Readers Guide


By Julie Forkner

March 27, 2016
March 20, 2017
March 13, 2017
March 6, 2017

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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March 20, 2017 

Claude McKay was a leading author and poet of both the Harlem Renaissance and the Lost Generation of World War I, influencing major authors such as Langston Hughes. His best-known work, Home to Harlem, was the first bestselling novel written by an African American in the United States. In 2012, a graduate student at Colombia University discovered a manuscript of McKay’s that had never been published. Amiable with Big Teeth (F) is a political satire about the invasion of Ethiopia and the spread of fascism in the 1920’s.

In the U. S., only 125 veterinarians are certified bird specialists. Laurie Hess, director of the Veterinary Center for Birds and Exotics and author of Unlikely Companions (636.089), is one of them. Her new books is a collection of her experiences treating exotic animals and the bonds animals and humans can have. From a parrot in police custody to a giant snapping turtle in Central Park, Hess’s new book is an affirmation of the strength and importance of human-animal bonds.

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Sympathizer (F) has been compared to the wartime novels of Graham Greene and John Le Carre.  Although all are masters of suspense and espionage, Greene and Le Carre write from a distinctly American point of view. Nguyen, however, was born in Vietnam but raised and educated in America. His novel, set in 1975, is the story of a Vietnamese war refugee and communist sympathizer living in Los Angeles, with ties to the communist regime in Vietnam. When his stringent ideals clash with his feelings for the people in his life, the conflict between his two worlds explodes. Nguyen’s unique ability to understand each side of the conflict makes The Sympathizer a read like no other.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera has been studying intelligence agencies, historical espionage, and surveillance techniques most of his career. His new book, Cyber Spies: the Secret History of Surveillance, Hacking, and Digital Espionage (327.120) traces the hand-in-hand rise of computers and espionage. From Britain’s Bletchley Park of the 1940’s to today’s world-wide espionage war, Corera draws on his global perspective to argue that the United States is in the most powerful position to address online security and intelligence gathering, but is also the most vulnerable. 

Gathering animal intelligence isn’t as straightforward as hacking a computer, or is it? Ralph Nader has imagined what would happen if we could communicate with animals in his new novel Animal Envy (F). Much like E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web or George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Nader imagines a world where animals can talk, this time using a ‘digital translation’ app. As the animals learn that communication equals power they plan a global “Talkout.” Once the world hears what’s on the animals’ minds, chaos ensues in this no-holds barred satire on modern life. 

Jack Bender is best known for his work as a director and producer on TV shows such as Lost and The Sopranos. He is also an artist, and his new book I am the Elephant in the Room is full of his imaginative, Picasso-like art. Stephen King said, “If ever there was a children’s book for adults only, this is the one.” Bender combines his biting humor, storyteller’s gift, and artistic eye to create a whimsical, cynical, and sweet tale for artists, readers, and the young at heart.

Also at the library:
     Banana Cream Pie Murder (M) by Joanna Fluke
     The Crow Trap (M) by Ann Cleeves
     Dangerous Game (F) by Danielle Steel
     The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook: DIY Guide to Living Well with Chronic Illness (616.978) by Mickey
        Trescott and Angie Alt
     Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History (599.772) by Dan Flores
     Running with the Champ: My Forty-year Friendship with Muhammad Ali (796.830) by Tim Shanahan

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March 13, 2017 

Described as scandalous and whip-smart, Claire Fuller’s new book Swimming Lessons (F) is a psychological thriller inside a family drama. Ingrid Coleman disappeared twelve years ago, but not before leaving an explanation in the form of letters written to her husband and hidden in the thousands of books in their home. When husband Gil falls ill and his daughters return to take care of him, Ingrid’s secrets start to reveal themselves.

A fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature, Florence Williams was intrigued by the timeless and persistent presence of nature as a central source of inspiration and genius for writers, scientists, artists and others. Determined to understand the science behind nature’s effect on the brain, Williams travelled to Korea, Scotland, and Idaho, to name a few places, and worked with children with ADHD, veterans of the Iraq war with PTSD, and many others to understand how nature effects our cognition and creativity. Using both cutting-edge science and humor to explain nature’s effect on the brain, Williams’ The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative (155.900) is a strong argument for getting up and getting outside. 

Simon Tolkien, son of the creator of The Hobbit (F) and Middle Earth, J. R. R. Tolkien, has written a new book drawing on his father’s experiences in the trenches of World War I. Turn-of-the-century London was chaotic and sometimes violent. When Adam Raine’s mother dies in a worker’s protest demonstration, his life takes a drastic turn, taking him from London to a Yorkshire coalmine to an Edwardian country house to the terror of The Somme. No Man’s Land (F), much like Downtown Abbey, The Peaky Blinders, and Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, is an unnerving portrait of a society in violent transition. 

Only within the past 150 years have humans had much control over their environment. Before that, our ancestors lived an outdoor life with what seems to us as an odd ability to withstand the weather. As we gained the ability to moderate the temperature around us, we lost our tolerance for cold.   Scott Carney, however, believes that by retraining our bodies to tolerate extreme cold, we can cure many modern ills such as obesity and autoimmune disorders. His book, What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength (612.000) explains how Carney and Dutch fitness expert Wim Hof, pushed their bodies to such extreme limits as hiking Kilimanjaro in shorts and sneakers to discover if extreme conditioning could cure disease. 

Jeremy Heldt of Nevada, Iowa works at the local video rental store, back when there were such places. He’s the first to notice that someone has been doctoring movies, splicing in dark, foreboding footage of people being held captive or of remote, sinister but familiar places. When Jeremy sees someone he believes is his deceased mother on one of the tapes, he is thrown into the bleak and eerie landscape far from help to try to find her in Universal Harvester (F)

Adrian Behan is a Professor of Mechanical Engineer at Duke University, specializing in thermodynamics. His newest book, The Physics of Life: The Evolution of Everything (576.800), attempts to find a law of organization that applies to everything from politics to evolutionary biology to sports health. Bejan uses the language of physics to explore our concepts of power and desire eventually arriving at a stunning new view of the globe and society. 

Also at the library:
     Heartbreak Hotel (F) by Jonathan Kellerman
     Humans, Bow Down (F) by James Patterson and Emily Raymond
     A Death in the Dales (M) by Frances Brody
     Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (320.520) by Arlie Russell Hochschild
     Settle for More (791.450) by Megyn Kelly
     Fever Swamp: A Journey Through the Sstrange Neverland of the 2016 Presidential Race (324.973) by Richard
        North Patterson

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March 6, 2017 

Wini Allen needs a vacation. Her fifteen-year marriage has just ended, and her brother has just passed away. Together with her three closest friends, Wini plans a hiking and rafting trip into the Allagash Wilderness. When disaster strikes on their first night out, the four women will discover how strong their friendship is. Think Deliverance set in Maine with a female cast and you’ll have The River at Night (F) by Erica Ferencik.

Grace Humiston was the country’s first female district Attorney General, but first she was one of the nation’s greatest crime fighters. As a lawyer and detective, Humiston’s motto was “Justice for those of limited means,” which gave her many opportunities in New York in the early 1900s. Brad Ricca’s narrative biography Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case that Captivated a Nation (362.829) tells how Humiston left New York society to chase down some of the era’s most dangerous criminals. 

Calmness in the midst of chaos is a trait worthy of cultivation. Rachel Cusk’s new novel, Transit (F) the second in a cycle of three, accomplishes just that. Faye, a writer and recently divorced mother of two, has just taken her two young sons and moved to London. In the chaos of the divorce, the move, and the renovation of the new apartment, Faye loses her footing and has to scramble to hold onto reality, which she does through her attention to language and to people. Transit is a lyrical novel about the importance of loneliness and a meditation on relationships. 

Reentering the workplace after being gone for an extended period can be daunting, frustrating, and exhausting. Although there is plenty of guidance for women in the workplace, there is very little for women needing to get back into the workplace once their contacts and career momentum are gone. Cheryl Casone, Fox Business Network anchor, has written a guide for women who are trying to plan time away from work and for those who have been away and need to get back to it. The Comeback: How Today’s Moms Reenter the Workplace Successfully (331.440) covers everything from how to network from zero to how to plan a successful maternity leave.

St. Brigid Island off the coast of Ireland is ripe with mystery. Twins Emer and Rose, married to two brothers, keep traditional lives on the island, digging peat, fishing, raising their children and talking to the fairies. When a brash and hard headed American show up to take over her uncle’s cottage, the two women are challenged to protect their lifestyle and keep their children safe in The Stolen Child (F) by Lisa Carey.

Adding to the ongoing conversation about dynamics in the workplace and how to make a more equitable playing field for all is How Women Decide: What’s True, What’s Not, and What Strategies Spark the Best Choices (153.830) by Therese Huston. According to Huston, making decisions is something women approach fundamentally differently than do men. Oftentimes the qualities that women are most criticized for – stress, lack of confidence – lead to better and more thorough decisions. Men are often trusted inherently after one good call whereas women continually have to prove themselves to be of sound judgement. Psychologist Huston shares real stories of women’s experience alongside proven advice for successfully workplace strategies.

Also at the Library
     Never Never (F) by James Patterson
     The Prisoner (F) by Alex Berenson
     What You Break (M) by Reed Farrell Coleman
     Florence! Foster!! Jenkins!!! The Life of the World’s Worst Opera Singer (782.100) by Darryl Bullock
     Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital (362.100)  by David
     Finding the Flavors We Lost: From Bread to Bourbon, How Artisans Reclaimed American Food (641.013) by
        Patric Kuh

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