Monthly Archives: September 2008

After the Fire

Title: After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival

Author:  Robin Gaby Fisher

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, August 2008

Summary:  On January 19, 2000, a fire set in a freshman dormitory at Seton Hall University killed 3 students and injured 58. After the Fire is the true story of the two most severely injured survivors. Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos were roommates, housed just yards away from the student lounge where the fire had been set. The author describes, in heartbreaking detail, their struggle to escape the building and then survive their horrible injuries.

I’m not going to lie. This is a very emotional story. The details about the methods used to treat burn victims are a necessary part of this story. Rather than repel you, they will probably bring you to tears. You will be amazed by these two young men and the St. Barnabas medical staff that perform miracles every day. Though the fire and the months immediately after it are a big part of this book, the deep bond that develops between Shawn and Alvaro is the author’s main focus. Their friendship and support of each other is enviable. We should all have friends like this.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

People of the Book

Title: People of the Book

Author: Geraldine Brooks

Publisher: Viking, January 2008

Summary: This intriguing book by Pulitzer Prize winner Brooks (March, Year of Wonders) follows the imagined path of the Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless illuminated manuscript that was miraculously saved during the bloody conflicts of the 1990s. Hanna Heath, a temperamental and talented Aussie book conservator, is called in to restore the book in time for an exhibit at the rebuilt National Library of Bosnia.

As she examines the book, she begins to find the clues that will lead her to uncover the amazing travels of the haggadah backwards from World War II Sarajevo to fin de siecle Vienna to it’s creation right before the Spanish Inquisition. Brooks alternates Hanna’s own journey of self-discovery with chapters told in the voices of the people who protected, defaced, and crafted the haggadah. It is for these historical chapters that this book is recommended: In them, we learn that a book is no simple thing.

Who will like this book?: People who like historical fiction with a bit of a mystery twist. Book nerds and bibliophiles.

If you like this, try this: Another book with a similar backwards-through-time feel is Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. For more on the history of books and libraries, read the masterful Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Unthinkable

Title: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why

Author: Amanda Ripley

Publisher: Crown, June 2008

Summary: Ever wonder how you would react in a real emergency? You will keep asking that question throughout this interesting non-fiction book on surviving disasters. The author analyzes behavior in several disastrous situations to try and determine who survives – and why. The answers may surprise you.

Who will like this book?: Readers who are interested in human behavior.

If you like this, try this: Brain Rules by John Medina

Recommended by: Barb, Reference Librarian.


Title: Watchmen

Author: Alan Moore

Illustrator: Dave Gibbons

Publisher: DC Comics, April 1995

Summary: After a summer of blockbuster movies, you might just be sick of superheroes. But soon (pending some legal wrangling) the greatest graphic novel ever is coming to the big screen: Watchmen, by legendary scribe Alan Moore (responsible for such classics as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta.) It is the story of a group of superheroes undone by their all-too-human frailties. Set in the mid-80s, a killer is stalking the former ‘masks,’ who have either retired or been driven underground by anti-vigilante legislation, as the world moves closer and closer to nuclear conflict.

This is a thoroughly post-modern take on heroes, and while characters like The Comedian, Nite Owl, Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan might not be as familiar as Batman and Wolverine, their stories are just as unforgettable. If you think you’re too grown-up for comics, read Watchmen. This is a true masterwork that explodes any expectations you might have for the flying and tights genre, named an essential book by Entertainment Weekly and Time magazines. Read it before the movie comes out!

Who will like this book?: Superhero fans who have read it all. People who like stories that expose the humanity, for better or worse, of heroic figures.

If you like this, try this: Anything by Alan Moore, especially V for Vendetta and From Hell. 300 by Frank Miller.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian