Readers Guide


By Julie Forkner

February 27, 2017
February 20, 2017
February 13, 2017
February 6, 2017

February 27, 2017 

Han Kang won the Man Booker Prize in 2016 for her novel The Vegetarian. Her new novel, Human Acts (F), is no less breath taking or controversial than its award-winning predecessor. Set in South Korea during the student uprising in 1980, the novel is the story of the tragic and shocking death of Dong-ho and the long consequences of his death. This timeless novel sets the reality of an oppressive regime against our lyrical human nature.

If you were captivated by the movie Hidden Figures, the book on which the movie is based will enthrall you even more. Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures (510.920) tells the story of how Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden provided the mathematical knowledge that led to one of NASA’s greatest successes. Surpassing the movie, Shetterly’s book provides insight into the women’s lifelong careers in a field into which very few women were allowed.

Matilda’s twin brother Harry is not dead. That’s not, however, what Matilda, a struggling wedding photographer, tells her new boyfriend. When Harry, an anxious, unpublished writer sleeping with one of his students, shows up unexpectedly at a family dinner, Matilda and Harry start a riot of a scandal. Hey Harry, Hey Matilda (F) by Rachel Hulin is a freshly subversive romp through family, life, and love.

When the Harvard Observatory first began exploring the skies, it did so by taking thousands of photographs that were then developed onto glass plates. Those plates, however, were interpreted not by the men employed as astronomers but rather by the mathematical whizzes recently graduated from the new women’s colleges of Vassar, Welllesley, Radcliffe, and Smith. In The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars (522.197), Dana Sobel tells the story of how these women not only interpreted the glass plates but also helped discovered the make-up of a star, designed a stellar classification system still in use today, and found a way to measure distances across space by starlight. 

Jobs in Brooklyn during the Great Depression were rare, so when Florence Flein had the offer of a job in Moscow that would not only pay her well but also promised the chance of love and independence, she jumped at the chance. A generation later, Florence’s son Julian tries to return to the United States and discovers that his mother’s past was complex, secretive, and chilling. The Patriots (F) by Sana Krasikov is the story of a generation abandoned and forgotten by their home country and lost in the political machinations of the Cold War. 

Nina Tassler, author of What I Told My Daughter: Lessons from Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women (155.433), has compiled the wisdom and advice of women leaders such as Madeleine Albright, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. From the meaning of courage through the eyes of one of very few female police chiefs in the country to career advice from a former child star, the collected wisdom in What I Told My Daughter is for anyone concerned with raising girls to understand that resiliency is more important that perfection. 

Also at the library:
     The Bertie Project (F) by Alexander McCall Smith
     A Darkness Absolute (F) by Kelley Armstrong
     Born of Vengeance (F) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
     Cuba: A Diary of the Revolution (972.910) by Deena Stryker
     Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family (332.2024) by Kimberly Palmer
     Cruising and Cruise Ships (910.202) By Douglas Ward

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February 20, 2017 

With her unique and slicing insight, Joyce Carol Oates presents two lives on either side of the idealism surrounding abortion in her new book The Book of American Martyrs (F). Luther Dunphy is the evangelical member of the Army of God thoroughly convinced he is doing God’s work when he kills Augustus Vorhees, a health care provider for low-income families who is survived by his wife and children. Oates explores this enormous divide in American society with empathy and wit.

Five years ago, Trayvon Martin was an unknown seventeen-year-old growing up in small-town Florida. Today, he is a symbol of social justice activism. Rest in Power: A Parent’s Story of Love, Injustice, and the Birth of a Movement (305.896) by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin tells Trayvon’s story from his parent’s point of view and how they have taken the pain of his death and transformed it into power and meaning. 

In the 2016 that Tom Barren lives in, technology has solved all of humanity’s problems save one – heartbreak. So, what does a broken hearted sixteen-year-old with a time machine do? Something stupid, of course. Travelling back in time to try to win back the girl he loves, Tom ends up in the 2016 the rest of us know. All Our Wrong Todays (F) by Elan Mastai is a humor filled debut novel about choices and unexpected journeys.

What’s the big deal about empathy? According to educator Michele Borba, children who lack empathy fall behind in school, bringing home lower grades than their peers. They also lack the ability to collaborate, come up with new ideas, and solve problems, all skills needed in the global economy. Borba explains the importance of empathy and presents simple practical skills for teaching empathy in Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in our All-About-Me World (649.700.)

Living in exile is something few people can understand. Enter Pachinko (F), a new novel by the author of Free Food for Millionaires, Min Jin Lee. Following four generations of Koreans living in Japan, Lee’s expansive story takes place between Korea and Japan, but mostly in Japanese Pachinko parlors, where the slot-machine-like game is illegal but provides income and status to those who are forbidden to hold legal jobs. Spanning history from the early 1900’s to the present, Pachinko is a mind-altering tale of the disenfranchised and unowned.

Some travel guides contain train time tables, handy phrases like “where’s the bathroom,” and clues for finding the best hotel price. Atlas Obscura (910.202) by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton, creators of the website of the same name, however, skips the mundanity but describes every oddity and unusual destination from Oak Ridge to New Zealand. You’ll never take another boring vacation again when you know where to find the Door to Hell in Turkmenistan, the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain, or the leech-powered weather-forecasting invention in Devon, England. Atlas Obscura is a wonder of curiosities that highlights just how vast and varied our planet really is.

Also at the Library:
     Clawback (M) by J.A. Jance
     Seven Minutes in Heaven (F) by Eloisa James
     This is How it Always Is (F) by Laurie Frankel
     The Populist Explosion How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics (320.566) by
         John B. Judis
     Diet Right for Your Personality Type (613.250) by Jen Widerstrom
     Cesar Millan’s Lessons from the Pack: Stories of the Dogs Who Changed My Life (363.700) by Cesar Milan

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February 13, 2017 

For fans of British mysteries, London’s intrepid, octogenarian detectives are back in Bryant & May: Strange Tide (M). When a young woman is found tied to a bridge support below tide level, Bryant and May have only one set of footprints as leads to find her murder. Charged with saving the Peculiar Crimes Unit, Bryant and May explore the depths of London where seldom have ever been in this unique and standout mystery. 

In 1989, Karen Shirk was diagnosed with a rare neuromuscular disease. Dependent on a ventilator, unable to care for herself, and sinking into a deep depression, Karen was refused a service dog on the basis of her inability to care for one. Left to her own devices, she adopted a German Shepard puppy and together they slowly inched Karen back to health. Atlanta author Melissa Fay Greene explores the world of service dogs rescuing children and adults from the depths of grief a grave diagnosis often brings in Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and Unconditional Love (362.404.)

If you prefer your mysteries set in sunny vacation resorts, The Cat Sitter and the Canary (M) returns to everyone’s favorite pet sitter/detective, Dixie Hemmingway. Handsome strangers are common in Siesta Key, FL, but they don’t usually have dead bodies in their front hallways. As usual, nothing is what it seems and Dixie will be lucky to escape in this latest cozy mystery from Blaize and John Clement.

Dogs may be best friends, saviors, and lifetime companions, but cats have managed to become global overlords without all the obligations. Science writer Abigail Turner traces the history of the house cat from prehistory to their current place on the throne of pop-culture to understand how cats have managed to hold such a dear place in our lives. From cat shows that allow only purebred cats to enter to a cat’s rights convention, The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World (636.800) will shed new light on the animal none of us can claim to understand.

There’s a new addition to Laura Child’s Cackleberry Club mystery series. Set in an idyllic village and its favorite café, Egg Drop Dead (M) opens with café owner Suzanne heading to a local dairy farm to pick up some farm fresh cheese. Instead, she finds a freshly murdered body and the café owner once again becomes an unwilling sleuth.

Dog breeding is an $11 billion per year industry, but how much do we know about where our dogs come from? In an attempt to create a dialogue about how our animals are treated, Kim Kavin explores the business practices at play in puppy mills, animal shelters, the American Kennel club and many other similar organization. With an even handed approach to all sides of the issue, Kavin’s The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers (636.700) clarifies this industry about which most people know nothing. 

Also at the library:
     Never Never (F) by James Patterson and Candice Fox
     The Rising (F) by Heather Graham
     Rather Be the Devil (M) by Ian Rankin
     Southern Spirits: Four Hundred Years of Drinking in the American South, with Recipes (641.874) by Robert F.
     The Brave New World: India, China, and the United States (327.730) by Anja Manuel
     Heads I Win, Tails I Win: Why Smart Investors Fail and How to Tilt the Odds in Your Favor (332.600) by Spencer

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February 6, 2017 

In 1984, a member of the Irish Republican Army planted a long-delay time bomb in the Grand Hotel on the Brighton coast where Margaret Thatcher would soon be staying. Jonathan Lee has used that event as the basis for his new novel, High Dive (F). Although based on tragic true events, Lee has managed to create a fictional scenario of clashing loyalties and high comedy.

When the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, it heralded the promise of a new, more open Russia. That promise, however, has not played out as Russia becomes more dangerous, existing, as Arkady claims, in a state of perpetual fear and ongoing war with its neighbors. Arkady Ostrovsky traces the evolution of Russia from Gorbachev’s perestroika to Putin’s regime in The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev’s Freedom to Putin’s War (947.086.)

Kavya Reddy leads a charmed, albeit childless, life in Berkeley, surrounded by the wealth and company of Northern California. Soli Valdez is an ambitious eighteen year-old, undocumented and pregnant. At a loss in a new country where she is often invisible and helpless, Soli finds a purpose and identity in motherhood. Until that is, she is sent to an immigration detention camp and her son is put up for adoption. Soli’s determination to get her son back collides with Kavya’s fierce desire for a child in Lucky Boy (F) by Shanti Sekaran.

In 2008, AIG was one of the most despised banks in the nation, playing a major role in the financial crisis and receiving millions in taxpayer bailout money. Bob Benmosche became the group’s CEO in August of 2009, taking over the failing business against all odds. By 2011, Benmosche had repaid an enormous debt of $182.3 billion and still made a profit of $22.7 billion. His book, Good for the Money: My Fight to Pay Back America (368.009), tells how he did it.

For those readers interested in something different, Pola Oloixarac’s novel Savage Theories (F) is a novel like no other. One reviewer stated that all other novels are boring in comparison, and it has been named a riveting new read by Oprah Winfrey. Described as “a novel of seduction and madness, hate and love, set in the world of Argentine academia,” Savage Theories will lose you in a world you never knew existed.

Chris Lehmann’s book The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream (261.850) attempts to explain how American Christianity has dealt with its economic identity throughout history. Arguing that far from being austere and pious, the Puritans were entangled with capitalism from the very beginning. Situating today’s megachurches and profitable Christian personalities such as Joel Osteen, against that backdrop, Lehmann shows how close capitalism and Christianity have been throughout our history.

Also at the Library:
     Below the Belt (F) by Stuart Woods
     The Old Man (F) by Thomas Perry
     The Sleepwalker (F) by Chris Bohjalian
     The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World
) by Brad Stone
     Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission (973.921) by Bret Baier
     Rise: How a House Built a Family (305.896) by Cara Brookins

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