Books

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National Book Awards Announced

Yesteday, November 18, the National Book Awards were announced. Founded in 1950, these awards are intended to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.

The top winners in each category are:

Skyfaring: a journey with a pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker

A superb chronicle of his career as an airline pilot, Vanhoenacker makes jet travel seem uncanny and intriguing all over again. He finds delight in clouds, airports, rainstorms, fuel loads, sky gates, fragments of jargon, lonely electric lights on the plain, suns that rise and set four times in a single daylong journey and the fanciful names of waypoints on flight maps.

Sea of Thunder by Evan Thomas

There has never been, and may never again be, a war at sea on the scale of the one that climaxed at Leyte Gulf in October 1944. It should be remembered for its individual acts of heroism and defiance, but more so for the blunders and misunderstandings that are inherent in war.

Mort(e) by Robert Repino

If you’ve ever looked at your dog or cat and wondered about what would happen if they suddenly got as big and smart as you are, then this book may give you a few nightmares. (Note to self: make sure kitty has extra treats.) This entertaining speculative fiction novel has ants taking over the Earth and humanizing (so to speak) animals to make them soldiers in the war against people. Mort(e) is a cat who is haunted by the memory of Sheba, a dog he loved as a housecat, as he becomes a super solider. Can he find Sheba again and help the remaining humans live peacefully with the ants?

American Warlord by Johnny Dwyer

The true story of the son of infamous Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. Born while Taylor was going to college in Boston, Chucky’s mom moved him to Florida in high school to get him out of some bad circles in Massachusetts. At the age of 17 he visited his father in Liberia during the fighting that preceded Charles’ assumption of the Liberian presidency and went from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. He led a murderous militia and was charged with the personal security of his father, which included running a clandestine torture and execution camp.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Did you enjoy Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life? Then you have to read this book! The other evening I was drinking with a friend of mine who is an avid science fiction reader. He recommended this book and I in turn recommend it to you - even if you do not normally read science fiction. The basic premise is similar to the plot for the movie Groundhog Day, but so much more engrossing. Harry August was born in 1917 in rural England.

The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Soderberg

Having trouble staying awake? Start reading this book and forget about sleeping until you’ve finished it. This outrageously high octane thriller features a pair of rival European criminal gangs engaged in a murderous competition for market domination, a gang of disturbingly corrupt Swedish cops, and an innocent but complicit nurse (and her completely innocent teenage son) who gets caught in the middle. Check Our Catalog—and buckle your seat belt!

Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath

Did you enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point? Every wondered how to get people to remember things you tell them? Just tired of everyone looking at you like one of the adults in a Peanuts cartoon (wah wah, wah wah wah wah….)? There is a very good reason this book has been translated into more than two dozen languages and been names one of the top business books ever written. While a lot of what is contained within this book will strike you as common sense, it is clearly a common sense that we all routinely fail to employ. I recommend listening to the audiobook version of this book, as I did.

Getting E-Content Is Easier with New Axis 360 App

Good news for lovers of our Commonwealth eBooks collection - its Axis 360 app has been recently updated, and it’s now far easier to borrow eBooks and eAudiobooks to use on computer desktops or mobile devices. Users no longer need separate Blio, Adobe or Acoustik accounts in order to get content - everything is integrated in one place. All you have to do is visit your app store and download version 3.0 of Axis 360 for free.

Henning Mankell, 1948-2015

The literary world is a little emptier today after the death of renowned Swedish author Mankell, a master of Nordic noir and creator of the character Kurt Wallander, the morose and self-doubting police inspector investigating crimes in a changing Sweden. Mankell also wrote non-Wallander novels, plays, children’s books and screenplays. If you haven’t read any of his work and enjoy literary crime fiction that digs much deeper than your average ephemeral thriller, start with the first Wallander novel, Faceless Killers, and see if you get hooked.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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