Just like Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, I also have been too quick to judge. Two years ago when Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler first came out, I read it eagerly and loved it until the end. The only problem with this book is that only half of the story is presented, leaving too many questions unanswered. Recently, I decided to forgive Rigler and try to struggle through the sequel, Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. It was so delightful, I had to go back and read Confessions again, which was much more enjoyable on the second reading.
We’ve been thrilled by the enthusiastic response we’ve gotten to our Personalized Reading List service. For months now we’ve been helping patrons find their next favorite book. If you’re wondering what to read next, why not let us help by providing you with a list of fiction and/or non-fiction titles suited to your reading tastes and interests. Just pick up a reading survey at the library, or click here to print one you can mail or bring in at your convenience. Give us at least two weeks and we’ll give you a list of books we think you’ll enjoy.
Here are a few of the well-received titles we’ve recommended to Personalized Reading List users recently:
- What a Girl Wants by Kristin Billerbeck
Norah’s Ark by Judy Baer
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Dedication by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Historic Highgate Cemetery in London would be a fascinating place to visit this time of year with it’s gothic tombs and occult past, including the Highgate Vampire. Audrey Niffenegger takes you there in her newest book, Her Fearful Symmetry. Twins Julia and Valentina inherit a flat in London on the edge of Highgate Cemetery from their Aunt Elspeth. Their mother and Elspeth were estranged twins so Julia and Valentina had never been to London or met their aunt. The beautiful old apartment is home to the ghost of Elspeth and other interesting characters, including Robert, Elspeth’s former lover and Martin who suffers from agoraphobia/ocd. The unusual story of love after death, twin-sister estrangement, and life with mental disorders is complicated but wonderfully twisted. Enjoy a ghost tale this season.
There have been several theories on the cause of the Salem witch trials of 1692, ranging from the oppression of women to moldy bread. In The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Katherine Howe dares to ask the question “What if there were women guilty of practicing witchcraft?”
No one writes like Charles Dickens these days, but D.J. Taylor comes awfully close with his novel Kept: A Victorian Mystery. Full of period detail and atmosphere, Taylor’s story – which ranges from the grimy, fog-choked streets of 1860′s London to the wild expanses of the Scottish Highlands and Canadian tundra – explores the unseemly labyrinth of secrets, desires, and crime that lay just below the genteel surface of the Victorian era. A mentally unstable widow, an eccentric naturalist, a lawyer with a scandalous past, an inquisitive young kitchen maid, and a cunning debt collector are some of the colorful characters connected by a web of obsession, blackmail, and theft and brought vividly to life by Taylor’s evocative descriptions of 19th century life. You can almost smell the smoke from the coal fires and feel the rain pattering upon your head as you immerse yourself in every page of Kept.
I love the mountains of Colorado, summer or winter, and our family camping trips there hold many wonderful memories. We’ve managed lots of hikes–long and short–but I have never attempted to summit a “Fourteener”–one of the 54 peaks in Colorado that are over 14,000 ft. in altitude. (My highest hike is 13,500 on a summit near Loveland Pass. I was very proud of making it that high, even as I watched my teenagers scramble ahead of me and sit and wait at the summit!) Mark Obmascik tells the story of his quest to climb the fourteeners in one summer in his book Halfway to Heaven: My White-Knuckled and Kunukle-headed Quest for the Rocky Mountain High. Self-described as middle-aged, balding and overweight, Obmascik challenges himself to complete his climbs of the 54 fourteeners, having summited 12 of the mountains when he was younger, fitter, thinner and unmarried. His memoir of his experiences are amusing and memorable. His wife insists he climb with a partner, resulting in the author’s searching online for “man-dates” to accompany him. His variety of climbing partners are wonderful characters and Obmascik conveys the enthusiasm and interest he has in learning about both the people he is with as well as the nature and history surrounding him. Not a technical book about climbing, this is instead a funny and sometimes touching tale of the people who love climbing and mountains. He illustrates the dangers of high-altitude climbing but intersperses these details with hilarious stories about hiking-pole chewing marmots, elk in heat, attacks by mountain goats and with many tidbits of Colorado history. He completes his quest with a hike up Pike’s Peak with his 12 year old son. I found this book thoroughly enjoyable–a great mix of adventure and humor that anyone–especially someone who has been the slowest one on the trail– can relate to!
In Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Zeke Wilkes braves the underworld of 1880s Seattle in an attempt to save his father’s name. The underworld contains a vein of toxic gas that turns people into zombies. Zeke’s mother is his only hope for survival.
Manhattan N.Y. becomes Monster Island in the novel by David Wellington. A plague has turned most of the world into zombies. Only one couple has managed to stay alive in New York. They are joined by a group of well armed teenage girls from the Free Women’s Republic of Somaliland, searching desperately for medicine.
In Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, Baltimore detective Joe Ledger discovers terrorists that have created a bio-weapon that can make zombies. He must lead a team of elite fighters against them in order to save the world.
If you are looking for an exciting page-turner, look no further than Linwood Barclay’s new novel Fear the Worst. The plot is compelling–this is the story of an ordinary father, Tim Blake, whose teen-aged daughter does not come home after a shift at her summer job. When he goes to her workplace to find her, there is no record of her working there and no one knows her. This begins Blake’s hunt for his daughter. Blake is an ordinary middle-ages car salesman caught in extraordinary circumstances, making his fear, anger and obsession very believable. Barclay’s characters are realistic and the plot is filled with twists and turns, adding to the suspense. The pace of the story is relentless–plan to lose some sleep while reading this thriller–it’s hard to put down!
I will never forget the first time I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I had watched the Timothy Dalton film version and loved it, so I thought I’d trudge through the book. There was no trudging involved. It took no time for me for me to become completely absorbed by this amazing story. I loved reading the trials of a small, plain girl who dealt with difficult circumstances on her own terms.
James’s interpretation of this famous life reads like a novel, but demonstrates diligent research. She uses the factual framework of Brontë’s life, culled from past biographies and letters, and adds her own interpretation of the details that have been left out. This beautiful book told the story of a remarkable life in a such a way that will satisfy both true Brontë devotees and those who just want to read a great book.
Anything with a dress and a pink stripe on the cover must be a bit of fluff, right? I picked up The Pretend Wife expecting a light read and found myself asking the big questions of life and getting unexpected answers.