Five Book Friday!

The holiday season is approaching with remorseless resolve, dear readers.  If this is a time that makes your heart flutter, then we wish you heaping helpings of good cheer!  If you’d rather hide in a blanket fort until it’s all over, that’s perfectly alright, too.  We wish you warmth and good books, no matter the time or circumstances.

Your obligatory cornucopia picture, hooray!

But do please remember that the Library (the Main Library and Branches) will be observing our Thanksgiving Hours in the coming week:

Wednesday, November 22:    Close at 5 pm

Thursday, November 23:        Closed

Friday, November 24:             Closed

The main library and branches resume regular hours on Saturday, November 25.

So if you’re planning on stocking up on books, cds, or dvds for the long Thanksgiving Break, then make sure to check our hours and hurry in!  Here are just a few of the new books that shuffled their way onto our shelves this week and are eager to share your Thanksgiving plans with you!

ArtemisFans of Weir’s are no doubt already eagerly anticipating for this sci-fi-noir-thriller, but for those of you still on the fence, consider there–a number of outlets are claiming that this book is even better than Weir’s bestselling The Martian.  Set on on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, Weir tells the tale of Jazz, a criminal.  Well, maybe.  Life on Artemis is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay, and your job as a porter barely covers the rent. Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.  This novel is getting starred reviews all over the place, with Booklist declaring it “An exciting, whip-smart, funny thrill-ride…one of the best science fiction novels of the year.”

Promise Me, Dad: When Vice-President joe Biden’s son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, he demanded one thing from his father: “Promise me, Dad,” Beau had told his father. “Give me your word that no matter what happens, you’re going to be all right.” Joe Biden gave him his word.  This book is the chronicle of the year that followed, which would be the most momentous and challenging in Joe Biden’s extraordinary life and career. Vice President Biden traveled more than a hundred thousand miles that year, across the world, dealing with crises in Ukraine, Central America, and Iraq.  For twelve months, while Beau fought for and then lost his life, the vice president balanced the twin imperatives of living up to his responsibilities to his country and his responsibilities to his family, all while directly in the public spotlight. This is a book written not just by the vice president, but by a father, grandfather, friend, and husband, and tells a story of how family and friendships sustain us and how hope, purpose, and action can guide us through the pain of personal loss into the light of a new future.  This is not an easy read, or a trite bit of preachiness.  Biden’s heart-wrenching honesty about the loss of his son is deeply memorable, and his struggle to carry on is both aching and inspiration.  As The New York Times observed, “The book is a backstage drama, honest, raw and rich in detail. People who have lost someone will genuinely take comfort from what he has to say…These flashes of vulnerability are part of what makes Promise Me, Dad memorable; so, too, are the small, tender interactions between Biden and his dying son.”

Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World: In 2015, Noah Strycker set himself a lofty goal: to become the first person to see half the world’s birds in one year. For 365 days, with a backpack, binoculars, and a series of one-way tickets, he traveled across forty-one countries and all seven continents, eventually spotting 6,042 species—by far the biggest birding year on record.  This is no travelogue or glorified checklist. Noah ventures deep into a world of blood-sucking leeches, chronic sleep deprivation, airline snafus, breakdowns, mudslides, floods, war zones, ecologic devastation, conservation triumphs, common and iconic species, and scores of passionate bird lovers around the globe. By pursuing the freest creatures on the planet, Noah gains a unique perspective on the world they share with us—and offers a hopeful message that even as many birds face an uncertain future, more people than ever are working to protect them.  A book for bird-lovers, wanderlust readers, and armchair adventurers alike, this is a book that earned a starred review from Kirkus, who raved, “Strycker’s description of a year ‘expanded to its maximum potential’ will inspire readers to explore the world, ‘from the tiniest detail to the biggest panorama.’ . . . Colorful but unassuming—and unexpected—lessons for living life fully, presented from a birder’s-eye view.”

Mrs. OsmondAre you a fan of Henry James?  What about his novel The Portrait of a Lady?  Well, if you loved it, or you think James’ bizarre and hostile misogyny pokes through one too many times, John Banville has arrived to give us the further adventures of the Isabel Archer, the young a vibrant American who traveled to Europe to find herself, became an heiress, and became inescapably entangled in the machinations of a coterie of scheming women and dastardly men.  Banville follows James’s story line to the point when Isabel returns to Italy…but then takes over the story for himself,  and makes it his own with the narrative inventiveness, the lyrical precision and surprising humor.  It turns out that Isabel arrives in Italy along with someone else…who is it?  And why?  You’ll have to read to find out!  Banville has some pretty big, well-known shoes to fill in this tale, but, as Kirkus noted, in a starred review for this book, it is “A sequel that honors James and his singular heroine while showing Banville to be both an uncanny mimic and, as always, a captivating writer.

Vacationland : true stories from painful beachesDoes the winter weather get you down?  Do you need a chuckle?  Were you a fan of John Hodgman’s delightfully unique humor on The Daily Show?  If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then Hodgman’s first non-fiction work…the travel memoirs of a Massachusetts native, are absolutely the pick for you.  In his book, Hodgman recounts his real life wanderings, and through them you learn of the horror of freshwater clams, the evolutionary purpose of the mustache, and which animals to keep as pets and which to kill with traps and poison. There is also some advice on how to react when the people of coastal Maine try to sacrifice you to their strange god.  Though wildly, Hodgmaniacally funny as usual, this is also an unexpectedly poignant and sincere account of one human facing his forties, those years when men in particular must stop pretending to be the children of bright potential they were and settle into the failing bodies of the wiser, weird dads that they are.  If Neil Gaiman writing a blurb for this book isn’t enough reason to go take a look….I just don’t know what to say.  Here’s what Gaiman said, though: “This book is genuinely it-will-make-you-laugh funny, it is a wistful and sad examination of the impulse that causes us to move to out of the way places and of what John Hodgman found when he went there, and it is always wiser than it seems. If you do not read it, you will be missing out on something special.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

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