Posted in Books & Film News, Staff Pick Books

What We Read This Summer


We missed the students this summer and had to entertain ourselves by reading.  Here are few of the titles we enjoyed.  Let us know if you have read any of these titles!

Manatee Insanity (Florida History and Culture Series)

Author: Craig Pittman
Location: Stack 3 / Call # QL737 .S63 P58 2010
Picked by :Laura Ray
Amazon description: As passions have flared and resentments have grown, the battle over manatee protection has evolved into a war, and no reporter has followed the story more closely than Craig Pittman. He’s flown with scientists trying to count manatees from overhead. He’s been on the water with the leader of the biggest pro-boater group. He’s observed biologists dissecting the animals and politicians discussing their fate.  Manatee Insanity provides the first in-depth history of the attempts to provide legal protection for the manatee. Along the way, Pittman takes a close look at the major and minor players in the dispute, from Jacques-Yves Cousteau to Jeb Bush, from Jimmy Buffett to O. J. Simpson, from a popular children’s book author to a federal lawman who dressed in a gorilla suit for the ultimate undercover assignment.

The Lacuna

Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Location:  Browsing- 1st floor / Call # Browsing PS3561 .I496 L33 2009
Picked by: Laura Ray
Publisher’s description: The story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds — Mexico and the United States in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s — and whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the twentieth century’s most tumultuous events.

Getting Mother’s Body: a Novel

Author:  Suzan-Lori Parks
Call Number/Location:  Browsing
Picked by: Resa Harney
Amazon Description:  Like a country quilt, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s spellbinding first novel, Getting Mother’s Body, is pieced together from rags: short and slanted scraps of narrative recounted by various friends and members of the hard-luck Beede clan of Ector County, Texas. These sad, wily, bickering voices tell the story of Billy Beede–poor, unmarried, and pregnant–and her dead mother, the “hot and wild” blues singer, Willa Mae Beede, who may or may not have been laid to rest with a fortune of diamonds and pearls in her coffin. When a letter arrives announcing that a supermarket is being built on the ground where Willa Mae was buried, Billy determines to dig her up and get the jewels. But Willa Mae’s embittered female lover, Dill Smiles, is just as intent on keeping the corpse in the ground. Deeper and richer than a typical quest novel, Getting Mother’s Body is also the story of an African-American family, of beauty winding like bright thread through long-held grudges, hopelessness, and greed. –Regina Marler

Hotel Iris

Author: Yoko Ogawa
Call Number/Location: Browsing
Picked by: Resa Harney
Amazon Description: Ogawa (The Housekeeper and the Professor) explores the power of words to allure and destroy in this haiku-like fable of love contorted into obsession. One rainy evening, Mari, a downtrodden 17-year-old who helps her demanding mother run a seedy seaside hotel, overhears a middle-aged male guest ordering an offended prostitute to be silent. In the days that follow, every word—both spoken and conveyed in surreptitious letters—from this man, a hack translator who may have killed his wife, gradually and inexorably leads Mari to submit to his every sadistic desire. Ogawa’s relentlessly spare prose captures both Mari’s yearning for her lost father and the translator’s bipolar oscillation between insecure tenderness and meticulously modulated rage. As this savage novel drives to its inevitable conclusion, Mari’s world collapses around her in both a terrifying bang and a pitiful whimper.

Backseat Saints [Kindle edition]

Author:  Joshilyn Jackson (coming to the Decatur Book Festival)
Call Number/Location:   Decatur Public Library
Picked by:  Liz Bagley
Description: After an airport gypsy predicts that Rose’s violent husband will harm her, Rose grabs her dog Gretel and sets out on a cross-country escape, following messages that her missing mother has left for her and unraveling family secrets.

Bossypants

Author: Tina Fey
Call Number/Location:   Browsing – 1st Floor.
Picked by:  Liz Bagley & Erica Bodnar
Description: Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her. Before 30 Rock, Mean Girls and ‘Sarah Palin’, Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true. At last, Tina Fey’s story has been told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

Caucasia

Author:  Danzy Senna
Call Number/Location: Browsing – 1st Floor.  PS3569.E618 C38 1999
Picked by: Erica Bodnar
Worldcat Description:  A novel on children of mixed marriages. The protagonists are two sisters in Boston, daughters of a black professor and a white woman. One daughter passes for black and attends black school while her sister passes for white and attends white school. But the classmates know and when it comes to bigotry, equality reigns among the races. A debut in fiction. Birdie and Cole are the daughters of a black father and a white mother, intellectuals and activists in the Civil Rights Movement in 1970s Boston. The sisters are so close that they have created a private language, yet to the outside world they can’t be sisters: Birdie appears to be white, while Cole is dark enough to fit in with the other kids at the Afrocentric school they attend. For Birdie, Cole is the mirror in which she can see her own blackness. Then their parents’ marriage falls apart. Their father’s new black girlfriend won’t even look at Birdie, while their mother gives her life over to the Movement: at night the sisters watch mysterious men arrive with bundles shaped like rifles. One night Birdie watches her father and his girlfriend drive away with Cole-they have gone to Brazil, she will later learn, where her father hopes for a racial equality he will never find in the States. The next morning-in the belief that the Feds are after them-Birdie and her mother leave everything behind: their house and possessions, their friends, and-most disturbing of all-their identity. Passing as the daughter and wife of a deceased Jewish professor, Birdie and her mother finally make their home in New Hampshire. Desperate to find Cole, yet afraid of betraying her mother and herself to some unknown danger, Birdie must learn to navigate the white world-so that when she sets off in search of her sister, she is ready for what she will find.

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