Library Column–September 16, 2006

An easy way to support the library if you occasionally buy hardcover bestsellers: give us your copies of recent popular fiction and non-fiction. If we don’t already have it in the collection we will add it (for super popular books we will add it anyway). New books cost the library about $15 each, so every donated book means another book we can buy. If we can’t use it in the library, we can easily sell it. For example, someone recently donated a copy of The Mermaid Chair. The donation netted $10 for the library.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, just part of a librarian’s job description, but something odd is happening. Zooming through 2 or 3 books a week is awakening me to odd connections between books and topics. For example, I recently read a serious literary work exploring the end of communist rule in
East Germany and washed this challenging work down by rushing through two light romantic novels. I was shocked by the interplay of themes common to all three books.

Both of the light reads highlighted the unpleasant side-effects of unbridled capitalism (reality will sneak in, won’t it?) on the lives of individuals and groups. The serious book explored the devastating effects of communism on the lives of individuals and groups. Here are my quick reviews-

NewFreeChocolateSex by Keith Lowe. An entertaining but light read about a business-crossed love between a marketing director and a crusading journalist. Underneath the light read is the horrible reality of the use of children as slave labor on chocolate farms in Africa.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. The story of an overworked lawyer in
London who accidentally switches careers and becomes a housekeeper/cook. Amusing, friendly, light, but it does raise a few good questions about our workaholic culture. Does the path to success have to be quite this horrible?

In the Flesh by Christa Wolf. Translated from the German. A profound book about physical and spiritual illness and recovery, the story takes place in a hospital in Berlin at the end of the communist regime in East Germany. A challenging read, but well worth the effort.  

Another odd connection, this one simply quirky, appeared between these two books:

The 8:55 to Baghdad: From London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie by Andrew Eames. An unusual entry into the travel genre, with Andrew Eames following the trail of  Agatha Christie across Europe on the reborn Orient Express and continuing via various and sundry trains to Damascus. The final stage, via bus, took the author to Iraq, soon to be invaded by the U.S. and England.

A Dead Man in Trieste by Michael Pearce. This book is a police novel, an international suspense novel, a human development novel and a very good read. Takes place in Trieste in 1910.

The odd connection? Well, the Orient Express traveled through Trieste and Mr. Eames includes several entertaining stories about the history and geography of the area in his chapter on Trieste. I remembered that we had a mystery novel which took place in Trieste and decided to read it. The combination was great and I strongly recommend reading them in the same order.

Sign up your kids for our super-special custom designed library cards! Call for more information or drop in to see a sample card.

See you at the library!

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