April 2015 Book Discussions

Here’s what we’re reading this month…

Thursday, April 2, 2015 @ Harnish
Start Time: 7:00 PM
Frog Music
by Emma Donoghue

A novel based on an unsolved murder in 1876 San Francisco. Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heatwave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice–if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers, and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women, and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts.

Friday, April 3, 2015 @ Harnish
Start Time: 1:15 PM
Z : a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
by Therese Fowler

A tale inspired by the marriage of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald that follows their union in defiance of her father’s opposition and her abandonment of the provincial finery of her upbringing in favor of a scandalous flapper identity that gains her entry into the literary party scenes of New York, Paris and the French Riviera.

Monday, April 13, 2015 @ Village Vintner
Start Time: 7:00 PM
The Selection
by Kiera Cass

Sixteen-year-old America Singer is living in the caste-divided nation of Illéa, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. America is chosen to compete in the Selection–a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illéa’s prince–but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 @ Harnish
Start Time: 7:00 PM
The Painted Veil
by W. Somerset Maugham

Set in the 1920s. A young English couple, Walter a middle class doctor and Kitty, an upper-class woman, get married for all the wrong reasons and relocate to Shanghai. Kitty falls in love with someone else. When Walter discovers her infidelity, in an act of vengeance, he accepts a job in a remote village in China that is being ravaged by a deadly epidemic. He takes his wife along and their journey brings meaning to their relationship and gives them purpose in one of the most remote and beautiful places on earth.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 @ Harnish
Start Time: 7:00 PM
Year of Wonders
by Geraldine Brooks

This gripping historical novel is based on the true story of Eyam, the “Plague Village,” in the rugged mountain spine of England. In 1666, a tainted bolt of cloth from London carries bubonic infection to this isolated settlement of shepherds and lead miners. A visionary young preacher convinces the villagers to seal themselves off in a deadly quarantine to prevent the spread of disease. The story is told through the eyes of eighteen-year-old Anna Frith, the vicar’s maid, as she confronts the loss of her family, the disintegration of her community, and the lure of a dangerous and illicit love. As the death toll rises and people turn from prayers and herbal cures to sorcery and murderous witch-hunting, Anna emerges as an unlikely and courageous heroine in the village’s desperate fight to save itself.

January 2015 LibraryReads List

Visit LibraryReads for more information about how this list was created, and to view favorites from previous months!



As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust: A Flavia de Luce Novel
by Alan Bradley

“After the unexpected recovery of her mother’s body brings the de Luce’s family secrets to light, Flavia’s life is turned upside down. Now on her way to a Canadian boarding school, she must survive her first term–and more importantly, uncover the mystery of a corpse found in her dorm room chimney the night she arrives. A delightful installment in the series!”

– Lizzie Gall, Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, MI

The Rosie Effect: A Novel
by Graeme Simsion

“Don Tillman and Rosie are back again, and they’ve relocated to New York. Rosie is continuing her studies, while Don is teaching and even adding to his small circle of friends. But when Rosie announces that she is pregnant, Don is once again out of his depth. What follows are crazy situations that could only happen when Don is involved. Funny and heartwarming.”

– Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

The Magician’s Lie: A Novel
by Greer Macallister

“Arden is a famous illusionist whose show involves sawing a man in half, but one night, she grabs an axe instead of a knife and her husband is found dead under the stage. Can Arden, an expert at deception, get away with murder–or is she really innocent? Recommended to anyone who likes historical fiction, strong women characters, and surprisingly twisty plots.”

– Paula Jones, Brockton Public Library, Brockton, MA

The Girl on the Train: A Novel
by Paula Hawkins

“Rachel is a washed-up thirty-something who creates a fantasy about the seemingly perfect couple she sees during her daily train ride into London. When the woman goes missing, Rachel manages to insert herself into the investigation of the woman’s disappearance. In the vein of Gone Girl, this dark psychological thriller is fast-paced and features some very unreliable narrators.”

– Andrea Larson, Cook Memorial Public Library, Libertyville, IL

Golden Son: Book II of the Red Rising Trilogy
by Pierce Brown

“After reading Red Rising, I was looking forward to seeing more of the politics of this world. Darrow has infiltrated the Golds and works to bring them down from the inside, end their tyranny, and free his people. There’s so much political drama and action. Brown does a wonderful job describing it all through Darrow’s eyes. It’s exhausting, thrilling, and heartwrenching!”

– Nita Gill, Brookings Public Library, Brookings, SD

The Dress Shop of Dreams
by Menna van Praag

“Tidy, romantic, and fine escapism. All the characters here have interesting back stories: Cora is believable as a no-nonsense gal trying to rebuff sweet Walt’s advances, and Etta is someone I’d like to meet in real life. Reminiscent of Love Actually and P.S. I Love You, this cute little book is recommended to readers who want to be charmed by the possibilities of love.”

– Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library, Azusa, CA

The Bishop’s Wife
by Mette Ivie Harrison

“As a practicing Mormon, I felt Harrison did a great job of detailing Mormon culture and doctrine without evangelizing. I appreciated that the bishop is a good man, and the bishop’s wife is a woman who has been through her own struggles. The bishop’s wife sometimes can barely keep up with all the drama and mysteries around her. But she does, and does it quite well under the circumstances. This is a rather brave book.”

– Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA

Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel
by Priya Parmar

“Told uniquely as part diary, part epistolary novel, Parmar focuses on the relationship of Vanessa (later Bell) and Virginia (later Woolf) Stephens, one filled with unspoken jealousy and a fierceness of love that will ultimately destroy their kinship. This well-researched novel with gorgeous prose brings the characters to life with a unique perspective.”

– Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ

First Frost
by Sarah Addison Allen

“First Frost is a great continuation of the stories of sisters Claire and Sydney, and Sydney’s teenage daughter, Bay. Each of the Waverlys has their own somewhat supernatural gift, and all of them struggle with issues of identity and family. As with Allen’s previous works, this novel will appeal to fans of Alice Hoffman and readers who enjoy family stories that are not overflowing with angst and drama.”

– Lauren Mitchell, Pima County Libraries, Tucson, AZ
Full Throttle
by Julie Ann Walker

“Readers can always count on Walker to deliver a suspenseful, action-packed read, and she delivers on all counts. However, it isn’t the heart-pounding adventure that makes this a fabulous story–it’s the characters. Abby and Steady, college friends who were torn apart by a mutual loss, have great chemistry. Walker has created a complete and suspenseful narrative.”

– Vanessa Gempis, Dallas Public Library, Hampton-Illinois Library, Dallas, TX

July Book Discussions @ the Library

Stop by the Adult Services Desk at the Main Library (Harnish) to pick up your copy today!

* Book Clubbers
Meets the first Thursday of each month.
Thursday, July 3rd @ 7pm (Harnish)

Norwegian Wood
by Haruki Murakami

Looking back on his college days in Tokyo, Toru recalls his relationships with two very different women against a backgrop of 1960’s student protests and coming of age angst and tragedy.



* Bookalicious
For adults who enjoy reading YA Literature. Meets the second Monday of each month.
Monday, July 14th @ 7pm (Harnish)

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
by Rae Carson

A fearful sixteen-year-old princess discovers her heroic destiny after being married off to the king of a neighboring country in turmoil and pursued by enemies seething with dark magic.



Nite Readers
Meets the third Thursday of each month.
Thursday, July 17th @ 7pm (Harnish)

Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes

Louisa Clark, who has lived her entire life within the confines of the small English village where she grew up, takes a job as a companion for Will Trainer, a wealthy quadriplegic who has traveled the world. As their friendship grows, they each try to help the other see and live beyond their own limitations.


Classics Book Club
Meets the third Wednesday of each month.
Wednesday, July 16th @ 7pm (Harnish)

Lord Jim
by Joseph Conrad

Lord Jim seeks redemption in a remote Malay settlement after his cowardly actions while serving aboard a merchant ship leave him a disgraced officer.




Indicates books clubs that are lead by librarians.



Are You a Reading Addict?

Perhaps you know the feeling. After immersing yourself in a book to the exclusion of all else for several days and nights, you awaken from your reading stupor to realize that you need:

a.) sleep.
b.) food.
c.) a housekeeper.

It doesn’t happen to everyone. Some people are perfectly capable of enjoying books without turning into the walking dead. Books are like bread and butter for them. Easily consumed and digested. Enjoyed and forgotten. No muss and no fuss.

Other people don’t consume books so much as they are consumed by books. In fact, books have the potential of eating these people alive. Days at a time may be lost on a really good book bender. Unsurprisingly, I belong to the latter group. Still recovering from a recent book binge, I’ve finally come to terms with the truth.  I am a reading addict. Call it an occupational hazard; I am a booktender with a reading problem.

Let’s review the signs, shall we?


  • Does the reader pick up books such as George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones without concern for their high page count?
  • Does it take more pages than it used to for the reader to feel satisfied.


  • Does the reader experience withdrawal symptoms such as depression, anxiety, restlessness and irritability when she does not have a good book to read?
  • Does the reader fear being stuck in a doctor’s office or on vacation without reading material?
  • Does the reader worry about where his next good book is coming from?

Physical and psychological harm:

  • Does the reader continue to read despite experiencing the physical effects of a poor night’s sleep or the emotional trauma of a bad ending.

Lack of control:

  • Is the reader able to stop a book once started?
  • Does he read for longer periods of time than planned?
  • Can the reader walk by a bookstore or library without going inside?

Failure to cut down:

  • Does the reader feel guilty about spending time reading.
  • Has the reader tried and failed in previous attempts to cut down on time spent reading.
  • Were audiobooks used as surrogates?

Time and money:

  • Does the reader spend a significant amount of time looking for good books to read, or thinking about books she has read?
  • Is the reader on a first name basis with his dealer librarian?
  • Has the reader suffered financial hardships such as overdue fines from excessive checkouts?

Lying and Secrecy:

  • Has the reader ever lied to friends or family in order to stay home and finish a book?
  • Does the reader hide books in her purse or stash them under his bed?

Avoiding Responsibilities:

  • Does the reader eschew laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, cooking, exercise, and personal hygiene in favor of reading books?

So, do you fit the profile of a reading addict?  If so, I’d like to invite you to join one of the many support groups here at the Library.  They’re called book clubs.  Sometimes it just helps to be around other people who know what you’re going through.

It also helps to share your struggles with others.  So, tell us, what’s the craziest thing you did as a result of your reading addiction?  What did you read on your last book binge? Please share your stories below in the comments section!

Archery Catching Fire Among Young Girls

I was struck this morning by a fascinating report on NPR about how the success of the Hunger Games book trilogy and movies have breathed new life into an old sport – Archery.

Girls as young as seven are discovering that bows aren’t just something you wear in your hair.  Suppliers are even having a difficult time keeping traditional recurve bows, like the one used by heroine Katniss Everdeen, in stock.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Following in the footsteps of Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen, who’s fiercely talented with a bow and arrow, is one reason Y’Jazzmin came through the door here this fall.

Her mom, Alicia Christopher, says positive reinforcement has kept her daughter coming back. Y’Jazzmin competed in her first tournament earlier this month.

“Watching the way that she’s developed confidence in what she’s doing — she’s very confident,” Alicia says. “She used to be a really shy person, but now she’s opening socially.”

Isn’t that wonderful?  Amazing, how reading a simple story can lead you to try something new and ultimately give you more confidence.  I’ve tried to think back if a character ever impacted me like that as a girl.  There was no one quite like Katniss Everdeen when I was growing up, but I was drawn to independent and strong female characters.  Anne (with an e) Shirley, heroine of L.M. Montgomery’s wonderful Anne of Green Gables series was a real “kindred spirit” and I was sure that if we ever met we would become “bosom friends”.    Anne taught me that mistakes don’t define you because “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it…yet.” She also left me with a lifelong fascination with Prince Edward Island and a secret desire for red hair.

What about you?  What books or characters have impacted you either as a child or an adult?  Who are your literary heroes and heroines?  

Have you ever been so enthralled with a character or book that you learned a new skill or traveled to a new place?  Did reading Wild motivate you to take up hiking?  Did A Year in Provence inspire you to live abroad?  Did Julie and Julia encourage you to start cooking?  Does reading this blog post make you want to share your story?  Please share them in the comments section below. I would love to hear your stories!

Hunger Games Trilogy:



Librarian Authors



Happy National Library Week!

In honor of this week-long celebration of all the wonderful materials and services you can find through your local library, let’s take a look at a few librarians who’ve also been writers. Not surprising many who heed the call to pursue a career in the library field – which encompasses a broader spectrum than most realize – are also writers. The love of books isn’t the only qualification for becoming a librarian but it tends to go hand in hand. And, the love of books is an almost universal reason writers do what they do, as well. That it happens isn’t surprising; it’s who some of these people are you may find a little odd.

Starting with number one on the improbable list: Giacomo Casanova. Yes, that wooer of women, the famous love-her and leave-her cad of 18th century Italy. The very same! Among his many careers – encompassing everything from lawyer to self-appointed doctor to professional gambler to clergyman (!) to translator/playwright and spy, to name just a few – he was also, when not on the run from his debtors or chasing women, librarian to Count Joseph Karl von Waldstein of Bohemia.

Casanova met von Waldstein on one of his many travels. The Count was impressed by the depth of his knowledge and Casanova enjoyed the job security, pay and opportunity to use his spare time to work on his writing. Unfortunately, once installed in the position the Count began to ignore him, leaving him lonely, frustrated and isolated. Eventually, his depression led him to consider suicide, which of course is unrelated to the profession: LET ME MAKE THIS PERFECTLY CLEAR!


casanovaGiacomo Casanova: Lover, Nerd Extraordinaire and Very Busy Man


“Worthy or not, my life is my subject, and my subject is my life.”

– Giacomo Casanova


How’s this for exploding all the irritating stereotypes all librarians are tightly wound, wear their hair scraped back and sport orthopedic shoes and cardigans?


In reality, librarians are some of the most interesting people you can meet. We come from  diverse backgrounds, our undergrad degrees in any field you could imagine, bringing  individual specialties to our jobs. It’s our masters degrees that make us librarians, as well as our shared love of preserving and disseminating knowledge.

Speaking of knowledge and its usage, if you’d like to know more about the fascinating cad Giacomo Casanova, here are some great resources:


casanovadvdCasanova (DVD: 2005)

Casanova has to begin searching for a wife. He is a womanizer with many conquests and If he cannot show he is living a more respectable life, the Church will throw him out of Venice. He is quickly engaged to Victoria, a woman with a pure reputation. As soon as that is arranged, he meets Francesca, a feminist who hates all he stands for. He pretends to be someone else to get into her good graces, and soon finds out she is engaged to Papprizzio, a man whom she has never met. Meanwhile, arriving in Venice to find Casanova, is Pucci, one of the Vatican’s most known and feared inquisitors. Francesca falls in love with Casanova, who is pretending to be the Lard king himself. Francesca’s brother Donato is in love with Victoria and her mother Andrea wants Francesca to marry a man of substance.

casanovaiankellyCasanova: Actor, Lover, Priest, Spy by Ian Kelly

Everyone knows Casanova’s reputation as a consummate lover, but few are aware of the fact that he was also an amateur philosopher, an inveterate traveler, a discriminating gourmand, and an accomplished writer. Kelly’s full-bodied portrait of the infamous libertine succeeds in filling in these intriguing blanks. More than a salacious romp through European boudoirs, this biography peels off the layers of the legend to expose the man beneath the myth. Though Casanova’s carnal exploits are duly recorded, Kelly refrains from providing unnecessarily explicit details while placing both his subject and his conquests firmly into historical context. Instead of dividing the book into standard chapters, the arrangement is operatic, with acts and scenes separated by explanatory intermezzos fleshing out various features of eighteenth-century life in general and Casanova’s remarkable adventures in particular.–Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2008 Booklist

casanovabook2Casanova: The Man Who Really Loved Women by Lydia Flem

Giacomo Casanova (1725^-98) lived his life twice when he wrote his 12-volume History of My Life, the primary source for this curious study of the Venetian adventurer who had a “taste for happiness” and a genuine and rare adoration for women. Flem is a psychoanalyst, and her training has guided her interpretation of her subject’s unusual life, but she has also been influenced by Casanova’s old-fashioned diction. … As Flem analyzes key events in Casanova’s life, she connects his devotion to bringing women pleasure–the secret of his success and the essence of his charm–to his sickly childhood and longing for the withheld affection of his beautiful mother. It is insights such as this that make Flem’s portrait of the legendary yet misunderstood lover of women well worth reading. –Donna Seaman

casanovaautoThe Story of My Life by Giacomo Casanova

Seducer, gambler, necromancer, swindler, Good Samaritan, spy, swashbuckler, self-made gentleman, entrepreneur, wit, poet, translator, philosopher, and general bon vivant, Giacomo Casanova was not only the most notorious lover the Western world has know, but also a storyteller of the first order. Since he lived a life richer and stranger than most fictions, the tale of his own adventures is his most compelling story, but his memoir remained — at twelve volumes — unfinished at the time of his death in 1798. In these selections, made from authoritative French texts, are all the highlights of Casanova’s life; carousing and dabbling in the occult; imprisonment and thrilling escapes; travels and encounters with major literary figures and world leaders; and of course, many amorous conquests, ranging from noblewomen to nuns to cobblers’ daughters, all of them willing partners in the adventures of his life.

icosameronIcosameron by Giacomo Casanova

So closely is Casanova’s name associated with his adventures, real and imagined, as libertine and seducer that one can forget he was first of all a writer, quite apart from his Memoirs. Here, only now appearing in English two centuries after its publication in French, is his single venture into fiction, abridged from its original five volumes. Very much an example of Age-of-Enlightenment utopian literature, it tells of the wondrous revelations of Edward and his sister-wife Elizabeth, who return to their native England in 1615 after an absence of 81 years dwelling among the Megamicres of Protocosmos in the interior of the planet. In a land where love is all and flood, famine, war and slavery unknown, the couple spawns 40 pairs of twins who, in turn, people their universe. Flying horses, mechanical music, quasi-electrical telegraphy, a language, a religion and a philosophy are components of this tale in which Casanova displays wide learning and vivid imagination as well as a modicum of narrative skills. Though not a major work of its kind, the tale is certainly worth bringing to light. (March 22) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


For more information on Giacomo Casanova just ask one of our friendly Adult Reference Librarians.

– Lisa Guidarini

Today in History: 1911 – The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

On the sidewalk lay heaps of broken bodies. A policeman later went about with tags, which he fastened with wires to the wrists of the dead girls, numbering each with a lead pencil, and I saw him fasten tag no. 54 to the wrist of a girl who wore an engagement ring. A fireman who came downstairs from the building told me that there were at least fifty bodies in the big room on the seventh floor. Another fireman told me that more girls had jumped down an air shaft in the rear of the building. I went back there, into the narrow court, and saw a heap of dead girls. . . .

– William G. Shepard, eyewitness
trianglefactoryTriangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (1911)

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster on March 25, 1911 killed 146 women employed on the eight floor of the Asch building, located at the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street in New York City. The company, one of the most successful in their niche, made the popular blouses with tight waists and loose sleeves, all the rage in the era.

It’s estimated 500 worked there, mostly immigrants, some of them only 13 and 14 years old. The company was accused of taking advantage of its workers, the work environment dirty and the hours long. Other, similar factories went on strike a couple of years before the fire, winning better wages and shorter work hours. These factories went on to form unions to protect their rights; the Triangle Shirtwaist workers, however, received nothing, their conditions remaining abysmally poor despite the success of the company, which retained their profits at the expense of workers stuck in menial jobs – options for employment being limited for immigrants.

triangleblousesThe fire started on the eighth floor, giving the the ladies the option to either take the elevators down (capacity of 15) or use the fire escape, which carried 20 to safety before killing 25 when it collapsed. The two elevators could only save so many; once the fire reached the elevator shaft that exit was closed, as well. A few, on floors above the factory, made it to safety by heading to the roof, where they were helped to the roofs of adjacent buildings.



The carnage was devastating, though the company – Blanck and Harris – were found not guilty of the charge of manslaughter.

All but seven of the 146 bodies were claimed.


There’ve been many books written on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, a few of which I’ve listed below. There are a lot of photos, many of them graphic, if you search Google images.

To learn more about this sad day in U.S. history, you can read one of these, or ask a reference librarian for more information:


factoryfirelaborrightsThe Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: The Legacy of Labor Rights

by  Katie Marsico

“Provides comprehensive information on industry and immigration, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, its aftermath, and labor rights”–Provided by publisher.



flesh&bloodFlesh & Blood So Cheap by Albert Marrin


Downloadable eBook

Audio Book CD


National Book Award Finalist

Provides a detailed account of the disastrous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, which claimed the lives of 146 garment workers in 1911, and examines the impact of this event on the nation’s working conditions and labor laws.


NYcitytriangleThe New York City Triangle Factory Fire by Leigh David Benin

On March 25, 1911, flames rapidly consumed everything within the Triangle Waist Company factory, killing 146 workers. The victims, mostly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, died needlessly due to unsafe working conditions, such as locked or blocked doors, narrow stairways, faulty fire escapes, and a lack of sprinklers. Until September 11, 2001, the Triangle fire was the deadliest workplace disaster in New York City history. Mass grief and outrage spread from New York’s Lower East Side across the country. Garment union membership swelled, and New York politics shifted dramatically toward reform, paving the way for the New Deal and, ultimately, the workplace standards expected today. Through historic images, The New York City Triangle Factory Fire honors the victims’ sacrifice and serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for the dignity of all working people.”


triangledavidTriangle: The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle

“Called “”a riveting history written with flair and precision”” by Bob Woodward, Triangle is the dramatic story of the fire that broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City in 1911. Within minutes the flames spread to consume the building’s upper three stories. People on the street watched in horror as desperate workers jumped to their deaths. The final toll was 146 people-123 of them women. It chronicles in harrowing detail the fire and gives an insightful look at how this tragedy transformed politics and gave rise to urban liberalism.”


– Lisa Guidarini