Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kathy recommends "Black Fridays"

Black Fridays” is a financial thriller ala "The Firm". The novel is an impressive debut by Michael Sears, who spent over twenty years on Wall Street, rising to managing director at Paine Webber and Jeffries & Co., before leaving the business in 2005.

Jason Stafford was a hot shot on Wall Street until he did some creative record keeping and was sent to prison.  Now, Jason is trying to put his life back together, with his autistic son, after his release from prison. He takes a consulting position with another Wall Street firm and is enmeshed in a high stakes murder mystery. Well written, with good character development.  Appropriate for adults.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tracy recommends "The Knitter's Life List"

Tracy recommends “The Knitter’s Life List” by Gwen W. Steege.    This is one book that I will add to my personal library.  It is not exactly a pattern book, but is full of tidbits of information on anything you might like to knit.  The photographs are fun, the lists are comprehensive.  One could take just a chapter and use it as a “bucket list” of knitting.  I would recommend it for knitters of any age or any skill.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Matt recommends 'Moby-Dick'

Yes, that Moby-Dick. The original. The one with crazy, obsessed Ahab and the mysterious white whale and "Call me Ishmael" and Queequeg the friendly cannibal. The one that was apparently greeted upon its publication in 1851 with a collective, head-scratching "Huh?" and only seventy years later became recognized as a bona fide literary masterpiece.

It's a wonderfully weird book, Moby-Dick. Ishmael, the narrator, is constantly digressing from the story to ponder the color white, for instance, or to list and describe the known species of whales, or to consider the history of whales in art. And occasionally, seemingly out of nowhere, the book transforms into a drama, complete with stage directions, dialogue, monologues, and asides.

It's funny, too, downright hilarious in some parts (especially toward the beginning.) I didn't know that before I started reading it. Nobody talks much about Moby-Dick as being funny, playful, experimental, or fun to read, but it is very much all these things. Which is not to say it doesn’t get gloomy and serious, too. (Spoiler alert: the ship sinks and almost everybody dies.) It’s a lot of things, all at once. When I picked it up off the shelf and decided it was finally time to dive in, I expected to find a dusty, dense, difficult tome that felt like work to get through. It’s definitely a commitment (it took me about two months) and you might need a hand deciphering some of the historical and literary references (this annotated online version is a great help), but if your experience is anything like mine, it will feel more like an adventure than a burden.

For the two months I spent with Moby-Dick, I was entertained, challenged, surprised, and caught up in a grand tale. I was repeatedly moved by the sheer beauty of Herman Melville’s peerless writing (the whale, “gliding at high noon through a dark blue sea leav[es] a milky-way wake of creamy foam, all spangled with golden gleamings”), and struck by the intriguing questions the book raises about fate, obsession, the limits of our knowledge, and our complex relationship to nature.

In all, reading Moby-Dick was a great reminder that every once in a while, it’s a good idea to pick up one of those classics that everybody’s heard about but that not many people actually read anymore, and see what made it a classic in the first place. What you find might surprise you.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Michelle recommends "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain

“I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her”
-- Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Hadley Richardson is The Paris Wife.  Ernest Hemingway is a young man in his early twenties trying to start his career as a writer when he meets and falls in love with Hadley Richardson.   This historical fiction novel takes the reader through their quick romance and marriage in Paris in the 1920s.  And although Hadley is a young 28 year old woman coming from a repressive childhood in the beginning of the novel, the story takes the reader through her growth as a woman showing how Paris and her relationship with Ernest cultivated this growth.

It naturally goes beyond their marriage to the characters that also worked, created and played in Paris during the same time period; describing Hemingway’s work as a writer and their connections with people like Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

As we prepared to discuss this title for a book discussion I expected a lot of grumbling about Ernest Hemingway and was pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment all the readers got from Hadley Richardson and how it surpassed Ernest’s betrayal.  This is a story of young writer’s determination and betrayal, with a lot of alcohol and glittering characters throughout. 

Recommended for Adults

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Kathy recommends "Lemons and lavender: the eco guide to better homekeeping" by Billee Sharp

“Bursting with ways to downshift, simplify, preserve resources, and honor the planet, Lemons and Lavender will give you tools to reclaim a purer, tastier, healthier and less expensive way of life. Sharp shares her radical common sense and revolutionary "freeconomics" approach to budgeting in this step-by-step guide to the good life.

Creative ideas inside Lemons and Lavender:

• Garden-to-table recipes for every meal

• Eco-deco ideas for furnishing your home

• Recipes for nontoxic cleaners, house paint and more

• Start a seed sharing garden with your neighbors

• Easy-to-make gifts with handcrafted gift wrap

• Grow your own cup of delicious herbal tea

• Learn to use organic sea salts, skin scrubs and detox bath therapies” (From the Back Cover)

Recommended for adults and teens