A Friend of the Family Lauren Grodstein FIC GRODSTEIN
Pete is an internist living a reasonably content life in New Jersey. He has prestige, an established practice, and good friends. But he begins his story by explaining that he is living in a studio apartment above the garage, exiled from his lovely suburban home and alienated from family and friends. The reader discovers the reason in bits and pieces which are tied together with a steady, unceasing tension.
At the core of Pete’s dilemma is his 20-year-old son’s association with his friends’ 30-year-old daughter. That daughter has a troubling past and Pete just cannot accept this relationship. The pages keep turning until the very end in this suspenseful novel. With memorable characters and identifiable family crises, A Friend of the Family will appeal to readers who appreciate contemporary family drama.
Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, this is one of St. Charles Public Library’s featured “Small Press Month” selections.
A common request this time of year is for a “good scary book”. Of course, different people mean different things by this. Some like the gory tale with a victim-chasing psycho-killer, while for others , a less obvious, psychological terror is what sends chills down their spines. The classic, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a superb example of this later type of book, as I discovered when it was recommended to my book club several Octobers ago. This October I discovered a new book, The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Recently published, it shares several of the same traits. Hundreds Hall is the gothic mansion that has been in the Ayres family for two hundred years, and in post World Was II Britain, the family can no longer maintain it. But is there something more than the changing times to cause the decline of the family? What can explain the seemingly paranormal events? This is a great curl-up-on-the-sofa book to spend a chilly evening with.
Looking for a little inspiration in the wake of a dismal economy, stressful schedules and waning hours of sunlight? Mitch Albom’s latest title, Have a Little Faith: A True Story (296.7 ALB) may be just the read for you. If you’re familiar with some of Albom’s previous works such as Tuesdays with Morrie or For One More Day> , you will enjoy his moving look at faith and not just who believes, but why. Several years ago the author was asked by his hometown rabbi to deliver his eulogy, which through a chain of events, also leads him to a Detroit pastor with a rough past and incredible faith. Though representing two different religions, both men prove to be powerfully inspirational through their actions, as well as their motivational words. If you’ve ever needed reminding that when things seem bleak there is always someone else with a greater hardship to bear, read this book.
After reading some “heavier” nonfiction and fiction during the past month, I realized I really wanted to lose myself in some lighter and more predictable stories that would entertain and yet still have some heart to them. In other words: I wanted to read some good romance! Fortunately, I was given some great recommendations which I will pass along now that I’ve had my time with them.
First up is The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal. I found out about this book through a blogger/reviewer who complained that the cover for this book would mislead people into thinking it was fluffy chicklit when it features more mature characters grappling with past hurts, new relationships and starting over. Instead of writing another summary, here’s the link to the review that made me want to try it!
Next up was the historical romance, What a Lady Wants by Victoria Alexander. I discovered this witty and warm story of love in 1854 London while looking through an old copy of What Do I Read Next? (you can see the new copy – it’s one of our Readers Services “reference” books in the New Books area of the Library). It’s the second in the “Last Man Standing” series.
A patron insisted I try this next title: Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas. I’m glad she did because I enjoyed this contemporary romance of an advice columnist who finds out relationship problems are not as easy to solve when they involve her sister, an abandoned baby and a sexy Texas millionaire.
I rounded my little romance binge with Nice to Come Home To by Rebecca Flowers – which I selected from the “What the Staff is reading” display in the Library. At 36, Pru has lost her job, boyfriend and sense of direction for her life. Fortunately, an eclectic group of friends, family, her ex’s cat and the recently-divorced owner of a nearby diner are around to support Pru as she reinvents herself.
I’m always open to new suggestions – if you have a romance to recommend, please leave a comment!
What it is is a fascinating book from Lynda Barry.
It is shelved in the graphic novel department (741.51 BAR) but I believe it would be better suited in the memoir or art of writing department. Barry asks a lot of questions about where ideas and images come from. What do we, or should we do with our own stories or thoughts? What gets in the way of transmitting our ideas – whether it be from the brain to the page or the eye to the canvas? Check this book out.
Another visually intoxicating book is from Maira Kalman. Ms. Kalman has written and illustrated many wonderfully whimsical children’s books. This work was written and painted during Ms. Kalman’s time of mourning the loss of her husband. It is at turns moving, thoughtful, surprising and funny.
Beware, after experiencing these two gems you may just want to purchase your own copies.
Earlier this week someone asked if I knew of any software that could be used to keep track of books she read. It would need to be usable from the St. Charles Public Library and from home and accessible online. I thought immediately of LibraryThing.
LibraryThing is a wonderful online resource for book lovers. If you have not yet discovered it, do check it out. The folks at LibraryThing have set up a tour for you, so you can see how it works.
You can set up a free account and record, for free, up to 200 books. You can use LibraryThing to share your favorite books with others, write brief synopses or reviews, join a group, or find other books you might like.
If you see me on LibraryThing, please send me a message on LibraryThing and tell how you like it.
Nancy Pearl is a nationally recognized librarian, best-selling author, and frequent contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition. Based on her knowledge of books and love for reading, her suggestions for titles to try have been very popular, resulting in several books and even a “Librarian Action Figure” modeled in her likeness. As Director of Library Programming and the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library, her project entitled “If All Seattle Read the Same Book,” has been imitated by libraries throughout the world.
Now, each month you can explore twelve different titles recommended by Nancy for your reading pleasure by visiting Pearl’s Picks. Her picks will include classics, new titles, and some you just may have missed. Look for the link each month on our Recommended Reading page. And as always, we’d be interested in your feedback about this new online database from your Readers Services Department.
While surviving the latest arctic blast I was reminded how wonderful it was to sit and knit the hours away under a toasty blanket. Indeed, many of you must feel the same way, given the veritable knitting revolution taking place. This is well represented by the numbers of new knitting books coming in each month. Many are well-illustrated to encourage the newest knitter with simple projects, while others feature designs so intricate most of us can only admire them from afar.Kaffe Knits Again: 24 Original Designs Updated for Today’s Knitters by Kaffe Fassett falls into this second category. Some titles tackle the special relationship between spirituality and knitting such as The Knitting Way: A Guide to Spiritual Self-Discovery or Compassionate Knitting: Finding Basic Goodness in the Work of Our Hands Whatever your level of interest or ability, do come check some of these titles out. Are you especially proud of a project you completed using one of our books? Let us know. Even fiction books are affected by this new found passion for knitting, and these anyone can enjoy. The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber appeared in 2004, and now there are 2 more titles in this popular series. The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood features knitting as grief therapy. And last year Kate Jackson’s The Friday Night Knitting Club entered the field. All of these are heartwarming books celebrating women’s friendships.
The Arnaldur Indriðason mysteries are set in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The main character is Inspector Erlender Sveinsson, a complex and reflective police detective. He and colleagues Sigurdur Óli and Elínborg form an effective investigative team and share a warm friendship. While they have reasonably normal lives, Erlender is estranged from his family.
In Voices, the third of the series to be translated into English, it is nearly Christmas when Erlender and his team are called to a busy Reykjavik hotel. Gudlaugur, the lonely hotel doorman and sometime Santa, was murdered at the hotel, in the basement room he called home. Erlender soon learns that Gudlauger was once a child star, a gifted choirboy whose recordings are now collector’s items, and missing.
You will find the mysteries by Arnaldur Indriðason shelved under FIC ARNALDUR. The Icelandic do not use surnames, but rather continue the Norse tradition of patronymics. For more information on Icelandic names, you might start with the Iceland Tourist Board’s Iceland 101 web page.