Tuesday, December 30, 2008

January Displays

Welcome to 2009! With the holiday season coming to an end, it's the perfect time to select some quality reading material and hunker down for the long winter ahead.

In the spirit of renewal that is prevalent every year at this time, we've got some how-to books for the most common New Year's resolutions: diet; exercise; finances; getting organized; stopping smoking, etc. Let the library's resources help make this the year you finally make the changes you've dreamed of.

We've also displaying some of the notable titles of 2008, with thanks to the Chicago Tribune's list of December 26th of this year. The list contains both fiction and non-fiction, so there should be something for everyone here.

Just for fun, we have some diet fiction books on display, as well as heart-warming novels to keep you cozy on these cold winter nights.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Heartfelt and Heartwarming

This is a little book with a great big title and an even bigger heart. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is an unusual tale, told in the form of correspondence between numerous characters.

Juliet Ashton, who writes a human interest column in World War II London, is looking for a new project. The war is over, London is beginning to rebuild, and her column is played out. One day, out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a resident of the isle of Guernsey, who spotted Juliet's name in a book. Juliet becomes intrigued by Dawsey's mention of the "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," which was formed in order to prevent the members (who were violating curfew) from being arrested by the German soldiers who had taken over the island. She asks Dawsey to have anyone interested from the society write to her as well, in the hopes of doing an article on them.

Well, write to her they did - enthralling Juliet with life on the island and tales of coexisting with the German soldiers. Eventually, Juliet decides to visit Guernsey, despite the fervent wishes of her current suitor, the rich and powerful Mark Reynolds, who is looking to solidify their relationship. Will Guernsey spell the end of Juliet and Mark's relationship? Will the island and its people be everything Juliet hoped it would be? Will Juliet's career plans pan out as she hoped? Read this lively little book to find out the answers - you won't be disappointed!

On a related note, one of our patrons reported that the audio version of this book is wonderfully done, so I'm going to listen to that next.

Friday, December 12, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different....

As I've stated previously, the benefit of most holiday stories is that they are short, sweet, and bring out the true meaning of the holidays for most readers. Sometimes, however, readers are looking for something a little different, something to take them away from the constant swirl of the holidays, and for that I recommend...

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. This is one of those books I read annually around the holidays - it gives me another perspective on the holiday frenzy, and, best of all, makes me laugh. Out loud. Frequently.

This book contains six stories/essays from Sedaris, three of which were previously published. NPR listeners will no doubt be familiar with the most well-known piece from the book, "The Santaland Diaries," which relates his experiences working as an elf at the Macy's in New York City. This snarky tale shows parents at their worst, and includes my favorite quote from the entire book - "You're an elf and you're going to wear panties like an elf." Who ever imagined those words together in a sentence?

The remaining selections include an annual family Christmas letter gone horribly wrong, a ridiculous take on children's holiday programs, and and extreme version of keeping up with the Joneses. I have to say, Sedaris never fails to amuse and enlighten me, no matter how many times I read this book.

While I would not say that David Sedaris is an acquired taste - his books routinely top the best seller lists - I would agree that he definitely is not for everyone. If you are looking for holidays with a really big twist, give Holidays on Ice a try. He has also recently released an update, which contains additional stories from additional holidays, making it something to be read any type of year!

To see more about David Sedaris, go to: http://www.barclayagency.com/sedaris.html.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Silver Bells by Luanne Rice

There are a plethora of holiday fiction titles available from such wide-ranging authors as Debbie Macomber to John Grisham to Christopher Moore, so there is a good chance you can find something to your taste. The good news about most of these titles is they are short in length and easy to read - who has time to delve into something heavy this time of year? The bad news is they are predictably really popular around the holidays, we may not have exactly what you are looking for on the shelf!

This was my first attempt at a Luanne Rice book, but I know a couple of people who really like her books, so I started with Silver Bells. Catherine Tierney is a lonely widow in New York City. Christy Byrne is an overwhelmed widower from Nova Scotia who peddles his Christmas trees every December in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Since his wife's death a few years earlier, Christy brings his 2 children, Bridget and Danny to New York with him. The previous year, Danny and his father got into an argument, and Danny ran away. This year, Christy is back and is determined to find Danny to bring him back to the farm. While Christy and Catherine discover a growing attraction for one another, Catherine struggles with letting Christy know that Danny is doing okay, since she and her friend Lizzie have been helping him out for the last year. Will Christy get his wish to have his family back together? Will Danny be able to keep making it as a homeless teenager? Will the ghost of Catherine's husband free her from her sadness, enabling her to find love again? I think we all probably know the answer to these questions, seeing that it is a holiday book, and holidays are the time for miracles.

The book itself is not long (a plus,) it features religion quite prominently, and ends with an appropriately heart-warming conclusion. If you like sweet stories and do not mind religious overtones, give this one a try to put you in the holiday spirit.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Books into Movies

Several highly-anticipated films are due out this month which are based on works of literature - here's a sampling:

"Tales of Despereaux," an animated "modern day fairy tale" is based on the book by the same name by Kate DiCamillo. Due out December 19th

Yes Man by Danny Wallace is the inspiration behind the movie of the same name starring Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel. This one is also opening on December 19th.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in this tale based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald in which a man ages backwards. Due out December 25th.

Anyone who enjoys dogs should also enjoy the highly anticipated movie "Marley and Me" based on the popular book by John Grogan. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star in this film, due out on Christmas Day.

"The Spirit," based on the "Spirit" graphic novel series by Will Eisner will also open on Christmas Day - this movie features an all-star cast, including Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and Eva Mendes. Scheduled to open on December 25th.

Finally, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are reunited in "Revolutionary Road," which is based on the book by Richard Yeats. This movie opens in theaters on December 26th.