Summer’s Hottest Page Turners

Posted by SusanM on Wednesday, Aug 8, 2012 - 12:50 PM

summer readsEvery summer a book comes along that dominates the best seller list and seems to be in the hands of many beachgoers cooling off at the shore.  If you were to guess that this summer Fifty Shades of Grey and its’ sequels were the books that everyone was reading, you would probably be correct.    But the book that currently has the most requests at the Westport Library is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Judging by the press it has received, this psychological thriller has become the hot summer read in Westport and in many other places. Gone Girl seems to have appeared on everyone’s list of recommended summer reads and with good reason – it is that more

Read it this way...

Posted by on Sunday, May 27, 2012 - 3:39 PM


Did you read the Pulitzer award -winning 2010 novel  A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan ? Some high schools assigned it, during study of the post-modern novel. Egan a much- acclaimed fiction writer also has won awards for her frequent articles in the New York Times. Now, she has found a new way to carry forward the tradition of Charles Dickens and other serial fiction writers. Her latest story in The New Yorker is also available via Twitter. "Black Box" is appearing in ten nightly installments from 8-9 pm  @NYerFiction  To catch up on the short story. You may also leave a comment to enter the discussion about this latest fiction format.

Jarret Liotta is a Westport writer who self- published his humorous, satirical novel Space Case as an eBook. Liotta has varied writing experience, including journalism.  Space Case, about an alien and an unhappy human who find each other requires getting in the spirit of goofy fun and suspended disbelief. The characters are distinctly portrayed and the satire of everything from New Age practices to government bureaucracy to management seminars and more permeates the story. Jarret Liotta will be speaking at the Library on Wednesday June 6 at 7:30pm. Find out from him about the eBook publishing process and why it might be a good option. Liotta's blog.

Full disclosure: I am still very partial to the old-fashioned formats of books and magazines...held in my hands, read at my pace, redolent with connections, admired around my home & office, waiting to be visited and re-visited.

1966 & 2012

Posted by on Friday, Mar 23, 2012 - 5:58 PM

Are you a Mad Men fan?  What were you doing in the 1960s? The current Newsweek magazine is full of 60s nostalgia, including a quick comparison of best-selling books then and now.  Even the ads for contemporary goods and services are graphic reminders of the ads of fifty years ago. Fun!

At the top of the bestseller list in 1966 was the "non-fiction novel" In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Creating a sensation at the time, Capote reported a horrific crime as if it were a murder mystery. The book still provokes interest and discussion.

Remember the passion for Eric Berne's Games People Play ?  Why do "they"  do what they do? This question has been answered in countless ways by many authors  through the years. The latest "self-help" hit is Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

One of my all-time favorites topped the fiction list in 1966. The Source by James Michener is still my Michener-of-choice. One piece of land in the Middle East is excavated and each layer tells the story of its inhabitants from a different era.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacquelyn Susann was a guilty pleasure for many fiction readers  who were unaccustomed to admitting an interest in drugs and sex. Shocking then, not so noticeable now. Did you read about Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James? This British import of erotica (compared to porn by the New York Times) tops the Library most popular list this week.

Accolades were heaped on Bel Kaufman for her memoir of a new high-school teacher. Up the Down Staircase took adults inside the halls of their kids' school with authentic details. Today, the memoir is one of the most common types of books in a culture where it sometimes seems as if no detail of one's life is too insignificant for publication.  

Books do mirror our culture and provide a fascinating record of where we have been and where we are going.

Library loan giant

Posted by on Tuesday, Feb 7, 2012 - 11:31 AM

James Patterson ... “library loan giant.” 

In a recent study of the borrowing patterns in UK libraries, it was found that  all 10 of the most borrowed titles last year were gritty thrillers or mysteries, with US crime powerhouse James Patterson racking up an astonishing 2.3m loans.

Patterson's novels took up five spots in the top 10. I recall an earlier blog in which I pondered when this man slept … and I am still more

All the Best

Posted by SusanM on Thursday, Dec 15, 2011 - 1:48 PM

The NY Times has just issued its list of Notable Books of 2011, and just about every other publication that reviews books will soon be publishing their own best choices for the past year. When the library chooses books for its collection we rely on those reviews to aid us in our purchasing decisions.  Kirkus Book Reviews is one of the sources we always consult before ordering. Kirkus Reviews considers itself the world’s toughest book critic.  They have put together a comprehensive list of their top choices for 2011, and there are many excellent choices that are perfect for book clubs.  Here are a few to more

There's still time for a good novel.

Posted by on Thursday, Aug 25, 2011 - 4:19 PM

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is at the top of everyone's list right now. "A feminized version of Heart of Darkness," according to the Los Angeles Times, this examines the transformation of individuals when they are removed from their familiar surroundings and untethered from society. Set in the Amazon jungle, the characters face ghosts of the past as well as present dangers.  I have heard both praise and dislike for this unsettling story. Longtime favorites from the same author include Bel Canto and Run.

In Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan, three generations of women meet at the family's beachfront cottage. Each has her own emotional baggage and they interact in truly dysfunctional family ways - often funny and familiar to most readers. Witty dialogue and lively interaction create a compelling portrait of family values. Sullivan's first book  was Commencement.

Helen Schulman has written a powerful story about a good family in This Beautiful Life. A Manhattan family finds itself at the center of a scandal when an eighth-grader's sex tape is sent to their son. He sends it on, it goes viral... and life as they knew it, is over. About the fragility of self in a world where the boundaries of privacy are not clear, this portrait of modern life evokes questions about family, morality, and the choices we make.

With her usual humor and empathy, Jennifer Weiner looks at surrogacy and donorship in Then Came You. Interweaving the lives of four unforgettable women, this story is one of class and entitlement, the rights of parenthood and the measure of motherhood. Weiner is adept at building an intriguing narrative around a current issue. Other Weiner books.

Jennifer Haigh's latest is Faith, which fictionalizes the sex-abuse scandal of the Catholic Church. Told by the accused priest's sister, the story is nuanced and without certainty. The narrator imbues her story with her doubts and preconceptions, but also her loyalty and belief in her brother's innocence. Family secrets are gradually revealed. A thoughtful and intelligent novel.  Mrs Kimble was a PEN/Faualkner Award winner for Haigh, who also wrote Baker Towers and The Condition.

Getting the drop

Posted by on Friday, Aug 19, 2011 - 8:30 AM

drop coverThe seventeenth Harry Bosch mystery from Michael Connelly, The Drop, doesn’t come out until November and we already have 13 holds on it!

Bosch—who has aged in “real time” through the series—is now 60 and has been given three years before he must retire from the L.A.P.D.  He hungers for cases to devour. In one morning, he gets two.

He finds himself simultaneously investigating a killer who has been operating undetected for 30 years and a political conspiracy that has its origins in his police more


Posted by SusanM on Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011 - 4:23 PM

Today is August 10th and after weeks of watching sneak peeks of the movie trailer on TV, it’s time -The Help opens in theaters today.  Will it live up to the popularity of the book?  How will the filmed version compare?  If your book group read The Help, the story of African American maids working for white women in Mississippi during the 1960’s, now is the perfect time to get together and go see the more

I want to read that!

Posted by on Tuesday, Jun 28, 2011 - 11:32 AM

The calendar year is just about half over. Best books, so far?read more

The Misses Personality

Posted by on Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011 - 9:35 AM

James Patterson has had more New York Times bestsellers than any other writer, ever, according to Guinness World Records. Since his first novel won the Edgar Award in 1977, James Patterson's books have sold more than 205 million copies.

With three adult mystery series and two—sometimes three—stand-alone adult thrillers a year … not to mention several series for young readers …read more