August is flying by. The summer is almost over, which is hard to believe. It’s a crazy time with barbecues, baseball games, community events, and so much more. While we would love to have more time in the sun with our books, we are also happy with what we have. August has been a great month at WPL, we’ve had a great summer with lots of fun. We have also had plenty of our own time to sit down with some good books.
Summer reading is great! There is just something relaxing about sitting with the sun in your face and a book in your hands. If you are looking for your next read, or just curious what you local librarians are up to, here is what we have been reading this month:
It’s election season all of a sudden. Politics are front and center again, and it’s time to read up and make a decision about who to vote for. With so much going on, and so many interesting story lines, I don’t think there’s anyone more qualified to help me digest it than national icon Rick Mercer. With acerbic wit, the iconoclastic comedian manages to cut to the core of the important issues of our time. As someone who grew up with This Hour has 22 Minutes, Rick Mercer has always been my political comedian of choice.
This book contains many of his infamous back alley rants, conveniently put together in book form. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s information, and it has bite. Rick Mercer, as he always does, manages to entertain and delight. He manages to stay human, angry, passionate, entertaining, and informative while cutting through dense topics. A Nation Worth Ranting About is a great read to get you through election season.
Since this book featured a librarian as a main character I, of course, had to give it a read. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Simon, a librarian, receives a mysterious book from a stranger that has the name of his grandmother written inside, including the date of her death. Upon further examination, Simon realizes that July 24th is the date of death for many of the women in his family. To solve the mystery, Simon delves back into his family’s history to find the answer. Though somewhat similar in feel to “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, Swyer created an interesting plot woven through the past and present that exposes family histories and secrets.
I couldn’t put this one down. The story is engaging and terrifying story and reminded me a bit, in terms of darkness, pacing, and characters who seem off in a way that you can’t place, of Gillian Flynn‘s Gone Girl; the plot is quite different though so in many ways it’s close to Flynn’s other books. It’s a book with characters that are sympathetic and real without necessarily being likable and there was a creepy sense of foreboding throughout that gave every scene an air of excitement. Throughout the I wanted to yell at Jessie, the main character, she was constantly making stupid and foolish decisions that might seem unrealistic with a more balanced character but made some sense given how lonely and damaged she was. This book kept me guessing to the very end and through the twists and turns. I’ll be sure to check out more books by Catriona McPherson whenever I’m the mood for a page-turning thriller.
I’m loving this book that explains, scientifically, why I should eat more butter. An interesting exploration of how science went awry in the twentieth century, and led those of us trying to choose foods for health and longevity down the wrong path.
I also read The Vanishing by Wendy Webb – this spooky novel about a woman seeking refuge from a shattered life in the wilds of Minnesota strikes just the right balance between reality, fairy tale, and horror.
I’ll admit to being a bit of a snob when it comes to pop culture, so when my friend suggested I check out The Most of Nora Ephron, I envisioned a tome filled with rom-com tropes and bourgeois sentimentality. I was wrong. Nora Ephron was a wry, insightful writer with a keen sense of the world around her. Her humour, warmth and intellect are evident throughout the 500-plus pages of this collection.
Ephron’s writing ranges from accounts of her early life as a reporter in New York in the 60’s, to profiles of important cultural and literary figures like Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Parker. She writes about food with the gusto of a self-taught chef – one of the pieces I’ve enjoyed the most so far is her semi-autobiographical novella, Heartburn, about the breakdown of her second marriage (did you know Nora Ephron was married to Carl Bernstein, of The Washington Post / Watergate scandal fame?) which included recipes within the narrative passages. I also enjoyed the addendum following When Harry Met Sally, which chronicled her process of writing the screenplay.
I still have about a third of the book to get through (it’s seriously pretty massive), but it’s a great book to pick up and read desultorily in between book club titles. I’m looking forward to reading more of her blog excerpts, and her perspectives on modern feminism. Ephron’s conversational style makes this an easy read, and her incisive wit keeps me thinking even after I’ve set it down.
Angela: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
I was first introduced to the wonderful world of Erik Larson when I read “The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America”. This gripping history tells the story of Chicago’s World Fair in 1893. At the center of it all was H. H. Holmes, a serial killer who used the Fair as grounds to lure young women, using his charm and skills as a young doctor. I was amazed at how this non-fiction work read like fiction, and thoroughly entertained me the whole way through. I was immediately drawn to “Dead Wake” not only because I wanted to read another of Larson’s books but also because I am a World War I junkie. In this book Larson manages to balance to the stories of American President Woodrow Wilson, U-Boat captain Walther Schwieger, Lusitania captain William Turner, and the narratives of some thousand passengers on this luxury liner, into a well-balanced and entertaining story. It is tale both heartbreaking and filled with intrigue–what exactly was happening in Room 40, the secret British Naval Intelligence office? Did they willingly allow the German U-boat to converge upon the Lusitania in Liverpool? This and many more stories and secrets are told in this narrative about one of the most disastrous accidents in history.
Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve used the phrase “irrational exhuberance” several years ago to try to account for the run up in stock market and housing prices.
For many people reading this book would be the nonfiction equivalent of taking cod liver oil.
I thought it would be good for me to learn more about the economic conditions that shape investment markets and influence financial decisions — especially with so much current speculation as to whether the housing bubble in Canada (ie. Toronto and Vancouver) is about to pop. So far I am only part way through and I still haven’t found reasons other than greed, panic or misplaced optimism which lead to market spikes.
These are the books we read this month. As always, thanks for reading!