Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!
June 22, 2015
by Burgess, Matt
First, the title. Uncle Janice? Who can resist at least taking a look at a book with a title like that? You can, you’re a stronger person than I am. Then the people: Janice Itwaru, a woman with a mother fluttering into dementia, co-workers with stories to tell, bosses with their own agenda. Queens: with its own rhythms, its own heartbeat, its own secrets. Everybody lies, everyone has their own agenda, you wanna get by in that world, it’s what you do. Janice is on the edge, one month to go until she escapes, or rather, moves up the next rung on the ladder. One month, but the bosses, the criminals, her past, her present—stumbling blocks, one after another. Totally dysfunctional, all of it, and yet Burgess wades in, gathers all the threads, weaves a story with a voice that is hard to resist. He’s created—or maybe recreated—a world that is chaotic, messy, filled with gray areas and pitfalls, nobody’s the good guy and yet everybody has some good if you peel down a few layers. Remember the TV series M*A*S*H, how you were laughing at Hawkeye’s antics one minute, then, boom, something horrifying and you’re caught mid-laugh, something stuck in your throat and now you’re crying? Uncle Janice is like that, funny, and dark, and horrifying and endearing. And any author who can evoke that roller coaster of emotions is an author worth a second look.
Uncle Janice is also available as a downloadable e-book.
--Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library
June 15, 2015
A Good Man
by Murray, J.J.
Sonya was a star professional basketball player when she was a young adult. Now she’s a little older and is content to spend her days quietly watching her favorite TV shows and letting the world pass her by until her agent books her on a reality dating show similar to the bachelor…Hunk or Punk. She’s against it in the beginning because she doesn’t think America is ready for her strong Christian morals, her honest brand of reality, and she also thinks there’s no reality in reality TV these days. But after she gets on set, she changes her mind and begins to shake things up and enjoy herself.
John used to be the pastor of a small town AME church in rural Alabama, but now he’s the church handyman. And at this point in his life, he’s tired of being alone and has decided to go on Hunk or Punk as a last resort to find a wife, not a woman or a date. But he isn’t the sort of man Sonya would normally fall for; he isn’t rich and he’s white. Nevertheless, after John sets his sights on Sonya, he makes a vow not to let her go, because he’s playing for keeps.
But will the secrets they are both hiding push them apart or pull them together? Will John win Sonya’s heart and be her Hunk or be voted off as just another Punk?
A Good Man is also available as a downloadable e-book.
--Recommended by Claudine Polley, Fountain Square Library
June 8, 2015
I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist
by Halbreich, Betty with Rebecca Paley
746.92 Halbreich HAL
Recently I watched the library’s copy of a DVD called Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s, which is about the history and magic of the famous New York City department store Bergdorf Goodman.
One of the many people featured in the documentary included Betty Halbreich, who might be called a super personal shopper, although she herself doesn’t like that term. Betty has worked at Bergdorf’s for more than forty years, and is still going strong at the age of 86. Amazing!
In some ways, Betty’s life has been a privileged one. She was born to affluent Jewish parents in Chicago, but although her mother and stepfather were doting, they weren’t always available, and she was often lonely. Her mother’s closet was her refuge, and the wonderful garments in it were her playmates. Later Betty married the son of rich hotel owner who took her to New York City, and she lived a life where her only duties, outside of wife and mother, were shopping and lunching with the wives of her husband Sonny’s friends. Betty was good at shopping and always seemed to know instinctively what would look good on her.
But life with Sonny became increasingly difficult, and Betty struggled to leave her marriage, only succeeding when their two children became independent. A nervous breakdown followed and then new struggles. Betty needed to find meaningful work, but, as a daughter and a wife, she had always been discouraged from working. Finally she landed at the famous department store.
Betty asserts that her job there became her salvation. She’s now an institution at the store and some of her young customers are the granddaughters of women who were customers in her early days. She’s a tough lady who’s an excellent judge of clothing, and although some people fear her honest opinions, others eagerly seek out her counsel. Her goal is to treat each person as an individual and to help her fill the psychological needs underlying her quest for beautiful clothing.
--Recommended by Georgia Silvers, Warren Library
June 1, 2015
The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes From The Best Little Bakery in the South
by Day, Cheryl & Griffith
If you are a baker or a novice at baking you are going to love this bakery cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day. The couple has a bakery in Savanah, Georgia and to celebrate their tenth anniversary they have written this cookbook with more than 100 recipes. Of course it starts with breakfast with recipes for homemade jam, peach cobbler muffins, and buttermilk cornmeal pancakes. Each recipe begins with a short note from the couple about the dish. The photos in the book will have your mouth watering and wanting to try every recipe.
And there's now a follow-up: Back in the Day Bakery, Made With Love
--Recommended by Denyce Malone, Flanner House Library
May 26, 2015
Think Like a Freak
by Levitt, Steven D. and Stephen J. Dubner
The economist and the journalist whose collaboration produced the Freakonomics books are at it again, this time encouraging the reader to apply their quirky approach to problem analysis. They urge us to set aside preconceptions and approach problems with the open-mindedness of a child, admitting to ourselves and to others that we don’t know everything.
So much of public policy today is motivated by a quest for bettering the lives of the citizenry, but is structured without regard for the often perverse incentives built into the policy, creating unintended consequences and exacerbating the original problem. A more thorough analysis – like a freak would suggest – would analyze incentives as they apply differently to every affected party.
The authors provide many fascinating examples of this, including the reason Nigerian scammers are so obvious about their identity. Spoiler alert – they save time by eliminating all but the truly gullible prospects. The examples are all interesting and are drawn from many unexpected areas of modern society.
--Recommended by Melinda Mullican, Wayne Library