Adult Book News
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2017
Remember! Celebrate! Act!
King’s Legacy of Peace with Justice for Our World.
Monday, January 16, is the day designated for the observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the day to commemorate his legacy of non-violent social change and commitment to equal rights and justice for all. Civic organizations, churches, and local governments across the country have programs, services, and other special events planned. Dr. Bernice King of the The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, announced the theme for this year’s commemoration: Remember! Celebrate! Act!: King’s Legacy of Peace with Justice for Our World. "This theme underscores Dr. King’s commitment not just to racial justice, but to nonviolence and world peace, and is especially poignant as we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” speech on April 4, 1967..."
Remember, Celebrate, and Act with books about the U.S. civil rights movement:
Author and columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. explores the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King's life and message in his latest novel, Grant Park, which tells the story of two journalists and alternates between the time periods of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 assassination and election day 2008. Grant Park begins in 1968, with Martin Luther King's final days in Memphis and then moves to the eve of the 2008 election. Disillusioned columnist Malcolm Toussaint, fueled by yet another report of unarmed black men killed by police, hacks into his newspaper's server to post an incendiary column that had been rejected by his editors. Toussaint then disappears, and his longtime editor, Bob Carson, is summarily fired within hours of the column's publication. As Carson tries to find Toussaint, both are forced to remember the choices they made as idealistic, impatient young men, when their lives were changed profoundly by their work in the civil rights movement.
Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas
Set in Pineyville, Mississippi during the three months of the "Freedom Summer" of 1964, the novel tells the story of a young black woman from the middle class in Detroit who comes south to help found a voter registration project. As the summer unfolds, she confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also deep truths about her family and herself. It "may well be the finest novel about the civil-rights era."(Daily Beast)
Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund
Stella Silver is an idealistic, young white college student who first witnesses the events of the freedom movement from a safe distance but, along with her friend Cat Cartwright, is soon drawn into the mounting conflagration. A student at a black college, Christine Taylor is inspired to action as she courageously struggles to balance her daily life with the passions and dangers of the demonstrations. Naslund brings to life this tumultuous time, weaving together the lives of blacks and whites, civil rights advocates and racists, and the events of peaceful protest and violent repression, to create a tapestry of American social transformation.
Our Man in the Dark by Rashad Harrison
Harrison's book is both a noir and an historical novel set during the months leading up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Feeling underappreciated and overlooked, John Estem, a bookkeeper for Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, steals $10,000 from the organization. Originally planning to use the money to seed a new civil rights initiative in Chicago, he carelessly squanders the stolen funds. To the bookkeeper's further dismay, the FBI has been keeping close tabs on Dr. King and his fellow activists--including Estem--for years, and solicits Estem as an informant.
We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg
It is the summer of 1964. In Tupelo, Mississippi tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently-and violently-across the state. But in Paige Dunn's life, there are more immediate concerns. Challenged by the polio she contracted during her pregnancy, Paige is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit - with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie. But when Peacie's boyfriend, LaRue, ventures down the perilous path of helping register black voters during this Freedom Summer and trouble follows him, the women face hate and adversity that will test their bond.
New Faves for February
The top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love
This 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 February:
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
When Zoe Walker sees her photo in an advertisement in a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it's there. There's no explanation, no website: just a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it's just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the ad shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that. She soon learns that other women whose pictures have appeared in these ads have been subjected to violent crimes and she contacts the police. Detective Kelly Smith, a disgraced but determined cop, helps her uncover the ad’s twisted purpose...a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target.
This is Mackintosh's second book; her suspenseful debut novel, I Let You Go, was released here in 2016 with strong reviews and was included in the May 2016 LibraryReads list.
Rabbit Tale Writer
Richard Adams (1920-2016)
Richard Adams, author of the bestseller Watership Down, passed away at the end of last year at the age of 96. A lifelong British civil servant, Adams did not publish a work of fiction until he was 50, although he created stories for his children for years before attempting to write his book. Watership Down follows the exploits of a group of young rabbits who flee their home when their warren is threatened by a housing project. Under the leadership of a young buck named Hazel, the band searches for a new place to settle and build a colony. During their journey they encounter many threats, not only from humans, machines, and dogs, but from another rabbit community led by the despotic General Woundwort. In order to establish their own warren, Hazel and his followers raid Woundwort's settlement, free the captive female rabbits there, and finally face off against the General's forces in an epic battle. The book was compared to Orwell's Animal Farm and to the fantasies of J. R. R. Tolkien, Jonathan Swift and A. A. Milne when it was published in 1972. The New York Times concluded that the book, "explored Homeric themes of exile, courage and survival... (in) a timeless allegory of freedom, ethics and human nature." Watership Down became a bestseller in the U.S. and was adapted as an animated film in 1978 and a theatrical production in 2006. Adams published several other books, including Shardik and Plague Dogs, which also had animals as protagonists.
2017 Michigan Notable Books
On Sunday, in the Detroit Free Press, The Library of Michigan revealed the list of the 2017 Michigan Notable Books - 20 books that highlight the diversity of Michigan's people, places, issues, and events. The books must have been published during the last year, and be about Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or authored by a Michigan writer. The books are chosen by a committee of librarians, reviewers, booksellers, and authors working with the Library of Michigan's Center for the Book, to showcase the best of our state's literary culture and to raise awareness of the quality of Michiagn authors. The list contains novels, short stories, history, poetry, memoirs, biographies, a book ahout Michigan design and architecture, and a travel book about the islands of the Great Lakes. ""The thing every year that amazes me is how many great books are published that in some way, shape or form have to do with Michigan, Michigan places, Michigan people," says Randy Riley of the Library of Michigan. (Detroit Free Press)
One of the novels, Wolf's Mouth by John Smolens, explores a slice of Michigan history that many people may not know. During World War II, the Upper Peninsula was the location of several prisoner of war camps housing captured German and Italian soldiers. The plot follows Italian officer Captain Francesco Verdi who is captured by Allied forces in North Africa in 1944 and shipped to a camp in the UP, where the senior POW, the ruthless Kommandant Vogel, enforces strict Nazi discipline. When he crosses Vogel, Verdi's life is threatened, and he must escape the camp. He meets a sympathetic American woman who helps him elude capture as they travel down state. By 1956 they have become Frank and Claire Green, a young married couple building a new life in postwar Detroit. When INS agent James Giannopoulos tracks them down, Frank learns that Vogel is executing men like Frank for their wartime transgressions. As a series of brutal murders rivets Detroit, Frank is caught between American justice and Nazi vengeance.
New Year, New Reads
Melissa Ragsdale, the "NYC-based writer, editor, and professional book nerd" and columnist at Bustle.com, has compiled a preview list of books due to be published in January that she promises will "shake things up in the New Year." As she explains," ...the literary world is really starting off 2017 with a bang. ...If these new releases are any indication, 2017 is going to be a great year for reading."
On her list:
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in the beautiful, austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as a last vestige of a lost counter-culture world. Isolated at home and an outlander at school, Linda is drawn to the young Gardner family who live across the lake and she finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. It seems that her life finally has purpose, but with this new sense of belonging she is also drawn into secrets she doesn't understand. Ragsdale calls this, "Fierce. Mesmerizing. Dazzling...(a) magnificent debut novel."
Selection Day by Arivand Adiga
This novel by Booker Prize winner Adiga (The White Tiger, 2008) follows two brothers in a Mumbai slum who are raised by their obsessive father to become cricket stars, and whose coming of age threatens their relationship, future, and sense of themselves. Filled with unforgettable characters from across India's social strata--the old scout everyone calls Tommy Sir; Anand Mehta, the big-dreaming investor; Sofia, a wealthy, beautiful girl and the boys' biggest fan--this book combines the best of The Art of Fielding and Slumdog Millionaire for a compulsive, moving story of adolescence and ambition, fathers, sons, and brothers. Per Ragsdale: "A great read, even if you're not a fan of cricket."
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy's to become the highest paid advertising woman in the country, but now it's the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. It's chilly enough out for her mink coat and Manhattan is grittier now, but the quick-tongued poetess has never been one to scare easily. On a walk that takes her over 10 miles around the city, she meets bartenders, bodega clerks, security guards, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be, while reviewing a life of excitement and adversity, passion and heartbreak, illuminating all the ways New York has changed--and has not. Comments Ragsdale, "This lovely novel has been compared to Dorothy Parker, and once you pick it up you'll want to soak it in forever."
New Year, New Challenge
The website POPSUGAR has issued the challenge: to expand and diversify your reading for the new year, try the list of 40 prompts guaranteed to help you find books you might otherwise overlook. As the site explains, "the reading challenge is made up of a variety of ideas to mix up your reading choices. ... Maybe you'll even discover a new favoirite book by trying something unexpected." The list is fun and fanciful, starting with a book recommended by a librarian, and including a book with a red spine, a steampunk novel, a book with a cat on the cover, a book set during wartime, a book set in a hotel, a book of letters, a book with multiple authors, a book set around a holiday other than Christmas, a book that is a story within a story, a book involving a mythical creature, and a book set in two different time periods. Check out the rest of the list here. You can also join the Goodreads group for people participating in the challenge and join the book discussions there. Consider challenging your book group or friends to complete the list - it's another great way to find that next great read.
Tales of Wonder
January 2 is National Science Fiction Day
Why January 2nd? It's the birthday of Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), the preeminent and prolific science fiction author and master of "hard science fiction." Best known for his Foundation and Robot (I, Robot) series, Asimov published over 500 books over his long career and won every science fiction award possible. Asimov's work influenced generations of science fiction writers and was instrumental in elevating the genre from the fringe of pulp magazines to the literary mainstream.
In honor of the day, why not try another of the canonical writers of American science fiction? Literary icon Ursula Le Guin, winner of scores of science fiction writing awards, one of the few women to be named Grandmaster of Science Fiction, and the recipient of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014, has issued a collection of her novellas this year: The Found and the Lost : the collected novellas of Ursula K. LeGuin. The volume contains 13 of Le Guin's novellas with an introduction by the author. "With this astonishing volume, Le Guin demonstrates that she is just as relevant and thought-provoking as ever. No former knowledge of her works is necessary to delve into this remarkable writing, just an open mind with a desire to be filled. Pair this with the reissued The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin, and the author's many admirers will be in heaven." (Library Journal)
You know my methods, Watson.
The long-awaited new season of Sherlock, the contemporary adaptation loosely based on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories, begins with the first of three episodes on Sunday January 1, on PBS. The last season ended with Watson's wedding, Mary's pregnancy, and Sherlock's seeming banishment from England. But is Moriarty still alive? As the show's press release puts it. "Season four begins with the mercurial Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), back once more on British soil as Doctor Watson (Martin Freeman) and his wife Mary (Amanda Abbington) prepare for their biggest challenge yet: becoming parents. ...Ghosts of the past are rising in the lives of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and terror and tragedy are looming. This is the story we’ve been telling from the beginning and it’s about to reach its climax.”
Want to do a deeper dive into Sherlockian lore?
Billed as the largest collection of Sherlockian tales ever assembled, this anthology contains 83 stories, pastiches, parodies, and mysteries, all based on the great tales by Arthur Conan Doyle. Published over a span of more than a hundred years, the selections feature pitch-perfect cases by acclaimed modern-day Sherlockians Leslie S. Klinger, Laurie R. King, Lyndsay Faye and Daniel Stashower; pastiches by literary luminaries both classic (P. G. Wodehouse, Dorothy B. Hughes, Kingsley Amis) and current (Anne Perry, Stephen King, Colin Dexter); and parodies by Conan Doyle's contemporaries A. A. Milne, James M. Barrie, and O. Henry, not to mention genre-bending cases by science-fiction greats Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock. "This is the only book of its kind to collect so many pastiches dedicated to Holmes, 83 total. Fans of the fictional detective will find great joy in this tome." (Library Journal)
Star Wars Princess
Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)
Actresss and author Carrie Fisher passed away Tuesday, December 27 after a heart attack late last week. Born in Hollywood to celebrity parents Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she was brought up in the entertainment industry, working on stage and in movies as a teenager. Best known (and loved) for portraying the competent and spirited Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, Fisher was also an accomplished screenwriter, author, and humorist. She published five novels, numerous screenplays, and several memoirs, all punctuated with her characteristic wit and irreverence. Her comic, semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards From the Edge, was adapted for film and starred Meryl Streep as the troubled daughter of a famous actress mother. Fisher's most recent book, a memoir, The Princess Diarist, was published this year with the juicy details of her experiences during the filming of the Star Wars movies. In her book Wishful Drinking, she suggested her own epitaph,"I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra," which was based on a discussion with George Lucas about why Princess Leia could not wear a bra in space (lack of gravity). The New York Times memorialized Fisher as "a Princess, a Rebel, and a Brave Comic Voice."
A Little Holiday Love
Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this festive fairy tale of New York. Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she's given an opportunity to decorate a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. The owner, bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade, is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife's death looming, he's isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn't appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings.. "Sexy, touching, and often hilarious,.." (Library Journal)