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LibraryReads for June

May 16, 2016 by Reader's Connection

Here are ten books due to be released in June, reviewed by librarians around the country. I’m sorry about this month’s map. The United States map on the blacktop in the Holy Cross Central Catholic School parking lot is a marvel of scale and inclusion. I have twisted everything and lopped out several states, Indiana included.

The Church of the Holy Cross saw its last Sunday Mass yesterday, May 15th–I’m blaming my map distortion on Eucharist withdrawal–but the school, one of IndyPL’s Shared System members, will carry on.


Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Vinegar Girl

The newest entry in the Hogarth Shakespeare series brings The Taming of the Shrew into the modern world. Kate is stuck in a life taking care of her absent minded professor father and her sister, Bunny. When her father suggests a marriage of convenience in order to secure a green card for his lab assistant Pyotr, Kate is shocked. This is a sweet and humorous story about two people, who don’t quite fit in, finding each other. Tyler’s wonderful writing updates and improves on the original. — Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA



The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library

Directed by powerful librarians, agents roam alternate realities searching out special volumes for their mysterious library’s collections. Irene is a spy for the library but something is a little off about her current mission; there’s something strange about her new assistant that she can’t quite put her finger on and worse, the requested volume has already been stolen. Cogman’s engaging characters and a most intriguing imagined world are sure to delight readers, especially bibliophiles. — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY


Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

Under the Harrow

Nora leaves London to visit her sister, Rachel, in the countryside often. But this trip is different – a silent house, a dead dog hanging from the railing and so much blood. Nora stays, trying to help the police solve the case. She thinks it might have something to do with the unsolved attack on Rachel when she was just a teen but it could be someone new. This story is thrilling and quietly gripping. We become as obsessed as Nora in finding her sister’s killer and what if he strikes again? — Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX



Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War

With courageous curiosity, journalistic persistence, and a wry empathetic sense of humor, Roach once again delves into a fascinating topic few of us would openly explore. She writes about the issues confronting the military in its attempt to protect and enable combat troops. Roach brings to our attention the amazing efforts of science to tackle all the challenges of modern warfare. Grunt is another triumph of sometimes uncomfortable but fascinating revelation. — Darren Nelson, Sno-Isle Libraries, Marysville, WA



Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


An engaging family saga following two half-sisters – one who marries into privilege and one sold into slavery – and their descendants as they navigate the politics of their separate countries and their heritage. Each is directly affected in some way by the choices of the past, and finding the parallels in the triumphs and heartbreak makes for an engrossing read. — Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA





Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

Missing, Presumed

This is a thoughtful police procedural about a missing person case and the secrets that come to the surface when a feisty detective becomes relentless in finding the truth. Edith is a successful college student from a well-known family, but all is not what it seems. Detective Manon Bradshaw is feeling the pressure to quickly resolve the case. What sets this apart from other detective stories is how the lead character is brought to life; she exposes her melancholy and it adds a satisfying mix to the thrills. Recommended for fans of Tana French. — Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, CA


Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley


In the long-awaited sequel to The Rook, negotiations between two highly secret organizations, one based on science and reason and the other on the supernatural, are continuing. Odette and Pawn both come to the forefront of the story as we get more of the history of the groups and why mortal enemies would want to join forces. With its blend of intricate world-building and fantastical situations, Stiletto both surprised me and made me laugh. — Mary Bell, Wilbraham Public Library, Wilbraham, MA




We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley

We Could Be Beautiful

Wealthy art collector Catherine spends her time fussing over her tiny boutique card shoppe so that she can feel like a productive member of society. She meets the handsome and refined William Stockton, yet something seems just a little too good to be true. The plot thickens as long hidden family secrets emerge. Huntley certainly knows how to build up the suspense. This debut novel includes some nice plot twists and Catherine’s character evolves favorably. Recommended for fans of psychological fiction. — Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX



Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus

Rowley has lovingly captured what it is like to be totally invested in caring for another life, another heart. This book is a true gift for anyone who has experienced the loss of a dog, but especially for those of us who have nursed a beloved dog through an illness even though you both knew it was going to be a losing battle. A special bond is formed there, and the story of Lily and Ted illustrates it so perfectly. — Mary Coe, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Fairfield, CT




Widowmaker by Paul Doiron


Doiron delivers a novel of intensifying suspense. The brooding and flawed Bowditch deals with a newly revealed family secret that sets him off on a search for the truth. His personal mission leads him into danger as he chases a vigilante through the wintry Maine woods. Doiron perfects his storytelling with a richly detailed setting and admirable sense of timing. You’ll want to go back to the previous Bowditch adventures while awaiting the next installment. Highly recommended for fans of Nevada Barr and C.J. Box. — Mamie Ney, Auburn Public Library, Auburn, ME


As part of the welcome to our new Beech Grove members, BGHS yearbooks have been added to Digital Indy.

May 12, 2016 by Reader's Connection

As I’ve announced previously and will again, the Beech Grove Public Library will merge with the Indianapolis Public Library on June 1st.


As part of our celebration, a set of yearbooks from Beech Grove High School has joined the host of digitized yearbooks on Digital Indy. Most of the years from 1947 to the early 2000s are captured here.
Click on the cover of the 1958 Hornet to be taken to the new collection.


You can scroll from page to page in any given year book.

Or you can search all the Beech Grove yearbooks with certain words and names . . .

. . . and see what you find.



And by all means, have a look at other collections on Digital Indy. Since I’m doing a blog post about DI, I’ll use it as an excuse to once again raid the Indianapolis Postcard Collection.

For the record, this glorious brick building is not the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church that stands a block from where I live. It has to have been Tab at one of its earlier addresses downtown.

But back to my main theme, here: Welcome to the collection, Beech Grove.


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What does the Shared Reading Group at East 38th really think of Henry James?

May 9, 2016 by Reader's Connection

james@e38I take great pleasure every month in posting a list of book discussions that are scheduled for the following month.

The books for most branches change every month, so I can include new titles and cover art and reviews; but the Shared Reading Group at East 38th Street reads the same book for months at a time, so my write-ups lack pizazz. THEY WILL MEET EACH FRIDAY AT 10:00, AND READ SOME MORE OF THE BOOK, AND THEY’LL DISCUSS WHAT THEY READ, AND THEN THEY’LL READ A POEM.

Not much imagination on my part. But Patrick Dugan, a staff member at East 38th and member of the group, has been so kind as to allow me to reprint a few of the emails that he sends out after each weekly read. The group is currently reading The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James.

It was a blessedly warm day in the Community Room of East 38th St.! We read in Chapter VII that both Isabel and Ralph live in both literally and metaphorically closed-off worlds. They each sense the facades the other is hiding behind, but while Isabel feels sorry for Ralph, he is intrigued by Isabel and wishes to, ahem, “stand under her roof,” as it were. The sexual tension was thick this week, what with Lord Warburton’s eagerness to light Isabel’s candle around midnight. The Group seems suspect regarding James’s reputation for psychological astuteness, largely due to his glibness regarding death, dying, and suffering.

We were late to start this week due to prolonged political discussions. In Chapter VIII, Isabel thinks herself in admiration of Lord Warburton’s “radical” politics, while both Ralph and Mr. Touchett are unconvinced of his dedication to them. The Group was heatedly split over whether Lord Warburton’s sisters, the Misses Molyneux, are politically naive or merely shocked about Isabel’s poor manners. Accusations of sexism, capitalist pigheadedness, and benevolent slaveholder attitudes were thrown around the room. I’m sure we all agree that one of the most powerful aspects of Shared Reading is being able to interpret texts differently, and having a clean, well-lit place to discuss and disagree. Again, much of the divisiveness may be the result of James’s lack of clarity on what it is his characters are thinking and feeling.

The Portrait of a LadyI’m editing these snippets, but didn’t want to trim anything from last Friday’s write-up.

It was a productive day in Shared Reading, full of good vibes. This week, the Group seemed to unanimously agree that (1) James’s characters are like stick figures and (2) he regards the influence of modernity as impure and pernicious, particularly for ladies. The reaction of Isabel to her suitors is unbelievable, while the portrayals of Isabel, Mrs. Touchett, and Miss Stackpole – their naiveté, independence, and selfishness – are unflattering, to say the least. It was also discussed how James is unconcerned with writing about relationships between classes, at least in this novel, and is focused solely on the high-brow cultural differences between England and America. This focus may make for bad, even immoral, literature.

Jerry presented a revealing, astute question: “When you’re done reading, do you feel better, or do you feel worse?” Few were able to answer in the affirmative, but, paradoxically, none of us want to stop reading James.

The Sun Also RisesRegarding James’s testicular injury: this is a historical mystery that many scholars and authors have spilt ink over (Hemingway even modelled a character in The Sun Also Rises based on the rumor). James wrote at length and eloquently of an “intimate injury” suffered in youth, but like much his prose, what he’s actually talking about is elusive. In short, we may never know, but many think it likely given his supposed lifelong celibacy (this, too, is controversial – it’s rumored, for instance, that he slept with Oliver Wendell Holmes, among others).

On a more buoyant note, Bunchie the dog (the only character I like) was finally mentioned again.

Thank you, Patrick, and best wishes to the group!

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If you read The Crow Girl, I have a question.

May 5, 2016 by Reader's Connection

The Crow GirlThe Crow Girl is a Swedish crime novel by Erik Axl Sund, and it is due to go on sale in June of this year.
• The book has been translated into English by Neil Smith.
• It was originally three novels, which have been combined into a 750-page epic of abuse and torture and murder.
• Erik Axl Sund is really two different authors, Jerker Eriksson and Håkan Sundquist.
• If you see the authors on the street, they are usually clean-shaven and dressed in ties & jackets; but the marketing department decided that The Crow Girl sales would go up if the authors looked like they do in this picture.
• I made that last one up. I have no idea how these guys usually dress.
• Ulrika!
• On at least three occasions, I put The Crow Girl down, saying that I couldn’t read any more.
• For the last few hundred pages, I couldn’t stop.
• Scandinavian crime fiction is a big draw, so this triple-decker might be a hit.
• You’re probably hoping for a description of what goes on in the book. I just now finished it, and am not sure what happened.

This is a Hooded Crow, its scientific name is Corvus cornix. In Swedish it’s called Gråkråka. It was photographed in Gothenburg, Sweden and submitted to Wikimeda Commons by Martin Olsson.

• I enjoy books where the identity of a character changes, and that happens a lot in The Crow Girl. Some characters even cease to exist, and I don’t mean the ones who are being murdered.
• I keep adding stuff that I have to delete so as to avoid revealing too much about these shifting characters.
• Do you enjoy having the rug pulled out from under you?
• If you read The Crow Girl, please answer this question with a comment: Who’s the guy who has a severe stomach problem near the end of the novel?
• I’m annoyed with the authors. I can’t go into detail, but Eriksson and Sundquist could have handled certain things differently, and their novel still would have packed a punch.
• Will there be Crow Girl survivor groups?
• If I’ve scared you away from this novel, but have inspired in you a deep desire to read something about crows, here are a couple of poems. I was pushing Frank Lima’s “Heckyll & Jeckyll” during National Poetry Month, and Marilyn Nelson’s “Crows” came in the mail yesterday (May 4th). You might need to re-read the poem if you’re confused by her use of is as a noun.
• Ulrika!


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An interview with the Manager of the Beech Grove Public Library (soon to be the Manager of the Beech Grove Branch of IndyPL)

May 2, 2016 by Reader's Connection

Click on the picture of Elizabeth Schoettle to start the video.



On June 1, the Beech Grove Public Library will merge with the Indianapolis Public Library.





Here’s a YouTube of the IndyPL Library Board voting to approve the merger, a few words from IndyPL Board President Dr. David W. Wantz, and an interview with Beech Grove Public Library Manager Elizabeth Schoettle, who will be the Manager of the Beech Grove Branch of IndyPL.


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