Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Books About Books

In his latest ode to reading, Books for Living, Will Schwalbe writes about all kinds of books - thrillers, picture books, classics, religious texts. A book doesn't have to be a venerable tome to have meaning for the reader in the moment. A book is a medium to express ideas, and those ideas can entertain or instruct, warn or pay homage. Sometimes broad ideas are best communicated through humor or a fairy tale.

Usually, I have mixed feelings about books-about-books: typically I thumb through them with some interest, but they are not books I tend to read cover-to-cover. Books for Living was different in that once begun, I felt compelled to read every page. I got something out of each chapter whether I had read the book Schwalbe was writing about or not. Each chapter is not just about the book that inspired it but illuminates some facet of life, pulling in other books and authors, world events or personal experiences as references.

Schwalbe’s observations about books as a shared experience, even with someone who can no longer read, were especially moving. There is one segment about how we communicate with those we have lost by reading the books they read or wanted to read or would have enjoyed. One can't help being reminded of Schwalbe's earlier book The End of Your Life Book Club and the books he shared with his mother as she was fighting cancer.

Schwalbe also reminds us that reading is not just a passive diversion but is often the catalyst that spurs people to action. “Books remain one of the strongest bulwarks we have against tyranny- but only as long as people are free to read all different kinds of books and only as long as they actually do so. The right to read whatever you want whenever you want is one of the fundamental rights that helps preserve all the other rights.”

Below are a few other books about books that can be found at FCPL. If you have a suggestion that is not listed here, please add it to the comments field.

Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Reason, Nancy Pearl

Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Vagabonds, and Dreamers, Nancy Pearl

Booknotes: Life Stories: Notable Biographers on the People Who Shaped America, Brian Lamb

Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books, Michael Dirda

-Suzanne Summers LaPierre, City of Fairfax Library

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2017 Summer Reading Recommendations Right Here!

Looking for some great summer reads? We have been too, and we have some good lists to help you find exactly the right book.

Bill Gates recommends a great list of books "that pushed me out of my own experiences, and I learned some things that shed new light on how our experiences shape us and where humanity might be headed." His selections includes our staff favorites Hillbilly Elegy and Born a Crime.

If summer is a time to catch up on all the good books you've been too busy to read this year, take a look at this comprehensive list put together by the Washington Post book editors "37 Books We've Loved So Far in 2017". One of our writers here at About Books enjoyed the new Elizabeth Strout from this list, Anything is Possible. It's a set of short stories which pick up on characters from Strout's My Name Is Lucy Barton.

Beachy fiction more your style? These lists from Bookish and Publisher's Weekly have loads of books from many genres, all perfect for vacation.

Don't forget many branches sponsor Summer Reading programs for adults. Happy summer reading!

-Ginger Hawkins, Patrick Henry Library

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

If You Like...Big Little Lies

Perhaps you discovered Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies through the HBO miniseries that ran earlier this year. Perhaps you have always loved Liane Moriarty’s books. Or perhaps a friend recommended it when it came out three years ago, or you read it for a book club, or you just happened to pick it up off one of your local library shelves, intrigued by the oxymoronic title or the exploding lollipop on the cover. The reasons you may have read the book in the first place are, perhaps, almost as numerous as the reasons you may have enjoyed it. Whatever those reasons are, try giving the titles below a chance too, if you haven’t already!                                                                                           

Where’d You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple
A little less dark than Big Little Lies, this story also prominently features parent-school politics and a mother who doesn’t quite fit in. Bee’s mother has disappeared shortly after promising her daughter the vacation of her choice as a reward for excellent work in school. It shares a similar investigative style and tone to Big Little Lies, as Bee collects documents to piece together what has become of her mother and uncovers the things she has been hiding.

The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
This book is driven less by mystery, but has a similar drama: a violent act and its repercussions are examined from multiple points of view. At a backyard barbeque, full of close friends and family, a frustrated adult slaps a misbehaving child who is not his own, causing a series of divisive emotions and opinions to ripple through each individual there – from the fury of the child’s parents to controversial justifications of the act by others in attendance. This book was also adapted into a TV series two years ago on NBC.

You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott

Devon Knox is a gymnastics prodigy – headed straight for the Olympics, if everything goes according to plan, in spite of a few hiccups. Her parents have sacrificed much to get her there. But they and the rest of their small gymnastics community will have to face what lies they are willing to tell – and what truths they are willing to bury - to protect their dreams and their families, when faced with the tragic and unexpected death of one of their own.

The Perfect Neighbors – Sarah Pekkanen
Secrets abound in Newport Cove, one of the 20 safest neighborhoods in the country and the neighborhood to which Kellie and her family have moved to escape a traumatic event from their recent past. This story encompasses snapshots from the lives of multiple women, including Kellie’s, and the secrets they keep to protect those they love as well as themselves. Similar to the community commentary at the end of each chapter in Big Little Lies, The Perfect Neighbors offers a taste of life and relations in Newport Cove in the form of responses on the community listserv at the beginning of each chapter.

You Should Have Known – Jean Hanff Korelitz
 As in Big Little Lies, the death of a parent in a school community is the driving force for the plot of this novel. Instead of being told from multiple points of view, however, Korelitz relates all that has occurred and is occurring through a single narrator – Grace Reinhart Sachs. Grace is a therapist with a book on relationship advice weeks away from coming out, a mother who happens to be on the same committee as the parent who dies and a devoted wife to a hard-working pediatric oncologist who has unexpectedly disappeared.
Do you have other recommendations for readers who enjoyed Big Little Lies? Leave them, along with any suggestions for future “If You Like…” posts, in the comments!

-Denise Dolan, George Mason Regional Library

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

I Love the '90s!

With shows like Full House being revived and Surge back on grocery store shelves, ‘90s nostalgia is at an all-time high. Keep the memories flowing with these ‘90s flashback titles:

The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

The year is 1996, and Emma has a brand-new computer. Her best friend Josh comes over with a CD that gives her 100 free hours on AOL. (Remember those!)  Once they log on, they discover that they are able to somehow login to Facebook. With every change they make, their Facebook status updates with a new life. An interesting commentary on the role that social media plays in our lives, The Future of Us is rich with references to ‘90s pop culture and will make any ‘90s kid smile.

As If!: The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling, the Cast and the Crew by Jen Chaney

Whether you love it or hate it, there is no denying that "Clueless" is one of the most iconic movies of the ‘90s. Clueless changed the language of teenagers, spawned fashion trends and created an everlasting legacy. Jen Chaney uses interviews from the cast and crew that take you from start to finish and beyond, describing how the movie was made and the legacy it created afterwards. A must read for fans of the movie and anyone who likes watching director commentaries.

Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman

Part sequel, part reimagining of the classic series “Clarissa Explains it All.”  Clarissa Darling is now in her twenties and is an out of work journalist. A victim of the 2008 recession, Clarissa is a bit more serious but her eclectic wardrobe, obsessions and superstitions still live on. Along with Clarissa, we also learn what has happened to her parents (in the process of a divorce), her brother Ferguson (in jail!) and Sam (Where is Sam, anyway?).

-Alicia Rocconi, Patrick Henry Library