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Fiction: Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift

Wish You Were Here book cover“Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them,” George Eliot wrote. “They know all our penitence, all our aching sense that their place is empty.”

The truth of these words scalds the characters of Man Booker Prize winner Graham Swift’s Wish You Were Here. When Jack receives word from the Ministry of Defence that his younger brother Tom was killed in Iraq, he must make arrangements to bring his remains back home to the Isle of Wight. This task forces Jack to confront complicated feelings toward not only his brother’s death but also his father’s, and the weight takes a toll on his relationships with the living as well. Evocative, slow-burning, and complex, this deceptively quiet novel depicts with graceful melancholy the relationships that haunt and enrich us.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on May 25, 2015 Categories: Books, Literary

Audiobooks: Free Titles for Your Personal Digital Library

Rebecca digital audiobook coverWant great listens to take on the go? Try SYNC, a free summer audiobook program that gives away two themed titles each week for downloading. These are top-quality productions featuring standout performances, and though the design is to encourage literacy and listening in young people across the country, adults are finding new entertainment, too!

This week you can grab Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, a gothic tale of dreamy suspense, and the bestselling Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia. Upcoming pairs include Dodger by Terry Pratchett with Dickens’ Great Expectations and March by Geraldine Brooks offered with Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. For details, visit the official website (www.audiobooksync.com) and plug in!

 

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on May 11, 2015 Categories: Audiobooks, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Literary

Do You Prefer Happy or Sad Stories?

Cover of Breathing Lessons

 Would you rather read a…

happy story?

“I hate (yes, HATE) sad stories because they always make me cry and I do not cry pretty (racking sobs, runny nose, red eyes and splotches all over)!!” -Denise from Fiction/AV/Teen

“I prefer stories with happy endings because they make me feel good and have a more positive outlook on life.”  -Donna from Fiction/AV/Teen

“I prefer happy stories because there’s already so much tragedy and sadness in real life in our faces everyday.”
-Joe from Research

 

 

 

 

 

sad story?

I prefer sad stories because there are many ways to be surprised in a sad story and because evoking those feelings remind me that everyone goes through them.” -Cynthia from Research

“Although I love ALL types of stories, if I had to pick I would probably say I prefer sad stories, because I feel like they more accurately depict life, which is never without its challenges. I think the happy moments also mean more and have a greater impact when they’re found in the midst of a sad story.”
-Janine from Circulation

“Writing that creates beauty out of heartbreak has an artistry I can’t resist.”
– Cathleen from Fiction/AV/Teen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or are you torn?

“I confess to liking both sad and happy if the story is well written. A good sad story for me is one that has a moral or ethical conundrum that makes be think about it at the end. For happy stories, I like a good “coming of age” story where the protagonist learns a lesson about life and has an uplifting and/or happy ending.” -Larry from Fiction/AV/Teen

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week by the 2nd floor elevator we are displaying happier and sadder stories! Check out the titles below and more on the display. If you would like books picked out personally for your taste, ask a Readers’ Advisor at the Fiction/AV/Teen Services desk to match you with some books, or email us at readers@mppl.org.

The Happily Ever Afters

Cover of AnythingAnything Considered
by Peter Mayle

Cover of The Marriage Bureau for Rich People The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
by Farahad Zama

Cover of The Summer We Read GatsbyThe Summer We Read Gatsby
by Danielle Ganek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of ScaramoucheScaramouche
by Rafael Sabatini

Cover of The Garden of Happy EndingsThe Garden of Happy Endings
by Barbara O’Neal

Cover of Breathing LessonsBreathing Lessons
by Anne Tyler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Not So Happily Ever Afters

Cover of The Bluest EyeThe Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison

Cover of SunflowersSunflowers
by Sheramy Bundrick

Cover of She's Come UndoneShe’s Come Undone
by Wally Lamb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of If He Had Been With MeIf He Had Been With Me
by Laura Nowlin

Cover of Johnny Got His GunJohnny Got His Gun
by Dalton Trumbo

Cover of The Heart is a Lonely HunterThe Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on May 1, 2015 Categories: Books, Lists, Literary

Staff Pick: From the Land of the Moon by Milena Agus

Picture of JennyThis poetic gem translated from Italian is weighted with sorrow. Written in flashbacks spanning three generations, a girl shares the story of her Sardinian grandmother who has been in search for perfect love and declared mad as a result. Milena Agus’ From the Land of the Moon is a study of unreliable narrators, misunderstanding, and the reaches of the heart.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 21, 2015 Categories: Books, Literary, Picks by Jenny, Staff Picks

New Arrivals: Fiction and NonFiction Books

Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.

For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.

New: Fiction Books

Cover of Our Endless Numbered Days Cover of The Turner House Cover of Happiness for Beginners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
The Turner House by Angela Flourney
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Cover of Emma Cover of Where All Light Tends to Go Cover of The Listener

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
The Listener by Rachel Basch

New: Nonfiction Books

Cover of Capital DamesCover of Very Good Lives Cover of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capital Dames by Cokie Roberts
Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

Cover of All Who Do Not Return Cover of Experimental Homebrewing Cover of So You've Been Publicly Shamed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Who Do Not Return by Shulem Deen
Experimental Homebrewing by Drew Beechum and Denny Conn
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 17, 2015 Categories: Books, Literary, New Arrivals

Fiction: The Immigrant Experience

Picture of Immigrant Experience Display
This week on our displays we are featuring books involving the Immigrant Experience. Displays are located on the second floor by the elevators and toward the start of Adult Fiction. Interested in being matched with a book suited to your taste? Stop by the Fiction/AV/Desk on the second floor to speak with a Readers’ Advisor or email us at readers@mppl.org. Check out some of the books below!

Cover of A Free Life Cover of Hedwig and Berti Cover of Giants in the Earth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Free Life by Ha Jin
Hedwig and Berti by Frieda Arkin
Giants in the Earth by O.C. Rölvaag

Cover of Threads of HopeCover of The Saint of Lost Things Cover of Let it Rain Coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Threads of Hope by Andrea Boeshaar
The Saint of Lost Things by Christopher Castellani
Let It Rain Coffee by Angie Cruz

Cover of The Arrival Cover of The Book of Unknown Americans Cover of Desirable Daughters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
Desirable Daughters by Bharati Mukherjee

Cover of Panic in a Suitcase Cover of Americanah Cover of The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panic in a Suitcase by Yelena Akhtiorskaya
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 10, 2015 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Lists, Literary

Award Longlist: The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

Previously known as the Orange Prize, Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is in its 20th year. This week the annual prize has released its longlist featuring 20 different titles with plans to reveal the shortlist April 13th. The award is dedicated to recognizing literary merit in women from around the world “…whilst also stimulating debate about gender and writing, gender and reading, and how the publishing and reviewing business works.”

Up for a challenge? Try to see if you can read all of the nominees before the announcement of the winner on June 3rd! Below are some of the titles Mount Prospect owns.

Cover of A God in Every StoneCover of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night Cover of The Country of Ice Cream Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill
The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman

 

Cover of I Am China Cover of Dear Thief Cover of Elizabeth is Missing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am China by Xiaolu Guo
Dear Thief by Samantha Harvey
Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healy

Cover of The Walk Home Cover of Station Eleven Cover of A Spool of Blue Thread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Walk Home by Rachel Seiffert
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Cover of Outline Cover of The Paying Guests Cover of The Bees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outline by Rachel Cusk
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The Bees by Laline Paull

 

Check out the previous winners!

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 13, 2015 Categories: Awards, Books, Historical Fiction, Lists, Literary

Book Discussion Questions: The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Cover of The Round HouseTitle: The Round House
Author: Louise Erdrich
Page Count: 321 pages
Genre: Coming of Age Stories, Literary Fiction
Tone: Reflective, Moving, Bleak

Summary from publisher:
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface because Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe’s life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared. While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

1. The Round House is a book for which a sentence or two summary cannot fully capture the experience it holds. How would you describe the feel of reading this story?

2. As you read, were you conscious of the fact that it was an older Joe looking back on this summer? Did that impact the narrative for you?

3. This work has been described as a coming-of-age story. In what ways are Joe’s experiences universal? In what ways are they specific? Does this category do justice to the narrative?

4. One of the ways a typical adolescence is explored is through sexual curiosity and preoccupation. Were you at all uncomfortable with these depictions in a story that is incited with a brutal sexual assault? Was this intentional?

5. The Round House deals with some deeply troubling themes and struggles. How was that balanced? Were there elements that lightened the story for you?

6. Describe Joe’s friendship with Cappy. What did he add to the story?

7. Is Joe proud of his heritage? What does this narrative have to say about cultural identity?

8. Much of the complication for Geraldine’s case is the question of jurisdiction. How does the legal relationship between the U.S. and the Ojibwe complicate the investigation?

9. Why didn’t Geraldine simply lie and say she knew where it happened? Do you agree with her reasons?

10. When Joe makes his decision, he says it is about justice, not vengeance. What do you think? How does that decision change him? Does his decision change your perception of him?

11. One reviewer shared, “In Erdrich’s hands, you may find yourself, as I did, embracing the prospect of vigilante justice as regrettable but reasonable, a way to connect to timeless wisdom about human behavior. It wasn’t until I put the book down that I recognized – and marveled at – the clever way I had been manipulated.” Was your experience similar to that of the reviewer? Does this affect your assessment of the book and/or the author?

12. How would you describe Father Travis and his role in the story?

13. Near the end of the story (p.306), Joe’s father talks of “ideal justice as opposed to the best-we-can-do justice”. What did he mean? How is this borne out in the story?

14. What else did Joe’s father want him to understand from that conversation? Did he make his point?

15. What was the importance of the wiindigoo motif?

16. Do you feel you have a good understanding of what Geraldine was like before the incident? How does the author convey this?

17. At one literary festival panel, during a discussion of the general lack of strong marriages in fiction, author Lorrie Moore said she felt the marital life of Joe’s parents was a central part of The Round House. In what ways would you agree or disagree with this statement?

18. What were the most uncomfortable scenes for you? Did these lessen your enjoyment of the book as a whole?

19. What was the significance and the symbolism of the Round House? Why choose this as the title?

20. How would you describe the author’s writing style and storytelling choices?

21. At the conclusion of the novel, when Joe’s parents are driving him home and they don’t stop at the roadside café, Erdrich writes, “we passed over in a sweep of sorrow that would persist into our small forever. We just kept going.” What do you think she meant?

22. The Round House won the National Book Award and was later selected for Book Crossing, a shared reading program between Mount Prospect Public Library and our sister city, Sèvres, France. What elements make this book a good choice for discussion?

 

Other Resources
LitLovers guide
Video of National Book Award honors
NY Times Q&A with Louise Erdrich
Resource guide from Minnesota Book Awards
University of North Carolina questions for reflection
Another perspective: book response

If you liked The Round House, try…

Thirteen Moons Canada Perfect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
Canada by Richard Ford
Perfect by Rachel Joyce

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 11, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Literary

2015 Folio Prize Shortlist

As the first English Language book award to recognize novels written internationally, The Folio Prize is dedicated to celebrating the best of literature. Announced at the beginning of February, the shortlist was narrowed down to eight selections from a longlist of eighty titles. Chair of Judges William Fiennes explained in developing the shortlist, “We were looking for boldness, freshness… books in which the form or structure of the story was perfectly matched to the ideas. You feel reading these eight books that you’re witnessing fiction discovering new possibilities for itself.”

The young prize is only in its sophomore year, and will be announcing the 2015 winner March 23. You can view the full shortlist on The Folio Prize website.

Cover of Family Life Cover of Dust Cover of Dept. of Speculation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Cover of OutlineCover of How to Be Both Cover of 10:04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outline by Rachel Cusk
How to be Both by Ali Smith
10:04 by Ben Lerner

                    2014 Winner:
Tenth of December by George Saunders

 

Cover of Tenth of December

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on February 27, 2015 Categories: Awards, Books, Lists, Literary

Fiction: Literary Reads by Writers of Color from 2014

One of the joys of having such a strong reading community on the internet is being able to find lists others have curated on specific topics or themes. One such list created and contributed by readers is the Anticipated Literary Reads for Readers of Color for 2014. Below are a few of the titles featured on the list. If you would like to diversify your reading even more, email readers@mppl.org or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen services desk on the second floor to speak to a Readers’ Advisor!

Cover of For Today I Am a Boy Cover of Radiance of Tomorrow Cover of Till the Well Runs Dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Today I Am a Boy by Kim Fu
Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah
Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma

Cover of An Untamed State Cover of In the Light of What we Know Cover of Ruby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
In Light of What we Know by Zia Haider Rahman
Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Cover of Secret History of Las VegasCover of On Such a Full Sea Cover of All Our Names

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani
On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
All Our Names by Dinan Mengestu

Cover of Song of the ShankCover of Family LifeCover of Boy Snow Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen
Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on January 30, 2015 Categories: Books, Lists, Literary