Saturday, April 19, 2014

WORD OF MOUTH: A GOOD WAY TO FIND GREAT BOOKS



Where do you find the titles of books to read? Are you a newspaper reader who likes bestseller lists?  Are you a devotee of book blogs (like the one you are reading) or to Amazon reviews?  Maybe friends, family or book group members are your best source. Word of mouth, finding out what others are reading, is a great way to learn about books and authors.  Here are three novels on the lips of readers and also on the shelves at the Monrovia Pubic Library. Interestingly, they all involve children who have lost their biological parents. 

The Language of Flowers by Jennifer Diffenbaugh is an unusual book which mixes floral interpretation and a dramatic storyline about a foster child. Young Victoria has spent most of her life in foster care, except for the time she spent with someone who taught her about plants and whom she thought would adopt her. Now a young woman and working in a flower shop, Victoria finds that she cannot escape her difficult past, but can eventually look to a happier future. A reader recently said, “I would have never have picked up The Language of Flowers had not someone recommended it to me.”

Set after World War I, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is about a couple who live on an isolated island in Australia. He is a lighthouse keeper and she is a woman who yearns for a child. When a boat washes ashore containing a dead man and a healthy baby, the couple takes the child as their own. It's not until they move to the mainland that the couple experience the heartbreaking repercussions of their actions. 

Have you ever heard of the Orphan Train Movement? From 1853-1929 this program took orphaned and homeless children from Eastern cities to foster families in the Midwest. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is the story of Molly, a young woman living in a foster home, and Vivian, an older woman.  The two exchange stories and their lives juxtapose as Vivian tells the story of being taken on the Orphan Train and Molly talks about her current and difficult situation. Several people have said that Orphan Train is one of their favorite books.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

TOMATOMANIA!



Who doesn't love fresh tomatoes right out of the garden? Instead of buying those tasteless tomatoes from the market, isn’t it time to plant your own? The Monrovia Public Library has a wonderful gardening book collection and there are several terrific titles on growing tomatoes.
 
Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening tells which vegetables to grow together to control pests, nourish the soil and have a bumper crop of tomatoes and other veggies. A great book for beginners, it has a nice format and easy to understand charts.

How do you know which types of tomatoes to plant? A Celebration of Heirloom Vegetables and The Total Tomato: America’s Backyard Experts Reveal the Pleasures of Growing Tomatoes at Home will help you pick different varieties with different tastes, sizes and colors. 

Look to Michelle Obama’s American Grown: The Story of the White House Garden and Gardens Across America for inspiration. See how a tomato and vegetable garden can transform you and your family.

Some of us just aren’t quite ready to get our hands dirty and prefer to read books about growing tomatoes—like people who read cookbooks, instead of cooking. The book for you is The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden. This is the hilarious memoir of someone who realizes that his pursuit of an organic garden, including paying for a landscape contractor; buying an electric fence to keep out deer and spending mountains of money on seeds meant that each tomato he grew cost $64.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Share a your love of reading with the Novel T’s Book Club



The Novel T’s Book Club meets at the Monrovia Library Community Room every 4th Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. to discuss literary works selected by the members, with a representation of both fiction and non-fiction. The Novel T’s discussed the Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca in March. This timeless work of gothic fiction was named one of the best works of the last century, and continues to be popular.
 
 


Our April 22 discussion features Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. This book binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge. At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer’s eyes, it’s in essence the whole world. The lives lived there are filled with all the grand human drama – desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love. At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her. The changes of a lounge musician haunted by a past romance, a former student who has lost the will to live, Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities, and Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse. As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life – sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. 

Looking ahead, the May discussion title is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. Refreshments will be served based on the theme of the book. All are welcome to join the Novel T’s!



Saturday, April 12, 2014

HARLAN COBEN: MASTER OF SUSPENSE



For those readers who enjoy thrillers, Harlan Coben’s novels can be addictive.  Often using the premise of some unsolved mystery or remnant of a memory as a starting point, Coben plots are gripping. He is the winner of the prestigious Edgar Award given to outstanding mystery writers. At the Monrovia Public Library his books come in many formats—print, large print, CD, DVD and in Spanish.  
 
 Many of his titles stand alone, but he also has a series about a sports agent, Myron Bolitar, who solves mysteries. Drop Shot, Deal Breaker and One False Move are some of those Bolitar titles.  Coban injects humor into these stories and the main character is tenderhearted and has great appeal.  The plots twist and turn and the endings are always a surprise.


 
One of Coben’s outstanding stand alone mysteries is the fast-paced Tell No One.  Although his wife was murdered eight years before, Dr. David Beck starts receiving emails from someone claiming to be the dead wife and who remarks on personal facts about their relationship.  Could his wife be alive?  And, why are the police pursuing the doctor as the possible perpetrator?  The film of this book, made with the right amount of eerie mystery by a French director, is in the DVD section.
Another great Coben book that keeps you guessing is Six Years. Jake Fisher has never forgotten Natalie, the love of his life who married another man.  When Jake reads the obituary saying the other man has died, Jake realizes that the picture of the surviving wife is not that of Natalie.  Jake’s pursuit of the real Natalie is a roller coaster ride of suspense.  

And, that is just a taste of Harlan Coben novels, as there are many more.

Monday, April 7, 2014

APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH



It’s National Poetry Month! Every April the Academy of American Poets proclaims this the time to celebrate the poetry of the United States and its vital place in American culture. The Academy website has a wonderful list of ways to celebrate:
http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/94

Let’s start our celebration by finding some poetry books on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library.  Ask a librarian to show you the poetry section. There is pleasure and comfort to be found in reading and reciting poetry. There is a long list of American poets. Whom do you like?    Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein (A rose is a rose is a rose), Robert Frost, Nikki Giovanni, Allen Ginsberg or ?
To get in the mood, stop and read a poem by Emily Dickinson


This is My Letter to the World
This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,--
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!



So after you have picked up some poetry books, what special things can you do? 
Revisit an old favorite poem.
Memorize a poem.
Read a poem to your family or friends. 
Ask the members of your book group to bring a poem to the next meeting.
Listen to poems on your CD player or electronic device the next time you commute.
Send a poem to a friend and use an American poet stamp for postage
Place a favorite poem on your Facebook page.