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2016 Hugo Awards Shortlist

hugoawardThe finalists for the other set of science fiction and fantasy awards for the best in the genre were announced on April 26. As the Hugos website explains,"The Hugo Awards, presented annually since 1955, are science fiction’s most prestigious award. The Hugo Awards are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”), which is also responsible for administering them." (The Nebula Awards are bestowed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.) The winners of this year's Hugos will be announced at MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention on August 20, 2016.


Best Novel Finalists:


(The Hugo Award Logo is a service mark of the World Science Fiction Society.)

Otherworldly Books


2015 Nebula Award Nominees Announced

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America recently announced the finalists for the 2015 Nebula Awards for science fiction and fantasy writing. Nominees are named in the best novel, novella, novelette, short story, dramatic presentation, and young adult categories, and the voting takes place throughout March. The winners will receive their prizes during the  SFWA Nebula Conference in May.


Nominees for Best Novel:

updraftRaising Caine, Charles E. Gannon
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu
Uprooted, Naomi Novik
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen
Updraft, Fran Wilde


(SFWA® and Nebula Awards® are registered trademarks of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.) 

Brown Bag Books Discussion Group

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

 Wednesday, April 27 @ noon   Final GMIR logo sml

stationelevenThe Brown Bag Books Discussion Group will meet to discuss this year's Great Michigan Read selection, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, tomorrow at the Library. All readers are welcome to share their thoughts about this best-selling novel set in northern Michigan in the near future after a flu pandemic has wiped out most of humanity. The Traveling Symphony, a troupe of Shakespearean actors and musicians, travel the shores of the Great Lakes performing for the small communities settled there. They operate under one credo: "Survival is insufficient."


The Great Michigan Read is presented by the Michigan Humanities Council, with support from Meijer and the National Endowment for the Humanities and a host of other sponsors.

 MHCportraitColor thumb            neh



Librarian Faves for May 2016

May 2016 LibraryReads List

The top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love

library reads logo websiteThis monthly list is created by librarians and library staff to help connect readers to new books and authors. An online community of librarians vote each month on their favorite new books and the results are tallied. "The list is a straightforward calculation: whichever ten books get the most nominations go onto the monthly list. The book with the most nominations becomes the #1 Pick. It’s as simple as that." The list is not meant to be a "best" list - just a list of collective favorites - books librarians loved and want to share.



#1 for May 2016:

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

brittmarieblog 195x300Britt-Marie can't stand mess and she is not one to judge others - no matter how ill-mannered, unkempt, or morally suspect they might be. When she finally walks out on her cheating husband and has to fend for herself in the miserable backwater town of Borg, she is more than a little unprepared. Employed as the caretaker of a soon-to-be demolished recreation center, the fastidious Britt-Marie has to cope with muddy floors and unruly children. She finds herself being drawn into the daily doings of her fellow citizens, an odd assortment of miscreants, drunkards, layabouts - and a handsome local policeman whose romantic attentions are as unmistakable as they are unwanted. Most alarming of all, she's given the impossible task of leading the supremely untalented children's soccer team to victory. It's a lot of ask of a socially awkward busybody, but Britt-Marie has hidden depths: more imagination, bigger dreams, and a warmer heart that anyone around her realizes. "Insightful and touching, this is a sweet and inspiring story about truth and transformation. Fans of Backman's (A Man Called Ove) will find another winner in these pages." (Publishers Weekly)


"He was not of an age, but for all time!" (Ben Jonson)

400th Anniversary of Shakespeare's Death       Shakespeare

William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616. Although it's been 400 years, he is as important to Western history and culture as ever. Most people have read, studied, or watched his plays; he introduced an estimated 3,000 words into the English language, and coined everyday phrases that we still use. His works have been translated into 80 languages, a fact that  demonstrates the universal influence and appeal of his genius. Shakespeare's plots and themes have been the basis for countless other works of art, books, plays, movies, and more.

Late last year, the publishing company Hogarth Press launched a several-book project enlisting contemporary writers to reimagine and update William Shakespeare's plays as novels. The first writer to be shylockapproached was Jeanette Winterson,, who chose to reinterpret
vinegargirlThe Winter's Tale, one of Shakespeare's lesser-known plays, as a modern novel called The Gap of Time. Man Booker Prize-winner Howard Jacobson released his updated reinterpretation of The Merchant of Venice as Shylock is My Name in February. Novelist Anne Tyler's retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, titled Vinegar Girl, will be published in June. Other all-star writers have also joined the project: Tracy Chevalier will adapt Othello; Margaret Atwood will rewrite The Tempest; Gillian Flynn is working on HamletJo Nesbo will recycle Macbeth; and Edward St. Aubyn will re-boot King Lear. Shakespeare's extraordinary legacy will never fade, as the Bard himself put it, "Death makes no conquest of this conqueror; For now he lives in fame, though not in life."


Literary Bicentenary

Charlotte Bronte's 200th Anniversary

charlotte bronteCharlotte Bronte, the renowned British author of Jane Eyre and other novels and poetry, was born 200 years ago on April 21, 1816 in Yorkshire, England.  She and her sisters, Emily and Anne, would become celebrated writers, publishing first under male names to obscure their gender and avoid controversy. Although at least for Charlotte's novel Jane Eyre, that strategy didn't quite work. As hard as it might be to believe now, with the book firmly established in the literary canon, Jane Eyre was considered controversial when first released. Jane is a strong female protagonist who speaks out against privilege and inequality, sexism, and the oppression of religion, and insists on living her life with self-respect and her own sense of morality. One of the book's early reviewers found it to be "an anti-Christian composition." Others found the writing "coarse" for its references to "animal passions" (read sex) and that "Jane Eyre is throughout the personification of the unregenerate and undisciplined spirit." (Quarterly Review). 

Join the birthday celebration, reconsider Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre - its more than 9th-grade required reading. Or sample some other fiction written in homage to Charlotte and Jane.

janesteeleJane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
"Reader, I murdered him." A reimagined Jane Eyre about a sensitive orphan, Jane Steele, who suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess. As Jane falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she marry him without revealing her own murderous past? "A must for Brontë devotees; wickedly entertaining for all." (Booklist)



readerimarriedReader I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre edited by Tracy Chevalier
Twenty of today's most celebrated women authors have spun original stories, using the opening line from Jane Eyre as a springboard for their own flights of imagination. Tracy Chevalier, Audrey Niffenegger, Elizabeth McCracken, Francine Prose, Tessa Hadley, Lionel Shriver, Jane Gardam, and more contributed to this collection of unique, inventive, and poignant stories in  homage to the literary genius of Charlotte Brontë, and demonstrate once again that her extraordinary vision continues to inspire readers and writers. "A clever idea well-executed; a treat for fans of short fiction and for Brontë’s many ardent fans." (Kirkus Reviews)




becomingjaneBecoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler
A beautifully imagined tale of the Bronte sisters and the writing of Jane Eyre. In 1846 at a  cold parsonage on the gloomy Yorkshire moors, a family seems cursed with disaster. A mother and two children dead. A father sick and bitter, without fortune. A son destroyed by alcohol and opiates. And three strong, intelligent young women, reduced to poverty and spinsterhood, with nothing to save them from their fate. Nothing, that is, except their remarkable literary talent. At the story's center is Charlotte and the connections between one of fiction's most indelible heroines and the remarkable woman who created her. "Kohler gives us a more multidimensional, passionate and temperamental Charlotte than most biographies." (Publishers Weekly)


secretadventuresThe Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte by Laura Joh Rowland
Upon learning that she has been falsely accused of plagiarism, the normally mild-mannered Charlotte Bronte sets off for London to clear her name. But when she unintentionally witnesses a murder, Charlotte finds herself embroiled in a dangerous chain of events that forces her to confront demons from her past. With the clandestine aid of the other Bronte sisters, Emily and Anne, and of the suspiciously well-informed but irresistibly attractive brother of the victim, Charlotte works to unravel a deadly web of intrigue that threatens not only her own safety but the very fabric of the British Empire. "Bronte fans will delight in Rowland's portrait of Charlotte, who closely parallels Jane both in personality and station....enchanting..." (Publishers Weekly)



2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

pulitzer2untitledThe Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Yesterday, April 18, 2016, the 100th class of Pulitzer Prize winners was announced; 2016 marks the centenary of the venerable prizes established by publisher Joseph Pulitzer through a bequest in his will. The first prizes honoring excellence in journalism and the arts were awarded in 1917 for work done in 1916.



This year's ficton winner, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, though not a widely popular choice, has been nominated for several literary prizes, was on several "Best" lists, and won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction in January. The plot invokes memories of the Vietnam War and tells the story of a South Vietnamese army captain with divided loyalties. He is brought up by a poor Vietnamese mother and an absent French father, attends a university in America, but then returns to Vietnam as a double agent for the Communist cause. The book has been variously described as a thriller, a mystery, a war story, an historical novel, and a political satire. The Library Journal review concluded: "Ultimately a meditation on war, political movements, America's imperialist role, the CIA, torture, loyalty, and one's personal identity, this is a powerful, thought-provoking work. It's hard to believe this effort, one of the best recent novels to cover the Vietnamese conflict from an Asian perspective, is a debut."



Books to Movies/TV - April 2016

Now (or soon) playing:

nightmanagerThe Night Manager by John Le Carre
Actors Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie star in this BBC-produced mini-series based on the 1993 novel by spymaster-in-chief John Le Carre, and scheduled to air in the U.S. on AMC on April 19. Le Carre's story follows Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier working as a Cairo hotel manager who is enlisted by the British and U.S. intelligence agencies to bring down the world's most powerful international arms dealer. Unfortunately, this means Pine must become a criminal himself. Two of Le Carre's numerous espionage tales, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People, were adapted for television years ago to great critical and commercial success and this project has already received rave reviews in England where it has already aired.


hologramkingA Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
In a rising Saudi Arabian city, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter's college tuition, and finally do something great. The film adaptation stars Tom Hanks as Alan Clay, a man fighting to hold himself and his splintering family together in the face of the global economy's relentless onslaught. He waits (and waits) for his chance to sell the country's elusive King on the idea of a revolutionary, new IT communications system involving holograms. While stuck in his desert limbo, he befriends the young Saudi man assigned to be his driver. The New York Times called Eggers' book, "a clear, supremely readable parable of America in the global economy that is haunting, beautifully shaped and sad." The film opens on April 22.


gameofthronesGame of Thrones, Season 6/A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Unless you've been exiled far beyond the Wall, you know that HBO's wildly popular adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy series returns to TV for a sixth season on Sunday, April 24. And, as you have probably heard, that the show's producers and writers have outpaced Martin's creative output, since there is no new book coming soon. Martin recently announced that the sixth installment of the series, The Winds of Winter, is not finished. So the TV series is in somewhat uncharted territory, as far as readers know. Will it really matter? The series has diverged from the books on several points and film adaptations of books are seldom absolutely faithful to the source material. Now readers and non-readers will be equally informed (or not) about the fate of Westeros.



2016 Women's Fiction Prize Shortlist

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction

baileysLaunched in 1996 and celebrating its 20th anniversary, (and originally known as the Orange Prize) this literary prize is awarded annually and celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. The winner receives a cheque for £30,000 (about $50,000) and a limited edition bronze sculpture known as a ‘Bessie’. On April 11, this year's shortlist of six titles was announced. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on June 8.

The List:                                             

Cynthia Bond:  Ruby

Anne Enright: The Green Road

Lisa McInerney: The Glorious Heresies

Elizabeth McKenzie: The Portable Veblen

Hannah Rothschild: The Improbability of Love

Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life


© 2014 BAILEYS Women's Prize for Fiction


Great Michigan Read

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel     Final GMIR logo sml

Plymouth patrons will once again join hundreds of communities across the state participating in the Great Michigan Read 2015 -16, the statewide one-book reading initiative sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council, by reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The Great Michigan Read aims to connect us as Michiganians by deepening our understanding of our state, our society, and our humanity.

stationelevenStation Eleven is the story of the Traveling Symphony, a troupe of Shakespearean actors and orchestral musicians traveling the shores of the Great Lakes in a post-apocalyptic Michigan. Striving to maintain their humanity in the altered landscape of a world where 99% of the population has been wiped out by a flu pandemic, the Traveling Symphony operates under one credo: “Survival is insufficient.”

                   Meet the Author:

We are delighted to host the Great Michigan Read author, Emily St. John Mandel,
EmilyStJohnMandelhere at the Library this spring. Join us as we welcome this award-winning novelist to Plymouth on Wednesday, May 18 at 1 pm when she will speak about her inspiration for Station Eleven and her experiences as a writer. Sign-up is requested at 734.453.0750, ext. 4 or online at

                       Read with us - Join the conversation:

Other activities at PDL will include two book discussions of Station Eleven:
Brown Bag Books will meet on Wednesday April 27 at noon, and the Contemporary Books Discussion Group will meet on Tuesday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. All are invited for lively conversations about this thought-provoking book. No registration is necessary to participate. Copies of the book will be available for check-out at the Library. Reader’s Guides will also be available.

Travel with us as we envision the new world of Station Eleven.


The Great Michigan Read is presented by the Michigan Humanities Council, with support from Meijer and the National Endowment fo hte Humanities and a host of other sponsors.


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