Staff Book Suggestions Spring 2017
Norwegian By Night by Derek B. Miller
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4.M645 Nor 2013)
Best New Crime Writer of the Year: Winner of the CWA 2013 John Creasey Dagger Award
Best of 2013, The Guardian
Best of 2013, Financial Times
Best of 2013, The Economist
The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley
(Library of Congress Classification PZ3.H2537 Go)
Remember the movie starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates with a screenplay by Harold Pinter (If you do, you’re dating yourself)? If you haven’t read the book on which the movie was based—or haven’t read it in a long time and/or as an adult—you should do so. Hartley captures the innocence (and loss) of youth in beautifully constructed prose and by means of a narrative that is captivating and, from that first, famous sentence to the last page, ultimately haunting. No wonder this book, which has never been out of print, was a huge bestseller when it first came out in 1953 and again with the release of that critically acclaimed movie in 1971. Pick it up, and you won’t be able to put it down (at least emotionally) until you have finished it. Currently available in a beautifully produced paperback edition published by the New York Review of Books or, of course, at the Athenæum.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
(Library of Congress PZ4.F444 Ey 2002)
Book one of the seven part (so far) Thursday Next series. Did you enjoy the style of this Author of the Month? Then I highly recommend joining protagonist Thursday Next on her often hilariously absurd ride as a literary detective. It is a wild mystery caper that primarily takes place in an alternative 1980s in which literature reigns supreme. Time-traveling is the norm, many members of society are named after famous writers (oftentimes requiring a number be tacked on one’s name, e.g. John Milton 137), some citizens belong to sects hellbent on destroying storylines from within or proving conspiratorial literary ideas (including an entire group that travels door-to-door attempting to convert people into believing that Shakespeare did not write his plays), and extinct animals have been brought back as pets! I laughed out loud at least once every few chapters. Highly enjoyable and I’m thrilled I don’t have to hunt for a new book for at least six more books from now.
Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg
(Library of Congress CT275.P47 B47)
When Max Perkins joined Scribner’s in 1910, the company limited itself to publishing well-established authors and sending manuscripts off to the printers with little or no editing. The atmosphere in the office was genteel and a bit musty—“Dickensian,” says Berg. In the years that followed, Perkins remade Scribner’s and redefined the role of editor. He sought out promising new novelists and guided them with infinite patience, insight, and generosity. F. Scott Fitzgerald called him “my most loyal and confident encourager and friend.”
Perkins’s efforts helped usher in modern American literature. He suggested how Fitzgerald could make Jay Gatsby a more vivid character; he persuaded a reluctant Charles Scribner to publish Hemingway’s Sun Also Rises; and he spent countless hours with Thomas Wolfe transforming mountains of manuscript pages into Look Homeward Angel and Of Time and the River. Describing these collaborations, Berg explores both their professional and personal sides. He succeeds in making a book about a quiet, modest man who spent most of his life hard at work in the office an enthralling read.
A Life In Parts by Bryan Cranston
(Library of Congress NEW CT275.C735 A3 2016)
A Life In Parts is a breezy read with serious undertones. Cranston hasn’t had an easy life, but it’s all grist for his work as an actor in such parts as Walter White (Breaking Bad) and LBJ (All the Way). Highly recommended, especially if you’re a fan.
Time Travel: A History by James Gleick
(Library of Congress NEW QC173.59.S65 G54 2016)
I really enjoyed this book—to me, it read like a perfect blend of literary criticism, cultural history, and popular science. And the discussion of the real life scientific concepts was well written and accessible to one such as me who has always been rather afraid of math! Description: Gleick’s story begins at the turn of the twentieth century with the young H.G. Wells writing and rewriting the fantastic tale that became his first book, an international sensation, The Time Machine. A host of forces were converging to transmute the human understanding of time, some philosophical and some technological—the electric telegraph, the steam railroad, the discovery of buried civilizations, and the perfection of clocks. Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea in the culture—from Marcel Proust to Doctor Who, from Woody Allen to Jorge Luis Borges. He explores the inevitable looping paradoxes and examines the porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics. Finally, he delves into a temporal shift that is unsettling our own moment: the instantaneous wired world, with its all-consuming present and vanishing future.
The Three-Body Trilogy by Cixin Liu
The Three-Body Problem translated by Ken Liu
(Library of Congress PZ4.L735 Th 2014)
The Dark Forest translated by Joel Martinsen
(Library of Congress NEW PZ4.L735 Da 2015)
Death’s End translated by Ken Liu
(Library of Congress NEW PZ4.L735 De 2016)
This massive trilogy was written by Cixin Liu, one of China’s most popular science fiction writers. It’s easy to see why, now he’s one of my favorites, too. The English translation of the first book, The Three-Body Problem, debuted to rave reviews (even in the New Yorker), and won the Hugo Award in 2015. All this to say—it’s excellent! One sprawling work in three parts, this trilogy begins against the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution in China, and revolves around the story of one traumatized young scientist and the impact that the decisions of one person can have on the course of human history in its very largest sense. It’s a story of first contact, about humanity’s reaction to the fact that we’re not alone in the universe. It begins a bit slowly, with what seems to be very elaborate stage dressing, but it builds momentum as it goes along, every detail is significant, and plot twists and revelations hit with a bang. Fans of vintage Golden Age science fiction (Asimov, Clarke, et al.) will revel in this superbly written, thought-provoking epic!!
(Library of Congress CT275.H69 .S56 2016)
A terrific biography—comprehensively researched, well-paced, insightful. Showalter largely avoids speculation with regard to her subject’s motivations, drawing instead upon Howe’s own writing—both published and private—to illuminate her ambitions and frustrations. In Showalter’s account, Howe’s accomplishments in writing, public speaking, and political organizing are all the more remarkable given the state of her marriage to Samuel Gridley Howe, who was by turns a jealous, manipulative, and abusive partner. After the [merciful? timely?] death of her husband in 1876, JWH devoted herself to a number of causes related to women’s rights, thereby distinguishing herself as a leader and ensuring her status as an icon of late nineteenth century feminism. Showalter’s account is a sympathetic but clear-eyed review of JWH’s accomplishments and character, and as such is an enriching, engrossing read.
(Library of Congress NEW Z106.5.E85 D44 2016)
If you enjoy medieval history and book history, then you want to check this hefty volume out.
This book is a commitment; it has over 600 pages, including endnotes, and those notes, in spite of their tiny font, are well worth reading. They point to fascinating classics, obscure articles, and academic in-fighting; not that De Hamel shies from that in his text. He is particularly scathing in his descriptions of the use of white gloves in rare book reading rooms. As a librarian myself, I felt for my counterparts. I understand their perspective, although I know that white gloves are not necessary. In all fairness, he is studying nine treasures; the white glove treatment may have been special for him. Though he has an Oxbridge pedigree, a long tenure at Sotheby’s, and a well-known reputation, he is an enthusiast and encourages all his readers to visit rare book rooms to study the originals. He goes even farther and tells general readers that the small group of specialists in medieval manuscripts is welcoming and would enjoy engagement. I am curious to know if he is correct, so start reading and get out there to find this community of scholars. You may want to wait until this book is no longer new, but you can always contact the Circulation Desk and request renewals. We are a welcoming bunch too.