Monday, September 29, 2008
Well, here are a couple of alternatives -- upcoming or recently published fiction with normal titles that have been well-received in pre-publication review sources.
A Country Called Home
Author: Barnes, Kim Publisher: Random $ 23.95 ISBN: 9780307268952 Date: 9/30/2008
A novel of youthful idealism, of faith and madness, of love and family.
Author: Huston, Nancy Publisher: PGW $ 14 ISBN: 9780802170514 Date: 10/1/2008
A profound and poetic story that traces four generations of a single family from present-day California to World War II-era Germany.
Author: Rash, Ron Publisher: HarperCollins $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780061470851 Date: 10/7/ 2008
A tale of greed, corruption, and revenge set against the backdrop of the 1930s wilderness and America's burgeoning environmental movement.
The Wasted Vigil
Author: Aslam, Nadeem Publisher: Random $ 25 ISBN: 9780307268426 Date: 9/9/2008
A novel about war in modern times, told through the lives of five people who come together in post-9/11 Afghanistan.
The Black Tower
Author: Bayard, Louis Publisher: HarperCollins $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780061173509 Date: 8/26/2008
A spellbinding historical mystery about a real-life convict who transformed himself into the world's first modern detective.
The ALA provides statistics on most frequently challenged titles and authors on an annual basis.
To read more about it visit the ALA's Banned Books Page.
These titles were the most frequently challenged books in 2007"
“And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
“The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
"TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
“It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
"The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
If you have read and enjoyed any of these books, aren’t you glad you had the right to read them?
Friday, September 26, 2008
Weekend reading recommendation: The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. A kleptomaniac one-handed orphan, the mysterious stranger who professes to be his brother come to claim him, and numerous other characters both lovable and nefarious (many of them both) come together in a 19th century New England setting that has already been compared to Dickens. Like a mash-up of a Grimm's fairy tale and a Stephen King novel, can a book be innocent and sinister at the same time? All we know is that it's immediately engaging and you won't be able to put it down.
Monday, September 22, 2008
by Tyson Bolles
If you liked Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs and Steel, then you will love Brian Fagan.
The last time the world was as warm as today was during the medieval warming period (800-1300 AD.). Dr. Brian Fagan, an anthropologist with expertise in human prehistory, integrates climate with world history in his book The Great Warming : Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. Dr. Fagan is a great at recreating past societies and pulling the reader into the lives of the people of the past. Explaining what we know and how we know it without losing the general reader in scientific minutia is another thing I like about this book. The Great Warming is world history at its best.
Tyson Bolles is a reference librarian at the Wellesley Free Library. When not muttering to himself while reading a book review, or banging the keyboard in the hopes of producing a readable article he can be found painting on a Cape Cod beach.
From the tenth to the fifteenth centuries the earth experienced a rise in surface temperature that changed climate worldwide—a preview of today’s global warming. In some areas, including Western Europe, longer summers brought bountiful harvests and population growth that led to cultural flowering. In the Arctic, Inuit and Norse sailors made cultural connections across thousands of miles as they traded precious iron goods. Polynesian sailors, riding new wind patterns, were able to settle the remotest islands on earth. But in many parts of the world, the warm centuries brought drought and famine. Elaborate societies in western and Central America collapsed, and the vast building complexes of Chaco Canyon and the Mayan Yucatan were left empty. As he did in his bestselling The Little Ice Age, anthropologist and historian Brian Fagan reveals how subtle changes in the environment had far-reaching effects on human life, in a narrative that sweeps from the Arctic ice cap to the Sahara to the Indian Ocean. The history of the Great Warming of a half millennium ago suggests that we may yet be underestimating the power of climate change to disrupt our lives today—and our vulnerability to drought, writes Fagan, is the “silent elephant in the room.”
Brian Fagan is emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara
Sunday, September 21, 2008
What’s the worst thing that could happen to Salman Rushdie, you might ask? Fatwa? Ex-wife Padma Lakshmi becoming host of the reality TV show “Top Chef?” Well, this year poor Salman got dissed by the Booker Prize judges. His new novel, The Enchantress of Florence, made the longlist, but failed to make the cut onto the shortlist of six titles.
Here are the Gang of Six shortlisted titles for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2008:
The White Tiger by Madras-born Aravind Adiga
A Fraction of the Whole by Australian Steve Toltz
The Secret Scripture by
Sea of Poppies by Indian-born New Yorker Amitav Ghosh (
The Clothes of Their Backs by Londoner Linda Grant (no
The Northern Clemency by English writer Philip Hensher (
The bookies’ 2/1 favorite so far? The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry. The winner of the 50,000 pound prize will be announced October 14.
For those of you not in the know, the Man Booker Prize is awarded annually for best original full-length novel to a writer from a
Friday, September 19, 2008
If you’ve been living in a cave for the past six months, then you’ve never heard of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, a first novel about a mute Wisconsin boy’s extraordinary communion with dogs. Written by a 48-year-old software designer, the book has been wildly popular and consistently well-reviewed since it was released in hardcover in June. Edgar Sawtelle is now entering its thirteenth week on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Gone are the days when Oprah picked unkown titles and authors in need of exposure.
WFL currently has 10 circulating copies of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and 3 additional copies in the Friends Rental Collection.
Oprah’s announcing a new title for her book club today. Her last pick was Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. A New Earth could best be described as kind of a self-help guide to spiritual enlightenment. Oprah started her book club back in September of 1996. Most of the titles she’s selected are fiction, but she doesn’t choose book club picks as often as she used to. Tolle’s book was on the show back in January and was followed by a ten week live online seminar.
The word on the street is that the pick is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Stay tuned to the WFL blog and we'll post the title later today after it's officially announced on the show.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
When you hear the word "Fletch," what comes to mind? For me, its Chevy Chase, who starred as I.M. Fletcher (Irwin Maurice Fletcher) in the 1985 film, Fletch. However, the man we should connect to the character is his creator, Gregory Mcdonald
Mr. Mcdonald had ties to Massachusetts--he was born in Shrewsbury, graduated from Harvard and was humanities editor and critic-at-large for the Boston Globe. He died on September 7, 2008 but will be remembered as a master of the mystery genre which is evidenced by his Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe awards in 1975 and 1977.
In tribute to him, check out one of his series--Fletch and Flynn (Francis Xavier Flynn)--in the library.
(Image above from Random House website.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Films from books for September 2008 (Be sure to reserve your copy by clicking on the title.) Some of the films may be released to a limited audience first. Let's hope the Boston area is one of them.
Appaloosa by Robert Parker. 2005. (This title isn't being released until Oct. 3 but I thought you might want to get a head start.) Setting is the untamed territories of the West during the 1800s. When Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch arrive in Appaloosa, they find a small, dusty town suffering at the hands of renegade rancher Randall Bragg, a man who has so little regard for the law that he has taken supplies, horses, and women for his own and left the city marshal and one of his deputies for dead. Cole and Hitch, itinerant lawmen, are used to cleaning up after opportunistic thieves, but in Bragg they find an unusually wily adversary-one who raises the stakes by playing not with the rules, but with emotions. This is Robert B. Parker at his storytelling best.
Blindness by Jose Saramago. 1997. (1998 Nobel Prize Winner)
A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers-among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears-through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twentieth century
Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. 2001.
(Author of Fight Club) Palahniuk gives readers a vision of life and love and sex and mortality that is both chillingly brilliant and teeth-rattlingly funny. Victor Mancini, a dropout from medical school, has devised a complicated scam to pay for his mother's elder care: Pretend to be choking on a piece of food in a restaurant and the person who "saves you" will feel responsible for the rest of his life. Multiply that a couple of hundred times and you generate a healthy flow of checks, week in, week out.
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman. 1999. (Movie Title is The Duchess) (Whitbread Award, Costa Award)
This biography offers a rich, rollicking picture of late-eighteenth-century British aristocracy and the intimate story of a woman who for a time was its undisputed leader. Lady Georgiana Spencer was the great-great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales, and was nearly as famous in her day.Foreman's descriptions of Georgiana's uncontrollable gambling, all- night drinking, drug taking, and love affairs with the leading politicians of the day give us fascinating insight into the lives of the British aristocracy in the era of the madness of King George III, the American and French revolutions, and the defeat of Napoleon.
Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride. 2002. (Author of The Color of Water) Based on the historical incident of an unspeakable massacre at the site of St. Anna Di Stazzema, a small village in Tuscany, and on the experiences of the famed Buffalo soldiers from the 92nd Division in Italy during World War II, Miracle of St. Annais a singular evocation of war, cruelty, passion, and heroism. It is the story of four American Negro soldiers, a band of partisans, and an Italian boy who encounter a miracle-though perhaps the true miracle lies in themselves.
Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks. 2002.
A tender story of hope and joy, of sacrifice and forgiveness, a reminder that love is possible at any age and at any time, often when we least expect it
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li. 2005.
(Ernest Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award , Guardian First Book Award, Kiriyama Prize)
In “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” in which a man visits America for the first time to see his recently divorced daughter, only to discover that all is not as it seems, Li boldly explores the effects of communism on language, faith, and an entire people, underlining transformation in its many meanings and incarnations.
Towelhead by Alicia Erian. 2005.
(NY Times Notable Book of the Year) Erian's story of an impressionable yet resilient girl who must grow up against the backdrop of the Gulf War is mesmerizing--a coming-of-age tale that is at once brutally honest and unexpectedly hilarious.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Whether you are
- want to find out about your family forefathers;
- need to find that article you read in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or Boston Globe;
- looking for reviews and biographical information of the author of the book group selection for this month;
- a financial investor
- taking a test--ASVAB, GED, GMAT, GRE, SAT, Citizenship, etc.
- want to listen to a book
A list of the databases can be found on the library catalog by clicking on Research and Information Tab. To access a database from home, you will need to put in your library card number after selecting the the one you need. A wonderful brochure entitled Databases from A-Z is available at the Reference Desk. Ask for the brochures on specific databases as well.
The databases have so much to offer that each week the Wellesley Reference Blog
will feature one of them. Stay Tuned!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Did you know that Dr. Daniel J. Kindlon is lecturing in the Wakelin room at the Wellesley Free Library on Wednesday, September 17 at 7:30 p.m.?
The lecture title is Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character which is also the title of one of his books. His lecture and book reveal the results of a study called Parenting Practices at the Millennium (PPM). In essence, he found that parents give their children too much (spoil them), are too protective of them, and try to shield them from failure. The result is that children do not learn the developmental skills necessary to have worthwhile relationships. The program is sponsored by the Wellesley Youth Commission and the Wellesley Free Library. Make a reservation here or call 781-235-1610.
If you cannot make the lecture, read Too Much of a Good Thing or pick up one of his other books. Click on the titles below to read reviews of the books and place requests.
Too much of a good thing : raising children of character in an indulgent age by Dan Kindlon. 2001.
"We give our kids too much and demand too little of them." With these words, psychologist and bestselling author Dan Kindlon begins a journey that takes him from his groundbreaking research (with teenagers, parents, and educators) into an examination of the ways in which the emotional indulgence of parents deprives children of the opportunity to learn from adversity... Too Much of a Good Thing maps out the ways in which parents can reach out to their children, teach them engagement in meaningful activity, and promote emotional maturity and a sense of self-worth. (Book Jacket)
Raising Cain : protecting the emotional life of boys by Daniel J. Kindlon. 1999. In Raising Cain, Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., and Michael Thompson, Ph.D., two of the country's leading child psychologists, share what they have learned in more than thirty-five years of combined experience working with boys and their families. They identify the social and emotional challenges that boys encounter in school and show how parents can help boys cultivate emotional awareness and empathy--giving them the vital connections and support they need to navigate the social pressures of youth. (Publisher description)
Alpha girls : understanding the new American girl and how she is changing the world by Dan Kindlon. 2006. There’s a new type of teenage girl growing up in America today, and she is having a profound and beneficial influence on society. That’s the conclusion of Dr. Dan Kindlon, the widely respected child and adolescent psychologist and the coauthor of the bestseller Raising Cain. Dr. Kindlon supports his startling discoveries about the new "alpha girl" with groundbreaking research, including profiles, case studies, questionnaires and more. (Publisher description)
Make your reservation TODAY!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Home / Marilynne Robinson. (Publisher's Weekly Starred Review, Amazon Best of the Month, BookPage Notable Title)
Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack--the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years--comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain. A companion to the bestseller Gilead. (There's no place like home.)
Hot Mahogany by Stuart Woods.
Stone Barrington is hired to protect Barton Cabot, an army intelligence officer suffering from amnesia following a random act of violence. Barton is a man with a past, and one event in particular--in the jungles of Vietnam--is coming back to haunt his present in ways he'd never expected. (Stone keeps us on the edge of our seats.)
Indignation by Philip Roth. (Publisher's Weekly & Booklist Starred Reviews, BookPage Notable Title)
Against the backdrop of the Korean War, a young man faces life's unimagined chances and terrifying consequences. Indignation is at once a startling departure from the haunted narratives of old age and a powerful addition to Roth's investigations of the impact of American history on the life of the vulnerable individual. (Bookletters) (Roth is headed for the top of the Bestseller List again!)
Lucky one by Nicholas Sparks.
Sparks's unparalleled storytelling talents continue to shine in this tale of a man whose brush with death leads him to the love of his life. (Sometimes it takes a nudge to turn us in the right direction.)
The other queen by Philippa Gregory. (BookPage Notable Title) New York Times-bestselling author Gregory presents a new and unique view of one of history's most intriguing, romantic, and maddening heroines--Mary, Queen of Scots--in a suspense-filled tale of love, ambition, and jealousy. (Another big title for the book clubs!)
Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain. (Publisher's Weekly & Booklist Starred Reviews)
With "Heartsick," Cain took the crime world by storm, introducing two of the most compelling characters in decades: serial killer Gretchen Lowell and her obsessed pursuer Portland Detective Archie Sheridan. Lowell and Sheridan's stories continue in this terrifying new sequel. (You may have to sleep with the lights on with this one.)
Tsar : a thriller by Ted Bell.
Swashbuckling counter spy Alex Hawke is the only man, both Americans and the Brits agree, who can stop the madness created by the new Russia and its new Tsar, who is pulling strings and pulling them hard. (A Tsar in Russia again? Seems more like Fantasy!)
Have a great weekend and we'll have more to discover next week!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Among the heroes : United Flight 93 and the passengers and crew who fought back by Jere Longman. 2002. (Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year). The culmination of hundreds of interviews with family members and months of investigation, "Among the Heroes" is the definitive story of the courageous men and women aboard Flight 93, and of the day that forever changed the way Americans view the world and themselves.
America September 11th : the courage to give edited by Jackie Waldman. 2001.
Every tragedy has its heroes, and there were many in the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. Jackie Waldman has collected the stories of some of the firefighters, rescue workers, police, medics, relatives of missing loved ones, and strangers who, in the face of horror, sprung into action to save lives and help their communities.
102 minutes : the untold story of the fight to survive inside the Twin Towers by Jim Dwyer.
2005. (National Book Award, NY Times Notable Book of the Year, Quill Award).
New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn rely on hundreds of interviews; thousands of pages of oral histories; and phone, e-mail, and emergency radio transcripts. They cross a bridge of voices to go inside the infernos, seeing cataclysm and heroism, one person at a time, to tell the affecting, authoritative saga of the men and women -- the 12,000 who escaped and the 2,749 who perished -- who made 102 minutes count as never before.
Firefight : inside the battle to save the Pentagon on 9/11 by Patrick Creed and Rick Newman. 2008. New Book
This fascinating, first-person account of the battle to save the Pentagon on 9/11 portrays the dramatic efforts of hundreds of firefighters, police, and other first responders as they fought to contain the largest building blaze in American history.
Firehouse by David Halberstam. 2002.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist offers an intimate portrait of Engine 40, Ladder 35 on the Upper West Side of New York City, which lost 12 men in the World Trade Center attack. Halberstam tells a story that is about the individuals themselves, as well as the effect this cataclysmic event has had on the victims' families, their surviving colleagues, and their community.
Last man down : a firefighter's story of survival and escape from the World Trade Center by Richard Picciotto. 2002.
The highest-ranking firefighter to survive the World Trade Center collapse--and the last fireman to escape the devastation after being buried alive for four hours--tells his story.
Let's roll! : ordinary people, extraordinary courage by Lisa Beamer. 2002.
(ECPA Chritian Book Awards, Gold Medallion Book Award).
This heartfelt, sensitive book tells Lisa Beamer's story - her marriage to Todd, the events surrounding 9-11, and the aftermath and impact on Lisa, her family, and her country.
Out of the blue : the story of September 11, 2001, from Jihad to Ground Zero by Richard Bernstein and the staff of the New York Times. 2002. (Helen Bernstein Book Award, Publisher's Weekly Best Books of the Year).
A gripping and authoritative account of the September 11th attack, its historical roots, and its aftermath. No account of this singular moment in American history will be as sharp, readable, and authoritative as Out of the Blue.
September 11, 2001 : a collection of newspaper front pages selected by the Poynter Institute. 2001.
A collection of 150 front pages from major newspapers throughout the world, "September 11, 2001" presents a stunning, shocking gallery of headlines and images, revealing the world's reactions to the horrendous terrorist attacks of 9/11.
9/11 : press for truth (DVD) written by Ray Nowosielski and Kyle Hence. 2006.
Following the attacks of September 11th, a small group of grieving families waged a war against those who sought to bury the truth concerning the event. This film is based on The Terror Timeline by Paul Thompson.
Flight 93 (DVD) written by Nevin Schreiner. (David Gerber Company production in association with Fox Television Studios). 2006.
The heartbreaking true story of the heroic passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. Trapped aboard a hijacked flight, these ordinary citizens disregarded their own personal safety to bond togetherand overthrow their terrorist captors.
United 93 (DVD) written by Paul Greengrass. (Universal Pictures). 2006.
Fact-based story about the 40 passengers and crew aboard San Francisco bound flight United 93, who sat down as strangers and found the courage to stand up as one. This hijacked flight was the fourth terrorist attack plane on September 11, 2001.
World Trade Center written by Andrea Berloff. (Paramount Pictures). 2006.
The true story of Port Authority policemen John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, who volunteered for rescue duty and became trapped in the rubble of the Towers on September 11, 2001. The men became two of the last survivors extracted from Ground Zero. It is a story of the true heroes and of that fateful time in United States history, when buildings would fall and heroes would rise, literally from the ashes to inspire the entire human race.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
American wife : a novel by Curtis Sittenfeld. The epic and intimate story of an ordinary woman thrust into extraordinary circumstances when she becomes first lady. Contemporary Fiction. (Bookletters) (If you haven't heard about this one, you must have been locked in a closet. It's been reviewed in everything! Based upon the life of Laura Bush, some reviewers have been disappointed when comparing it to her other titles. Laura Bush may be the only one NOT reading it. Fans of Sittenfeld will gobble it up.)
The book of lies by Brad Meltzer.
Today in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cal Harper comes face-to-face with his family's greatest secret: his long-lost father, who's been shot with a gun that traces back to Mitchell Siegel's 1932 murder. But before Cal can ask a single question, he and his father are attacked by a ruthless killer tattooed with the anicent markings of Cain. And so begins the chase for the world's first murder weapon. (Publisher Description) Thriller. (Anyone else having flashbacks to the DaVinci Code?)
Brisingr, or, The seven promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular
by Christopher Paolini. Book 3 of the Inheritance Series. The further adventures of Eragon and his dragon Saphira as they continue to aid the Varden in the struggle against the evil king, Galbatorix. Fantasy. (I included this title because there are many Adult fans of this series, including me! One more to go in the series after Brisingr.)
Given day by Dennis Lehane
Set in Boston during and after WWI, this engrossing epic brings alive a pivotal period in our cultural maturation through a pulsing narrative that exposes social turmoil, political chicanery and racial prejudice, and encompasses the Spanish flu pandemic, the Boston police strike of 1919 and red-baiting and anti-union violence. (Publisher's Weekly) Thriller. (Looks like he's covered it all in 720 pages.)
Heat lightning by John Sandford. Summoned by Lucas Davenport to investigate a pair of murders in which the victims are found with lemons in their mouths, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers struggles to find a connection that could prevent additional killings. Suspense. (Suspense City like most of Sandford's.)
The heretic's daughter : a novel by Kathleen Kent. Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived. Historical Fiction. [This one hits close to home, a few centuries removed. We might even learn a little. Great reviews. Also of interest: Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution. (Bookletters)]
Stay tuned for more titles tomorrow.