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This Book is Not for Everyone March 26, 2010

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Literature, Mysteries, Public libraries, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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It’s a great joy when you recommend a book to someone, and they just adore it.  Recently I recommended the wonderful British mystery writer, Peter Robinson, to a long time patron.  When she stopped by yesterday, she thanked me and was looking forward to reading more of his books.

However, it can be deflating when you love a book and the person you recommend it to does not share your enthusiasm.  I have had book clubs disappointed with two of my all time favorites, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather and Excellent Women by Barbara Pym.  My friend Peggie was lukewarm about another favorite, Raney by Clyde Edgerton, though she truly loved my recommendation of The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz.  And my supervisor, a former children’s librarian and outstanding human being, inexplicably does not like Winnie-the-Pooh.

It happens with me, too.  I finally gave up on the immensely popular and critically acclaimed Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, mostly because I found parts of it too brutal for my taste.  And both the aforementioned Peggie and another friend, Joanne, highly recommended The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille.  I just bogged down and stopped listening to the audiobook.  I’m not really sure why.

Please keep on recommending books, because when it goes right, you make a truly fabulous connection.  Just remember that we may not love the same books.  But in the library, the good part is that the price is right and we have no problem when you bring the item in for a return or exchange!

Happy Reading,

The Book Goddess

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The Fault Tree March 4, 2010

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Just for Mystery Lovers Book Club, library programs, Mysteries, Public libraries, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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I was sorry to miss our most recent Just for Mystery Lovers Book Club here at the Library.  If you like mysteries, please pay us a visit.  We meet on the 4th Saturday of the month at 10:30 a.m.  Nice people, interesting discussions.

The book for February was The Fault Tree by Louise Ure.  The “detective,” Cadence Moran, is a blind auto mechanic.  I know – the scenario is unlikely, but the author does a great job of getting inside the head of this character.  Cadence’s automotive sensibilities (recognition of engine sounds, etc.) become an integral part of the plot. 

I did enjoy the story line, but what I liked even more was the insight into Cadence’s unique experience of the world as a blind person.  I’d recommend the book to fans of Laura Lippman and Sue Grafton.

The next meeting of the Just for Mystery Lovers Book Club will be on Saturday, March 27th.  The selection will be Rough Weather:  A Spenser Novel, by the late, great Robert B. Parker.

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

Loving Frank August 25, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Great Reads, library programs, Literature, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Have you read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan?  There’s a good chance that the answer is yes, especially if you’re in a book club.  Our most recent Second Saturday group had one of our liveliest discussions yet about this one, and I would certainly recommend it to you, for single or group readership. 

Here’s a bare bones, non-spoiler summary of the plot:  Mamah Cheney, a well-educated married woman with small children, falls in love with the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  They leave their respective families and journey to Europe together.  There are, of course, consequences for all concerned. 

One of the challenges in reading and discussing the book is remembering that is a fictional account, even though the general outline of events did in fact occur.  In any case, it provoked some very strong responses from our members! 

One person found it very romantic, and thought that Frank and Mamah had found a once in a lifetime love.  Another reader was appalled that Mamah would leave her young children under these circumstances, and yet another had some extremely hostile things to say about Frank.

I enjoyed the book tremendously for a number of reasons, but especially for the portrayal of the life of the mind, not just in the persons of Frank and Mamah, but in the intellectual ferment in Europe and the growing importance of feminism. 

Did I mention that the book is beautifully written and very readable?  Loving Frank is not to be missed!  Highly recommended

Happy Reading,

The Book Goddess

P.S.  Here’s a link to questions for discussion from the publisher.

The Book Floor at 411 Clematis Street April 20, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Audiobooks, Book Clubs, Book Floor, Books, Fiction, Just Browsing, Literature, Mysteries, Public libraries, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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The first floor of our new library has been designed to provide a delightful browsing experience for the book lover.  We have selected the newest and the best and arranged the entire floor so that you can easily find the books you really love.  There are about fifty separate collections, ranging from the expected, like New Mystery, to the more unusual, such as Just for Fun and Go Green.  

The selections are also organized into “neighborhoods,” so that collections of similar interest will be near each other.  If you love Science Fiction, you may love our nearby Graphic Novels, too.  House & Home is conveniently located near Food & Wine as well as Crafts.   And one of my favorite areas is the small but excellent children’s and teen section, located near books about parenting – designed for the quick drop-in by the busy family! 

We also have two small reading rooms, one of which is populated by a fabulous selection of paperbacks, and the other by great choices for book clubs.  And – do not miss our Staff Picks or our great selection of Books on CD, perfect for the commuter. 

I already love browsing on our Book Floor, and I hope you will too.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Happy Reading  –

The Book Goddess

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn February 2, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, library programs, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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I’m slightly apprehensive when I decide to re-read a much loved book from childhood.  Perhaps it won’t live up to my memories, or I’ll look back on my youthful taste in horror. 

As far as I can recall, this has never actually happened.  Maybe the books that live on for us really are classics.  This proved to be the case with my recent re-reading of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.  I’m not even sure what made me suggest it for the February selection for the Second Saturday Book Club.  But I’m happy to report that I was simply enchanted, and I hope the other book club members will be, too.  The story of Francie Nolan, child of Brooklyn and of poverty, but also of her dreams and aspirations, and the love of her family, was just as moving and enthralling as I found it several decades ago. 

I urge you to read this book, again or for the first time.  Among other things, it is a remarkable portrayal of life in the tenements of Brooklyn a hundred years ago.  More importantly, it is a universal tale of growing up, of learning to love, and learning to leave.  It will leave you with the greatest admiration for those who overcome this level of adversity.  It may even put our current economic crisis in some sort of perspective. 

Happy reading! 

The Book Goddess

P.S.  We’ll be discussing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at the Second Saturday Book Club at the downtown West Palm Beach Public Library on Saturday, February 14th at 10:30 a.m.  You have plenty of time to read the book, so please join us!

A Day (Off) in the Life of the Book Goddess (and more reasons to love your book club) October 30, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, Librarians, library programs, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Monday was a day off for me, so after I had done some laundry, I set off for the campaign headquarters of the presidential candidate of my choice.  I had arranged to meet up there with one of my wonderful book club friends, Kathleen.  We were making calls to likely voters, and one lady said she wanted applications for absentee ballots.  Kathleen said we would take them over to her house – so we set off to make our delivery. 

When we got there, the voter and her mother were sitting in the shade of their peaceful front yard.  We had a nice visit while they filled out the forms.  

After we took care of delivering the forms, we decided to call Sylvia, another book club member who lives nearby and see if we could drop in.  She was happy to hear from us, and set out wine, cheese, crackers and fruit on her patio.  What a gracious hostess!  Kathleen started teaching us how to play Hawaiian gin rummy.  Then Sylvia got another call from yet another book club member, Faith, who was also in the neighborhood.  We were delighted that she could join our party. 

Eventually we had to leave for our various commitments, but what a wonderful day it was!  I felt that I did something useful, and I got to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world.  I can’t guarantee that you will find friends in your book club as fabulous as mine, but I think there’s a good chance. 

Oh – and after that, I went to my bellydance class.  I had met the teacher at the West Palm Beach Public Library where she gave an introductory lesson.  When I went home, I read Exit Music by Ian Rankin, which is pretty terrific – a library book, of course. 

Those of us in the library profession are fond of saying that libraries change lives.  There is no doubt that they have changed mine. 

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess

Group Suicide Averted August 8, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Literature, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club.
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Have you read anything by Nick Hornby?  If not, I think you should rush out and do so.  I recommended A Long Way Down to my supervisor recently and she is listening to it on CD.  Coincidentally, my book club pal Kathleen and her husband also listened to it on their recent road trip.  Rave reviews on all sides, so I thought I would share it with you, too.

I read the book in print format, but reportedly the audiobook is even more of a treat.  Here’s the basic plotline:  A diverse group of Londoners encounter each other on the roof of a tall building on New Year’s Eve.  Each one has plans of throwing themselves off the roof and ending it all.  As these strangers become acquainted in this odd setting, they decide not to commit suicide then and there, and before you know it, they have become involved with each other. 

Hornby’s writing style is a pleasure to read.  The book is not only very funny, but has something important to say about human connection. 

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess

Top Ten Things to Love About Your Library April 16, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, library programs, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Did you know that this is National Library Week?  And that this is the 50th anniversary of its observance?  You can learn more about National Library Week and its sponsor, the American Library Association, by clicking here.

In honor of libraries, I identified ten things to love about your library.  I know the list could be a lot longer, so please let me know what you love about your library.  I look forward to hearing from you!  Here’s my list:

It’s a great deal – You can save vast sums by borrowing rather than buying.

It’s practical – Do you need to paint your house or buy a car?  Be a better informed consumer at the library.

It’s creative – You can learn a new dance step, take up a craft, or start writing your novel using library materials or programs.

It’s mind-expanding – Just walk through the stacks and you realize the possibilities are endless.

It’s user-friendly – You can explore on your own or get help from the staff.

It’s social – Meet up with great people at Friday Night Jazz or at one of our book clubs!

It improves your community – Free access to books, information, and computers helps bridge the information gap.

It’s ecological – Books and media are used by a number of people instead of just one, thus saving resources.

It’s future-oriented – Children who read are more successful in life.

It has something for everyone!

Happy Reading

The Book Goddess

A Wider Reading Horizon April 14, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, library programs, readers, Reading, Second Saturday Book Club, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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One of the many good things about being in a book club is that you will almost certainly read some books that you would not have selected on your own.  That happened for me this month when our selection was The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin. 

I knew about this book.  It had been well-reviewed, and it was a New York Times bestseller.  And I even listen to Nina Totenberg’s NPR broadcasts on the Supreme Court with interest.  Still – I hadn’t picked this book up, and honestly, I was afraid it might be heavy going. 

But, to my surprise and delight, it was both readable and very absorbing.  (This means that when I had to go do something else, I wanted to get back to the book.)  Toobin, himself a graduate of Harvard Law School, clarifies legal issues for the layperson, and this is most helpful.  What makes the book so interesting, however, is the description of the personalities and experiences of the justices and how they have changed (or not) over time.   The book is certainly convincing as to the importance of the legislative branch and its effect on the life of our country. 

I’m sorry you missed our wonderful discussion this past Saturday, but I highly recommend The Nine.  For you busy commuters, consider the book on CD.  Click here to reserve your book or sound recording. 

Next month (May 10th), for a complete change of pace, we’ll be discussing Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen.  It’s no accident when Chaz Perrone throws his wife off a cruise ship.  Unfortunately, he has forgotten that she is a champion swimmer – and she will come back alive to haunt him.  He’s involved in a lot of skullduggery and there is an incredible assortment of weird Florida characters.  Among other things, the book is side-splittingly funny and I have yet to recommend it to anyone who didn’t adore it.  Not to be missed under any circumstances! 

Happy Reading! 

The Book Goddess

No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club March 10, 2008

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Clubs, Books, Fiction, Reading.
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Some books expand our horizons by taking us far away, in time or space or situation.  Others shed a light on the place where we are. 

One of my favorite recent reads is No!  I Don’t Want to Join A Book Club:  Diary of a 60th Year by Virginia Ironside.  It so happens that several of my friends will turn sixty this year, or in the next year or two.  A few have already done so.  So I do have an interest in this age group.  (The Book Goddess is timeless.  Don’t ask.) 

This novel falls into a category that the British do extremely well:  the humorous fictional diary.  If you liked The Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend or Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, and you’re, let’s say, aware of the passage of time in your life, I think you should hurry up and read this book.

The heroine and narrative voice of this saga is Londoner Marie Sharp, retired art teacher and single mother of a grown son.  As she approaches sixty, she strongly resists the urging of her friends to take up a hobby, enroll in university courses, or learn Italian.  She’s about to become a grandmother, one of her oldest friends seems to be seriously ill, and another has taken up online dating.  These events, along with bunion surgery and renting her spare room to a young French girl, are inspiration for witty, sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant commentary.

I don’t agree with all of her choices, though I think she’s right about bungee jumping (and we even wear the same brand of comfortable shoes).  I, on the other hand, would love to take classes and learn Italian, and you know how I feel about book clubs.  But the important point is that she’s not letting other people tell her how she ought to feel or live or conduct her life, and she tells us about it in a lively and assertive style.  The book is a delight, and I think you will love it, too.

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess