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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

If You Like... John Grisham or David Baldacci

There is no denying that the thriller genre is a very popular one with today’s readers and that John Grisham and David Baldacci are particularly well-read authors within that genre. Here at Fairfax County Public Library, Grisham had the most checkouts in 2015 with his novel Gray Mountain, and Baldacci wasn’t very far behind at 4th place with The Escape. If you, like many, are waiting patiently for a copy of their newest titles–Grisham's Rogue Lawyer or Baldacci’s The Guilty–or if you have already read those titles, these recommended reads are for you!

Rules of Deception, Christopher Reich. When Dr. Jonathan Ransom finds himself the subject of an international manhunt and the target of an assassin, he must uncover the secret his wife hid from him and stop a dangerous conspiracy threatening to bring the world to the brink of annihilation.

Full Black, Brad Thor. Terrorist attacks meant to instigate the complete and total collapse of the U.S. An influential man with an anti-American agenda meant to wreak havoc on the country. One man who may have the means to save the country.

The Lincoln Lawyer, Michael Connelly. Criminal defense attorney Mikey Haller thinks he’s been hired for the easiest case of his career, defending a Beverly Hills playboy arrested for attacking a woman... until a murderer strikes a little too close to home. Is he next?

Defending Jacob, William Landay. When Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber learns that his son, Jacob, has been accused of murder, he finds himself facing two pivotal questions: How far should he go to protect him? And how well does he really know his own son?

Fox is Framed, Lachlan Smith. Lawrence Maxwell has been in jail for years for the murder of his wife when new evidence causes a new trial to be ordered. Leo, his son, is not convinced of his father’s innocence, but he teams up with attorney Nina Schuyler to defend his father, attempting to do right by both law and blood.

Have another recommendation for readers who like books by John Grisham or David Baldacci? Would you like "If you like..." recommendations for your favorite title or author? Let us know in the comments below!

-Denise Dolan, George Mason Regional Library

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Rediscovered Classic: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Editor's Note: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers' debut novel, was written when the author was 23 years old. It is characteristic of the Southern Gothic style of literature. This style places eccentric and often damaged characters in impoverished or oppressed settings as a way to examine issues of morality, innocence and social justice.  Although McCullers set all of her works in the south, she herself left Georgia for New York at a young age. Other well-known writers of the Southern Gothic style include William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O'Connor.

In a small Georgian factory town in the late 1920s, amid much social, political and civil unrest, John Singer walks the heated streets. After a long-time friend and fellow deaf person, Antonapoulos, is institutionalized, the vacuum in Singer’s life spurs him on an endless search for human connection. His silence and outward calm attract a series of characters whose own hectic souls long for solace, each with a specific agenda.

Singer listens. He rarely responds. Indeed, he cannot understand their fervor, agitation, intensity. In truth, he may share ideologies with them, but he provides little more than a room, drink, food and that scarcest of commodities - time. His heart is turned toward his friend Antonapoulos who, ironically, scarcely seems aware of his existence. So, everyone is searching.

Biff, the proprietor of the New York Café, has been freed to explore a new feminine side of himself by the death of his wife. He scrutinizes his patrons, noting their sexual nuances, deficiencies and attributes. He is generous with outcasts and reluctant to share himself with anyone but Singer.

Jake, a social activist, breezes into town on the wings of alcohol and crashes to reality when he can’t arouse the passions of the oppressed workers. He turns to Singer for affirmation, talking for hours before even realizing he’s deaf.

Dr. Copeland is a black physician who at great personal cost educated himself in the North and came back to Georgia to practice and to inspire his progeny to greater heights. Alas, they are mired in the social bog of racism and fighting to maintain a fragile foothold. He turns to Singer, who once lit a cigarette for him – something no white man had ever done – and discloses Marxist views which he is certain Singer shares.

Mick, a gawky teenage girl attempting to escape a grinding life of poverty, finds a finger-hold of beauty in music. When she first hears a Beethoven symphony playing on a neighbor’s radio while crouching outside in the bushes, she melts into another universe of pleasure. From then on, music becomes her “inside room” which she ironically attempts to share with the deaf Mr. Singer. Her chaotic coming of age climaxes when she leaves high school to help with family financial woes.

These four characters spin around the hub of Mr. Singer’s serenity, amid a swirl of sexual tensions, religious fervor, drunkenness, street fights, parties, speeches and violence.

-Lois Glick, Great Falls Library

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

8 Books for a More Organized You

Is decluttering a near spiritual, Marie Kondo “if it doesn’t bring you joy, toss it” exercise for you? Or maybe you’re looking for a practical guide with small, easily achievable steps for getting organized. Whatever your needs, Fairfax County Public Library can help. Here are eight books to help you downsize, regroup and be less overwhelmed by your stuff.

Books about how to organize your life have been around for ages, but Marie Kondo hit a nerve in the U.S. with her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Is it because of the book's no nonsense, hardcore approach or the spiritual aspects of how she views possessions and gives us permission to let them go? We wrote about Life Changing Magic several months ago in this post, and the book has continued to be in high demand as more and more people try out her KonMari method. The follow up companion Spark Joy is new this year and is an illustrated guide to the folding, keeping and storage concepts Kondo discussed in the first book.


Don't think you have the time to do a full-scale evaluation of all your items and instead need quick, fast, simple results? Try these two titles: Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness, which offers one-minute tidying solutions, and Keep This, Toss That, a guide to paring down your possessions.  

For those looking to classic books in this genre, Sandra Felton has been encouraging us to declutter for years. Her latest book 5 Days to a Clutter Free House is a good place to start. If you're looking for organizing solutions specific to the office, try her Smart Office Organizing.

For a slightly different perspective on decluttering your life, you might check out these two books: Clutter Busting Your Life, a title that focuses on clearing out your physical and emotional clutter to improve your relationships and Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, a book by blogger Crystal Paine. In her work, Paine talks about how she learned to live a more intentional life and better manage her time by cutting her schedule clutter. Two different approaches, but both explore the psychological side of being overwhelmed by to do lists and our possessions.

Here's to a more organized 2016 for us all!

-Ginger Hawkins, Patrick Henry Library