December 21, 2012 by Reader's Connection
But don’t let it get you down. The days will grow longer, starting tomorrow, and the library will start having book discussions as soon as we can in January. Be of good cheer.
Our year begins on Wednesday, January 2nd, at 6:30 p.m., with From Page to Stage 2013: Book Discussion with the IRT at the Lawrence Library. (Lawrence’s regular book discussion will be held on Tuesday, January 15th and is noted below.) Our book is Dan Gutman’s Jackie and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure, which is the basis of an Indiana Repertory Theatre production that will run from January 11th to February 16th; and artists of the IRT will be at Lawrence for the discussion.
Registration is required to participate and receive a free copy of the featured book. Call 275-4460.
Fans of the author’s Honus and Me know that young Joe Stoshack has the ability to visit the past via baseball cards. As part of a project for Black History Month, he gets his mitt on a loaned Jackie Robinson card to visit 1947 New York City and the man who broke the major league baseball color line. Not only does Joe travel back in time over 50 years, stay at the Robinson’s apartment, and become a bat boy for the Dodgers, but he is also transformed from a Polish American into an African American, introducing some interesting perspectives on race in the mid-20th century . . . Fans of America’s favorite pastime will particularly appreciate the detail and descriptions of some great games, including the 1947 World Series. — School Library Journal
Hilton’s bestselling classic about a man who stumbles on the world’s last great hope for peace: Shangri-La
Hugh Conway saw humanity at its worst while fighting in the trenches of the First World War. Now, more than a decade later, Conway is a British diplomat serving in Afghanistan and facing war yet again–this time, a civil conflict forces him to flee the country by plane. When his plane crashes high in the Himalaya mountains, Conway and the other survivors are found by a mysterious guide and led to a breathtaking discovery: the hidden valley of Shangri-La.
Kept secret from the world for more than two hundred years, Shangri-La is like paradise–a place whose inhabitants live for centuries amid the peace and harmony of the fertile valley. But when the leader of the Shangri-La monastery falls ill, Conway and the others must face the daunting prospect of returning home to a world about to be torn open by war. . — Open Road Media
Last month, I predicted incorrectly that the Shared Reading Group at Spades Park would begin to read and discuss Herman Melville’s Moby Dick at the beginning of December. As it turns out, we will begin our search for the white whale on Friday, January 4th and continue our quest every Friday morning from 10:00 until 11:30.
The Spades Park Book Discussion (which is different from the Reading Group) will be held on January 23rd and is noted below.
The Franklin Road Library will host a discussion of Rosemary Taylor’s Chicken Every Sunday: My Life with Mother’s Boarder on Monday, January 7th at 6:30 p.m.
This 1943 title, about a woman and her children who run a boarding house in Tucson, Arizona in the early twentieth century, gets favorable reviews at
Evans’ latest heartwarming tale opens with a man reading his own obituary. Utah businessman James Keir is shocked to open the newspaper one day and find himself greeted with the erroneous news of his death. The mistake allows Keir, whose success is the result of his ruthless business tactics, to see what others really think of him. Strangers cheer his passing, friends turn on him, his girlfriend goes shopping with his credit card . . . and his only defender is Sara, the cancer-stricken wife he’s divorcing. The incident spurs him on to make amends for his wrongs. He asks his assistant to make a list of the people he’s most wronged in business and resolves to pay them each a visit. The efforts don’t go well at first–a former business rival punches Keir, and another committed suicide after Keir wrecked his dreams. Keir eventually realizes that there are people even closer to him that he’s wronged much more deeply. Fans of Evans’ work will find here what they’ve come to expect from his books: a touching story of redemption that offers hope for the future if not a pat happy ending. — Booklist
A human-created virus has infected humankind, mutating most into superstrong, near-immortal vampiric creatures. The “virals”–also called “jumpers” and “dracs” (after Dracula, of course)–can leap 20 feet through the air at a bound and split a human (or a horse, or a cow) in half with their bare hands. A small band of men and women embark on a cross-country trek, looking for a way to protect the few remaining uninfected humans from extinction. With them travels an enigmatic prepubescent girl who talks to the virals with her mind and seems to have been born 100 years before. VERDICT The monsters in this compulsive nail biter are the scariest in fiction since Stephen King’s vampires in Salem’s Lot. Although the novel runs 700 pages, Cronin is a master at building tension, and he never wastes words. Shout it from the hills! This exceptional thriller should be one of the most popular novels this year . . . Library Journal
Nina Sankovitch’s Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading will be discussed at the Irvington Library on Thursday, January 10th at 1:30 p.m.
When Sankovitch lost her older sister to cancer, she was determined to “live her life double” in order to make up for her family’s painful loss. But after three years spent at a frenetic pace, Sankovitch decided to slow down and rediscover the pleasure of books in order to reconnect with the memory of her sister. Despite the day-to-day responsibilities of raising four sons–and the holidays, vacations, and sudden illnesses that accompany a large family–Sankovitch vowed to read one book a day for an entire year and blog about it. In this entertaining bibliophile’s dream, Sankovitch (who launched ReadAllDay.org and was profiled in the New York Times) found that her “year of magical reading” was “not a way to rid myself of sorrow but a way to absorb it.” As well as being an homage to her sister and their family of readers, Sankovitch’s memoir speaks to the power that books can have over our daily lives. Sankovitch champions the act of reading not as an indulgence but as a necessity, and will make the perfect gift from one bookworm to another. — Publishers Weekly
Fresh from a relationship that failed when his girlfriend cheated on him, Lance Kingston meets Tia Jiles. She’s beautiful, ambitious, and not especially interested. It takes him a while, but once Lance starts dating Tia, he’s sure she’s the one. After six months of a whirlwind romance, he asks her to marry him. Tia is experiencing enormous pressure at her law firm, where she’s under consideration as a partner, dealing with a troublesome pro bono case, and wrestling with personal demons. Before she accepts Lance’s proposal, should she tell him her secret? Will he run away from her, as all her previous suitors have? Her mother is counseling her to trust in God and not take a chance on ruining her marital prospects. But soon, their fairy-tale marriage turns into a nightmare as Tia wrestles with marriage, a new baby, and the unraveling of her secret. Billingsley fans will enjoy this novel that looks at mental illness within a story of modern romance and marriage. — Booklist
Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts : Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin will be discussed twice at the Lawrence Library on Tuesday, January 15th at 10:15 a.m.
After offering the position to several other candidates who declined, President Roosevelt selected [Professor William] Dodd, who had studied in Germany, to be ambassador there. Dodd pulled up stakes, bringing his wife, son, and daughter with him to Berlin. Hitler and his Nazi Party had recently gained control of the government, and they were relentlessly working to consolidate their power over the nation. Larson . . . has written a brilliant and often infuriating account of the experiences and evolving attitudes of the Dodd family during Hitler’s critical first year in power. Dodd is seen here as a decent but frustratingly naive figure who keeps obtusely expecting “moderate” Nazis to emerge, even as the outrages against Jews and even American citizens intensify. His 24-year-old daughter, Martha, is attractive, flirtatious, and initially entranced by the apparent dynamism and revolutionary spirit of the Nazis. With the benefit of hindsight, of course, the Dodds seem almost criminally ignorant, but Larson treats them with a degree of compassion that elevates them to tragic status. — Booklist
Readers who think the legend of Dracula has become a trite staple of schlock fiction will find this atmospheric page-turner by first-time author Kostova a bloodthirsty delight. A teenage American girl, living in1972 Amsterdam, comes across an ancient book in the library of her widower father, a former historian and now a diplomat. The book, blank save for an illustration of a dragon and the word Drakulya, contains a cache of faded letters all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate reader.” Thus begins a search for the truth behind the myth of Dracula, a search that crosses continents as well as generations. Told through narratives, flashbacks, and letters, the plot unfolds at a rapid pace but never gives away too many clues at once. The cast of colorful characters even includes a creepy librarian who takes on the Renfield role of crazed vampire groupie. Both literary and scary, this one is guaranteed to keep one reading into the wee hours–preferably sitting in a brightly lit room and wearing a garlic necklace. — Booklist
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at Glendale Library on Sunday, January 27th from 1:00 to 3:00. The theme this month will be “Who’s Your Favorite?” Bring in a book by your favorite author.
France-based author Barbery teaches philosophical lessons by shrewdly exposing rich secret lives hidden beneath conventional exteriors. René Michel has been the concierge at an apartment building in Paris for 27 years. Uneducated, widowed, ugly, short and plump, she looks like any other French apartment-house janitor, but Mme Michel is by no means what she seems. A “proletarian autodidact,” she has broad cultural appetites–for the writings of Marx and Kant, the novels of Tolstoy, the films of Ozu and Wenders. She ponders philosophical questions and holds scathing opinions about some of the wealthy tenants of the apartments she maintains, but she is careful to keep her intelligence concealed, having learned from her sister’s experience the dangers of using her mind in defiance of her class. Similarly, 12-year-old Paloma Josse, daughter of one of the well-connected tenant families, shields her erudition, philosophical inclinations, criticism–and also her dreams of suicide. But when a new Japanese tenant, Kakuro Ozu, moves in, everything changes for both females. He detects their intelligence and invites them into his cultured life. Curious and deeply fulfilling friendships blossom among the three, offering Paloma and René freedom from the mental prisons confining them — Kirkus Reviews
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt occupied the White House longer than any other first couple, with FDR always considered in the top triumvirate of American Presidents and ER ranking as the greatest First Lady according to the polls of experts. For those interested in the private record of these two public figures, this is the book to read. Biographer Rowley (Richard Wright) brings her honed skills to the Roosevelt marriage. Though the narrative is familiar and the author has not uncovered new information, she empathetically presents an incisive portrait of a new kind of marriage that was as fruitful to FDR and ER in some ways as their original Victorian marriage. They broke through convention just as Teddy Roosevelt had done in politics. A leitmotif of the book is how much FDR based his career on Teddy, with the major difference that FDR was ultimately much more successful. Similarly, Rowley insists that ER was not a reluctant First Lady but carved a new role for herself. Both ER and FDR were essentially active and flexible, adapting creatively to changing political and personal crises. VERDICT Without resort to sensationalism, the author turns a familiar story into a page-turner, bringing out the nuances of this marriage and of their relationships with others around them without demeaning either FDR or ER. — Library Journal