Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Time for a Great Summer Book

We've selected some great books for you.  Sign up here for our Summer Reading Program for Adults today, we're giving away gift card prizes just for reading. The program ends on August 8.


Non Fiction Books

The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson 

Interested in science?  Looking to learn more about the history of computers and other modern technological breakthroughs?  This is a good place to start.   Walter Isaacson’s book lays out the complex history of the Silicon Valley’s Innovators and their tremendous leaps of faith that have made computers and their networks possible without the technical jargon.  


The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer

 What did a pious and gentle Pope have in common with a fascist thug? It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but in this Pulitzer Prize winning book we find out that although they had many differences, Pope Pius XI and Mussolini recognized an opportunity to use one another to achieve their political goals. Researched at the recently opened Vatican archives, this is a great book for history buffs interested in the pre-WWII era.

 The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough tells the story of two men and their quest to conquer the “impossible” task of flying.  Wilbur and Orville Wright, two brothers from Ohio  who owned a bicycle shop and had no formal college education or technical training, achieved this task before the Smithsonian’s government funded studies could.  In doing so, they transformed the way the world saw aviation.  Great for anyone interested in an easy to read, fun and fast paced history.

 Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

Written by one of the co-founders of Pixar, Creativity Inc, is a fun trip inside the inner workings of one of the world’s most powerful and innovative animation studios.  This book details Pixar’s business practices that have made it one of the best places to work. This is great for business managers and those interested by Pixar’s stellar reputation as a place that embraces and encourages their creative staff.

Fiction Books

Euphoria by Lily King

King’s novel is inspired by (and loosely based on) the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead.  In this fictionalized version, Mead becomes Nell Stone, an anthropologist studying tribes in 1930’s Papua New Guinea with her jealous husband Ben, and on the run from Cannibals.  She finds a more suitable tribe to study with the help of another anthropologist still reeling from a suicide attempt.   Aside from the love triangle runs that helps propel the story along, there are fascinating descriptions of New Guinea, on the work that anthropologists do (and how they do it), and on the benefits that such research brings to society.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A “companion volume” to Atkinson’s Life After Life, this book tells the story from Ursula Todd’s younger brother Teddy Todd’s point of view.  As in her previous novel, Atkinson’s storytelling bends time and spans the entirety of four generations between Teddy’s days as a young and heroic RAF Pilot in WWII, his life as a disillusioned husband and father to a future novelist Viola, and his time spent as a grandfather in his nineties, wiling away his days in a nursing home

Redeployment by Phil Klay

This fictionalized collection of short stories by former marine Klay showcases his talent for making the lives of soldiers within the battlefield of Iraq and the experiences veterans have coming home accessible to the public.  His dozen or so tales range from the comic and absurd to the horrifyingly realistic.  This book is a statement in itself on human nature, soldiers’ experiences in wartime and the aftermath of war.

Mysteries and Thrillers

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Most people compare this book to Gone Girl.  It is the same in having an unreliable narrator (in this case a black-out alcoholic), and in its intensity and pacing, but different in the ways the characters are developed and the level of sympathy you’ll feel for this Rachel, a woman whose husband cheated on her with another woman.  The affair resulted in a pregnancy and a new family for Tom, her now ex -husband and a downward spiral for Rachel.  This well-written, hard to put down, psychological thriller will have you dying to know what happens next.  

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
 Horowitz, one of the few writers to be sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, shows us what happened after Holmes and Moriarty infamously go over the Reichenbach Falls.  A familiar character from the original Sherlock Holmes novels join in the game, along with a Pinkerton detective, as they struggle to contain the criminal element in the aftermath of Moriarty’s death in Victorian London.

Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman

Winner of the 2015 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Bouman’s murder mystery novel takes place in northeastern rural Pennsylvania as an elderly man finds a corpse on his property. The story takes place during the first burst of natural gas drilling, when the Appalachian people, who had lived in poverty and mired in the drug trade, suddenly find companies interested in their small valley that sits atop the Marcellus Shale.  Small town in-fighting, ancient grudges, and murder all round out to make this a must-read novel. 

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

This is the latest in the Flavia De Luce mystery series by Alan Bradley.    Set in 1951, the now 12-year old Flavia’s latest adventure takes her across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy for Girls, a boarding school in Canada that her mother Harriet once attended.  This chemical genius’s (specialty: poisons) curiosity is sparked when a corpse falls through her chimney.  A classic Whodunit.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

In this blend of science fiction and horror, an all-women team of four explorers go to Area X, where eleven previous missions have failed or disappeared.  This mission is the twelfth to go to this environmental disaster site that seems to have created a new ecosystem.  The characters are not named; they are only the biologist, the psychologist, the surveyor and the anthropologist.  One by one they disappear, as the narrator (the biologist) attempts to find an answer to why this place swallows up all who come into contact with it.  The first book of a planned trilogy.

The Revolutions by Felix Gilman

This interplanetary Victorian fantasy set in 1893 London concentrates its energy on two characters—Arthur and Josephine.  Arthur, a down on his luck journalist, and Josephine (his girlfriend), whom he met a séance, get caught in the Great Storm of London.  The storm not only wreaks havoc, but also disrupts celestial spheres.  Left jobless and his debts all coming due at the same time, he takes a job as a clerk and ends up getting caught between two warring factions of magicians.   In a quest to find his true love, he must travel beyond where he’s ever been, traveling the planets in search of Josephine.




Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

The second book in the planned trilogy follows three children of a recently assassinated emperor, all separated through circumstances beyond their control and fighting to return to one another and keep the empire stabilized.  This book has you guessing who the traitor was that killed the emperor, sword fights, shifting alliances and intense pacing.  In short, everything else you would expect from high fantasy.  Good for any George R.R. Martin fan looking for something to new to read.


Love Stories and Romances

A New Hope by Robyn Carr

Ginger Dysart was lost in grief. But since moving to Thunder Point, a small town on the Oregon coast, Ginger is finally moving forward. Her job at the flower shop is peaceful and fulfilling, and she's excited to be assisting with the Lacoumette wedding. In spite of her lasting heartache, Ginger is swept up in the pleasure of the occasion. But the beauty of the Lacoumette farm and the joy of the gregarious family are ruined by an unfortunate encounter with the bride's brother, Matt. Struggling with painful memories of his own, Matt makes a drunken spectacle of himself when he tries to make a pass at Ginger, forcing her to flee the scene in embarrassment. But when Matt shows up at the flower shop determined to make amends, what started out as a humiliating first meeting blossoms into something much deeper than either of them expected.

 Venetia by Georgette Heyer
Originally published in 1959, this Regency-era romance novel was republished in 2011.   Heyer’s heroine, Venetia, is left to be the head of the family after her father’s sudden death following a stroke.  With her invalid younger brother Aubrey to help care for and her older brother away in France, independent Venetia is left without hope of finding a husband.  That is, until Mr. Damerel (a man with a bad reputation) comes to visit his ancestral home.  Good for any fan of Jane Austen.



Biographies and Autobiographies


Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder

This is the true story of the 36 year-old Wilder’s life in the homesteaders Missouri.   It is a well-researched biography that any card-carrying fan of the Little House books will love.  The oversize book comes complete with an abundance of photos and detailed footnotes (just don’t get too caught up).

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

A 2015 National Book Award finalist, New York cartoonist Roz Chast’s memoir tells the story of her aging parents in what would seem like a light-hearted way:  through four color cartoon panels, she tackles the difficult journey adult children take as they begin caring for their elderly parents. A touching book that deals with an aging, end-of-life care, and dying in an honest and fearless manner.


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