jump to navigation

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.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

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

Advertisements

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.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

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

Just Browsing? Why it’s Important November 30, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Floor, Books, Just Browsing, Public libraries, readers, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
Tags:
add a comment

Do you enjoy browsing for books?  Many people do, but I believe I read somewhere that this behavior is on the decline.  So I’ve decided to give you permission to browse, and to tell you why I am convinced it’s a good thing for you to do.

I’m aware that there is much to be done and little time in which to do it.  I can be very task-oriented myself.  This is a good thing in certain situations, but taken to excess, it can create a very limited, hunched-over, tightly wound individual.  I suggest browsing for books as a fabulous way to de-stress and open your mind a little.

So – you enter the ground floor of the West Palm Beach Public Library.  You have a few minutes to spare on your lunch hour.  Wander into the collections.  Yes, you may head straight for your favorite (Mysteries?  Food & Wine?) – but how about something completely different?  For now, judge the books by their covers.  Open a few and read the first few paragraphs.  Act on impulse – the price is right!

How do you feel now?  Perhaps you will read about another culture, or learn a new craft.  Maybe you will plan a trip or think about starting your own business.  There is a wonderful feeling of possibility in a library, a sense of new worlds to explore.  I’m feeling better just thinking about it.  How about you?

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

P.S.  While this article was originally addressed to West Palm Beach Public Library patrons (in the Holiday 2009 issue of Library Currents), I’m sure that most of my readers have a favorite library or bookstore for browsing.  We need to cherish and support these wonderful resources!

Our Hispanic Literary Heritage September 30, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Talk, Books, Fiction, library programs, Literature, readers, Reading, Reading lists.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

At our most recent Book Talk, I presented a “sampler” of the rich feast of Spanish language literature in translation, as well as some titles from North American writers of Hispanic origin. 

As I began to prepare, I started to become overwhelmed.  This is a major literary language – for example, ten Nobel prizes have been awarded to writers in the Spanish language.  I also became very excited about the wonderful variety of the books – a rich feast, indeed. 

I should mention with pride that I am partly of Spanish descent, and perhaps that increases my appreciation of this body of literature.  But I recommend these books to all of you.  When we talk about culture, we are privileged to be citizens of the world, and it is a good thing to move beyond our cultural center.  I love Southern food, but I don’t eat it every night of my life. 

So – this is your invitation to Hispanic literature.  Click here for my list of books, and also please visit the Color Online blog for another wonderful selection of titles.

Disfrute sus libros!  (Happy Reading, or more literally, Enjoy your books!)

Theodore Dreiser August 27, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Authors, Books, Fiction, Literature, readers, Reading.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Have you read any of Theodore Dreiser’s novels?  In his time, which was close to a hundred years ago, he was considered one of the greatest living American writers, but I suspect he is mostly read by English majors today.  Since this is his birthday, I’d like to suggest that you read one of his books.

My top choice would be Sister Carrie, in which a small town girl goes to the big city and is led astray by a traveling salesman.  The results are not what you might expect.

Another remarkable novel is An American Tragedy, based on a true crime, which is a literary relative of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Richard Wright’s Native Son.

Both of these works appear on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 Greatest Novels of the 20th Century, at numbers 33 and 16 respectively.

Dreiser’s novels are long, intense, and compelling.  He was a prime practitioner of naturalism, which means that pessimism and determinism dominate the novels, and he was outraged by the social and economic inequalities of the day.  Even though it has been many years since I read these books, they have left a powerful impression.

You can find both of these books in the West Palm Beach Public Library in the Classics section on the First Floor or in the Fiction Section on the Fourth Floor, and I hope you will!

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.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

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.

Florida Books for Young Readers June 16, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Fiction, readers, Reading, Reading lists.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Several months ago, I received a nice message from a gentleman who was looking for books about Florida for a young friend.  Unfortunately, the request came just at the time that we were gearing up for our move, and so I’m afraid it got shelved until now.

My correspondent was interested in books that portrayed Florida as it used to be.  I have also included some books, such as those by Carl Hiaasen, that deal with contemporary issues of development and the environment.   Click here for the list.

I’m sorry it took so long to complete this reading list.  I might mention that I am a 5th generation Floridian, so it was a labor of love.

Please consider reading some of these books even if you don’t fall into the “young reader” category.  Books aimed at a younger audience are often very readable with a compelling story line; kids won’t sit still for them otherwise.

Please send me your suggestions of books about Florida that you love!  I would really appreciate it.

Happy Reading!

The Book Goddess

Cookbooks for Summer Reading June 5, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Book Floor, Books, Just Browsing, Public libraries, readers, Reading, Reading lists, West Palm Beach Public Library.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

NPR recently released their “Summer Books List,” and this past Sunday’s New York Times featured their Summer Reading selections.  

One similarity between the two is that they both included a selection of cookbooks.  I love cookbooks, and my observations as a bookseller and a librarian are that many people do, whether they like to cook or not. 

And in these trying economic times, it might be a good idea to take an interest in food preparation.  Some financial pundits tell us that we could be wealthy if we didn’t go out to eat so much, though I doubt that applies to restaurant owners.  These are complex issues. 

However, the ability to prepare a good meal for friends, family, or yourself is undoubtedly a useful skill, and can also be an act of generosity, a creative outlet, or a way to take out your aggression by vigorous vegetable chopping. 

We have a wonderful Food and Wine section on the First Floor, and many more food titles in the Grand Reading Room on the Fourth Floor.  I’ve selected some delicious sounding titles from among our new arrivals, and you can link to the list here.  Just keep in mind that there are many more! 

Happy Reading and Cooking, 

The Book Goddess

Always Bring a Book (A Cautionary Tale) May 19, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, readers, Reading.
1 comment so far

I was reminded of this yesterday morning when I had to go to the post office to pick up a certified letter.  There was a long line, which I joined.  Time passed, in the sense that geological eras pass.  (No reflection is intended on the employees, who were pleasant and efficient.  There were just too few of them.)  I examined the offerings at the postal store.  I looked at my fellow postal customers.  I began to be concerned about catching a skin condition from one of them.  My feet hurt. 

Things would have been different if I had brought a book.  (There were several in the car.)  I could have used it as an escape.  I might have improved my mind.  I would at least have had an alternative to staring and hypochondria.  Perhaps I would even have had a pleasant conversation with another reader.  Admittedly, I would probably still have had the foot issue. 

If you are a book person, don’t be without one. 

Happy Reading,

The Book Goddess

Favorite Books to Recommend May 14, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Audiobooks, Books, Fiction, Literature, readers, Reading, Reading lists.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Recommending books is my business, or at least part of my business, and it can be a wonderful thing.  The right book at the right time is a real gift.  My friend Tim told me that Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole changed his life.  That book, like Tim, is one of a kind, and on that occasion I got it exactly right. 

Sometimes it doesn’t go so well.  Another favorite book of mine is Raney by Clyde Edgerton, which I think is funny and charming and very well-written.  I was delighted to recommend it to my friend Peggie, but it left her cold.  Oh, well. 

Anyway, I was recently asked for book recommendations by two friends.  I’ve decided to give both of them, and you, pretty much the same list.  I happen to think these are wonderful choices that would appeal to most book lovers. 

So – here are my choices, starting with some fine American novels:

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (especially good in audio)

If you like humorous fiction (and I realize this can be very subjective, even more so than literary merit), these are some terrific titles: 

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (audio version is excellent)

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

And, some excellent nonfiction: 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls 

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi 

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson 

I would love to have your recommendations, too!

Happy Reading, 

The Book Goddess