Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

December 8, 2014

My Story

My Story
by Smart, Elizabeth
364.154 SMA

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night to a man with a knife standing over your bed? He tells you not to say a word and leads you out of your house and into the mountains. Most of us are lucky enough to have never felt the terror of being kidnapped, so we really do not know how we would react. In 2002, the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping made national news. Televisions were filled with information about the kidnapping and search for Elizabeth. People questioned how this fourteen year old girl was taken from her house while her sister was sleeping feet away from her bed and her parents were right down the hall! Why had Elizabeth not screamed out to alert her parents? After Elizabeth’s return to her family in 2003 people questioned what had happened to her; why had she not tried harder to get away? Did she experience Stockholm syndrome or brain washed? People had given her the opportunity to speak out and tell them who she was, but she had remained silent.

In her book My Story, Elizabeth Smart gives readers the opportunity to experience her kidnapping and return home alongside of her. Readers are given insight into not only the fear and abuse Elizabeth experienced, but her strength to endure and survive. Elizabeth explains the guilt and shame she felt after her return and the determination she had to not let her captors win. My Story is an inspirational account of a girl who discovered her true strength after waking up one night to a nightmare.

My Story is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook and an audiobook on CD, and is on order in large print

            --Recommended by Elizabeth Williamson, InfoZone at the Children's Museum


November 28, 2014

The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America
by Roth, Philip

In today's Reader's Connection post, I recommend a  book about Franklin Roosevelt and World War II. Passages in that book, about Charles Lindbergh's pro-Nazi speeches, reminded me that Philip Roth had written a novel, ten years earlier, in which Lindbergh is elected President of the United States. Our country doesn't enter the war, and our Jews have a rough time of it.

The narrator, a fictional version of Philip Roth, is seven years old when Lindbergh is nominated. Roth's mom and dad are the book's heroes, and The Plot is, in its left-handed way, a companion volume to Roth's Patrimony, which was a funny, moving memoir about his father. I assume that some family members here--such as Aunt Evelyn, who proudly dances with Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop when that Holocaust-enabler is invited to the White House--were invented for this tale.

Alternative-history novels aren't a specialty of mine. Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, set after the U.S. loses WWII, is thought of as a classic; and I thought it was okay. But Roth's book is more heartful, more suspenseful--I cared much more while reading this novel.

Next Monday, December 1st, the Wayne Library is hosting a discussion of Melanie Benjamin's 2013 novel The Aviator's Wife, a fictional treatment of the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In The Plot Against America, Roth presents his own wacky/horrid theory as to why Lindbergh became the Nazi-tolerant figure that he did.

Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology


November 17, 2014

Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas
by Koontz, Dean

Odd Thomas lives a fairly simple life in Pico Mundo, California. He has a girlfriend, Stormy Llewellyn and works as a short order cook at Pico Mundo Grille but the weird thing about him is…he can see and talk to dead people, but the dead don’t talk back. Because only he can see them, he feels compelled to help solve their untimely deaths with the help of his girlfriend and the Chief of Police, Wyatt Porter.

Odd Thomas also sees halfman/halfdog like creatures he calls bodacks. They signify an upcoming death. So one night when he sees a swarm of those malevolent spirits crawling around a house he knows the family inside is probably going to die . . . unless he does something, fast . . . but what?

Odd Thomas is also available as a downloadable e-book and a downloadable audiobook.

                     --Recommended by Claudine Polley, Fountain Square Library


November 10, 2014

Coming Clean

Coming Clean
by Miller, Kimberly Rae
B Miller K.R. MIL

Kimberly Rae Miller’s youth was quite different from others. Imagine dodging Child Protective Services, a house fire, environmental hazards galore, being dropped off at the corner so your friends don’t see where you live. Why? Because her parents are hoarders. Coming Clean is her story of struggle, acceptance and love. Her honesty is quite revealing as she divulges her family secrets. Kimberly is conflicted: Should she rescue them when the family is forced to move? Is she willing to deal with their wrath if she throws out their “prized” possessions? How will friends and dates react when they find out what she has been hiding? Will she become a hoarder? This book tackles a difficult journey from a voice that is seldom heard, one that has lived it. Hoarding is a family affair. If you enjoy reading books about real people, realities of family secrets, and love that goes beyond all of the clutter, then this book is for you.

This title is also available as an audiobook on CD.

                     --Recommended by Mary L. Weimer, Warren Library


November 3, 2014

 A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings

A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings
by Barks, Coleman
891.5511 BAR

As I mentioned in a blog post last week, Coleman Barks is going to participate in this year's Spirit & Place Festival. Though unable to attend the event, I've been inspired to read this book of days.

366 poems, or fragments of poems, by the Sufi mystic. 2015 won't be a leap year, but a February 29th reading has been included, for years when it's necessary.

It's possible that reading a bit by the same poet, every day, even if he's "a planetary poet," will grow tiresome. I might begin to think, Oh this guy is sappy, working the same rooms all the time. That hasn't happened yet. The "planetary poet" description comes from Barks, who isn't a translator--he doesn't know Persian--but has helped to make Rumi popular with his reworkings of other English translations.    

Just back from Michigan, I fixed breakfast for one of my sons this morning, checked my work e-mail, and took a minute while munching raisin bran to read the November 3rd poem, "Ashes, Wanderers." The parts of me to whom advice was being offered thought the advice was pretty good.

                         --Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology