Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2015 List

The August LibraryReads list – the top 10 titles publishing next month that librarians across the country recommend – includes plenty of novels for summer’s last hurrah. (And for you true bibliophiles out there, columnist Michael Dirda delivers “Browsings,” a charming collection of essays about reading, genre fiction, book stores, famous pets in fiction and even library book sales!)

Book cover for Best Boy by Eli GottliebBest Boy” by Eli Gottlieb
“What happens when someone on the autism spectrum grows up, and they aren’t a cute little boy anymore? Gottlieb’s novel follows the story of Todd Aaron, a man in his fifties who has spent most of his life a resident of the Payton Living Center. Todd begins to wonder what lies beyond the gates of his institution. A funny and deeply affecting work.” – Elizabeth Olesh, Baldwin Public Library, Baldwin, NY

Book cover for The Nature of the Beast by Louise PennyThe Nature of the Beast: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel” by Louise Penny
“Louise Penny set the bar high with her last two books, but she had no trouble clearing it with this one. All our old friends are back in Three Pines where a young boy with a compulsion to tell tall tales tells one true story with disastrous results. But which story is the truth and why is it so threatening? Exquisitely suspenseful, emotionally wrenching and thoroughly satisfying.” – Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
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Reader Review: The Ingenious Mr. Pyke

ingenious mr pykeThe Ingenious Mr. Pyke” is a biography of the brilliant and eccentric Englishman Geoffrey Pyke. He applied his intellect to the problems of the first half of the 20th century, especially the conflicts that erupted across Europe and the world over and over again during those years. The author organizes the material so that readers understand how Pyke framed questions and searched for answers. This is the story of a hero, in keeping with the theme of this summer’s reading program, and the book even includes a few “Superman” panels, yet Geoffrey Pyke was not a superhero but a complicated man living in difficult times.

Three words that describe this book: thought-provoking, interesting, well-written

You might want to pick this book up if: you are interested in creativity, history, political theory, narrative non-fiction and accounts of adventure and travel. I think that anyone who found the film “The Imitation Game” engrossing would also appreciate the book.

-Helen

Capes in Motion: Docs with Superheroes

 comic con a fan's hope

Superheroes have leapt out of the comic book pages and into our lives in recent years through movies, TV shows and merchandising. Check out these docs that give a glimpse into the past and present of the superhero phenomenon.

comic con episode IVComic-Con: Episode IV, A Fan’s Hope” (2012)

This film by Morgan Spurlock explores the cultural phenomenon that is Comic-Con by following the lives of five attendees (one of which is Columbia, Misssouri artist Skip Harvey) as they descend upon the ultimate geek mecca at San Diego Comic-Con 2010.

secret originSecret Origin: The Story of DC Comics” (2010)

This film is a compelling look at the company that created the modern superhero, produced with unprecedented access to the archives of Warner Bros. and DC Comics. It explores 75 years of DC Comics, the characters of its universe and the artists and writers who brought them to life.
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The Gentleman Recommends: Jeff VanderMeer

Book cover for Annihilation by Jeff VandermeerDo you like to read weird things? I suspect anyone who has read more than one of this gentleman’s posts probably does. Granted, I write in the conventional, easily parsed and comforting voice of a modern nobleman, but I often recommend novels wherein there is at least a modicum of the weird: perhaps there is a murderous tortilla chip or a ghost delivering a message to the wrong twin or a carnival full of haphazardly genetically modified human attractions. But this time I’m going to get real weird with it: I hereby recommend Southern Reach, the gripping trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.

Book cover for Authority by Jeff VandermeerIs it weirder than murderous snacks? Yes. After all, I sometimes feel, particularly after a sixth sack of candied bacon, that my snacks have it in for me. But I’ve never been on a classified expedition into a mysterious wilderness surrounded by a force-field that obliterates anything that touches it unless it enters through one particular (and invisible) entrance. Once there I’ve never encountered a “tower” that extends underground rather than above it, its walls harboring a massively creepy, moderately comprehensible never-ending sentence etched in otherworldly fungus. Nor have I taken a closer look at that fungus only to inhale a spore which imparts a “glowing” feeling and increasingly takes hold of my mind and body. Likewise, I did not later discover the harrowing extent of the hypnotic cues imparted on me before I began my journey. Never have I discovered that a previous expedition had ended in a bloodbath caused by its highly trained members turning on each other. Not once have I ventured to a lighthouse to find evidence of carnage and a tremendous cache journals whose content is more disturbing even than the fact that there are significantly more of them than the official count of expeditions into “Area X” would account for. And I have not experienced any of the other strange shenanigans that populate the remaining two books in the trilogy and which, as is my custom, I will not spoil.
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“Nature Red in Tooth and Claw” ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Cardinal attacks window“It’s raining cats and dogs,” my husband said.

“It sure is,” I said, still – after all my 25 years in America – trying to envision what raining animals would look like.

Pouring rain is common in Missouri, and some years, mowing a lawn once a week no longer cuts it (excuse my pun). Yet this summer the grass hasn’t seemed to grow like crazy, while the rest of our plants have.

One day, after work, I walked around the house and realized that our property has turned into a jungle: the trees have spread their branches as if trying to swallow our house, the plants beside our walk have oozed onto it for about a foot, and our deck appears much shadier than I ever remembered it.

The result looks spooky, reminding me of a book I read some time ago – “The World Without Us” – which postulates that plants could cover all traces of human existence within about a hundred years or so.

“Do you have the feeling that everything is encroaching on us?” I asked my husband.

“I don’t know about that,” he said. “But I do have a feeling that we’re under attack.”

“What attack?” I said, but before I finished my question, something hit our living room window.
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Fifth Summer Reading Gift Card Winner!

winnerCongratulations to Bree, a Southern Boone County Public Library patron, on winning our fifth Adult Summer Reading 2015 prize drawing. She is the recipient of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.

If you have not registered for the library’s Adult Summer Reading program, you can still do so online or by visiting any of our locations. Once you sign up, you are automatically entered in the prize drawings. Also, don’t forget to submit book reviews to increase your odds of winning. There are four drawings left this summer, so keep reading and sharing your reviews with us!