Staff Picks 2014 September

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Staff Picks September 2014 (950KB)
Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final YearDeath of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year by Tavis Smiley. A meticulous chronicle of the final year of Martin Luther King's life, whose philosophy of nonviolence was being challenged by proponents of a more aggressive approach to social change. Smiley shines a potent light into one of the darkest periods in American history. ~ Alden Graves

Smiley portrays King's struggles with growing criticism from friends, politicians and the more militant group of civil rights activists were profound and weighed heavy on his mind but he never gave up or compromised. Written with deeply rooted compassion, love and respect. ~ Liz Barnum
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil WarLiar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott. An important side of history we hardly learn about brought to life. Abbott's accounts of four courageous spies, soldiers and couriers read like novels and remind us that women, while scarcely accounted for, played a significant role in our nation's history. ~ Jess Hanlon The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of FoodThe Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber. Simply, we have lost the taste for good food because taste has been "engineered out" of soil and sea. Barbour proposes an ecocentric model. I love this refreshing, often humorous book for its eloquence and texture; you retain the information, good stories and recipes. ~ Maeve Noonan Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad TasteLet's Talk about Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste by Carl Wilson (pb). Does hearing "My Heart Will Go On" make you wish you'd gone down with the Titanic? Wilson's dissection of Celine Dion's late 90s schmaltz-a-thon asks why we love what we love and hate what we hate. A sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking look into how our tastes define who we are. ~ Charles Bottomley
Take This ManTake This Man by Brando Skyhorse. A beautifully written memoir, though you could call it a survivor's story, that is often funny, sweet and sorrowful but always heart-felt (reminiscent of The Glass Castle). Skyhorse's voice is fragile and soft in the beginning, growing strong with painful and tender but clear-eyed honesty. ~ Maeve Noonan Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American TownFactory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town by Beth Macy. A compelling, well researched story of John Bassett III, a third generation furniture maker, whose love of his country, business and the people who worked for him and made him rich sustained him in his fight to keep his factories humming on American soil. ~ Liz Barnum
Leopard Birch Mug by Shari Zabriskie PotteryLeopard Birch Mug. These beautiful mugs are handmade by a southern Vermont artist. Insides glazed in a leopard print, outsides look like white birch trees – they will bring the feel of nature into your morning routine. And wait till you see the other items in her collection! They are all worth a visit. ~ Monique Proulx
How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It HappensHow We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey. Carey's breezy prose is engaging and conclusions are indeed surprising and fascinating. This well researched book essentially belies all that we thought we knew about how we learn and shows how we can apply these concepts to enhance our everyday lives. ~ Erik Barnum
The Children ActThe Children Act by Ian McEwan. Fiona Maye, a judge in London's Family Court, must rule on a case where a teenage boy, raised by devout Jehovah's Witness parents, refuses medical treatment, while she deals with her own marital strife. An engrossing book about moral integrity, faith and justice. ~ Louise Jones Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Set before and after a pandemic. A child actress witnesses the onstage death of an actor. Fast-forward 15 years after the pandemic and she's part of a traveling Shakespeare troupe performing for survivors. A beautifully written tale. ~ Sarah Knight
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of PilgrimageColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A novel by Haruki Murakami. Murakami has an unimaginable gift for turning the written word into feelings of melancholic nostalgia and this is the best thing he's written in years. Every word is perfectly crafted; Philip Gabriel's translation is beautiful. There are great authors, and then there is Haruki Murakami. ~ Chris Linendoll The MiniaturistThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. An outstanding debut novel set in 17thcentury Amsterdam. When Nella marries into a wealthy, dysfunctional family, her wedding gift from her husband is a miniature model of their household - people, pets and all. A riveting read full of secrets, taboos and intrigue. ~ Becky Doherty
The Narrow Road to the Deep NorthThe Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. This harrowing story of POWs working on Japan's notorious Burma Death Road railway is an epic made up of a thousand intimate moments. At the depth of history's darkest episode, Flanagan has found a fascinating, complex hero. One of the most powerful novels I've read this year. Breathtaking. ~ Charles Bottomley Lisette's ListLisette's List by Susan Vreeland. Vreeland again delights with a warm, emotional novel full of color and appreciation for life, set in Provence during WWII. Lisette and her husband must care for his aged grandfather who acquired the work of Cezanne, Pissarro and even Picasso before they became famous. ~ Karen Frank
We Are Not OurselvesWe Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. The full impact of this remarkable story of Eileen's family that runs from 1940s Queens to the present doesn't hit until the last few pages. The elusive American Dream is partially realized along with all the twists and turns of choices and events not taken. ~ Karen Frank The Home PlaceThe Home Place by Carrie La Seur. Alma Terrebonne returns home to Montana after her sister's mysterious death, only to be pulled back into a family replete with secrets and divided loyalties, while she draws strength from the natural world and a generational sense of survival. ~ Amy Palmer
The Bone ClocksThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. A quintessential Mitchell novel, following Holly Sykes's life from age 15 into her 60s. A brilliant metaphysical epic tale, which engages the reader from the first page to the end. If you liked Cloud Atlas you will love Mitchell's latest. Highly recommended. ~ Sarah Knight Flings: StoriesFlings: Stories by Justin Taylor. "I think it's the fault of movies that we imagine ourselves as the stars..." A wonderful look at the messy lives of adults sliding from their mid-20s into their 30s and beyond. Friends become strangers, love gets complicated and wild nights have increasingly bad consequences. ~ Chris Linendoll
Half a KingHalf a King by Joe Abercrombie. This first book in a new series is a tightly woven saga that has everything we love about Abercrombie's books: betrayal, good, evil, adventure and, best of all, revenge. ~ Sarah Donner Fives and Twenty-FivesFives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre. This extraordinary first novel shows how fiction can reveal reality as authentically as any non-fiction. A Marine lieutenant, a medic and their Iraqi interpreter recall the terror and chaos of their lives during the war, and their confusion and uncertainty afterwards. An amazing achievement. ~ Stan Hynds
I Am ChinaI Am China by Xiaolu Guo. An ingenious exploration of modern China through the translated love letters of an exiled political dissident and the woman he loves. Guo creates a literary landscape where love and language are inextricably bound to one another over decades of upheaval and change. ~ Cheryl Cornwell 10:04: A Novel10:04: A Novel by Ben Lerner. By the second page I knew I was going to love this book. By the third page I was certain I would never forget it. A subtly woven tale of time, storytelling and the personae we create in life and on the page. Beautiful and brilliant. ~ Charles Bottomley
Arctic SummerArctic Summer by Damon Galgut. After a silence of 14 years, E.M. Forster published A Passage to India - a novel unlike anything he had written before and an abiding masterpiece. This fascinating novel is the story of how it came to be, an elegant, sensitive tale of sublimated passion and the liberating strangeness of new frontiers. ~ Charles Bottomley

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