Sunday, September 25, 2016

It's Banned Books Week! What Will You Be Reading?

Defend the First Amendment

September 25 to October 1 is Banned Books Week, a time to celebrate our freedom to read and the importance in our society of free and open access to information. This week I will be reading Looking for Alaska by John Green (who also wrote the fabulous book The Fault in Our Stars). In 2015, Looking for Alaska was the book that was most often the target of attempts to have it banned from libraries and schools according to data collected by the American Library Association. So of course, I must read it.

Let's all defend the First Amendment! Exercise your freedom to read and to have access to information. And please support your public library.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Highly Recommended Reading: A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny is a terrific book. The plot is twisty and engaging, the story is full of interesting characters, and there are layers of ideas and philosophy that make this a tasty novel, not a thin-soup murder mystery (we've all dashed through those, haven't we?). But while the book provides lots of interesting things to think about, there nonetheless is a murder to solve.
Beauvoir looked down at the body
"Maybe," said Gamache. "Does something strike you as strange?"
Beauvoir examined the scene more closely.
"Oui. The gun. It's on the wrong side. If he'd killed himself, it'd be on the same side as the entrance wound."
Gamache nodded, lost in thought.
Former Chief of Homicide for the Surete du Quebec Armand Gamache is now in charge of the police academy. The school has been riddled with corruption and Gamache is taking bold steps to right the ship. But the changes he sets in place create more pressure in an already tense institution. And when a murder takes place at the school, the faculty, students, even Gamache himself come under suspicion.

Tied to the murder at the academy is the mysterious map found inside a wall of the bistro in Three Pines, Gamache's home town. Gamache had given copies of the map to four cadets with the assignment of solving its riddle. When one of those copies is found with the murder victim, the residents of Three Pines get pulled into both mysteries.

A Great Reckoning is highly recommended reading.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

2016 National Book Awards: Poetry Longlist

And the contenders are:

The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky

Collected Poems 1974-2004 by Rita Dove

Archeophonics by Peter Gizzi

The Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall

The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler

Bestiary by Donika Kelly

World of Made and Unmade by Jane Mead

Look by Solmaz Sharif

Blackacre by Monica Youn

Blue Laws by Kevin Young

Donut Peaches by A.S. Dixon

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Library Luck

With nothing in the house that I wanted to read, I ambled over to the library yesterday. Climbing the stairs to the main floor, my expectations were in check; but my library is fabulous, so I had hope of finding something, some gem to read. And sure enough, library luck struck me. When I reach the top of the stairs and looked ahead at the shelf containing popular books, there it was, its cover boldly displayed directly in front of me: Louise Penny's new novel, A Great Reckoning. Yes!


Friday, July 15, 2016

Titles on the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read List

A new and updated list of books recommended by the NEA for the Big Read program has been released. This is an amazing list, one to keep handy for those times when you are looking for a book to read. For more details about the authors, check out this NEA link.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Five Skies by Ron Carlson

Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines

How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001 by Joy Harjo

Sun, Stone, and Shadows, edited by Jorge Hernández

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick

True Grit by Charles Portis

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang

Book of Hours by Kevin Young

To Live by Yu Hua, translated from the Chinese by Michael Berry

Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Macy's new CEO was an English Major in college.

According to today's Wall Street Journal, Macy's new CEO Jeff Gennette majored in English at Stanford.

Hurray for liberal arts majors! Best of luck in your new role, Mr. Gennette.

P.S. Please get rid of the unattractive plastic shopping bags and return to heavy paper bags like those used by Marshall Fields. Thanks!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Highly Recommended Reading: Back Lash by Chris Knopf

If you are looking for a good mystery to read on vacation this summer, then check out Back Lash by Chris Knopf. Back Lash is the seventh book in Knopf's mystery series featuring Sam Acquillo. Even if you haven't read the previous books, you will enjoy this one (but read the others, too, because they're great). In this outing, Sam heads out from his cottage home near Southampton, overlooking Little Peconic Bay, to the Bronx to investigate a cold case: the murder of his father.

Sam's father was murdered forty years ago, beaten to death in a bar in the Bronx. A conversation with the now-elderly bartender who had been on duty on the night of the murder spurs Sam into looking into what happened, and why. Sam quickly finds out that although the crime occurred long ago, there is plenty of present-day interest in keeping a lid on it. He uncovers connections to organized crime, police irregularities and a whole lot of danger.

There is lots of action and suspense in Back Lash. and I found the ending to be a complete surprise. Add to that Sam Acquillo's dry wit and a compelling supporting cast of characters and Back Lash totals up to a great read. Check it out!