Release Your Inner Child
There’s a feast of good reads awaiting readers in our
Juvenile and young adult collections. Release your inner kid and read some of
these classic fiction titles that you might have missed. With any luck you’ll
never be too old to enjoy well written and thought provoking titles purportedly
written for children.
I feel sorry for Tolkien fans who haven’t read the Chronicles
of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander, for example. Now is the time! Taran,
assistant pig keeper to the wizard Dalben, stumbles into the adventure of his
life when one of his charges, HenWen, escapes and nearly leads him to his
Sheri Tepper is known for strong female characters
struggling in patriarchal societies. If you like similar story lines, try the Song
of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. In these books, Alana disguises herself
as Alan in order to become a knight-in-training and attempt to succeed in a
Tripods series by John Christopher is a timeless story of alien invasion
and human enslavement. The White
Mountains introduces Will Parker who is about to be “capped” and thus bound
to Tripod control. Follow Will as he tries to escape the destiny already shared
by so many humans.
Kate Morton, a popular adult author, writes engrossing
fiction set in pre-WWII England. So does
Lucy Maria Boston, who authored the Green
Knowe books, and Arthur Ransome of the Swallows
and Amazons titles. Visit pre-WWII England, experience the freedom of
school vacations, meet ghosts and relive childhood courtesy of these writers.
It is worth noting that while these books will appeal to
adults, I’m pretty sure you would have liked them even more when you were 10.
Maybe we should encourage children to linger just a little longer in JP, JR and
JFIC as their reading ability progresses.
For instance, a 13 year old may technically be capable of reading the
Odyssey or the Iliad but prefer an adaptation of the stories—such as The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey or Black Ships before Troy by Rosemary
Looking for more suggestions? Be sure and ask a librarian at your local
library. They will be delighted to share some of the gems in children’s section
- Leslie McDunn, Centreville Regional Library
The Real Heroes of Monuments Men
Roll out the red carpet – it is Oscar time. The annual
pageant of Hollywood’s brightest stars continues this Sunday as the award show honors
2013’s best movies and performances. Absent from this year’s nominees is Monuments Men (directed by and starring
George Clooney) since post-production delays pushed its debut in theaters to
2014. Even had it made the deadline, it may not have been nominated in many
categories. The movie received mixed reviews and felt too convoluted--a
combination of buddy-war movie, comedy, drama and treasure-hunt adventure. But
no other movie I saw this year made me want to learn more about its subject.
And for that, Monuments Men deserves an Oscar in my book.
For curious viewers, a first stop should be Robert Edsel’s
2009 book, The
Monuments Men, the historical account upon which the movie is based. Put
the book on hold. It’s worth the wait. And after you finish reading it, see if
you agree with me that the wealth of information and profiles of real-life
Monuments Men and women might have been better suited to a multi-part mini-series
a la Band of Brothers instead of a feature-length film.
If you happen to live in the DC metro area, two area museums
are currently hosting small Monuments Men exhibits based on holdings in area
archives. And if you don’t, the online exhibits are actually richer and more
in-depth than the physical exhibits.
The National Gallery of Art played a seminal role in the
creation of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Program (MFAA, the formal
name of the “Monuments Men” commission). Their exhibit
focuses on the Gallery’s role in its inception and on the experiences of a few
real-life Monuments Men who donated their papers and photographs to the
Also in DC, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art is
hosting an exhibit
of Monuments-related items in its collection through April 20, 2014, as well as
two gallery talks in March. The online display includes numerous photos and a
treasure trove of oral history interviews with many of the commission members.
The Archives’ blog also has two excellent entries about the collections—The
Real Monuments Men and Women and Artful
Collaborators: James J. Rorimer and Rose Valland
Additionally, Sony Pictures released a great educational website based on
the movie that contains biographies, interactive maps, lesson plans and video
clips from that time.
I appreciated these exhibits and websites greatly after
seeing the movie. They were satisfying in a way that the movie was not. So, I
am grateful that the movie has brought wider recognition to the achievements of
the MFAA commission and will ensure its story lives on. For rescuing 5 million
pieces of art, the living monument of humanity’s greatness, in the midst of war…
the Oscar goes to the real Monuments Men and women and the people who continue
to tell their story.
- Ginger Hawkins, Centreville Regional Library
Upstairs, Downstairs with Downton Abbey
Watching the characters of Downton Abbey navigate the ties
of love, class, duty and desire in Edwardian England has become a national
pastime. The storyline moves the inhabitants of the Earl and Countess of
Grantham’s country estate from the sinking of the Titanic in 1913 through the
vast social and economic changes of the roaring twenties. However, it’s the
tumultuous upstairs and downstairs relationships that keep followers
entertained and entranced with this Julian Fellowes hit. So, when Season Four
ended Sunday, the break until the show resumes next year will leave an abbey-sized
hole in our viewing lives. While you can always fill that void by watching Seasons
1-3 again, here are some alternatives to consider.
the early 1920s, a young maid plays silent witness to the lives of
Lord Ashbury's family in The House at
Riverton: a Novel by Kate Morton. When a director making a documentary film
interviews her late in life about the tragic 1924 death of a poet on the
estate, long-buried secrets of that fatal night begin to emerge.
If you’ve ever wondered what downstairs life was
really like, try the biography that inspired the show. Margaret Powell’s Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's
Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" highlights the fascinating details of her life in
service. In Servants'
Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance she shares the true story of an underparlor maid who eloped with the heir
to a prominent family.
If true tales of young heiresses and impoverished
earls intrigue you, consider Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The
Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon. This history
of Highclere Castle, the actual estate used as the setting for Downton Abbey, portrays
the marriage of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon to the young daughter of an
industrialist during and after the First World War.
Revisited, based on
the book by Evelyn Waugh, was a popular BBC costume drama. This sweeping tale
of British upper class life between the two world wars tells the tale of architect
Charles Ryder’s tangled and troubled relationship with the aristocratic Anglo-Catholic
The movie adaptation
of Kazuo Ishiguro’s classic depiction of service in a great British house, The
Remains of the Day, starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.
An aging butler reflects on his life and losses during his rigid and
uncompromising pursuit of perfection in carrying out his duties for a lord with
unsavory political ties.
- Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library
50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the
passage of the Civil Rights Act (July 2, 1964), a landmark achievement in
ending discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national
origin. The legislation overturned and outlawed the legalized racial segregation
of “Jim Crow” and led the way for two other significant laws to be passed: the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair
Housing Act of 1968. These achievements would not have been possible if it
weren’t for the events, and more importantly the people, involved in bringing
about this social change.
Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy by
Bruce Watson - This critically acclaimed history documents the events of the
summer of 1964 when over 700 college students came to racially divided
Mississippi to register black voters and educate children, despite the
considerable risks. The first night, three students disappeared and were later found
murdered. The killings shocked the nation and became a critical moment in the fight
for civil rights.
The King Years:Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement by Taylor Branch - Branch presents
selections from his Pulitzer Prize-winning trilogy in this one-volume work. He
describes the major events of the civil rights movement and those who fought
against the injustices of segregation and discrimination.
Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a NewAmerica by Gilbert King - Prior to Thurgood
Marshall’s involvement in Brown v. Board of Education, he took on the case of
the Groveland Boys in Lake County, Fla. This 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winner for
General Nonfiction details the corruption involved in the arrest and trial of
the four teenagers and how it reflected the racial divide of the time and the
demand for civil rights reform.
Carry Me Home:Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution by
Diane McWhorter - McWhorter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning account tells the story of
1963 in Birmingham, Ala., when children peacefully demonstrated for
desegregation against the threat of violence.
Months later, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing took
place. McWhorter uses FBI records, archival documents, interviews with black
activists and Klansmen and personal memories to document the events of this
time and place.
- Amanda Post, George Mason Regional Library
My Top Five Romantic Reads
“Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five
kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them
all behind.” The movie adaptation of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride gives us the definitive greatest kiss of all
times, at least according to S. Morgenstern. But what are the most passionate,
most pure romantic novels of all times? There have been so many great love stories
through the ages that it’s hard to imagine choosing just five. So, to level the
playing field, I’ll limit myself to more recent offerings. Here are my five
contemporary contenders for the crown. Have a list of your own to share? Let us
know your favorites in the comments below.
Me before You by JoJo
Moyes - When relentlessly cheerful Louisa Clark accepts a job as a daytime
caretaker for Will Trayner, the only thing they seem have in common is the town
that brings them together. A motorcycle accident left Will, a former
thrill-seeking executive, paralyzed and deeply depressed. Their deepening
relationship provides a complex, compassionate take on what it really means to
The Night Circus by
Erin Morgenstern - The breathtakingly magical Le Cirque des Reves, open only at night, serves as an arena for the
dueling protégés of two enemy magicians. As Celia and Marco create ever more
elaborate illusions to outwit and delight each other, the consequences of their
competition begin to affect both the circus and its performers.
Outlander by Diana
Gabaldon - In the first entry of the Outlander series, a circle of standing
stones in Scotland flings Claire Randall from the arms of her husband in 1945
to the arms of Jamie Fraser in 18th century Scotland. Her fate
becomes passionately entwined with the young warrior as she navigates the
perils of clan conflict and political intrigue.
Possession: A Romance
by A.S. Byatt - In this elegant and intellectual love story, modern day
scholars Maud Bailey and Roland Mitchell are brought together by hints of a
hitherto unknown romantic relationship between Victorian poets, Christabel
Lamotte and Randolph Henry Ash. Their quest to uncover long-hidden secrets will
change both of their lives forever.
The Time Travelers Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger - Librarian
Henry DeTamble suffers from chrono-displacement, a time-traveling
disorder. Despite his disorienting and
at times humorous dips through time, he and artist Clare Abshire’s relationship
is a love that endures all.
- Rebecca Wolff,
Centreville Regional Library
When it’s cold
and wet outside, we’ve got the recipes you need to stay toasty and warm inside.
Jazz up your slow-cooking repertoire with soups, stews and other easy recipes from
some of our favorite cookbooks. You’ll feed your body and still have plenty of
time left over to read!
The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone - In this latest
addition to her slow-cooking series, the author transforms recipes from around
the Mediterranean for your slow cooker. Ranging from Greek Meatballs with Feta
and Tomato to Moroccan Spiced Carrot Soup, these recipes will spice up your
Slow Cooker Revolution: One Test Kitchen, 30 Slow Cookers, 200 Amazing Recipes by Daniel Van Ackere - The team at America’s Test Kitchen not only brings
you a wealth of recipes you can trust to deliver reliable results but the tips
and techniques you’ll need to perfect your slow-cooking skills.
Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons by Nava Atlas - Whether you’re vegan or
just want to incorporate more meatless meals into your routine, this cookbook
provides a range of recipes to help you in your journey year-round. You’ll find hearty dishes such as Orange-Butternut
Squash Soup and Vegetarian Goulash for autumn and winter selections.
The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook: 250 No-Fail Recipes for Pilafs, Risotto, Polenta, Chilis, Soups, Porridges, Puddings, and More,from Start to Finish in your Rice Cooker by Beth Hensperger - Rice cookers aren’t just for
white rice anymore. With this cookbook, you’ll learn how to dish up a variety
of grains in recipes like Sweet Brown Rice with Curry, Carrots, and Raisins and
Italian Sausage Risotto.
- Rebecca Wolff, Centreville
Reads to Feed Olympic Fever
The Olympics season is about to begin, and it has everyone
thinking about sports—especially children and teenagers. Many young fans look
up to the athletes competing in these prestigious sporting events. Yet, while
there is plenty of children’s and teen fiction targeted towards popular sports
such as basketball, baseball and football, it is more difficult to find
interesting titles featuring Olympic sports--particularly those featured in the
Winter Olympic Games. Here are some of my recommendations for winter
sports-themed fiction ranging from elementary to high school reading levels:
The Drop by Jeff
Ross—Alex loves snowboarding and has dreams of joining the Backcountry Patrol,
a group of snowboarders who help those in serious danger after they wander off
the groomed ski slopes. The tests to prove that Alex can handle the job put him
in perilous situations out in the snowy wilderness.
Face-off by Jake
Maddox—Kyle’s hockey team is undefeated, and he’s trying hard to be the top
scorer on the team. Can he focus completely on his game, or will he be
distracted by his teammates’ injuries? (Jake Maddox has written many other fast-paced
stories covering a wide variety of sports.)
Skating Shoes by
Noel Streatfeild—Harriet takes up ice skating to help her recover from an
illness, and on her first day at the skating rink, she meets Lalla. The two
girls become best friends, but Lalla is working to become a professional skater
while Harriet is just discovering her talent. Can their friendship survive if
Harriet is no longer in Lalla’s shadow?
The Screech Owls series
by Roy MacGregor—This series of mysteries is centered around the kids on the
Screech Owl peewee hockey team. The team is from Tamarack, Ontario, but they travel
all over solving hockey-related mysteries, including trips to the Winter
by Matt Christopher—Freddie and Dondi are brothers who fight about everything. This
rivalry extends to their shared hobby of snowboarding, and because it’s the one
thing that he does better than Dondi, Freddie suggests a showdown on a
dangerous slope to prove once and for all that he’s the best. (Matt Christopher
is another author who writes children’s fiction featuring many different sports.)
Girl Overboard by
Justina Chen—Syrah Cheng is a natural snowboarder who hopes to go pro someday.
But when she gets seriously injured in an avalanche, her parents ban her from
the sport and take away her only escape from the rest of her problems.
Open Ice by Pat
Hughes—Playing hockey is Nick Taglio’s whole life. He’s been skating and
scoring goals for as long as anyone can remember. After yet another head injury
during a game has his parents and coach insisting that he stop playing for good,
Nick doesn’t know how to deal. Who is he without hockey?
Iceman by Chris
Lynch—People call Eric the Iceman, because when it comes to hockey, he is
ruthless and will do anything to win. Sometimes his anger on the ice is so out
of control that even his teammates are afraid of him. Can Eric learn to deal
with his anger off the ice too?
Sarah Ockler—When Hudson’s parents divorced and her dad moved away, she gave up
on her dream of skating professionally. Now, three years later, she decides to
brush up on her skills after hearing about a skating competition with a cash
prize. She ends up coaching the boys’ varsity hockey team in exchange for ice
time—and all the personal complications that involves!
Undercover by Beth
Kephart—Elisa is a quiet, thoughtful girl whose loneliness inspires her to take
up ice skating using her mother’s old skates. Her other hobby is helping the
boys at school write poetry to impress girls. But when she falls for one of the
boys, his girlfriend decides to get her revenge by wrecking Elisa’s chances in
the free skate competition.
- Sara Griffin, Centreville Regional Library
Which is Better – the Blog or the Book?
“Show me a successful blogger, and I’ll show you a successful book” appears
to have been the mantra of book publishers over the past several years. We live
in an interesting age where digital and print media increasingly intersect and inform
each other. Being a successful blogger, with a built-in audience, seems to
almost always lead to a book deal. This genre has been so popular that in 2008 the
New York Times predicted it would
reach its zenith soon. Yet blogs turned into books continue to be popular and
new titles appear every year--a win-win for publishers and readers alike.
Check out these recent picks at Fairfax County Public Library. Which do
you prefer – the blog or book? What is gained or lost in translation to the
printed page? Do these books make you more likely to follow the blog? Let us
Humans of New York –
Photographer Brandon Stanton attempts to create a “photographic census” of New
York City and “ordinary New Yorkers in their most extraordinary of moments.”
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, and Other Things that Happened –Blogger
Allie Brosh’s musing on her childhood, accompanied by her crudely drawn comics,
have garnered her legions of fans. And her candid depictions of her struggles
with depression and anxiety, which led her to abandon her blog for more than a
year, have also struck a chord with many.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook – Self-taught home cook Deb Perelman
delivers a cookbook of favorite recipes from her blog Smitten Kitchen. Even non-cooks may want to check out this book for
its gorgeous photography.
Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update and Show Your Home Some Love - Bloggers Sherry and
John Petersik chronicle their home renovation and design projects on their
hugely popular Young House Love blog. Look through their book for your own
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir – Jennie Lawson, The Bloggess, recounts her childhood
in rural Texas in this irreverent book that will leave you in tears from laughter.
And one of the first from this genre, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, and 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen
- Julie Powell blogged about her attempt to cook her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and
produced this title. The movie version of the book stars Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.
- Ginger Hawkins, Centreville Regional Library
10 Classic Picture Books for Young Children
There is plenty of room
for debate – even internal debate -- when choosing 10 classic books for young
children. Some books are a pleasure to read no matter how many times the child
on your lap says, “again…!” The words flow, the illustrations absorb and the
stories engage. They entrance even the most restless crowd of preschoolers.
Here are the 10 classics that top my list of favorites:
1) Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. This is a bedtime story in
the most literal sense. It also soothes the sleepy child with its reassuring
tone, rhythmic text and detailed pictures. Watch the moon rise while the bunny
and the room settle into sleep.
2) The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The tiny but hungry caterpillar
eats his way through a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables as the days of the
week countdown to Saturday when he feasts on a smorgasbord of sweets. Now
bigger, he wraps himself in a cocoon then emerges as a beautiful butterfly.
3) Freight Train by Donald Crews. A spare text and bright colors add to the thrill of a
train moving across the landscape until it disappears in a blur. Choo-chooooo.
4) Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley. Monsters can be scary but not when
you know how to make them go away. This book gives the young reader a measure
of control over her fears.
5) The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. A little boy, a fresh snowfall and a morning of
discovery and play are brilliantly illustrated.
7) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. This is the quintessential
picture book. The beautifully paced text would be nothing without Sendak’s
unique illustrations. And it captures the emotional turmoil of childhood --
“We’ll eat you up we love you so!”
8) Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. Three owl babies wake up and find that their mother is
not in the nest. Worried about where she might be, they seek comfort and
reassurance from each other until she returns.
9) The Napping House by Audrey Wood. This is a cumulative story. On a
rainy day, everyone and everything in the house is lulled to sleep. A tiny, wakeful
flea changes everything. By the end of the book, your child’s vocabulary for
sleep will have grown!
10) Mother Goose. Any Mother Goose. My personal favorites are Tomie DePaola’s Mother Goose and The Real Mother Goose by Blanche
Fisher Wright. These traditional rhymes introduce children to poetry, rhythm
and cultural references they will encounter as they grow.
- Jessie Lacy, Youth
Services, George Mason Regional Library
A Life Lived Fully – Biographies and Memoirs that Move
New Year’s resolutions come and New Year’s resolutions go. This is so widely
accepted that January 17 is national Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day. So this
year, I’m hoping to get a little extra motivation by reading the stories of
people who have faced overwhelming challenges with courage, creativity and hope.
In the words of the Nobel Prize winner and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela,
“There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is
less than the one you are capable of living.” Who knows where inspiration may
The following inspirational biographies and memoirs are on my reading
resolution list. Have a book that inspires you? Let us know in the comments!
March 1 by John Lewis - Inspired
by the 1958 comic book “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story,"
Congressman John Lewis’s first installment of a graphic novel trilogy details
his lifelong history of participation in the civil and human rights movements.
Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by
William Kamkwamba - In drought-stricken Malawi, a young boy reads about
windmills and dreams of bringing electricity and running water to his
impoverished village. Despite ridicule from his neighbors and lack of access to
materials, Kamkwamba perseveres with his plan.
Conversations with Myself by Nelson Mandela - This collection of diary entries, letters from prison and recorded reminiscences
with former fellow prisoners illuminates the life, struggles and personal love
and sacrifices of the iconic South African statesmen and
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand - This riveting account of a 1936 Olympic athlete and World War II prisoner of war survivor is notable not just
for Louis Zamperini’s great endurance but for his courage and generosity of
- Rebecca A. Wolff, Centreville Regional Library
If You Liked Lone Survivor, Try These Books
Which movies are on your must-see list this year? Perhaps
one of them is Lone Survivor, which opens
in wide release on Friday. Mark Wahlberg stars in this movie based on the best-selling
autobiography of former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. In June 2005, Luttrell alone
survived when his four-man SEAL team was ambushed by Taliban fighters. He was
rescued by a group of Afghan Pashtun villagers after an American rescue attempt
ended in tragedy. The helicopter carrying the rescue party was shot down,
killing all 16 soldiers onboard. Luttrell eventually made it to safety with the
help of his protectors and penned a gripping account of his ordeal in Lone Survivor.
If you’re interested in reading more eyewitness accounts
from the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, check out these titles:
The Good Soldiers – Journalist David Finkel spent eight
months embedded with an Army infantry battalion during the “surge” in Iraq, and
this remarkable work of reporting is the result. His fascinating and moving follow-up,
Thank You for Your Service, chronicles
the challenges those same soldiers face when they return from war and attempt
to remake their lives back home.
Paradise General: Riding the Surge ata Combat Hospital – Dave Hnida was a family physician in Littleton, Colo., when
he decided at age 48 to join the military reserves in the midst of the Iraq
war. This account describes his second tour of Iraq when he headed the trauma
unit at a Combat Support Hospital during the 2007 “surge”.
Adult and teen audiences will enjoy Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-year-old G.I. by Ryan Smithson, a 2012-2013 Virginia
Readers’ Choice nominee. Smith’s memoir fills a void in the first-person
narratives which tend to be written by those much older or with extraordinary
stories. His experience is representative of the typical American soldier – a
young man desperately trying to navigate the perils of war and return home safe
to his family.
No Easy Day: The First hand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden – When Navy SEAL Team Six killed
Bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011, “Mark Owen” (his pen name) was on the
ground. As a member of the 24-man elite team, Owen participated in the raid and
provides a blow-by-blow account of it in this memoir.
for these and similar personal narratives in the library’s online catalog.
Hawkins, Centreville Regional Library
Emerging Voices – Discovering New Fiction Authors in the New Year
Have blockbuster authors and multi-volume series lost their
appeal? Are you interested in exploring a new author but don’t know where to
start? Try one of these emerging voices from book critics’ Best of 2013 lists.
First time novelist Anthony Marra explores the relationships
that bind us all together in A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, set in war-torn Chechnya. Fans of Tea
Obrecht’s The Tiger’s Wife, a debut
novel that made many Best of 2011 lists, might enjoy this book. (Washington Post,
10 Books in 2013")
Graeme Simsion’s first book of fiction, The Rosie Project, has already been optioned for a movie. Don
Tillman, geneticist professor, applies the scientific method to his search for
finding the perfect wife. The lead character of this hilarious, feel-good book
will remind you of Sheldon from The Big
Bang Theory. (Los Angeles Times, “2013
Holiday Book List”)
Philip Meyer hits the mark again with The Son, his second
novel. An epic, coming-of-age story, The
Son is a take on the American creation myth as seen through three
generations of a Texas family. Meyer’s first book, American Rust, made
several critics’ lists for Best Book of 2009. (Washington Post, Top
10 Books in 2013)
Rachel Kushner’s second novel The Flamethrowers made multiple “Best of” lists this year. It is a
subtle, beautifully-written story about art, motorcycle racing and
revolutionary politics. Her first novel Telex from Cuba was published in 2008. (New
York Times, “10
Best Books of 2013”)
At 28, Eleanor Catton became the youngest author ever to win
Britain’s Man Booker Prize with The Luminaries, a complex page-turner set in 19th century New
Zealand. A series of strange events sets this mysterious adventure story in
motion: a wealthy man is missing, a prostitute attempts suicide and a treasure
of cash has been found in an unlikely place. See this list for previous Booker
Prize winners and nominees.
Chimamanada Ngozi Adichie won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008 and recently
published her fourth book, Americanah. Shown through the lens of
the modern African immigrant experience, this is a book for today’s global
world – a fearless yet funny and tender story that spans three continents. Adichie’s
prior works include two novels, Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, and a collection of
short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck.
(New York Times, “10
Best Books of 2013”)
- Ginger Hawkins,
Centreville Regional Library
Traveling Time and Time Again
In the world of Doctor Who, Dec. 25 is usually marked by two major events: an
alien invasion of London and the annual holiday special. After celebrating the 50th
anniversary of the BBC science fiction show earlier this year, fans are
anxiously awaiting Peter Capaldi‘s debut this Christmas as the latest Doctor, a
Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. Viewers
can rely on one constant as the new Doctor begins his tenure in the TARDIS, a time-traveling
spaceship disguised as a blue British police box. The TARDIS doesn’t always take the Doctor
where he wants to go. But it does take him exactly where he needs to be to save
humanity and the universe time and time again.
If you’re finding it hard to wait for the next installment
of Doctor Who, consider opening up one of these alternatives for an adventure
through time and space of your own. And
if your travels take you to London this holiday season, don’t forget: Keep your eyes on the sky and watch out for
In Jasper Fforde’s lighthearted novel The Eyre Affair, Thursday Next, a special operative in literary detection,
faces a seemingly all-powerful enemy when both timelines and storylines begin
to break down in an alternate reality 1980s London.
The Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Doomsday Book by Connie Willis takes a deeper look at the
complications of time travel as a 21st century history student is mistakenly
stranded in 1348 Europe during the ravages of the Black Plague.
In the conspiracy-filled Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, Professor
Brendan Doyle’s ill-fated trip to 1810 England leaves him trapped with an
eccentric cast of Egyptian magicians, werewolves, gypsies and literary heroes
of the age.
Teens might like to travel with seventh-grader Martin Conway
in London Calling by Edward Bloor as
his antique radio transports him to the bombing of London in 1940 and to the
aid of a young boy in desperate need of help.
The dark and doom laden The Cure by Sonia Levitin makes Gemm 16884 choose between being “recycled” in
the present year of 2407 or taking a painful “cure” by experiencing the world
of Strasbourg in 1348.
For those who need a dose of the real thing, get your fix here with novels inspired by the classic TV show.
- Rebecca A. Wolff, Centreville Regional Library