On a recent day trip to the Omnimax theater at the St. Louis Science Center to see a film about D-Day, my father-in-law commented on how things might be now if Germany won the war. His comment struck a chord, reminding me of a book that I had recently learned of – C.J. Sansom’s alternate history, “Dominion.” This alternative history imagines a world in which World War II has not occurred.
Great Britain, still reeling from the war torn years of WWI, finds itself under the leadership of Lord Halifax rather than Winston Churchill. This single act drastically changes the world that would have been had WWII been allowed to play out. Author C.J. Sansom sets “Dominion” in the early 1950s, over a decade after a 1940 truce between the two nations. Great Britain now finds itself more and more under the control of its Fascist alli. During that decade, European Jews and now British Jews are gathered and shipped off to camps, under the guise of separating the races. In fact, they are being exterminated, as Nazis attempt to create a “pure” empire.
Sansom focuses his story on the growing resistance movement that fights relentlessly to overthrow the German regime that has infiltrated Great Britain. He follows David, a civil servant, who also happens to be working as a spy for the resistance; Sarah, David’s wife, and a pacifist; Frank, a college friend of David’s who holds a secret the Nazis will kill to get their hands on; and Gunther, the SS officer sent to capture Frank. “Dominion” is told from their various perspectives.
September is upon us! Time to get serious and hit the books. This month’s list of recommended titles from LibraryReads leaves behind the lighter fare of summer and includes some heavy-hitting literary fiction, as well as a book that stares death in the face. Here are the top 10 books being published in September that librarians love.
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory“
by Caitlin Doughty
“Part memoir, part exposé of the death industry, and part instruction manual for aspiring morticians. First-time author Doughty has written an attention-grabbing book that is sure to start some provocative discussions. Fans of Mary Roach’s ‘Stiff’ and anyone who enjoys an honest, well-written autobiography will appreciate this quirky story.”
– Patty Falconer, Hampstead Public Library, Hampstead, NH
by Emily St. John Mandel
“An actor playing King Lear dies onstage just before a cataclysmic event changes the future of everyone on Earth. What will be valued and what will be discarded? Will art have a place in a world that has lost so much? What will make life worth living? These are just some of the issues explored in this beautifully written dystopian novel. Recommended for fans of David Mitchell, John Scalzi and Kate Atkinson.”
– Janet Lockhart, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC
“The Secret Place“
by Tana French
“French has broken my heart yet again with her fifth novel, which examines the ways in which teenagers and adults can be wily, calculating and backstabbing, even with their friends. The tension-filled flashback narratives, relating to a murder investigation in suburban Dublin, will keep you turning pages late into the night.”
– Alison McCarty, Nassau County Public Library System, Callahan, FL
If you’re into local history and festivals, you’re in luck.
September 13 and 14, be a part of the Battle of Centralia reenactment weekend. Held in in Centralia, Missouri, this event commemorates the 150th anniversary of the fight between Federal troops and Confederate “Bloody Bill” Anderson and his men. In addition to the reenactment, enjoy two full days of activities, including music, crafts, food vendors, Civil War historians, dancing and night firing of Civil War cannons! Visit the Friends of Centralia Battlefield’s website for more information.
The following weekend will be the 37th Annual Heritage Festival & Craft Show on the grounds of the Boone County Historical Society outside the Maplewood Home in historic Nifong Park. This annual event will be even more special this year with tours of the completed homes in the village just behind the museum. More reenactments of the “good ole days” will also be included, with artisans and tradespeople dressed in 19th century attire demonstrating their trades and selling their wares. On the Maplewood Home’s porch will be booths sharing information about the Boone County Historical Society and the Genealogical Society of Central Missouri.
Okay, admittedly, this has been one of the coolest summers in mid-Missouri in a long time, but we’ve still had plenty of hot days. Without all that summer sunshine and heat we wouldn’t have the produce bounty we’re lucky to have here in the Midwest – fat juicy tomatoes, cantaloupes, sweet corn, cucumbers, bushy bunches of basil, peaches, watermelon, okra, eggplant and on and on, all wonderfully and locally available. This appeal is obvious if you attend farmers’ markets – they are teeming with people scouting for the freshest picked and most flavorful fruits and vegetables. That said, as the days of summer wear on and the heat and humidity debilitate, preparing meals over a hot stove and heating up the house drops way down on the list of my favorite things to do. Is that true for you? Well, if so, fear not. You can eat well without cooking (or cooking very little). When the temperatures rise, it’s time to resort to chilled soups, smoothies, salads, sandwiches and other raw food recipes to feed yourself and your family. DBRL’s collection is replete with cookbooks featuring these “un-cooked” meals.
Genetic modification is a hot topic, and not just because of the literal heat harbored by pumpkins inexplicably modified to cast horrifying, fiery glares our way every October. There are pluses, like massive potatoes capable of feeding dozens, talking to you when you’re lonely and even playing a competent game of checkers. Perhaps you give birth to Siamese twins with a gift for playing piano. There are minuses though, besides hateful pumpkins and repeatedly losing to a potato at checkers. Maybe you birth a child with flippers for limbs and a predilection for starting popular cults that mandate the removal of one’s own appendages. Also, as gene tampering becomes rampant, people will grow weary of picking their future children’s hair colors and which professional sport they will play. Parents will long for the days when, if you didn’t like your child’s hair, you simply shaved them bald, and if you wanted them to excel at sport, you were forced to mercilessly prod them until their vertical leaps were satisfactory.
While the profile of genetic shenanigans grows with every neon-blue tomato on our plates and Robocop on our streets, people have been obsessed with genes since the first bald man looked scornfully at his father’s bountiful locks. And 25 years ago, Katherine Dunn tapped into this obsession and combined it with another topic constantly on the minds of modern humans (travelling freak shows) into one gloriously deformed firecracker of a novel.
“Geek Love” is narrated by Olympia, a hunchback albino dwarf, member of her parents’ lucrative freak show and product of her parents’ crude attempts to modify DNA for profit. Her parents, Aloysius and Crystal Lil, used drugs, insecticides and radioactive stuff to conjure strange fruit from the womb. Oly’s older brother, Arturo, is the aforementioned flipper-limbed, cult leader. Electra and Iphigenia are the Siamese piano dynamos. Fortunato is the youngest, a seemingly normal child nearly abandoned for his uselessness until his telekinetic powers manifested themselves.
OverDrive recently made several updates to their site that improve your ability to find downloadable eBooks and audiobooks and manage holds. The changes include the ability to filter items by age level, automatic hold checkouts and suspending holds. Here are the highlights.
You can now exclude items from your browsing or search results based on age levels. For example, adult users are able to exclude titles for younger readers and young readers to exclude adult-only titles from their experience. This can be done by going into your account settings and choosing the appropriate range of content. You must be logged in for this to be in effect. Users can also choose to “mask” covers for “Mature Adult” items. This is also done from the account settings page.