Wednesday, June 24, 2015

8 Websites to Help You Find Your Summer Reads

Do your homework! School may be out, but life is too short to read books you don’t like. Use these websites to help you pick a summer’s worth of good reads.

1. This Blog!

Browse our archives or click on tags at the end of posts to find posts about similar books.

A well-curated and sophisticated website. Find articles, author interviews, Friday reads (what you should read this weekend), summer previews and lists. There are lots of great recommendations here.

Great lists and book exploring at

Can’t keep your Alex Cross’s straight? Need to know the title of Book 4 of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series?  Find series lists in order here.

4. Find Your Reviewer Crush

Ever read a glowing book review, then read the book, disliked it and wonder what went wrong? Take a different approach. Check out some reviews of a book you’ve already read and see which critics’ or which publications’ appraisal resonated most with you. Match made. Then follow that reviewer or see what else they recommend. Me? I appreciate NPR reviews. Plus, they have a great Tumblr page.

Mystery fans can browse this site by author name, character name or by genre index: Cozy (Traditional) Mysteries vs. Gothic Suspense. Or, you can pick mysteries set in a certain time period with their Historical Index. Only like Victorian mysteries? Look no further.

Great for helping your junior readers. Books receive reviews from kids and adults alike. “Kids say…” vs. “Parents say…”

7. Slate Magazine’s Audio Book Club podcast

I love listening to Slate’s editors discuss their monthly book club pick. Check them out, see what they are reading, then plan to listen to the podcast once you’ve finished the book.

Smart discussions of popular works and classics.
This site has many visually compelling ways to explore new titles based on what you’ve read and liked. It’s “You might also like…” in a fun, graphic format.

-Ginger Hawkins, Patrick Henry Library

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Reading Fun for Grown Ups

Does it ever seem like kids have all the summer fun? Adults get sweltering commutes, while kids get days at the pool, summer camp and plenty of time to read just for fun. While the library loves to reward kids for their reading, there are also lots of ways for adults to join in the library festivities this summer.

When the Summer Reading Program kicks off on June 19, adult reading programs will begin at many library branches as well. This year adults can read to earn coupons at some branches for use in their ongoing book sales or for a chance to win prize drawings. Contests include a variety of reading challenges, from reading bingo to identifying the first lines of famous books. Requirements and rewards will vary at participating branches, so check our calendar of events to find an adult summer reading program near you.

Library events aren’t just for kids this summer either. We’ve got all kinds of books clubs and reading groups for adults. But you’ll also find a variety of special programs, from poetry read-arounds and seminars exploring the intricacies of foreign policy decisions to an inside look into a paranormal investigation. As always, we’ve also got fabulous events planned for preschoolers, kids and teens this summer. So check our online calendar of events or pick up a copy of the summer calendar at your local branch or view it online to see what’s happening.

Don’t forget to pick up a reading log or sign your kids up online for the Summer Reading Program--Read to the Rhythm. Children up to sixth grade read 15 books and teens in grades 7-12 read six books to earn a coupon booklet with great prizes including free and discounted items. Make sure they complete their reading and visit a local library branch to pick up their prize by September 5.

Communities that read together grow strong together. Be a reading role model for the kids in your community this summer – we’ll make it worth your while!

-Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Books for Tough Times

There are times in life when the right book comes along at the right time, and it feels like a tremendous gift. Caring for an elderly or disabled family member is something more Americans are experiencing as the population ages. Here are two highly acclaimed recent books on the subject as well as two classics.

In Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, cartoonist Roz Chast uses the graphic novel format to narrate the years she spent as an only child looking after her parents who lived in their Brooklyn apartment well into their nineties. What makes Chast's book such a stand out is her rare ability to mix humor with sensitivity, expressing the poignancy of coping with the decline of the people we love – but who also drive us crazy sometimes.


What matters most to people in the final stages of life, and how can we honor that? In Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, surgeon Atul Gawande explores his personal and professional experiences with family members and patients who were nearing the end of life. With great insight and empathy, he steps out of the conventional role of the doctor, looking beyond medical options to their goals and priorities. Gawande suggests many ways we can improve the future of caregiving in America.

In the classic realm, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl offers wisdom on living with purpose even during painful times. Frankl, a Viennese doctor, survived several concentration camps during the Holocaust and went on to finish his treatise on logotherapy, a form of therapy designed to help people discover and pursue meaning in their lives. The suffering he endured and witnessed only reinforced his belief that the pursuit of meaning is central to the human condition.

Also rising to the level of a classic in this area is When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. A rabbi who lost his young son to a rare disease, Kushner was inundated with people seeking his commiseration and guidance: why do bad things happen to good people? Kushner draws upon his study of historic and religious texts to help others process some of life’s most difficult questions.
- Suzanne Summers LaPierre, Kings Park Library 

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

From the Pen of...Kate Atkinson

You may already be familiar with Kate Atkinson from the popular Life After Life (2013) and its companion piece A God in Ruins (2015). But you may not be familiar with her Jackson Brodie mystery series, including One Good Turn. They are worth a read as well. A selection of the stories have been turned into a Masterpiece Mystery television production and are available at the library on DVD.

Amid the bizarre events of the Edinburgh Festival, an incident of road rage occurs. It is witnessed by many people - in particular by quietly percolating Gloria (wife of shady developer Graham), her loyal friend Pam, Jackson Brodie (a suddenly-wealthy policeman) and Martin (a yearning–to-be-loved mystery writer). Each reacts to the accident differently, but a laptop sailing through the air hitting the man wielding a baseball bat sends events rippling throughout the book to the gasp of the last sentence. 

Like the magic appearance of yet another matryoshka doll, the plot twists and doubles back endlessly working its way around money-laundering, a dominatrix, a troupe of actors, a pregnancy test, an attack dog, failed marriages and yes, a body dumped from a hotel window. Figures flit at the edge of your visions, and you catch a glimpse of their disappearing coattails. And no good deed goes unpunished.

But amid the dark delight of all this action there is a quiet center of human frailty and kindness. Though Ms. Atkinson writes with a wry pen, you realize how wisely she observes life with both its triumphs and disappointments.

One Good Turn – deserves another read.

-Lois Glick, Great Falls Library