Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Great Summer

Wow, it's been a fantastic summer here at the library! Summer Reading Club was a huge success, and we had a significant increase in our adult participants this year. I hope that all of you enjoyed reading our book reviews, suggestions, and stories on this blog as much as we enjoyed writing them!

For now, however, it's time to take a blogging hiatus. The kids are back in school and summer's almost over - it's amazing how time has flown by! But we'll be back again next June with more books and library news that you won't want to miss. In the meantime, keep an eye on for information on new titles, library programs and events, and details about next year's Summer Reading Club.

Thanks for reading, and see you next summer!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leave those books alone!

I was reading The New York Times one morning and came across an article by A.E. Hotchner, a friend of the late Ernest Hemingway, regarding a revised edition of A Moveable Feast. Apparently a Hemingway grandson didn't like how his grandmother (wife #2) was portrayed and claims that the book was put together by Hemingway's wife (#4) after his death. Hotchner asserts that he was with Hemingway in the late 1950's when he was presented with an old trunk he had left at the Ritz in Paris in the 1920s that contained notebooks full of his observations and thoughts. Hotchner says he even got to read the final draft of the manuscript before Hemingway's death so the assertion that it was hobbled together by Mary Hemingway is not true. It reminds me of another story recently in the news regarding a Swedish novelist using the protagonist from J.D. Salinger's famous novel, The Catcher in the Rye as an elderly character in his own novel. Salinger sued the author on the basis of copyright infringement and won. Not all authors are so lucky. I remember years ago when Margaret Mitchell's heirs hired author Alexandra Ripley (who had already made a name for herself writing her own novels) to write a sequel to Gone With the Wind. Mario Puzo's The Godfather was published in 1969. Puzo died in 1999 and his publisher had a contest in the earlier part of this decade to find an author to write two sequels. Later this summer another book will be published as a sequel to Sidney Sheldon's Master of the Game. I believe it is the author's prerogative to write a sequel to their own work. If they felt that there was more to be done with their characters, they would have done so. I am not saying that these new books might not be any good (I don't read them on principle) but I think the authors in question should rely on their own creativity in coming up with characters and stories. Am I the only one who feels like these sequels and re-imaginings are cheating somehow? Writers and publishers seem to be cashing in on another writer's success by turning someone else's genuine creativity into a brand name under which to sell their own wares. Consider this: V.C. Andrews died in 1986 and has published more books since she died than she ever did while alive. Does this trend bother anyone else?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Memories of Books

The other day while driving home from work I heard a song on the radio I hadn’t heard in awhile. I used to love the song and played it nonstop on my i-pod when it first came out. It made me a little sad to realize that I hadn’t listened to it in so long. I was glad to hear it and turned up the volume and enjoyed the moment. It also got me thinking; hearing an old song you once enjoyed can immediately take you back where you were when you first heard the song. A good book can do the same, instantly take you back to a moment or feeling you associated with the book.

Senior year of high school I put off reading The Scarlet Letter until the day before the entire book was due to be read. I spent that Sunday out on the porch at my childhood home reading about Hester Prynne and trying my best to finish the book in time (which I did, but this was really not a good idea). Now anytime a teen comes in looking for the book to read for their school assignment, I think of that Sunday at home.

Last March we had those horrific ice storms and the library gave us a snow day (YAY!) one Saturday I was supposed to work. It was perfect timing, the day before I had gotten the new Jodi Picoult novel, Change of Heart. I spent what would have been my eight hour shift starting and finishing this book. Anytime I see this book now, I always think of the thrill of a snow day and of the warmth of reading in bed for 8 hours, only getting up for another cup of tea.

These are just two of my book reading memories, moments that I’ll associate with the books. I read so much it’s hard to always recall where I was when I read a certain book. Like certain songs though, certain book moments just remain memorable. What moments with books have you had? Can you remember a particular picture or chapter book from childhood and where you were when you read it? Do you ever see a book on your book shelf, or ours, and instantly remember where you were when you read it?

Current Read: Stop that Girl by Elizabeth McKenzie

What if Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby was a true story?

When you read Chris Bohjalian's The Double Bind, you have to go on the assumption that events from F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous novel The Great Gatsby really happened. The story opens with college student Laurel Estabrook biking through the woods and she is brutally attacked. The details are fuzzy and revealed from her perspective, but she is adamant that she was not raped. The psychological impact of this attack is well-known to Laurel's friends and associates.

In the present, Laurel is a social worker. She learns that one of her clients, a homeless man named Bobby Crocker has died and she goes to collect his meager belongings from the place where he had been staying. She finds this box that he always carried around. Inside are hundreds of photographs from the 1960's and early 1970's which makes her wonder about Bobby's life before everything went downhill. He was obviously a talented photographer and some of his photos were of very famous people. One photograph in particular catches Laurel's eye. It is of herself on a bicycle seemingly just before her attack. She discovers other photos of places from her childhood home in West Egg. Pictures of the Gatsby and Buchannan estates. Some pictures are of Daisy Buchannan, her daughter Pamela and a young boy. Laurel is convinced that Bobby Crocker is that young boy. The child born after Gatsby was murdered and Tom and Daisy reconciled. She even speculates that he might have been the result of Daisy's affair with Gatsby.

Laurel becomes obsessed with learning Bobby's story to the dismay of everyone around her. She returns to West Egg and talks to people who might have remembered the Buchannan's youngest child, but few have any details to offer. She even interviews Pamela, now an elderly woman who sadly recounts her brother's problems, but assures Laurel that this Bobby Crocker was not her brother and she doesn't know why he had those photographs of her family. As Laurel's search for the truth becomes self-destructive, we realize that she is not so much searching for Bobby Crocker's truth, but rather her own.

I saw this book reviewed in print and saw an interview with Chris Bohjalian on The Today Show. Something about it piqued my interest. It isn't often that you come across a book that you just have to have right now. I couldn't wait for a reserve at the library so I bought it. The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books and hearing the author talk about the true-life inspiration for this book made it even more compelling. There was a homeless man who died leaving a box of amazing photographs hinting at a richer life than his end would make one believe. It ties into what Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby says. "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." The amazing black and white photography of Bob "Soupy" Campbell is featured throughout the book.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stumble upons

I love audiobook surprises; you know what I mean - a random title that ends up being much more than expected. For example, I just listened to The Lincoln Lawyer, my first Michael Connelly audio (I know, I know, he's been around forever, always going to the best sellers list - but I hadn't tried him before). The big find was the narrator - Adam Grupper - he's wonderful! The story was good too but Mr. Grupper's reading was perfect. I have little patience for male narrators who use an affected throaty or high pitched or dumb blonde voice for women but Mr. Grupper was spot on! I will watch for more Connelly/Grupper titles in the future.

Another "hmmm, what's this?" find was Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Wow, what an ending! (I think I may actually have said that out loud as I finished the audio.) I never saw it coming.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Old Book Debate

Fiction vs Non-Fiction. Does reading non fiction make you seem smarter? Is reading fiction an escape from reality? When someone asks if I like reading fiction or non fiction better, I never know how to answer. Sometimes I’m in the mood to read a non fiction story just to know that the people in the book are real and the story really happened to them. Other times I want to escape into fiction books where the happily ever after is usually hiding in the last few chapters.

I have tons of favorite fiction books and authors, but my most recent favorite non fiction read is Crazy by Pete Earley. This book just sticks with me. The tragedy of loss of options for treating the mentally ill is heartbreaking. The story told from the father’s perspective gives the reader insight on how hard the family’s situation is.

I guess I like non fiction because sometimes there isn’t a happy ending and nothing is really resolved, but the “characters” still have to move forward. It’s a little more real than fiction. However, sometimes after a long day, who wants to curl up with reality? Do you have strong preference for fiction or non fiction books? What do you like and dislike about each?

Current read: Murder by Family by Kent Whitaker

Friday, August 14, 2009

Suspense in a corporate setting

A few years ago, I picked up a book by Joseph Finder not expecting to like it. His books are a little bit like John Grisham in that the protagonists tend to be men in their early thirties up against some powerful force. Whereas Grisham's books have a legal setting, Finder's take place in the corporate world. I never really got into Grisham's work, but I really look forward to a new Joseph Finder novel.

Paranoia begins with Adam Cassidy, a bored white-collar cubicle rat, attending a retirement party for a man who worked on the loading dock for many years. The company is not aware that they threw such a lavish retirement party because Adam finagled an account to make the funds available. Unfortunately, someone does notice that Adam did this and he is called into a meeting with security, CEO Nick Wyatt and a human resources representative. The case is presented to him as are the consequences of embezzling funds from the company. He is looking at some heavy prison time...unless he does something for Wyatt. Wyatt wants him to go to work for their biggest rival, Trion which has been working on a top secret project. With prison as his only alternative, Adam agrees to the scheme. With a heavily padded resume, Adam gets a job with Trion. Soon he is working closely with CEO Jock Goddard. Adam loves the perks of his new job...a great apartment, fancy car, huge paycheck and a boss he actually likes and respects, but his conscience bothers him. He wants to come clean to Goddard, but can't. There is a twist at the end that I never saw coming. I love it when there is a twist I never see coming.

Killer Instinct starts off with Jason Steadman driving his car into a ditch while gabbing on his cell phone. He gets a ride home from tow truck driver Kurt Semko. They begin talking about the baseball game on the radio and hit it off. Semko has a military background and Jason is a salesman for an electronics company. They bump into each other again and Jason tells him there is an opening at work for a security position and encourages him to apply. Semko gets the job as head of security and soon things start going very well for Jason. The star salesman's car stalls on the way to an important presentation. Then there is a problem with his computer which makes his star begin to dim in the eyes of their bosses. If Jason suspects Kurt is behind it, he doesn't let on. When people begin to die, he no longer can. If Kurt Semko is a dangerous friend to have, he is an even more dangerous enemy.

Power Play takes place at a corporate retreat in the remote Canadian woods. Jake Landry is by no means a high level executive but his presence was requested by the CEO on this outing. She asks him to help her uncover some corruption in the group. Soon the cabin is attacked seemingly by a group of hunters and the executives are taken hostage. It soon becomes clear that these hunters know more about the group and their business and that they aren't your run of the mill backwoods hunters.

Watch for Vanished<> which comes out August 18, 2009.