Over Christmas after a Griffy walk, gift-giving and catching a new flick, I picked up this this YA book about a Nebraska college freshman obsessed with writing fan fiction. Now if you don’t know what that is—I didn’t until a patron explained it to me a couple of years ago--it’s a new trend where people (mostly young) write new endings, beginnings, and middles, sequels and prequels for books they love in the style of the author.
"Fan Fiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker," Lev Grossman said in Time magazine. Cath loves the Simon Snow series--magical fantasty--and the book includes many postings from the invented FanFixx.net where her tag-name is Magicath.
But when Cather enters college, life gets complicated. First of all, her twin Wren decides not to room with her. And Wren already abandoned fan fiction as too juvenile for a college student. Do you notice the wordplay in the twins’ names? Their parents had expected one child whom they planned to call Catherine. Read more about Fangirl
I’ve always loved collections of letters. Perhaps, it’s the draw of reading words meant for a specific person—a stranger that you will never meet. Some books of letters are huge and it’s like tackling a life in a thousand plus episodes. But these letters, written by an apprehensive English father beginning during the rock and roll, drug days of the late 60s and 70s, are a more manageable 187 pages.
All the letters were penned by the father, Roger, a former military man, and POW who later became a racing columnist for the Sunday Times. In them he offers tons of advice to his wild, drifter son, Charlie. Providing much of the humor in this book are Charlie’s comments that describe his reactions to his Dad’s words at the time.
The letters begin with a young Charlie as he flunks out of elite Eton. Soon he leaves with a record of very bad grades for a lowly “crammer” school. No “firsts” or “seconds” or even a degree for this young man. Soon Charlie embarks on a series of low-paying jobs in agriculture, oil, and real estate. Even when he lands a promising job, he can’t stick with it and bolts off for long vacations to Greece, Africa, and South America. For his Greek trip his dad advises, don’t talk politics. Don’t do drugs; you may land in a gaol. Watch the alcoholic drinks there, they are incredibly strong. Later, when Charlie sets off for vagabonding through South America, his dad asks, have you ever considered a life in the church? Read more about Dear Lupin
Who can resist a good dog book? OK so there are a few cat people out there (right here beside me in fact), and bird people, snake people, even for Heaven’s sake, skunk lovers and gerbil-groomers. But what makes this book special is that it’s a book of poems that gives tribute to the special dogs in renowned nature poet Mary Oliver’s life.
There’s Luke, the junkyard dog, Benjamin, the canine that is always dragging a chewed-through rope, Bear the small curly-haired who hates to stay overnight at boarding, Bazougey “that dark little dog/ who used to come down the road barking and shining,” Ricky, the talker, and Percy named after the famous poet Shelley. Oliver penned a tribute to this hound mischievously patterned after Christopher Smart’s “For I will Consider My Cat Jeoffrey.”
Luke was “born in a junkyard, / not even on a bundle of rags/ or the seat of an old wrecked car/ but the dust below.” This beautiful German Shepherd loved flowers: “her dark head// and her wet nose/ touching/ the face/ of everyone.” In the poem’s closing Oliver expresses one thing dogs show us about the world: “we long to be--/ that happy/ in the heaven of earth--/ that wild, that loving.”Read more about Dog Songs
It's that time of year again when lots of publications and websites publish their recommended books of the year. This year I polled library staff to see what some savvy readers had discovered in 2013. MCPL folks had lots of nifty recommendations. So whether you are looking for books to help you through the long dark nights of winter or searching for that perfect gift for a loved one or friend, here are some suggestions from some local book people. We do have paper copies of this list and other 2013 favorite book lists available at the Information Desk at the main lLibrary.
And Everyday Was Overcast by Paul Kwiatkowski FICTION Kwiatkow
Described on the cover as an illustrated novel, this work is more a scrapbook interspersed with stories detailing the author's coming of age in southern Florida. The photos don't match the stories exactly and are stronger as a result. They cover drug use, adolescent violence, and teenage sexuality.
The Bookman’s Tale: a novel of obsessionby Charles C. Lovett FICTION Lovett
Anyone who loves the hunting, buying and selling of rare and old books should read this. Filled with emotion, intrigue, mystery, suspense, and tragedy, it also covers love lost and gained as well as the quest for Shakespeare and his writings. Very well written and hard to put down! Read more about Recommended Reads from Library Staff
In the bustle and tensions of the holiday season, it was great to take a couple of nights off and travel to Botswana in Alexander McCall Smith’s latest book in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series. As usual the mysteries--there are two of them here--are interwoven with descriptions and a philosophy of living a moral life in Africa. Grace Makutsi, who scored an amazing 97% on her secretarial school final exam, is married now and expecting a baby yet she has not yet talked to Precious Ramotswe about taking any leave. Before she does, her little son arrives along with a pesky aunt, the matriarch of the family who swoops in to take charge of Grace’s household.
While Grace is gone, giving birth and settling into motherhood, Mma Ramotswe faces two problems: an acquaintance has opened a new beauty salon, the one of the title, but she is receiving daily threats from an anonymous source. Whoever is doing it is scaring away all her customers and this threatens the business. Also, a female lawyer has contacted the “traditionally built” detective about an inheritance issue: a nephew is supposed to inherit a farm from a famous politician, but is Liso the actual nephew or someone posing as him? Precious discovers that if Liso is not who he claims to be, the lawyer will inherit the bulk of the estate. Coincidentally--or maybe not--this lawyer was having an affair with the politician Mma Ramotswe discovers. Read more about The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon
Did you ever hear the story of “Typhoid Mary” as a child? I remember a gaggle of us neighborhoods kids scaring each other with stories of the woman whose myth lived long after she died. It’s not a person we learned about in school, yet just the mention of her name culled up disease, darkness and death. That’s one reason I was happy to come across this sympathetic portrait of an Irish-American woman who was much maligned by the press.
Not a biography, this fictional account relies on many true-to-life details to make its story highly believable. Young Mary Mallon emigrated from Ireland at age fifteen to stay with an aunt. She soon went to work and started as a laundress--hot dirty work that offered no hope of advancement. Being smart and clever, Mary noticed that the cooks were paid much more and had more freedom. She also liked the creative aspect of crafting fine meals for the wealthy of early 1900s New York City.
Mary got her big break as a substitute cook, and she turned one success into a career. By the time she was 17, she received an excellent summer gig in Oyster Bay, but unfortunately fever swept through the summer place leaving the baby she loved and several other members of the household dead. Read more about Dispelling Dark Myths