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Mostly lists and information about award books and other interesting lists of books, color coded as follows:

RED–Read since ~2000
PINK–Read before that
BLUE–To Be Read and Added to Goodreads

NOTE: Listings may not be complete and sources aren't always quoted but I'm working on that.

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Book Montage

Catherine 's to-read book montage

The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden
Only You Can Save Mankind
Nice and Mean
Cruisers Book 1
The City of Ember
Crispin: The End of Time
Lost Goat Lane
Amelia Rules! Volume 1: The Whole World's Crazy
How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life
As Simple as It Seems
Wolf Brother
The Ogre of Oglefort
The Pickle King

Catherine 's favorite books »

Monday, June 29, 2009

Royal Society science book prize shortlist (2009)

Royal Society announces science book prize shortlist

Guardian article on science book prize nominees

The shortlist is a smorgasbord of popular science writing offering a taste of evolutionary biology, statistics, archaeology, olfaction, good science and bad science

Today the Royal Society announced the shortlist for its science book prize. It's a strong field of contenders for the £10,000 prize money. Regular readers of the Guardian and fans of our Science Weekly podcast will already be familiar with the finalists. One of the shortlisted books was recently picked over by our Science Book Club, one of the authors writes a popular weekly column for the Guardian, and two have been guests on the podcast.

Sir Tim Hunt, who chairs the panel of judges, said: "There's clearly a large audience for books that explain science clearly and gracefully, and no shortage of authors. Choosing a final list of six books from the big boxes of books that arrived on our doorsteps – over 120 books were submitted – was a challenging pleasure."

Here's the shortlist:

What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life by Avery Gilbert
Olfaction expert Gilbert takes us on a journey through the world of aroma, describing the latest scientific discoveries and exposing popular misconceptions about smell. Apparently the human nose is almost as sensitive as the noses of many animals, including dogs; blind people do not have enhanced powers of smell; and perfumers excel at their jobs not because they have superior noses, but because they have perfected the art of thinking about scents.

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (Harper Perennial)
Goldacre writes the popular Bad Science column on Saturdays in the Guardian. Like the column, his book is about the shoddy, misleading science we are bombarded with by the media and in advertising. The updated paperback edition includes a damning chapter on Matthias Rath, the vitamin-pill entrepreneur who unsuccessfully sued him for libel.

The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes
Holmes charts the rise of modern science in the late 18th century through the lives of botanist Joseph Banks, astronomer William Herschel, explorer Mungo Park and chemist Humphry Davy, and explores its influence on writers and romantic poets including Mary Shelley, Coleridge, Byron and Keats. Reviewing the book for the Science Book Club in May, Tim Radford wrote: "This is a rich, crowded book, with something luminous, provoking and instructive on every page. The discussions of the challenges of 18th century astronomy, or of the first faltering explorations of chemistry, are as illuminating as any formal scientific history, and twice as readable."

Decoding the Heavens: Solving the Mystery of the World's First Computer by Jo Marchant
Marchant tells for the first time the story of the 100-year quest to understand an ancient mechanism discovered at the bottom of the Mediterranean among the wreckage of an Ancient Greek shipwreck. What appeared to be a formless lump of rock turned out to be the most stunning scientific artefact to survive from antiquity. Marchant came into the studio in October to talk about the Antikythera mechanism for our Science Weekly podcast.

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow
Mlodinow uncovers the psychological illusions that prevent us understanding stockmarkets, lotteries, road safety ... and wine-tasting. According to the book jacket, he also "reveals the truth about the success of sporting heroes and film stars, and even how to make sense of a blood test".

Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin
An expert in evolutionary history, Shubin "shows that if we want to know why we hiccup, the answer is in the way fish breathe; and explains why it is that fish teeth are surprisingly similar to human breasts."

Friday, June 26, 2009

The NY Times Book Review's Top Ten (2005,2009)

The New York Times named its 10 best books of 2009, noting that "after so many years, and so many lists, you might think the task of choosing the 10 Best Books would get easier. If only. The sublime story collections alone created agonies of indecision. So did the superb literary biographies we read--and deeply admired. But in the end the decisions had to be made."
2009's top 10:


Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy (short stories)
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (Knopf)
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)
A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert (Scribner)


The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes
The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed
Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life by Carol Sklenicka

The New York Times Book Review yesterday listed its top 10 titles for 2005:

* Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, $25.95, 1400043662). "This graceful and dreamily cerebral novel, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel, tells two stories--that of a boy fleeing an Oedipal prophecy, and that of a witless old man who can talk to cats."
* On Beauty by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press, $25.95, 1594200637). Smith shows "a crisp intellect, a lovely wit and enormous sympathy for the men, women and children who populate her story. "
* Prep: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, $13.95, 081297235X). "This calm and memorably incisive first novel, about a scholarship girl who heads east to attend an elite prep school, casts an unshakable spell and has plenty to say about class, sex and character."
* Saturday by Ian McEwan (Talese/Doubleday, $26, 0385511809). "As bracing and as carefully constructed as anything McEwan has written."
* Veronica: A Novel by Mary Gaitskill (Pantheon, $23, 0375421459). A "mesmerizingly dark novel . . . narrated by a former Paris model."
* The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer (FSG, $26, 0374299633). "A comprehensive look at the largest foreign policy gamble in a generation."
* de Kooning: An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan (Knopf, $35, 1400041759). "A sweeping biography, impressively researched and absorbingly written."
* The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr (Random House, $24.95, 0375508015). A "gripping narrative, populated by a beguiling cast of scholars, historians, art restorers and aging nobles, records the search for Caravaggio's Taking of Christ, painted in 1602 and rediscovered in 1990."
* Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt (Penguin Press, $39.95, 1594200653). "Massive, learned, beautifully detailed."
* The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Knopf, $23.95, 140004314X). "A prose master's harrowing yet exhilarating memoir."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Places to go -- or to read about!

A listing of suggested places and experiences a well-traveled geographer
should experience. With a lot of help from the visitors to our Geography
Forum, here's the list...

Specific Locations

* Abu Simbel, Egypt
* Amazon River and Rainforest
* Anasazi Ruins in Southwest USA (Canyon de Chelly and Mesa Verde)
* Andalucia Region of Spain
* Angel Falls, Venezuela
* Angkor Wat, Cambodia
* Antarctica
* Arches National Park, Utah
* The Badlands
* Bay of Fundy
* The Berner Oberland and Zermatt, Switzerland
* Big Sur and Monterey Bay, California
* Brugge, Belgium
* Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
* The Canadian Rockies
* Cappadocia, Turkey
* Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
* Channel Tunnel
* The Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island
* Dubrovnik, Croatia
* Fez, Morocco
* The Fjords of Norway
* Four Corners, Colorado-Arizona-New Mexico-Utah
* Glacier National Park (especially Going-To-The-Sun Road), Montana
* Grand Canyon (North Rim)
* Great Barrier Reef, Australia
* Greenwich Observatory and stand on zero degrees longitude
* Guilin, China
* Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
* Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall
* Hanalei Bay, Hawaii
* Hilo, Hawaii
* The islands of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides
* Istanbul, Turkey
* Lake Baikal
* The Lake District, England
* Macchu Picchu, Peru
* Mall of America, Minnesota
* Natural Bridge, Florida
* Nile River
* North and South Poles (if Michael Palin can go there, anyone can).
* Olympic National Park, Washington
* Panama Canal -- McCullough. Path Between the Seas and several others
* Paris, France
* Petra, Jordan
* Pompeii
* Prague, Czech Republic
* The Pyramids
* Rural Northern New England in the autumn (or any season for that matter)
* Sagres
* San Francisco, California
* Sears Tower, Chicago
* Sequoia National Park, California
* The Serengeti
* Shinto shrines in Kyoto and throughout Japan
* St. Petersburg, Russia
* Stonehenge (and Avebury)
* Straits of Gibraltar
* Suez Canal
* Sydney, Australia
* Tallinn, Estonia
* Tracy Arm, Southeast Alaska
* Uluru, Australia
* Venice and northern Italy
* White Mountains of New Hampshire
* Yellowstone National Park
* Yosemite National Park, California
* Zion Canyon's The Narrows

General Locations

* Cross the International Date Line
* Equator
* Explore a deep cave
* Find a place on earth where you cannot see any evidence of human impact
at all, including light pollution or noise
* A major desert
* Sail or boat across the major oceans
* See a huge city - L.A., Mexico City, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, N.Y.C., etc.
* See a large waterfall
* See the ocean, especially the Atlantic and Pacific
* See the view from the top floor of a really tall building
* Travel to a place with a different language and culture
* Visit a national capital (and capitol?)
* Visit a permafrost landscape
* Visit a point below sea level (on land)
* Visit each continent
* Visit every country on your home continent
* Visit one of the world's largest airports
* Visit each major climate zone (Koppen) -- Does the Biosphere count?
* Visit the geologic eccentricities of Iceland


* Climb a mountain
* Cross an International Boundary
* Eat a different food from a different country every night for a month
* Experience a hurricane - no thanks
* Experience a significant earthquake - no thanks
* Feel hailstones larger than marbles
* Have a real friend in several countries
* Observe a tidal bore
* See a glacier calve
* See and hear a flash flood - no thanks
* See and smell a live volcano - no thanks
* See significant river or coastal flooding
* Speak at least two languages fluently - too late to speak, but reading I'd try
* View the Aurora Borealis or Aurora Australis
* Walk on a sand dune in a desert where you cannot see anything but sand
in any direction
* Witness an avalanche - no thanks
* Witness a solar eclipse
* Witness a tornado - no thanks
* Whale-watching in Baja California

Monday, June 15, 2009

NPR's Morning Edition: Summer's Best Reads

On NPR's Morning Edition, Susan Stamberg hosted three independent booksellers who shared their picks for the "Summer's Best Reads." Stamberg noted, "Whatever your reading pleasure--be it fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir or graphic novels--you're sure to find page after page of pleasant escape in the recommendations that follow." The choices:

Rona Brinlee, the Bookmark, Atlantic Beach, Fla.

The Four Corners of the Sky: A Novel by Michael Malone
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
Stone's Fall by Iain Pears

Chris Livingston, the Book Shelf, Winona, Minn.

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart
The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang
The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
Laura Rider's Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Lucia Silva, Portrait of a Bookstore, Studio City, Calif.

Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen
Tunneling to the Center of the Earth: Stories by Kevin Wilson
Mirrors by Eduardo Galeano, translated by Mark Fried
The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert (text and illustrations) and Didier Lefevre (photographs)
Oh! A Mystery of Mono No Aware by Todd Shimoda, artwork by Linda Shimoda

Friday, June 12, 2009

Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance 2009

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama won the £5,000 (US$8,298) Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. The Guardian reported that Zama, an IT director for an investment bank who wrote his book while riding on the train to work, "is the first man to win the award, and was the only male author on a shortlist of six."

"It's a little bit unusual that a man is writing in this genre," said Zama. "But my book is not a typical chick lit book. It's set in India, and deals with reasonably serious topics--but at heart it is a romantic novel. . . . In England at the moment there is a big divide between literary fiction and popular fiction. The fact that so many people do read for escape is an important factor that needs to be recognized. It doesn't mean that because something is comedy romance that the writing can't be good, or that deeper topics can't be addressed. It's just a matter of finding the balance."

The other shortlisted books were The Secret Shopper's Revenge by Kate Harrison, Bridesmaids by Jane Costello, Recipe for Disaster by Miriam Morrison, A Winter's Tale by Trisha Ashley and The Importance of Being Emma by Juliet Archer.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

2005 Whitbread Book Awards

Awards: The Whitbread Five

The winners of the five categories of the Whitbread Awards (the last to be sponsored by Whitbread) were announced January 4, 2005:

Best novel: The Accidental by Ali Smith
First Novel: The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
Poetry Collection: Cold Calls by Christopher Logue
Biography: Matisse the Master: A Life of Henri Matisse: The Conquest of Colour: 1909-1954 by Hilary Spurling
Children's Book: The New Policeman by Kate Thompson

The five authors each receive £5,000 and compete for the Whitbread Book of the Year, which will be announced at a ceremony in London on January 24.

1/24: The £25,000 Whitbread Book of the Year award has gone to Matisse the Master by Hilary Spurling (Knopf, $40, 0679434291), which had won the best biography Whitbread award earlier this month (Shelf Awareness, January 4).

The chair of the judging panel said Spurling "has opened our eyes to great art, and done it in an extraordinary way." For her part, Spurling told the BBC that she was "gobsmacked."

Whitbread, since 1971 the main sponsor of the awards, which are open to residents of the Britain and Ireland, has announced that it will no longer be involved in the awards. A search is on for what next year may be the non-Whitbread.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Counterinsurgency reading list from Canadian Forces

From: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/witness-kandahar/know-thy-military-the-canadian-forces-reading-list/article1158648/

A partial list of the Canadian Forces' "suggested readings in counterinsurgency," follows below.

The upshot? Counterinsurgency (COIN, in military vernacular) ain't easy -- never was, never is, never will be.

And just because a country fears being drawn into a bloody quagmire, doesn't mean that it can't try to discern lessons from the bloody quagmires of ages past.

- Islam, Karen Armstrong (2002)

- Inside al-Qaeda, Rohan Gunarathna (2002)

- The War of Ideas: Jihad Against Democracy, Walid Phares (2007)

- The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism (2001)

- The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahedeen Tactics in the Soviet Afghanistan War, Colonel Jalali (2000)

- Revolt in the Desert, T.E. Lawrence (2004)

- History of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire,

- Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya, Caroline Elkins, (2005)

- Pacification in Algeria: 1956-1958, David Galula (2005)

- The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British Intelligence, Tony Geraghty (2000)

- Fighting for Ireland? The Military Strategy of the IRA, M.L.R. Smith (1995)

- Strategy in Vietnam: The Marines and Revolutionary Warfare in I Corps, Michael Hennessy, (1997)

- Communist Revolutionary Warfare: From the Vietminh to Viet Cong, George Tanham, (1967)

- Defeating Communist Insurgency, The Lessons of Malaya and Vietnam, Sir Robert Thompson (2005)

- Counter-Guerrilla Operations: The Philippine Experience, Charles Bohannan (1962)

- COIN in a Test Tube: Analyzing the Success of the Regional Assistance Mission, Solomon Islands, Russell Glenn (2007)

- Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency Roger Trinquier (1964)

- War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History, Robert B. Asprey (1994)

- Mars Learning: The Marine Corps Development of Small Wars Doctrine 1915-1940, Keith Bickel (2001)

- U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1860-1941, Andrew Birtle (1998)

- U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine 1942-1976, Andrew Birtle (1998)

And so on. ...

Feeback? colinfreezeisinafghanistan@gmail.com

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Reading from beaumontenterprise.com

Dip into the summer reading pool with these hot book picks


May 27, 2009
Posted: May 27, 2009, 5:15 PM CDT Last updated: May 27, 2009, 10:39 PM CDT

"Frankly my dear ... " it's time you get a new summer read.
Beach season and long lazy days have arrived! In anticipation of future family road trips and days spent sea side, we asked some familiar names to share their favorite summer literary picks.
Patsy Herrington, director of the W.H. Stark House in Orange
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan -- "Horan's first novel - a fictional story based on the lives of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney."
Welcome to the Departure Lounge: Adventures in Mothering Mother by Meg Federico. "A timely story about the last years of a parent's life."
Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum. "Excellent account of lives before and after Katrina in New Orleans."
A Weekend in September by John Edward Weems. "First published in late 1950s, the story of the 1900 Storm in Galveston."
David Sorrells, associate professor of English at Lamar State College-Port Arthur
The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Following the tragic death of his wife and best friend, Shadow meets and starts a relationship with Mr. Wednesday, a trickster and a con. In the end, it will be up to Shadow to find his way out of the dark to redemption.
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips. An entertaining novel set in North London, where the Greek gods have been living in obscurity since the seventeenth century.
Just After Sunset by Stephen King. Call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you.
-"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" by J.K. Rowling
"Now, I'm rereading 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' before the movie comes out! This new installment presents parents and kids with yet another opportunity to read and enjoy a well-crafted story together, both in print and on the screen."
Carol Boettcher, education coordinator at the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur
-"Shopaholic" series by Sophie Kinsella.
"They are light, funny and easy to read - in my mind they are the perfect weekend at the beach kind of book. Plus, the movie 'Confessions of a Shopaholic' comes out on DVD in June.
-"Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. "Bees" was Boettcher's favorite summer read of 2008.
-"Always Looking Up" By Michael J. Fox.
Fox's autobiography is on Boettcher's list for this summer.
-"Outliers" by Malcom Gladwell.
Boettcher, who describes herself as an avid reader, said she wants to catch up with Gladwell's lasted book this summer. "I read Gladwell's 'Blink' and 'Tipping Point' last summer/fall and loved them both."
Molli Hall, Marion and Ed Hughes Public Library in Nederland
- "Spiderwick Chronicles" by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
"For the younger grade schooler we suggest 'The Spiderwick Chronicles,' the Judy Moody series and the Stink series (he is Judy Moody's brother and is just right for boys)."
- "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" by J.K. Rowling.
"For middle school students we suggest the Harry Potter series and the Eragon series. But for some of the kids who would be less likely to read, there is a wide range of graphic novels that are popular and fun to read."
-"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Jane Austen Seth Grahame-Smith
"High schoolers are now moving into the adult fiction and even some of the classic titles to get ready for school. But for the ones that are not really sure. a new title has come out called 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'. And yes, there are zombies in it as it follows the classic story."
- "Last Cato" by Matilde Asensi.
"Last Cato" blends Christian scholarship with a thrilling adventure into Vera Cruz as holy relics begin disappearing from the Vatican.
- "Promises in Death" by J.D. Robb.
A fictional investigation into the death of a New York City cop who was gunned down with her own weapon just steps from her home.
Cindy Giglio, Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Beaumont
"Katherine" by Anya Seaton.
"It's a classic romance novel that tells the true story of a love affair during the War of the Roses. It was my mother's favorite. I read it after she passed away and now my daughter loves it."
Patsy Gage, Beaumont Public Library
"Michelle," by Liza Mundy
"It's a great biography that tells you about our First Lady, where she came from, and why she has the views that she has."
Brook Doss, Orange Community Players
"Wicked" by Gregory McGuire.
"Is a great Broadway musical based on the book. It is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good witch- BEFORE Dorothy and company make it into Oz. A LOT of fun!"
Marquelia Hartman, Beaumont Public Library
The Long Fall by Walter Mosley. It's a redemption story and murder mystery wrapped into one as the protagonist tries to solve a crime while making up for his past mistakes. "It makes you want to keep reading it - you can't put it down."
Shannon Harris, director of the Museum of the Gulf Coast
I have so many favs but here are a few:
"Jackdaws" by Ken Follett.
"A nail-biting novel."
"Life on the Color Line" by Gregory Howard Williams.
"Is a gut-wrenching autobiography."
"Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins.
"An inspirational memoir."
Geri Roberts, Library Director, Beaumont Public Library
The Diary by Eileen Goudge. Two sisters unravel the story of who their mother's true love was when they find her old diary after her death.
Louise Wood, communications at Lamar University in Beaumont
For light, escapist summer reads, I recommend any of several offerings from the detective/crime genre:
-Raymond Chandler's "Phillip Marlow" series, just read #1, The Big Sleep

-John D. MacDonald's "Travis McGee" series
-John Sandford's "Lucas Davenport" -- Rules Of Prey (Lucas Davenport, #1)
-James Lee Burke's "Dave Robicheaux" -- The Neon Rain (#1)

-Robert B. Parker's "Spenser" -- The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser, Book 1)
-Jeffert Deaver's "Lincoln Rhyme" -- The Bone Collector (Lincoln Rhyme, #1)
-Michael Connelly's "Harry Bosch" -- The Black Echo (Harry Bosch, #1)
"And, my most recent discovery, Carole Nelson Douglas's Midnight Louie series, about a cat (Midnight Louie) and a PR woman (Temple Barr) who solve crimes in Vegas - very light and escapist. I read the fourth in the series and am now starting from the first. The 21st is due out in August. I happen to have a list because the first read piqued my interest."
"For serious reading, my all-time favorite is Lawrence Durrell's 'Alexandria Quartet' - 'Justine,' 'Balthazar,' 'Mountolive' and 'Clea.' The quartet features different vantage points on the same story, plus amazingly drawn characters in exotic settings, pure poetry."
Robin Smith, children's librarian, Beaumont Public Library
"The Graveyard Book," by Neil Gaiman
The most recent winner of the Newbery Medal follows the story of a boy who's raised by a family of ghosts after his family is killed by a stranger.
Jerome Dick, Neches River Festival chairperson
"I'm currently reading 'Garden Spells' by Sarah Addison Allen. It's a whimsical, romantic, and light summer read. The characters are intriguing, and the plot is engaging. No heavy lifting required. The overall tone of the book is Southern and charming like sipping on iced tea with fresh mint and honey on a shady wooden porch with a porch swing. You can smell the jasmine and gardenias as the sisters of this eclectic family slowly unwind a few family snarls from years gone by. I haven't finished it, but it definitely gets me in the mood for the slower rhythms of summer."
Yvonne Sutherlin, Port Arthur historian
-"Love Janis", by Laura Joplin (her sister.)
"By far the best written documentation of the real Janis Joplin - a MUST summer read. Laura presents the REAL story of Janis as shown by the letters Janis wrote to her family - it is at times funny, heartbreaking, and fascinating.
Janis' lifestyle, her choice of language, and her attempts to cook and make her own costumes, et al, leave an impression - that yes, Janis was different - then aren't we all different from one another? Forget what you have heard and/or read - read 'Love Janis' and form your own opinion."
BE columnists share their summer reading picks
The Gator (BeaumontEnterprise.com/bayou):
Any guy that pens a trifecta like this, is a-ok with us.
-Neil Strauss, author of "How to make love like a porn star," "Motley Crue: The Dirt - Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band," and "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists" (imitation leather edition, no less), has released an uber-manly survival guide. His latest, "Emergency," explains how to get out of almost any jam - terrorist attack, wars, riots and - yes - even hurricanes. Being manly is one thing, living to tell the tale in another.
- A new edition of this Texas tale came out late last summer, and we're fixin' to finally dig in. If you're from Texas, you obviously love football. Jim Dent, who wrote about Bear Bryant's 1954 Aggies in The Junction Boys, is at it again with "Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football." Like a good underdog story? This is it.
And finally,
- Released just in time for sun, sand and surf is a book we plan on reading to our lil' gators: "Mr. Gator goes to the Beach." Watch your back!
Don Jacobs
"Writers tend to read, and I usually keep three or four books going at once, currently --
-Barbershop while waiting for a trim: "Fitness For Dummies." A little off the sides, please.
-Bathroom while waiting: "The King and His Court." Yet another biography on Henry VIII. Started reading it in December and am on Page 33.
-Beach lit while hoping to tan: "Leading With My Chin" by Jay Leno, his life story. The soon-to-be-retired host of "The Tonight Show" provides enough one-liners to keep the dimmest wits guffawing.
-Bedroom late at night during a thunderstorm: Anything by historical mystery writer Anne Perry.
Monique Batson (BeaumontEnterprise.com/momspot)
My favorite summer reads are the "Mr. Men and Little Miss" books by Roger Hargreaves, started in 1971. There's 48 books - "Mr. Happy," "Mr. Nosey," "Little Miss Scatterbrain," etc. They were my favorites when I was my kids' age(s). These are for younger children - toddlers and early elementary.
- Next in line is "It's Raining Pigs and Noodles" by James Steverson. A collection of fun poems Shel Silverstein style. This is for kids of all ages.
- My son Bryce loves the Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park. I've read "Junie B. Jones has a monster under her bed" and must say it was quite funny. (Bryce knows I like to read, so he brings home his library books and wants to share them with me. It's sweet, but I often end up reading some really silly stuff - like "Gorillas in the Wild," or something like that.) These are geared towards older elementary school children.
- And then, of course, there is my son Riley's favorite: "My First Taggie's Pat-A-Cake." It's Pat-a-cake, which he loves to do, but the Taggie's books have cloth tags sticking out for babies to pull and chew on. What more could a baby want. I would recommend the entire Taggie's series for babies 6 months to 2 years, not just this particular book. We have "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" too, and it is just as fascinating.
- "Love you forever" by Robert Munsch is another great book. This one I would recommend parents read to themselves several times until they get used to it. It will make them cry the first time or two, and no one wants to ruin bedtime stories with waterworks.
Matthew Danelo (BeaumontEnterprise.com/meversustheblog)
For me, "summer reading" as well be called "random reading." It's the time of year when I come down with a serious case of topical ADD and flirt with a number of different books at the same time.
If you're the same, and want to spend this season reading all types of things that entertain you, check out these three titles.
-"I Was Told There'd Be Cake," by Sloan Crosley is a great collection of comic essays. They strike a chord with anyone in 20s or 30s.
In it, Crosley writes, "Nuptials. Sounds like something you get a case of…I felt a case of the nuptials coming on so I had a full-body fiancé."
Laughing out loud will most likely ensue.
- For a bit of Indiana Jones-ish adventure that doesn't require you to maintain a strong logistical mindset, pick up "The Last Templar," by Raymond Kouhry. It's been out four years, but the paperback version is perfect for those interested in discovering the medieval mysteries of the Catholic church while eating a sno-cone.
- Finally, a staple I turn to when all else fails is Patricia Schultz's "1,000 Places to See Before You Die."
It's useful for pretending to be a mental jet-setter when lying by your neighborhood pool. And, it will remind you that there's a whole world rife for exploration outside Southeast Texas…which will probably only exacerbate that topical ADD problem.
Jane McBride (BeaumontEnterprise.com/Dig-It)
Whenever I'm looking for something to read, I usually dip into both ends of the reading pool - literary fiction that I can immerse myself in and pleasurable non-fiction that I can wade through at leisure.
For the literary works, I turn to one of my favorite publishers, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. I can pick most anything from their catalog and find reading fulfillment.
This year, that means "Mudbound," by Hillary Jordan, set in the Mississippi Delta in 1946. Two families, one white, one black, each with its own struggles, encounter tragedy as they try to find their way through life,
On the non-fiction side, I invariably find myself in the kitchen or the garden.
Right now, I'm reading "One Square Inch of Silence: One Man's Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World," a book that celebrates the importance of being able to find true natural silence, which is vanishing, even in deeply forested areas.
Author Gordon Hempton, an Emmy-winning acoustic ecologist, writes with heartbreaking beauty of a world where natural silence is almost impossible to find. Even in the deepest wilderness, for example, jets fly overhead, disrupting utter stillness and peace.
Find out more about a book that launched a movement at http://onesquareinch.org
For the kitchen, Frank Stitt's "Bottega Favorita" looks interesting. How can you go wrong with a cookbook that "pulls together Southern ingredients and sensibilities with Italian techniques?" Examples? Potato ravioli with crawfish and candied lemon, charred onion dip, and warm cream cheese tart with cinnamon and almonds.
For the garden, I'll turn to "Wicked Plants: A Book of Botanical Atrocities," by Amy Stewart.
Stewart details the "sordid lives of plants behaving badly - an A to Z list of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend."
Kudzu, anyone?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

NPR's Summer Books 2009

Best Fiction For Every Kind Of Summer Day
Recommended by Glen Weldon

Cecil and Jordan in New York, by Gabrielle Bell -- short stories
The Family Man, by Elinor Lipman
Genesis, by Bernard Beckett
The Manual of Detection, by Jedediah Berry
Woodsburner: A Novel , by John Pipkin

The Five Best Novels Of Summer
Recommended by Jessa Crispin

Castle: A Novel, by J. Robert Lennon
Dark Places: A Novel, by Gillian Flynn
Follow Me: A Novel , by Joanna Scott
The Good Parents, by Joan London
The Scenic Route: A Novel, by Binnie Kirshenbaum

For Summer Sleuths: Best Mystery, Crime Novels
Recommended by Maureen Corrigan

Awakening, by S.J. Bolton
Black Noir: Mystery, Crime, and Suspense Fiction by African-American Writers, edited by Otto Penzler
The Scarecrow, by Michael Connelly -- #2 in series, added #1, The Poet (Jack McEvoy, #1)
The Shanghai Moon (Bill Smith/Lydia Chin Novels), by S.J. Rozan
The Way Home , by George Pelecanos

Monday, June 1, 2009

Best genre fiction titles named to 2009 Reading List (ALA)

Posted February 3, 2009

Contact: Liz Markel
Marketing Specialist, RUSA/ASCLA
(312) 280-4398

For Immediate Release
February 3, 2009

Best genre fiction titles named to 2009 Reading List

DENVER—The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) has announced its selection for the 2009 Reading List award.

The Reading List annually recognizes the best books in eight genres: adrenaline (which includes suspense, thriller and adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction. This year’s list includes novels that will please die-hard fans as well as introduce new readers to the pleasures of genre fiction.

The winning titles were selected by the Reading List Council, whose members include Neal Wyatt, chair, Richmond, Va.; Joyce Saricks, vice-chair, Downers Grove, Ill.; Jennifer Baker, The Seattle Public Library; Arlene Griffin, LSSI Library North Jackson Madison County Library; Mirja Johanson, Perrot Memorial Library; Lucy Lockley, St. Charles City-County Library District; Robert Renwick, Brooklyn Public Library; Jacqueline Sasaki, Ann Arbor District Library; Sharron Smith, Kitchener Public Library; Tapley Trudell, San Antonio Public Library; and Alan Ziebarth, Chicago Public Library.

Authors of these selected titles will be invited to speak at the Literary Tastes Breakfast, a ticketed RUSA event at the ALA Annual Conference. Find out more about RUSA events at the conference—scheduled for July 9-15 in Chicago—at www.ala.org/rusa.

The 2009 winners are:


Blue Heaven by C.J. Box, St. Martin, 9780312365707

In this relentlessly paced story two children witness a murder, elude crooked ex-cops, and find refuge with a taciturn rancher. The evocative landscape and emotional depth, along with the engaging characters and provocative story line, combine to create an unforgettable novel.

Killer Weekend by Ridley Pearson
Nothing to Lose byLee Child
Hombre by Elmore Leonard

The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner, Dutton, 9780525950660
Hold Tight by Harlan Coben, Dutton, 9780525950608
L.A. Outlaws by T. Jefferson Parker, Dutton, 9780525950554
Rules of Deception by Christopher Reich, Doubleday, 9780385524063


The Veil of Gold by Kim Wilkins, Tor, 9780765320063

The discovery of a golden bear in the walls of a derelict St. Petersburg bath house lifts the veil between the real world and that of fairy tales. Treachery is rampant and death is ever-present: stories aren’t safe, and love can’t rescue anyone—or can it?

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
Forests of the Heart by Charles de Lint

The House of the Stag by Kage Baker, TOR Books, 9780765317452
Ink and Steel by Elizabeth Bear, Roc, 9780451462091
Shadowbridge by Gregory Frost, Ballantine, 9780345497581
Small Favor byJim Butcher, Roc, 978045146189

Historical Fiction

The Steel Wave: A Novel of World War II by Jeff Shaara, Ballantine, 9780345461421

In this riveting tale of D-Day and its aftermath, Shaara closely follows events through the lives common soldiers and generals, Allies and Axis alike. A journalistic style underscores the drama of events, and the engaging warts-and-all portrayals add to the immediacy of the novel.

Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell
An Army at Down: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson
Killing Rommel bySteven Pressfield

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell, Random House, 9781400-64717
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane, William Morrow, 9780688163181
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows, Dial Press, 9780385340991
The Whiskey Rebels byDavid Liss, Random House, 9781400064205


Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow, Harper, 9780061430220

The insiders’ perspective and lyrical language of this haunting free verse novel offer a sympathetic glimpse into the lives of urban werewolves, a nightmarish noir world where violence and heartbreak go hand in hand.

Bitten byKelley Armstrong,
The Wolfman by Nicholas Pekearo
The Joe Pitt series by Charlie Huston

Coffin County by Gary A. Braunbeck, Leisure, 9780843960501
Infected by Scott Sigler, Crown, 9780307406101
The Killing Circle byAndrew Pyper, St. Martin’s Minotaur, 9780312384760
The Wolfman byNicholas Pekearo, Tor, 9780765320261


The Garden of Evil by David Hewson, Bantam Dell, 978-0385339575

In contemporary Rome an unknown lascivious painting by Caravaggio, grisly murders, and a heart-stopping chase mark series detective Nic Costa’s return. The perfidious villains can only be outwitted by inventive police work and an unexpected ally in this masterfully crafted puzzler.

The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez Reverte
Dressed for Death by Donna Leon
The Death Artist byJonathan Santlofer

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard, William Morrow, 9780061173509
The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe, Harcourt, 9780151013470
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny, St. Martin’s Press, 9780312352578
Vienna Blood by Frank Tallis, Random, 9780812977769


The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne, Berkley

Take a British spymaster and a resourceful French agent, spice with clever banter, toss in a refreshing and unexpected plot, add a heaping measure of sexual chemistry, and the result is an irresistible read with Napoleon’s ambitions for England hanging in the balance.

Scandal by Amanda Quick
It’s in His Kiss byJulia Quinn
Seduced by a Spy byAndrea Pickens

My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne, Berkley, 9780425222461
Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas, Bantam Books, 9780440244318
The Seduction of the Crimson Rose byLauren Willig, Dutton, 9780525950332
Your Scandalous Ways byLoretta Chase,Avon Books, 9780061231247

Science Fiction

Hunter's Run by George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham, Eos, 9780061373299

On a dangerous backwater planet, a criminal outcast stumbles across an alien race in hiding in this relentless and gritty adventure. Forced into a life-threatening hunt, he is irrevocably changed and learns what it means to be truly human.

Downward to the Earth byRobert Silverberg
Enemy Mine by Barry B. Longyear
Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan

The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez, Tom Doherty, 9780765318343
City at the End of Time byGreg Bear, Ballantine, 9780345448392
Matter byIain M.Banks, Orbit, 9780316005364
A World Too Near byKay Kenyon, Pyr Books, 9781591026426

Women’s Fiction

Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy, Algonquin Books

Set against the richly textured landscape of rural Vermont, Maloy’s optimistic and heartwarming novel chronicles one woman’s experience of widowhood as she remembers the pains and pleasures of her long marriage and moves into a new phase of her life.

Broken for You byStephanie Kallos
The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys
The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos, William Morrow, 9780061240270
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner, Atria Books, 9780743294256
The Sugar Queen bySarah Addison Allen, Bantam Dell, 9780553805499
Thank You for All Things bySandra Kring, Bantam, 9780553591491

The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. For more information, visit www.ala.org/rusa.