We Recommend… Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

Downtown Owl: A NovelDowntown_Owl_(Chuck_Klosterman_book)
Chuck Klosterman
Scribner, 2008.

The small, fictional town of Owl, North Dakota is the setting for Chuck Klosterman’s novel which questions how much the place where we live truly affects the course of our lives. Does the outcome of our lives depend on where we have settled and carry out our daily routines? Would we really have made different choices if we lived elsewhere? Or would our lives still turn out more or less the same no matter where we lived?

The chapters cycle between 3 narrators. Mitch is a high school student, whose enthusiasm for football outweighs his actual ability to pull his weight on the team. Julia has just moved to Owl to fill a position as the new high school teacher. She connects with Owl residents most fully (and copes with small town life most successfully) when she is drinking at the local bars. Horace, a seventy-year-old widow, drinks coffee with other retirees at the town diner promptly at 3:oo pm every afternoon to exchange town gossip. Through the stories of the three main characters, we also find out the stories of the other citizens in Owl. Klosterman’s clever use of language perfectly conveys the wide range of personalities and characters who populate the town.

Klosterman is most well-known for his essays on pop culture. Although I have not read his essays, I will keep my hopes up for more fiction from Chuck Klosterman.

*Bonus: If you are attempting the “2015 READING CHALLENGE”, Downtown Owl fulfills the challenge to read “A book set in a high school” among other possible categories.

On the Web:

Simon & Schuster Reading Group Guide
Chuck Klosterman Official Web Page

Post by Jodi Griffith, Pinal County Library District Cataloger

The Art of Asking Readalikes

theartofasking_imageThe Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help
by Amanda Palmer
2014
#1 Bestseller in Amazon Musician Biographies

Amanda Palmer may be known as the lead singer of the band Dresden Dolls, or for her marriage to award winning author Neil Gaiman, but Palmer shines as author in her own right in this autobiographical reflection on vulnerability, artistry, and trust.

Chronicling the success of her band’s 2012 Kickstarter campaign, The Art of Asking outlines the points made her 2013 TED Talk of the same name. Readers interested in the music industry, creativity, or those who simply have struggled with asking for help in their own lives will love this book.

 The Art of Asking References the following texts:

daring greatlyDaring Greatly : How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brené Brown
2012
“Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to dare greatly: to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.” – Gotham Publishing
eat pray love

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
by Elizabeth Gilbert
2007
“Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life.” – Riverhead Trade Publishing

the giftThe Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World
by Lewis Hyde
2007
The Gift is a brilliantly orchestrated defense of the value of creativity and of its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities.” – Vintage Publishing
cyndi lauper Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir
by Cyndi Lauper
2012
“Legendary and iconic singer-songwriter Cyndi Lauper offers a poignant account of the journey that led her to become an international superstar—from her years growing up in Queens, New York, to becoming an actress, a mother, an outspoken activist, and maintaining a music career that has lasted more than thirty years.” – Atria Books
free cultureFree Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity 
by Lawrence Lessig
2004
“Lawrence Lessig, “the most important thinker on intellectual property in the Internet era”, masterfully argues that never before in human history has the power to control creative progress been so concentrated in the hands of the powerful few, the so-called Big Media.” – Penguin Books
On the Web:
The Art of Asking FAQ
Everything You Wanted to Know About The Art of Asking
Interview – Metro News
Washingtonian – Review

We Recommend… The Fever by Megan Abbott

The FeverThe Fever
Megan Abbott

The Fever by Megan Abbott is a psychological thriller that keeps us wanting answers.  We follow the inner dialogues of Deenie, her brother, Eli, and their father, Tom, along with Deenie’s two best friends.  When her friend Lise suddenly is struck down with a terrible seizure in class, and remains in a coma, and other girls in the school also seem to be struck with a strange illness, the whole town erupts in accusations, first about the toxic lake that glows in the dark, and then about the HPV vaccine that most of the girls were given.  Almost until the very end we cannot be sure what is causing the strange illnesses, but, finally, there is an answer, and it is a complete surprise.  This novel is a fascinating look into where desire can lead, wreaking havoc on the lives it touches.

On the web:

Author Website
Publisher Website
New York Times Book Review

Post by Eileen Jaffe, Pinal County Library District Cataloger

Fifty Shades Readalikes

There’s no escaping E.L. James’ fan-fiction-to-self-published-bestselling series Fifty Shades. The cat-and-mouse game between innocent, clumsy Ana and billionaire philanthropist Christian Grey has captured the world’s attention and whether you love it or hate it, it looks like it’s here to stay. The movie, based on the first book in the series, will be released on Friday, February 13, 2015. Have you already read the Fifty Shades trilogy and want to read something similar while waiting for the movie? Then below are a few titles that might be of interest. Would you rather listen than read? The Fifty Shades trilogy is also available as a downloadable audiobook from OneClick Digital!

If you enjoyed Fifty Shades, try…

From around the web:

Visit the Pinal County Library District’s website to search the library’s catalog, find help with our digital products and to learn more about what’s happening at public libraries around the county!

We Recommend… Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin

woman with a gunWoman With A Gun is the newest novel by Phillip Margolin.  This is a murder mystery, plain and simple.  Well, not so simple since there are numerous suspects and the original murder is not solved until the very end of the book.  The photograph of the woman with a gun on the front cover is a photograph that the author saw in a restaurant, and he was so taken with it that he bought it and wrote this novel around it.  There are a number of main characters, one of whom is the young woman novelist who sees the photograph at the Museum of Modern Art and is so excited by it that she wants to write a novel about it.  Yes, just like Margolin!  We are taken back in years to the original murder when the photograph was taken, and then the author dips into the lives of the different characters here and there through the years, finally returning to the young writer who probes in just the right places to solve everything.   This novel is well written and totally engrossing and the photograph really is begging to tell a story.

Post by Eileen Jaffe, Cataloger, Pinal County Library District

2015 Reading Challenge – How to find the right book

An interesting reading challenge by PopSugar is making the rounds on social media, and the Pinal County Library District office is pretty excited about it! Some of the librarians are considering tackling the challenge as a New Year’s Resolution. Reading in and of itself is a good time, but finding books to match each of the challenge criteria is also a lot of fun. Some of the categories can feel like a puzzle waiting to be solved! Scroll down for some suggestions that may make finding the right book a little easier. As always, you can also contact your local librarian for book recommendations, or write us here.

If you’re interested in trying out the 2015 Reading Challenge, you can download a handy Word version here. Reading Challenge How to find:

“A Book set in a different country”

This is a great way to take a vacation without ever leaving home. Begin your search for that perfect getaway by perusing Ann Morgan’s blog, “A Year of Reading the World: 196 countries, countless stories

For more suggestions, try GoodReads extensive list of books in different settings or Fantastic Fiction.

Fantastic Fiction’s homepage has links to Awards, Countries, Series and Years. Click on Countries, select a country, then click on any author. You may need to read the book’s summary to determine the setting.

“A Pulitzer Prize winning book” AND a “Play”

Visit the Pulitzer Prize website and knock out two categories at the same time. This may not be strictly “legal” but I won’t tell if you won’t.  On the right side of the page you will see their “Letters, Drama, and Music” categories. Click on Drama to find a list of award winning plays.

“A Book more than 100 years old”

Project Gutenberg has thousands of free out-of-copyright books to choose from. Browse their catalog by category, or search by author or title. I recently discovered some mystery books written by Burton Egbert Stevenson that are quite good. Download these free books to your computer, tablet or smart phone, or create a list then borrow a copy from your local library.

“A Book with antonyms in the title”

This is an intriguing category but it’s not as easy as you might think to come up with a list of antonyms and then find books you might actually want to read. A good place to start is the Opposite Word website where you can browse or search for antonyms.

Create a list of antonyms, such as odd/even or before/after, then go to our catalog and do a keyword search using each pair of antonyms. Be sure to Search By Title to find your antonyms in the title of the book and not in the summary. If you’re not finding titles of interest in our catalog then you might want to try the same search at your favorite online bookstore.

“A Book that came out the year you were born”

To find the number one New York Times Best Sellers in fiction and non-fiction for the year you were born, go to Hawes Publications site.

If none of the number one titles appeal to you, the Hawes website also has a complete week-by-week list of fiction and non-fiction New York Times Best Sellers. To see these lists, type http://www.hawes.com followed by the year you were born in the address bar of your web browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) If you were born in 1990 go to http://www.hawes.com/1990/1990

Here are some more examples:

Additionally, Krueger Books has list of Publisher’s Weekly Top Ten bestsellers.

“A Book with bad reviews”

Why would you want to read a book with a bad review? There are too many good books, and not enough time to read them, to waste time reading books with bad reviews. But after taking a look at BuzzFeed’s list of “11 Beloved Books with Shockingly Bad Reviews”, you may change your mind. You will be surprised at the reviews some of these well known books received at the time of publication.

You might also want to take a look at “15 Scathing Early Reviews of Classic Novels” from FlavorWire.

“A book that makes you cry”

This is a tricky category. What makes me cry might not affect you at all. And how do you know if a book will make you cry in advance? You could end up reading a lot of books before you find the one that makes you cry.

If the thought of searching for a book in this category makes you feel like crying, then take a look at LifeHack’s “20 Books that Are Guaranteed to Make You Cry” . Or FlavorWire’s “10 Books guaranteed to Make You Cry”.

“A Book written by an author with your same initials”

While it’s easy to find books written by authors that share your same first or last name, it’s not so easy to ones that with your same initials. A good resource for finding books in this category is Fantastic Fiction. There are two methods for finding authors with your initials:

1. Do an author search using your first name then scroll through the alphabetical list until you find authors whose last name starts with the same letter as yours.

2. Click on Top Authors, then click on the letter of your last name. Scroll through the results, looking for authors whose first name starts with the same letter as your own.

Want to stick to something classic? See if there’s any authors with you initials on the Classic Lit Authors A-to-Z About.com page.

“Banned Books”

The American Library Association compiles lists of challenged/banned books in order to inform the public of censorship efforts that affect libraries and schools. Visit ALA’s website for lists of books in this category but brace yourself, you may be surprised at some of the titles that have made the list.

Post by Shirley, Outreach Librarian for Pinal County Library District

New Year’s Resolution eBooks

Now that the holidays are over, your thoughts may be turning towards that anticipated (and sometimes dreaded) New Year’s Resolution. Your local public library has a large selection of books and DVDs on diet and exercise but I wanted to highlight a few eBooks from our 3M Cloud Library collection: The Paleo Diet is more popular than ever. Here are some titles to inspire you:

9781118294055 cover.indd 9781118611555 cover.indd Paleo Cooking

Living Paleo for Dummies by Melissa Joulwan

Paleo Cookbook for Dummies by Kellyann Petrucci Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry by Elana Amsterdam

Going Vegetarian? These titles will help you started:

GFL_cover.indd Living Vegan 9781440552670cvr.indd Food and Healing
Green For Life by Victoria Boutenko Living Vegan for Dummies by Alexandra Jamieson The $5 a Meal College Vegetarian Cookbook by Nicole Cormier Food and Healing by Annemarie Colbin

Peruse these titles if you want to get up off the couch and start moving, but remember reading about exercise isn’t the same as doing it!

You are your own gym Make the cut Anatomy for Runners Stretching

You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren

Making the Cut: The 30-Day Diet and Fitness Plan for the Strongest, Sexiest You by Jillian Michaels

Anatomy for Runners by Jay Dicharry Stretching for Dummies by LaReine Chabut

Are you new to eBooks? Then visit our website for help with the 3M Cloud Library and all of Pinal County’s digital products. http://bit.ly/pcelibrary Good luck with whatever you decide to tackle in 2015! Post by Shirley, Outreach Librarian, Pinal County Library District

We Recommend… Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Neil Shubin’s Shubin Inner fishbook, Your Inner Fish: A Journey in the 3.5-Million-Year History of the Human Body, was published in 2009 and in 2014 he hosted a three-part series by the same title on PBS. Prof. Shubin, a paleontologist and professor of anatomy, tells the story of evolution by tracing the various parts of the human body back millions years. One example that I found fascinating was that the structure of our hands resembles that of fish fins.

You don’t need to be a scientist to read his book or to enjoy the PBS series, and the story of his discoveries is both exciting and thought provoking. Reviewer Oliver Sacks calls Shubin’s work “an exhilarating and compelling scientific adventure story that will change forever how you understand what it means to be human” and I agree.

Find it at your library!
Book
eBook
DVD

Learn more:
Your Inner Fish on PBS

Other Reviews:
Kirkus
Publisher’s Weekly

More by Neil Shubin:
The Universe Within

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2014

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November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo.
Librarians are great advocates and participants of this challenge because it supports our goals of literacy, a love of creative fiction & reading, and it’s just plain fun!

Below you’ll find a compilation of NaNoWriMo resources, as well as a number of other helpful links to get you started on the path toward writing your novel.
Pinal County residents will find noteworthy the links to locally-oriented web forums, events, and meet-ups.

NaNoWriMo Resources

 Writing Resources

We Recommend… Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

Dear Daughterdear daughter
by Elizabeth Little

Dear Daughter is the first novel by Elizabeth Little, and it definitely hits the mark.  It opens with the release of Janie Jenkins on a technicality after ten years in prison for killing her mother.  Did she do it?  She really can’t remember, but what little she does remember from that night causes her to doubt her own guilt, and go on a search for the real murderer.  Not that she got along with her mother, but … could she have killed her?  Add to all of this the fact that she is a celebrity living in Beverly Hills, so when she gets out of prison, everyone is looking for her, some want to kill her, almost everyone still thinks she was guilty of her mother’s murder.  So Janie sets off on her search, in disguise, and tells no one where she is going.  She discovers her mother’s background and in the process makes many more discoveries about who her mother was, and who she is, herself.  She is funny, and determined and a very resourceful character.  The story has many twists and turns and by the end, there is one last surprise.  This is an engrossing mystery that many will find hard to put down.

Post by Eileen Jaffe, Pinal County Library District Cataloger