From Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil to The Devil in the White City, books that deftly combine the story of a real life crime with an in-depth look at a notable time and place make for great nonfiction reading. I recently read and enjoyed Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French, and I’ve heard great things from coworkers about both The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann and City of Scoundrels: The Twelve Days of Disaster that Gave Birth to Modern Chicago by Gary Krist.
If this is your area, Reader Services has a great list of titles for you! Avid readers of general true crime will also want to check out the new book we have on order, Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of by Harold Schechter.
By the way, if you enjoy this list you should also consider attending the next book discussion offered by the St. Charles Heritage Center. On September 4 they will be discussing Murder City: The Bloody History of Chicago in the Twenties by Michael Lesy.
It is a sad truth that – as much as we would like to – the Library simply can’t keep a copy of every wonderful book ever published. Considerations such as shelf space and budget certainly play a role, but so does the availability of a book (i.e. if it goes out of print) and the “popularity” of a writer. The latter is particularly hard to take when a once favorite author gets left behind in the wake of shiny new titles and changes in publishing trends.
So imagine my happiness to have two old favorites back on our shelves! The first is A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh, the book that kicks off the series featuring gentleman detective Roderick Alleyn. These days, some may be more familiar with her detective from the “Inspector Alleyn” miniseries (available on DVD at the Library) which are based on Marsh’s books. Marsh is one of the classic writers from the “Golden Age” of British detective fiction (think Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers) and the title was reissued by the funky Felony & Mayhem Press.
The second old friend to return is The King Must Die by Mary Renault. This rich novel is a plausible recreation of what might have really happened to inspire the myth of Theseus (particularly the legend of the Minotaur). I remember staying up late at night to finish it, and then years later buying my own copies of all Mary Renault’s titles so I can enjoy them whenever I want to. (They fall into my “dangerous to dust” category of books, i.e. it’s a challenge for me to dust them without wanting to immediately stop the housework and start rereading them all over again!) I think Renault will appeal to anyone who enjoys historical novels with rich characterization, adventure and an evocative sense of place.
We’re looking forward to discussing The Submission by Amy Waldman in both our morning (August) and evening (September) 2nd Tuesday Book Groups. It is a fictional examination of what might happen if a Muslim architect won a contest to design a Ground Zero Memorial.
With the subject matter in mind, I am fascinated by the various covers the book has been given by different publishers/editions.
What do you think? Do any particularly stand out to you? (Covers are: Hardback USA, Paperback USA, Hardback UK, Paperback UK, Hardcover Canada)
I must confess, although I hugely enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy, Divergent by Veronica Roth and other similar titles (I also recently read and loved the classic A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller), I have now grown a little weary of the dystopian/post-apocalyptic genre. So, for anyone else who might be looking for some “other” science fiction, here are six titles (old and new) to consider:
In addition, for those who generally don’t read science fiction, Flavorwire recently did a “10 Great Science Fiction Books for People Who Don’t Read Sci-Fi” post which had some interesting titles (I totally agree about Fledgling by Octavia Butler) and Reader Services maintains a similar list, Books for Those Who Think They Don’t Read Science Fiction.
Do you have some science fiction titles on your favorite books list? Please share will us!
Here is a current crop of titles that patrons have been talking about with us at Reader Services. Any time you have a book to recommend, please stop by the Reader Services Desk and share it with us!
By T. Jefferson Parker
A great suspense fiction, plus it’s fun trying to figure out the real life people some of the characters are based upon.
Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories
By Edith Pearlman
This collection of short stores sparkles with “wonderful writing.”
The Love Dare
By Stephen Kendrick (248.844 KEN)
Based on the hit movie Fireproof, patron called it “powerful” and worth owning.
Anything by the romantic suspense author Laura Griffin. The series starts with Untraceable.
Only Time Will Tell
By Jeffrey Archer
This is the first in new family saga by Archer and the patron was eagerly waiting for the next (Sins of the Father) out May 8th.
By Ron Rash
This historical fiction title set in 1929 Appalachia, features a female character who is so ruthless she’s almost unlikable – which is funny given that “the author recently spoke at ECC and he is SO nice!”
Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond
By Meika Loe (646.79 LOE)
Well-written look at aging that is both uplifting and informative; good insight for an older person and/or someone with aging parents.
American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America
By Colin Woodard (970.00497 WOO)
If you like history, this is “fascinating.”
Have you read one of these titles and would like to tell us your thoughts? Share your comments below.
A quick round-up of some of the things I’ve taken note of online the past few weeks:
* For those who enjoy thrillers, the International Thriller Writers announced the 2012 Thriller Award Nominees
* I’ve been wondering what happened to “chick lit” and was intrigued by the website 20SomethingReads.com, which bills itself as being “created for readers in their twenties, which we define as, “A decade. A state of mind. An age. A lifestyle. A time for self-discovery. A new perspective. An attitude. A philosophy. Independence. Freedom. A time to re-discover reading for pleasure – and FINALLY – read what you want.””
* This is still on my “to do” list, but it sounds fascinating: a podcast from The Guardian about the value and growing popularity of Science Fiction. You can read a bit about it from one of the participants or listen to it using the player below.
On the Mezzanine
Thomas Mahady’s tribute to St. Charles artist Yvonne Almo will be featured on the Mezzanine in the Net.Gallery of the Library during the month of February. Don’t miss his wonderful perspective which includes photos, newspaper clippings and the art of Ms. Almo.
From Readers Services
- A book display highlighting the Underground Railroad. Here is a partial of titles to check out:
Traveling the Underground Railroad: A Visitor’s Guide to More Than 300 Sites
Bruce Chadwick 973.7115 CHA
Fleeing for Freedom: Stories of the Underground Railroad
Levi Coffin and William Still 973.7115 FLE
Life on the Underground Railroad
Stuart A. Kallen 973.7115 KAL
Passages to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in History and Memory
David Blight, editor 973.7115 PAS
Hidden in Plain View: The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad
Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard 973.7115 TOB
The Underground Railroad in Illinois
Glennette Tilley Turner 973.7115 TUR
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot will be discussed on Tuesday Morning, March 8, at 10:00 a.m. in the Bisbee Conference Room. You may request this title if you would like to join us for the discussion.
Lastly, don’t miss The History Channel’s comprehensive study of the historical events and achievements of African Americans.