Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Diverse Fiction

Looking to try something new? These books feature strong female characters and diverse situations. Head over to our Reader's Corner for more Feminist Fiction.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This is a story about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. However, when Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family's island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava's mother, the park's indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined story that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Reads

Need a quick read to get you into the holiday spirit? Try one of these!

A Quilter's Holiday by Jennifer Chiaverini
In this Elm Street Quilters book, the quilting season kicks off the day after Thanksgiving. All the members gather to start making their holiday handicraft gifts for their loved ones. Master Quilter Sylvia invites her friends to sew quilt blocks to represent what they are thankful for. Each quilter shares her stories of gratitude. A popular series from a well-love author, this may be just the ticket for you!

Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier
A cozy mystery featuring the favorite amateur sleuth Lucy Stone. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the part-time journalist covers a town meeting in which the town officials decide on whether or not to support the local Native American tribe's petition for recognition from the federal government, thereby moving forward plans to build a casino. When the casino land owner is later found dead, Lucy is on the case! A series continuation that will prove entertaining during a lazy moment over the holiday.

The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne
A pair of mostly estranged sisters make plans to celebrate Thanksgiving together at older sister Frances' New England home. Family drama from the past remains hovering over the two parts of the family as they gather, and the tension comes close to a breaking point over the behavior of the sisters' impaired father. Not the most light-hearted choice, but for readers looking for a bit more gravity, this may be a solid selection.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Cozy Mysteries

Cozy mysteries are an ever popular bunch. Is it the titular puns? Is it that they are a "fun read" that still works your mind? In any case, a multitude of cozy mysteries are published each month, and our library system continues to collect books from many different cozy mystery series. Check these out!

For more information on cozy mysteries or to feed your addiction, take a look at this website!

Darned If You Do (A Needlecraft Mystery #18) by Monica Ferris. Betsy and the Crewel World Monday Bunch set out to solve the mystery of a man murdered in his hospital bed.

A Fatal Chapter (Booktown Mystery #9) by Lorna Barrett. When the president of the local historical society dies of suspicious causes, Tricia becomes determined to get to the bottom of why someone would want to kill him.

Peaches and Scream (Georgia Peach Mystery #1) by Susan Furlong. In the first Georgia Peach Mystery, Nola Harper must uncover why a businessman was murdered on her family's struggling peach farm.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Poolside Reads

Summer is the time to look for great poolside reads! Check out some of these books to keep you entertained in the heat!

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. It all started the previous summer, when the two men and their families vacationed together at Meier's extravagant Mediterranean home. The ideal vacation soon turned tragic, and the circumstances surrounding Ralph's later death begin to reveal the truth of what really happened that summer.

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan. Polly Waterford comes to Cornwall to nurse a broken heart. Throwing herself into her favorite hobby with a passion, she's soon running a successful bakery. As Polly develops her baking skills, she realizes that sometimes bread really is life...and Polly is about to reclaim hers. Oh, and let's not forget the handsome local beekeeper.

Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews. Greer Hennessy is a movie location scout who was blamed for a mishap on set. Now to redeem herself, she's tasked with finding the perfect beach town for a major blockbuster. Her search brings her to the perfect beachfront Florida town. However, her efforts are obstructed by Eben Thinadeaux, the town's mayor and an avid environmentalist who refuses to let an industry take advantage of his home.

Stop by the library to check out other awesome summer books!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Escape the Ordinary: Superhero Books!

Our adult summer reading program, Escape the Ordinary, is underway. While you can read any type of book you would like to complete the program, here are some on-theme recommendations!

Vicious by V. E. Schwab.  Ten years ago, Victor and Eli were college roommates researching EOs – those with ExtraOrdinary powers, and attempting to create such powers for themselves. Now Victor has just broken out of prison, and the two men will stop at nothing to eliminate each other. But which one of them is the hero, and which is the villain?

After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn.  Celia West is the only daughter of Commerce City’s most famous superheroes. With no powers herself, she has been a kidnapping target of every wannabe supervillain in town since she was a teenager. She has tried to build a quiet life for herself outside with limited contact with her parents, but when their arch nemesis, the Destructor, is put on trial, Celia is forced back into the world of superheroes and villains.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by MichaelChabon.  If you want to keep with the theme this summer, but would rather read historical fiction than fantasy or science fiction, this Pulitzer-winner from 2001 is for you! No one in this novel actually has superpowers – instead it is the story of Jewish cousins who create the comic book hero the Escapist during World War II.  This exquisitely written book is by turns both laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreakingly sad.

Do you have a favorite superhero novel?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Memorial Day Reads

Did you know Memorial Day was started by the former Confederate States after the Civil War? It was a day set aside to decorate the graves of soldiers who had died serving their country. Each state picked their own day to honor the dead, but now it has become a federal holiday, always on the last Monday of May. We at the Bartow Library have compiled a list of books that tell soldiers' stories (under Military Reads), and you might want to check one out for the long weekend. Here are a few selections.

Redeployment by Phil Klay. This recent publication got a lot of buzz last year, and was up for numerous awards. It tells a few different stories of soldiers returning home from the horrors of war, and how they cope with the trials they experienced and how those episodes affect them now. Many are already calling it a classic in the war stories genre.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. Published a few years ago, this satire focuses on the surviving members of Bravo Squad and become celebrated heroes going on a victory media tour to drum up support for the war in Iraq, meeting the Dallas Cowboys during one stop. We follow Billy Lynn as he struggles to cope with the loss of his fellow soldiers and the fame the rest of them got. Is being released as a film featuring Vin Diesel next year.

From Here to Eternity by James Jones. The title is probably more well-known as the name of an Academy Award-winning film starring Frank Sinatra, but the book came first! This book follows the lives of a few soldiers stationed in Hawaii leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor as they navigate their careers and love lives, and is a heralded exploration of military life. Regarded as one of the best books of the 20th century.

Thank a soldier this weekend!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Read Harder Challenge: Microhistory

Are you committed to reading harder this year? We're getting closer to the halfway point (how crazy is that?), so there's still time to join in and try out some different genres to change up your reading. In an effort to help you find some good new reads, today we're giving you some microhistory suggestions!

What is a microhistory? They're like a really in-depth look at one event, or community, or family and how to relates to history as a whole. You'll find that authors and researchers have published on some crazy specific topics, and you've probably already read one or two without calling it a microhistory! Here's some of our current favorites:

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. Consider this a preview of our Adult Summer Reading Club starting May 22nd. I did not grow up reading comic books, but I did watch the Wonder Woman TV show on reruns. This is a FABULOUS and FUN look at the creators of Wonder Woman, how she developed, public reaction to the character, and LOADS of other historical influences that contributed to the character of Wonder Woman. Great read not only for comic book fans, but also those interested in the history feminism, psychology, cinema, and politics. A little something for everyone!

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. Larson is a well-respected historian and writer, and his latest is one of his best. One of the most famous maritime disasters of the 20th century is recounted here is great detail, and gives you a rich background in early 20th century warfare, submarines, class structure, immigration stories, and how this event related to other disasters of the time. It's a chilling read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The trivia alone about how some passengers had missed the Titanic but ended up on the Lusitania will be rewarding enough!

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. Are you into medical procedurals? Do you like Abby Sciuto from NCIS? Are you not that squeamish? You should try this book! Part memoir, part guidebook, Doughty goes into great detail of how she became a mortician, and includes loads of stories on caring for the dead. The book has made quite a sensation since it got published, and the author recently signed on for more books, and the book has been optioned for a TV show. Get on the bandwagon now!

Stop by the Reference Desk and let us know what you're reading! We'd love to hear about it!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Great Gatsby Readalikes

This Thursday, April 30th at 6pm, we'll be hosting a book and film discussion on The Great Gatsby, the classic 1920s novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Read (or reread!) the book, watch one of the many adaptations (or all the available ones, if you can manage), and sit in on the discussion. But what should you read after Gatsby? I've got a few suggestions.

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Really, read anything by F. Scott, but this was the novel he published a few years after Gatsby. Based on the Fitzgeralds' experiences as ex-pats in France, this follows a rich and flashy couple in the Riviera and details the wife's history of mental health with a husband who started out as her doctor. Quite autobiographical, as many of F. Scott's books were.

West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan. This recent fiction release chronicles life for F. Scott Fitzgerald after fame had mostly passed him by, and he found himself in Hollywood, desperately trying to make money and regain name-recognition for himself with a daughter nearly grown and a wife in a mental institution.

Gatsby's Girl by Caroline Preston. A fictionalized account of the woman who rejected F. Scott in their youth, and became the basis for some of his female characters, most famously Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. It looks at what she might have thought and experienced as a former flame rises to literary stardom with a book featuring a part of their shared love story.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Cleaning!

Interested in getting rid of stuff and getting organized? Need a little guidance with where to start and how to do it? The library has some books that might help you!

It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh. From TLC's Clean Sweep, an expert organizer tells you what's what.

Secrets of an Organized Mom by Barbara Reich. Mom knows best. And when Mama's happy, everybody's happy, right?

Christopher Lowell's Seven Layers of Organization: Unclutter Your Home, Unclutter Your Life by Christopher Lowell. A well-regarded interior decorator lays out his expertise for a beautifully organized home.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. A classic for those in business, the tips given also translate to other areas of life.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The new best-selling classic that has folks everywhere unloading their clutter!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Civil War Reads

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War. Agencies and organizations across the US have been commemorating this great and tragic event in American history the past four years, and one of your Bartow Librarians just happens to be a big Civil War buff, and would love to share some of her favorites:

The March by E.L. Doctorow. A new Civil War masterpiece, in my opinion. It follows Sherman's March to the Sea through the viewpoints of different characters affected by Sherman and traces their real-life struggles in this new post-war world. A really fascinating read for those who like a good fictional approach to learning about historical time periods.

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz. A must-read for anyone interested in the Civil War as a topic of any kind. Horwitz is a journalist who decides to look into how the South has continued to react and respond to the Civil War and issues stemming from the conflict. Each chapter is a different story, introducing the reader to reenactors, white supremacists, Sons of the Confederacy, inner-city high school teachers, and other Civil War enthusiasts. Excellent resource for those looking at the Civil War at a different angle.

Ruth's Journey by Donald McCaig. For those of you who REALLY LIKE Gone with the Wind, here's the latest in the "series" - an authorized prequel that focuses on Ruth, Scarlet's mammy, and Scarlet's maternal ancestors. Though not as much of Mammy's story as I would have liked, it's still an engaging read bringing in secessionist politics, slave uprisings, and some love stories only hinted at in Margaret Mitchell's original. Maybe not essential reading, but certainly a fun story for a weekend trip.

We do have a Civil War Besides Gone with the Wind reading list as another resource, available online and as a bookmark at your Cartersville branch library. Or stop by and ask us for recommendations!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Read Harder Challenge: Translated Books

When was the last time you read a book that was originally published in another language? Part of the Read Harder Challenge is to give one a try!

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan. This book made quite the splash when it was published in English from the original French in 1955, not only for the content - a story of a teenage girl exploring her feminine wiles and interjecting herself into her father's love life - but also because the author herself was only eighteen when her book was published. A short read, reminiscent of Fitzgerald's Lost Generation of the 20s mixed with themes of the burgeoning Beat movement of the 50s, seemed very exotic to American readers at the time. If you're interested in reading something scandalous from half a century ago, this might be one to try.

Palace Walk by Naguib Maufouz. Another title published in English from the 1950s, but this one set around the time of World War I in Egypt. The story focuses on the Egyptian Arabic family the Ahmads, run by a controlling patriarch who more or less terrifies his family into obeying him. The novel rotates between the stories of the father, mother, sons, and daughters of the family, all with their own motivations and desires, while the Egyptian Revolution is taking place. An engrossing look at religion, politics, family life, and gender roles in a time period you might not be as familiar with.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. A more recent title, this one set in Paris and focuses on a cantankerous apartment concierge who observes the tenants of her building closely without them noticing her, and a twelve-year-old genius who decides she's going to kill herself on her thirteenth birthday. Lots of intellectual thought, and a read that will give you pause throughout.

And here are a few more suggestions from the Book Riot staff:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Last month Oprah announced the latest pick for her book club, Ruby by Cynthia Bond. It's the story of Ruby, a woman from a small Texas town who suffered considerably as a child and fled her hometown for the bright lights on New York City, only to return later and struggle with her sanity. We follow one of her childhood friends as he tries to reach out to her. It's a story that grabs you and won't let you go until you've finished it. Racism and religion are central themes to the book, and though it might make the book difficult to read at times, you'll want to follow through with these characters and find out what happens to them. It's been compared to Toni Morrison, and I heard one reviewer say it's like the spiritual sequel Morrison's Beloved.

We've got it in print, as an audiobook, and as an ebook! Join Oprah and other legions of readers with this captivating story.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Read Harder Challenge: Sci-Fi Novels

I'm a big fan of the Book Riot website - fun people talking about books and bookish things is ALWAYS something I will support. At the end of last year they put out their Read Harder Challenge for 2015, and we put some bookmarks out talking about it. Basically you can use it as an excuse to try reading some different genres, or books you wouldn't normally pick up. Expand your horizons! I've spent most of my life thinking I wasn't interested in reading science fiction, and have discovered more recently that I do actually really like it! A Sci-Fi novel is one of the challenges, and if you think you're not much of a sci-fi person, maybe try one of these that I liked!

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - Don't think much description is needed here. HUGE fan of the movie, and HUGE fan of the book! Usually folks get into debates about if the movie or the book was better, but I'm of the opinion both stand equally. Crichton gives additional background in the beginning of the book you don't get in the movie, and it is super creepy and worth the read on its own. With the new sequel coming out soon, maybe you should beat your friends to the punch and give this one a read before everyone else does.

The Martian by Andy Weir - This is also being made into a movie with Matt Damon, and I am greatly looking forward to it. You wouldn't necessarily think a story about an astronaut being marooned on Mars would make you laugh as much as this one did. Our intrepid hero is basically MacGyver in space, and keeps his sanity and your interest with his humorous observations. Does NASA know he's alive? Will they be able to rescue him? Will he survive long enough to see a rescue? You will be hooked to find out!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - If you come by the library and ask me for a good, edge-of-your-seat read, this is the one I'll suggest. It made numerous "best of" lists for 2014, the movie right were just bought, and the book world is still buzzing about this book. A famous actor has a heart attack on stage the same night a pandemic flu begins to spread that eventually wipes out most of humanity. You follow the stories of people who were connected to the famous actor, and see what became of them immediately after, 20 years later, and even their lives before the flu. It's beautifully written, a compelling story, and you might want to set aside a weekend to read it, because once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down!

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Let us know of other great sci-fi reads to try!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month with us at the Bartow County Library System! We have a list up in our Reader's Corner of books to read after watching the film Selma as one way to go if you want to focus on non-fiction. But if you want to try some fiction titles, here are a few to try:

Kindred by Octavia Butler. This is a science fiction novel that takes the main character back and forth between 1970s California and the Old South. She doesn't exactly know why, but she is drawn to the slave-holding family again and again. A staple in the scifi genre. 

Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange. A hefty but deliciously well-written epic of a novel that follows a family from their time at a plantation at the time of the Civil War through to modern day. 

Sag Harbor by Whitehead Colson. A privileged teen finds escape in his family's summer retreat in the mid-1980s as he goes through usual teenage-mishaps and starts to form his identity.

Let us know your favorites!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Nick Hornby's Funny Girl

Well, we seem to have settled into the new year. I think I'm used to writing "2015" on things now, anyway. How are your new year's resolutions coming along? Have you registered for winter reading yet? (You really should, you know.)

So far this January I'm off to a slow reading start. But I will tell you that I just read an advanced reader copy of Nick Hornby's new book Funny Girl, coming out next month. I LOVED it!! The main character is a young British woman in the 1960s who wants to be like her idol Lucille Ball, and takes herself to London to achieve her dream. Hornby is one of my favorite authors, because his writing is so humorous and his characters are so quirky and real. Funny Girl gives you not only an entertaining story, but glimpses of life in transitioning 1960s British pop culture, BBC politics, and British comedy in general. It's on order at the library, so be sure to put your name on the hold list when it comes in!

In the meantime, if you're like me and you really like British comedy, why not read something by one of the greats? John Cleese recently published a memoir, So, Anyway..., and we have it on ebook for you to check out! Or maybe watch Peter Sellers at his comedic best in Dr. Strangelove, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Or, perhaps you'd rather read a little Hornby while you wait. His book High Fidelity is a modern classic, and was then turned into a lovely film starring John Cusack. If you love music, and are currently in or have been in a quarter-life (or even mid-life!) crisis, it's definitely worth picking up. Or, if you're into more dark, absurdist-like humor, his book A Long Way Down (recently released as a feature film starring Pierce Brosnan) is a story of four people who decide not to commit suicide and instead form a weird friendship together.

Or maybe you just wanna read up on Lucille Ball. What a character.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Serial Read-Alikes

Serial is a true crime podcast that investigates the 1999 Baltimore murder of Hae Min Lee. Creator Sarah Koenig unfolds new pieces of the story in a weekly serialized narrative. The podcast has acquired many fans over the last few months. Unfortnately, this season and story has come to an end. If you are lamenting the end of season 1, or are just a true crime fan, try these other chillingly true stories.

The Devil in the White City intertwines the stories of Daniel H. Burnham, the architect of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and H. H. Holmes, who used the cover of his hotel to lure victims. Or read about registered nurse Charlie Cullen in The Good Nurse, who used his profession to carry out his murderous intentions in nine hospitals. For a true crime classic, try Ann Rule's The Stranger Beside Me. She tells the story of Ted Bundy, a man with whom she was friends and coworkers before he was a known serial killer. For more suggestions come in to the Cartersville Public Library to see our Serial read-alikes display and bookmark. Ask our Readers Advisory twitter @BartowLibRA for more recommendations! Let's talk about books!