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Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Fiction Titles

Are you looking for new fiction titles?  See below for some suggestions of books I enjoyed.

The Wives of Los Alamos  by Tarashea Nesbit.  2014
      This novel is written in a collective voice, representing all the women of the physicists who worked at Los Alamos, on the atomic bomb.  The wives were not allowed to know what their husbands were working on.  Families were isolated from much of society.  They were not allowed to visit their families elsewhere, nor were their families allowed to visit them.  The wives came from all  over the country and the world.  The narrator reveals that they did not always agree on things, and had different ways of looking at their lives.  However, it is clear that there were strong bonds because the women needed to rely on each other for several years, without the support of family networks or other social networks.  They raised their children and tried to cook decent meals in spite of rationing, and tried to keep their homes as nice as possible, although their were many problems.  The narrator reveals how all the women changed to deal with the situations at Los Alamos.   By the end, it is clear to the reader that the project was the creation of the atomic bomb. The novel describes the various reactions of the scientists and families when they hear reports of the atomic bomb maiming and killing so many civilian Japanese.  Well written, and an interesting historical novel.

Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen.  2014
     Well known photographer Rebecca Winter moves out of her New York City apartment and  into a small cottage, in order to rent out her apartment and try and cover her finances, including her mother's nursing home bills.  Her twenty-something son Ben, does not realize how poor she has become.  She hasn't produced anything new in years.  She begins a relationship with a roofer, Jim.
who gets a raccoon out of her house.  She is unaware that he has a mentally sister, and the photography project that gets her reestablished is connected to his sister.  In the end, pieces of her life are brought together.  Wonderfully written, with unique chapter headings.

A Star For Mrs. Blake by April Smith.  2014
      This novel is a WWI follow up story, set in 1931.  Cora Blake lives in Deer Isle, Maine, and lost her son, Sammy, in the war.  She has been selected as a Gold Star Mother - one of the mothers who will travel to France to see her son's burial site.  The U.S. government spent over $1 million to give mothers who lost sons the opportunity to go to England and France.  Cora corresponds with the other mothers before the trip, and discovers that they all come from different backgrounds - Bobbie, a wealthy woman; Katie, an Irish immigrant who worked for women like Bobbie; Minne, a Jewish immigrant, and Wilhellma, married to a famous architect who has declared her legally insane because of her grief.  The group is accompanied by Thomas Hammond, a young military man who comes rom a long military family, and Lily, a nurse assigned to the group.
      As different as the women are, they have all lost their sons, and must grapple with feelings of what did they die for.  There is reference to the Depression and a possible second world war coming. 
They meet a writer, who has been badly injured in the war and must wear a face mask.   The women find out more about their sons lives, themselves,  and each other on the trip.  There are good descriptions of ordinary women being exposed to travel, new events, and worlds they had never experienced, while dealing with their grief.   The author found a great entry in the aftermath of World War I, and poses questions about patriotism and the waste of human lives in war.

 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Fiction Titles

New fiction titles are continually selected and arrive on our library shelves.  I will be reviewing several new books that you might want to read.


What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins, published in 2014.

The book is based on the real life story of Laura Bridgman, who lived in the 1800's.  She contracted scarlet fever at age 2, and was no longer able to see, hear, smell or taste.  When she was seven, she was taken to the Perkins Institute in Boston, to determine what a child with her disibilities could learn.  Dr. Howe taught her to write with her fingers, on the palm of a hand, and she learned to read, and write on a board.  She becomes very attached to Dr. Howe, and he favors her and lets her stay in his house, until he marries a woman named Julia.  He and Julia go to India for a year, and come back with a child.  Laura is no longer as special.

A woman, Sarah White,  is hired to be her companion, and teach her.  Laura becomes very attached to Sarah, and when Sarah is being courted by Mr. Boyd, Laura thinks he is courting her.  She is devasted when Sarah leaves, and marries Mr. Boyd.  The Boyds live on one of the Hawaiian Islands for several years, and she is very subdued when she returns.  It turns out that her husband had syphillis.  She becomes ill later in life, and ends up in an asylum.  It is never clear if she got syphillis, or this was from the depression she had dealt with all her life.  When Sarah leaves, a young Irish woman named Kate is hired to help Cook, and also to spend time with Laura. Kate becomes pregnant by an unnamed man, and has to leave. 

 Julia is portrayed as a very bright, intelligent woman who needed more intellectual stimulation than she was getting in her marriage.  She travels abroad for a while, and Dr. Howe is threatened when she has a friendship with a poet.
 
Dr. Howe spends less and less time with Laura as she becomes an adult.  He is frustrated that she has her own ideas about philosophy, religion, slavery and abolitionists.  This parallels his relationship with his wife.  He is against her writing and publishing her own poetry, and establishing her own identity.  Laura lives a long life, but was restricted in so many ways, in addition to her physical disabilities.  A very interesting, true story about a handicapped woman who preceeded Helen Keller.
 

The Arsonist by Sue Miller, published in 2014
Sue Miller writes another very good book.  Frankie Rowley returns home to New Hampshire after working for 15 years in Africa.  She feels she doesn’t belong anywhere.  She stays in the summer home of her parents, who have just moved permanently to their summer home in a small village in Pomeroy.  Frankie remembers summers growing up here, when, she was a summer resident.  Now she is living here during the year.  Her sister Liz and family are building a family home nearby.  When Frankie arrives she sees that her parents, both retired professors, are living a very different life.  Her father, Alfie, seems to have Alzheimer’s and her mother is his caretaker.  Her father has times of lucidity and times of strong confusion.   Frankie moves into her sister’s house, which is half built, while the family is away.  The book focuses on a number of arsons, that first occur  before the summer residents arrive in June.  Then the fires begin while residents are in the town or in their house.   Meanwhile, Frankie is falling in love with Bud, the owner of the newspaper who has left Washington D.C. to buy the local newspaper, and write the news, and live in a small town.  Frankie doesn’t know if she wants to go to N.Y. to work, or stay.   She is torn between her love for Bud and her need to travel and work abroad.  The book has several themes going on -- Alzheimer’s, and the devastation to a very intelligent man and his family;  Fear in the community when arson begins, and how relationships change as people  become suspicious of each other;  Frankie's difficulty determining what she wants in life,what feels meaningful to her, and where she feels she needs to be;  These feelings mixed in with the feeling of not belonging anywere, and leftover feelings from childhood about parents.    This is also a love story, focusing on the difficulty of making a commitment and understanding each other’s needs.
 


 
 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

LOOKING FOR SUMMER READING? CHECK OUT OUR BOOK DISPLAYS!!

As you walk upstairs in the library, you will see two displays on the landing.  When you are upstairs, you will see three tables of displays.  Librarians change these displays regularly to introduce you to a variety of fiction or nonfiction.  Right now, our five displays are:

1.  Vacationing or Staycationing with kids.  Are you looking for crafts, camp games, travel books, fun activities to do with kids?  Look on the first display on the landing.  You will find lots of ideas for kids of all ages.

2.  New Nonfiction in 2014.  The library purchases many nonfiction books each year, ranging from how to books, biographies, cookbooks, history, finance, religion, parenting, crafts,  travel, etc.  Take a look and find something new.

3.  Book to Read in the Dark with a Flashlight.  The flashlight is not because you are a kid and you mother told you to turn out the light and go to sleep.  The flashlight is because these stories are scary!
Written by traditional authors you may have read before and new authors, these books will keep you up at night.

4.  Coming of Age Stories.  These fiction titles contain some classic titles and many new books that you may not have read before.  Some take place in areas of the U.S. and some are set in other countries.  These stories are great for a good summer read.

5.  Graduation is not the End, it is the Beginning.  You or someone in your family has graduated.
What's next?   Higher education, or a job?  Graduates and their parents are all affected by this milestone.  Look at this display for some ideas and guidance.

Do you like a particular author and wish you could find similar authors?  Do you like a particular genre of fiction, or do you like novels set in a particular place.  Try Novelist, the readers advisory database that you can access in the library or at home.  You can click on Novelist when you are at the library catalog page.  Database are listed on the right had side of the page.  You can find book suggestions for adults and children.  Also, if you are in the library or contact us,  we are always happy
to suggest books.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Winners of the 2014, 26th Annual Minnesota Book Awards

                                                                        
 
 
The winners of the Minnesota Book awards were announced at a gala at the St. Paul Depot on April 5. As a Minnesota Book Awards judge, I was one of the  record-breaking 960 people attending this exciting event.  John Moe, author and Minnesota Public Radio host of “Wits, ” emceed.  
Children’s Literature
 David LaRochelle and Mike WohnoutkaMoo!
When Cow gets her hooves on the farmer’s car, she takes it for a wild ride. Using just one word (well, maybe two), this book will have readers laughing one moment and on the edge of their seats the next. LaRochelle is a previous Minnesota Book Award winner and lives in White Bear Lake. Wohnoutka has illustrated books for Random House, Dutton Children’s Books, and more – this is his first Book Award.
General Nonfiction
Jack El-HaiThe Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII
El-Hai uncovers the remarkable relationship between army psychiatrist Captain Douglas M. Kelley and the elite of the captured Nazi regime, particularly Hermann Göring. El-Hai is the MN Book Award winning author of The Lobotomist.
Genre Fiction
 William Kent KruegerTamarack County
While investigating a woman’s disappearance, Cork O’Connor and his family are pulled into a deadly series of events which may have a connection to a murder more than twenty years old – a case where Cork was the deputy in charge. Krueger is the author of twelve previous Cork O’Connor mysteries and this is his fifth Minnesota Book Award.  Krueger has spoken several times at the Northfield Public Library, and is a favorite among Northfield readers.
 
Memoir & Creative Nonfiction,
 Melanie HoffertPrairie Silence
Stories about returning home and exploring abandoned towns are woven into a coming-of-age tale about falling in love, making peace with faith, and belonging to a place where neighbors are as close as blood but are often unable to share their deepest truths. Hoffert holds an MFA in creative writing from Hamline University.
 Minnesota
 Kristin MakholmModern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison
This beautiful book, co-written with W. Jackson Rushing, III, showcases Chippewa artist Morrison’s work while also exploring the artist’s identity as a modernist within the broader context of twentieth-century American and Native American art. Makholm is Executive Director of the Minnesota Museum of American Art.
Novel & Short Story
 Ethan RutherfordThe Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories  
The strange, imaginative, and refreshingly original stories in Rutherford’s debut collection explore the ways in which we experience the world: as it is, could be, and all that lies between. Rutherford‘s fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, American Short Fiction, and The Best American Short Stories.
 Poetry
 Matt RasmussenBlack Aperture
In his moving debut collection, a finalist for the National Book Award, Rasmussen faces the tragedy of his brother’s suicide, refusing to focus on the expected pathos, blurring the edge between grief and humor. Rasmussen is a founding coeditor of Birds LLC, a small independent poetry press, and teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Young People’s Literature
 Carrie MesrobianSex & Violence  
After an assault that leaves seventeen-year-old Evan scarred inside and out, he and his father retreat to the family cabin in rural Minnesota—which may offer him his best shot at making sense of his life again. Mesrobian teaches at the Loft Literary Center. This is her first book.
Book Artist Award
 Fred Hagstrom – a local artist, and distinguished professor of art at Carleton College since 1984
 


Thursday, March 27, 2014


March 27, 2014
Science fiction and fantasy blog: Dystopias
 
Over the past five years many dystopia themed novels have been published making it one of the most popular speculative fiction subgenres with mainstream fiction readers.  This blog will provide a brief introduction to the dystopian novel for adults.
Thomas More’s book Utopia was published in 1516.  Now considered a foundational text in philosophy and political science, the novel added the word utopia to the English lexicon as well as a labeled literary genre.
The opposite of a utopian society is a dystopian society.  Dystopias are ruled by an elite group with a private agenda that is cloaked in euphemism and lies.  The controlling strata maintain rule thorough the use of coercion or conditioning and regulate almost all aspects of an individual’s existence including daily routine, career and family.  Crowd control and maintaining the status quo are the main concern of the power elite.  As long as the oppressors believe they are able to maintain social order by exercising their authority Individuals within the oppressed population are safe as long as they remain anonymous.
In dystopian works, dissension by an individual or group reveal a rift that exists within their repressive society as it is, and as it should or could be.  Divisive events give rise to an awakening by the oppressed of the injustice of their world, the lack of human rights therein and lead to a further flowering of the spirit of individualism by those being controlled.

Equally as significant in the dystopian novel is the implicit understanding that there is no guarantee of a happy ending for either the society or the individuals within it.  The message contained within the unfolding story arc is more important. 
What are the characteristics of a “good” dystopian novel for teens and adults?

1.            A setting that is vividly described and almost becomes a character in itself.
2.            Individuals or forces in charge with a legitimate reason for being as they are.
3.            Protagonists shaped by their environment and situations.
4.            A conclusion that reflects the dire circumstances.  While a feeling of hope and measured optimism is good, the protagonists may not escape unscathed and may face insurmountable obstacles. 
The Hunger Games has been a successful crossover novel, and an increasing number of dystopian works have been written for young adults but appeal to readers of all ages.  But while the “coming- of- age” subtext is a core characteristic of dystopian novels for teens, it may be absent in novels written for an adult audience.
    Below is a list of dystopian novels both new and old readers of this speculative fiction subgenre may enjoy.  All o f these works are in the Northfield Library.  There are many more dystopian titles and available through Interlibrary Loan.  Contact the Northfield Public Library Adult Services desk if you are interested in additional titles.

1.       Feed by M.T. Anderson.  Cambridge, MA:  Candlewick Press, 2002.  -  Northfield YA AND

2.       The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  NY: Everyman’s Library, 2006 – Northfield FIC

3.       MadAddam:  A Novel by Margaret Atwod.  NY: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2013 - Northfield FIC

4.       Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.  NY: Nan A. Talese, 2003 – Northfield FIC

5.       Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood NY: Nan A. Talese, 2009 – Northfield FIC

6.       Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury NY: Simon & Schuster, 2003 - Northfield SCIFI

7.       The Postman by David Brin.  New York, Bantam, 1985. – Northfield SCIFI

8.       Armageddon’s Children by Terry Brooks.  NY: Del Ray, 2006 – Northfield SCIFI

9.       Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner. Cambridge, MA: R. Bentley, c1968, 1979 – Northfield SCIFI

10.   Veracity by Laura Bynum. NY: Pocket Books, 2010 – Northfield SCIFI

11.   A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. NY:  Norton. 1962 – Northfield FIC

12.   The Passage: A Novel by Justin Cronin.  New York: Ballantine Books, 2010.  Northfield SCIFI

13.   The Twelve: A Novel by Justin Cronin.  New York, Ballatine Books, 2012.  Northfield SCIFI

14.   Neuromancer by William Gibson. NY:  Ace Books, 1984.  Northfield SCIFI

15.   The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway.  New York: Alfred Knopf, 2008.  Northfield SCIFI

16.   The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist.  Translated by Marlaine Delargy.  NY:  Other Press, 2008.   Northfield FIC

17.   Wool by Hugh Howey. London, Century, 2013.  Northfield SCIFI

18.   Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. New York, London: Harper & Bros. 19- Northfield FIC

19.   Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  New York: Alfred Knopf, 2005.  Northfield FIC

20.   The Children of Men by P. D. James. NY: A.A. Knopf, 1992. Northfield FIC

21.   The Stand by Stephen King.  New York:  Doubleday, 1990 NOR FIC

22.   The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin.  New York: Harper & Row, 1974 NOR SCIFI

23.   Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell. NY: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004. NOR FIC

24.   Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell.  Fiftieth Anniversary Edition.  NY:  Signet Class, 1996.  NOR FIC

25.   1984 by George Orwell. NY: Signet Class, c1991.  NOR FIC

26.   Atlas Shrugged of Ayn Rand. NY: Random House, 1957 NOR FIC

27.   Blindness by Jose Sarmago.  Translated by Jose Pontiero.  NY: Harcourt, Brace & Company. 1997.  NOR FIC

28.   Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling.  NY:  New American Library, 2004. NOR SCIFI

29.   Battle Royale: The Novel by Koushun Takami.  Translated by Yuji Oniki.  San Francisco: Haikasoru, 2009.  NOR SCIFI
30.   The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. NY: Doubleday, 2005 NOR FIC

31.   The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Mahwah, NJ:  Watermill Classic, 1980.  NOR SCIFI

32.   Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America by Robert Charles Wilson.  NY:  Tor Books, 2009. NOR SCIFI
 
Other dystopian themed titles may be found by consulting Ebsco Novelist.  Novelist is a fiction database that provides subject access, reviews, read-a-likes, book discussion guides, annotations and much more for over 125,000 fiction titles.  Book links within Novelist allow you to search the holdings of the Northfield and SELCO libraries.
Novelist is available through the Northfield Public Library website.  To locate it Click E-Library then NPL’s Electronic Resources.  Scroll down to Ebsco Novelist.  You will need to enter your Northfield Public Library card number to use this database.  The hyperlink below will also allow you access to the website http://web.b.ebscohost.com/novelist/search?sid=c661bc62-4e67-4051-9738-8b1c2cbc06ed%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=118
 
Jamie Stanley
March 2014

 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

FIND NEW BOOKS AND AUTHORS WITH NOVELIST

Are you looking for a new book for your book group?  Do you have a favorite author and want to find similar authors?  Or maybe you just read a great book and want to find similar books.  Novelist is a great resources for librarians and library patrons.    Check it out on our library website.    Go to
 E-Resources on the Northfield Public Library website and click on Ebsco Novelist.  In addition to author and book read alikes, Novelist has book discussion guides and lists of award winning books. Are you looking for titles in a series?    You can find the series titles on Novelist.  You can also search books by different categories, such as Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery,  Romance, Westerns, etc.   Novelist also  includes books for young children and young adults. 
We use Novelist often at the reference desk when patrons are looking for new books to read, and you can use Novelist while at home or at the libary.
Click here http://support.ebsco.com/novelist/training.php to watch some videos on how to use Novelist.
If you have questions, please ask at the reference desk or call us at 645-1802.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 MINNESOTA BOOK AWARDS FINALISTS


Preliminary judges met at the end of January to narrow down book submissions to four books in each category.  I have been both a prelimary and finalist judge.  Preliminary judges  read as many as 40 books or more in a category.  Judges have several months to read the books and then meet at the end of January to discuss their findings with other judges.  There are 3 judges per category.
The finalists for each of the adult categories are listed below;

General Nonfiction

 Evil Men by James Dawes (Harvard University Press)Harriman vs. Hill: Wall Street’s Great Railroad War by Larry Haeg (University of Minnesota Press)                                                                                                  The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII by Jack El-Hai (PublicAffairs Books/Perseus Books Group) Soda Shop Salvation: Recipes and Stories from the Sweeter Side of Prohibition by Rae Katherine Eighmey (Minnesota Historical Society Press)

 Genre Fiction
The Book of Killowen by Erin Hart (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
The Cold Nowhere by Brian Freeman (Quercus)
Tamarack County by William Kent Krueger (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster)
Wolves by Cary J. Griffith (Adventure Publications

Memoir & Creative Nonfiction
The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo: A Child, an Elder and the Light from an Ancient Sky by Kent Nerburn (New World Library)
Prairie Silence by Melanie Hoffert (Beacon Press)
Thunder of Freedom: Black Leadership and the Transformation of 1960s Mississippi by Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner with Cheryl Reitan (University Press of Kentucky)
We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter by Rachael Hanel (University of Minnesota Press)

Minnesota
A Love Affair with Birds: The Life of Thomas Sadler Roberts by Sue Leaf (University of Minnesota Press)
Minneapolis Madams: The Lost History of Prostitution on the Riverfront by Penny A. Petersen (University of Minnesota Press)
Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison by W. Jackson Rushing III and Kristin Makholm (University of Oklahoma Press)
 Survival Schools: The American Indian Movement and Community Education in the Twin Cities by Julie L. Davis (University of Minnesota Press)

Novel & Short Story
Let the Dark Flower Blossom by Norah Labiner (Coffee House Press)
Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman (Soho Press)
The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories by Ethan Rutherford (Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers)
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich (University of Minnesota Press

 Poetry
Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen (Louisiana State University Press)
The First Flag by Sarah Fox (Coffee House Press)
It Becomes You by Dobby Gibson (Graywolf Press)
Slip by Cullen Bailey Burns (New Issues Poetry & Prose)

Finalist judges receive the four finalist books in their category at the beginning of February  and have one month to read the books.    This year I am a finalist judge for the Minnesota category.  As you can see  I am reading about birds, prostituion, art and Native American schools!  Quite a variety.  Final judges meet on March 8 and will determine the winners for each category.  The winners must be kept secret until they are announced at the Minnesota Book Award gala, Saturday, April 5. 
Read some of the above titles and let us know which books you think should win!