Readers Guide


By Julie Forkner

November 28, 2016
November 21, 2016
November 14, 2016
November 7, 2016

November 28, 2016 

Sarah Domet’s debut novel, The Guineveres (F), starts with four girls, all named Guinevere and all surrendered to the Sisters of Supreme Adoration. When their first attempt to escape is foiled, the girls are assigned to work in the convent’s sick ward where five soldiers, recuperating from the war outside present themselves as a way out of the nuns’ grasp. The soldiers’ stories intertwine with each of the girls’ for a well-told, lyrical tale.

General MacArthur and President Truman were very different men. When Truman became president, MacArthur was at the height of his popularity, but Truman was at the bottom of his. MacArthur had a long history of leadership to learn from; Truman had to learn the office of President as he went. The General vs. The Presidednt: MacArthur and Truman at the brink of Nuclear War (973.918) is H. W. Brands’ story of how these two disparate men came together to lead the country in a time of crisis.

With the sheer volume of Jane Austen-inspired fiction and Shakespeare re-imaginings, it’s difficult to muster the energy for yet another. The inimitable Margaret Atwood, however, has written a modern retelling of the Tempest that is a riot of humor, social satire, and pure fun. In Hag-Seed (F), the world of dramatic revenge is in full glory as a disgraced artistic director is upstaged by an arrogant newcomer. Twelve years later, he traps his betrayers on a prison stage, timing his revenge down to the last line. 

Mary Roach, who has investigated the science behind sex, cadavers, and the afterlife, has turned her attention to the curious science of humans at war in her new book Grunt (355.070). In her quest to understand the stresses of war and the scientists looking for ways to overcome them, Roach plays paintball, visits fashion design studios, and goes to a repurposed movie studio. She answers questions about military life like why a zipper is dangerous for a sniper and why shrimp are more dangerous to sailors than sharks. 

Maria Semple has written for hit comedy TV shows such as Mad About You and Arrested Development. Her first novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette (F) was just as funny as her TV shows. Her second novel, just released, Today Will Be Different (F) carries on her trademark humor but adds more soul than any of her previous works. When Eleanor Flood’s plan to have a simple, uncomplicated day goes awry, her day goes from simple to mad, crossing the country from Seattle to New Orleans, and takes on the whole picture of motherhood, middle age, faith and failure in one hilarious swoop.

Blanche Wiesen Cook concludes her three part biography of Eleanor Roosevelt in Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years and After, 1939-1962. By 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt was a confident and active first lady. Although she and her president husband had grown increasingly distant both personally and politically, she remained a steady force in FDR’s life. Remaining faithful to her values of economic security for all Americans and racial equality meant clashing with her husband, ER, as Cook refers to her, managed to hold everything together to become a significant influence in the founding of the United Nations.

Also at the Library:
     Sex, Lies, and Serious Money (F) by Stuart Woods
     Pharaoh (F) by Wilbur Smith
     The Mirror Sisters (F) by V. C. Andrews
     Dutch Treats: Heirloom Recipes from Farmhouse Kitchens (641.865)  by William Woys Weaver
     Cookie Advent Cookbook (641.865) by Barbara Grunes and Virginia Van Vynckt
     Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookies (641.568) by Good Housekeeping

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November 21, 2016 

Emma Donoghue, author of the bestselling novel Room (F), is becoming known as a master of the psychological thriller. In her new novel, The Wonder (F), nurse Lib Wright has one job to do – to watch eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who has not eaten anything in four months. In Donoghue’s haunting and taut prose, the nurse soon has all her assumptions about life stripped away as she spends day after day in Anna’s bare, mysterious room.

The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico are surrounded by some of North America’s deadliest terrain and are keepers of a treasured secret – the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest. Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (796.420) is the story of how he joined this elusive tribe long enough to learn their secrets of endurance and performance. From science labs at Harvard to the arid valleys of Mexico, McDougall finds the secret to becoming an ultra-marathoner as he trains for one of the hardest races on the planet – a fifty mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country.

Amy Stewart is originally a naturalist, becoming well-known for her books such as Wicked Bugs: The Louse that Conquered Napolean’s Army (632.700) and Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother (581.650). Her new series, however, has taken her away from the history of the natural world and into the history of crime fighting. Based on the real lives of Kopp sisters, Lady Cop Makes Trouble (F) is the second in the fictionalized crimes series based on the lives of the first female law enforcement officer in the U. S. 

For political junkies that would like to hear about something other than the current state of affairs, there’s a new book out from John Dickerson, moderator of the CBS show Face the Nation. Dickerson’s book, Whistlestop: My Favorite Stores from Presidential Campaigns (324.973) gives a first-hand account of a career insiders look at the successes, failures, and bloopers of presidential campaigning.

Charles Wang, resident of Bel Air and owner of a successful cosmetic empire, lost everything in the financial crisis. Deciding to move back home to China, Wang uproots his family from their lavish California lifestyle and embarks on a cross country road trip to collect his eldest, disgraced daughter before departing for his ancestral home. Along the way, his son falls for a New Orleans temptress and his wife threatens to leave him for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets.  When the family is in an epic accident in North Carolina, Wang’s desire for a new start in China faces its toughest challenge yet. The Wangs vs. The World (F) is a reverse immigration story filled with humor and generosity. 

Ordinarily well may not seem like a high goal to achieve, but for those suffering from depression, and the doctors treating them, ordinarily well is a treasured goal. Psychiatrist Peter Kramer examines the case for anti-depressants from all sides in his new book, Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants (615.780). Using a wide-range of resources, Kramer explains the dilemma of “to prescribe or not to prescribe.” Kramer explains the statistics of psychiatry, his own evolving understanding of the disease, and stories from his own practice to show how anti-depressants might help those suffering from a destructive illness can become ordinarily well.

Also at the Library
     The Wrong Side of Goodbye (F) by Michael Connelly
     No Man’s Land (F) by David Baldacci
     The Award (F) by Danielle Steel
     Welding for Dummies (671.520) by Steven Robert Farnsworth
     Birnbaum’s 2017 Official Guide to Walt Disney World (917.590) by Stephen Birnbaum, ed.
     Kovel’s Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2017 (745.100) by Terry and Kim Kovel

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November 14, 2016

When Amor Towles’ first novel Rules of Civility (F) became a best seller in 2011, the author won praise for his sophisticated style. Towles’ second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow (F), is just as sophisticated conjuring an atmosphere of Old World decorum and courtesy. In 1922, a few years after the beginning of the Russian revolution, Count Alexander Rostov is found guilty of being an unrepentant aristocrat and sentenced to exile within the Metropol, the grand art deco hotel across the street from the Kremlin.  Although he never leaves the hotel, Rostov is introduced to a wide world of exploits and connections. When the life of a young girl is placed squarely in his hands, his resourcefulness and gentility are tested to the extreme. 

Mindfulness and meditation are hot topics at the moment. Norman Rosenthal, a clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University as well as a practicing psychiatrist, has compiled many years of peer-reviewed research along with personal stories from his work as a therapist to explain how meditation can help everyone reach a higher level of mental development. Supermind: How to Boost Performance and Live a Richer and Happier Life through Transcendental Meditation (158.125) explains how and why meditation works to help everyone reach their greatest potential both personally and professionally.

The birth of a child can pull a couple together or push them apart. For Alex and Jody, the birth of their son Sam has strained their marriage into an indefinite separation.  Although Sam’s diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder has helped the family understand their new life, Alex still doesn’t know how to connect with his son, until the two begin playing Minecraft. The world of Minecraft opens up a new world for this father and son in Keith Stuart’s debut novel, A Boy Made of Blocks (F).

If you’ve ever felt queasy walking into a tense situation or had butterflies in your stomach when you are nervous, you’ve experienced how the mind and the gut are connected. According to Dr. Emeran Mayer, this connection between our guts and our minds is a two-way street. When communication between the gut and the brain is disrupted, a variety of health concerns can arise including food allergies, digestive disorders, obesity, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, according to Dr. Mayer. The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation within our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health (616.300) explains the connection between the two and offers simple, practical ways to bring the body back into balance and unlock vibrant health. 

Believing the premise of Aaron Thier’s new novel is not difficult. When Mr. Eternity (F) opens it is 2016, sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and the world is coming to a crisis. Here, however, Thier takes events in an unexpected direction, introducing a sailor by the name of Daniel Defoe who is five hundred and sixty years old. In this surprise novel, Mr. Eternity shows us how time changes and the remarkable ways in which it stays the same. Fans of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas will love Aaron Thier’s Mr. Eternity. 

A friend of mine used to claim that the security gates near the doors of retail stores erase your memory so that you can never remember what you needed. A co-worker claims that walking through doorways makes you forget why you got up in the first place.  Dean Burnett, however, calls that phenomenon Idiot Brain. Although the human brain is a marvel, it is also, according to Burnett, “messy, fallible and about 50,000 years out of date.” If you’ve ever wondered why you can recall the date Napoleon surrendered at Waterloo but not what you went to the grocery store for, Idiot Brain: What Your Head is Really Up To (612.820) will explain how our mental quirks can be the well-meaning mind’s strategy to keep you healthy and alive. 

Also at the Library
     Small Great Things (F) by Jodi Picoult
     Sex Lies and Serious Money (F) by Stuart Woods
     The Award (F) by Danielle Steele
     Naturally Sweet: Bake All Your Favorites with 30% to 50% Less Sugar (641.860) by America’s Test Kitchen
     The Furniture Factory Outlet Guide 2017 (381.150) by Kimberly Causey

On CD:
     Hamilton: The Original Broadway Cast Recording (K HAMI HAM A 93) by Lin Manuel-Miranda

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November 7, 2016 

Fans of Jojo Moyes will enjoy Rowan Coleman’s newest book, We Are All Made of Stars (F). Married to a troubled and distant Afghanistan vet, Stella escapes her troubled marriage by working the hospice night shift where she helps patients write letters to those they are leaving behind. It’s an unusual way to rekindle love, but it’s a promising and uplifting love story nonetheless.

A marvel of the last century, America’s power grid is now a weak link in our energy future. Cultural anthropologist Gretchen Bakke, however, sees great opportunity in our aging power grid – opportunities for collaboration and innovation across all sectors of society. In The Grid: The Fraying Wires between Americans and Our Energy Future (333.793), Bakke shows, with perceptive and entertaining prose, the change that is happening right now and the promise of the grid in a clean future.

Spanning 150 years, Peter Ho Davies’ The Fortunes (F) is an epic coming to America story. Ah Ling, the son of a prostitute and a white man, is sent from his Chinese homeland to make his way in America. The Fortunes traces his journey from valet to railroad baron, showing us life in America along the way. 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has become a household name and a common diagnosis of school-aged children. More than 1 in 7 children are diagnosed as having ADHD, far more than what experts say is valid. Alan Schwartz traces the rise of ADHD diagnoses and its ties to big pharmacy in ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Parma, and the Making of an Epidemic. Schwartz also shows that ADHD can be a real problem for some and offers practical solution for dealing with the diagnosis. 

It may not be surprising that some of the best writers writing today are Irish, but, nonetheless Ireland continues to produce some of the most surprising writers. Lisa McInerney’s debut novel The Glorious Heresies (F) is a darkly funny novel about the “arse end of Ireland.” Set in Cork City, the story unites four misfit characters when one very Catholic grandmother kills an intruder with a Holy Stone. Fans of dark humor and social satire won’t want to miss The Glorious Heresies. 

Life-long forester Peter Wohlleben has documented the vast social network of trees. Drawing on scientific research and his own observations, Wohlleben describes how trees communicate, support, and nurture each other in The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate (577.300). Demonstrating how trees suckle their young, support their neighbors, and communicate throughout their communities, Wohlleben brings a whole new life to the forest.

Also at the Library
     Night Watch (F) by Iris and Roy Johansen
     Seduced (F) by Randy Wayne White
     Precious and Grace (F) by Alexander McCall Smith
     Marvel: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know (741.500) by Adam Bray, et al
     The Manhattan Project at Hanford Site (979.700) by Elizabeth Toomey
     Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won’t Have To (332.024) by Melanie Cullen and Shae Irving

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