Jan's Column 2020
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October 22, 2020 - Spooktacular Grab Bags
As of this Thursday, it is only 9 days until Halloween which some might call the first, of the last-quarter-of-the-year holidays. This year's celebration will be unlike celebrations of the past but as we've done ever since the pandemic erupted, we will try to keep the spirit of the day alive (or dead--whichever might be appropriate for this specific "holiday"). There are virtual opportunities to contribute and hear spooky stories read. There will be Spooktacular grab bags available for pick up. There are "I Spy" window decorationa all around the library. As the countdown to Halloween continues, the signs that this season is rapidly morphing into the the great big year-end extravaganza of gifting and regifting is alreasy in the minds of retailers. I am able to report (I know I'm not happy to report, and I'm not sure that I'm sad to report) that during my last foray into local grocery stores I spied with my little eye Buddy the Elf Coffee Creamers -- available in caramel waffle cookie, peppermint mocha, and frosted sugar cookie flavors. There were also chocolates appropriate for that year-end season as well. As we all know, reatailers tend to shrink the timeline between seasonal holidays. It is actually 26 days from Halloween to Thanksgiving Day and then another 29 days to Christmas. And just in case you can't wait until the start of 2021, it is 61 days from Halloween to New Year's Day so 70 days from the date of this column. To help while away the time between now and these special days (and the dark and the cold) you will find some of the new book titles that arrived recently at the library. Enjoy!
Follow” by Les and Tamara Payne. A “New York Times” best-selling author traces her father’s life from turn-of-the-century Warsaw to bustling New York City, in an intimate memoir about family, memory and the stories we tell. Illustrations.
“Liar’s Circus: A Strange and Terrifying Journey into the Upside-Down World of Trump’s MAGA Rallies” by Carl Hoffman. The award-winning author of Savage Harvest presents an immersive report from deep within Donald Trump's rallies to offer insight into the sociological phenomena represented by the President's fervent base, its motivations and its formidable collective
“Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House” by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. A portrait of the Trump Administration by the former White House Press Secretary examines the battle between the 45th President and his critics, sharing related insights into her faith and experiences as a working mother.
“How to Astronaut: An Insider’s Guide to Leaving Planet Earth” by Terry Virts. A behind-the-scenes look at the training, basic rules, lessons and procedures of space travel by the former astronaut, space-shuttle pilot and International Space Station commander includes coverage of the realities of living long-term in space.
“Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide” by John Cleese. The Monty Python comic master shares lighthearted advice on how anyone can learn the skill of creativity, drawing on whimsical personal experience to explain how to get into the right frame of mind, develop worthwhile ideas and overcome blocks.
“In a Midnight Wood, No. 27(Jane Lawless)” by Ellen Hart. Attending a high-school reunion in their hometown of Castle Lake, Jane Lawless and Cordelia Thorn investigate former classmates to discover the truth about what happened to a boyfriend who went missing decades earlier.
The Killings at Kingfisher Hill, No.4 (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries)” by Sophie Hannah. Hired to discretely investigate murder allegations against a wealthy client's wife, Hercule Poirot swaps seats with a nervous train passenger before a second killing is complicated by a series of impossible confessions.
“One for the Books, No. 11 (Library Lover’s Mysteries)” by Jenn McKinlay. When a growing guest list upends her plans for a smaller wedding, Lindsey and her friends visit a prospective venue on Bell Island, where they stumble on the murdered body of the man who was to officiate.
“A Question of Betrayal, No. 2 (Elena Standish)” by Anne Perry. A sequel to “Death in Focus” finds daring young MI6 photographer Elena Standish embarking on a first mission in Mussolini's Italy to rescue and uncover the truth about a former lover who betrayed her six years earlier.
“Shadows in Death, No. 51 (In Death)” by J.D. Robb. Spotting an infamous assassin from Dublin among the onlookers at a Washington Square Park murder scene, Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband, Roarke, struggle to protect each other when they discover the killer is targeting them.
“The Brightest Star” by Fern Michaels. Writing biographies to support her family's struggling Christmas shop, Lauren is assigned to pen the life story of a handsome and surprisingly intelligent online retailer mogul who has put hundreds of small companies out of business.
“Chance of a Lifetime, No.1 (Providence Falls)” by Jude Deveraux & Tara Sheets. A series debut by the distinguished author of “For All Time” and the award-winning author of “Don't Call Me Cupcake” finds a 19th-century thief atoning for misdeeds by convincing the present-day woman he loves to marry another.
“The Coast-to-Coast Murders” by James Patterson with J.D. Barker. A baffling string of murders throughout the country leads Detective Garrett Dobbs and FBI Agent Jessica Gimble to the family of two Ivy League intellectuals who raised their adopted children in a traumatizing experimental environment.
October 15, 2020 - Half-Way Through October
Here we are, almost half-way through the month of October and the weather has turned, yet again, towards the gloom and cold one associates more with November. That balmy stretch of weather during the past week certainly spoiled us for this week's weather and the 10 day forecast. The evenings continue to happen earlier and the dawn's early light is appearing later every day. The dawn chorus has turned from full-throated (and if you'l allow me to anthropomorphize, or would that be cathect?) one might say joyous song to the petty squabbles that are now occurring around bird feeders, water sources, and the bush outside my living room window. Geese are practicing flying in formation as some get ready to move south. Migrant flocks of songbirds are passing through as suddenly a flock of robins appears and you realize you haven't been seeing any for a while. White-crowned sparrows have moved on through. The birds and squirrels are busy with stocking up on food for the coming cold. Now is the perfect time for you to stock up on some of the most recent books which have arrived at the library. If you still have too many things that need doing outside, including getting fresh air (and sunshine when it deigns to put in an appearance) then place holds on the titles in your to-be-read list. The availability of a book put on hold many days (or weeks, or months) ago is like an unexpected gift which can change the course and feel of your day. Below are some new titles which recently arrived at the library. Put some holds on them and enjoy!
“The Home Edit Life: The No-Guilt Guide to Owning What You Want and Organizing Everything” by Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin. The stars of Home Edit outline holistic, tech-friendly approaches to rendering everyday work more productive and fulfilling through organization, offering customizable, guilt-free recommendations for everything from office spaces and holiday storage to luggage and pet supplies.
“Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride Around the Globe” by Dean Nicholson. The @1bike1world Instagram sensation shares the full story of his life-changing relationship with his rescue cat, Nala, and their inspiring bicycle journeys through the refugee camps, remarkable terrains and animal shelters of the world.
“Overstated: A Coast-to-Coast Roast of the 50 States” by Colin Quinn. The comedian star of the one-man Broadway show Red State, Blue State lampoons the idiosyncrasies of the 50 United States, sharing sharp-witted observations about their contradictory interpretations of the Constitution and a representative government.
“Solutions and Other Problems” by Allie Brosh. The creator of the award-winning “Hyperbole and a Half” presents a new collection of comedic, autobiographical and deceptively illustrated essays on topics ranging from childhood and very bad pets to grief, loneliness and powerlessness in modern life.
“Welcome Home: A Cozy Minimalist Guide to Decorating and Hosting All Year Round” by Myquillyn Smith. The expert home stylist shares step-by-step instructions on how to adapt the principles of her best-selling Cozy Minimalist Home for the rest of the year, outlining strategies to tasteful home decorating that can be readily adapted for impromptu gatherings.
“Whale Day: And Other Poems” by Billy Collins. A latest collection by the former Poet Laureate of the United States gathers more than 50 new poems that reflect the writer's signature mix of playful and serious language. By the author of “The Rain in Portugal”.
“Battle Ground, No. 17 (Dresden Files)” by Jim Butcher. When the Last Titan, a being more dangerous than anything humanity has faced in a millennium, declares war on the city of Chicago,
professional wizard Harry Dresden embarks on a defense that permanently transforms the mortal world.
“Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman. Taken hostage by a failed bank robber while attending an open house, eight anxiety-prone strangers including a redemption-seeking bank director, two couples who would fix their marriages and a plucky octogenarian discover their unexpected common traits.
“Jack, No. 4 (Gilead)” by Marilynne Robinson. A conclusion to the story that began with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead traces the story of prodigal son John Ames Boughton, who pursues a star-crossed, interracial romance with a high school teacher who is also the son of a preacher.
“Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke.” Living in a labyrinthine house of endless corridors, flooded staircases and thousands of statues, Piranesi assists the dreamlike dwellings only other resident throughout a mysterious research project before evidence emerges of an astonishing alternate world.
“Christmas Cupcake Murder, No. 26 (Hannah Swenson)” by Joanne Fluke. Firing up the Cookie Jar's ovens to attend a lengthy holiday checklist, Hannah Swensen helps loved ones manage seasonal doldrums before she is challenged to identify a skilled antique restorer found near death outside her bakery.
“The Darkest Evening, No. 9 (Vera Stanhope)” by Ann Cleeves. Discovering a toddler in an abandoned vehicle near the run-down home where her estranged father grew up, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope approaches the property during a boisterous Christmas party before discovering the body of a woman outside.
“Next to Last Stand, No.16 (Longmire Mysteries)” by Craig Johnson. Walt Longmire visits the 7th Cavalry Headquarters of 1946 Fort Bliss, Texas to investigate links between a fatal heart attack, a fire that has destroyed a high-profile work of American art and a shoebox containing a million dollars.
“Robert B. Parker’s Fool’s Paradise, No. 19 (Jesse Stone)” by Mike Lupica. Surprised by the murder of a man he met the night before at an AA meeting, Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone follows leads to one of the wealthiest families in town to identify the victim and his mysterious agenda.
October 8, 2020 - Get Out Your Sweaters
October has certainly arrived as if it was serious about distancing itself from summer not only chronologically, but seasonally too. Three days over the past weekend with overnight lows hovering right around the freezing mark has pretty much put the kibosh on the growing season. This weekend, I dragged my porch pots of green peppers that were still flourishing inside along with pots of flowers. My kitchen counter is littered with tomatoes of all sizes, of varying degrees of ripeness, and of various shades of color (purple, red, yellow, and green). Most of those tomatoes are green and about the size of shooter marbles. Whether or not they'll ripen into the cherry tomatoes they are meant to be remains to be seen. My cats are enjoying knocking them off the counter and batting them around the kitchen and under the refrigerator and stove. Those lucky green tomatoes will undoubtedly shrivel up before they ripen.This brisk, cold weather is a great excuse to get out your sweaters, dig that afghan out of the closet, and settle in for a good, long read. October has not only ushered in the colder weather, the flaming tree leaves, and shorter days, it also continues to supply us with books from the fall selections from all the publishing houses. Below is an assortment of some of the titles that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!
“His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope” by Jon Meacham. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Hope of Glory” presents a timely portrait of veteran congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis that details the life experiences that informed his faith and shaped his practices of non-violent protest.
“His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life” by Jonathan Alter. An intimate portrait of the 39th President draws on fresh archival material to trace Jimmy Carter's improbable rise from a humble peanut farmer and complex man of faith to an American president and Nobel Prize-winning humanitarian.
“I Am These Truths: A Memoir of Identity, Justice, and Living Between Worlds” by Sunny Hostin and Charisse Jones. The Emmy Award-winning “View” co-host and ABC News senior legal correspondent traces her journey from a biracial child in a South Bronx housing project to a successful and influential Washington, D.C. attorney and journalist.
“Those Who Forget: My Family’s Story in Nazi Europe—A Memoir, a History, a Warning” by Geraldine Schwarz. A book published to international awards and acclaim offers an account of the author's German and French grandparents’ lives during World War II, an in-depth history of Europe’s post-war reckoning with fascism, and an urgent appeal to remember as a defense against today’s rise of far-right nationalism.
“Wild Thing: The Short, Spellbinding Life of Jimi Hendrix” by Phillip Norman. Published to mark the 50th anniversary of Hendrix's death, a commemorative portrait by the best-selling author of Shout! draws on interviews with friends, lovers, bandmates and family members to include coverage of Hendrix's segregated early performances and historic appearances.
Money: The True Story of a Made Up Thing” by Jacob Goldstein. The co-host of NPR's "Planet Money" shares a painstakingly researched, irreverent history of how humanity's invention of currency has shaped societies for thousands of years through collective choices that continue to impact everyday personal security.
“To Sleep in a Sea of Stars” by Christopher Paolini. A space voyager living her dream of exploring new worlds lands on a distant planet ripe for colonization before her discovery of a mysterious relic transforms her life and threatens the entire human race.
“The Invention of Sound” by Chuck Palahnuik. A father on the brink of uncovering his missing daughter's fate and a talented Foley sound artist find themselves on a collision course with Hollywood's violent underworld. By the best-selling author of “Fight Club”.
“The Constant Rabbit” by Jasper Fforde. In an England populated with anthropomorphic rabbits and humans, one hare family moves into a cozy little village that does not want them there and are defended by two human neighbors who take a stand against prejudice.
“The Exiles” by Christina Kline. Sent to a Tasmanian penal colony after conceiving her employer's grandchild, a young governess befriends a talented midwife and an orphaned Aboriginal chief's daughter while confronting the harsh realities of British colonialism and oppression in 19th-century Australia.
“Fifty Words for Rain” by Asha Lemmie. Abandoned by a mother who instructs her never to fight or ask questions, an illegitimate child of mixed heritage in 1948 Kyoto forges a powerful bond with her older half-brother against the wishes of their formidable grandparents. A first novel.
“All the Devils Are Here, No. 16 (Chief Inspector Gamache)” by Louise Penny. Horrified when his billionaire godfather is targeted in a near-fatal accident, Chief Inspector Gamache follows clues deep within the Paris Archives to uncover gruesome, decades-old secrets. By the award-winning author of “A Better Man”.
“Troubled Blood, No. 5 (Cormoran Strike)” by Robert Galbraith. Written pseudonymously by the acclaimed author of the Harry Potter novels, a latest entry in the best-selling series that began with “The Cuckoo's Calling” continues the high-stakes adventures of Cormoran Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacot.
October 1, 2020 - Where has time gone?
It is hard to believe that it is the first of October already.Where has the time gone? The seasonal changes are definitely abounding. The trees across the street from my office window are blushing deep shades of red. The street gutters are filled with tiny yellow leaves -- nature's confetti -- adding a festive air to the end of the growing season. My porch corps are all-but finished -- my tomato plants are mere sticks with ripening fruit attached. The days are so much short and dawn is so late in arriving. And frost. Last week there was frost on the roof tops -- very briefly, but it was there. The end of this week has highs in the 50s and 40s forecast for the end of the week. Could this be the first killing frost? Could this put an end to those pesky weeds that continue to pump out pollen until a hard freeze stops them? We can only hope.As I've noted numerous times over the years, books are published seasonally with big spring and fall pushes as well as smaller beach reading and Christmas gift giving seasons. Right now we are well into the fall season. It is the perfect time of year to spend those longer evenings reading (Well, any season is the right season to spend your evenings (and mornings and afternoons too) reading. Last Friday, seven boxes of books arrived. Below you will find some of the newer titles that have arrived at the library. Enjoy!
“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Warmth of Other Suns” identifies the qualifying characteristics of historical caste systems to reveal how a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, enforced by religious views, heritage and stigma, impact every day.
“Covid 19: The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One” by Debora Mackenzie. In an accessible narrative, a veteran science journalist lays out the shocking story of how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic happened and how to make sure this never happens again.
“Elliot Ness and the Mad Butcher: Hunting America’s Deadliest Unidentified Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology” by Max Collins. In the spirit of Devil in the White City comes a true detective tale of the highest standard: the haunting story of Eliot Ness's forgotten final case–his years-long hunt for "The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run," a serial killer who terrorized Cleveland through the Great Depression.
“Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter” by Lan Cao & Van Cao. The author of Monkey Bridge describes her experiences of being a refugee immigrant and mother, reflecting on how her family has been impacted by war while exploring how cultural differences have shaped her relationship with her American daughter.
“Good Company” by Arthur Blank. The Home Depot co-founder and owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons draws on his experiences with revitalizing troubled organizations to outline practical approaches to a values-based business that utilizes the cooperative potential of purpose and profit
“The End of the Day” by Bill Clegg. Following his acclaimed New York Times bestseller, “Did You Ever Have a Family”, Bill Clegg returns with a deeply moving, emotionally resonant second novel about the complicated bonds and breaking points of friendship, the corrosive forces of secrets, the heartbeat of longing, and the redemption found in forgiveness.
“The Midwife Murders” by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo. When two kidnappings and a stabbing occur on her watch in a Manhattan university hospital, a fearless senior midwife teams up with a skeptical NYPD detective to investigate rumors that shift from the Russian Mafia to an underground adoption network.
“Migration” by Charlotte McConaghy. A woman who has dedicated her life to protecting the environment convinces a fishing captain and his salty crew to follow the world's last flock of Arctic terns on a migration of dark revelations. A first novel
“The Night Swim” by Megan Goldin. A popular true-crime podcaster finds an unsettling note on her windshield begging for help before she uncovers dark community secrets from the past and present, including one involving the disappearance of her own sister.
“The Palace, No. 3 (Simon Riske)” by Christopher Reich. When a man to whom he owes his life reaches out from prison, international spy Simon Riske recruits a daring investigative reporter and a rogue Mossad agent to thwart an international conspiracy targeting major European cities.
“We Are All the Same in the Dark” by Julia Heaberlin. The discovery of an unknown girl found by the side of the road a decade after an unsolved disappearance compels a young police officer's investigation into dangerous local and personal secrets. By the best-selling author of “Black-Eyed Susans”.
“The Wicked Sister” by Karen Dionne. Living in self-imposed exile in a psychiatric facility where she is tortured by fractured memories of her parents' murder, Rachel uncovers maternal secrets and an unspeakable act of evil that unveils the true nature of her bond with her sister
“The Book of Two Ways” by Jodi Picoult. Experiencing memories of a man other than her husband while surviving a plane crash, and end-of-life doula on the brink of a fateful decision envisions two disparate paths that find her staying with her family or reconnecting with the past.