Monthly Archives: June 2008

The Other

TitleThe Other

Author:  David Guterson

Summary: David Guterson, the author of the PEN/Faulkner-winning Snow Falling on Cedars, has written an exquisite story about a transcendent friendship between two very different men.  John William Barry and Neil Countryman cross paths at a high school track event, and that chance meeting connects them for the rest of their lives.  While Neil comes from a modest background and leads a modest life, John William is a child of privilege and wealth.  Together the two share their love of hiking and the outdoors – we are treated to some beautifully written passages describing the wilds of the Pacific Northwest – and share  a bond, a literal blood oath, that is unbreakable, even as their lives continue in seemingly opposite directions. Neil becomes a teacher, marries and has a family, but John William retreats from society, moving permanently into a cave deep in the woods.  Neil is the only one who knows where he is, and keeps this secret even though it weighs heavily on him.  John William rewards him for this ultimate act of friendship him in an unfathomable way.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word ‘other’ as “being the one left.”  It may seem as though John William is the other in this relationship simply by his act of becoming a hermit.  But Neil is also an ‘other,’ the half that stays behind, lives the conventional life, and yet is haunted by the same question that John William struggles with – what is it that really matters in life.  It appears as though they are each living the opposite answers to that question.  In doing so, they complete each other.

Who will like this book?  Anyone who enjoyed Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

If you like this try: East of the Mountains by David Guterson

Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian

Nixonland

Title: Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

Author: Rick Pearlstein

Summary: Great historical epic. Not jut a fascinating account of the rise of Richard Nixon, but also the best account of the decade of the 1960s. Full of detail and great characters.

Who will like this book?: Anyone interested in this period of our recent history.

If you like this, try this: Bush’s Law by Eric Lichtblau

Recommended by: Cliff, Reference Librarian

Escape

Title: Escape

Author:Carolyn Jessop

Summary: When Carolyn was 18, she married Merril Jessop. She was his fourth wife. Fifteen years later, she took her eight children and fled, becoming the first woman to successfully win a custody case against a polygamist husband. In this harrowing book, Carolyn describes day to day life as a member of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and the monumental struggle she endured trying to protect her children from her petty and cruel ‘sister wives,’ emotionally abusive husband, and the community itself as it sank deeper into paranoia and religious fervor.

With the recent focus on polygamy in the Western U.S., this unforgettable book is as timely as it is fascinating. Jessop’s story is incredible, and her resilience and hopeful outlook are astonishing.

Who will like this book?: People who are interested in polygamy, or life in religious cults. People who like to read about the inner workings of, let’s say…non-traditional families.

If you like this, try this: Under the Banner of Heavenby Jon Krakauer. When Men Become Gods by Stephen Singular. Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

When You Are Engulfed In Flames

Title: When You Are Engulfed In Flames

Author: David Sedaris

Summary: In his latest collection of comedic essays, David Sedaris picks up right where he left off – spinning amusing, unforgettable anecdotes from everyday topics, from walking through a zoo alongside (or far behind) his partner, his unwitting friendship with town outcasts, and busybody neighbors, his obsession with house spiders and an attempt to quit smoking in a tobacco-permissive Japan.

It’s not just that Sedaris is the undisputed master of this form: It’s that he doesn’t allow the humor to get in the way of the heartfelt sentiment of the tales he tells - and vice versa. Each essay takes you on a journey you’d never expect, and to conclusions you would never imagine when reading its opening sentences.

Who will like this book?:If you enjoy the satire and humor of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and you haven’t read any Sedaris yet, what are you waiting for! It doesn’t have the political bent, just the same sharp social critique and merciless self-deprecation.

If you like this, try this:Anything else by Sedaris, especially Holidays on Ice. Also note: The audiobook versions of his stuff are excellent. Fraud by David Rakoff. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian