Library Love : Late Summer 2017

Posted on:

< < Back to

On this episode, host Becca Lachman is joined by fellow Athens County Public Libraries staff members Nick Tepe, Liz Hill, and Deborah Parsons to talk about library fall programs and news, along with recommendations for reading, listening, and more. With special community partner guest Jen Parsons, executive director of the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery.


More Library Staff Recommendations:


From Deborah @ our Nelsonville branch:


Home Fires by Julie Summers


This book is an inspiration of how non-governmental, non-political associations can change a country. It was fascinating to learn how Women’s Institutes in Britain during WWII solidified the rural women of Britain into a major force in caring for soldiers, hosting evacuees, and feeding the troops and the rest of the nation as well as planning for improved conditions in housing and schools after the war. This non-fiction book was the stimulus for the fictional television series of the same name.


The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall


This audio version of a children’s chapter book, set in contemporary times, is a charming look at healthy childhoods — less sexualized, less hurried, more home-centered. The family of girls, raised by a widowed father, have distinct personalities and interests but share a deep bond that carries them through average childhood crises as well as the distinct turmoils they face with the loss of a mother. In this volume, the questions to be settled are if their father should be dating and what to do with the boys who are morphing from childhood playmates to something else. The actress who narrates the book has a cloying, overdone version of a preschooler’s voice that must be endured, but I felt it worth it.


Wonder by R. J. Palacio


I don’t care how great the film will be coming out soon, you can’t surpass this juvenile-level book. It describes the launching of a boy into middle school after he has been homeschooled up to this point because of health problems. The most noticeable manifestation of the genetic troubles that has caused his isolation is a severely deformed face. In a time when no one can seem to get along with anyone, this book is a lesson in the courage and perseverance it takes to live together with respect and care for one another.


Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry


This novel is a modern classic for good reason. It is an unsentimental Western that is so smoothly told that the sheer volume of the book – and it’s a BIG one – didn’t faze my husband or I as I read it out loud to him. It’s an epic: a story of people whose separate quests converge into a satisfying open ending. The differing personalities of the two main characters, Call and Augustus, embody the need everybody still has for working out a balance of the desire for freedom and for law and order.


The Potlikker Papers by John T. Edge


This audiobook gives a well thought out history of the modern South through its food, and Edge provides a nice Georgian drawl to enjoy while listening. I appreciate that the author doesn’t claim that there is one South that is to be seen through one perspective. There was a lot I didn’t know, from the difference between Creole and Cajun to why Paula Deen’s fame alone became a symbol of racism to some. And we’re in there! Appalachian cuisine is touched on and admired for its resourcefulness and delicious simplicity.


This Life I Live by Rory Feek


This is a biography of Rory Feek, half of the duo “Joey and Rory” who shared his life with his wife as a country music duo and as a couple deeply in love. The story of his life is compelling. The simple writing is not awe inspiring – it’s short sentences and short chapters – but the lives lived are. I say “lives” because Rory’s life can’t be understood without the way it grew to be entwined with his wife Joey and the time they spent together with their family and community.

From Erin @ our branch in The Plains and Glouster:


The movie Lion is absolutely incredible. I borrowed the DVD and it also inspired me to read the book on which the movie is based,  A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly.  It tells the true story of a 4-year-old Indian boy who gets separated from his older brother and mother and is eventually adopted by a couple in Australia. I won’t spoil the ending for you, and in this case I would see the movie first, because it heightens the drama of the results of his search, and also the emotion when the story concludes.  The book is definitely worth a read as well.  But bring your tissues, like, a whole box.


A book I recommend to people all the time is The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.  Alice Hoffman was actually recommended to me way back in the ‘90s by a bookstore employee when I was looking for, but didn’t find, more books by Barbara Kingsolver.  Hoffman’s writing and subject matter has become more serious over the years, but I find her books compulsively readable.  People might remember the movie Practical Magic from 1998 with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman; Hoffman wrote the book on which it was made (which is also great, by the way). The Museum of Extraordinary Things weaves a mystery and a romance around the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911 in New York City.  Our fair heroine is an attraction in the titular museum run by her father when she meets a mysterious man who has been hired by a family to investigate the disappearance of their daughter, a garment worker at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. I find Hoffman’s writing very engaging, and the characters here are as well. While I normally tire of books set in NYC, the time period made this really interesting; it’s a time when the trip from the museum in Coney Island to Manhattan is several hours and made by horse. It’s a great general read — good for the beach because it’s interesting and easy to read, has a little mystery for those who like that genre, a little romance, and a little history.  It’s a go-to recommendation for me.


From Laura @ our Nelsonville branch:


I listened to American Gods by Neil Gaiman, available on hoopla in our digital library. It is a full-cast production, so each character is played by a different voice actor. The story assumes that the gods of other countries have immigrated to the United States along with their citizens, and are preparing for a war with the new gods of North America, such as Technology and Media. Neil Gaiman’s stories are exhaustively researched and never disappoint.
I am just finishing Eddie Izzard’s audiobook Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens. Eddie is a brilliant British actor, comedian, and philanthropist who’s been on my radar since I was in college. He acts in serious roles but is probably best known as a stand-up comedian. In his memoir, I learned how hard he had to work to reach his acting goals, which for many years, did NOT include being a stand-up comedian. In fact, he took classes to learn the writing and performing skills that he knew he would need. This surprised me because the best comedians make the humor look easy, and I always figured that it came naturally to Eddie. What I love most about Eddie Izzard’s comedy is that it’s universally funny. You have to be comfortable with some cursing, but while he’s profane at times, the jokes are never vulgar.


From Luke @ our Athens branch:


Though most patrons at the Athens Public Library have already heard this recommendation, I recommend anything by the author Christopher Moore. He has created an interconnected universe of characters and stories that have rich settings and a great sense of humor. His stories often have supernatural elements, but those supernatural or occasionally sci-fi elements are not the main core of his books, but just one interesting angle. If you’re looking for a specific book, I recommend starting at the beginning with Practical Demonkeeping. His voice is already pretty established, and it’s a quick read. If you like Practical Demonkeeping, you’ll like everything else by Moore.


From Molly @ our Athens branch:


Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab


This is trilogy is set in four Londons, Grey (devoid of magic), Red (where magic is intertwined in everyday life), White (where magic has corrupted the residents) and Black (where magic was overused and killed the world which is sealed.) Kell is an ambassador for Red London and an antari, one of only two people who can travel between worlds. On a visit to Grey London he meets Delilah Bard, a thief who craves adventure. The two team up to fight against evil siblings who rule White London. The first book is a great introduction to the worlds and personalities of these rich characters, while the second book ramps up the adventure with a magic tournament in Red London (think the Goblet of Fire meets a Knight’s Tale). So far, the series is incredibly detailed and engaging and I LOVE the characters and the world they live in. I haven’t read the third yet, but I am on the waiting list for the audiobook and I am sure it won’t disappoint!

We have hard copies of each book in the system and it is available as an eBook and e-audiobook on the Ohio Digital Library.


From Mary @ our Nelsonville branch:


The Book Thieves by Anders Rydell


(interlibrary loan)


This is a fascinating and chilling account of the Nazi looting of libraries in Europe. The Nazi plundering of art is a well-known story, but the stories of the theft of books are not so familiar. Rydell also goes into the work being done to identify and recover books taken during WW II. Translated from Swedish.


The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost


This is the account of the author’s travels in Kiribati. I have only started reading this, and I think it’s worth reading, if only for the disclaimer that appears in place of a dedication and the titles of the chapters, which remind me of Fielding’s Tom Jones. I expect great enjoyment from this book!


In the Town All Year ‘Round by Rotraut Susanne Berner


(interlibrary loan)


This picture book, translated from German, is like a combination of Where’s Waldo and a graphic novel. Every page is packed with detailed pictures of activities in a town, and the various characters’ stories can be followed throughout the book — when you find them! Lots of fun.


Jill Conner Browne, various titles; eAudiobooks available through the Ohio Digital Library


Jill Conner Browne, the original Sweet Potato Queen, has written ten books of hilarious essays and one novel. I especially like the audiobooks because Jill reads them herself. Great to listen to on a road trip or while doing housework.


Anything by author Donald E. Westlake


Westlake is one of my all-time favorite authors. He wrote a number of hard-boiled crime novels, which is not something I enjoy, but his novels and comic crime novels are some of my favorites. He was a terrific writer; very witty. His Dortmunder (comic crime) series is wonderful. Smoke is another great comic crime novel and one of Westlake’s few science fiction works.


From Becca @ our Nelsonville branch:


I first heard about the book This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place you Live on the “Happier” podcast hosted by Gretchen Rubin. A mixture of personal experience, current social science research, and realistic tips, it’s a quick read. Partly because I’ve lived in several places and am still trying to find a firm footing in Athens County more than a decade after moving here, I found the book both helpful and inspiring. I learned a lot about how different generations and cultures view and act on place identity or “at-homeness,” as well. Each chapter ends with a to-do list you can jump into if you’re wanting to learn more about where you’ve landed, and wanting to make it a better place, as well. Also available as an audiobook.