Staff Recommends 2011

 


You'll find many more ideas in the Reader Services Page, the Fiction Booklist Section and among our previous Staff Recommendations.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Janet Drake


Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage arePrice of Privilege Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
Madeline Levine, PhD
649.1 Levine
What is causing high rates of unhappiness, depression, and substance abuse in advantaged children? The author looks closely at realities and offers parents support toward their own growth and help supporting their teens.

A Better Way of Dying: How to Make the Best Choices at the End of Life
Jeanne Fitzpatrick, M.D.
Eileen M. Fitzpatrick, J.D.A Better Way of Dying
306.9 Fitzpatrick
The authors, a doctor and a lawyer, explain why advanced directives and living wills are not enough. They offer uncomplicated planning that cannot be lost, ignored, or confused. No matter your age or health reading this book can prepare you for the discussion we all must have if we wish to ensure comfort at the end of our lives.

Book Talk We Recommend
Recommended by Emily Donnelly
, McAuliffe Branch

American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin NugentAmerican Nerd
Where did the concept of nerdiness originate? In what ways has it changed over time? And how, exactly, did hipster fashion manage to make it trendy? Covering a range of material that includes everything from Pride and Prejudice to Anime Los Angeles, Benjamin Nugent sets off on an insightful quest to answer these questions and more.

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike BrownHow I killed Pluto
Whether you were devastated by the revocation of Pluto’s planetary status or were simply curious how such decisions get made, astronomer Mike Brown’s memoir presents a satisfying account of the dramatic process that began with a fantastic discovery and ended with a suspenseful vote at the International Astronomical Union.

Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, & Obsession in theWord Freak World of Competitive SCRABBLE Players by Stefan Fatsis
Immersive journalist Stefan Fatsis gives us an insider’s look at some of the world’s best competitive SCRABBLE players while giving his all to become one of them. Follow Fatsis from tournament to tournament and learn about the game’s history, its impassioned and devoted community, and the invaluable list of Q words that can be played without a U.



Book Talk We Recommend
Recommended by Lucy Loveridge
, Children’s Librarian
I’ve been receiving publicity notices about the next Harry Potter (The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens); the publisher is pushing the similarities so hard they’ve hired Jim Dale (voice of the Harry Potter audio books) to do the audio book. So I recommend you try one of these remakes or retakes on classic stories. Enjoy with your family or all on your own!
This summer, Book 3 in Jeanne Birdsall’s delightful Penderwicks series, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, came out. This series, in my opinion, is a wonderful updating of Little Women by Louisa May The Penderwicks at Point MouetteAlcott. The Penderwicks are a little younger than the Marches but there are four sisters including one who writes. There’s also a boy next door with a rather sad family life (he tries to spend as much time as possible with the Penderwicks) and an absent parent (Mrs. Penderwick has died of cancer a few years before the books open). In addition, they live in a small town in Massachusetts, are great at having fun with each other and also at dealing with all the difficulties life throws at them. In the newest book, the three youngest Penderwicks and their aunt separate from the rest of the family for two weeks vacation on the Maine seashore. Here they survive sprained ankles, heartbreak, hair catastrophes and an amazing revelation about the boy next door.

This spring The Candymakers by Wendy Mass also came across my desCandymakersk. It has some similarities with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl: four children are touring a fantastical candy factory as semi-finalists in a contest. However, these four children have written essays to be chosen, and must create and present a new candy at the annual Confectionary Association’s convention to win. The book begins with Logan, the son of the factory owner, narrating. The other three contestants’ views of the same events are narrated in their own sections which reveal a lot of hidden motives and other secrets to the reader. A bit of mystery comes in towards the end as well; someone is attempting to steal the factory’s secret ingredient—is it a very competitive contestant or a rival confectioner?

As for The Emerald Atlas, it’s the beginning of a series about three siblings: Kate, Michael and Emma. They have spent the last 10 years of their liThe Emerald Atlasves in orphanages from Boston to Baltimore, even though their parents aren’t dead and promised to come back for them. Having failed to get adopted at The Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans, they are sent to a place called Cambridge Falls, a mysterious town on Lake Champlain that has been blasted into a moonscape of desolation, to a house that contains only three orphans, themselves. There, magic enters their lives as well as extreme danger, time travel, death and betrayal. So it’s not exactly Harry Potter--no school drama for one thing--but it’s just as engaging.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Barrie Lewis, Circulation Department

Heartwood by Belva Plain
In Belva Plain’s final novel, Heartwood, we are reintroduced to AnnaHeartwood Friedman, the heroine of her first novel, Evergreen. Anna made choices for love, and the effects of those choices are still felt several generations later. Now, her daughter, Iris, and her granddaughter, Laura, must come to terms with the challenges of living with the effects of their own love choices. Whether for right or wrong, these choices are often dictated by conflicting values that stem from family, friends, culture, experience, and perceptions. At times, their choices disappoint and defy expectations. Yet, it is the heartwood, the inner core of this family, that gives it strength. That family bond of love shows its strength in the unity that comes with forgiveness and acceptance.
For those of you who may consider yourself too old to dream, remember that Belva Plain authored all of her 23 best-selling novels after the age of 60! Well done, Belva. We will miss you.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Stephen Russell, Reference Librarian

I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve EarleI’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle
The story is set in San Antonio in 1963 and follows Doc Ebersole, who is no longer a legally practicing doctor having lost his license due to his morphine addiction. Doc lives in a rented room in the red-light district on the south side of San Antonio performing abortions and patching up the odd knife or gunshot wound. For the past 10 years Doc has been haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams (Doc is rumored to have given Hank the final morphine dose that killed him). Doc can see and hear Williams’ ghost only when he’s high and acknowledges that his haunting may be all in his head—that is, until the ghost is seen by Graciela, a young Mexican immigrant who appears in the neighborhood in search of Doc's services. Graciela sustains a wound on her wrist while waving at Jacqueline Kennedy the day before her husband’s assassination in Dallas. Graciela’s wound fails to close yet she heals others with the touch of her hand. She begins to heal the pushers and prostitutes in the red-light district which brings her to the attention of a local priest who, for his own reasons, wishes to see Graciela made a saint. This is an insightful, deeply touching novel of regret and redemption as lyrical as any of Hank’s ballads.

A Moment in the Sun by John SaylesA Moment in the Sun by John Sayles
This epic historical novel explores the rise of America’s imperial power at the beginning of the 20th century. A series of events including The Spanish-American war, U.S. interventionism in the Philippines, the Yukon gold rush, the Hearst /Pulitzer circulation war, The Wilmington (North Carolina) Insurrection of 1898 and the assassination of President William McKinley combine to make a complex but absorbing story. As powerful people try to keep the status quo and common people try to resist oppression we realize that the world really hasn’t changed that that much in the past 100+ years. Writing with amazing period detail and intriguing characters Sayles artfully reminds us that history is the result of decisions and actions made by people, not just a series of events.


Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Jane Peck, Assistant Director

Topic: Swim Back to Me by Ann Packer. Swim back to me by Ann Packer
This collection of short stories from the author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier has emotional depth and heart. The first and last stories dovetail providing answers to questions raised about the characters who seem so very real, and in between are four powerful tales of modern family life. Packer is on key with the mothers and fathers yet she pulls you into the lives of the children effortlessly.
In Molten the searing pain of loss and tragedy are ever present and real while in Her Firstborn Son affirmation and faith win out. The need to hold on and also to find a way to let go is a theme that reverberates throughout the collection. The one story that seemed to ring false was Jump, a clever tale with little heart but the rest are strong and real and true. Enjoy.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Mary Wasmuth, Job-Search Counselor, Main Library


A selection of titles I’ve found particularly helpful in my work with job seekers.
What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles. 331.128 Still a great compendium of job-search tips and career-choice exercises. But bFind a job through social networking : use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and more to advance your careere selective. If you do all the exercises, you'll hit retirement age before you choose a career.

Find a Job through Social Networking: Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and More to Advance Your Career by Diane Crompton. Job 650.14. A terrific introduction to critical new avenues for job hunters.

Resumes and Cover Letters
The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Perfect Resume by Susan Ireland. Job 650.14. Excellent samples and tips covering common and unusual situations.
 
No Nonsense Resumes by Wendy S. Enelow. Job 650.14. Samples and keyword phrases for dozens of fields. Titles in Wendy Enelow’s and Louise Kursmark’s Expert Resumes series for various fields are also excellent.

Resumes for the Rest of Us by Arnold Boldt. Job 650.14. Military to civilian, parents returning to work, skilled trades, ex-offenders, retireeStep-by-step resumes : build an outstanding resume in 10 easy steps!s, and other “unconventional career paths.”

Step-by-Step Resumes by Evelyn U. Salvador. Job 650.14. Lots of useful templates, including bullet and achievement worksheets for specific fields, discussed in print with samples on CD.

15-Minute Cover Letter by Michael Farr. Job 650.14. A quick and thorough guide to this essential step.

Interviews
The Best Answer by Deb Gottesman. Job 650.14. Not a list of questions and answers but terrific advice on how to approach every interview. Hint: preparation and research are key. Knock ‘em Dead Job 650.14/Knock. Known for its wide-ranging list of challenging interview questions and suggested responses.

Sell Yourself in Any Interview by Oscar Adler. Job 650.14. How to prepare for and excel in interviews. Excellent overview.

And One NovelA Visit from the Goon Squad
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Fiction. How to describe this amazing, entertaining, moving novel that tells, through a mosaic of chapters that weave back and forth through time, the stories of a collection of remarkable characters connected through the world of rock and roll? I can’t. Read it and you’ll understand why.
Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Mary Murphy, Main Library Circulation Dept


Left Neglected
by Lisa Genova (Fiction)
In this compelling second novel by Lisa Genova, Sarah Nickerson is a Harvard Graduate, married with three young children. She is an executive vice president in a recruiting firm and very much on the fast track. When she fiLeft Neglectednds herself stuck in traffic on the Mass. Pike and takes the opportunity to do some work on her cell phone, she has a nasty accident. She survives but with a medical condition called Left Neglect. She no longer sees or feels anything on her left. The author brilliantly puts you in the emotional turmoil that has become Sarah’s life. This book is about family relationships and how a debilitating accident or illness affects the whole family. It is a book about the power of healing through friendship and forgiveness.

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (Fiction)The Fifth Witness
This is the fourth Lincoln Lawyer title by Connelly. Mickey Haller is an L.A. lawyer who uses his Lincoln town car as his office. Home foreclosures make up his latest client list. Lisa Trammel is a client who lobbied to prevent a foreclosure of her home. When the banker who handled her paperwork ends up dead, she is accused of murder. As Mickey prepares for the murder trial he suspects that there is some corporate dirty dealing going on. Suspense and violence spill out all over. Connelly is a superb crime writer with an excellent knowledge of the legal system. It is well crafted and a pleasure to read.

Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi (Non-fiction) Griftopia
Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi chronicles the past ten years of our financial crisis and squarely blames Wall Street for the fraud perpetrated on the American public. He has researched systemic ruin and pillaging of our economy. He ties the movement to Ayn Rand’s philosophy presented in “Atlas Shrugged” that the pursuit of profit by any means is a moral activity. Taibbi shows how commodity bubbles transfer money to Wall Street while creating food shortages. He lays particular blame on Alan Greenspan and the White House for the loosening of financial regulations. Finally he tells the story of Goldman Sachs, “the vampire squids”, and the consequences of their actions. Taibbi has a strong writing style with lucid analysis. He calls it like he sees it. This is a thought provoking book on many levels and deserves a wide audience as we more forward in these troubled economic times. Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Christine Hunnefeld, Collection Development Librarian

In honor of Framingham Reads Together based on theme The Civil War – On the Battlefield and the Homefront, here are two novels set during the Civil War.
All Other Nights by Dara Horn (Fiction)All Other Nights
Jacob Rappaport is a Jewish solider in the Union army during the Civil War. When his superiors discover he is the nephew of a southern sympathizer plotting to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, he is ordered to kill his uncle at Passover. After this harrowing mission, Jacob next assignment is to marry Confederate spy Eugenia Levy, the daughter of a businessman he had dealings with before the war. As he carries out this mission Jacob and Eugenia fall in love, and he is torn between loyalty to his country and to his heart. A gripping historical novel based on the real-life people and events, such as Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy’s Jewish secretary of state and spymaster.

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira (Fiction)
Mary Sutter is a renowned midwife, but she longs to be a surgeon. HerMy Name is Mary Sutter application to medical school is denied because of her gender, but the start of the Civil War provides an opportunity to further her medical training. Mary leaves Albany, New York to volunteer as a nurse in Washington, D.C. As Union losses are much worse than anyone anticipated, she is hired by Dr. William Stipp who soon trains her as a surgeon so they can treat as many soldiers as possible. As the war continues and losses mount, Mary is torn between her mother’s pleas to come home and be a midwife to her sister facing a difficult birth and her new calling of treating wounded soldiers in the most difficult of circumstances. A compelling first novel distinguished by a strong heroine and rich historical details.
You'll find more ideas on the Reader Services Page, the Fiction Booklist Section and among our previous Staff Recommendations.

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Updated on 10/28/2013 02:40 PM
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