away by McConaughey’s perfectly delivered nihilistic musings. There are very few television shows like this. I cannot recommend it enough.
How do you select the next book to read? For me it is often from reviews or blogs or when a cover catches my eye as I walk by or put a book out for display, but I think the best suggestions come from friends. I just finished Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant because a friend recommended it and it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I was hesitant at first; Chast is the brilliant cartoonist for the New Yorker, but illustrated novels or memoirs are not my cup of tea.
Chast tells the story of her parents George and Elizabeth’s final years with drawings and photos. It is funny, laugh out loud funny – so funny that you want to find someone and read them the passage or show them the cartoon and have them laugh with you. It is also heartbreakingly poignant. Her parents have no desire to leave their Brooklyn apartment; their home since marriage. The home that Chast discovered had become through benign neglect a hoarders paradise and more and more unfit for her aged parents. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant is about escape and return, avoidance and confrontation, about coming face to face with the reality we are all growing older and that our parents will not live forever. And I really want to talk about it. Please read it and let’s chat.
I went a little crazy at the farmers market the other day. I bought the first container of strawberries I spotted and snacked on them while strolling the other tables.
I ended up purchasing two more pints to replace the ones I ate.
It seemed like a great idea at the time — strawberry season is never long enough — but then I had a pile of strawberries I needed to use before they went bad. I also forgot about the two pints of blueberries already in the refrigerator.
Flipping through the colorful pages, my stomach rumbling the whole time, I found the perfect recipe for my strawberry and blueberry situation: Jumbo Blueberry Streusel Muffins. I added strawberries to the list of ingredients and ended up with a grab-and-go breakfast that made me and my family happy for several days.
I posted a picture of the muffins on the Library’s Instagram account. If you are on Instagram or twitter, please share photos of the great recipes you’ve made because of ICPL’s cookbook collection using the with the #cookingwithicpl hashtag. It’s the next best thing to a city-wide potluck!
Leah and I were in 4-H together many years ago. She was a few years older than me and someone who I looked up to. It was fun to hear her read, and learn about her ‘slices of life’ – mother of teenagers, writer, cancer survivor, and much more. When she was signing my book afterwards, my friend mentioned our 4-H connection. Leah wondered if I remembered the goats she showed at the fair. I didn’t, but our conversation conjured happy memories for me of showing my rabbits and dog at the Johnson County Fair.
I’ve enjoyed Leah Eskin’s Slices of Life and how she connects her slices of life with her experiences. One entry that jumped out at me was an ode to her dog, Theo, as an introduction to the “Summer Couscous” recipe. After losing our dog to old age and illness last week, I still have a raw emotion when I think about the human-dog bond. Eskin writes, “At dinnertime we come. We sit. We stay for something delicious, something that fetches memories of meals past. Happily gnawing on a stick of grilled lamb, hunched over a jackpot of couscous, we know that in our family, we all speak the same language.”
I also appreciate the index to the book and the suggestions Eskin weaves into the list. For example, “BRUNCH: I always make Onion Tart (page 153). Other good ideas: Tortilla Espanola (page 185), Sparkling Salad (page 64), and Crab Cakes (page 111).”
Slices of Life is a wonderful tribute to love, cooking, connections and life. And the recipes are yummy too …
I believe most of us remember where we were on September 11, 2001, when four planes were turned into weapons and crashed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania countryside. I was already at work here at the Library when I became aware of a group of staff clustered around a television in our audiovisual services area. When we realized the magnitude of what was happening we opened our big meeting room to the public, showing the ongoing news coverage on the big screen there. In the Library’s annual report for that year, Director Susan Craig described what it was like: “It was incredible to sit in the darkened room and watch the news with strangers, some in small groups, most just individuals. When I was there no one actually spoke, but I felt a connection with everyone in the room.”
The Stories They Tell: Artifacts from the National September 11 Memorial Museum reconnects us to the events that day and the long recovery process that followed. The Museum is part of the September 11 memorial site where the Twin Towers once stood. The pictures in this book are simple but evocative. The essays which accompany them—more like letters to the reader—are written by staff members of the Museum.
Many of the artifacts in the Museum are from the crash sites; others include the transcripts from phone calls from people on the planes, missing-person posters that blanketed New York City, and the Memorial Urn, with the names of the 2,977 victims on it, created by ceramicist Tom Lane.
It is difficult to choose just one or two examples to tell you more about. Should it be the recording of flight attendant Betty Ong’s hijack report? Or Karyn’s flight attendant wings, or the Last Column at Ground Zero, or patrol dog Sirius’s leash, or the wreckage of Engine 21 of the Fire Department of New York?
Each story brought goose bumps or tears, and often both. The professionalism of the flight attendants on the planes and the emergency responders on the ground, the many expressions of compassion and generosity during the tragedy and in its aftermath are unforgettable reminders of the prevailing goodness in humanity. If you are unable to visit the Museum in person, this book is the next best way to witness that.