Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

November 14, 2011

The Tenderness Of Wolves

The Tenderness Of Wolves
by Penney, Stef

It's 1867 and winter is beginning to bear down on the Canadian Dove River community.  Mrs. Ross, A Scot immigrant, finds a French fur trader's body, murdered and scalped. In this expansive, well researched who-done-it, many loners, fugitives, fur traders and trappers are suspect. The crime investigation is orchestrated by two who represent the greedy, pervasive Hudson Bay Company. Mrs. Ross is astonished that her seventeen year old son, one of the suspects, has gone missing. She sets out with an Indian guide to find her son before the impending snow obscures his tracks. The wilderness is so breathtakingly described that the reader feels a part of the landscape. By journey's end we've learned more about the unsolved disappearance of two young girls many years ago, a fur trading empire falling into ruin, an ancient Indian artifact, and a deteriorating marriage. Chapters are written from several of the community members' voices, each describing their theme and perspective. This sparkling debut novel leaves a craving for a continuation of this desolate, wintery tale.

— Recommended by Sharon McKittrick, Lawrence Branch


November 7, 2011

Pinched: How The Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures & What We Can Do About It.

Pinched: How The Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures & What We Can Do About It.
by Peck, Don
330.973 PEC

What happens to a generation coming of age during a recession?

First appearing in article form under The Atlantic headline, where it received a 2011 Media for Liberty award, Pinched offers its reader some history and economic policy along with solid investigative journalism. Comparing the modern Tea Party to the populist movement of the 1890’s, Peck begins with similarities before shifting his attention to the rise of women in the workforce, bemoaning the lack of civic virtue in today’s elite, and tracing the decline of the suburban environment as unique aspects of the current recession. Going forward, his policy prescriptions will please and offend in equal measure as he recommends tax reform, entitlement reform, spending decreases, immigration reform, vocational training programs, and unemployment wage insurance programs (just to name a few).

Pinched is at its strongest, however, when Peck’s background in journalism asserts itself. His report on the long term effects of economic recessions makes for sobering reading. He valiantly argues for swift and decisive action at a moment in time when restraint would seem to be the more prudent course.

— Recommended by Chris Murray, Haughville Branch


October 31, 2011

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?
by Shapiro, James S.
822.33 AB SHA

Mark Twain and Henry James held each other in contempt, but they had at least one thing in common. They both knew that William Shakespeare didn't write those plays and poems. Helen Keller agreed. Sigmund Freud, too, though he disagreed with the other three about who did write the stuff. Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, have been the chief contenders for authorship (the new movie Anonymous is pro-Oxfordian) and Contested Will relates the history of the conspiracy theory that supported each one.

A major component of each theory is the assumption that all writing is autobiographical. Will didn't have the variety of experiences that would have allowed him to pen those plays. A more snobbish component is the belief that you have to be a gentleman, go to university and all that, to be as creative as whoever this Shakespeare person was. Will was the grammar-school-educated son of a glove maker.

The passion with which anti-Shakespearean views have been held (Freud foisted a pro-Oxfordian treatise on some poor soul whom he was supposed to be analyzing) gives this book a charge, as does author Shapiro's presentation of the case for Shakespeare. Go, Will!

— Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology


October 24, 2011

Blood Oath

Blood Oath
by Farnsworth, Christopher

This is a political thriller with a twist. Nathaniel Cade is the ultimate secret weapon known only to the President of the United States and his personal staff. Nathaniel was bound to the President by a blood oath over 160 years ago. This oath forces him to follow the Presidents every command. Zach Barrows is a young man on the political fast track until the President assigns him to a secret new job; special handler for Cade. Cade’s mission is to protect the American way of life from forces both domestic and abroad. This is not an easy job, but what can you expect when you are the President’s Vampire?

— Recommended by Judy Clem, Garfield Park Branch


October 17, 2011

Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire At The Gates Of Tassajara

Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire At The Gates Of Tassajara
by Busch, Colleen Morton
363.370979476 BUS

Tassajara, the oldest Zen monastery in the U.S., may be known to some readers for its cookbooks including the Tassajara Bread Book. Located east of Big Sur in the Ventana wilderness area, it is accessible only by way of a winding unpaved road. In the summer of 2008 dry lightning storms in the region sparked what would become one of the largest wildfires in U.S. history.

Fire Monks is both the gripping tale of a particular fire and an inside look into the heart of a community or sangha. A Zen student herself, Busch tells the individual stories of a handful of monks who defied an evacuation order to stay and fight the fire. This book caught my attention partly because the classic Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean is a favorite of mine and any book about wilderness firefighting owes something to it. Fire Monks did not disappoint.  It conveys the excitement and urgency of the time as well as elucidating the Buddhist way of paying attention and being fully present in the moment.

— Recommended by Sue Kennedy, Irvington Branch