Staff Picks

The Vanishing Neighbor

Summary: 
The author addresses concerns Americans have about our future, including the notion of American exceptionalism, and our country’s future prosperity and place in the world. The author attributes our sense of malaise to the erosion of middle-ring relationships,much of which are community and/or volunteer associations, such as Rotary Clubs and volunteer fire departments. He makes a compelling case that our more peripheral relationships are the cause of the withering away of the sense of local community in America.

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Bitter Greens

Summary: 
The plight of women– in Renaissance Venice and 18th century Paris is fleshed out in this retelling of Rapunzel, and of the life of the French author who first told it. As 200 years had not wrought much change for the characters, the modern reader wonders how far we’ve advanced since then, as this tale enchants and resonates. Luxuriant writing.

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Butterflies in November

Summary: 
Cast adrift in warming Iceland by both lover and husband, a thirty-ish diffident narrator, takes on her friend’s special-needs child, wins two lotteries, and sets off on the Ring Road. Landscape, events, cuisine, and characters are weird and weirdly compelling, funny and touching, like butterflies in November. Complete with recipes.

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Norwegian by Night

Summary: 
“Couldn't put it down” doesn't begin to describe this wonderful book. Serious thought, indelible characters, and beautiful writing perfectly paired with a thriller’s pace and the mandatory “shattering conclusion.” Dementia, grief, war crimes, police procedure, family love, memory, politics intertwine—and it’s laugh-out-loud funny too!

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Unlikely Friendships

Summary: 
What do an iguana and a house cat have in common? An owl and a spaniel? A rabbit and a guinea pig? According to Jennifer Holland, senior writer for National Geographic Magazine, these creatures are examples of animals who have formed what she calls interspecies friendships. This book tells the simple stories of 47 different instances of these relationships, with beautiful photographs that clearly illustrate the tales of this unique and remarkable bonding.

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So Anyway

Summary: 
This book is probably one of the most enjoyable books I have read in years. I found the first third of the book insightful as I began to understand a little more about him as an individual and what made him the way he was later in life. John Cleese writes the way he speaks and it was a pleasure to read. The rest of the book was a read through memory lane as I remembered all the shows and comedians and writers that he worked with. I had to put this book down only because I was crying so hard with laughter. I have to admit that I’m now quite sad to have finished.

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1066: The Year of the Conquest

Summary: 
David Howarth has written a uniquely interesting and scholarly treatise on 1066, documenting the year as well as scholarly sources allow. He then adds his own insightful views of events and minds of the major protagonists, Harold Godwin and William the Duke of Normandy. Where sources contradict he adds his own balanced thoughts and opinions. I enjoyed this book immensely, gaining a better understanding of why events played out the way they did and how the state of minds of Harold and William lead to the outcome that saw the last successful invasion of England.

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