Readers Guide


By Julie Forkner

September 25, 2017
September 18, 2017
September 11, 2017
September 4, 2017

September 25, 2017 

When murders happen in the East Texas hill country, Texas Rangers rule the day. For Darren Mathews, that means returning to Lark, the home he fled as soon as he was old enough to make his own decisions. When the body of a middle-aged lawyer from Chicago appears in the bayou, Mathews considers it a standard murder investigation. When the body of a young white local woman appears a few days later, nothing is standard in this clash of race and justice in the Texas bayou. Bluebird, Bluebird (F) is the newest novel by Attica Locke, author of Pleasantville (F).

In his new book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (809.933), acclaimed novelist Amitav Ghosh points out that hundred-year floods and freak tornados are considered too fantastic to be believable material for a novel. What does our lack of imagination, or lack of ability to take freak weather occurrences seriously, mean for our understanding of climate change? In his lucid style, Ghosh explains the tangled global story of the carbon economy and urges us to seriously consider what we’ve long accepted as too deranged to actually happen.

In Omaha, Nebraska at the end of World War I, three very different lives come together in an unspeakable act of mob violence. Throw in an unscrupulous political boss, an inter-racial baseball game, and the very real events of the Omaha race riots of 1919 and you have Theodore Wheeler’s new book, Kings of Broken Things (F).

The chemical cures we use to keep our bodies healthy and our farms productive are beginning to fail us. Although we rarely consider the two in conjunction with each other, physical health and agricultural health are beginning to show some of the same symptoms of organisms that have evolved to be resistant to pesticides and antibiotics. However, scientists are beginning to explore solutions that work with, rather than against, nature. In Natural Defense: Enlisting our Bugs and Germs to Protect our Food and Health (363.800) Emily Monosson gives reason to be optimistic about the future of health care and agriculture.

Mark Firth, contractor and home renovator in rural Massachusetts, just lost all his savings to a crooked financial advisor. Philip Hadi, a wealthy securities investor, nervous in the days immediately after September 11, just left New York City and hired Mark to turn his vacation house into a safe house. Mark’s rural, financially strapped life and Philip’s urban, wealthy one collide in the small Massachusetts town against the back drop of the mid-decade housing boom in Pulitzer Prize finalist Jonathan Dee’s The Locals (F).

Nueroscientist Gregory Berns trained dogs to go into an MRI scanner while they were awake. What he found from the information he gathered could change the way we view animals, their abilities, and their emotions. Additionally, Berns reconstructed the brain of a Tasmanian tiger to understand better why they went extinct. Told with humor and insight, What It Is Like to Be a Dog and Other Adventures in Anima Neuroscience (591.513) offers new evidence that animals’ brains are strikingly similar to our own.

Also at the Library:
     A Legacy of Spies (F) by John Le Carre
     Proof of Life (M) by J. A. Jance
     Enemy of the State (F) by Vince Flynn
     Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein (956.704) by John Nixon
     The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, A Train, and Three American Heroes (363.325) by Anthony
       Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Jeffrey Stern
     Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead (158.000) by Brene

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September 18, 2017 

One of the most talked about debut novels of the year, Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling (F) is the intoxicating thriller of a teenage girl slowly learning to save herself from her abusive father. Growing up in lush Northern California, Turtle learned to shoot when she was six. By fourteen, she is a master at wilderness survival. When she saves two teenage boys lost in the forest, she gets a look into a reality that is not, as she is used to, brutal nor violent, and the crush she develops on one of the boys begins to lead her away from the vicious home she knows.

Purdue University professor and New Yorker columnist Roxane Gay has published four books in the past three years. The most recent of these, Hunger (616.852) is a memoir, as she puts it, of her body. A survivor of childhood sexual assault, Gay coped with her trauma by making herself larger and fiercer, setting herself up for a lifetime of confronting other people’s ideas of fat people. Told with her characteristic wit and humor, Hunger is an essential read for all of us. 

Young Jane Young (F),
by Gabrielle Zevin, author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (F), is hilarious, pointed look at modern society, technology, and politics. As a young congressional internist, Jane Young had a misguided and unfortunate affair with a married man, also her boss. When the scandal surfaces, Jane’s career is, of course, destroyed along with the rest of her life. Jane moves to Maine with her daughter Ruby and begins a new life with a new name, but in this age of the internet, the past is never gone. When Jane decides to run for public office in her small town, her youthful mistake resurfaces in this humorous, fast-paced novel.

James Rebanks is Twitter’s favorite shepherd. While some success stories are about self-made fortunes and escape from poverty, Rebanks’ story is just the opposite. Rebanks raises sheep in the Lake District of England, just as his family has for many generations. Choosing to stay and raise sheep, rather than move to a city and earn a steady paycheck, Rebanks has found strength in continuity and roots. His book The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape (636.300) is the story of hard work, endurance, and the joy of staying put.

In the 1940s, Ireland was a newly independent nation ruled mostly, if not formally, by the Catholic Church. In the opening of John Boyne’s new novel The Heart’s Invisible Furies (F),  Catherine Goggin is called to the front of the congregation during Sunday service and publicly shamed, then exiled, for being both unwed and pregnant. A well-known writer adopts Catherine’s son, Cyril, who narrates the novel. John Boyne blisters his homeland with a mix of comedy and bawdiness in an enthralling novel of surviving despite one’s childhood.

What makes up a personality? The traditional nature-nurture debate of how a personality is formed generally takes for granted that a personality is fixed, never changing once it is established, however it is established. Psychologist Brian Little believes that personalities are flexible and controllable. In his new book Who Are You Really? The Surprising Puzzle of Personality (155.230), Little looks for the moments when people transcend the fixed personality traits they have taken for granted to chase something important to them. Also a TED speaker, Little argues that a happy life is based more on the projects you pursue than the traits you’ve cultivated.

Also at the Library:
     I Know a Secret (F) by Tess Gerritsen
     Secrets in Death (M) by J. D. Robb
     The Right Time (F) Danielle Steel
     Negotiating 101: From Planning Your Strategy to Finding a Common Ground, an Essential Guide to the Art
      of Negotiating (658.405) by Peter Sander
     Backpacking 101 ( 796.510) by Heather Balogh Rochfort
     The New American Heart Association Cookbook (641.563) by the American Heart Association

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September 11, 2017 

Return to Three Pines in Louise Penny’s latest installment of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, Glass Houses (M). Armand Gamache is now Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec and a mysterious figure has arrived in Three Pines, moodily casting a shadow over the village. When a body is discovered, Gamache will have to wrestle not only with the facts of the case but with his own conscience, as well. 

Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (363.738) is a handbook for those looking for concrete information on how climate change is affecting our lives and what to do about it. From practical, every day steps to take to reduce your carbon footprint to how to contact people in decision making roles and what to say to them, Gore’s book offers realistic ways everyone can contribute to a meaningful impact on climate change. Gore explains the connections between events such as the Zika virus outbreak and political unrest to show how the impact of climate change is even more wide-spread than we thought. 

In 1960’s Brazil, the Maurer’s are the picture of traditional success – lovely home, lovely family, lovely friends. When Luiza, the oldest child, both beautiful and restless, disappears into the ocean, the family begins to fall apart, slowly losing touch with themselves and their identity. Sarah Faber’s debut novel, All Is Beauty Now (F), is a delicate and heartbreaking tale of one family’s unravelling.

The citizen scientist movement is made of volunteers who dedicate their time to helping scientists collect data on everything from bumblebees to climate change to starfish in a tidal pool. Author Mary Ellen Hanibal knew that citizen scientists are our best chance at fighting extinction, but she needed to know if there really is any hope for threatened species. An experienced reporter, Hannibal began exploring the impacts of citizen science and discovered an amazing cast of devoted volunteers, stretching back over centuries. Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction (576.840) was named 2016’s best non-fiction books by the San Francisco Chronicle. 

The brutal, unsolved murders of Andrew and Abby Borden are the subject of endless speculation, childhood rhymes, and horror stories. Sarah Schmidt has added to the lore of Lizzie Borden with her new book See What I Have Done (F), a spellbinding story of a volatile, loveless household and family betrayal.

Charles Lindbergh’s motivation for his transatlantic flight was the $25,000 prize that awaited him if he was successful. Peter Diamandis drew from that when he learned that NASA was winding down its manned spaceflight program and that he probably wouldn’t have the chance to become an astronaut. Instead of giving up, however, Diamandis began one of the riskiest experiments in American business  – a $10 million prize for the first private team to build a spaceship and get it into space. How to Build a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight (629.470) by Julian Guthrie tells of the historic attempt of Diamandis’ vision to create private space flight.

Also at the Library:
     Seeing Red (F) by Sandra Brown
     Deadfall (F) by Linda Fairstein
     Exposed (F) by Lisa Scottoline
     50 Successful Harvard Application Essays: What Worked for Them Can Help You Get into the College of
       Your Choice (378.161
) by The Harvard Crimson
     IRA(S), 401(k)s and Other Retirement Plans: Strategies for Taking Your Money Out (343.052) by Twila Slesnick
     The Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practice (613.704) by Elliott Goldberg

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September 4, 2017 

The internet definitely has a dark side where the lowest crimes of humanity play out in virtual space. Now, an ancient evil is also gathering in the dark side of the web. In near-future Portland, Oregon, a motley group of unlikely heroes are grouping together to fight back the evil lurking in The Dark Net (F) by Benjamin Percy.

After forty years in the Hell’s Angels, a good many of them leading the Ventura Chapter of the motorcycle club, George Christie wanted to retire. However, retiring from the Hell’s Angels isn’t easy, and soon the club had blackballed Christie. In Exile on Front Street (364.109), Christie recounts his time with the outlaw biker gang, much of it in opposition to the founder and much-admired leader of the gang, Sonny Barger.

Mark Hendrix was the lead detective on a serial murder case that was never solved. Trying to track down the Prophet, who terrorized the Bay Area in the 1990’s, drove Hendrix to the edge of a nervous breakdown and devastated his family’s mental and physical well being. Twenty years later, his daughter, Caitlin, a narcotics detective for only six months, attends the crime scene of a brutal double murder that has all the characteristics of the Prophet. Caitlin is determined to win this time and find the identity of the unknown subject in Unsub (F) by Meg Gardiner.

Harry J. Anslinger was the nation’s first drug czar starting with the creation of Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930. He was a rabid propagandist who frequently demonized racial and immigrant groups and had a special zealousness for marijuana users. In Assassin of Youth (363.450), Alexandra Chasin explores the social history that created Anslinger’s mindset and the culture his mindset created after his tenure at the Bureau of Narcotics. From there, Chasin uses historical documents to track the evolution of drug laws including a look at the 1820’s Pharmacopeia to the death of Sandra Bland to the lives of gangsters and CIA operatives. 

Author Sean McFate is not only a foreign policy and national security strategist, but also a U. S. Army officer and paratrooper who served under Stanley McChrystal and David Patreus. He brings his intimate knowledge of international security intrigue to his latest book, Deep Black (F). Masked men have attacked a Saudi prince and stolen the briefcase locked to his wrist. Escaping deep into ISIS held territory, the masked thieves lead military undercover agent Tom Locke straight into a deep state war. 

Residential hotels are often home for the most vulnerable families – those struggling with mental illness or addiction, newly released prisoners, and the working poor, to name a few. Sociologist Christopher Dum spent a year living in The Boardwalk Hotel chronicling the lives of its residents and the challenges they faced. As the neighborhood around the hotel tried to have it closed down, residents at the Boardwalk continued to persevere. Dum writes of his experience at the Boardwalk in Exiled in America: Life on the Margins in a Residential Motel (363.500).

Also at the Library:
     The Store (F) by James Patterson
     Crime Scene (F) by Jonathan Kellerman
     Barely Legal (F) by Stuart Woods
     Scotland: A Whiskey Lover’s Guide (914.110) by Ted Bruning
     Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man who Wrote Dracula (921.000) by David J.
     Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans (359.030) by James Stavridis

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