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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book Critics’ Favorites

The National Book Critics Circle, an organization of 600 active book reviewers, recently named the finalists for its annual awards in various categories ("NBCC Names Finalists," Publisher's Weekly, Jan. 25, 2010). Here’s a few nominees you might want to browse before the final selections are announced March 12:

American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch

Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line by Martha A. Sandweiss,

Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
by Greg Grandin

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Podcast Posted

Noralee Frankel, author of Stripping Gypsy (a scholarly biography of Gypsy Rose Lee) was interviewed for BookCast (listen to the podcast) by Fairfax County Public Library Director Sam Clay. Stripping Gypsy, is the first biography ever published about the highly mythologized Gypsy. Frankel shows that the famous Miss Lee was an “enigma, clearly struggling with her choices and her desire to be respected and legitimized.” Frankel will discuss her book at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 13 at the Patrick Henry Library. BookCast is sponsored by Dominion through the Fairfax Library Foundation.

Mary Mulrenan, Fairfax County Public Library

Friday, January 22, 2010

Remembering Robert B. Parker, Erich Segal

We lost two popular fiction authors this week.

Robert B. Parker, best known for his detective books featuring Spenser, died while working at his desk in Cambridge, Mass. In addition to Spenser (whose first name was never revealed), the prolific Parker, who wrote more than 60 books including westerns and young adult fiction, created two other sleuths in recent years – Jesse Stone and and Sunny Randall. Stone, the ex-baseball player and small-town police chief, is the protagonist in Split Image which will be published in February.

Erich Segal, known to those of a certain era for his tear-jerker Love Story and its sequel Oliver’s Story, died in London. Segal, who also wrote the screenplay for “Yellow Submarine,” was a classics scholar who taught at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Oxford.

To sample Parker’s more recent work, try these books:

Stranger in Paradise


Rough Weather

For Segal’s other fiction, try

Only Love



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finding a Charity to Support

Disasters such as the recent earthquake in Haiti inspire many generous families to send money. Many of the media reporting on the quake are warning people to beware of scam artists. One of the best ways we have of ensuring our money reaches those truly in need is donating to a trusted charity we are already familiar with or doing our research before giving to a charity we aren’t familiar with. The library offers links on its Web site to help you ensure your money will be used the way you intended. Two of the links offered on the site are to Charity Navigator and GuideStar which both rate thousands of nonprofits.

Photo: Haitian National Palace after the earthquake, courtesy United Nations Development Program.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Get Organized Month

It probably makes sense that the National Association of Professional Organizers has declared January “Get Organized Month.” In the new year, clearing out clutter is a laudable goal – both at home and work.

Here are a few tips:

● Start with a small area – a corner of a room or a closet;

● Be prepared to actually get rid of things;

● If necessary bring in a third party – not a relative or friend – but someone who is objective and asks “Why are you keeping that?”

For more ideas, browse these books:

Good Housekeeping Clutter Rescue: Just Minutes a Day to Get Organized – Forever by C.J. Petersen

Restoring Order by Vicki Norris

Degunking Your Home by Julie Ballew

Clutter’s Last Stand: It's Time to De-Junk Your Life by Don Aslett

Photo attribution:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Book Groups Are Reading in January

Thinking about joining a book club in 2010? Read a book recently that you might like to talk about with others? Here are some of the books being discussed in book groups at Fairfax County Public Library branches in January:

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (Lorton Library)
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (Centreville Regional Library)
The Chosen by Chaim Potok (Kings Park Library)

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (City of Fairfax Regional Library)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (Kings Park Library)
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (John Marshall Library)
March by Geraldine Brooks (City of Fairfax Regional Library)

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (George Mason Regional Library)
A Painted House by John Grisham (Martha Washington Library)
The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama (Thomas Jefferson Library)
Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan (Sherwood Regional Library)
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (Pohick Regional Library)

More details about the book discussion groups are available here.

Mary Mulrenan, Fairfax County Public Library

Friday, January 08, 2010

Welcome 2010

Have you seen the January issue of “This Month” the library’s monthly newsletter? It highlights how the library and its staff, materials and programs can help you keep your New Year’s resolutions. Pick up a copy next time you’re in a branch.

Author Chensiyuan has made this image available under the Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Writers Remembered

In 2009, we lost some well-known writers of both fiction and nonfiction. If you would like to sample some of their work, here are a few to consider:

John Updike (March 18, 1932 – Jan. 27, 2009)
Known for such fiction as his Rabbit series – Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, Rabbit At Rest, and Rabbit Remembered – as well as The Witches of Eastwick.

Philip Jos̩ Farmer (Jan. 26, 1918 РFeb. 25, 2009)
American author, known for his award-winning science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories.

Dominick Dunne (Oct. 29, 1925 – Aug. 26, 2009)
Author of six novels, two non-fiction books and two collections.

William Safire (Dec. 17, 1929 - Sept. 27, 2009)
Author, journalist, columnist and presidential speechwriter.