It’snovember2015coverphoto November. Let us all be thankful for our loved ones and enjoy the holiday season with the recommended titles below.


Dagmar – Circulation

voraciousVoracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti, New Nonfiction 028.9 Nic

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books is a delicious culinary journey with things that many of us love the most in life: books and food. The author, Cara Nicoletti, is a butcher, a former pastry chef, and author of the literary recipe blog Yummy Books. Her journey started in her junior year in college, when she, originally from Boston, was fed up, lonely, and exhausted in New York, and ready to leave the city. Her college friend Emily changed everything: convinced her to stay in New York, and years later to create a blog, which led to this book. Four years ago, the author, along with her friend Emily and her husband Ante, started a book club. Every time they finished a book, they would go to Cara’s apartment where they would  discuss a book and Cara would make them a meal from the book so they could eat while discussing. These book club dinners would eventually turn into a literary supper club, which then turned into Yummy Books, which was the starting point of this book. This is a very interesting new take on discussing books – book club readers take notice – the author may be onto something here and it may be just a recipe for success of reading and dining with friends.

cloudsofsilsmariaClouds of Sils Maria starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, New DVD Clouds

Many of us have followed Juliette Binoche and her films during her prolific career. From her first major international hit nearly 30 years ago, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” we saw her in films such as “The English Patient,” for which she won an Academy Award, and “Chocolat” with Johnny Depp, through which she won the hearts of many. Last month, the blog reviewed her recent film “Certified Copy.” This month, her fans will be delighted to see her latest film, Clouds of Sils Maria. In this film, she delivers another career-defining performance. Along with Kristen Stewart, she creates a seductive and mesmerizing masterpiece. Binoche plays renowned actress Maria Enders, who is cast opposite a young Hollywood starlet with a flair for scandal. Aging Binoche must face and come to terms with what it means to be an actress in a youth-obsessed industry. She prepares for the most challenging role of her life with her assistant (Stewart). During the process, tension rises and there may be a hint of another underlying problem for both of them. For her acclaimed performance, Stewart became the first American to win the coveted Cesar Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Sue – Circulation

skyeLetters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole, Fiction Brockmole

This is an engaging love story told completely in letters that spans more than two decades, from the first world war to the second. It opens in 1912 with a fan letter from David in Illinois to Elspeth, a published poet, in the Isle of Skye in Scotland. As Elspeth and David correspond via letter, they slowly fall in love. However, Elspeth is a married woman. When the war begins, David volunteers to be an ambulance driver and goes off to France. The book then jumps forward in time to 1940 and we follow the letters of Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, to her love who is serving in the war. Something happened back in the first world war that tore Elspeth’s family apart, but Margaret knows nothing of her mother’s past or her own father. As Margaret investigates her family’s past, we learn more about the events of 20 years ago and the story comes full circle. Though it is set in wartime, the book focuses more on romance and less on war. The characters and their emotions felt real to me and the story was absorbing and satisfying without being too predictable.

ettaandottoEtta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper, Fiction Hooper

This book tells the life stories of Etta and Otto, a married couple now in their 80s who live on a farm in rural Saskatchewan. The story opens with Etta leaving on a journey all the way across Canada to the sea in Halifax. She intends to walk this great distance by herself. It is something she feels she needs to do, connected to an event in her childhood. Otto understands and lets her go. Otto’s best friend and neighbor, Russell, at one time in love with Etta himself, is not so understanding and sets off after Etta. The book goes back and forth in time, telling each character’s story from their childhood to Otto’s service in the war as a young man and his return to the present day. While Etta walks, she picks up an animal companion she names James, giving us the four characters of the title.

The book has a dream-like quality to it – you are not sure if some of the events really happened or if it was just in the character’s mind. The various events that affect the characters’ lives and how their lives play out over the years makes for compelling reading. The book is beautifully written – a moving story of friendship and loyalty, lives not without hardship, but with family and friends always there when needed to share the joy and the burdens.

hinterlandHinterland starring Richard Harrington and Mali Harries, DVD Hinterland, Series 1

This is a detective drama that follows DCI Tom Mathias and his team as they investigate crimes in a remote coastal area of Wales. Mathias is a brooding, serious man with an unhappy past that has sent him from London to Wales for a fresh start. The show is gritty, dark, and intense with beautiful cinematography showing the barren Welsh landscape. The show is filmed in both Welsh and English, with the Welsh language version broadcast in Wales and the English version broadcast in England. The second season of the show is airing this fall in Wales and a third season has been ordered.

Chris – Technical Services

vintagechicagoDiscovering Vintage Chicago: A Guide to the City’s Timeless Shops, Bars, Delis & More by Amy Bizzarri, New Nonfiction 917.73 Biz

A must-read for Chicago history lovers. A guide to the many unique and historic places around the city; great for planning your own walking tour. Appendix’s by category, by neighborhood, and year of origin.


bidbadbillmurrayThe Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor by Robert Schnakenberg, Nonfiction 791.43 Sch

An A-to-Z compilation of everything Bill; quotes, filmography, photos, & “Tales from Murrayland.” If you love Bill’s work, you will like this. Not to be read from cover to cover, but to be enjoyed in bits and pieces.

Melissa – Technical Services

hautingofhillhouseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Fiction Jackson

For those unfamiliar with the plot of this classic, a group of people gather together in a house with a dark reputation with the goal of experiencing some of the paranormal events held in legend. Jackson does two impressive things with this book: the characters are so rich, which isn’t always the focus of a horror novel. Typically, in a horror novel, much of the emphasis goes towards the atmosphere. And yet, the atmosphere that Jackson creates is superb. The characters get on well with each other, enjoying each other’s company and witty exchanges. It’s only at night that the fear sets in. Thus, readers are removed from the tension of the horror, and laughing, only to be thrown back in again. This makes it all the more terrifying, because every instance of fear follows a period where the characters (and reader) were relaxed and calm. The horror/comedy coupling echoes the madness felt by the narrator, as she slowly loses her sanity as she stays in Hill House.

Pat – Circulation

jinxThe Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst produced by Marc Smerling and Andrew JareckiNew DVD 364.15 Jinx

This is a six-hour documentary broken into six installments. They follow the life story of Robert Durst, a reclusive real estate icon, including his childhood, the murder of his first wife Kathleen, the murder of his close friend Susan Berman, and the murder and dismemberment of his neighbor Morris Black. Robert Durst is in jail today, pending trial, because of the Jinx. His entire story is so bizarre, yet true, each detail more incredible than the last.

Mary – Youth Services

whybehappyWhy Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson, Nonfiction 921 Winterson

Jeanette Winterson is a prominent, lyrical writer of many well-known books such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The Passion, and Written on the Body. Her works often deal with the subversive spirit, or how one can survive in a society ready to strip one’s individual differences. Like her works, Winterson’s memoir is not the typical life story. Often blanketed by her vast knowledge of literature and history, Winterson reveals what her life was like growing up in northern England. The memoir’s focal point is the time Winterson lived as the adopted daughter of strictly-religious, Pentecostal parents. Never knowing when the four horsemen of the apocalypse and Jesus would take her, Winterson’s childhood story is sometimes darkly humorous, sometimes distressing in its portrait of what it is like to mold individual identity; what it means to be both a member of a biological and a created family. This work, among many other things, is a love letter to literature and survivors of childhood trauma. It also serves as a testament to resilience and individuality – a sigh of relief: Thank goodness I am not “normal!”

sleeperandspindleThe Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell, New YA Fiction Gaiman

I have eagerly been awaiting this book’s American release. The long wait is now over, and I can call off the small boat that would have smuggled me into England. The Sleeper and the Spindle is Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, with lavish, dark illustrations by Chris Riddell. I often find it is hard to breathe new life into certain tales, but Gaiman takes an angle on the beloved story that is interesting and thought-provoking. Combined with the stunning artwork by Chris Riddel, The Sleeper and the Spindle exists as both a beautiful art object and a fresh portrayal of a classic fairy tale.


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Oct2015coverphotoIt’s October! Enjoy the cooler weather with bonfires and cider and check out the recommended titles below.



Stephanie – Youth Services

codenameverityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, YA Fiction Wein (Abe 2015) or YA CD Wein (audiobook)

This 2015 Abraham Lincoln Award Winner is the riveting story of a British spy during World War II who has been caught by Germany. She is prepared to do anything she can to stay alive and avoid being killed by Kerosene. As a spy herself, she knows what Britain does to spies, so she knows what she is in for. This story is more than just staying alive. It is about freedom, triumph, and the story of who she is. Code Name Verity will leave you wondering what is to come and how she can escape her captors…or if.

Dagmar – Circulation

picnicinprovencePicnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard, New Nonfiction 921 Bard

This very delightful book is a sequel to Elizabeth Bard’s first book, Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes. In this equally delicious writing, we follow the New York-born journalist and expectant mother, now married to her French husband, to her new adventure: moving to Provence. Pregnant Elizabeth and her husband take a vacation in the French countryside before the baby arrives and they fall in love with it to the point of no return. They only return to Paris to sell their apartment and move to Provence to start their life anew. With elegance, wit, and humor, Elizabeth comments on her new family life in the French countryside, on her friends and in-laws, on visits of her American family, and on the cultural differences between her upbringing in New York and those of the Frenchmen. This book is not only a good read for the Francophiles among us, but also for those who enjoy pleasant reading full of humor, joy, and delicious recipes. A must read for those who either traveled to Provence, would like to travel there, or simply just enjoy reading about it. Comparable to similar writings by Peter Mayle (on the subject of a life in Provence) with a female twist.

certifiedcopyCertified Copy starring Juliette Binoche, DVD Certified Copy

Certified Copy is a marvelous, mind-blowing movie by the great Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. The story of a meeting between one man and one woman in a small Italian village in Southern Tuscany at first appears to be a simple one. The man is a British author who has just finished giving a lecture at a conference. The woman, from France, owns an art gallery. This is a common story that could happen to anyone, anywhere.

We see the star Juliette Binoche and the handsome co-star William Shimell (a famous British opera singer in his film debut) meet at the lecture. The second day, they take a trip to the Italian countryside. The atmosphere of the Italian countryside and the colors of the buildings, of the sky, and the Tuscany village paint a vivid picture and help to shape the emotional structure of the film. They first talk about his book and about art, about the philosophy of the copy and the original. Later their discussion turns to love, marriage, and commitment, until we figure out that they may be a long-married couple having a difficult reunion. Intriguing and sensual, this film with English, Italian, and French dialog (with English subtitles) is definitely worth seeing.

Sue – Circulation

mrssinclairMrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters, New Fiction Walters

This engaging novel tells the story of two women: Dorothea, now almost 110 years old and living in a nursing home, and her granddaughter, Roberta. Roberta works in a used bookstore and is fascinated by books. A favorite hobby of hers is collecting old letters, postcards, photos, etc. that she finds in used books. One day, her father brings her an old suitcase belonging to her grandmother. Roberta finds a letter from the 1940s in the suitcase written by her grandfather to her grandmother that casts doubt on her beliefs about her family heritage. Roberta starts looking into her grandmother’s past to unravel the mystery. The book then goes back into the past and tells us Dorothea’s story. We learn about her childhood, her marriage, and her life during World War II. Though the story is told in alternating chapters, telling Dorothea’s story in the past and Roberta’s story in the present, the book belongs to Dorothea. Her character is the compelling one. Hers is a bittersweet story, with a broken relationship with her mother, an unhappy marriage, heartbreaking miscarriages, which leave her bereft of her great dream of being a mother, and a thwarted love affair with a pilot during the war while her husband is away. The book is really a story about maternal love rather than the love between a man and a woman and how Dorothea makes a satisfying life for herself in spite of the hardships she faced.

placetocall homeA Place to Call Home starring Marta Dusseldorp, New DVD Place, Seasons 1 and 2

This is a compelling Australian drama series set in the early 1950s. It revolves around nurse Sarah Adams and the members of the Bligh family. Sarah has returned to Australia after 20 years of living in Europe. She takes a job at the local hospital after meeting George Bligh on the ship over and being recommended by him. George is a wealthy businessman whose family is ruled by the iron fist of his mother, Elizabeth. George is widowed with a son, James, newly married, and a daughter, Anna. Sarah suffered deprivation and loss during the war, but she fiercely guards her privacy, which causes local gossip. She and George are drawn to each other, but an incident on the ship has led to great animosity towards Sarah on the part of George’s mother. Plus George is a wealthy landowner and Sarah works for a living in a time when class and social standing still matter. And Sarah has converted to Judaism, while George is Anglican. Can Sarah and George develop a relationship under such circumstances? Meanwhile, James and Anna are dealing with issues of their own while Elizabeth connives to control all their lives. The show has strong characters faced with difficult life challenges. I found myself drawn into their lives and caring about them. The Australian scenery is beautiful and I love the period costumes, especially the dresses worn by the ladies, as well as the soundtrack with golden oldies from the 40s and 50s. Season 3 will air this fall in Australia and a season four has been ordered.

soldiersgroveThe Mysteries of Soldiers Grove by Paul Zimmer, New Fiction Zimmer

This is a tender story of two elderly people finding love with each other. Cyril, the only child of alcoholics, found escape from his unhappy life through reading. He found he especially enjoyed reading biographies and autobiographies and has a wide store of “lives” in his memory that he enjoys sharing with people, but most people find him odd and don’t get it when he tries to tell them about the lives he’s read about over the years. Solitary all his life, he’s never had a relationship with a woman and is shy and awkward, but kind-hearted. Louise is an elegant and cultured lady, originally from France. Now a widow, she fell in love with an American soldier during WWII and came back with him to his farm in rural Wisconsin. Her life with him was not what she expected it to be, but was still happy. Nearing 80, both of them now live in a retirement home, which is how they meet. Louise moves in while Cyril is in the hospital, recovering from serious injuries suffered after being dumped in a blizzard by an armed man who tried to rob him. Though very different, Cyril and Louise connect immediately and deeply. As their relationship grows, they begin sneaking out of the facility to have adventures, starting small and working up to bolder doings and eventually finding themselves in a dangerous situation. Being with each other and having these experiences brings joy and fulfillment to lives that might otherwise be sad and dreary as they near the end of their days. The book is beautifully narrated by Cyril and Louise in alternating chapters. This is a sweet and sensitive novel about growing old with dignity and not giving up on life, but finding joy until the end, despite physical frailties and the indignities that come with advanced age. The author, Zimmer, is in his 80s himself and is renowned for his poetry.

Hubbell – Circulation

leagueofdenialLeague of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada, New Nonfiction 617.1027 Fai

Written by Pulitzer-winning and bestselling brothers Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, League of Denial is a scathing summary of the NFL’s cover-up of its so-called ‘concussion problem.’ The book proves that for decades, the NFL denied publicly that concussions and head trauma led to disastrous long-term health problems while possessing information which blatantly contradicted their public statements. It is another damning allegation against a league in turmoil during its most profitable period in history. It is a must-read for any football fan as it calls into question whether the sport itself and the way it is played today is even compatible with maintaining long-term normal brain function. It also forces us to reevaluate whether the sport should be played by young people at all. The book was first published in 2013 and has since formed the basis for a PBS documentary of the same name. Its accusations and research have played a role in the NFL’s recent acceptance of the dangers of the game and its change in concussion treatment protocol.

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September2015coverIt’s September! Savor the glorious weather while it lasts and enjoy the recommended titles below.



Sue – Circulation

 calvaryCalvary starring Brendan Gleeson, New DVD Calvary

Brendan Gleeson shines in this powerful story that explores the effects of trauma on innocent lives. The movie opens with Father James, a kind-hearted and sensible Catholic priest in a small Irish village, in the confessional box. A parishioner tells the father that he was raped by a priest when he was a child and that he is going to murder the father in a week’s time as retribution. The movie then follows Father James through the remaining week, leading up to the stunning finale. We meet the colorful and troubled residents of the village and see what a good man Father James is and that his influence does truly help people.

Though dealing with a dark topic and the serious themes of forgiveness and redemption, the movie has a lot of humor and warmth in it and does a fine job of showing us life in all its aspects – parts of it are very funny, parts are heart-breakingly sad, and parts are horrifically violent. I found it deeply moving and thought it was one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time with a magnificent performance by Gleeson.

shadowsoverparadiseShadows Over Paradise by Isabel Wolff, New Fiction Wolff

This novel tells the story of two very different women – both of whom suffered a similar traumatic loss in their childhoods that have shaped their adult lives. Jenni is a London-based writer in her 30s who specializes in writing memoirs for others. She is reserved and does not like to draw attention to herself. Living with her boyfriend, their relationship is facing difficulties. Klara is a farmer of Dutch origin living in Cornwall whose family was interred by the Japanese on the Pacific island of Java during World War II. As her 80th birthday approaches, she decides to record the memories of her life and hires Jenni to write them for her. This is how the two women are brought together. Klara’s family moved from the Netherlands to Java in the Dutch East Indies to work on a rubber plantation when she was a child. At that time, the now independent country of Indonesia was under Dutch colonial rule. When the Japanese invaded, they interred all the Dutch colonials living there as the Netherlands had declared war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Though the book is fiction, the author researched the history of the Japanese occupation and the internment camps and spoke to survivors, so the book is historically accurate in its depiction of life on Java during the war. As Klara shares painful memories from her war years, Jenni gradually releases her long- hidden anguish over a childhood trauma. The book was very emotional and moving, dealing with such gut-wrenching issues as war atrocities and the untimely death of loved ones and the guilt over such losses. I have read much about the German concentration camps and the horror and suffering inflicted on people in those camps, but I was not as familiar with the Japanese internment camps for the Dutch/European residents of the Dutch East Indies. The book was a compelling read while also educating the reader about an important event in world history that has not been documented as well as the camps in the West.

littleparisbookshopThe Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, New Fiction George

This book celebrates life following loss. Its characters suffer loss, but also experience healing and find hope for the future and a renewed sense of purpose to their lives. The story opens with fifty-something Jean, a Parisian bookseller whose bookstore is situated on a barge moored on the banks of the Seine River. Jean doesn’t just sell books, though. He fancies himself a literary psychologist – matching the right book to the right person. He even refuses to sell a book to a person when he thinks it is the wrong book to address that person’s need. Jean lost his love 20 years ago, but has not allowed himself to mourn, so he has been stuck all this time, just existing, not really living, unwilling to take any chances. This inertia gets shaken from him when he reads a letter from his lost love he’s left unopened for 20 years and he sets out on his barge to her hometown. The book then follows his travels along the river, picking up first one, then more passengers on his journey into the heart of southern France. As Jean’s journey continues and he begins to heal from his loss, his life opens up to him and he is able to find joy in living again. Reading the book is a pleasure, with lush descriptions of the southern French countryside and Provencal food and wine. The book is full of life and healing, with romance, literature, magnificent landscapes, loyal friends, wise advise, and good food and drink. As a charming addition to the book, it also includes some authentic French recipes and a list of titles recommended by Jean and the ailments they will help cure.

Chris – Technical Services

ashes underwaterAshes Under Water: the SS Eastland and the Shipwreck That Shook America by Michael McCarthy, New Nonfiction 977.311 McC

July 24, 1915, the overturning of an excursion steamer on the Chicago River near Clark Street is a story of a horrible tragedy that killed 844 men, women, and children. Twenty-two whole families were wiped out and who was to blame? A true tale of Chicago politics, the Great Lakes shipping industry, a possible cover-up, and a courtroom drama with attorney Clarence Darrow.

liartemptressLiar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott, Nonfiction 973.785 Abb

A true story of four women, two pro-Confederacy and two pro-Union, all determined and willing to risk liberty and life for their cause.


Melissa – Technical Services

hotzoneThe Hot Zone by Richard Preston, Nonfiction 614.57 Pre

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston is simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. The term “hot zone” (in the biology field) means an area that is rampant with a virus. This book delves into the history of ebola outbreaks in Africa in the 80s and 90s, as well as its spread to the United States. Readers learn about how ebola is studied in laboratories, how it manifests itself in victims, the location of the first outbreak, how the virus migrated across continents, and what the four known strands do to the unfortunate people who catch them. The book reads like a thriller. Each new “character” that is introduced plays a key role in the research regarding ebola, and yet readers can’t help but wonder which researchers will die at the hands of the virus. At the close of the book, readers are left in awe of the world we inhabit. Despite all the technological and medical advances, there are still the most basic life forms yet undiscovered that can devastate the human race.

Brigitte – Circulation

melancholiaMelancholia starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, DVD Melancholia

Melancholia tells the story of Justine and Claire, two very different women faced with the end of life on Earth. While their personal relationships blossom and fail, a meteor races through space, ready to destroy the world. Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, is a smart but generally anxious woman who is constantly at odds with her sister Claire, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. Claire has her life together, but with the impending doom of Earth her life falls apart. This movie is visually stunning and sure to leave you breathless.

modernromanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari, New Nonfiction 306.7 Ans

Modern Romance by comedian Aziz Ansari explores dating in the modern age. Known for his stand-up comedy as well as his breakout role as Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, Ansari questions how modern technology is impacting the dating lives of the single people of 2015. Funny and sweet, this book is a healthy mix of facts, advice, and comedy.

Hubbell – Circulation

citizenfourCitizenfour produced and directed by Laura Poitras, New DVD 327.127 Citizenfour

Citizenfour, winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary, chronicles the story of ex-CIA whistleblower Ed Snowden. While working as an analyst for the CIA in 2013, Snowden leaked a trove of documents detailing the NSA’s warrantless collection of Americans’ phone calls, emails, and other communications. This documentary follows Snowden from his first meetings in Hong Kong with the journalists who broke the story, Glenn Greenwald and the film’s director Laura Poitras, to his eventual asylum in Russia. After several secret clandestine meetings, Greenwald wrote the first of many revelatory articles and Snowden became the target of an international manhunt. This first-hand account of Snowden’s decision to reveal the government’s controversial spying program is simultaneously riveting, emotional, and thought-provoking.

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augdogdays2015possible The dog days of summer have arrived! Enjoy languid days reading and watching the recommended titles below.



Mary – Youth Services

gosetawatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, New Fiction Lee

Go Set a Watchman begins when Scout (now called “Jean Louise”) returns from college in New York, to visit her aging father in her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama. All seems to be, at first, as it always had been. A childhood friend, named Henry becomes a determined romantic pursuer; Jean Louise’s Aunt Alexandra oversees that Jean Louise is getting in touch with young girls who never left town for college. Maycomb itself is enclosed in in a quiet standstill, and this childhood stomping ground still holds Jean Louise’s past like a time-capsule. But this mirage is broken, and it is broken fairly quickly as Jean Louise discovers that many individuals within her town – most notably her father, lawyer Atticus Finch – harbor terrifying ideals on race, and what constitutes an ideal American South.

The first thing one needs to know about this book is that it is not To Kill a Mockingbird, this is a very different story. In fact, Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird. After reading this book, I firmly believe Lee wrote it, and it appears to be largely unedited. I also believe that this work was published with her consent. If you are looking for a nod to Mockingbird, however, there is a reference within Go Set a Watchman to the events of that famous trial, with one major plot point changed. It seems like whatever happened to have Mockingbird published before Watchman rests largely with the fact that publishers wanted an earlier version of the famous social-justice lawyer, Atticus Finch. Simply put: they wanted a hero.

In many ways, this work opens a Pandora’s box filled with many of our country’s deep-set problems. Not one character within this story exhibits a healthy perspective on race, an issue which the work is largely concerned with. Even Jean Louise, who can be considered the best of the lot, has a view of race which is problematic, at best. And yes, this will make many people uncomfortable. But because of this, I would argue that Go Set a Watchman is the story that we need for our modern age. This book challenges one to see that even if you believe you have healthy perspectives on race, on sexist attitudes, on religion and bigotry, you better look closer.

But as Atticus’ brother, Dr. Finch, points out, it is time and time again that history will repeat itself. Wars are fought. Lives end. And still, we attach ourselves to heroes. To this, Dr. Finch poses the most interesting question of the novel: When we see our hero’s true face, why is it then we turn away?

stillaliceStill Alice starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Kristen Stewart, New DVD Still Alice

Dr. Alice Howard is a celebrated linguist and professor at Columbia University. Only in her fifties, Alice begins to think that something is terribly wrong when small instances of forgetfulness progress to her inability to remember important events and people. Thinking she has a brain tumor, she sets out to find a neurologist, only to find out that she has a rare diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. There are few works which cover the pure confusion and rage at the loss of personal identity to Alzheimer’s disease. An uncomfortable topic for many to openly discuss, individuals with Alzheimer’s are often at odds with their diminishing sense of identity, and the loss of their ability to convey their experiences to others. Julianne Moore gives what was an Oscar-winning performance of Dr. Alice, and it was well-deserved. She brings an astounding performance to this film which challenges the boundaries of what we think is identity, what it means to be alive, and what it means to lose and love. Astounding film that all should see.

Chris – Technical Services

zookeeperswifeThe Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman, CD 940.53 Ack (audiobook) or Nonfiction 940.53 Ack (book)

Drawing on Antonina’s Zabinski’s diary and other historical sources, naturalist Diane Ackerman re-creates life at the Warsaw Zoo before, during, and after WWII. A not particularly brave person, she finds herself responsible for her own extended family, the zoo animals, resistance activists, and the refuge Jews, many smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto. A Polish Christian, she, her husband Jan, and young son believe it is their duty to help all, both animal and human, to survive the Nazi terror. Ackerman, the author of the bestselling A Natural History of the Senses, examines the role of nature in both kindness and savagery, and explores the disturbing obsession at the core of Nazism.

Sue – Circulation

holycowHoly Cow by David Duchovny, New Fiction Duchovny

David Duchovny (yes, that David Duchovny, who has a Master’s degree in Literature from Yale in addition to his acting skills) has written a funny and impactful novel. Holy Cow tells the story of Elsie, a cow on a family farm in upstate New York who discovers that she and the other animals on the farm are destined for slaughter. Upon learning this horrifying news, she decides to run away to India, a country where cows are not eaten, but revered. As she makes her plan to escape, she is joined by a pig named Jerry who wants to go to Israel (no pork in the diet) and a turkey named Tom who wants to go to Turkey (where hopefully he will be respected in a country named after him and not eaten for Thanksgiving.) The three animals’ zany adventures around the world are recounted by Elsie with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, including puns and pop culture references, as well as little nuggets of wisdom. The book is written to be humorous and quirky, but the points Duchovny makes about the horror of factory farms and mankind’s role in the destruction of the environment are valid and worthy.


Longmire starring Robert Taylor, DVD Longmire, Season 1-3

This series stars Australian actor Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire, an old-fashioned county sheriff in Wyoming. Walt recently lost his wife and is returning to work. Walt is a very honorable man, hard-working and trustworthy and deeply caring and loyal. Through the first three seasons of the series, his wife’s death and its effect on Walt and his daughter Cady is explored. His wife was suffering from cancer, but dark circumstances surrounding her death are revealed as the series goes on. Walt is running for re-election and his deputy, Branch, is running against him, financed by his rich and unscrupulous father. Unbeknownst to Longmire, his daughter is also romantically involved with Branch. The show co-stars Lou Diamond Phillips as Longmire’s best friend Henry, part Cheyenne and proprietor of the local tavern, and Katee Sackhoff as Walt’s trusted deputy Vic, a transplant from Philadelphia with a storied past. Walt’s jurisdiction runs up against a Cheyenne Indian reservation and he sometimes clashes with the chief of the tribal police. The show stands out from standard crime dramas because of the rural setting, which includes cowboys, Native Americans, cattle, and wide open spaces. It is also slower-paced than most detective shows, befitting its Wyoming setting where life moves at a different pace than big cities. I enjoy the show because of the richly developed characters and intriguing mysteries. It is an intelligent, well-made series with an outstanding cast. Unfortunately, A&E cancelled Longmire after Season 3, but it was picked up by Netflix for a fourth season, which is scheduled to air this fall.

grandmotheraskedmeMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, New Fiction Backman

The second novel from the author of A Man Called Ove. Seven-year old Elsa is different and gets cruelly picked on at her school. Her eccentric grandmother is 77 and Elsa’s best and only friend and stalwart defender. Every night, Elsa and her grandmother journey to a magical place called the Land of Almost Awake – a fairy tale world created by Granny that consists of a number of different kingdoms, all with their own purpose and heroes. In this magical world where being different is celebrated, Elsa feels safe and happy. When her grandmother dies after taking ill, Elsa sets out to deliver a series of letters her grandmother left behind for various people from her life, most of whom are residents of the apartment building owned by Granny where Elsa lives. As Elsa proceeds through each delivery, she learns much about her grandmother’s life before she was born and about the lives of the people around whom she has grown up without really knowing or understanding. She realizes that the stories she has heard her whole life in the Land of Almost Awake are actually pieces of the truth of Granny’s amazing life. This book is a bit complex, with the fantasy world of the Land of Almost Awake colliding with the real world, but it all comes together in the end. I didn’t enjoy it as much as A Man Called Ove, which was wonderful and one of the best new books I’ve read in years, but it is a worthy read, more serious-minded and sadder than Ove, but with a hopeful ending.

Brigitte – Circulation

wolfinwhitevanWolf in a White Van by John Darnielle, New Fiction Darnielle

Wolf in a White Van is the first novel by musician John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. It tells the story of Sean Phillips, a young man with a severe facial disfigurement who is attempting to grapple with the humdrum of every day life as a disabled person. This novel has been described as a deep meditation on escapism, especially through the means of role-playing games. It’s definitely a must-read for the summer if you are looking for something a little heavier.

softskinThe Soft Skin starring Jean Desailly and Francoise Dorleac , New DVD Soft Skin

The Soft Skin is the latest of Francois Truffaut’s films to receive acclaim. This movie follows Jean Desailly, a bored literary scholar, married to his wife but wanting more. He is charmed by Nicole, a flight attendant, and soon they begin an affair. As their relationship grows, the film becomes more frantic. As Jean’s life begins to fall apart, so does the world around him. The ending of this fast paced French film will leave you breathless.


Michelle – Administration

exmachinaEx Machina starring Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander, New DVD Ex Machina

This movie took a very interesting look at the creation and use of Artificial Intelligence and the place for AI in the world. It was beautifully acted and kept my full attention until the end. It also gave me something to think about long after the movie was over.


chappieChappie starring Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver, New DVD Chappie

This movie also delved into the world of AI and what it means to be human. Chappie was completely unexpected. I’d seen the advertising far too many times and I don’t think it captured what this movie is truly about. I cared more about the AI in this movie than I did most of the human characters. As a bonus, it is fun to watch Hugh Jackman play the villain!


Hubbell – Circulation

wildtalesWild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) starrring Ricardo Darin and Oscar Martinez, New DVD Wild Tales

A 2014 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Wild Tales is a collection of six distinct vignettes set in modern day Argentina showing everyday people thrown into emotionally charged situations. Produced by Academy Award-winning director Pedro Almodóvar, Wild Tales plunges the viewer into life-or-death situations and presents moral dilemmas where good intentions are not what they seem. You will find yourself unclear about whom to support as the characters take justice into their own hands. The movie’s stories include an episode of lethal road rage following a casual insult, a man’s crazed revenge on a towing company, a family’s plan to do whatever it takes to protect their son from a long prison sentence, and a bride’s maniacal wedding night retaliation on her cheating fiance. Wild Tales is simultaneously hilarious, violent, shocking, and humanizing.

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JulypicnicIt’s July! Celebrate summer, family, and freedom and enjoy the titles listed below.




Sue – Circulation


Grantchester starring James Norton and Robson Green, New DVD Grantchester, Series 1

This series is set in 1953 in Grantchester, a rural village outside of Cambridge, England. It focuses on Sidney, the young, handsome, and vibrant local vicar, and Geordie, the local police detective. Sidney is good at his job – his parishioners trust him and go to him with their problems, but he is a flawed hero. He drinks too much, his love life is complicated, and he is haunted by his service in World War II. Plus he is not above breaking one of the commandments or the law for the greater good. Geordie is a no-nonsense kind of man, married with a large family. Sidney and Geordie meet in the first episode of the series when a woman suspects a local death was not suicide, but murder. The two become best of friends and Sidney thereafter helps Geordie solve cases. As a trained detective, Geordie focuses on facts and procedure while Sidney is intuitive and quick-witted; together they make a good team. The show is highly entertaining, with a good balance of fun and seriousness. It has been renewed for a second season.

palisadesPalisades Park by Alan Brennert, Fiction Brennert

I enjoyed this book that mixes historical information about the now-closed Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey with the fictional lives of the character Eddie Stopka and his family. The book opens in 1922 when a 10-year old Eddie visits Palisades Park for the first time. From there on out, the park will have a profound impact on his life and the lives of his family, particularly his daughter Toni. We follow Eddie as he leaves home as a teenager, works in the South for a few years, and then returns to New Jersey to work at Palisades, eventually owning his own concession stand, marrying, and having two children who practically grow up at the park. As a very young child, Toni saw a high diver perform at the park and was inspired to become a high diver herself, against the wishes of her mother. The novel explores a number of important events in American history through the prism of the park and its employees, including World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Korean War. We watch Toni and her brother grow up and see the direction their lives take, influenced by their upbringing as concessionaires of the park and choices made by each of their parents. This book is entertaining with well-drawn fictional characters that we care about, as well as real-life characters that were involved in the actual operation of the park over the years, which closed its doors in 1971. A great blend of fiction and fact in a moving family story.

roseRose by Li-Young Lee, New Nonfiction 811.54 Lee

Li-Young Lee is an award-winning poet, born in Indonesia in 1957 to parents who were political exiles from China. In the late 1950s, his family fled Indonesia, eventually emigrating to the United States and settling in Pennsylvania. He currently resides here in Illinois. His poetry is lush and sensuous, evoking feeling through descriptions of taste, smell, hearing, and touch, and celebrating small moments in time while focusing on meaningful issues like family, love, and memories. This collection is very reflective, being greatly influenced by the death of Lee’s father, whom Lee views as an almost mythical figure, having been the personal physician to Mao Tse-tsung, and later a political prisoner and then a minister in his new country. My favorite poem in this collection is “From Blossoms.” Its figurative language is tantalizing – you can almost taste the sweetness of the fruit. I like the way the poem goes from describing the lushness of the peaches to a broader meaning of the lushness and beauty of life. I love the last stanza of the poem, with its repetition, giving strong emphasis to those joyful moments of our lives, that we should hold on to and savor.

Mary – Youth Services

carnivorousplantsCarnivorous Plants by Tony Camilleri, Nonfiction 583.75 Cam

Some of us may have vague, nostalgic memories of being given a venus fly trap as a kid. But for some of us, the cultivation of carnivorous plants did not stop there…and instead, it turned into an obsession. I am a proud sufferer of carnivorous plant addiction, and Carnivorous Plants by Tony Camilleri hits the spot, it really does. Although this guide on carnivorous plants and their cultivation is a bit dated in terms of the latest growing tips, I do think it still stands as an important work on the topic. Also relevant are the stunning photographs taken of a variety of carnivorous plants. You will not believe your eyes. (Or that these plants are real!) After all, did you know that the seeds of the Byblis gigantea will only germinate after a fire? And if you want to grow these small plants, you must actually create a small fire? Or that the carnivorous plant called The Rainbow Plant (Byblis) is named after a woman in a Greek mythology, named Byblis, who cries so much that she turns herself into a fountain? Or did you know that some pitcher plants can digest small mammals? If these facts tickle your curiosity, then welcome to the family. Carnivorous plant cultivation and education ensures these endangered and mystifying plants survive for the future years to come.

tempestThe Tempest starring Helen Mirren and Felicity Jones, DVD Tempest

This modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s last work is an astonishing accomplishment by director Julia Taymor and Helen Mirren, who plays the leading role of sorcerer Prospera. This modern re-telling places a woman in one of the leading roles of Shakespeare, which works marvelously. The Tempest is a story of family, aging, the relationship between a person and their passion in life, and also, when it is time to let go of one’s power and place. It is the story of the transformation of a sorcerer into something much more tricky to be: a human being. With great performances from Felicity Jones, Ben Wishaw, Djimon Hounsou, and of course, Helen Mirren, this Shakespeare adaptation is incredibly memorable, and I will confess, when I saw it years ago, it was the first time I “got” Shakespeare.

Hubbell – Circulation

tyrantTyrant starring Adam Rayner and Ashraf Barhom, New DVD Tyrant, Season 1

Tyrant is a modern drama whose plot is loosely drawn from the recent political revolutions in the Middle East. Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed reluctantly returns to his father’s kingdom, the fictional and politically fractured Middle Eastern country of Abuddin, for the wedding of his nephew. Barry has wiped away the memories of growing up as Abuddin’s prince, but returns with his American wife, Molly (Jennifer Finnigan), and their two children. During their stay, however, Barry’s violent and sociopathic brother Jamal (Ashraf Barhom) looks to gain control of the country following their father’s death and Barry chooses to stay to guide his homeland on a rough path to democracy. Tyrant was created by the acclaimed Homeland producer Gideon Raff and its second season just began in June of 2015.

Jacob – Circulation

runningthebooksRunning the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg, Nonfiction 027.665 Ste

This memoir is about a young man who takes a job on a whim as a prison librarian. He thinks the job is going to be pretty straightforward and not too tricky. He learns rather quickly, though, that this is not your typical job. He must navigate the murky waters of helping inmates who want nothing more than to be out of prison and appeasing a prison system that want to keep them locked up and orderly. Steinberg details this dichotomy wonderfully, while also describing the numerous characters he encounters while at work. This is an insightful read with a touch of humor.

Brigitte – Circulation

burningloveBurning Love starring Michael Ian Black and Ken Marino, New DVD Burning Love, Season 1 and Season 2 & 3

Do you love The Bachelor? Do you hate reality television? Do you like comedy? Then this is the show for you. Burning Love is a satirical “reality show” based on modern dating shows. Produced by Ben Stiller and starring Michael Ian Black, Ken Marino, and June Diane Raphael, these DVDs will keep you laughing.

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junecoverpossibleIt’s June. What could be better than sitting by the pool or at the beach with a good book?



Sue – Circulation

whistlingpastgraveyardWhistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall, New Fiction Crandall

I really enjoyed this coming-of-age story set in the early 1960s of the South and narrated by 9-year-old Starla. Starla’s mother left her and her father to be a star in Nashville when she was a toddler, so she has been raised mostly by her grandmother while her father is away working on an oil rig. Starla and her grandmother do not get along; Starla feels that the grandmother doesn’t love her as she is always punishing her. So Starla decides to run away to Nashville and find her mother. Along the road, Starla is picked up by a black woman named Eula traveling in a truck with a white baby. This is 1963 Mississippi, so that is not a usual site. However, Starla is an innocent child and so doesn’t fully understand the racial hatred of that time and place. Eula takes Starla to her home, where a confrontation with her violent husband sends her out on the road with Starla and the baby on the way to Tennessee. During the journey, Starla and Eula bond as they face experiences that test their courage and make them grow stronger. Starla learns some hard lessons about life both on the journey and when they reach Nashville. The relationship between Starla and Eula is portrayed beautifully and we really feel the love and devotion between the two.

firstimpressionsFirst Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett, New Fiction Lovett

Part historical fiction, part mystery, and part romance, this book alternates between the present day and the 1790s, telling the modern-day story of Sophie, a young woman just graduated from Oxford with a passion for English literature, especially the works of Jane Austen, and a 20-year-old Jane Austen herself in 1796 England. The part of the story involving Jane Austen revolves around her friendship with an elderly clergyman, Richard Mansfield, and the beginnings of her greatest novel, Pride and Prejudice. In the modern day story, Sophie gets a job in an antiquarian bookstore and receives two requests for an obscure book published in the late 1700s by an unknown clergyman. As Sophie investigates the requested book, she finds a link between it and Jane Austen that could rock the literary world, as well as endanger her own life. Being a book lover and book collector myself, I connected with the characters, especially Sophie’s Uncle Bertram, and I enjoyed the gentle relationship between Jane and Mr. Mansfield.

farmhandspiesFarmhand’s Favorite Pies: Recipes, Hints, and How-To’s from the Heartland by Amy and David Butler, 641.86 But

This book is invaluable for those who enjoy baking. I had never made my own pie crust before, but wanted to learn. I’d heard that using lard makes the best and flakiest crust, so I bought some organic lard and followed the recipe in this book for a super flaky crust. The book includes three recipes for crusts – two with butter, one with lard – as well as a crust for tarts and graham cracker and nut crusts. The book also includes tips and tricks for making the best crust and pies. In addition to the crust, I’ve also made the apple pie and it was a hit with my family. Recipes in the book include fruit pies, cream pies, tarts, and cobblers. The recipes come from blue ribbon-winning pies at county fairs throughout the U.S. Give the recipes a try – I’m sure you and your family will be pleased with the tasty results.

Jacob – Circulation

thunderboltkidThe Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, 921 Bryson

Bill Bryson is an author typically known for his travel and science writing. This book, though, details his childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1950s. Nothing about his upbringing is particularly noteworthy, but what makes the book so entertaining is Bryson’s humorous storytelling ability. He takes mundane events and adds his own personal twist. Bryson also weaves into his lighthearted memoir the latest gadgets and gizmos available to the American family in the atomic age. Overall, the book is an easy read and a glimpse into what it was like growing up middle class in mid-America after WWII.

Mary – Youth Services

annieonmindAnnie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, YA Garden

Originally written in the early 1980’s, and often on the list of banned classics, Annie on My Mind tells the coming of age story of two girls, Eliza Winthrop and Annie Kenyon. They meet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and since that meeting, they form a friendship, which transforms to a deep love for one another. At times, Annie on My Mind is a portrait of the times it was written in, but by extension, it is also an unfortunate portrait of intolerance still alive in modern society. You can heal or hurt because of your differences, and I think that Annie on My Mind provides a colorful cast of characters that will truly live beyond the time it was written for, as it already has. It is a book well worth checking out, and because of its frequently banned status, it is surely a story worth fighting to keep on library shelves.

1000formsfear1000 Forms of Fear by Sia, CD 781.63 Sia

There are very few songwriters as unique and explosive as Sia in modern music. Because of her distinct singing voice and iconic style of songwriting, the experience of listening to her sing is quite visceral. This album fully reflects the great emotional depth of her writing, and also her steely strength to battle pervasive anxieties, both personal and societal. 1000 Forms of Fear is a monumental achievement for Sia, and it leaves one imagining what she will do to top her latest work, as she always seems to do.

Hubbell – Circulation

poemsfromguanPoems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak, edited by Marc Falkoff, 892.7 Poems

Compiled by NIU College of Law professor Marc Falkoff, Poems from Guantánamo is eye-opening, inspiring, and heartbreaking. The collection features poems written by detainees themselves while incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay. The English translations are expertly done, annotated with linguistic details so that the native tone is not lost on the reader. Each poem is also prefaced with a brief summary of the inmate’s background and journey to the prison. One prisoner, detained at age 14, gives a harrowing account of his capture and transport to Cuba. Another, of British and Zambian heritage, wrote rap poetry to communicate with his family and friends back home. The stories portray a bleak existence of incarceration, but one that needs to be heard.

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MaycoverSpring is here! Take a book outside to read and enjoy the beauty of the season.



Linda – Technical Services

stilllifeStill Life: A Three Pines Mystery starring Nathaniel Parker and Anthony Lemke, New DVD Still Life

First watch the videorecording, Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery, an excellent adaptation of the first in Louise Penny’s mystery series. Then indulge yourself by reading the books, all available in our adult fiction section under the call number F Penny. In order they are: Still Life, A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, and The Long Way Home. Enjoy!

Sue – Circulation

mancalledoveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Fiction Backman

I loved this book. It is a beautiful story and so, so funny. Ove is a grumpy, anti-social man who has just been forced into retirement. All he wants is to be left alone, but his neighbors won’t have it. First, there is the pregnant woman who has just moved in, her mechanically-challenged husband, and their two young daughters who keep showing up at his door, then Jimmy, the young man next door, plus Ove’s long-term neighbors Anita and her husband Rune, whose health is in decline. Ove’s best-laid plans keep getting disrupted by these people. Though Ove is a grouch, we discover that he is an inherently decent man, but he possesses unwavering principles and so is very inflexible in his attitudes and actions. As Ove’s past is revealed through flashbacks, we see the heart-wrenching losses he’s suffered throughout his life and begin to sympathize with him and admire him. This book was truly a pleasure to read – it will make you both laugh out loud and cry.

MurdochMurdoch Mysteries starring Yannick Bisson, New DVD Murdoch, Seasons 1-7

This is one of my favorite television series. It is a Canadian show set in the Victorian era when Canada was part of the British Empire. The show stars Yannick Bisson as Inspector William Murdoch of the Toronto Constabulary. Murdoch is an intelligent, taciturn detective very keen on using new technologies such as fingerprints to help him solve crimes. One fun part of the show is bringing in real-life characters and inventions of the time. Such historical figures as Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle, Buffalo Bill Cody, and numerous others make appearances on the show. The show is also humorous in its suggestions that Murdoch himself created early prototypes of many later-to-come inventions, such as scotch tape. The show also has fun with the characters suggesting inventions that are yet to come, like the World Wide Web, paint-by-number kits, and many others. I find the mysteries to be intelligent and entertaining and I really like the characters and their interactions with one another. Besides Murdoch, there is his boss, Inspector Brackenreid, a gruff Yorkshireman transplanted to Canada, Murdoch’s earnest but inexperienced sergeant, George, who abounds with wild theories about crimes being committed by aliens or werewolves or other such supernatural creatures, and the lovely and strong-willed Dr. Julia Ogden, the pathologist who has had to work hard to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor in that time period. As the series goes on, we learn more about each character and the characters grow and change and their relationships with one another deepen. The seventh season concluded in 2014 and the show returned for an eighth season this year.

abovetheriverAbove the River: The Complete Poems by James Wright, New Nonfiction 811.54 Wri

James Wright was an American poet from Ohio. He was born in 1927 and passed away in 1980 from cancer. His poetry was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, as well as other honors. In addition to his home state of Ohio, he spent time teaching in Minnesota and New York. He suffered from mental illness throughout his life and had several nervous breakdowns, yet his poetry celebrates the human spirit, as well as speaking out against social injustice. My favorite poem of Wright’s is “A Blessing.” The first time I read this poem, many years ago, it touched me emotionally. The gentleness of the horses, their quiet companionship, and the affection shown by them towards the speaker is moving. The mood of the poem is soft and tender, using lovely figurative language to express the speaker’s feeling of awe at the wonder and beauty of the natural world.

Mary – Youth Services

frannyandzooeyFranny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger, Fiction Salinger

Sometimes you read a book and immediately wonder how the author created – and there are no other words for it – a small piece of magic. Franny and Zooey is one of those impressionable books. The work itself is a collection of two novellas, Franny and Zooey, respectively. The first novella tells the story of a disillusioned college student, a young woman whose scathing wit begins to be worn down as she opens her eyes to the world of indifferent adults around her. The second novella, Zooey, opens with a grown man sitting in a small bathtub within his childhood home, nursing a nervous breakdown as he awaits his sister Franny’s arrival from college. When this brother and sister – Franny and Zooey – talk to one another, the dialogue that ensues is rich, humorous, and expertly crafted by Salinger. Franny and Zooey is an unforgettable story, and I highly recommended it to anyone facing the blues of indifference. It’s a definite yearly re-read of mine.

artofaskingThe Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, New 921 Palmer

Two years ago, Amanda Palmer gave a TED talk that has a YouTube viewcount steadily climbing towards the 4 million mark. This talk shares the same title of her memoir, The Art of Asking, and it examines why we don’t ask for help, and how we can connect with each other through the act of asking for help. If someone does not know Amanda Palmer from this TED talk, or as a musician, she is especially known for her close connection with fans online, and most notably, her Kickstarter campaign that raised $1.2 million dollars to independently release an album. The book covers these aspects of her life, and also, it is a highly personal look at the figures and events that have shaped who she is. If debating between the book form of The Art of Asking or the audiobook, I would listen to the audiobook. Palmer reads it herself, and it includes her own music, and the music and voices of those you encounter in her stories. It makes for a highly effective, shining collaborative effort of artists and their ideas of what it means to make good art, and most importantly, how to be kind to yourself and live a quality life.

Brigitte – Circulation

runthejewelsRun the Jewels 2 by Run the Jewels, CD 781.649 Run the Jewels

Released in late 2014, Run the Jewels 2 is arguably the best album of the year. It is certainly the best rap album of the year. Musical duo Killer Mike and El-P reflect on racism, poverty, and the economy in their sophomore album with emotion-driven lyrics and harsh beats. It’s truly a must-listen for any hip hop fan. (Note: the album contains explicit lyrics.)

Hubbell – Circulation

MissingBBCThe Missing, starring James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor, New DVD Missing, Season 1

The Missing is a 2014 BBC original production rebroadcast by Starz in the U.S. Set in London, England and rural France, The Missing begins with a familiar premise when the Hughes’ (Nesbitt and O’Connor) son, Ollie, vanishes during the family’s vacation in the French countryside. The boy remains lost and the series resumes five years later; the couple is divorced, Emily Hughes remarried, while Tony Hughes still searches for his son, now presumed dead. The investigation is reopened with the help of French detective Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo), and the two uncover major flaws in the original investigation borne from police oversight and political corruption, which gives rise to the possibility that Ollie may still be alive. Tony persuades Emily to join them in reexamining the case, and the series concludes with a shocking finale that answers some questions but raises even more.

americans The Americans, starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, DVD Americans, Seasons 1 and 2

Based loosely on the real-life Soviet espionage program, “The Illegals,” and also inspired by the experiences of show creator Joe Weisberg, The Americans tells the story of the seemingly innocuous Jennings family. Elizabeth (Russell) and Philip (Rhys) are introduced as two average D.C.-area suburbanites raising two children, but are quickly revealed to the viewer to be Soviet-born, expertly trained intelligence operatives leading a double-life. In the pilot, the Jennings meet new neighbor and FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) and immediately begin to gain his trust in order to glean information about the FBI’s counter-intelligence efforts. The Jennings stop at nothing in carrying out their directives from their KGB superiors, which include seduction, blackmail, covert surveillance, and outright murder. Philip completes a sham marriage with an FBI office secretary. Elizabeth attends AA classes to befriend an employee of a government defense contractor. The series skillfully balances the couple’s covert intelligence activities with the ever-present prospect of their teenage children discovering their parents’ secret. The series has received critical acclaim and is gaining viewers each week as airs its third season now on FX.

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aprilshowers1April is National Poetry Month and April 12-18 is National Library Week. So celebrate your local library and its positive contribution to your community while enjoying these recommended titles, including poetry and prose, as well as movies.


Sue – Circulation

flyingatnightFlying at Night, Poems 1965-1985 by Ted Kooser, 811.54 Koo

Ted Kooser grew up in Iowa and now lives in Nebraska. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2004 to 2006. His poetry is firmly rooted in Midwestern values and way of life. He writes of the simple lives of Midwestern farmers, writing often of his grandparents or other ancestors and objects or heirlooms from the past. His poems brilliantly use metaphors and similes to make his words come to life and show the joy and wonder of ordinary life. I find his poetry soothing and beautiful. I am a country girl at heart and long for the kind of simple, rural life that his poems celebrate. In this volume of poetry, I feel you get the most out of the book by readings the poems as a whole, but if I had to pick one that I liked the most, I would pick “Flying at Night”, which compares the light of a galaxy with the light in a farmer’s yard, showing at the same time the enormity of the universe and the interconnectedness of all life, large or small. I also liked “A Quarter Moon Just Before Dawn” where Kooser uses the metaphor of the moon as an old woman, stooping to “pick up a star that she’s dropped in her garden.”

collectedpoemsCollected Poems, 1951-1971 by A.R. Ammons, 811.54 Ammons

A.R. Ammons was an award-winning American poet, including a two-time winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. He was born to a tobacco farmer in 1926 and grew up in rural North Carolina. He passed away in 2001. His poetry is a warm affirmation of the beauty and wonder of nature and man’s relationship to nature. My favorite poem in this collection is “Eyesight”, in which a man is so busy that he misses the coming of spring. He laments to the mountains and they tell him that he can still catch spring if he travels further north, but it’s not that way with all things, some things if you miss them, they are gone forever. I like this poem because it reminds us to slow down and appreciate what is before us right now, whether it be the beauty of nature, our family, our friends, or anything else that may be lost and then it is too late.

annesextonThe Complete Poems by Anne Sexton, 811.54 Sex

Anne Sexton had a very troubled life, which is reflected in her poetry. She suffered from mental illness, spent time in mental hospitals, and took her own life at age 45. Despite this, her work has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her poems are powerful and raw and speak of her personal struggles, as well as issues all of us face in our lives. My favorite poem of Sexton’s is “Courage”, which speaks of courage not as running into a burning building to save lives or something equally dramatic, but in many small moments over the course of our lives, such as a child riding a bike for the first time, a teenager surviving taunts of peers, adults surviving the death of loved ones, and the strength to face old age and all its indignities. It is a beautiful poem, very moving and inspirational.

finesummersdayA Fine Summer’s Day by Charles Todd, New Fiction Todd

This is the 17th book in the Ian Rutledge series by the fine historical fiction author Charles Todd. The series begins in 1919 with Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard inspector, returning to work following his service as an officer in World War I. What Rutledge is keeping a secret is that he returned from the war suffering from shell shock – today called post-traumatic stress disorder. In that time, soldiers suffering from this disorder were considered weak and were treated with contempt. During the war, Rutledge had a traumatic experience involving a Scottish soldier named Hamish under his command that led to Hamish’s death. Now Rutledge is haunted by the voice of Hamish in his head. Added to this, Rutledge’s boss dislikes him and treats him unfairly, which is why he has not been promoted, though he is an excellent detective with a strong history of solving difficult cases. This book is especially interesting because it takes us back in time to 1914, before the war began, and shows us Rutledge’s life pre-war and the last case he solved before he went to France. We meet some familiar characters from the series, including his fiance, whom we know later betrays him. The book also explains how the war developed over the weeks and months following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the British people’s attitudes and fears about a possible war. For those who have read the whole series, this is a fascinating look at Rutledge before the war damaged him. If you are new to the series, you could read this one first, since it is chronologically first, or start with book one and work your way up to this one.

Mary – Youth Services

normalheartThe Normal Heart starring Mark Ruffalo and Jim Parsons, DVD Normal

The Normal Heart opens at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York City in 1981. It follows writer and activist Ned Weeks as he struggles to understand and aggressively fight against the blind eye cast upon HIV/AIDS, and those who were dying from it. Little can precisely describe what the true events of the HIV/AIDS crisis were like, but this film gives more than a glimpse into the horror and rage of the times. With a brilliant cast of individuals like Jim Parsons to Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts, this film is unspeakably difficult to watch, but is one of the best I have seen. Although ultimately hopeful, The Normal Heart reflects the belief of its playwright and screenwriter, Larry Kramer, that in the arena of human rights, there is still so much more work that needs to be done.

theoryofeverythingThe Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, New DVD Theory

If there is anything quite sparkling and dazzling to the Hollywood eye at the moment, it is the subject of The Genius. If the individual was the “tortured” type, well, throw in a brownie point. Stephen Hawking definitely had his fair share of challenges, and is quite the colossal mind, but I think what The Theory of Everything uniquely captures – unlike other genius-trope films – is Stephen Hawking as a human being. This film is heralded by Hawking himself, and is based on his first wife’s memoir of their life together, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, and it covers his early academic years, family, and working with the progression of his motor-neuron disease. Most notably, Eddie Redmayne (playing Stephen Hawking) becomes indistinguishable, absolutely sinking into the skin of man he portrays with a brilliant performance.

intothewoodsInto the Woods starring Meryl Steep and Johnny Depp, New DVD Into

Witches, princesses, and princes are all coexisting on the edge of the dark, dark woods. But what lies within those woods? It may sound like the setup for types of fairy tales we hear over and over – and we may be tired of – but thankfully, Into the Woods has the twist that only Stephen Sondheim can provide. A renewal of classic fairy tales, Into the Woods is a film based off a musical bearing the same name. It follows the fairy tales we all know – Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella – past their happy-ever-afters to endings that, well, aren’t quite happy at all. It must have been a massive undertaking to adapt the Stephen Sondheim musical to screen, but it was expertly done. And Meryl Streep is in it. What more can I say? Well: It’s quite good!

Jacob – Circulation

yeschefYes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson, OB Internet Download (e-book)

Marcus Samuelsson is an award-winning chef and this book chronicles his journey. His unique upbringing, born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden by adoptive parents, provides interesting insight as he climbs the chef and restaurant ranks. Marcus appears frequently on the Food Network and has cooked for the President of the United States. If you are a fan of memoirs or cooking, this book is for you!

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March is here. We’ve almost survived another winter! Enjoy the thaw with a good book.



Jacob – Circulation

wintersboneWinter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, Fiction Woodrell 

Facing the prospect of losing the family home, a young girl must track down the whereabouts of her deadbeat dad. On her search, Ree discovers a lot about herself, her father, and her rural community. Set in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Woodrell crafts a chilling story that leaves you astounded by the courageous actions of the story’s heroine. A very good read.

blueberryyearsThe Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family by Jim Minick, Nonfiction 634.737 Min

Jim Minick has a dream of owning and operating an organic blueberry farm. This is his story. It details everything from his struggles with pesky critters and hot Virginia sun to the triumphs of the first berries and the people who pick them. Because Jim chronicles his experience with humor, the book is entertaining and informative.

Sue – Circulation

thehumansThe Humans by Matt Haig, Fiction Haig

I loved this funny, compelling, and deeply touching novel. When a Cambridge mathematics professor named Andrew proves a complex mathematical hypothesis, an advanced species from a distant galaxy comes to earth and kills him. They feel that humans are not ready to handle the consequences of the knowledge this breakthrough would lead to. They send an alien of their species to earth to impersonate the professor. His job: to kill anyone with whom the professor shared his knowledge, as well as his wife and son. This species is devoid of emotion; they are completely logical. Much of the humor in the book comes from the alien Andrew interacting with humans. For example, when he first arrives, he is nude and he can’t believe the uproar this lack of clothing causes. As alien Andrew continues to live on earth and among humans, including the wife and son, he begins to feel emotions for the first time, which confuses him greatly. He has been told that humans are destructive and greedy. He sees this, but he also begins to see more: he listens to music and is moved by the beauty of it; he enjoys eating peanut butter; he finds wisdom in the poems of Emily Dickinson. When he grows to love the family dog, he is in serious trouble. Now that he knows love – completely illogical, yet wonderful, and like nothing he has ever experienced on his home planet, how can he fulfill his mission and kill the two humans closest to him?

hill top farmThe Tale of Hill Top Farm: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert, Fiction Albert

The first book in an eight-book series, this is a gentle read featuring Beatrix Potter, the author, illustrator, and naturalist, set in the Lake District of England, where Potter in her later life became a farmer. Her farms have been preserved by the National Trust and can still be visited today. This series is a fictionalized account of Potter’s life, with many accurate historical facts. It takes place from the time she buys her first farm in the Lake District to her marriage of a local man. In each book, Potter solves a mystery in the community. The local animal population plays a large role in each book and helps to solve the mysteries. A charming series, especially for animal lovers and those who appreciate life in the country.

broadchurchBroadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman, DVD Broadchurch, Season 1

This British drama is set in Dorset, England, along the coast. It tells a single story across eight episodes. The body of an 11-year-old boy is found on the beach in the small, close-knit community of Broadchurch. DS Miller and her new boss, DI Hardy, investigate the case. Miller is a local and close friends with the mother of the murdered boy, while Hardy is a newcomer to the area with a questionable past. The show is powerful and intense, dealing with such a terrible event, and each episode is gripping as the story deepens and we see how many lives are affected by the murder and watch as the community is torn apart. The show is extremely well-done and deals honestly with the emotions of the characters caught up in the drama. We see the press descend on the town and innocent people suffer as gossip and suspicion grow. The show had a shocking ending that I didn’t foresee. A second season will air in 2015, with many of the cast members from season one returning.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd, Fiction Todd

dutyThe first in a mystery series by the excellent historical fiction author Charles Todd. This series centers around the life of Bess Crawford, an English colonel’s daughter who grew up in India and is now serving as a nurse on the battlefields of World War I. In this story, a dying soldier asks Bess to deliver a message to his family. While on leave, Bess visits the family and becomes suspicious about their reactions to the message. As she investigates further, she becomes involved in a murder mystery involving the dead soldier’s brother and uncovers years of lies and deception. The book evokes the atmosphere of the age and the mysteries are compelling and complex. I also highly recommend Todd’s Ian Rutledge mystery series, set in the immediate years after World War I and focusing on a Scotland Yard detective who returned from battle suffering from shell shock and his struggles to return to society as he investigates cases.

Mary – Youth Services

goodomensGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Fiction Gaiman

This book was definitely out of my comfort zone. But sometimes, that’s quite a good thing. In this seamless collaboration, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett create a story about our world, but in what appears to be the not-so-distant future of the impending apocalypse. The story focuses on an angel named Aziraphale (part-time antique book dealer, full-time angel) and Crowley (demon who inspired Eve to eat the forbidden fruit). Both Crowley and Aziraphale come to an unlikely partnership because – after all they have done to meddle in human affairs – they find that they quite like living a mortal human life. (The sushi restaurants, mostly.) Filled with irreverent humor, and a British touch for linguistics, I would recommend Good Omens to any fantasy lover, or any fan of quite clever British humor.

affinityAffinity by Sarah Waters, Fiction Waters

Recovering from a suicide attempt, Margaret Prior has been urged to look into charity work as a remedy for her failing mind. She agrees, and volunteers in the women’s ward of Millbank Prison, London. While at the prison, Margaret meets an enigmatic prisoner, Selina Dawes, who is a self-proclaimed spiritualist and medium. Both Margaret and Selina grow close in each other’s company, and finally, they try to find a way for them both to escape their suffocating lives – and against all odds, to set Selina free. Set in the Victorian Era, this novel is a whirlwind of desire, lies, desolation, and most of all, the hope for freedom that those on the fringes of society long for.

 thisisallyoursThis is All Yours by Alt-J, New Music 781.66 Alt-J

Here we are again reviewing another Alt-J album, but you can’t help it; their music is phenomenal. This is All Yours is an otherworldly blend of dull melancholy, combining elements of rock, indie, and electronic sounds that is sure to be unlike anything you have ever heard. Alt-J is a new sort of Radiohead; a quiet place in a noisy world.

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groundhogIt’s February. The end of winter is in sight (think positive!) Here are some suggested titles for reading on snowy winter nights.



Melissa – Reference

wewereliarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart, YA Lockhart

A wealthy family is forced to come to terms with its inner ugliness as four young cousins refuse to play the “money game”, pitting themselves against each other for inheritance money. Lockhart contrasts the innocent idealism of youth alongside grave naiveté.

wildtruthThe Wild Truth
by Carine McCandless, New 921 McCandless

For anyone who has read or seen Into the Wild, Carine is Chris’s sister and here she offers more insight into why a young man with a bright future ahead of him would suddenly abandon his family and all his worldly possessions. What Carine tells us is that the picture painted by Jon Krakauer (author of Into the Wild) did at all resemble the truth of Chris’s childhood. It’s an important reminder about knowing a person’s history before judging his/her character.

Sue – Circulation

whenworldyoungWhen the World Was Young by Elizabeth Gaffney, New Fiction Gaffney

This is a coming-of-age story set in post World War II Brooklyn. It tells the story of Wally, who is 9 years old when the book opens in 1945 on V-J Day. Wally’s father is serving in the Navy. Her little brother passed away tragically two years prior of illness. Her glamorous mother, Stella, has returned to doctoring and Wally misses spending time with her. She bonds with Mr. Niederman, a mathematician boarding with the family while he does war work for the government. Wally has mostly been raised by Loretta, her grandmother’s black maid who also helped to raise Stella. Wally is not a typical girl, but a tomboy who is fascinated by ants. Her best friend is Loretta’s son Ham, a few years Wally’s senior. The book follows Wally from 1945 through college-age. A personal tragedy befalls Wally on V-J Day and the book revolves around the lead-up to that event and the repercussions on Wally and other’s lives. We see Wally grow and mature as the novel moves forward in time and how political, racial, and world events of the time deeply impact her life and decisions, as well as other central characters in the book. A powerful and realistic family drama with strong characters set in a fascinating time in American history.

deliciousDelicious! by Ruth Reichl, New Fiction Reichl

Billie has just moved to New York City from California. She is an excellent chef, but for undisclosed reasons, she doesn’t want to cook. Instead, she gets a job at Delicious! magazine responding to customer questions and complaints. She enjoys the job and makes friends with her co-workers. But then the magazine ceases publication and everyone is let go except her. She is being kept on temporarily to continue to assist customers. The book really takes off and gets interesting when Billie, working alone in the building, comes upon a cache of old letters hidden in the library. She is particularly intrigued by a series of letters between a 12-year-old girl named Lulu and the famous chef James Beard written in the 1940s during World War II. After reading the final letter, Billie is compelled to try and find Lulu, and possibly write an article about the letters. Throughout her adventure, we learn more about Billie’s life in California and the personal tragedy that sent her to New York and turned her away from cooking. Billie’s life and Lulu’s life parallel each other in that both suffered major losses, Billie in her recent past and Lulu in her distant past. Billie, through reading about Lulu’s journey, finds the strength to come to terms with her past and make a new life for herself. A satisfying, warm-hearted story.

dustbowlThe Dust Bowl, a film by Ken Burns, narrated by Peter Coyote, DVD 973.91 Dust

The Dust Bowl is a Ken Burns documentary. Four hours in length, it chronicles the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history that lasted almost a decade. Using interviews with people who lived through it, photographs, and video footage, it does a fine job of explaining the causes of the Dust Bowl, including drought and improper farming methods that led to soil depletion and erosion, and the reasons for its end, including actions taken by the FDR Administration to improve farming methods and soil conservation techniques, in combination with improved weather conditions and more rain. The video footage of the dust storms is really frightening. The dust was so thick it would black out the sun. The film also shows how FDR took action to help the farmers after the failure of the Hoover Administration to do so. The personal stories are very moving and you realize the bravery of the people who faced such hardship and loss.

Corky – Circulation

castleCastle, starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, DVD Castle Seasons 1-6

I loved Castle from the first day that I saw it in 2008. (Has it been that long?) The TV series features Nathan Fillion as Rick Castle, a famous crime novelist, who is paired up with Detective Kate Becket, Stana Katic, to solve homicides for the NYPD. This reminds me of Moonlighting with its quick dialog, witty banter, and physical attraction between these two who do not necessarily want to work together.

While Rick Castle is assisting the NYPD investigate a copycat serial killer who is following the plot of Castle’s books, he decides to kill off his main character and create a new one named Nikki Heat, based on, who else, but Det. Kate Beckett. Castle plays poker with the mayor, and producer Stephen J. Cannell and author James Patterson (who play themselves in the series) and pulls strings to shadow Det. Kate Beckett for writing inspiration. Castle adds humor by his unique way of looking at crimes and facial expressions. I am recommending Season 1, but all of the six seasons are worth watching.

Mary – Youth Services

brieferhistoryA Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking with Leonard Mlodinow, Nonfiction 523.1 Haw

Recent films such as The Theory of Everything (based on the life of Stephen Hawking) and The Imitation Game (based on the life of mathematician Alan Turing) have both been successful in popularizing great minds in math and science. If you are more curious, however, about the true work of these individuals, I would highly recommend looking into both Hawking and Turing’s non-fiction works. In the case of Stephen Hawking, his most accessible work of popularized non-fiction science is arguably A Briefer History of Time. Based off an earlier work, A Brief History of Time, this “briefer” version (as the title would suggest) takes the original, ground-breaking physics book and helps make its material more approachable for the non-astrophysicist. By utilizing well-designed illustrations, A Briefer History of Time, in a digestible way, breaks down concepts of time, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, space-time, and what would happen to you if you were sucked into a black hole…among other mind-blowing facts about our universe that, if you know them, are sure to make you popular at parties. (Well, the ones worth going to, anyway.)

throughthewoodsThrough the Woods by Emily Carroll, New YA Graphic Carroll

Dark, unsettling, and with all the menacing charm of a Grimm fairy tale, Emily Carroll has created one of the most elegant graphic novels of 2014. In five short stories, Through the Woods contains fairy tale-like stories that even I thought were genuinely chilling. This book is indescribable, and fans of graphic novel will be sure to be awed by Through the Woods’ truly unique and eerie illustration style.

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