A short and fun read, Michael J. Trinklein describes unsuccessful proposals for new states in Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It. For each “state,” there is one page of easy, often witty, fact-filled narrative followed by a map illustrating what the state would have looked like. This is great for trivia and history buffs looking for some off-beat aspects of American history.
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A readable, fascinating history of the early United States, Empire of Liberty describes political and social philosophies of the time and their effect on American society and events. Without directly saying so, the book makes it evident that the roots of current American thought can be traced back to that time, with often striking parallels.
Larry of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends The Martian by Andy Weir:
Mark Watney is stranded on Mars after a mishap during a storm prevents him from escaping the planet with the rest of his crew. Alone, with a small supply of food and damaged equipment, the only thoughts on his mind are survival and the hope that a rescue party will come for him. With his optimism and engineering skills, he is determined to live, yet at every turn, there are obstacles that threaten his survival. While this is a story of attempting to overcome long odds in a harsh environment, it is also filled with just enough wit and humor to lighten the story without diminishing its seriousness. The plot takes the reader on a “what more can go wrong” roller coaster ride with a steady progression of the story leading to a climactic, edge-of-your-seat ending. The Martian is a suspenseful, fun, and rewarding read.
Endeavour is a must-see movie for those who enjoy PBS’ Inspector Morse series. Young Endeavour Morse struggles with the naïveté of youth, his past, and learning hard life lessons while on his first detective case in this coming-of-age whodunit, full of twists and turns.
The World Without Us describes the relationship between humans and nature using science with a dash of philosophy to imagine what would happen if the earth was suddenly without us. The human impact on nature and the restorative abilities of the earth are clearly explained in this pop science read.
If you like dry English humor, then Kind Hearts and Coronets is for you. Louis plots the demise of family members, shortening the line of succession to become Duke. His conniving and lust for revenge is punctuated with humorous circumstances and whimsical dialog as he romances, manipulates, and eliminates his relatives.
The Girl who Played Go is a touching, intimate novel set in the 1930s. A Japanese soldier and a teenage girl both struggle with their roles in Manchurian-Chinese society. The Chinese strategy game of Go, which draws the characters together, is a metaphor for their lives in search of self.
The Metabarons by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Juan Gimenez is an epic space opera graphic novel. The characters include humanoids, cyborgs, and other mechanical and living creatures. It is a story of bravery, sacrifice, loyalty, survival, ethics, and morality. The plot, enhanced by luscious illustrations, makes this book a page-turner.
Chris Ware’s 14-piece graphic novel, Building Stories, follows the lives of three households in a Chicago three-flat – an elderly landlady, a lonely single woman, and a couple with a strained relationship. Their lives are a mix of melancholy, happiness, and contentment that will hold your interest from beginning to end.
Larry of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Feed by M.T. Anderson:
Computers have been reduced in size to a small chip that can be implanted in the human brain. Everything that can be done with a computer is now done by the interaction of one’s thoughts with the chip which is in constant connection with the network. Get the news, watch your favorite show, talk online with your friends, do your work, and buy products online through your brain’s connection to the Feed. No need to read, write, or dial numbers; it all comes to you automatically, including a constant flow of advertisements for products targeting your specific interests. But there’s a price to pay in quality of life and human development for a society of runaway consumerism and instant gratification.