Monday, December 21, 2009

Attn: Jodi Picoult Fans!

An excerpt from Jodi Picoult's (as far as I know, still untitled) 18th book due out in 2011, is available to read on her website. Her next book, House Rules, is due to be released on March 2.

Thanks to Lauren for the link.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time isn't your typical murder mystery, because in this book the murder victim is Wellington. Wellington is a poodle, a poodle belonging to Mrs. Shears. Mrs. Shears is the neighbor of the narrator, Christopher John Francis Boone. Christopher isn't your typical protagonist either. Christopher is autistic and takes everything literally. He doesn't understand emotions, sarcasm, or even jokes, and that is why there are no jokes in this book.

When Christopher is accused of killing Wellington, he takes it upon himself to investigate in order to find the real killer. Prompted by his teacher, Siobhan, he writes down what he learns in the form of a murder-mystery novel. Along the way, Christopher's investigation leads him to some unexpected information about his own family and the end of his parents' marriage.

Christopher is also a mathematical genius, and he is working on passing his A-levels in mathematics (the British version of American high school Advanced Placement tests). Christopher often explains the way he thinks about things by describing math puzzles, so there are a lot of diagrams and drawings in the book. While I listened to the audio version and liked it very much, I do feel like I missed out by not reading the book.

Mark Haddon chooses a curious narrator for his curious book. He explores human emotion through a character who cannot experience emotion himself. As we follow along with Christopher we learn about the daily struggles he faces that make his investigation even more difficult. For example, seeing 5 red cars in a row makes it a Super Good Day, but 4 yellow cars in a row makes it a Black Day.

Despite Christopher's assertion that there are no jokes, the book is both funny and illuminating. At no point does the reader feel as though they are laughing at Christopher, but at themselves. Christopher's dry observations about things he doesn't understand, shows the reader how very silly we are sometimes. Haddon himself worked with autistic children as a young man and is able to give the reader a glimpse into what like is like for teens like Christopher, handling the subject with grace.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is also a great book for Young Adults, having made the Top Ten List of Best Books for Young Adults in 2004 and winning an Alex Award (adult books with appeal for teens) the same year. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, is a book written for young adults in which Marcelo, a high-functioning, autistic, 17-year-old, is pushed out of his comfort zone and into the mailroom of his father's law firm.

If you'd like a rather non-traditional memoir, try Episodes: My Life as I See It by Blaze Ginsberg, a high-functioning, autistic young man who tells the story of his life as episodes in the format of the Internet Movie Database.

For a parent's perspective, try Louder than Words by Jenny McCarthy or Making Peace with Autism by Susan Senator.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stitches by David Small

Stitches is the haunting, graphic memoir of the award-winning children’s illustrator, David Small. As a child, Small's health problems were treated with a series of x-rays, administered by his father. The resulting cancer went long untreated and caused the loss of one of his vocal chords. Since the surgery, he has never been able to speak in more than a whisper. In a story that could only be told graphically, Small shows how his own enforced silence was a reflection of the silence in his own family. The spare text and monochromatic illustrations reinforce the lack of dialogue.

If you have always wanted to try a graphic novel, Stitches isn't a bad place to start. It has been highly-praised by a number of reviewers and can be read in less than an hour. As a word of caution, the book does contain some nudity, language, and acts of violence. Elements such as these tend to be harder for some readers to "skip over" as you could in a novel.


Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi. Another great graphic memoir which depicts Satrapi's life in Iran, during and after the Islamic Revolution. It was adapted to film in 2007.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. The children of Rex and Rose Mary Walls learned from a young age to take care of themselves, spurred on by their nomadic and frequently neglectful parents.

The Art of Mending
by Elizabeth Berg. Laura Bartone must reconcile her sister's accusations of abuse by her mother, with her own happy childhood.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

January Book Clubs at the Library

The Adult Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room. Members will discuss Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell on January 13, 2010. A 38-year-old Ohio spinster school teacher, along with her little dog, travels to Egypt where she meets T. E. Lawrence and Winston Churchill, and falls in love with a German spy.

The Mystery Book Club meets on the third Wednesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. in Meeting Room B. On January 20, 2010, members will discuss Envy the Night by Michael Koryta. In Koryta's latest thriller, a young man runs into serious trouble while going after the mobster he believes is responsible for his father's death.

New members are always welcome. Stop by to pick up your copy at the Adult Services Reference Desk on the second floor.

There is still time to read the December selections. The Adult Book Club is reading The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, and the Mystery Book Club is reading Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer.