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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Review of “The Children Act” by Ian McEwan

21965107Ian McEwan is an author who has been on my list to read for quite some time.  I thought I might start with what is considered to be his most popular work, “Atonement,” but I haven’t been in the mood to read anything too heartbreaking.  “The Children Act” is his newest novel, and the premise caught my interest.  Fiona Maye, a High Court judge in London, must decide the fate of a boy with leukemia, whose parents, and the boy, are refusing a life-saving blood transfusion on the grounds of religion.  The hospital asks for the justice system to intervene, and the case comes before Fiona.  While she is embroiled in this difficult case and its aftermath, her personal life is falling apart.  Her husband of 30 years has just announced he would like to have an affair with a younger woman.

One of the main delights of this book is Fiona herself.  It is a pleasure to read about such a composed, well-ordered mind.  Fiona is a person who does and says exactly the right thing at the right time.  She is of course brilliant and lives an intellectual’s life, so while she’s not deciding cases, she’s playing classical music on her baby grand piano.  But she is intellectual in a way that is never snooty or arrogant.  And she doesn’t regard everyone around her as if they were a subject on a pin.  She is warm and compassionate, with a very strong sense of justice and doing right by the people whose fates she so often decides.

The question of religion and how far one might go to follow a particular doctrine is engrossing.  McEwan does an excellent job of presenting both sides of the issue because the reader hears both the prosecution and defense in the issue of whether a child should be allowed to refuse necessary medical care due to religious beliefs.  I didn’t change my mind after reading this, but I was briefly swayed by one side’s arguments.

I’ve heard that McEwan novels always have a shocking twist, some traumatic event, and this one does.  Though not as shocking as I expected.  There is foreshadowing, a lot of it, actually, of a type of event that never takes place.  I’m not sure if that was to throw the reader off the scent, but the ending is almost anti-climactic.

I liked this well enough that, one sunny day when I don’t mind having my heart broken a little, I might pick up “Atonement.” (And a note to all the Main Street Book Clubbers out there – this would make a great book club pick!)

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Quotation Friday!

In honor of Banned Books Week:

“Banning books gives us silence when we need speech. It closes our ears when we need to listen. It makes us blind when we need sight.” – Stephen Chbosky

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Books Guaranteed to Make You Laugh Out Loud

10335308Posted by Library Director, Curren McLane:

Before the chills and thrills of fall and Halloween set in, why not lighten your life with a little laughter?

Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding

We’ve all seen the movie, but have you read the book? Warning to all women – you might see a little of yourself in Bridget’s quest for improving her life.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

This book is on the top of most sci-fi genre lovers’ lists. But even if you aren’t a sci-fi fan, you will still take to this quirky novel. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s time to see what all the fuss is about.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, by Mindy Kaling

Whether you remember Mindy from “The Office”, watch her on “The Mindy Project”, or have never heard of her – this book will make you laugh. It’s a coming-of-age autobiography that is awkward, endearing, and hilarious.

The Stench of Honolulu, by Jack Handy

Do you remember the old SNL sketches, “Deep Thoughts with Jack Handy”? Well this is the same guy and his novel is just as funny. Check it out!

Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris

This National Book Award Finalist is a novel that takes the very serious subject of a company going under and its employees being laid off and makes it hilarious. Be sure to check out Ferris’ newest novel, “To Rise Again At a Decent Hour”, which humorously depicts a man who struggles with a serious identity crisis.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson

This non-fiction guide, written by humorist Bill Bryson, will take you on a tour through the Appalachian trail. It offers a glimpse into the wilderness, practical tips for fellow hikers, and a hearty dose of humor. Bryson has also written several other non-fiction books that are as interesting as they are funny – check them all out!

13526165Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple

Although this book is written from the point of view of a high school girl, don’t let that fool you. It’s definitely a novel adults will enjoy. This bestseller has been given thumbs up by the likes of Jonathan Franzen and the New York Times.

Anything written by David Sedaris

Mr. Sedaris is a humorist through and through. His books, which are part autobiographical and part short story, will shock you while making you cry from laughter. There are numerous books to choose from, but with the holiday approaching you might want to start with his famed essay compilation, “Holidays on Ice”.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Freedom to Read!

BBW14_Profile_op3It’s that time of year again!  The time of year that we celebrate our right to read banned and/or challenged books.  This year, Banned Books Week runs from September 21st through September 27th.  It is a week devoted to putting a spotlight on literature that has been challenged or banned throughout history, in institutions such as schools and libraries.  These challenges come from citizens who object to content in books for a variety of reasons, including language, sexual material, or racism.  While these materials are occasionally successfully banned, thanks to the valiant efforts of teachers, librarians, and adminstrators, these books are often left on the shelf for people to continue to have the freedom to read, learn from, and enjoy.

In 2013, the Office for Intellectual Freedom reports that there were 307 challenges to books across the country.  Here are the top 10:

  1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
  2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
  7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  9. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
  10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith

For more information about Banned Books Week, check out bannedbooksweek.org and the American Library Association’s website.

 

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Quotation Friday!

“Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” – John Green

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Review of “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good” by Jan Karon

81wzyAQaWsLI’ve read some stand-out series over the years, but my absolute favorite is the Mitford series by Jan Karon.  It features an Episcopalian priest named Father Tim who lives in and serves the people of Mitford, a charming small town in North Carolina.  He is retired and looking for projects to keep himself busy.  His wife, Cynthia Coppersmith, is writing and illustrating another children’s book, and his adopted son, Dooley, is doing well at college.  Yet, not everything is perfect.  Sammy, Dooley’s wayward brother, is lashing out and getting into trouble with the law.  Hope, the town’s bookstore owner, is ordered on bed rest during the final months of her pregnancy, which could mean that the bookstore will have to close.  Father Tim’s replacement is involved in a major scandal that rocks the church.  And Father Tim himself is struggling to avoid depression as he continues to come to terms with life after retirement.

The lovely thing about Karon’s books is that she takes people and events that seem mundane and everyday, and she imbues them with warmth and humor and life.  She creates a world that you simply do not want to leave.  And she does what any good writer does – she makes you care deeply for the characters in her story.  Plus, she manages to share goodness and morality in ways that are not overly preachy.  Even if you may not agree with every tenet of the faith that Father Tim espouses, you will still be able to enjoy the story and the life lessons.  If you haven’t started this series, I highly recommend that you not waste any more time!

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Quotation Friday!

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P.J. O’Rourke

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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