As you can imagine, we love to read in Adult Services. Fiction is our favorite pastime, but many of us are serious fans of nonfiction as well. During a recent focus group, we got together and chatted about all the books we’re enjoying. Maybe you can find something from this list to occupy the long winter evenings coming all too soon. I’ve including descriptions for each title.
Benjamin, Melanie. Alice I have been. 2009. (Deb) Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year-the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.
Berenson, Alex. Faithful Spy. 2006. (Greg) “A well-crafted page-turner that addresses the most important issue of our time. It will keep you reading well into the night.”–Vince Flynn A New York Times reporter has drawn upon his experience covering the occupation in Iraq to write the most gripping and chillingly plausible thriller of the post-9/11 era. Alex Berenson’s debut novel of suspense, The Faithful Spy, is a sharp, explosive story that takes readers inside the war on terror as fiction has never done before.
Berenson, Alex. Ghost War. 2008. (Greg) CIA agent John Wells returns, in a novel that reaches beyond today’s headlines to foretell dangers yet to come, from the author of The Faithful Spy- “one of the best spy stories ever told” (The Wall Street Journal). Alex Berenson’s 2006 debut was one of the most acclaimed suspense novels of the year, “the best spy thriller in a long, long while” (The Kansas City Star). The Ghost War proves that he is no longer a brilliant newcomer but a master of the art. In The Faithful Spy, John Wells became the only American CIA agent ever to penetrate al-Qaeda, but his handlers became distrustful of him, and he of them.
Castillo, Linda. Pray for Silence. 2010. (Patti) Great graphically gory murder mystery, set in Ohio Amish country. Main character is a female police chief; she’s from there and grew up Amish but left after a tragic event. She is able to work with the Amish community – she can speak their language and they trust her – a little. Second in the series; highly recommended.
Cleave, Chris. Little Bee. 2009. (Marta) A haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers–one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London.
Crais, Robert. Chasing Darkness: an Elvis Cole Novel. 2008. (Tanya) Elvis was a hero when he cleared an innocent man of a murder charge. But when that innocent man is found dead three years later holding photos of the victim, Elvis is the one on trial.
Cronin, Justin. The Passage. 2010. (Michelle) A security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment that only six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte can stop.
Evanovich, Janet. The Stephanie Plum Series. (Luella) Stephanie Plum is a young lady who becomes a bounty hunter. You get a close look at her many cases. There are 16 in this series at this present time and they are laugh-out-loud funny.
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude. 1967. (Anne) One of the most influential literary works of our time. The masterful Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women — brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul — this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.
Gardner, Lisa. Live to Tell: a detective D.D. Warren novel. 2010. (Julie) When she was a little girl, Danielle’s father murdered her mother and siblings before killing himself. Although she never understood why she alone was spared, Danielle tries hard to make peace with her demons by helping other disturbed children in a secure psychiatric unit for children in a Boston hospital. Now she is horrified to learn that two other families have been annihilated and that there are links to the psychiatric unit where she works. It’s up to Sergeant D. D. Warren of the Boston Police Department to tie the strands together before the murderer gets to Danielle. Live to Tell, by Lisa Gardner, is a creepy, well-crafted thriller with a great didn’t-see-it-coming twist at the end.
Goolrick, Robert. A Reliable Wife. 2009. (Scarlett) Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for “a reliable wife.” But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she’s not the “simple, honest woman” that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed.
Guinan, Paul & Anina Bennett. Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel. 2009. (Susan) Great book.Highly recommended. History of Boilerplate and all the famous people and events (think Forest Gump) that he was involved in. The graphics are amazing. The text is great. The authors created this entire existence in text and images so completely that it would be easy to believe it to be true.
Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. 1929 (1992). (Tanya) Sam Spade’s partner is murdered while working on a case, and it is Spade’s responsibility to find the killer. In his search, Spade runs mortal risks as he comes closer to the answer.
Hannah, Sophie. The Wrong Mother. 2009 (Marta) A chilling exploration of a mother’s unspeakable betrayal from the author of Little Face. Sally Thorning is watching the news with her husband when she hears an unexpected name-Mark Bretherick. It’s a name she shouldn’t know, but last year Sally treated herself to a secret vacation-away from her hectic family life-and met a man. After their brief affair, the two planned to never meet again. But now, Mark’s wife and daughter are dead-and the safety of Sally’s own family is in doubt. Sophie Hannah established herself as a new master of psychological suspense with her previous novel, Little Face. Now with accomplished prose and a plot guaranteed to keep readers guessing, The Wrong Mother is Hannah’s most captivating work yet.
Liss, David. Whiskey Rebels. 2008. (Greg) From the bestselling, award-winning author of “A Conspiracy of Paper” comes his most powerful historical mystery yet. Set in post-Revolutionary War America, “The Whiskey Rebels” is a superb rendering of a vivid and perilous age.
Mann, George. Affinity Bridge: a Newbury & Hobbes investigation. 2010. (Susan) First in a series. Victorian London, Newbury and Hobbes are similar to Holmes/Watson. Hobbes is a woman who is more of an equal partner than Watson to Holmes. Better than average detective series, with Steampunk elements dirigibles, fantastical inventions…and of course, zombies (called Revenants).
Mantel, Hilary. Wolf Hall. 2009. (Valerie) Assuming the power recently lost by the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell counsels a mercurial Henry VIII on the latter’s efforts to marry Anne Boleyn against the wishes of Rome, a successful endeavor that comes with a dangerous price.
McEwan, Ian. Solar. 2010. (Terry) When Nobel prize-winning physicist Michael Beard’s personal and professional lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, an opportunity presents itself in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster.
O’Malley, Bryan Lee. Scott Pilgrim’s precious little life, Vol. 1. 2004. (Lissa) Scott Pilgrim’s life is fantastic. He’s 23 years old, in a rock band, between jobs, and dating a cute high school girl. Everything’s awesome until a seriously mind-blowing delivery girl named Ramona Flowers enters his life. This is the first volume of an excellent six volume series, which is the basis for the new 2010 movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Priest, Cherie. Boneshaker. 2009. (Susan) A stand alone novel. Priest has a new book coming out in September, Dreadnought. Boneshaker is an alternative US history. Takes place in 1879. Briar Wilkes and her son Zeke are not getting along. Briar does not want to tell Zeke about his father and the machine that he created that destroyed Seattle. The destruction caused a disease that creates zombies (called Rotters). Zeke slips into the walled city with his gas mask and Briar follows him to bring him out. Many adventures ensue! Highly recommended.
Sanford, John. Rough Country. 2009. (Patti) By the author of the “Prey” series; weaves in the main character from that series. But a standalone series set in remote Northern Minnesota with main character Virgil Flowers of the MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Great murder mystery with police work and interesting characters; very well written.
Skyhorse, Brandon. The Madonnas of Echo Park. 2010. (Mark) A first novel. Brandon Skyhorse is Latino but took the last name of one of his five stepfathers. The people of the Echo Park neighborhood in LA tell their stories. Single chapters are given the voice of a single character. The chapters seem to scatter time and families—the author must have wanted this confusion, perhaps to reflect what people go through in Echo Park, but the reader may have some problems following character relationships and chronology. But the people live and breathe and die in these pages. Highly recommended.
Stein, Garth. The Art of Racing in the Rain. 2008. (Marta) Nearing the end of his life, Enzo, a dog with a philosopher’s soul, tries to bring together the family, pulled apart by a three year custody battle between daughter Zoe’s maternal grandparents and her father Denny, a race car driver.
Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. 2009. (Luella) The Help, the debut novel by Kathryn Stockett is about a young white woman in Jackson, who writes the stories of black women who work for white families in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 just before the Civil Rights revolution. You get a bird-eye view of child-rearing, town gossip and race relations. A great book.
Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan. 2009. (Susan) First in a trilogy. Second, Behemoth, is out in October. Alternative history/Steampunk version of WWI. Great story of the orphaned son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and a girl who disguises herself as a boy so she can become an airman. Highly recommended.
Arnell, Peter. Shift: how to reinvent your business, your career, and your personal brand. 2010. (Mark) Arnell is a highly successful company brand consultant who has lived much of his life as a morbidly obese man. He decided to try applying to himself some of his techniques of rebranding companies to make them more marketable. Nothing too extreme is the secret of his success—“new & improved” but not totally different. He managed to lose 250 pounds to become not a completely differently behaving person, but a new and improved person.
Hitchens, Christopher. God is not great: how religion poisons everything. 2007. (Valerie) Poses a case against organized religion that documents the myriad ways in which religion reflects human agendas and distorts sexuality and the perception of the origins of the universe, in a science-based analysis that considers the benefits of a secular world.
Iyengar, B.K.S. Yoga Wisdom & Practice. 2009. (Mark) Lots of pictures and careful explanations of yoga poses paired with kernels of wisdom and advice from legendary Yogi B.K.S. Iyengar. He explains that the reason he decided to add the use of “props” to help with yoga positions was because, as a student, he often had trouble trying to properly execute certain poses.
Kohn, Livia. Taoist Mystical Philosophy: The Scripture of Western Ascension. 1991. (Mark) A translation of a Taoist scripture first written down about 500 A. D., many hundreds of years after the Tao Te Ching. This text borrows ideas from other religious philosophies of the day to bring similar ideas of life after death and freedom from suffering; however, the central ideal of the mystery of the Tao and the balance of Yin and Yang remain primary in this philosophical text from China.
Wiseman, Liz. Multipliers: how the best leaders make everyone smarter. 2010. (Scarlett) “A thought-provoking, accessible, and essential exploration of why some leaders (called “Diminishers”) drain capability and intelligence from their teams while others (called “Multipliers”) amplify it to produce better results”.