Category Archives: Authors

Better late than never

Happy New Year everyone!

I recently discovered a mystery series that I am really enjoying–The Chief Inspector Gamache Novels by Louise Penny. Set in the Canadian province of Québec, the series centers on the work of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. But so far, in the first two books most of the story takes place in the small village of  Three Pines, an hour’s drive south of the city.

The first book in the series, Still Life, was published in 2005, and eight years later Penny has just published number eight in the series, The Beautiful Mystery. So I’m a bit late in discovering this series–but, better late than never.

Here’s a link to the author’s website if you want to find out more about this well-written, and award-winning series: www.louisepenny.com. You’ll find a list of the series titles, in order, as well as audiofiles of the author pronouncing the French words and character names found in the novels.

I’d recommend these novels to anyone who likes mysteries set in a small town, where the getting to know the various characters is just as important to the story as solving the crime. Similar titles would be the Deborah Knott series by Margaret Maron, or the Richard Jury series by Martha Grimes.

Here’s to good books and great reading in 2013,

Janice

 

 

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

Leave a Comment

Filed under Authors, Books

National Book Awards

Have you ever noticed this emblem on a book cover and wondered what it meant? The National Books Awards are handed out each year to titles in four categories: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, and Young people’s literature. To be eligable for the award, books must be written by U.S. authors and published in the United States. The awards are handed out by the National Book Foundation whose mission is “to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America.

This year’s finalists have been announced, here’s the list:
Junot Díaz, This is How You Lose Her
Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King
Louise Erdrich, The Round House
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds

When the 2012 award winners are announced later this month, we’ll post the results. In the meantime, and all five titles in the fiction category are available here at the library. If you read one of these five finalist, post a comment and let us know what you think.

 

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Books

Listen to a play

Here’s something new and different: you can listen to a live play.  This sound recording features an all-star cast — George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, to name just a few — and was directed by Rob Reiner.

Now that I have your attention, the name of the play is “8,” and it was written by Dustin Black.  It recreates the 2010 federal trial challenging California’s Proposition 8.

Look for it with our new audiobooks, and enjoy.

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

Leave a Comment

Filed under Art, Audiobooks, Authors, New Books

Privacy and reading

Privacy is a hot topic these days.  There’s much ado and furor, but not a lot of clarity.  And now, even what you read is being tracked!

Your e-Book is Reading You details how the Amazon, Nook, Kobo and other e-readers are reaping huge amounts of data from their customers.  It’s starting to ask a question publishers and authors have long hypothesized about:  what do readers want?

Now these companies are able to tell who is reading what, and how fast they read it.  They can tell if you’ve finished the book, or dropped it.  If you highlight, annotate, make notes, or bookmark,’ they can even tell what quotes you wanted to remember or what pages caught your attention.

Some of these numbers are fun.  Average speed of reading George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons?  About 50 pages an hour.   But there is a concern that learning the exact tastes and habits of e-readers will start to impact what writers write and publishers publish.

Not to brag or anything, but contrast this controversial data collecting with libraries.  Once you’ve turned in a book, we don’t keep records on what you’ve checked out.  This protects your privacy against anyone who comes to the library wanting that data.  Some people want us to keep those records — “I don’t remember if I read that or not!” — and that’s actually a feature we intend to incorporate in the future.  But we want that to be your decision, not ours.

What do you think?  Do you want your consumer habits to be private, and if so, why do you care?

P.S.  Same thing with Netflix!  Click here to read what’s happening there.

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

Leave a Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Intellectual freedom, Internet

You’re invited to a party

The Library of Congress is having a party, and we’re all invited.  It’s called “Celebration of the Book,” and it’s going to last for a couple of years.  The party just got started with an exhibition called “Books That Shaped America,” which, being in Washington D.C., is not all that interesting to us.

BUT here’s how we can participate.  “This list of ‘Books That Shaped America’ is a starting point. It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books–although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “We hope people will view the list and then nominate other titles. Finally, we hope people will choose to read and discuss some of the books on this list, reflecting our nation’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage, which the Library of Congress makes available to the world.”

It’s a fun list to look at and ponder.  How did The Legend of Sleepy Hollow shape America?  How about Our Bodies, Ourselves?  Take a look and tell us: what books would you add or subtract to the list?  Don’t forget to tell the Library of Congress, too, by taking their survey.

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

Leave a Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Celebrations & holidays, Libraries, Reading

Honoring the authors

One of my favorite parts about being a reader is revering some of the people who feed my habit. Authors.  People who create whole worlds, write characters I come to know and love, use words to help me think different thoughts, and help me experience more of the world vicariously than I’ll ever touch or taste physically.

I’ll never meet most of them (which helps with the revering part), and yet they matter to me.  I like knowing they’re out there, thinking and feeling and struggling to write it all down.  So I mark the passing of Ray Bradbury, one of the masters of American science fiction and a strong, lifelong advocate of libraries and civil rights. 

Here’s a beautiful eulogy for him, by NPR’s Peter Sagal.  

—Mary Beth

 

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

Leave a Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Reading

On stories

It’s often said that we humans are a “story people.”  One of the best story people I know is Ken Burns, the revered American filmmaker.  Watch a five-minute snapshot of some of his thoughts on how essential storytelling is for us.

“We have to keep the wolf from the door… We tell stories to continue ourselves. We all think an exception is going to be made in our case, and we’re going to live forever. And being a human is actually arriving at the understanding that that’s not going to be.  Story is there to just remind us that it’s just… okay.”

 

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

Leave a Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Reading

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  I remember it as the first book that blew my socks off, that engaged me on several different levels.  It felt like an important book, a book about the ways things really were, wrapped in a great story.  I carry a fierce affection for it, and a reverence for the woman who created that world, to this day.  L’Engle became one of my favorite authors, and I found books by her to accompany every stage of life, from kid’s books through theology and poetry.

What makes a book beloved?  There are some terrific books that come out, get enjoyed, and sort of fade, whereas other books become part of the canon that ‘everyone’ reads as they grow up. 

As this NPR story relates, it just about didn’t get published at all, because it was uncomfortably different for a children’s book at the time.  It’s a complex, philosophical (some people say religious) science fiction novel with a female protagonist.  People just didn’t know what to make of it… except for children, who read it and loved it. 

Today there are over 10,000,000 copies in print (I still have mine, the cover on the lower left, which I always thought was kind of ugly).  L’Engle continued the story over four other books, called “The Time Quintet.”  It won the Newberry Award and many others.  Rebecca Stead wrote an homage to it called When You Reach Me, which also won a 2010 Newberry award.

What books hold that magical attraction for you?

—Mary Beth

 

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

Leave a Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Reading

Must-see video

There are two things I want you to know about this piece of video.

1.  You’ve just got to watch it: great American writer Ann Patchett on the Colbert Report.  TWICE she has him speechless.  It’s hysterical.  She takes him out at the knees.

2.  Her point is wonderful: the resurgence, and need for, independent bookstores in our country.  They only miss one little crucial reality:  libraries.  You’ll see what I mean.

So watch and enjoy… just be sure and shout at the screen at that moment of complete library obliviousness on both their parts.  Stand up for libraries.  Shake your fist.  Then go to an independent bookstore and buy an Ann Patchett book.  😉

—Mary Beth

P.S.  Oh, what’s that you say?  We don’t have an independent bookstore in Skagit County?  Well, here’s how to fix that.

P.S.S.  What’s she written?  Oh my goodness: Bel Canto.  State of Wonder.  Run.  You’ve got a treat in store…

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

Leave a Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Reading

A big loss for the writing world

Anne McCaffrey died yesterday.  She was 85.

She started publishing books in 1967, and wrote more than 100, across every age group, and across nine series.  One of the first popular woman science fiction writers, she was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2005.  She was the first woman to win a Hugo Award, the first woman to win a Nebula Award, and the first science fiction writer to make the New York Times Best Seller List.

Pretty impressive facts.  But I can speak from the place of a life-long fan.  McCaffrey has been a magic name for my reading pleasure ever since I can remember.  Oh, some of her worlds weren’t my cup of tea, and the quality of writing varied.  But each book took me to a familiar place that I love, peopled with characters I care about, who share many of my values.  The richness of her imagination built whole worlds that I love to play in.  (Also, a little steamy romance never hurts.)

Tonight in the library, a teenaged girl told me she wanted to read harder books than she has been.  But good books.  I put a few teen McCaffrey books in the pile for her to consider.  Anne deserves a new fan.

   —Mary Beth

 

 

Facebooktwitterpinterestmail
rss

Leave a Comment

Filed under Authors, Books, Reading