How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World By Steven Johnson. Who would imagine that glass and ice have been of prime importance, influencing the development of our everyday world in many different ways? Author Steven Johnson makes a fascinating case for the impact of seemingly simple innovations—things we take for granted now. This is a companion book to the 2014 PBS television special of the same name. DVDs of the program, as well as audiobooks, are also available through VALNet. I enjoyed the “ah-ha” moments and the utter readability of this non-fiction book. (Available in print and audio) –Dianne
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor. Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home. When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means? (Available in print and audio) –Dena
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? As good as anything I’ve ever read by her. Provides a lot of food for thought. (Available in Large Type, regular print, ebook, and digital audiobook) –Lisa P.
I have two picks this time – The Nix by Nathan Hill was deep and made me cry. BookRiot’s review sums it up for me, “The Nix is a sprawling, funny (and sad) story about the relationship between a college professor and his mother. Samuel hasn’t seen his radical hippie mother since he was a young boy, but when she shows up in his life, asking for help, he decides to give it to her. Helping her means revisiting both their pasts, and learning things about his mother and himself he never realized. If you love big, occasionally self-indulgent literary fiction (and I mean that in a good way), this is perfect for you!” (Available in print and digital audiobook.) My second pick is an audiobook that has a fantastic reader – the book is Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt and the reader is Simon Prebble. The book is like reading a Wes Anderson movie with great dialogue, hilarious names and Mr. Prebble’s voice talents are probably the best I’ve heard. The story is described as “A love story, an adventure story, a fable without a moral, and an ink-black comedy of manners.” (Available in print and digital audiobook.) –April
Cook It In Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes For The One Pan That Does It All by the editors at America's Test Kitchen. There’s nothing better than food cooked in cast iron. I’ve read it once and waiting for it again. (Available in print.) –Dixie
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This book has stayed with me since I read it several weeks ago – satisfying, eye-opening and poignant. It spans several generations of two African families, the descendants of two half-sisters separated by circumstances in 18th century Ghana, and continuing to the modern day. (Available in print, audio CD, ebook and digital audio.) My second pick is Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. A psychological thriller with a real kicker of an ending, this will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. It’s very good on audio; the readers are excellent. –Lisa C.
When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning. It is the story of how librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops during WWII in response to Hitler’s “war of ideas” that led to the burning of more than 100 million books in Germany, France, Poland and other occupied nations. Successful book drives by local librarians led to the American Library Association’s National Book Defense Campaign and a partnership with the U.S. Government and publishing companies. Millions of lightweight paperbacks called Armed Services Editions were distributed to America’s servicemen and women. It’s a wonderfully enlightening and inspiring telling of wartime history that I’d never heard before. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Megan Marshall writes: “If the pen is mightier than the sword, Manning definitively proves an army of books can go a long way toward winning a war and securing the peace.” (Available in Large Type and regular print.) –Claudia
A few titles I’ve enjoyed lately: Commonwealth by Anne Patchett (availvable in print, audio CD, ebook and digital audio); Be Frank With Me by Julia C. Johnson (available in print and audio CD); A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley (available in audio CD); and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - I agree with Lisa as this book has also stayed with me long after reading the last page. –MaryAnn
The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss by Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper – enlightening conversations between famous mother and son. Though Anderson Cooper has always considered himself close to his mother, his intensely busy career as a journalist for CNN and CBS affords him little time to spend with her. After she suffers a brief but serious illness at the age of ninety-one, they resolve to change their relationship by beginning a year-long conversation unlike any they had ever had before. The result is a correspondence of surprising honesty and depth in which they discuss their lives, the things that matter to them, and what they still want to learn about each other. (Available in print.) –Paula
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler. Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks. One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon's grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand. A gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic. (Available in Large Type, regular print, audio on CD, and digital audiobook.) –TJ
Everybody Reads 2017
by S.M Hulse
Read a description of the book.
S.M. Hulse will be visiting area libraries including Nezperce on Nov. 8.
See all dates here.
Staff Pick Archives