Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gretchen recommends "Our Souls at Night"

Kent Haruf’s final posthumous book, “Our Souls at Night” is one that resonates long after the last chapter.  The slim book is a moving meditation on old age, life’s expectations and disappointments, and the little things that matter.  Two neighbors come to share company with each other in an unexpected way—even to each other.  They discover it’s never too late to love.  The author’s spare, plain-spoken dialogue is both humorous at times and often poignant as his characters relate their lives and hard-earned wisdom.  Haruf also manages to weave his other Holt, Colorado books into the story in a clever way in this understated and satisfying denouement to his writing career. 

For adults.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kathy Recommends "Eight Hundred Grapes" by Laura Dave

Just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her fiance has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.  Georgia does what she’s always done.  She returns home to the family vineyard in the Sonoma Valley, expecting the comfort of her parents, her brothers, and everything familiar.  But it turns out, the comfort she is seeking is shattered with more secrets and the messy realities of family. What begins as a light romantic comedy—complete with bride-to-be fleeing Los Angeles in her wedding dress—becomes a thoughtful exploration of the shared history that makes a family.

Recommended for those who enjoy Emily Giffin or JoJo Moyes.  For adults.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Karen recommends "The Martian's Daughter"

 The Martian's daughter : a memoir

The Martian’s Daughter is Dr. Marina von Neumann Whitman’s memoir of her tumultuous childhood, her adolescence surrounded by great minds including Einstein, and her adulthood accomplishments which broke barriers for women in academia, government and industry.

Marina is the daughter of John and Marietta von Neumann, Hungarian immigrants who projected their high expectations. It was her father, John von Neumann, often regarded as the greatest mathematician, whose contributions include: game theory, quantum mechanics, nuclear weapons including involvement in the Manhattan Project, as well as computer architecture, whose influence resonated in Marina’s life.

 “Were it not for his oft-repeated conviction that everyone — man or woman — had a moral obligation to make full use of her or his intellectual capacities, I might not have pushed myself to such a level of academic achievement or set my sights on a lifelong professional commitment at a time when society made it difficult for a woman to combine a career with family obligations.”

During the Nixon presidency, Dr. Whitman was the first woman to serve on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.  She was the highest-ranking female executive in the U.S. auto industry as GM's vice president and chief economist in the 1980’s.

While serving in her various roles, Dr. Whitman, created friendships which lasted a lifetime. She shares her insights into the personalities and minds of many individuals who affected public policy and industry, including President Richard M. Nixon and GM's  Chairman, Roger Smith.  Dr. Whitman also discusses her own perceived failures with painful candor.  Currently, Marina v.N. Whitman is a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan's Ford School and also holds an appointment at the Ross School of Business Administration.

The final sentence of the final chapter, “Having It All”, Dr. Whitman states:  “My father’s shadow has lifted at last, if we meet again, it will be in sunlight.” 

Recommended for adults.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kathy recommends "The Bullet" by Mary Louise Kelly

The bullet

Two words:  The Bullet.

That’s all it takes to shatter her life.  In a split second, everything she’s known is proved to be a lie.

It began with a simple pain in her wrist.  Caroline Cashion, a professor of French literature at Georgetown University, is stunned when she  goes for an MRI.   Doctors discover a bullet lodged near the base of her skull, one that Caroline had no idea existed.  When questioned, her parents admit the shocking truth. They adopted Caroline at the age of three after her birth parents were murdered in cold blood.  Caroline was wounded – a bullet buried too close to her spinal cord to remove.

Now, thirty-four years later, Caroline is desperate to discover what really happened. 

The Bullet is a riveting thriller, with twists and turns, impeccably  written by a former journalist for NPR and the BBC.

Recommended for Adults.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Gretchen recommends "Find the Good: unexpected life lessons from a small-town obituary writer"

Find the good : unexpected life lessons from a small-town obituary writer
“Find the Good” is a little book with a big heart.  Heather Lende, obituary writer for the newspaper in Haines, Alaska, has done it again.  Her latest book chronicles life lessons from her own family and the people who live in her remote, small town.  Her wry and often poignant observations and reflections, however, are universal.  Challenged to come up with a pithy piece of wisdom to live by, she reminds us through her stories that you never know what life will bring, but find the good.    I once heard Heather Lende give a talk on her first book at a Barnes and Noble in Alaska.  Her unpretentious manner and storytelling were winsome.  She’s now a grandmother, and I look forward to each new book, brimming with wit and wisdom and always a bit of wackiness too.