Books Friends Have Read

Books Friends Have Read Click here for Printable version
Books Friends Have Been Reading:

Hot, Flat and Crowded Tom Friedman This is a typical Friedman book, not easy reading (our patron said) but worthwhile. Mr. Frieman is a wise and informed man.
Home to Holly Springs Jan Karon Jan Karon’s latest book, Home to Holly Springs, is light reading but more thought provoking than the Mitford series. This is the first fiction book this patron has encountered that addresses stem cell transplants.
Educating Alice Alice Steinbach Steinbach had so much fun running off to Europe to find herself, as recounted in her first book (Without Reservations), she decided to quit her job writing for the Baltimore Sun and devote herself to similar educational adventures. Following the advice of Japanese poet Basho (“To learn of the pine, go to the pine”), Steinbach takes off again and recounts eight endeavors, including studying French cooking in Paris, attending a Jane Austen convention in England and meeting geishas in Kyoto. She captures the uniqueness of each setting, aided by a sharply curious sensibility she claims stems as much from her childhood admiration for Nancy Drew as from her reportorial training. That spirit of openness also enables her to strike up many spontaneous conversations easily, frequently launching other discoveries. A search for a bonsai garden in Florence, for example, winds up becoming a tour of several palaces normally closed to the public, which leads to an old priest’s tale of rescuing priceless paintings from a flood. Yet for all Steinbach’s attention to others, her account remains resolutely personal, as her experiences unleash bittersweet childhood memories, and an ambiguously romantic relationship with a Japanese gentleman is never far from her thoughts. Her stories are powerfully seductive to anyone who’s ever been tempted to get up and go, following interests wherever they may lead. Even during the occasional setbacks, from language barriers to confusing geographies, Steinbach makes such a life look highly desirable.
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen Next to the exhortation at the beginning of Moby-Dick, “Call me Ishmael,” the first sentence of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice must be among the most quoted in literature. And certainly what Melville did for whaling Austen does for marriage–tracing the intricacies (not to mention the economics) of 19th-century British mating rituals with a sure hand and an unblinking eye.
Crash Proof Peter Schiff Non fiction look at the coming ecomonic crash. Written in 2006
The Sorrows of an American Siri Hustvedt In her fourth novel (following the acclaimed What I Loved), Hustvedt continues, with grace and aplomb, her exploration of family connectedness, loss, grief and art. Narrator and New York psychoanalyst Erik Davidsen returns to his Minnesota hometown to sort through his recently deceased father Lars’s papers. Erik’s writer sister, Inga, soon discovers a letter from someone named Lisa that hints at a death that their father was involved in. Over the course of the book, the siblings track down people who might be able to provide information on the letter writer’s identity.
The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood In a startling departure from her previous novels ( Lady Oracle , Surfacing ), respected Canadian poet and novelist Atwood presents here a fable of the near future. In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist’s nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the “morally fit” Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: “of Fred”), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be.
Talking Straight Lee Iaccoca What impressed me most about Iacocca is his incredible frankness. He doesn’t beat about the bush. Also, the book clearly depicts his clinging on to crucial values which allowed him to be successful in both fields: at work AND at home.
What Happened: Inside the Bush White House… Scott McCllellan “I still like and admire George W. Bush,” writes Scott McClellan, who served Bush for two years and nine months as White House press secretary. “I consider him a fundamentally decent person, and I do not believe he or his White House deliberately or consciously sought to deceive the American people.” Yet the entire brunt of McClellan’s book is precisely the opposite: that Bush and “his top advisers,” by whom he was “terribly ill-served,” systematically deceived the American public about their reasons for going to war in Iraq and about the effort to discredit a critic of the war, Joseph Wilson, by making public his wife’s position at the Central Intelligence Agency.
Minnesota Voices Theodore Blake Short stories about Minnesota heritage; funded by the WPA.
After Sorrow: An American Among the Vietnamese Lady Borton Lady Borton worked in South Vietnam from 1969 to 1971 with civilian amputee victims of the war. She also went to North Vietnam, worked with the Vietnamese boat people in a refugee camp in Malaysia after the war, made several trips to Vietnam in the late 1980s, and today is field director of Quaker Service-Vietnam in Hanoi. Her previous book, Sensing the Enemy: An American Woman Among the Boat People of Vietnam (1984), was a compassionate account of her earlier work with the Vietnamese. This book is an even more compelling sketch of her later years in Vietnam, largely among ordinary peasants, especially the women. It is a testament to the ingenuity, tenacity, and indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese people, who suffered over 40 years of wars, and it offers a rare Western glimpse into their culture and soul. No matter what one’s views on the war, this is a sensitive, insightful vignette.
The China Study T. Colin Campbell Referred to as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology” by The New York Times, this study examines more than 350 variables of health and nutrition with surveys from 6,500 adults in more than 2,500 counties across China and Taiwan, and conclusively demonstrates the link between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The Tainted Relic Medieval Relic Mystery Writers Book on CD. Medieval Relic Mysteries. This entertaining but uneven round-robin effort by six British crime writers traces the sinister history of a “fragment of the true cross” from its origin in Jerusalem in A.D. 1100 through 10 bloody centuries. In Beaufort’s prologue, Barzac, the unlikely Arab custodian of this artifact, places a curse on anyone touching the scrap of wood “stained with Christ’s blood” after Crusaders massacre his family.
Mercy Jody Picoult Issues of today
In to the Wild John Krakauer After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature.
A Cold Day for Murder Dana Stabenow A Kate Shugak Mystery Series; a series of mysteries based in Alaska; main character is a native Inuit woman; fascinating reading
Devil in a Blue Dress Walter Mosley It’s 1948 in Los Angeles, and Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins needs to make a mortgage payment. Too bad all he has in his pocket is lint. Along comes a savior, looking like a devil and talking like a devil, but offering Easy the precious cash he needs. The man has one simple request: find the woman wearing the blue dress in a photograph. But Easy knows that you get what you pay for in this world, and the man wouldn’t be paying so much if it were that easy. Life is tough. But so are Easy Rawlins and his wild helpmate, Mouse.
My Antonia Willa Cather This novel about the friendship between two Nebraska children, Jim Burden and Antonia Shimerda is considered Cather’s masterpiece. The fortunes of the two families are opposed: the Burdens thrive while the Shimerdas decline, a downfall that culminates in the suicide of Antonia’s father, which forces the girl to work in the fields and then as a servant. Throughout all her trials, Antonia’s strength, humor, and goodness sustain her and her family–and Jim, for whom she is a lifelong inspiration and mentor. Willa Cather called this novel “the best thing I’ve done.”
Pacific War Stories Rex Alan Smith Stories of World War II heroism in the Pacific theater. As the full title reads: Pacific War Stories: in the words of those who survived.
At Home In Mitford Jan Karon Many of the Friends of the Library are re-reading the Mitford Series of books by Jan Karon. Delightful tales of interesting characters set in a small town.
Mrs. Mike Benedict Freedman and Nancy Freedman In this perennially appreciated romantic saga, a police officer named Sergeant Mike Flannigan and a pretty young woman named Katherine Mary O’Fallon fall in love in the Canadian wilderness.
Blonde Faith Walter Mosley Easy Rawlins, the hard-boiled, all too human, black private investigator who made his literary debut in DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS, is back in his 10th mystery by critically acclaimed crime writer Walter Mosley. This time, the cases Rawlins set out to solve are close to home: when the daughter of his friend Christmas Black shows up on his doorstep, it’s obvious that Black is in trouble. Easy sets out to find him, but not before another friend goes missing: Mouse, Easy’s closest friend, who may be wanted for murder. Mouse’s record with the police isn’t pretty, and if the police find him before Easy does, Mouse’s troubles might come to a violent–and permanent–end. And Easy’s personal life is in shambles as well, after the woman he loves informs him that she is marrying another man. A colorful cast of low-life characters enriches the already compelling plot as Mosley’s favorite hard-bitten character battles through some of the most tormented adventures of his career.
My Mother’s Daughter H. J. Cummins WWII literature; Nazi occupation of Czech Republic during WWII; one woman’s story of survival
The Mascot Mark Lurzen Holocaust literature; Latvian community based story of little Jewish boy adopted by SS unit during WWII occupation; an almost unbelievable story of survival as told by this boy as an adult finding his roots.
Song of the Lark Willa Cather Based on the career of Metropolitan Opera star Olive Femstad this novel traces the life of Thea Kronberg, a singer who leaves small-town Colorado to go to Chicago to study music, where she rises to the top of her profession. After a turbulent life that includes the death of a lover, exploitation by a teacher, and a passionate affair with a married man, Thea finds happiness–but her truest happiness, throughout, comes from her career as a singer.
Age of Turbulence Alan Greenspan Did you know he started out as a jazz musician?
Oh, My Stars! Lorna Landvick tells of a neglected, unhappy and un-pretty girl’s struggle to adulthood, ending up in North Dakota
With Donald Harington Can’t recommend. This is supposed to be an Ozark yarn with mystical overlays. The first few chapters are very interesting and set the stage for a very good story; however, he must have missed a deadline with his editor because instead of developing the story, this author simply made all his characters perfect and gave every situation a perfect ending a la Danielle Steele and, by the way, the heroine and hero are beautiful and handsome. Even their animals are perfect. People in the Ozarks are wise; people in California are shallow and mean. The author wants you to be able to tell his characters are from the Ozarks because they say “ary” and “h’aint” a lot. Not even good bathtub reading. Read Jesse Stuart instead.
1491 New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus Charles C. Mann New revelations of the Americas before Columbus
Toast: The Story of a Boy’s Hunger Nigel Slater The story of a boy’s hunger
The Saddlemaker’s Wife Earlene Fowler Western setting with unexpected emotion

More Books Friends Have Read:

The Cardinal Henry Robinson (written in 1950)
Astri, My Astri (MN Genealogy) Deb Gourly (Caledonia, Minnesota author; half in English; half in Norwegian)
Becoming…(something) Fern Michaels
Rainmaker John Grishom
T is for Trespass Sue Grafton
RL Dreams Walter Mosely
Happiness is a Choice  
You, Fighting Cancer Dr. Oz
Q is for Quarry Sue Grafton
Mark’s Story: The Jesus Chronicles Tina Hauge & Jerry Jenkins
Dracula Bram Stoker
Maisie Dobbs (A WWII Nurse) Jacqueline Winspear
Half-Acre of Hell Avis Schoerer
King Oak Ann River Siddons
Mansfield Park Jane Austen
1491 – History of South America  
Ava Gardener’s Biography  
A Collection of Essays by John Updike John Updike
Knitting Together Debbie MacComber
You, On a Diet Dr. Oz
You, The Owners Manual Dr. Oz