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The 2016 National Book Award Finalists have been announced!

October 6, 2016 by Reader's Connection

Five finalists have been chosen in each of the categories. The awards will be presented at a ceremony and benefit dinner on November 16th.


Chris Bachelder The Throwback Special

The Throwback Special

A real-life football tragedy—the sacking of Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann by New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in a 1985 game, and the career-ending injury that Theismann sustained as a result—is the foundation of this wryly amusing rumination on manhood and male bonding. Every year for the past 16 years, 22 men have convened at a hotel at an unnamed location off of Interstate 95 to physically re-enact the historic game. What at first seems a slightly screwball form of fantasy football—the men are assigned their roles through a lottery governed by an idiosyncratically detailed set of rules—gradually reveals itself to be a metaphor-rich elaboration of the rules and regulations that shape mature male life. As the men discuss their static marriages and their difficult relationships with their children, the allure of the game—especially the time before the fateful play when “the things that had not happened yet were greater than the things that had happened”—becomes clear . . . Filled with subtle humor and incisive insights, Bachelder’s novel will resonate with anyone who has pondered the game of life. — Publishers Weekly


Paulette Jiles News of the World

News of the World

In post–Civil War Texas, a 10-year-old girl makes an odyssey back to her aunt and uncle’s home after living with the Kiowa warriors who had killed her parents four years earlier. Johanna Leonberger remembers almost nothing of her first 6 years, when she lived with her parents. Instead, her memory extends only as far as her Kiowa family—she speaks no English and by white standards is uncivilized. Tired of being harassed by the cavalry, the Kiowa sell her back to an Indian agent for “fifteen Hudson’s Bay four-stripe blankets and a set of silver dinnerware.” Enter Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a 70-year-old veteran of two wars and, in 1870, when the novel takes place, a professional reader—he travels through Texas giving public readings from newspapers to an audience hungry for events of the world. At first reluctant to take her the 400 miles to the town near San Antonio where her aunt and uncle live, he soon realizes his itinerant life makes him the most plausible person for the job—and he also knows it’s the right thing to do. He buys a wagon, and they start their journey, much to the reluctance and outrage of the undomesticated Johanna; but a relationship soon begins to develop between the two. Jiles makes the narrative compelling by unsentimentally constructing a bond based at least in part on a mutual need for survival, but slowly and delicately, Johanna and Kidd begin to respect as well as need one another . . . Lyrical and affecting, the novel succeeds in skirting clichés through its empathy and through the depth of its major characters. — Kirkus Reviews


Karan Mahajan The Association of Small Bombs

The Association of Small Bombs

The disintegration of the lives of both Hindus and Muslims affected by a bomb blast at Lajpat Market in Delhi in 1996 is the subject of Mahajan’s second novel. In the aftermath of the violence we follow not only a Muslim boy who survives, Mansoor Ahmed, but his parents; the Hindu parents of Mansoor’s two friends killed in the blast; the bomb maker, named “Shockie”; and several activists who seek justice after the tragedy. The lives of Mansoor’s parents and the dead brothers’ mother and father unravel, their careers and marriages frayed by grief and anxiety. Mansoor tries to concentrate on his studies in the States, but returns to India and falls in with a charismatic activist called Ayub, soon to be unhinged by a breakup with his upper-class girlfriend. Mahajan’s talent is in conveying the sense that the world is gray, not black-and-white, and he accomplishes this by weaving together the evolving motives and passions of his characters so intricately that in the end we see each as culpable, and human. In his searing story, lives (and life itself) are subjected to close inspection and at times discombobulation. — Publishers Weekly


Colson Whitehead The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

When author Colson Whitehead first heard about the Underground Railroad as a child he imagined a subway beneath the earth that escaped slaves could ride to freedom . . . when he found out that it was not a literal train, he felt “a bit upset.” Now, in his new novel, The Underground Railroad, Whitehead returns to his childhood vision of an actual locomotive that carries escaped slaves through tunnels. The book follows a 15-year-old slave named Cora who has escaped from a Georgia plantation and must make her way north to freedom. Along the way, the train stops in different states, each of which represent a different response to slavery. “Sort of like Gulliver’s Travels, the book is rebooting every time the person goes through a different state,” Whitehead says. Whitehead first conceived of the book 16 years ago. He began reading through slave narratives from the 18th and 19th centuries to get a feel for what life might have been like for Cora and others like her. “I found a real opportunity to present … a hopefully accurate presentation of plantation life in a way that hasn’t been done before,” Whitehead says. “It felt gratifying as an artist to find a corner that hadn’t been explored in this exact different way.” — National Public Radio


Jacqueline Woodson Another Brooklyn

Another Brooklyn

In her first adult novel in 20 years, acclaimed children’s and YA author Woodson combines grit and beauty in a series of stunning vignettes, painting a vivid mural of what it was like to grow up African-American in Brooklyn during the 1970s. When August, an anthropologist who has studied the funeral traditions of different cultures, revisits her old neighborhood after her father’s death, her reunion with a brother and a chance encounter with an old friend bring back a flood of childhood memories. Flashbacks depict the isolation she felt moving from rural Tennessee to New York and show how her later years were influenced by the black power movement, nearby street violence, her father’s religious conversion, and her mother’s haunting absence. August’s memories of her Brooklyn companions—a tightly knit group of neighborhood girls—are memorable and profound. There’s dancer Angela, who keeps her home life a carefully guarded secret; beautiful Gigi, who loses her innocence too young; and Sylvia, “diamonded over, brilliant,” whose strict father wants her to study law. With dreams as varied as their conflicts, the young women confront dangers lurking on the streets, discover first love, and pave paths that will eventually lead them in different directions. Woodson draws on all the senses to trace the milestones in a woman’s life and how her early experiences shaped her identity. — Publishers Weekly





Arlie Russell Hochschild Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Five years before Donald Trump’s presidential bid caught fire, Hochschild decided she wanted to better understand the political and cultural divides in the United States by immersing herself in the anti-government tea party culture so foreign to her own beliefs. Traveling regularly from her Berkeley, California, home to Lake Charles, Louisiana, the author arranged to spend large amounts of time with tea party members and additional self-identified conservatives to figure out how they came to their beliefs. Hochschild felt especially puzzled by the paradox of Louisiana residents residing in dangerously polluted areas yet opposing environmental regulations proposed by both the state and federal governments. Though upset by seemingly racist, sexist, ageist, and economic class hatreds among the men and women she came to know, Hochschild says her determination to observe empathetically rarely flagged. She quickly realized that many of the stated views held of the tea party members were often not fact-based but rather grounded in what life feels like to them—e.g., government feels intrusive, liberals feel condescending, members of racial and ethnic minorities feel lazy and threatening. Trying to imagine herself as the Lake Charles residents viewed themselves, Hochschild vowed to immerse herself thoroughly enough to comprehend what she terms their “deep stories,” and she felt grateful that the tea party members who found her views offensive nonetheless shared their time and thoughts generously. — Kirkus Reviews


Ibram X. Kendi Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Anyone who thought that the 2008 election of President Barack Obama marked the emergence of post-racial America has been sorely disillusioned in the subsequent years with seemingly daily reminders of the schism wrought by racism and white supremacy. And yet anyone with even a cursory understanding of this country’s tortured history with race should have known better. In this tour de force, Kendi explores the history of racist ideas—and their connection with racist practices—across American history. The author uses five main individuals as “tour guides” to investigate the development of racist ideas throughout the history of the U.S.: the preacher and intellectual Cotton Mather, Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, ardent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, scholar W.E.B. Du Bois, and activist Angela Davis. Kendi also poses three broad schools of thought regarding racial matters throughout American history: segregationist, assimilationist, and anti-racist. Although this trio can be reductionist, it provides a solid framework for understanding the interplay between racist ideas, anti-racism, and the attempts to synthesize them—“assimilationism,” which the author ultimately identifies as simply another form of racism, even when advocated by African-Americans . . . Racism is the enduring scar on the American consciousness. In this ambitious, magisterial book, Kendi reveals just how deep that scar cuts and why it endures, its barely subcutaneous pain still able to flare. — Kirkus Reviews


Viet Thanh Nguyen Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of the conflict Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War—a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both nations. From a kaleidoscope of cultural forms—novels, memoirs, cemeteries, monuments, films, photography, museum exhibits, video games, souvenirs, and more—Nothing Ever Dies brings a comprehensive vision of the war into sharp focus. At stake are ethical questions about how the war should be remembered by participants that include not only Americans and Vietnamese but also Laotians, Cambodians, South Koreans, and Southeast Asian Americans. Too often, memorials valorize the experience of one’s own people above all else, honoring their sacrifices while demonizing the “enemy”—or, most often, ignoring combatants and civilians on the other side altogether. Visiting sites across the United States, Southeast Asia, and Korea, Viet Thanh Nguyen provides penetrating interpretations of the way memories of the war help to enable future wars or struggle to prevent them.
Drawing from this war, Nguyen offers a lesson for all wars by calling on us to recognize not only our shared humanity but our ever-present inhumanity. This is the only path to reconciliation with our foes, and with ourselves. Without reconciliation, war’s truth will be impossible to remember, and war’s trauma impossible to forget. — Publisher’s note


Andrés Reséndez The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America

The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America

A landmark history: the sweeping story of the enslavement of tens of thousands of Indians across America, from the time of the conquistadors up to the early 20th century. Since the time of Columbus, Indian slavery was illegal in much of the American continent. Yet, as Andrés Reséndez illuminates, it was practiced for centuries as an open secret. There was no abolitionist movement to protect the tens of thousands of natives who were kidnapped and enslaved by the conquistadors, then forced to descend into the “mouth of hell” of eighteenth-century silver mines or, later, made to serve as domestics for Mormon settlers and rich Anglos. Reséndez builds the case that it was mass slavery–more than epidemics–that decimated Indian populations across North America. New evidence, including testimonies of courageous priests, rapacious merchants, Indian captives, and Anglo colonists, sheds light too on Indian enslavement of other Indians–as what started as a European business passed into the hands of indigenous operators and spread like wildfire across vast tracts of the American Southwest. The Other Slavery reveals nothing less than a key missing piece of American history. For over two centuries we have fought over, abolished, and tried to come to grips with African-American slavery. It is time for the West to confront an entirely separate, equally devastating enslavement we have long failed to see truly. — Publisher’s note


Heather Ann Thompson Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

Gripping . . . Not all works of history have something to say so directly to the present, but Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, which deals with racial conflict, mass incarceration, police brutality and dissembling politicians, reads like it was special-ordered for the sweltering summer of 2016. But there’s nothing partisan or argumentative about Blood in the Water. The power of this superb work of history comes from its methodical mastery of interviews, transcripts, police reports and other documents, covering 35 years, many released only reluctantly by government agencies . . . It’s Ms. Thompson’s achievement, in this remarkable book, to make us understand why this one group of prisoners [rebelled], and how many others shared the cost. —  The New York Times



The three poetry finalists marked as Not in collection will go on order soon.
Daniel Borzutzky The Performance of Becoming Human (Not in collection)
The Performance of Becoming Human

Daniel Borzutzky returns to confront the various ways nation-states and their bureaucracies absorb and destroy communities and economies. In The Performance of Becoming Human, the bay of Valparaiso merges into the western shore of Lake Michigan, where Borzutzky continues his poetic investigation into the political and economic violence shared by Chicago and Chile, two places integral to his personal formation. To become human is to navigate borders, including the fuzzy borders of institutions, the economies of privatization, overdevelopment, and underdevelopment, under which humans endure state-sanctioned and systemic abuses in cities, villages, deserts. Borzutzky, whose writing Eileen Myles has described as “violent, perverse, and tender” in its portrayal of a “kaleidoscopic journey of American horror and global horror,” adds another chapter to a growing and important compendium of work that asks what it means to a be both a unitedstatesian and a globalized subject whose body is “shared between the earth, the state, and the bank.” — Brooklyn Arts Press


Rita Dove Collected Poems 1974 – 2004

Collected Poems 1974 – 2004

Rita Dove’s Collected Poems: 1974 to 2004 reminds readers why she is one of the nation’s most respected literary figures, with honors including two years as U.S. poet laureate, a National Humanities Medal and a National Medal of Arts. Fans will enjoy a fresh encounter with Dove’s best work, such as the exquisite “Grace Notes,” where simple memories are transformed into lyrical gems, and the movielike narrative in “Thomas and Beulah,” which juxtaposes war and civil rights struggles with the experiences of her maternal grandparents. The latter won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize and cemented Dove’s reputation as a writer who masterfully balances narrative and poetic finesse. Even the earliest work here shows a tremendous capacity for conveying various voices, from a Colonial Boston slave, to the Snow King, to Catherine of Alexandria. Later books, such as “On the Bus With Rosa Parks” and “American Smooth,” point to the intersection of individual lives and our shared cultural heritage. Dove has often been praised, rightly so, for making all of this look easy . . . The Washington Post


Peter Gizzi Archeophonics (Not in collection)


Archeophonics is the first collection of new work from the poet Peter Gizzi in five years. Archeophonics, defined as the archeology of lost sound, is one way of understanding the role and the task of poetry: to recover the buried sounds and shapes of languages in the tradition of the art, and the multitude of private connections that lie undisclosed in one’s emotional memory. The book takes seriously the opening epigraph by the late great James Schuyler: “poetry, like music, is not just song.” It recognizes that the poem is not a decorative art object but a means of organizing the world, in the words of anthropologist Clifford Geertz, “into transient examples of shaped behavior.” Archeophonics is a series of discrete poems that are linked by repeated phrases and words, and its themes and nothing less than joy, outrage, loss, transhistorical thought, and day-to-day life. It is a private book of public and civic concerns. — Publisher’s note


Jay Hopler The Abridged History of Rainfall (Not in collection)

The Abridged History of Rainfall

Jay Hopler’s second collection, a mourning song for his father, is an elegy of uproar, a careening hymn to disaster and its aftermath. In lyric poems by turns droll and desolate, Hopler documents the struggle to live in the face of great loss, a task that sends him ranging through Florida’s torrid subtropics, the mountains of the American West, the streets of Rome, and the Umbrian countryside. Vivid, dynamic, unrestrained: The Abridged History of Rainfall is a festival of glowing saints and fighting cocks, of firebombs and birdsong. — Publisher’s note


Solmaz Sharif Look


“Until now, now that I’ve reached my thirties: / All my Muse’s poetry has been harmless: / American and diplomatic.” It’s hard not to hear underpinning this passage, which opens the poem “Desired Appreciation,” the suggestion that for something to be accepted as American it must go along with the current, must uphold the status quo—the exact opposite of how art functions, which is by disruption. And lest there be any misunderstanding, I’ll clarify—Solmaz Sharif’s Look is a book that disrupts, fervently and effectively. The poems within are allergic to complacency and linguistic hypnosis; they constantly reach, inquire, prod, and wonder—sometimes with force—and refuse to allow the reader to be lulled into the sense that everything is okay in the world. — Prairie Schooner



Young People’s Literature

Kate DiCamillo Raymie Nightingale

Raymie Nightingale

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. All Raymie has to do is win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, might see Raymie’s picture in the paper. And that might bring him home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton, she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways. — Publisher’s note


John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell (Artist) March: Book Three

March: Book Three

Lewis has a unique perspective from which to recall these events [of the civil rights movement], and he does so with intimate familiarity and bracing honesty… Powell’s kinetic, fluid black-and-white illustrations create a relentless cascade of words and images that assaults the senses and underscores the brutality of the period. From Maus to Persepolis, graphic-novel memoirs have accounted for a large share of critical acclaim for the comics format, and now that this trilogy is complete, it can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of them. — The Horn Book



Grace Lin When the Sea Turned to Silver

When the Sea Turned to SilverThe Tiger Emperor is conscripting all the men of the mountain villages to build the Vast Wall surrounding the kingdom. But when they reach Pinmei’s village, they also take her grandmother, the Storyteller. In order to save her, Pinmei and her friend Yishan embark on a voyage to find the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night—the only thing the Emperor will trade for a prisoner’s freedom. From the top of Never-Ending Mountain to the City of Bright Moonlight to the bottom of the sea and back, their journey brings readers to familiar characters and settings as well as new ones. Combining the epic quest of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and the tight, cyclical plotting of Starry River of the Sky, this is the strongest addition yet, binding the previous volumes together even more closely. As in the earlier companion novels, stories inspired by Chinese folktales are frequently interspersed, giving astute readers critical background information and clues and letting them see the future of their favorite characters, as many stories gain additional chapters. — School Library Journal


Jason Reynolds Ghost


Reynolds uses a light hand to delve into topics that include gun violence, class disparity, and bullying in this compelling series opener. Seventh-grader Castle Cranshaw, nicknamed Ghost, knows nothing about track when a former Olympian recruits him as a sprinter for one of the city’s youth teams. As far as Ghost is concerned, “whoever invented track got the whole gun means go thing right,” something he learned firsthand when his father tried to shoot Ghost and his mother in their apartment three years prior. The trauma has had ripple effects on Ghost, including angry outbursts (“I was the boy…. with all the scream inside”), altercations at school, stealing, and lying. Joining the track team provides new friends, goals, and an opportunity for Ghost to move beyond his past. Ghost is a well-meaning, personable narrator whose intense struggles are balanced by a love of world records, sunflower seeds, and his mother. Coach’s relationship with Ghost develops into a surrogate father-son scenario, adding substantial emotional resonance and humor to the mix. — Publishers Weekly


Nicola Yoon The Sun Is Also a Star 

The Sun Is Also a Star
On a summer morning in New York City, Daniel and Natasha wake up as strangers. This is a day that could catapult their lives into entirely new directions that neither of them wants to take. Natasha has only hours left to prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica, after a minor legal infraction jeopardizes their stay in the U.S. Daniel dreads sealing his fate with an alumni interview that will pave his way to a career in medicine, as his Korean family expects. Despite a day packed with Natasha’s desperate race against time and a tangled system, and Daniel’s difficult tug-of-war between familial pressures and autonomy, love finds a way in, takes hold, and changes them both forever. Yoon’s sophomore effort is carefully plotted and distinctly narrated in Natasha’s and Daniel’s voices; yet it also allows space for the lives that are swirling around them, from security guards to waitresses to close relatives. It’s lyrical and sweeping, full of hope, heartbreak, fate, and free will. It encompasses the cultural specifics of diverse New York City communities and the universal beating of the human heart. Every day—like every book—begins full of possibility, but this one holds more than others. — Booklist Online


Vampires, Zombies, and Ghouls, Oh My!

October 6, 2016 by Reader's Connection

From Selector Emily Chandler: Just in time for Halloween, fans of such shows and movies as Supernatural, Shaun of the Dead, and Ghostbusters because of their mixture of horror and comedy will appreciate these literary titles that can offer terrors and laughs in the same breath (and sometimes even a bit of romance)!


World War Z
Brooks, Max World War Z

We survived the zombie apocalypse, but how many of us are still haunted by that terrible time? We have (temporarily?) defeated the living dead, but at what cost? Told in the haunting and riveting voices of the men and women who witnessed the horror firsthand. World War Z, now a #1 New York Times bestseller, is the only record of the plague years.





Fink, Joseph Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night ValeLocated in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.
Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked “KING CITY” by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.
Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.
Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: “KING CITY”. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures…if they can ever find it.



Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Grahame-Smith, Seth Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

A mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton–and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy.






Dead Until Dark

Harris, Charlaine Dead Until Dark

Being telepathic, Miss Sookie has no luck dating the living. It’s just too awkward for her to become intimate with a man–let alone sleep with him–when she can hear everything he’s thinking about her. But then the alluring vampire Bill stops into her bar, and his mind reads silent as a tomb. Finally, the match she’s longed for! There are some corrupt criminals, however, who wish to destroy Sookie’s undead beau–and soon realize they picked the wrong vampire to aggravate.




First Grave on the Right


Jones, Darynda First Grave on the Right

Using her ability to see ghosts in her work as a private investigator, Charley Davidson begins experiencing intense sensual dreams about a mysterious entity that has been following her throughout her life.








Odd Thomas


Koontz, Dean Odd Thomas

“The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Meet Odd Thomas, the unassuming young hero of Dean Koontz’s dazzling New York Times bestseller, a gallant sentinel at the crossroads of life and death who offers up his heart in these pages and will forever capture yours.






Laurenston, Shelly The Mane Event

The Mane EventNYPD cop Desiree “Dez” MacDermot knows she’s changed a lot since she palled around with her childhood buddy, Mace. But it’s fair to say that Mace has changed even more. It isn’t just those too-sexy gold eyes, or the six-four, built-like-a-Navy Seal body. It’s something in the way he sniffs her neck and purrs, making her entire body tingle. . . Meanwhile, for Tennessean Ronnie Lee Reed, New York City is the place where any girl–even one who runs with a Pack–can redefine herself. First order of business: find a mate, settle down, and stop using men for sex. Even big, gorgeous, lion shifter men like Brendon Shaw. But she needn’t worry, because now that Brendon’s set his sights on her, the predator in him is ready to pounce and never let go. . .


What’s a Ghoul To Do?


Laurie, Victoria What’s a Ghoul To Do?

Dr. Steven Sable hires professional ghostbusters M.J. Holliday and her partner, Gilley Gillespie, to find out what happened to his grandfather–and they do with a little help from a lot of lousy ghosts.







Layman, John Chew. Vol. 1, Taster’s Choice

Chew. Vol. 1, Taster’s ChoiceTony Chu is a cop with a secret. A weird secret. Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. It also means he’s a hell of a detective, as long as he doesn’t mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit, and why. It’s a dirty job, and Tony has to eat terrible things in the name of justice. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the government has figured out Tony Chu’s secret. They have plans for him… whether he likes it or not.




Moore, Christopher A Dirty Job

A Dirty Job

Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy with a normal life, married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. They’re even about to have their first child. Yes, Charlie’s doing okay—until people start dropping dead around him, and everywhere he goes a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Charlie Asher, it seems, has been recruited for a new position: as Death.
It’s a dirty job. But, hey! Somebody’s gotta do it.




Some Girls Bite

Neill, Chloe Some Girls Bite

When Merit, a twenty-seven-year-old grad student, accidentally becomes a vampire, she finds herself sucked into a whole new world as she is initiated into Cadogan House, one of the oldest vampire houses in the United States. Unfortunately, Cadogan House is being blamed for some bad behavior with humans and it looks like a war might be on the way.






A Quick Bite

Sands, Lynsay A Quick Bite

Lissianna Argeneu is a vampire who hates the sight of blood. Yet she feels a different kind of hunger for psychoanalyst Greg Hewitt.


Indy Author Fair 2016

October 3, 2016 by Reader's Connection

On Saturday, October 29th, Central Library will open its doors for the Indy Author Fair which will run from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.



OR, IF YOU’VE REGISTERED FOR ONE OF THE THREE CREATIVE WRITING CLASSES FOR EDUCATORS, the fair begins at 9:30. You need to register at EventBrite (click here or on the picture) to get into Central Library before it opens at 10:00.




9:30 to 11:00 a.m.

Check-in begins at 9:00


Creative Writing Classes for Educators

Wild Words: Growing Readers & Writers With Read Aloud for Pre-K and 1st Grade – taught in the Clowes Auditorium by April Pulley Sayre (Winner of the 2016 Indiana Authors Award for Genre Excellence).

Early childhood is the time for word joy and absorbing voice and pre-writing patterns via read aloud. Taste read alouds about rain, snow, vultures, vegetables, and fish. Refresh your read aloud with techniques and extensions that carry books into writing, art, exercise, science.


Poetry Writing for the Elementary Crowd – taught in the Goodrich-Houk Room by Helen Frost (Winner of the 2011 Indiana Authors Award, Regional Author).

In a poetry-writing workshop for teachers of grades 3-6, Helen Frost will encourage teachers to write poetry for the joy of writing as well as give some guidance in introducing poetry in the classroom.





Teaching Creative Writing to Secondary Students – taught in the Knall Room by Barbara Shoup (Winner of the 2012 Indiana Authors Award, Regional Author).

This session will address the issues middle and high school teachers often face, both with students and administration, when introducing creative writing to the curriculum. Shoup will offer insight into the creative process, tips for generating lively writing, and a rationale for the use of creative writing, illustrating how it fulfills state standards. Participants will engage in a series of writing exercises that they will find effective in their own classrooms.



11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


Meet the Authors

Clowes Auditorium

John Krull, host of WFYI’s No Limits, will interview this year’s Indiana Authors Awards winners and finalists. You can click on the photographs of the winners to see their titles in the IndyPL catalog.

Karen Joy Fowler - 5

Karen Joy Fowler is the winner of the National Author Award. She was raised in Bloomington, where much of her novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is set.

Your blogger foamed at the mouth about Fowler in his previous blog post.

gulleyThe Regional Author Award winner is Philip Gulley. Novels set in the fictional towns of Harmony and Hope are among his popular works, and his memoir I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood records his growing up in Danville.


sayreApril Pulley Sayre, who lives in South Bend, is the winner of the Genre Excellence Award, a category that is new this year. It will rotate each year to recognize authors of excellence in specific genres. This year’s category is Children’s Picture Books.


The three finalists for the Emerging Author Award are Sarah Gerkensmeyer, Bill Kenley, and Edward Kelsey Moore.



Sarah Gerkensmeyer is the author of the prize-winning story collection What You Are Now Enjoying. She lives with her family in Greencastle.








Bill Kenley is a teacher at Noblesville High School, and is the author of High School Runner (Freshman).







Indianapolis native Edward Kelsey Moore is the author of The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, which is a novel set in the fictional Indiana town of Plainview.





12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.


Meet Hoosier Authors

Click the picture for a list of authors who are participating this year.

Simon Reading Room

Network with more than 40 up-and-coming Indiana authors, who offer a wide variety of writing styles and genres. Book sales and signings will be available.




12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.


Illustration for Kids by Kids

The Learning Curve

All ages are welcome at this hands-on illustration workshop presented by Art with a Heart.




1:30 to 3:00 p.m.


Writing for Young People: Panel Discussion

Clowes Auditorium
It's a Wonderful Death

Noted authors will share their experiences and expertise covering writing styles ranging from young adult novels to chapter books and picture books. Presented by the Indiana Writers Center and featuring John David Anderson, Skila Brown, Robert Kent and Sarah J. Schmitt.





Publishing Overview

Knall Room


Hawthorne Publishing Senior Editor Nancy Niblack Baxter, will give an overview of publishing today from traditional publishing to ebooks, as well as offer information about manuscript preparation, query letters and submissions, finding and working with an agent, and working with an editor. Presented by the Indiana Writers Center.




Get Started!

Goodrich-Houk Room


Have you been thinking about writing for a long time and are just not doing it? Do you wonder how to connect with other writers in the Indianapolis area? “Get Started” offers writing exercises and lively conversation about writing and the writing life that’s guaranteed to jump start the process of becoming the writer you want to be. Presented by the Indiana Writers Center and featuring Kip Robisch.



Writing About Your Life

The Learning Curve

 Where Mercy and Truth Meet

Sometimes our lives scream and sometimes they whisper – and most of the time they are imperfect. But they are always rich with stories that define and validate us and bring insight and resolution in the telling. The Quakers have a saying, “Let your life speak.” This session will help you find the voice to tell your own stories and provide strategies for getting them down on the page. Presented by the Indiana Writers Center and featuring Darolyn “Lyn” Jones.



3:15 to 4:45p.m.


So You Want to Write a Novel?

Clowes Auditorium

 Looking for Jack KerouacWhere do ideas for novels come from? How are novels made? And how do you get them published? This session will offer practical tips for those who want to write a novel, have one in progress, or have a finished one with which they don’t know what to do. Presented by the Indiana Writers Center and featuring Barbara Shoup.




Get Started!

Goodrich-Houk Room


Have you been thinking about writing for a long time and are just not doing it? Do you wonder how to connect with other writers in the Indianapolis area? “Get Started” offers writing exercises and lively conversation about writing and the writing life that’s guaranteed to jump start the process of becoming the writer you want to be. Presented by the Indiana Writers Center and featuring Kip Robisch.



Self-Publishing Tricks and Tips

Knall Room

All Together Now : A Zombie Story

Learn the ins and outs of self-publishing during this workshop. This session will offer insights into how to know when it makes sense to self- publish, where to find out information about the variety of ways to self-publish, and what to watch out for if it’s the route you decide to take to publish your own book. Presented by the Indiana Writers Center and featuring Rob Kent.






The Bluer Guide to Indiana

The Learning Curve
 The Blue Guide to Indiana

It might be an unhappy truth that most Americans do not tour Indiana. It might also be the case that even people from Indiana don’t tour Indiana. But let’s change all that with this brief session of highly imaginative Hoosier travel writing in which we will document the people, places, and peculiarities of our state that you did not even know existed and, now that we have written about them, do. A lively discussion of what is real or not, fact and fiction, and the way we open up space for wonder. Presented by the Indiana Writers Center and featuring 2013 National Winner Michael Martone



Resource Fair for Writers, Educators and Parents

Also in The Learning Curve

Meet representatives from . . .

bridge_iconButler Bridge,
in_humanitiesIndiana Humanities,
isl_iconthe Indiana State Library,
ss-logoSecond Story,
inwritersand other literary organizations. Staff from the Indiana Writers Center will provide handouts with links to more info on resources.

Speaking of the Indiana Writers Center, even your ignorant blogger knows enough to know that the Indy Author Fair couldn’t take place without help from the IWC.
And it also couldn’t take place without support from the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation. All of the day’s programs are presented by IndyPL and the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards.

The Awards will be presented that evening at a dinner to which I believe the tickets have sold out.

Hope to see you at the fair!


Life at Wit’s End, or with a chimpanzee, or in a barroom when a loa appears with a hatchet

September 29, 2016 by Reader's Connection

Wit's EndRima Lanisell is all alone. Her father has recently died. Her mother died almost fifteen years ago of an aneurysm, and her brother Oliver four years ago in an auto accident. She has left Cleveland and gone to Santa Cruz, California, to live with her godmother, the famous mystery writer Addison Early, whom Rima doesn’t know at all. The house, which was previously a bed and breakfast, is called Wit’s End.

Also living there is Tilda, a previously homeless woman with a history of drinking. Two college students, Scorch and Cody, come every day to walk Addison’s dogs on the beach. Tilda’s irritating son Martin sometimes visits.

And Wit’s End is loaded with doll houses. Addison Early builds a doll house, complete with little bitty corpse, before she ever writes a mystery.

Rima is working on a mystery, herself. How come Addison is her godmother? What exactly was the relationship between her late father and the famous A. B. Early?

Enough with my attempts to describe this novel, Wit’s End. Author Karen Joy Fowler (who is the winner of this year’s Indiana Authors Award in the National Author category) is a lot of fun, and what I want to do is unload a bunch of her sentences on you. .

Here’s Rima visiting a nearby amusement park.

Two women sat at an outdoor table drinking coffee and discussing, presumably, a third woman. As she walked by, Rima heard one woman say, “She doesn’t sparkle.”

And the other–“You sparkle.”

And the first–“You sparkle too.”

Rima felt a wave of sisterly solidarity toward the absent, unsparkling woman.

I’m smiling at this, and then Fowler takes me around a corner, into the grief that is always travelling with Rima.

There’d been an undertone in Scorch’s blog, maybe in a few comments Addison had made, or maybe Rima had imagined it. You weren’t supposed to love your brother more than anyone else in the world. Maybe in a Dickens novel you could get away with that, but not today. Not here at the start of the twenty-first century, when the whole world of MySpace friends lay before you. Rima’s eyes began to sting and she had to wipe her nose.

My eyes sometimes begin to sting, too, while I’m reading Wit’s End. But I smile a lot, even while elements of character are being laid out.

Addison’s main mode of conversation was to tell stories. She was, as you would expect, quite good at it, but there was a polish, a sense of practice that, no matter how intimate the content, kept Addison behind glass. Tilda told stories, too, and she was terrible. She always left out some crucial piece and had to go back and add it later. “Did I say he was blind?” “Did I tell you they were identical twins?” “Did I say they were on horseback?”

While I’m grinning about Tilda, the question of why Addison is always behind glass is allowed to germinate in my brain.

The story is usually told from Rima’s point of view, but sometimes we’re with Addison; and on one occasion, about halfway through the novel, there’s a story

that takes place . . . when Addison was three years old. This was back when they’d lived on Pacific. She’d never told anyone this story, because she didn’t remember it. No memory, no story, no memory of a story.

And then [SCARY AUTHOR ALERT. DON’T READ THIS NEXT PART IF THE MENTION OF AN AUTHOR YOU DON’T LIKE MIGHT SCARE YOU AWAY FROM WIT’S END] there’s a chilling story about Addison’s childhood. The way it appears in the middle of the novel reminds me of the way the late Addie Bundren gives her only testimony halfway through William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. [END OF SCARY AUTHOR ALERT]

Wit’s End, which is also available as an eAudiobook and an audiobook on CD, is an odd one. Inside this book about a mystery writer there are all sorts of mysteries. One of the little bitty doll house corpses even gets stolen! What’s an author to do?

Did I tell you that Karen Joy Fowler will be at Central Library (I feel like Tilda) for the Indy Author Fair on October 29th? And that evening, she’ll receive her award. (More about the author fair is planned for the next blog post.)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Fowler’s novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was one of books discussed during our Adult Summer Reading Program this year, and here’s the little review I wrote for the SRP brochure:

Rosemary Cooke, the young woman who narrates this funny, upsetting novel, was raised in Bloomington, Indiana, with an older brother. She had a sister, too, who was about the same age as Rosemary; but the brother was a human, while the “sister” was a chimpanzee. Rosemary’s father was an IU professor who had added a simian to the family as part of a scientific experiment.
The experiment did not go well, and Rosemary can be a hilarious narrator. She is attending college in California—eternally, it would seem—and looking back at her Hoosier years with dismay. The family has fractured–her brother and “sister” have long since disappeared, and Rosemary misses them terribly. The novel makes us look anew at what it means to be a family, and what it means to be human.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, an audiobook on CD, in large print.


Black Glass: Short Fictions

The only other works by Fowler that I’ve read are the preface and the first story in Black Glass, which is a reprint of her first story collection.

In a blog post earlier this month, I mentioned the Lincoln Square Pancake House that’s across 24th Street from the Library Services Center where I work. I was there again, eating a biscuit with jelly, when I read Fowler’s new Black Glass preface, which made me weep. My waitress couldn’t have been kinder, but is should a preface have this sort of effect on a person?

The first story in the book is the title story, “Black Glass,” in which the hatchet-wielding temperance leader Carrie Nation appears as a loa–a voodoo spirit.

Carrie_Nation,_1910Yes. Voodoo and Carrie Nation. The story bewildered me, but The Washington Post said it “is one of those marvels that defeat criticism . . . It’s a piece of bravura virtuosity.” There was a lot going on at Lincoln Square, and I’m going to give “Black Glass” another try.

Black Glass is also available as an eBook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.

See you at the Indy Author Fair on October 29th!


October Book Discussions

September 26, 2016 by Reader's Connection

We have nonfiction about Stuart Scott and Jimmy Carter and the Wright brothers, and we have fiction about the real-life Queen Consort Elizabeth Woodville, and fiction about the real-life worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. And lots more.

The Girl on the TrainThe film The Girl on the Train is scheduled to appear in theaters on October 11th.

There may still be time to read the novel by Paula Hawkins beforehand, and you can come to the Nora Branch on Saturday, October 1st at 10:30 a.m., to discuss the book.

Registration is required for this program. Please call 317-275-4470.

Rachel Watson, the principal narrator of Hawkins’s psychologically astute debut, is obsessed with her ex-husband, Tom. She’s having a hard time putting the past behind her, especially since she confronts it daily, during the hourlong commute to London from her rented room in Ashbury, Oxfordshire, when her train passes the Victorian house she once shared with Tom. She also frequently spies an attractive couple, four doors down from her former home, who she imagines to be enjoying the happily-ever-after that eluded her. Then, suddenly, the woman, pixie-ish blonde Megan Hipwell, vanishes–only to turn up on the front page of the tabloids as missing. The police want to question Rachel, after Anna, Tom’s new wife, tells them that Rachel was in the area drunkenly out of control around the time of Megan’s disappearance. Hawkins, formerly deputy personal finance editor of the Times of London, deftly shifts between the accounts of the addled Rachel, as she desperately tries to remember what happened, Megan, and, eventually, Anna, for maximum suspense. — Publishers Weekly

The Girl on the Train is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.



Ray Bradbury’s story collection The October Country will be discussed at the Franklin Road Branch on Monday, October 3rd at 6:30 p.m. The discussion will led by Jonathan Eller, Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at IUPUI.

The October CountryBlogger’s note: I don’t think I’m supposed to use any of the raves on GoodReads, but here’s a publisher’s note:

Ray Bradbury’s second short story collection is back in print, its chilling encounters with funhouse mirrors, parasitic accident-watchers, and strange poker chips intact. Both sides of Bradbury’s vaunted childhood nostalgia are also on display, in the celebratory “Uncle Einar,” and haunting “The Lake,” the latter a fine elegy to childhood loss . . . And has any writer anywhere ever made such good use of exclamation marks!?




Philippa Gregory’s novel The White Queen will be discussed at the Wayne Branch on Monday, October 3rd at 6:30 p.m.

The White QueenThe fifteenth-century Wars of the Roses, during which the two branches of the mighty Plantagenet royal line fought one another for the throne, once again proves fertile ground for historical fiction. Gregory, one of today’s most popular historical novelists, inaugurates a new series set in that tumultuous period of English history, focusing on the lives of important women. The title of this series debut refers to Elizabeth Woodville, who was born into minor nobility but, thanks to her stunning beauty, caught the eye of the devastatingly handsome Yorkist king Edward IV and married him (despite her family’s support of his enemy-cousins) in what began and remained a controversial marriage. The king’s roving eye aside, the new Queen Elizabeth struggled year after year to advance her brothers and sisters and to protect, in this backstabbing environment, the children of her previous marriage as well as her sons by the king. It is a well-told story, a kind of royal soap opera (but with strong factual underpinnings), richly detailed and fast moving. Gregory’s legion of fans will be delighted. — Booklist

The White Queen is also available as a eBook, an eAudiobook, an audiobook on CD and in large print.



James Alexander Thom’s novel Fire in the Water will be discussed at Central Library on Tuesday, October 4th at 6:00 p.m.

Fire in the Water

The Civil War is ending and war correspondent Paddie Quinn has recently married and is looking forward to some honeymoon time when news of President Lincoln’s assassination reaches him. Paddie quickly finagles an assignment out of Harper’s Weekly and books passage for himself and his bride on the Sultana steamboat hoping to enjoy a honeymoon while writing his story. The trip takes an unexpected turn when it stops at Vicksburg to pick up numerous prisoners of war whom Paddie begins interviewing during their trip up the flooded Mississippi. It is during one of these interviews that he befriends Robbie Macombie, a Union soldier just released from the infamous Andersonville prison-of-war camp. Their fledgling friendship strengthens and buoys them through the tumultuous night of the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. — IndyPL reviewer



The Portrait of a Lady
On Fridays in October–the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th–the Shared Reading Group at the East 38th Street Branch will read aloud from Henry James’s novel The Portrait of a Lady

Refreshments are consumed on a regular basis, and there’s a poem each week.







The Fountain Square Branch will host a discussion of Carol Rifka Brunt’s novel Tell the Wolves I’m Home on Thursday, October 13th at 1:30 p.m.

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeBrunt’s transcendent debut is an exploration of an unlikely friendship that blossoms in the wake of a terrible loss. It’s 1987, and 14-year-old June Elbus is reeling from the death of her beloved uncle Finn, a famous painter who has succumbed to AIDS. Shy and introspective, June preferred spending time with Finn, even as she tried to hide, from herself as much as others, her secret crush on him. Finn’s death leaves a gaping hole in June’s life, and she’s shocked when Toby, her uncle’s lover and the man her mother holds responsible for his death, makes a bid to fill that emptiness by contacting June secretly. Toby simply wants to get to know her and give her several gifts Finn left for her, and June starts to thaw toward him after she finds a note in a book from Finn imploring her to look after Toby. June’s burgeoning but covert friendship with Toby gives her new insight into Finn’s life but strains the already tenuous bond between her and her older sister, Greta. Peopled by characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned, Brunt’s novel is a beautifully bittersweet mix of heartbreak and hope. — Booklist

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, and an audiobook on CD.



David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers  will be discussed at the Irvington Branch on Thursday, October 13th at 1:30 p.m.

The Wright BrothersTwo-time Pulitzer Prize winner McCullough exhibits his artist’s touch in re-creating the lives of the Wright brothers, their father, and their sister Katharine from historical documents. Mining their letters, notebooks, and diaries, McCullough shows the Wright brothers (snubbed by the British as mere bicycle mechanics) for the important technoscientists they were. With only high school educations, they personified self-reliance and ingenuity, making their own calculations and testing their mechanical skills as they experimented with gliders. Their solution to controlling the gliders’ flight was wing warping, enabling the gliders to bank like a bird’s wings. As early engine designers and mechanics, when they couldn’t find a light enough engine, they designed one that their mechanic built in six weeks. A few days after Langley’s $70,000 failure, the Wright brothers made several powered flights–for less than $1,000–to prove that humans could fly. When the US military rejected their services, the Wrights signed a contract with a French syndicate. From 1910 on, the brothers were much occupied by business and patent infringement lawsuits. Wilbur contracted typhoid and died in 1912, but Orville lived until 1948. The brothers were remarkable for their analytical minds, their skiIl as early pilots, and their brilliance as experimental scientists. This work is their great, eminently readable story. — Choice

The Wright Brothers is also available as a eBook, a eAudiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.



The Complete Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe

Thomas Wolfe’s short story “The Lost Boy” will be discussed at the Nora Branch on Saturday, October 15th at 1:00 p.m. The discussion will be led by Dr. Mark Canada, professor of English and member of the Thomas Wolfe Society.







Tracy Chevalier’s novel At the Edge of the Orchard will be discussed at the Pike Branch on Monday, October 17th at 6:30 p.m.

At the Edge of the OrchardJohn Chapman (better known as Johnny Appleseed) makes a cameo appearance in Chevalier’s new historical, but this is not the Disney version of frontier life. James Goodenough has moved his family to northwest Ohio in the 1830s. He is determined to grow apples, as he did in Connecticut, but circumstances have forced the family to live on the edge of the Black Swamp, a bad place for an orchard. In an intriguing twist, in this fractious family it is James’s wife, Sadie, who is a belligerent drunk, addicted to hard cider and applejack. This situation can only end in tragedy, and when it does, youngest son Robert heads West while still a child. The story of his adventures alternates between the hardscrabble years in Ohio and his subsequent wanderings, which lead him to California during the Gold Rush, though he finds work prospecting for seeds instead. His benefactor is an eccentric Englishman who collects redwood seeds and seedlings for the estates of his wealthy British patrons. With Chevalier’s excellent storytelling ability and gift for creating memorable characters, this novel paints a vivid picture of the hard and rough-hewn life of American pioneers on their Westward journey. — Library Journal

At the Edge of the Orchard is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print.



Stuart Scott’s memoir Every Day I Fight will be discussed at the Lawrence Branch on Tuesday, October 18th at 10:15 a.m.

Every Day I FightThe posthumous memoir by the sportscaster who brought hip-hop to ESPN and subsequently showed his strength of character through his fight with cancer. Though Scott was once mainly known for his “Booyah!” catch phrase (which he explains the origin of here), this memoir shows what a mistake it would be to underestimate the man or his cultural influence. About half of it is what one would expect from a cancer memoir: the mysterious pain, the diagnosis, the operations, the chemotherapy, the false hope of an illusory remission, the support from family and friends, the unwitting insensitivity from others. Yet some of the most moving parts of the book have little to do with cancer—mainly showing what a devoted father Scott was to his two daughters—and some of the most revelatory sections reflect the dynamic between the sports journalism establishment (overwhelmingly white) and the athletes they cover (predominantly black). “I’ve been criticized for being too chummy with and soft on athletes,” he writes. “That critique is born of a very particular type of journalism: one in which predominantly white, middle-aged writers and broadcasters judge young, often black, athletes. I’ll ask tough questions, if need be. But they’ll be in service of explaining rather than judging.” Within such a culture clash, Scott was also closer in age to many of these athletes, sharing the culture of hip-hop that seemed to mystify or annoy older white fans (and broadcasters) but plainly resonated with a larger, younger part of the audience. So this is also the story of how he got to be where he was (unlike others, he had never aspired to ESPN). It’s also the story of a man who felt blessed by what life gave him and even learned to appreciate the perspective that terminal cancer afforded him: “It makes you look fresh at small moments and see them—really see them—as if for the first time.” A class act and a courageous voice to the end. — Kirkus Reviews

Every Day I Fight is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, and an audiobook on CD.



Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Branchportal on Sunday, October 23rd at 1:00 p.m.

This month’s theme: Back from the Dead: Resurrection and Reincarnation, from Zombies to Braintapes




As part of the library’s celebration of Indiana’s 200th birthday, author Nate Dunlevy will lead a discussion of his book, Invincible, Indiana on Monday, October 24th at 6:00 p.m. at Central Library.

Here’s an interview with Dunlevy, in which he talks about Hoosier basketball and his upcoming program.

Invincible, IndianaDale Cooper arrived in tiny Invincible, Indiana determined to coach his way to a better job. He never bargained for a clueless principal, a bitter star, a racist point guard, and a town fiercely proud of 49 consecutive seasons of finishing exactly .500. When it becomes apparent to Dale that neither the town nor his players have any interest in winning, he devises a way to turn everyone’s expectations upside down. His gambit forces Invincible to strive for greatness if only to keep their dreams of mediocrity alive. Set in 1996-1997, Invincible, Indiana explores the myths and motivations that led to the demise of the ‘single class tournament’ that was the bedrock of Indiana mythology. Invincible, Indiana will make you laugh, cry, and cheer, but most of all it will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about the hysteria that was basketball in Indiana. — Publisher’s note

The College Avenue Branch will host a discussion of Mary Roach’s Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War on Monday, October 24th at 6:00 p.m.

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at WarWith compassion and dark humor, Roach delves into the world of military scientists and their drive to make combat more survivable for soldiers. Her interest in military matters wasn’t piqued by the usual aspects of warfare–armaments, tactics, honor–but the more “esoteric” ones: “exhaustion, shock, bacteria, panic, ducks.” Roach goes into great detail about the historical conditions that spawned particular areas of research, and she often describes seemingly absurd tests and experiments. Military scientists are so committed to bringing soldiers home alive that they examine nearly every facet of life and death, researching such topics as diarrhea among Navy SEALs, body odors under stress, using maggots to heal wounds, and the “injuries collectively known as urotrauma.” Roach also corrects some popular misconceptions while offering odd bits of trivia. Sharks aren’t particularly attracted to human blood, she finds, though it was discovered that bears love the taste of used tampons. And in the case of reconstructive surgery, her elaborate explanation of penile transplants brings home the true horror of war. Roach’s book is not for the squeamish or those who envision war as a glorious enterprise; it is a captivating look at the lengths scientists go to in order to reduce the horrors of war. —Publishers Weekly

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War is also available as an eBook and an audiobook on CD.



Jimmy Carter’s A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety will be discussed at the Beech Grove Branch on Monday, October 24th at 6:30 p.m.

A Full Life: Reflections at NinetyHaving written several books already–on his religious beliefs, his years in the White House, his childhood–Carter looks back on 90 years of life and offers lessons learned as well as information not covered in his previous works. New material includes his time in the navy, his years as a farmer involved in community projects, the backstories to his gubernatorial and presidential runs, an intimate look at his marriage as it has grown in equal partnership, and his relationships with other presidents. He offers commentary on racial changes in the nation, from his early days playing with boys from African American families who lived nearby to witnessing the slow integration of blacks in the U.S. military to dealing with the harsh racial climate of Georgia that objected to any efforts at integration and with challenges to Carter’s more progressive impulses that figured in his bids for local offices. Interspersed among the essays are poems, drawings, and photographs that enhance the feeling of intimacy as Carter reveals private thoughts and recollections over a fascinating career as businessman, politician, evangelist, and humanitarian. — Booklist

A Full Life is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, an audiobook on CD, in large print.



Nisa Santiago’s novel Murdergram will be discussed at the Spades Park Branch on Wednesday, October 26th at 6:00 p.m.


Knock, Knock. Four broke girlfriends go into a Long Island church looking for a job. Four trained assassins come out. The Cristal Clique is born when these young killers are immersed in the intense underworld of murder-for-hire. But with youth comes naivete. When heartache, betrayal, and revenge lurk behind every door, these Brooklyn girls must remain on point if they want to stay alive. — Publisher’s note






Author B. A. Shapiro will appear at the Indianapolis Arts Center on November 7th to discuss her novel The Muralist, as part of the Jewish Community Center’s Ann Katz Festival of Books and Art.

In anticipation of Shapiro’s visit, the Nora Branch will host a discussion of the book on Sunday, October 30th at 2:00 p.m. Please call 317-275-4472 to register for this event.

The MuralistShapiro follows the enthusiastically received The Art Forger (2012) with an even more polished and resonant tale. In the present, Danielle, an artist working for an art auction house, discovers several abstract expressionist paintings that resemble canvases painted by her mysterious great-aunt, Alizée Benoit, who disappeared in 1940. Alizée steps in to tell her haunting story in chapters set in 1939 New York City, where she and real-life painter Lee Krasner are working on WPA murals in a harshly cold warehouse. When Eleanor Roosevelt tours the shabby facility, Alizée boldly asks the First Lady why none of the murals are abstract expressionist in style. Will their encounter be consequential? Alizée is passionate about art but far more concerned about her French Jewish family and their desperate struggle to secure visas to America to escape the Nazis. As dramatic, unexpected events transpire, Shapiro portrays the brilliant, unstable painter Mark Rothko and Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, who covertly obstructed the issuing of visas to desperate Jewish refugees. Shapiro perceptively parallels the creative valor of abstract artists seeking essential truth with that of those who courageously protested the government’s inhumanity. Shapiro’s novel of epic moral failings is riveting, gracefully romantic, and sharply revelatory; it is also tragic in its timeliness as the world faces new refugee crises. — Booklist

The Muralist is also available as an eBook, an eAudiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print