Library Column – August 16, 2007

Busy days at the Warren Public Library with a constant stream of patrons looking for computer time, books, toys, information and, best of all, air conditioning.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, trying to get to the bottom of my book stack. Can’t come up with one word which will stretch to cover the range of books…varied?

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber. Excellent suspense novel about a possible lost play by Shakespeare—which would be nifty—except that there are all these Russian gangsters following the people who are following the clues which may lead to the play, if it isn’t a fraud and on and on it goes. Funny and scary and clever.

The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer. For any woman who put her life on hold while she waited for a proposal…an outrageous, amusing, somewhat dishonest and fairly practical alternative approach. Fiction, of course.

Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker: Recipes for Two for Your Small Slow Cooker by Beth Hensperger. Thorough, clear and moving from basic to advanced techniques and recipes, this cookbook has convinced me to buy a small slow cooker and try it out.

The Sea Lady by Margaret Drabble (Regional Library). A famous scientist and a successful TV personality/feminist reconnect in old age after a long estrangement. Eccentric and beautifully written.

Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now by George McGovern and William R. Polk. A slim paperback with a plan for removing the U.S. from Iraq. Includes a brief but exhaustive history of how we entered into this war, the problems facing the soldiers on the ground, and reasons why it may be a very good idea to withdraw.

My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme. The story of how Julia Child became a great cook and a television personality, told with vim, vigor and great good humor. Immense fun, even if you are not interested in cooking.  Highly recommended.

Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland. The story of a great painting by Auguste Renoir, painted the summer of 1880, on a veranda overlooking the Seine. The first half of the book is a bit slow, but the second half was absolutely wonderful. Interesting characters, great food, and a lovely setting make for an exceptionally entertaining book.

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick (audio CD or hardcover). The strange story of America’s beginnings in New England, with love, despair, idealism, religious faith, theft, kindness, cruelty, greed,  and a massive amount of confusion. The audio version is fun to listen to, but you might want to check out both so you have the maps and illustrations available. The most interesting piece, among many, was that the Mayflower Compact established a civil government, not a theocracy. Separation between church and state was there at the first flickering of the American story.

See you at the library!

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