Books

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The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Former planet-hopping soldiers John Perry and his wife Jane Sagan have retired to administrative positions on a peaceful colonial planet when they entertain a visit from a former commander who makes a proposal: they are the perfect candidates to lead a promising colony of citizens from ten worlds in the Colonial Union. But after they accept things deteriorate dramatically as they discover that they are pawns in a galactic chess game.

What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel by Dave Eggers

When 7-year-old Valentino Achak Deng, a Dinka living in southern Sudan, is forced to leave his village, his harrowing journey takes him through three countries, terrifying encounters with Arab militias, government bombers, wild animals and some of sub-Saharan Africa’s most challenging terrain. One of the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan, Valentino stands as an extraordinary example of a story that is equal parts bleak, lyrical, humorous and tragic.

Travels With Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life by Daniel M. Klein

With a suitcase full of philosophy books Klein returns to the Greek island of Hydra to discover the secrets of aging graciously and gracefully. While the ancient philosopher Epicurus is Klein’s most important guide, the author seeks wisdom in a variety of texts. Looking back over a life in the fast lane he contemplates the uncommonly content lives of the old men of Hydra. Men with deep roots in the island’s culture and deeper friendships. A lovely, thin volume filled with pithy and gently provocative observations on a topic of interest to us all.

Home by Toni Morrison

Frank Money has recently returned from the Korean War, less two friends and with many emotional scars. He has no plans to return to his hometown of Lotus, Georgia, until he receives a letter that his beloved sister Cee is sick.

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Who knew that going to church could be deadly? North Carolina in the mid-1980s feels very far away from the world of 21st century Massachusetts in this debut Southern Gothic novel about 9-year-old Jess and his mute older brother, Stump. When the boys spy through a window and see something they shouldn’t, the consequences are fatal. We hear the story from three disparate but convincing characters: Jess, the sheriff, and the elderly local midwife who has spent a lifetime observing and helping the townspeople.

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

It’s 1913 Vienna and Lysander Reif, a young English actor, is in town seeking psychotherapy for a very private sort of ailment. He ends up enmeshed in a passionate affair with an enigmatic woman he meets at his therapist’s office. When his lover’s live-in boyfriend finds out and becomes enraged, she accuses Lysander of rape and the story gallops away from there. Upon his return to London on the cusp of war, Lysander finds it difficult to return to normal life, breaks up with his English fiancé, joins up and gets pulled into the dangerous world of wartime spying.

More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy, Fever Pitch) writes a monthly column for the British magazine Believer where he discusses the books he’s read in the past month. Compiling a group of these columns into a novel seems like a strange idea, but reading this collection is like joining a fun book club with a witty, well-read writer. Over the course of the 14 entries Hornby talks about fiction and nonfiction, but he also digresses often about writing and writers, life as a parent, the pleasures of reading, and the art of only reading short novels.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

I expected this to be an oral history of comedians so I was a little surprised at how much space was given over to improv and writing for sitcoms.  Not that it wasn't interesting but I kept wondering when we'd be getting back to the comedians.   A lot of the focus of the book is about women breaking into the largely male arena of stand-up comedy and the perception, by some people, that women aren't funny.  There is some rehashing of well-worn topics like how hard women had it on  Saturday Night Live, and other not so well known, like how supportive Janeane Garofalo was

The Lost: A Search For Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

As a boy, Daniel Mendelsohn was fascinated by his maternal grandfather’s stories and compelled by the mysterious absence of the single great-uncle (of seven siblings) who was “killed by the Nazis” along with his wife and four daughters. As an adult, the author doggedly pursued the truth about what happened to these “six of six million” in an attempt to know who they were as individuals caught up in the larger holocaust of history.

This Bright River by Patrick Somerville

Two damaged thirtysomethings with mysterious back stories return to their Wisconsin home town to lick their wounds and subsequently run into each other at a local gallery open. Flash back to their experience as two high school oddballs assigned to do a science project together. Uh huh, you can predict the ending to this one: awkwardness leads to happily ever after. But not so fast. This suspenseful story has twists and turns that you won’t expect and you won’t really know which narrator to trust, and which version of the past to believe, until the very end.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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