Friday, May 25, 2012

"The Borrower" by Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai

The Reader's Garden group discussed The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai at their May meeting.  The setting is a library much like our own and we are excited to be welcoming Rebecca to our library on June 12, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.  All are welcome to come and meet this new author from Chicago.

Rebecca has a lifelong fondness for libraries.  She said as a child she would "walk a block to the library with her classmates.  The fact that first memories of the children's section are also my first memories of unsupervised freedom certainly has colored my lifelong relationship with libraries, not to mention this novel.  That one was a small and cozy library (which I nevertheless firmly believed to be haunted).  But as an adult I prefer libraries that are ancient and vast and storied.  The main branch of the New York Public Library is perhaps my favorite...and I was married in the Peabody Library in Baltimore, an old-fashioned model if ever there was one.  I think I seek out that sense of hauntedness to match the feeling of mystery I once associated with my own first library: the hush, the possibility, the anonymity". 

The Borrower
The protagonist in The Borrower, Lucy Hall, goes to work as a children's librarian in a small town after college graduation. At twenty-six she is already settling into the life of a "simple maiden lady librarian".  Then, things change as Lucy's favorite young patron runs away from home and Lucy makes an impulsive decision that will forever change the way both see themselves, the world and the stories they love.

The book received mixed reviews and only three club members finished it which was disappointing.  One member thought the character of Lucy was not strong and didn't think it was realistic that Lucy would get caught up in the events that occur.  Another member felt the story had great characters, it was entertaining and relevant to today and therefore an excellent choice for discussion. The readers all had several answers as to "who is 'the borrower' in the novel?". 

Please help us give a warm welcome to author and library lover Rebecca Makkai on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.
Our Own Favorite Library

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Favorite Mystery Author Brian Freeman

 Amazon's Complete Selection of Brian Freeman Books
One of our favorite authors at The Carnegie Public Library is Brian Freeman.  Patrons may recall that he visited our library last year and was very gracious and an all around nice guy.  It is hard to believe he thinks up some of the murderous twists and turns in his books.  

Brian is a psychological suspense author and has just published another stand alone book, Spilled Blood, set amid the ghost towns of southwest Minnesota.  His first stand alone book was The Bone House which he said was based upon a real experience by someone he knows.  What if all the evidence points to you and you are completely innocent? Would your spouse stand by you and believe you?

 Readers may be familiar with his series featuring Lieutenant Jonathan Stride and detective Serena Dial.  There are currently five in that series, starting with Immoral which won the Macavity Award and was nominated for several others including an Edgar.  The latest in the series is The Burying Place which was a finalist for best novel of 2010.  The next Stride novel will be coming in 2013.

Brian states on his website that "I don't like books where the characters are all good or all bad.  I want them to live in the real world, where morality means tough choices and a lot of shades of gray. My goal is to write books with haunting characters and a lightning-fast pace...the hidden intimate motives that draw people across some terrible lines".

Brian says he'd like people to read his books twice.  Once for the quick pacing to get to the breathtaking climax and find out what happens; the second time to pick up the nuances of the characters.  He says "The beauty of the psychological suspense is that, once you know the secrets, the drama of the interactions changes and becomes something completely different.  Suddenly, you know the back story; you know what's in the back of the characters' minds.  It gives you a whole new perspective on the novel".

One bit of trivia is that although Brian lives in Minnesota he has relatives in the Chicago area.  He planned his stop with us on his way from his home to visit the Chicago relatives.  While in Angola he wandered the Circle Hill Cemetery to see the graves of his ancestors.

Brian is a big supporter of libraries and we hope that during his Midwest travels he will visit us again.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Secrets of a Successful Book Group - The Page Turner Book Club

Facilitator Lou Ann Homan

The Page Turners is a neighborhood book club in Angola, Indiana and is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. The club is limited to ten members and two are charter members - Barb Simper of Hamilton and club facilitator Lou Ann Homan.  Lou Ann is a storyteller, theater coach, actress and writer and was so gracious to share the "secrets" of her very successful book club.

The group began with reading Oprah's book club list and then members started reading reviews and finding their own selections that they felt were exceptional.  Today members lobby for a book they deem worthy of reading.  The group has read every Lisa See book (author of Snow Flower and The Secret Fan).  Also, they Skipe authors including Katherine Howe, author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and the just released The House of Velvet and Glass.  Charter member Lou Ann Homan's current personal favorite book is Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland.

All members are responsible for obtaining copies of the monthly selection.  Charter member Barb Simper purchases all of her books and keeps them on a shelf in her home.  She includes her notes from the discussions and the club's rating of each book. In essence, she has a growing library of wonderful book club selections.

This club is definitely a member driven group and all participate. Meetings are held at members' homes and include dinner. Many times the dinner will reflect the book. The first 20 minutes are devoted to visiting with each other.  Then there is discussion of the selection for about 45 minutes.  

Questions and study guides are generally not used but members bring their own notes. One person does an author study and one question is asked at every gathering -  "how does the book apply to our lives right now?".  That question always provokes lots of discussion. 

Books are given a rating of 1 to 5 with 5 being fabulous. The dinner conversation stays on a high academic level. 

After dinner the talk centers around the next several selections and a decision is made on who will host the next meeting.  A classic selection is picked several times a year. This May the selection is  House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende was the very first book the club read 10 years ago and it is being reintroduced because there are so many new members.

Daughter of Fortune:
The First Selection
Thank you to Lou Ann Homan for sharing her "secrets" of a very successful book club!

A Favorite

Sunday, May 6, 2012

More Jesse Stone Coming May 22nd!

Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone

Fans of the late author Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone will be thrilled to know that Tom Selleck is taking a break from his hit CBS show Blue Bloods to star in another Jesse Stone made for TV movie.  Jesse Stone - Benefit of The Doubt will air on CBS Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 9 p.m. EST.  It is co-written by Selleck and Michael Brandman.

The Latest Jesse Stone Novel
Robert B. Parker wrote nine Jesse Stone mysteries before his death in 2010.  The Parker estate authorized Michael Brandman to continue the series.  Brandman's first Stone novel titled Robert B. Parker's Killing The Blues was published in 2011.  Brandman also produced three of Parker's Spenser novel adaptations for A&E.  Parker's earlier Spenser novels formed the basis for the Spencer for Hire series that starred Robert Urich. 

The character of  Jesse Stone, a deeply troubled man, was a departure for the author.  Parker, comparing Stone to Spenser, the protagonist for his first series and the one for which he was best known, said "Jesse is a much more damaged individual who is coming to terms with himself as he goes along...".  Jesse is an alcoholic LAPD homicide detective turned Paradise, Massachusetts police chief.  The TV movies capture the essence of Stone with their deeply atmospheric settings and haunting music.  

Jesse Stone is one troubled man you will definitely want to get to know.  Check out the Parker novels and also the TV movies.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" A Classic Then and Now


Classics Then and Now book club was started in the fall of 2011 by our patron Marty Miller.  This club has discussed some of the best classics including A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf, House of Mirth by Edith Wharton and The Handmaiden's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  

On Tuesday, May 1, 2012 six interested book club members met to discuss The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.  Ms. McCullers was a Southern Gothic writer born in Columbus, Georgia in 1917.  This debut novel is about a deaf man named John Singer and the people he encounters in a 1930s Georgia mill town. 

Carson McCullers
Carson McCullers was a contemporary of Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.  The group was astonished to learn that she was only 23 when this novel was published.  Ms. McCullers died at age 50 in 1967.  A movie adaptation was made in 1968 starring Alan Arkin. She is also the author of three other novels, some poetry, short stories and two plays.

The Classics Then and Now book club meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 1:00 p.m.  Members take turns leading and all participate willingly as this is a welcoming and friendly group.  The discussions are active and stimulating.
The selection for the June 5, 2012 meeting is The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.  Library patrons are most welcome to obtain a copy of the book at the front desk along with an author bio and "food for thought questions".  Come on in and join in the discussion!