Tuesday, January 24, 2017


So who are some of your favorite authors who have written recent books?  Find these titles at the Monrovia Public Library. 

The Wrong Side of Goodby by Michael Connelly
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
LaRose by Louise Erdrich

Former LA Times crime reporter Michael Connelly, who has sold 60 million books, returns with a mystery called The Wrong Side of Goodbye, part of the Harry Bosch series. Our dogged LAPD detective, never one to follow orders or suffer fools, is now retired and working as a private investigator and a reserve officer. Following two cases, one involving a billionaire’s lost heir and one a rapist, Harry solves both with his usual dogged pursuit of clues. As always, this is an engaging mystery with a main character who continues to fascinate. Angelino natives will get a kick out of Harry’s endless knowledge of local terrain, freeway shortcuts and eateries.

Louise Erdrich, whose stories frequently are set on the land of the Native American Objiwe tribe, has a new novel is about a man who while hunting accidentally kills the son of his best friend. After reflection and adhering to tribal truths, the man and his wife give their own son, named LaRose, to the family of the dead boy. Tracing the history of the birth family’s ancestral name, the book then shares how the act of generosity becomes a salve for pain. Ms. Erdrich is a master storyteller and this new novel LaRose is compelling and thought-provoking.

Many readers might quizzically react to Stephanie Meyer’s new novel The Chemist as it is nowhere near the vampire theme of her Twilight series. But, this espionage story about a former government employee on the run from those who seek to harm her has all the elements of her original books—great characterization and action that keeps the pages turning. This thriller will have special appeal to those who like a strong, brainy female who doesn’t take a back seat to anyone.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Let's say goodbye to the best books of 2016. This is a last look at 2016 non-fiction, which you can find at the Monrovia Public Library.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

In recent years there have been some terrific memoirs by doctors, including the bestseller When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.  A driven med student, the author’s specialty was neurology - where precision, speed and endurance matter. Just as he was about to complete his grueling years of study and graduate, he felt a pain in his back. He had stage IV lung cancer; the doctor was now the patient. Completed just before the author died, this deeply affecting life story and reflection on his sudden illness and extreme decline asks “What makes life worth living in the face of death?”  His wife finished the book, her final chapter paying homage to an extraordinary man who wrote and lived with such purpose.

Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich
Henry Malaison is better known as Patient H.M., the latter being the title of a fascinating and disturbing book about how science gone rogue affected a man’s life. Mr. Malaison became an amnesiac, with minimal short and long term memory, because his epilepsy was treated with surgery that removed parts of his brain. Tracing familial and medical history, this amazing and highly readable book is subtitled Memory, Madness and Family Secrets and will be of particular interest to those who enjoyed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack by Rebecca Skloot. 

Lindy West's Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman
In her memoir, a collection of her online and magazine essays, called Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, writer Lindy West takes on the world, and especially Internet trolls. A feminist and opponent of fat shaming, rape jokes, and anything that demeans women, Ms. West’s book is filled with great humor as well as pain. Her insight is thought-provoking and Shrill has been praised for discussing what is seldom spoken about publicly and for encouraging others to speak up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Let's continue exploring the best, or what the Los Angeles Times calls the most important, books of the past year. 2016 was a majestic year for fiction and non-fiction; take a look at some non-fiction titles chosen by NY Times, Washington Post, Wall St. Journal, and LA Times critics. 

Find these titles at the Monrovia Public Library!

Susan Faludi until recently has been best known for her book Backlash about feminism. She returned with the much-lauded personal story In the Darkroom. Having been estranged from her difficult father for years, Ms. Faludi was surprised to receive communication from this man whom she always saw as a dark presence. He had completed gender reassignment surgery and was no longer Steven and was now Stefanie. Faludi backs up her family saga with great research and the book delves into concepts of family and identity.

History readers will love the e-book Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, A Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill, which chronicles a little-known event in the life of a man about whom much has been written. Author Candice Millard did deep research and read many biographies of Churchill to tell the little known story of how this ambitious and self-confident man was captured in South Africa in 1899 and then performed a daring escape through enemy territory.

One of the books of the year and much sited as giving background to the recent presidential election Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is about the decline of white working class Americans. Author J.D. Vance tells the story of his poverty-stricken Appalachian family that is riddled by alcoholism, addiction and family troubles and how it failed to enter the middle-class. Vance, who rose to graduate from Yale writes with insight, elegance and humor in his debut book. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


2016 was a majestic year for fiction and non-fiction. Let’s take a look at some of the non-fiction titles chosen by NY Times, Washington Post, Wall St. Journal and LA Times critics.  Find these titles at the Monrovia Public Library! 

Siddhartha Mukherjee, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, continues to draw kudos with his second title The Gene: An Intimate History. The Gene is a saga about the discovery of genes, how they operate and the pursuit to manipulate them. Mukherjee also includes a fascinating genetic investigation into his own family. The science, the scientists and the ethics of genetic research are all present in this masterful work by an exceptional writer.

Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Gene

 So much has been written about the intelligence of primates, but The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman reveals that our avian friends are not bird brains. Instead they are smart, tool-using creatures. The author wisely mixes science with fascinating tidbits to make this a marvelously readable book. You will never think of birds, particularly crows, in the same way.

Jennifer Ackerman's The Genius of Birds

Climate change denial and the drive to stop income equality are just two of the topics researched in Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer. The author examines how wealthy business people, like the Koch brothers, have used their money and political beliefs to try to influence politicians and legislation.  The author is a seasoned journalist and this book has been called remarkable and an essential book for all Americans to read.

Jane Mayer's Dark Money