Readers Guide


By Julie Forkner

April 17, 2017
April 10, 2017
April 3, 2017
March 27, 2016

April 17, 2017 

Travel is one of fiction’s greatest feats, particularly the ability to take the reader places they could never go in body. Such is the case with The Dove’s Necklace (F). Raja Alem’s novel takes place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslims are forbidden to go. A woman has been murdered in the Lane of Many Heads, but no one will identify the victim for fear of bringing shame on her family. How will Detective Nasser solve a murder when the victim can’t be identified and a woman being seen unclothed is a bigger crime than murder?

What J. D. Vance did for the white working class in Ohio in Hillbilly Elegy (305.562) Brian Alexander is doing for the business that made, and then bankrupted, the town of Lancashire, Ohio. Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town (330.973) takes Anchor Hocking to task, detailing its growth to a business sizable enough to support the entire town to its devastating debt and the effects that spiraled out from the company’s demise. At the same time, Alexander follows the lives of several generations of Lancashire residents, their dedication to their town, and their struggles to remain there. 

Drawing on the true life tale of a Japanese family murdered in 2000, Nicolas Obregon set his first novel in Tokyo. Blue Light Yokohama (F), a title taken from the number one love song of 1968 and the song that haunts Inspector Iwata as he tries to find the vicious Black Sun Killer. The case is so brutal and complex that the detective previously assigned to it committed suicide by jumping from the famous Rainbow Bridge. Iwata, reassigned to Tokyo and with superiors who would like to see him fail, is running out of time to solve this murder with no motive and a faceless killer.

The Wild West is the place where fantasy comes from – tall tales, gunslingers, and snake oil salesmen. Much of what has been written about the west is pure fiction. However, in 1870, Dodge City, Kansas was, indeed, the most violent town in the west. How did two self-trained fighters enforce the rule of law in the most lawless town in the West? Tom Clavin’s new book Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and the Wickedest Town in the American West (978.100) attempts to bring some research and facts to this town of many legends.

The Wild West isn’t the only place with gold mines and lawlessness. Kwei Quartey’s new novel Gold of Our Fathers (M) is set in remote Obuasi of the Ashanti region near Ghana’s capital, Accra. Chief Inspector Dawson is on his second day on the job when the body of a Chinese mine owner is discovered in a gold quarry. Quartey learns first-hand how to impose justice in a town where criminals have so much money they soar above the law. 

Whenever there are people who feel themselves above the law or places full of lawlessness, there are voices of dissent. Rebecca Solnit, columnist for Harper’s Magazine, is one of today’s most prominent voices and cultural observers. Her new book The Mother of All Questions (305.420) began in a previous work Hope in the Dark, an essay written during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Solnit is known for her ability to understand and illuminate how language defines our roles and our identities, and her writing is, indeed, a ray of light in an otherwise dark subject.

Also at the Library
     Red Clover Inn (F) by Carla Neggers
     A Perfect Obsession (F) by Heather Graham
     The Burial Hour (M) by Jeffrey Deaver
     The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency (973.920) by Chris Whipple
     Behaving Badly: The New Morality in Sex, Business, and Politics (170.900) by Eden Collinsworth
     Who Lost Russia? How the World Entered a New Cold War (327.470) by Peter Conradi

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April 10, 2017 

Crime fiction king, Bill Pronzini, has a new stand-alone thriller, The Violated (M). In the Echo Park neighborhood of Santa Rita, California, two passersby have just found Martin Torrey’s mutilated body. A registered sex offender and the prime suspect in several high profile cases, Torrey’s death is immediately in the public spotlight. Torrey’s case grows increasingly complex as it is told through the alternating points of view of Torrey’s wife and the detectives assigned to the case. 

Although Eric Reece was newly married, working in a dream job, and living in the proverbial cabin by the creek, he couldn’t help but worry that our collective future as a country was not nearly as bright as his own life. In search of a new way to tackle the very old problem of learning how to live together, Reece set out to visit the country’s utopian communities, both current and past, successful and catastrophic. Visiting eleven different communities from New York to Kentucky to Indiana, Reece uncovers a national tradition of idealism, optimism, and hard work in Utopia Drive: A Road Trip through America’s Most Radical Idea (335.020). 

Fran Hall was once a successful journalist and party girl, but moving to the middle of the English Fens and marrying less-than-popular Nathan left her isolated and alone. When Nathan disappears in the middle of the night, Fran has very few people on her side, especially once she becomes the prime suspect. Using a series of flashbacks and the setting of the fens, author Cristobel Kent creates an eerie psychological thriller in The Loving Husband (F). 

Right now, viruses and microbes are reproducing all over your face, hands, and virtually every inch of your body inside and out. In fact, there are so many microbes in your body that only about half of the cells that make up your physical existence are human cells. Ed Yong explains the importance of these microbes, their history and their secret world, in I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life (579.170). 

The Independent
calls Camilla Lackberg the rock star of Nordic noir. In her home country of Sweden, she outsells even Stieg Larson. Her ninth book, The Lost Boy (F), like all her other books, takes place on the west coast of Sweden in the small fishing village of Fjällbacka. Mats Sverin, the town’s financial director, is murdered at the same time his high school sweetheart returns to the village after being gone for years. With secrets of her own to hide, Nathalie risks losing her son in order to help find Mats’ killer.

As I was walking my dog last night, I passed one house with chickens, another with two goats in the front yard, and yet another with donkeys. With spring’s arrival, people are busy planting vegetable gardens and mailbox flowers. Clearly, living in the city is no deterrent to having plants and animals around.  The Ultimate Guide to Urban Farming (630.286) by Nicole Faires covers all aspects of growing food and raising animals in the city limits for those who want to grow food just for themselves and for those who wish to turn it into a profitable enterprise.       

Also at the Library
    Man Overboard (M) by J. A. Jance
     Vicious Circle (M) by C. J. Box
     All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
     How to Listen to Jazz (781.650) by Ted Gioia
     Shakespeare Basics for Grown-ups: Everything You Need to Know About the Bard (822.330) by E. Foley and B.
     52 Must See Movies and Why They Matter (791.430) by Jeremy Arnold

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April 3, 2017 

George Saunders is not known for his novels. In fact, of his nine published books only his most recent, Lincoln in the Bardo (F), is a full-length novel instead of a collection of short stories and novellas. Don’t let that lead you to underestimate Saunders, however. Lincoln in the Bardo is an uncannily imaginative and tender portrait of a grieving Abraham Lincoln on the night his son, Willie, dies. The concept of bardo is borrowed from the Tibetan word for the time between death and rebirth. Spending the night in his son’s crypt, Lincoln wanders his way back to life with the help of a few inventive ghosts and a spirit deeply concerned with affairs of the heart. 

When the European Space Agency released a map of the afterglow of the Big Bang in 2013, some of the findings revealed by that image of 440 sextillion kilometers of space and 13.8 billion years undermined theories previously held as sacrosanct. Stuart Clark’s The Unknown Universe: A New Exploration of Time, Space, and Modern Cosmology (523.100), is a guide to what was uncovered by the ESA’s image and what it means for our understanding of the universe. Clark holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics, but he is well-known for his writing for non-scientists. In accessible prose, Clark explains how the anomalies recently brought to light will force a paradigm shift that will define a new era of cosmology.

In Fay Weldon’s 34th novel, Before the War (F), Sherwyn Sexton is a brutally handsome, charismatic but annoyingly short aspiring author who is quickly running out of money. Viviene, his boss’s daughter, however, is already considered a spinster at the age of twenty and an awkward, ungainly height  of 5’11”. When Viviene asks Sherwyn to marry her, his money troubles are over and her fate is assured. Neither know at the time though, that Viviene, is pregnant with another man’s child and will die a few months later in childbirth. Weldon’s easy-going humor is a foil to the brutal society of London between world wars.

When Yuval Noah Harari published his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind in 2013, he quickly became the darling of some of the most influential people in the world. He was a key speaker at TEDGlobal, the international forum for big ideas. His first book made the case that humans have conquered the impossible, namely learning to survive, if not tame, uncontrollable natural forces like famine, plague, and war. In his new book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (303.490), Harari tries to envision humankind after we conquer the next challenge.  In order to do so, first Harari has to identify what the next big challenge for the human race will be. What will society look like at the end of the 21st century? Beyond that? Harari argues that future humans will be more different from us than we are from Neanderthals, and much more god-like than we might find comforting. 

Masie Dobbs is back. Jacqueline Winspear’s indomitable sleuth has been charged with finding the murderer of a boy in occupied Belgium twenty-three years earlier in In This Grave Hour (M). The job comes just as the King George is announcing Britain’s declaration of war with Germany, and just as Masie’s flat has been broken into by Secret Service agents. As the war escalates, so does Masie’s search for the killer, bringing along with it the gravest hour for Masie herself.

David A. Moss is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, but he is becoming well known for his talent for teaching history. His new book Democracy: A Case Study (320.473), uses the same method Moss uses in the classroom to find a new, engaging way of teaching history. Using nineteen pivotal moments in U. S. History, Moss aims to reinvigorate our perception of history and revitalize our perception of governance. By putting the reader in the shoes of decision makers of the time, Moss is able to argue that far from being doomed by conflict, America is stronger because of the conflict our governance requires.

Also at the library
     The Cutthroat (F) by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott
     In the Name of the Family (F) by Sarah Dunant
     Bone Box (M) by Faye Kellerman

     The Girl on the Train FEAT GIRL
     A Man Called Ove FOREIGN MAN

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March 27, 2017 

Well before Mad Men, Margaret Fishback was the highest paid female advertising copywriter in the world in the 1930’s, as well as a successful working mother and poet. When Fishback’s archives arrived at a local library, Kathleen Rooney delved into the treasure trove and came up with inspiration for her novel Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (F). It’s the end of 1984 and Lillian Boxfish, a witty and wry 85-year old, is on her way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New York City. Her long meander around the city will not only take her through the wild variety of the city but also through a nostalgic remembrance of a life of excitement, passion, heartbreak, and triumph.

Founding editor of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly reached the New York Times bestseller list with The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That will Shape Our Future (303.483). Recently released in paperback, The Inevitable envisions the world in 2046 when virtual reality is commonplace, subscription services win out over ownership, and every aspect of life is tracked by a device. Although this version seems bleak, Kelly is actually optimistic about our technological future and provides a handy manual for making sense of the changes to come. 

Oprah Winfrey named Elinor Lipman’s On Turpentine Lane (F) a novel you must read over spring break. Faith Frankel’s fiancé has suddenly turned mystic and is now wandering the country offering free hugs and soliciting people’s life stories. Her boss has accussed her of misappropriating money, and her father is a philandering artist who thinks he is Chagall. Lipman has written a screwball romantic comedy with characters you actually care about and a plot worth following. 

Thomas Piketty’s first book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century (332.041) was a near-700 page tome of economic inquiry. His newest book Why Save the Bankers? (330.940) is a much more accessible collection of essays that begin with the financial collapse of 2008 and end with the attacks in Paris in November 2015. With his incisive commentary, Piketty takes apart how unfettered markets lead to increasing inequality and what that means for democracies around the globe.

With the upcoming release of the new TV Series based on his book American Gods (F), it should come as no surprise that Neil Gaiman has always relied heavily on mythology as an inspiration for his fiction. In his new book, Norse Mythology (293.130), Gaiman rewrites the history of the Nordic gods while staying true to their original stories. Gaiman’s gift for story telling brings Odin, Thor, and Loki alive in Gaiman’s unique spellbinding way.

The story behind Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (305.896) is one that belongs to a horror movie. In 1912, three African-American teenage boys were charged with raping a white teenager. The teenagers were executed, but the story did not end there. Over the course of the next 70 plus years, the white population of the town of Forsyth, Georgia ran the entire African-American population out of town, quietly confiscating their property and businesses in their absence. In 1987, Oprah Winfrey showcased the tragedy on national television. Patrick Phillips, a native of Forsyth County, has researched the events with meticulous clarity.

Also at the Library
     Most Dangerous Place (F) by James Grippando
     Racing the Devil (M) by Charles Todd
     Death of a Ghost (M) by M. C. Beaton
     Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold and murder on the Erie Canal (386.480) by Jack Kelly
     Kick: The True Story of JFK’s Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth (973.099) by Paula Byrne
     The Terror Years From Al-Qaeda to the Islamic State (363.325) by Lawrence Wright

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