Library Column – April 19, 2007

Winter is coming to a spectacular end (we hope) with a gorgeous white landscape of snow covered trees (poor overburdened branches) and the usual unceasing  April drip. My reading and listening has been skipping around, with a mystery from China, a novel set in Jerusalem and Russia, a history of the Underground Railroad, a couple of  miscellaneous audio books, and one paperback thriller.

The World at War (DVD). The classic World War II television documentary , on 11 DVDs. We have repackaged it into three sets, each running 6-8 hours.

A Case of Two Cities by Qiu Xiaolong. Mystery set in Shanghai, China and St. Louis, Missouri. The main character is a police inspector and a poet. The case involves corruption, murder and multiple layers of deception and gaming. Excellent as a mystery and as an introduction to modern Chinese culture. Warning: there is a lot of poetry.

A Woman in Jerusalem by A. B. Yehoshua. Literature, but the readable sort. The book has two oddities: the only named person in the book is dead (everyone else is described by their work or their role) and there are occasional passages written in the second person by minor characters. A woman dies after a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. She has no ID except for a pay stub from a large bakery. A journalist uses the pay stub to write a nasty attack article about the bakery, the owner of the bakery calls on his human resource manager to find out what happened and why and the story unfolds from there. Excellent as story, as entertainment, and as a thought provoking exploration of identity and human connections.

Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America by Fergus M. Bordewich (audio CD). The great story of the brave men and women, black and white, who helped thousands of runaway slaves find freedom in the northern states and in Canada. This edition is abridged, but works well. Highly recommended!

The Summons by John Grisham (audio CD and mystery hardcover). An elderly judge dies in a small town in Mississippi. His two sons confront the mysteries surrounding his death in very different ways. The audio edition also includes The Brethren by Grisham, but I can only take so much of one author in one dose, so I’ll review that one in a few months.

Point Blank by Catherine Coulter (paperback shelves). An FBI thriller with two intertwined story lines, one involving treasure in a cave, the other a very nasty elderly killer, in search of revenge.

The Truth with Jokes by Al Franken (audio CD). I don’t know how he does it, but Al manages to make a lot of detailed policy wonkish stuff funny. Read by the author with the occasional sound clip added in for verisimilitude. Warning: left-leaning point of view.

Don’t forget the paperback collection when you are hunting for something to read. Due to the generosity of our patrons, new books are added to this collection every week. In addition to a large general fiction section we have biographies, romances, science fiction, classics, mysteries, kid’s books, food books, and several other categories. Any item from the paperback collection can be borrowed without a library card and there are no due dates to worry about. See you at the library!

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