Tuesday, December 15, 2015

THE MAGIC OF BOOKSTORES

Anyone who reads knows that libraries and bookstores are two peas-in-a-pod and are not in the least competitive. People who love libraries also love the thrill of wandering in a good book store. So with the holidays and the thought that a book, whether borrowed or bought, is always the right gift, let’s take a look at books about bookstores at the Monrovia Public Library.

On the bestseller list is the novel The Little Paris Book Shop by Nina George.  Book store owner Monsieur Perdu is a pharmacist for the soul who prescribes books to meet the needs of his patrons. Of course the good owner is forlorn and missing his lost love and needs some of his own medicine. This is a gentle and charming read.

Written in 1970, 84 Charing Cross Road continues to charm bibliophiles. For 20 years New Yorker writer Helen Hanff corresponded with a London book seller about all things literary. Although the two never meet, the book is a collection of their letters about books and their blossoming friendship. This wisp of a book is simply delightful.

On the west coast is the Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, an offbeat novel. A San Francisco techie gets an overnight job in an odd book shop where there are few customers, but many mysteries. Curious, our young hero discovers the store is used by those belonging to an unusual cult that pays homage to an ancient book. Eccentric and original.

Ah, the holidays, and all the rushing around. Sometimes only a movie will get us to sit down and relax. What better DVD than You’ve Got Mail, about an independent bookseller who is driven out of business by a big conglomerate book store and its handsome owner. Bittersweet.


And remember to check out the Friends of the Monrovia Public Library Store and its many treasures. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

THE ART OF MEMOIR: WOMEN WRITE ABOUT THEMSELVES





As social media came more into vogue it seemed that people were more willing to make their personal lives public. However, telling all, or even some, has always been popular for those who write memoirs. Look to the Monrovia Public Library for some of the newest, all from authors who have written previous books.

Mary Kerr, whose bestselling The Liar’s Club, Cherry and Lit detailed her hard luck youth in Texas and recovery from substance abuse, is back with The Art of Memoir.  In addition to being a writer, Karr is a teacher, and in this most recent book she explains how to take the substance of one’s life and write about it.

Gloria Steinem, now 80 years old and the author of the previous Moving Beyond Words, describes how her consistent travel schedule as a feminist and journalist impacted her life. My Life on the Road covers not only monumental places and times (seeing Martin Luther King speak, spending time with Cesar Chavez and being on stage with vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro), but also the thoughts expressed by fellow travelers on airplanes and in diners. Steinem also comments about how being on the road keeps her involved in the present and not just the past.
Celebrity memoirs have always intrigued. Musician Patti Smith, whose last book Just Kids, about her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, has a new memoir called M Train.  Smith’s background as a poet shines in the collection of reflections. 

Hilarious writer and television actress Mindy Kaling is known for her sharp observations of modern life. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? introduced us to her world. Why Not Me? is a collection of essays that is a more personal look at her life.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

THE THRILLING LEE CHILD



How does an author who writes books about one character keep coming up with titles that keep readers interested, happy and asking for more? That author is Lee Child, who writes the thrilling Jack Reacher series. A Brit whose real name is Jim Grant, he apparently chose the nom de plume Child because it could be found on the book shelves between illustrious authors Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie.

According to a recent New York Times interview Child has written 20 Jack Reacher titles in 20 years and starts each book in September and finishes it the following spring. The character Jack Reacher is a former military police officer who wanders throughout the United States with a toothbrush, an ATM card and a passport, taking odd jobs and always finding adventure and troubles to solve. Those who love reading past bedtime and like their novels to be heart-thumping wild rides will love Lee Child.
The Monrovia Public Library owns all 20 of Child’s books in print and some of them on CD. Do you have to read them in order?  All the books are stand alone, but since readers often like to read them in order here is a website that lists both the dates the books were published and the chronological order of the titles.


 The newest Lee Child novel is Make Me. All Jack Reacher wants to know is why the place where he finds himself, the tiny town of Mother’s Rest, has that name. What he finds out causes him to race across the country all the while battling killers and evildoers.