Category Archives: Favorites

All the Light we Cannot See

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Title: All the Light We Cannot See

Author: Anthony Doerr

Publisher: Scribner, May 2014

Summary/Review: It is 1934 and Marie-Laure is just 6 years old when she loses her sight. Her father, the principle locksmith for the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, teaches her well how to adjust to her blindness. As she grows, Marie-Laure’s curiosity and intelligence blossom even as the threat of a world war looms. When Hitler and his army begin their attempt to dominate Europe, Monsieur LeBlanc must flee Paris with Marie-Laure ahead of the impending invasion.

It is 1934 and 8 year old Werner Pfennig and his sister Jutta are living in an orphanage in Germany. Their favorite pastime of building and fixing radios, and listening to broadcasts from all over Europe, becomes increasingly difficult as the Nazi party begins to censor what German citizens are allowed to listen to. Before they are completely cut off from the outside world, Werner and Jutta see and hear enough to be frightened of what their country and countrymen are becoming. As Werner gets closer to his 15th birthday and his obligatory job in the local mine, an opportunity arises that will change his life forever.

All the Light We Cannot See is the mesmerizing story of Marie-Laure and Werner and their struggle to survive in a world at war. On opposite sides but so very alike, both are thrust into situations that they cannot control and their palpable fear and frustration can be keenly felt. Doerr’s writing is nothing short of perfect. I was absolutely captivated by this novel and I now consider it one of my top 10 favorite novels of all time.

Who will like this?:  Someone looking for a historical novel on World War II. Someone who is not afraid to take an emotional journey through war – be prepared for characters that will stay with you.

If you like this, try this:  Book Thief by Marcus Zusak or Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.  If you enjoyed Anthony Doerr’s writing style, he has written other books, including “The Shell Collector” and “Memory Wall” (short stories) and “About Grace”, a novel.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

If this looks like a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

Staff Favorites (2013)

As the year 2013 comes to a close, we’d like to reflect on the books that we loved that were released this year.  See something you like?  Find a similar book by clicking on the tag!

Our big winner, with the most recommendations, was “Light Between Oceans“.  We can’t wait until the 2014 books come out!

Our Favorites – 2009

 You’ll find something for everyone on this list. Happy Holidays from the staff of the Fairfield Public Library!

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A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Beyond the Sky and the Earth by Jamie Zeppa

Beautiful story of a Canadian girl who left her boyfriend and Grad school behind to teach school children in Bhutan. Falls in love with people and culture. Wonderful descriptions of landscapes and people.

 

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Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy.

Each story is a gem unto itself; I am pointing everyone in Maile Meloy’s direction if they want to know how a good short story is written

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Columbine by Dave Cullen 

The riveting real story behind the infamous school shooting. If you think the killers were trench coat wearing outcasts, you will be surprised, shocked, and ultimately saddened.

Cost by Roxanne Robinson

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Damn Good Food by Mitch Omer and Ann Bauer 

Mitch is the Hunter Thompson of the cooking world.  He has the edge over Anthony Bourdain because Mitch Omer is probably certifiable.  But Hell’s Kitchen (the restaurant) with its blood red and black décor is an undeniable success.  In Damn Good Food Mitch Omer shares the recipes that led to that success

 Darling Jim by Christian Moerk

Distant Land of my Father by Bo Caldwell

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Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

 Just where does our food come from?  And how can we continue to justify eating it once we know? A great book that is as much about the ‘why’ as it is the ‘how.

Escape by Carolyn Jessop

Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

Gridiron Gauntlet by Andy Piascik

Half-broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh

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The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

In A Single Bound by Sarah Reinertsen

About the first female above-the-knee amputee to finish the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii

Let’s Do Nothing by Tony Fucile

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

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Lit by Mary Karr

Little Pink House by Jeff Benedict 

Loved this book, and hoped it would be chosen for One Book One Town!

Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

Set on the island of Bougainville, near Papua New Guinea, where inhabitants are victims of war. Mr. Pip who is the only white person on the island becomes the island’s teacher and uses Great Expectations as his teaching tool. He teaches the children to connect their own stories with that of the Dickens book using metaphors. The narrator is a 13 year-old student. Much violence and danger ensues and the narrator is fortunate to escape the island

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Molly Ivins: A Rebel Life by Bill Mitutaglio

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

Never Die Easy by Walter Payton

This book is a few years old, but so amazing!

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

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Open by Andre Agassi

Andre’s own story including his very focused childhood (or lack of childhood) and his drive to be the best in a sport he never really liked.  If you follow tennis at all, this book is a must

The Red Devil: To Hell with Cancer and Back by Kathleen Russell Rich

Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I have a friend who uses the term “food porn” to describe a cookbook like this. Each cake is lovingly photographed and makes you want to spend time in the kitchen recreating a beautiful treat.   Here’s a tip:  Follow Her Directions. She knows what she’s doing – really.  Don’t think you’re cool and start substituting ingredients or skipping steps or using the wrong size pan.  You will fail miserably.  To see what can happen take a look at Cake Wrecks by Jen Yates.

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Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Stitches by David Small

Think you have a messed up family? Think again…

Sworn To Silence by Linda Castillo

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The Art of Making Money by Jason Kersten

This book is about a very successful counterfeiter – a man with a lot of talent but he can’t keep a secret.  Art Williams is likeable and you even find yourself rooting for him against the odds.

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

You might think you know the story from the recent film, but the book also details the fascinating evolution of the game of football and the offensive line, and a serious discussion of talent, poverty, and the reality of the American Dream.

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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

No one is killed by strange Greek monsters or evil, blood thirsty vampires but I liked it anyway.

The Last Child by John Hart

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, book 5) by Rick Riordan

 I finally understood the attraction of Greek Mythology after completing the Olympians series.  Drop a few harpies and a Cyclops or two into midtown Manhattan and you’re going to see some serious mayhem. Start reading the series now – the movie will be out in February 

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The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney 

A stunning adaptation of the Aesop fable by artist Pinkney.  An almost wordless text conveys the tale that illustrates the power of an act of kindness. 

The Promise of Happiness by Justin Cartwright

About an ordinary family formerly from London when prodigal daughter returns from prison and brings the love of family together. Well written

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The Sisters Antipodes by Jane Alison

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

The plot concerns a longtime relationship between a Parsi woman and her maid in Mumbai, India. Both compassionate characters. A horrific incident changes their relationship. Elegantly written.

The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer

Not your run-of-the-mill story of a marriage, but refreshingly different.

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The Strain (Book 1 of The Strain trilogy) by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan. 

This is a scary book.  The vampires in this book are not cute, sexy or romantic.  They do not have big soulful eyes, good manners and silly hair.  They are vicious killers and they are determined to multiply.

 The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

 Things I’ve Been Silent About by Azar Nafisi

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 Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis

Unaccustomed Earth by  Jhumpa Lahiri

Under the Dome by Stephen King 

Stephen King is a consummate storyteller and Under the Dome is over 1,000 pages of great story.  He has the enviable ability of bringing you into his world with such skill that you never quite notice when the “normal” turns into the “not normal.”  

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When Skateboards will Be Free by Said Sayrafiezedah

This might be the most fascinating memoir of the year – a half-Iranian kid growing up in a strictly socialist household who grows up to work for…Martha Stewart. Very rewarding.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Yummy! Eight Favorite Fairy Tales by Lucy Cousins

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Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Hurricane Katrina was a disaster, but the aftermath was a tragedy. This story is unforgettable, and should be read by just about everyone.

The Vagrants

Title: The Vagrants

Author:  Yiyun Li

Publisher: Random House, February 2009

Summary: The Vagrants takes place in the town of Muddy River in China during the late 1970s. The focus of the story is the execution of Gu Shan as a counterrevolutionary and the effect that her death has on various members of her community. Some of these residents were victims of Gu Shan during her days as a Red Guard and are excited about the upcoming denunciation ceremony and her execution. Others realize this is another injustice. The reader is introduced to several characters but what they have most in common is the oppression they suffer at the hands of their communist government. This is a tragic story but well worth reading.

Who will like this book? Readers who like historical fiction.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Our Favorites: 2008

Looking for something to read over the holiday break? Stop by the library and check out some of the books we loved this year…

Barry, Dave: The Shepherd, the Angel and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog

Benioff, David: City of Thieves

Brooks, Geraldine: March

Canin, Ethan: America, America

Coben, Harlen: Hold Tight

Crossley, Sloane: I Was Told There’d Be Cake: Essays

Diaz, Junot: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Doctorow, Cory: Little Brother

Dowd, Siobhan: Bog Child

Fox, Mem: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Grogan, John: Marley and Me

Hirsi Ali, Ayaan: Infidel

Jessop, Carolyn: Escape

Jordan, Hillary: Mudbound

Kerley, Barbara: What to Do About Alice?

Kidd, Sue Monk: The Secret Life of Bees

Lehane, Dennis: The Given Day

Myron, Vicki: Dewey: The Library Cat Who Touched the World

Rash, Ron: Serena

Selznick, Brian: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Sittenfeld, Curtis: American Wife

Willems, Mo: The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

Willingham, Bill: Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall

Wroblewski, David: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle