The Swerve

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Title: The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

Author: Stephen Greenblatt (narrated by Edoardo Ballerini)

Publisher: WW Norton, 2012

Summary/Review: Stephen Greenblatt (Ph.D. Yale) is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University and is a historian.  His most recent book ,winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for general Non Fiction, revolves around a Roman poem  by Lucretius entitled On the Nature of Things. The poem, startling even for its time, asserts that there are only atoms that make up this universe, and the matter and the recombining of matter is all accidental – there is no god who guides and plans our lives; no god that cares about our existence. This is a startling assertion: a very disturbing and very modern idea is postulated about 50 years BCE!

Greek papyrus, Roman papyrus and codex suffer:  the ideas of the ancients deteriorate during the middle ages due to book worms, deterioration of ink and paper, persecution by church officials who deem them heretical, and the general ravages of time.  Enter Poggio Bracciolini, a 15th-century papal emissary, scribe and book hunter, who found a neglected copy of On the Nature of Things in a German monastery, copying it and distributing it to his humanist friends, and thus reintroducing important ideas to the Renaissance and beyond, ideas that are even found in our own Declaration of Independence.  There is so much more to this book that I can tell you here – and not all historians agree with Dr. Greenblatt.  But this was a fantastic “listen” – the narrator is excellent.

Who will like this book?:  History buffs and philosophical thinkers.  Someone looking for a non-fiction read that will illuminate the history of thinking.

If you like this, try this:  If you enjoyed Greenblatt’s writing, he has a number of other books – many focused on Shakespeare.  If you’d like to go back to the basics, “On the Nature of Things” is readily available, as are multiple interpretations and writings about the poem.

Recommended by: Susan Z, Reference Librarian

If this looks like something you would be interested, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if the book or audiobook are available!

When She Came Home

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Title:   When she came home

Author:   Drusilla Campbell

Publisher:   Grand Central Publishing, 2013

Summary/Review:   Francine (Frankie) Byrne Tennyson stunned her family when she decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.  Frankie is a 25 year old married woman with a baby who is not even two years old.  Frankie’s husband believes her enlistment is because she is still trying to get her father to love her.  Frankie’s father cannot accept his daughter’s decision to serve in spite of his own career as a brigadier general.   Frankie comes back home after a tour in Iraq and finds that her husband is still harboring feelings of abandonment and their marriage is in jeopardy.  Her daughter is confused, alienated and being traumatized by bullies.  In therapy, Frankie begins to deal with memories of an incident in Iraq which has threatened to destroy her sanity.  In order to save everything in her life that is most important to her, she must face the toughest battle of her life.  This novel brings you into the heart, soul and mind of a very courageous woman.  You will celebrate her freedom of choice to make her own decisions.

Recommended by:  Beverly D., Branch Circulation Coordinator

Who will like this book?  It should have special relevance to military women and their families, as well as, those who seek insight into PTSD.

If you like this, try this:  Little Girl Gone also by Drusilla Campbell.  This author continues to portray strong women finding their voices.

Does this look like a book you’d like to try?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

 

Still Alice

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Title: Still Alice

Author: Lisa Genova

Publisher: Gallery Books, 2009

Summary/Review: Alice Howland is a psychology professor at Harvard University with 3 grown children.  First, she can’t find her Blackberry, can’t quite remember names and blames it on stress.  But then one day while she’s jogging, she becomes hopelessly lost and can’t find her way home.  After a visit to a doctor, she’s diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and her life is changed forever.  But as the disease worsens and steals pieces of what Alice always thought of as herself, she discovers that she is made up of more than just her memories.

Lisa Genova, the author of “Still Alice” holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard University.  She wrote the novel, which is her first, for a couple of reasons.   First, while she was in graduate school, her 80-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so she had a personal experience with the disease.  Second, as a scientist, she found that what was happening to her grandmother was fascinating and wanted to know more about it.  Her grandmother was in a pretty advanced stage of the disease, so she couldn’t really talk to her about it.  She knew that she needed to talk to someone for whom the disease was new, so she decided to focus on people who had early-onset Alzheimer’s – someone in their late forties or early fifties.

This dichotomy comes across very clearly while reading Still Alice.  While it is so hard to read about what Alice and her family goes through, it’s fascinating to read about the biology of the disease, how it develops, and some of the things that are being done to help treat people with the disease.  The book review that appeared in Booklist magazine states it best:  “Clearly explaining the testing, treatment options, and symptoms of the disease within the context of an absorbing family drama, Genova has written an ideal primer for anyone touched by Alzheimer’s.”

Who will like this?: While this book may be a difficult read for some, if you are looking for a deeper understanding of Alzheimer’s, or life in middle age in general, this book may be for you.  Someone who is interested in the medical facts of Alzheimer’s or related diseases.

If you like this, try this:  Lisa Genova has written additional books, including “Loving Anthony” (autistic son dies, two women become friends, husband of one having an affair) and “Left Neglected” (after a car accident, a young woman wakes up with a brain injury called Left Neglect – the brain completely ignores the left side of her body).

Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’re interested in, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check its availability and/or place a hold

 

Dad is fat

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Title: DAD IS FAT

Author:  Jim Gaffigan

Publisher: Crown, May 2013

Summary/Review: Anyone who has children, has been a child or knows anyone with children will love this book. Jim Gaffigan, a stand-up comedian best known for his riffs on Hot Pockets,  has written a funny, honest look at parenthood.  He is the father of 5 children, all under the age of 9. To some of us that would be enough to strike fear in our hearts. Add into the mix that he and his family live in a 2-bedroom, 5-story walkup in the Bowery section of Manhattan and most of us would run screaming for the hills.  He credits his wife with being the one who holds it all together, but what comes through in the book is the wonderful partnership they have, collaborating not only on parenting but on his stage shows, movies and books as well.  His ability to laugh at himself, all while clearly adoring his family made it a great read. This was a wonderful book, a laugh-out-loud funny book.   Included in the chapters are drawings by his children, family pictures and floor plans that map out how to put 5 children to bed in a 2-bedroom apartment while still allowing for mommy and daddy time. Needless to say, it’s not easy!

Who will like this? Anyone who needs a good laugh, as anyone who reads the book will be able to identify with at least one chapter in it!

If you like this, try this:  If you’re interested in reading more about the lives of comedians, try Chelsea Handler’s “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang” or “Lies Chelsea Handler Told me”, or Ellen DeGeneris’ “Seriously…I’m Kidding”.   Another hilarious book you may like is Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened”.  If you’re looking for comedy, try anything by David Sedaris or Dave Barry.

Recommended by: Linda, Circulation

If you’re interested in this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold

 

BEA 2013

Welcome back!  Now that we have our brand-new website, it’s time for a more updated blog…sorry it’s a little late, but we have good reason!  In late May & early June, a few librarians went to Book Expo America and, well … we couldn’t stop reading the ARCs we picked up!  Here, we’ve gathered some of the hottest books for the Fall.

“The Returned” by Jason Mott *DEBUT!*

 We LOVE debut authors here at FPL and we’re already super excited for this one, which is already being made into a TV show (which will be titled “The Resurrected”)!

The premise: “All over the world, people’s loved ones are returning from beyond…” People’s deceased loved ones are returning exactly as they were when they passed – the question is, how do people react when they’ve gotten their loved ones back? 

Why we’re excited: The premise itself is enough to get us intrigued.  Hasn’t everyone wished a loved one would come back at some point? Also, we love books that make us think – and this book brings out tons of questions: how is this happening?  Where are they coming from?  Are they going to have to go back?  How will they find their families?  Some of us can’t wait to find out the answers, and have already started reading!

When will it be out? September, 2013

“Help for the Haunted”, John Searles

We were all excited to learn that John is a local – he was actually a waiter at a restaurant formerly known as “Breakaway”, located in Fairfield. But what makes us even more excited, is reading this book.

The premise: Sylvie’s parents have the unusual occupation of helping “haunted souls” find peace.  Sylvie goes with them on an even stranger than usual call, and falls asleep in the car – waking to the sound of gunfire.  Almost a year later, the reader meets up with Sylvie again, and we’re taken on a journey back and forth through time as we learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths and their haunted life.

Why we’re excited:  A number of us saw John Searles in person, and if his writing is half as dynamic as he is, it’s sure to be a good read.  But even more, we love books that blend genres – is this a mystery? Literature? Sci-fi? Who cares when the book sounds this awesome?!

When will it be out?  September, 2013

“Five Days at Memorial” by Sheri Fink

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Hurricane Katrina…this non-fiction book sheds some light on one hospital in particular, Memorial.  It’s brought to you by Pulitzer-prize winner Sheri Fink.

The premise:  The electricity has been out for days.  Patients are sick – even the ones that weren’t sick a few days ago are becoming sicker in the filthy conditions.  Helicopters are trying to help, but the hospital is left basically to its own devices.  More people are wading up to the hospital, and they’re being forced away.  Some doctors made the difficult decision about who will live and who will die – who will be saved and who will not – and the decision ultimately leads to an investigation.

Why we’re excited:  People still have questions about what happened in regards to Katrina rescues.  This book, as difficult a read as it is, shows in-depth the decisions that doctors and nurses were forced to make.  The book is divisive and will surely be the source of many animated discussions (and maybe arguments!) about the rights and wrongs.  While reading, you’ll find you continuously put yourself in their position – what would you do if you had to decide who would be saved and who would not?

When will it be out? September, 2013 

More books we’re excited about: “Margot”, by Jillian Cantor.  “Glitter and Glue”, by Kelly Corrigan. “Dirty Love”, by Andrew Dubus III.  “The Facades”, by Eric Lundgren. “Allegiant” by Veronica Roth.

Chanel Bonfire

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Title: Chanel Bonfire

Author: Wendy Lawless

Publisher: Gallery Books, 2013

Summary/Review: Growing up with an alcoholic, narcissistic, and mentally ill mother was by no means easy for Wendy and her younger sister Robin. Keeping the severe dysfunction hidden behind closed doors was even harder. Wendy, the dutiful older daughter, became the glue that held her family together despite the neglectful and manipulative ways of her mother Georgann. Robin on the other hand, had very little patience for her mother’s shenanigans.

Always on the lookout for a rich man and living beyond her means, Georgann moved the girls to New York, London, and Boston (just to name a few) in search of the life she felt she deserved. All the while Georgann maintained that the girls’ biological father had a new family and no longer wanted them. Manipulation was her forte, telling the girls things like “My doctor thinks that if you and your sister appreciated me more, I wouldn’t be so depressed” and “…my doctor thinks that it’s because of you girls that I drink”. As Georgann’s behavior became more erratic and dangerous, the two sisters did all they could to break free from their mother’s grip and live their own lives.

Similar to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, this is a memoir loaded with family dysfunction that reads like a novel and is told with self-reflective honesty and more than a little humor.

Recommended by: Sue B., Circulation

Who will like this?: Someone looking for an amusing memoir that still deals with difficult issues.

If you like this, try this:  The author has a very similar writing style as Jeannette Walls (Glass Castle), so you may want to try out some of her memoirs.  Additionally, Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened” also deals with difficult issues while still speaking through humor.

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

Touch & Go

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Title: Touch and Go

Author: Lisa Gardner

Publisher: Penguin Group, 2013

Summary/ Review: This is a fast moving story about kidnapping, betrayal, and revenge. The narrator and protagonist, Libby Denbe, is married to Justin, for almost 20 years. They have a beautiful 15 year old daughter, Ashlyn, but lately things have been troublesome between the couple. Drug addiction, infidelity, and distance, have been plaguing the couple and they have been working at get things back to where they once were. Justin is a handsome businessman who is the owner of his family’s construction company and Libby is an artist and loving mother. One night tragedy strikes this family and they are assaulted and kidnapped by three terrorizing men. The Boston FBI and New Hampshire sheriffs’ Department has to work alongside investigator Tessa Leoni to help recover the family safely all the while trying to pinpoint the source of the kidnapping. The author takes you on a rollercoaster ride page after page. The development of this tale continually unfolds in all new directions. There are so many twists and turns in this story that it will keep you guessing up until the very end.

Who will like this book: Anyone who is interested in crime drama infused with dynamic family plots.

If you like this, try this: Lisa Gardner has written numerous books with similar story lines along with returning characters such as Tessa Leoni. Other authors to read would be Karen Rose and Heather Graham. For a more sinister and dramatic plot, turn to Gone Girl, by Gillilan Flynn. You will not be disappointed.

Recommended by: K.C., Circulation Assistant

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

The Storyteller

storyteller

Title: The Storyteller:

Author: Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Atria Books, 2013

Summary/Review: This is a story about a young girl named Sage who is a baker in New Hampshire and the friendship she begins with a very old man. Sage is a lonely girl who has a very difficult time accepting her mothers death. She joins a group and there she meets Josef. They both have hidden secrets and scares both on the inside and outside.

As their friendship evolves Sage learns a very terrible secret about Josef that he has keep for 70 years. Josef then asks Sage for forgiveness and to help him die for what he did. Without giving to much away the story continues with Sage’s struggle with what she knows and what to do about it.

She finally confides in a Department Of Justice Attorney named Leo. The story then goes into great detail of a truly horrible thing that happened a long time ago. All the characters Sage, Josef her grandmother Minka and Leo come together with a surprising connection.

This story is very moving and  educational in a lot of respects. You will not want to put it down because you need to know what happens to all the people in the story. The end has a twist that you will not see coming. I feel this is one of Jodi Picoult’s best novels, because she puts two unlikely characters together and it really works. Plus she put a lot of history in this book to. I think people who like drama, suspense,  history and a little romance will like this book.

Who will like this book?: Adults or older teens looking for an emotional book that will leave you thinking.

If you liked this, try this: Jodi Picoult has a number of other books, including “The Pact” and “Nineteen Minutes”.  You may also enjoy “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay.

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation

If you think you’d like to read this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog, where you can check if it’s available and place a hold!

What Dies in Summer

what dies in summer

Title: What Dies in Summer

Author: Tom Wright

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co, 2012

Summary/Review: This is a debut novel that is packed with so much emotion and surprises you won’t be able to put it down. The story is narrated by one of the main character James- also known as Biscuit. He, along with his cousin Lee Ann (also known as L.A.), and their Grandma live together in Dallas Texas. They were brought together by unfortunate circumstances. The story begins with the two cousins just doing what normal teenagers do, hanging out and trying to stay out of trouble. They soon discover a dead body in the woods and then everything seems to start spiraling out of control.

Family secrets are revealed, and more dead bodies are found. You will not want to put this book down until you have read the very last page. It brings everything together-family bonding, first love, and terrible secrets.

Who would like this: Anyone who enjoys books with a lot of characters and different stories.

If you like this, try this: Books by Mary Higgins Clark. She always has a bunch of characters but they’re easy to keep straight.

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation

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

My Mother Was Nuts

my mother was nuts

Title: My Mother Was Nuts: A Memoir

Author: Penny Marshall

Publisher: Brilliance Audio, 2012

Summary/Review: Penny Marshall reminisces about growing up in the Bronx, where she spent most of her time in her mother’s dance studio. She talks about her accidental introduction into acting and her later transition into directing. Her brother Garry may have initially opened the door for her, but Penny’s dedication and talent secured her place in Hollywood. Best known for her role on Laverne & Shirley and as director of Big and A League of Their Own, Penny gets up close and personal on her first marriage and entrance into motherhood, her second marriage to Rob Reiner, and relationship with Art Garfunkel (who knew?!). Surrounded by famous friends (Carrie Fisher and John Belushi–to name a few), Penny offers up many private and often humorous moments.

I loved that the audio book was performed by Penny Marshall, however, I wish she did less “reading her book” and more “telling her story”.

Who will like this book: : In addition to Laverne & Shirley fans, anyone with an interest in Hollywood stars or the seventies/eighties would enjoy this book.

If you like this, try this: My Happy Days in Hollywood by Garry Marshall or Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

To see if this book is available, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog.  We have it available in both audio and print!