Bookshare Roundup!

Last Tuesday a group met at the Russell Memorial Library to share some of their favorite books. Curious what they recommended? Here’s the full list, courtesy one of our volunteers:

The Clockmaker’s Daughter
by Kate Morton

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Available at our library! Also available as an ebook.

Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties
by Madeleine May Kunin

Many readers are already familiar with Madeleine Kunin, the former three-term governor of Vermont, who served as the deputy secretary of education and ambassador to Switzerland under President Bill Clinton. In her newest book, a memoir entitled Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties, the topic is aging, but she looks well beyond the physical tolls and explores the emotional ones as well. And she has had an extraordinary life: governor, ambassador, feminist, wife, mother, professor, poet, and much, much more. 

Available at our library! Also available as an ebook.

Daisy Jones & The Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

This book is available as an ebook AND an audiobook.

The House of Broken Angels
by Luis Alberto Urrea

The novel gathers together the entire De La Cruz clan, as they meet for the final birthday party Big Angel is throwing for himself, at home in San Diego, as he nears the end of his struggle with cancer and reflects on his long and full life.

But when Big Angel’s mother, Mama America, approaching one hundred, dies herself as the party nears, he must plan her funeral as well. There will be two family affairs in one weekend: a farewell double-header. Among the attendants is his half-brother and namesake, Little Angel, who comes face to face with the siblings with whom he shared a father but not, as the weekend proceeds to remind him, a life.

Available at our library! Also available as an ebook.

The Library Book
by Susan Orlean

On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Available at our library! It is also available as an ebook AND an audiobook

Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species
by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

Maternal instinct–the all-consuming, utterly selfless love that mothers lavish on their children–has long been assumed to be an innate, indeed defining element of a woman’s nature. But is it? In this provocative, groundbreaking book, renowned anthropologist (and mother) Sarah Blaffer Hrdy shares a radical new vision of motherhood and its crucial role in human evolution.

Hrdy strips away stereotypes and gender-biased myths to demonstrate that traditional views of maternal behavior are essentially wishful thinking codified as objective observation. As Hrdy argues, far from being “selfless,” successful primate mothers have always combined nurturing with ambition, mother love with sexual love, ambivalence with devotion. In fact all mothers, in the struggle to guarantee both their own survival and that of their offspring, deal nimbly with competing demands and conflicting strategies.

While we have no access to this item through our holdings, we would be happy to ILL it for you.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
by Charles C. Mann

Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew.

Available at our library! This is also available as both an ebook AND an audiobook.

The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession
by Susan Olean

The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s tale of an amazing obsession. Determined to clone an endangered flower—the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii—a deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man named John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, through Florida’s swamps and beyond, along with the Seminoles who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean—and the reader—will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.

While we have no access to this item through our holdings, we would be happy to ILL it for you.

The River
by Peter Heller

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is smaller, more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in Northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddles and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and paperback western novels. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one. But: the next day a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And if he is, where is the woman?

Available at our library! Also available as an ebook

Superman: Secret Identity
by Kurt Busick and Stuart Immonen

Set in the real world, SECRET IDENTITY examines the life of a young Kansas man with the unfortunate name of Clark Kent. All Clark wants is to be a writer, but his daily life is filled with the taunts and jibes of his peers, comparing him to that other Clark Kent — the one with super-powers. Until one day when Clark awakens to discover that he can fly…that he does in fact have super-strength! But where did these powers come from? And what’s he going to do about it?

While we have no access to this item through our holdings, we would be happy to ILL it for you.

Where’d You Go Bernadette
by Maria Semple

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces–which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.

Available as both an ebook AND an audiobook.

Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age
by Mary Pipher

In Women Rowing North, Pipher offers a timely examination of the cultural and developmental issues women face as they age. Drawing on her own experience as daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, caregiver, clinical psychologist, and cultural anthropologist, she explores ways women can cultivate resilient responses to the challenges they face. “If we can keep our wits about us, think clearly, and manage our emotions skillfully,” Pipher writes, “we will experience a joyous time of our lives. If we have planned carefully and packed properly, if we have good maps and guides, the journey can be transcendent.

Available at our library!

Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island
by Will Harlan

Carol Ruckdeschel is the wildest woman in America. She eats road kill, wrestles alligators, rides horses bareback, and lives in a ramshackle cabin that she built herself in an island wilderness. She’s had three husbands and many lovers, one of whom she shot and killed in self-defense. A combination of Henry David Thoreau and Jane Goodall, Carol is a self-taught scientist who has become a tireless defender of sea turtles on Cumberland Island, a national park off the coast of Georgia.

Cumberland is the country’s largest and most biologically diverse barrier island—over forty square miles of pristine wilderness celebrated for its windswept dunes and feral horses. Steel magnate Thomas Carnegie owned much of Cumberland, and his widow Lucy made it a Gilded Age playground. But in recent years, Carnegie heirs and the National Park Service have clashed with Carol over the island’s future. What happens when a dirt-poor naturalist with only a high-school diploma tries to stop one of the wealthiest families in America?

Available at our library!

A Very Brave Witch
by Alison McGhee and Harry Bliss

On the far side of town in a big dark house lives a brave little witch. She has heard lots and lots about that very human holiday Halloween, and even though she thinks she knows what humans are like, she has never, ever seen Halloween for herself.

On the far side of town in a big dark house lives a brave little witch. She has heard lots and lots about that very human holiday Halloween, and even though she thinks she knows what humans are like, she has never, ever seen Halloween for herself.

While we have no access to this item through our holdings, we would be happy to ILL it for you.

Homer
by Elisha Cooper

Home isn’t just where the heart is.

Home is often where the dog is.

And for this loyal dog—who you will recognize if you have ever loved a dog—home is where you are.

While we have no access to this item through our holdings, we would be happy to ILL it for you.

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RML Resources: Online Book Clubs

Sometimes, real-life book clubs just aren’t enough. Maybe they move too slow or too fast for you. Maybe they read books you don’t care about. Maybe you just want to try something new?

Welcome to online book clubs. They come in all sorts, covering all manner of genres and time periods. Best of all, you can participate from the comfort of your own home, and skip any picks you don’t want to read.

The first place to look for book clubs is the internet capital of reading – Goodreads. There are gazillions of clubs for any genre you can think of. If you’re willing to wade through, you can absolutely find a club that fits your tastes. A couple to glance at to start:

Try this group if you are looking for an all-ages friendly group focusing on currently popular books.

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Librarians Recommend: American Gods

Kat Recommends: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she’s been killed in a terrible accident.

Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible. He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same…

Neil Gaiman’s poetic prose could make the most boring plotline come to life, but in this case it just enhances the impact of the intricate storylines he’s woven between the large cast of characters in this bestselling book. In essence, the story is a road trip of discovery, with Shadow just trying to figure out what he wants out of life. Along the way, Mr Wednesday draws him into a world of old and new gods, some emigrated to America, others born on her shores, all just trying to eke out a life of their own.

There are so many character moment, some humorous, some tragic, sprinkled in amongst the plot twists that it’s hard to call this story just “an epic.” Somehow Gaiman manages to balance that personal touch with grander ideas and huge philosophical discussions, all without provoking offense as it references so many, many different religions.

This book is a must read for any fan of poetic language, strong character work, religion, or the lower-key fantasies.

Also, it’s about to start it’s second season as a TV show on Starz. (Heads up that the linked trailer does feature some HBO-level blood and bits.)

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Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award 2019-2020

Next year’s DCF Award Nominees have been announced! And our library already owns two of them! The master list titles have been selected to satisfy the reading interests and maturity levels of children in grades 4-8.

Small Spaces
by Katherine Arden

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. 

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? 

Read about more nominees below

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Podcast Feature: Nonfiction Storytelling

Not all nonfiction needs to be dry and overly-factual. Sometimes a thing that really happens can be just as lyrical and lovely as the highest literary arts. Below are some true story podcasts that manage to walk the line between literal and literary:

True, personal stories about science.

You don’t need to be a science nerd to follow these stories–each narrator is speaking from the heart about something deeply important to them. It’s just that most of these moving, important narratives happen to involve science in some way. Looking for a place to start? Try Rescue: Stories about taking care of others or Expectations: Stories about surprising discoveries.

Click here to read about two more podcasts

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Author/Artist Feature: William Steig

William Steig was born to in Brooklyn, New York in 1907, and grew up in the Bronx. His parents, both themselves artists of a sort, encouraged him and his siblings to follow their interests in painting, art, and literature. Hailed as the “King of Cartoons,” Steig began drawing illustrations and cartoons for The New Yorker in 1930, producing more than 2,600 drawings and 117 covers for the magazine. His work – often centered on anthropomorphic and adventurous animals, tough-talking kids and evolving, neurosis-challenged adults – managed to be humorous as well as touching, thought-provoking and soothing.

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ILL Recommends: Novellas

This time of year, it can be hard to sit down and read through an entire book. But what if you really want to have the satisfaction of reading through an entire, well-rounded narrative, without eking out the time to finish a full novel? Enter: the novella.

Our current novella display, situated by the drop box.

What’s a novella?

“a short novel or long short story” (Google)

“a work of fiction intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel” (Merriam Webster)

‘A novella is a “short book.” As such, a novella is considerably longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. A novella must be able to stand on its own as a book, but the exact word count is not set in stone.’ (Writer’s Relief)

Our ILL department has collected a small selection of novellas and short novels for your reading pleasure. Genres include coming of age, historical fiction, humor, satire, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and more. Curious? Come check one (or more) out!

Click here to read about some of our favorite novellas

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