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Check It Out

New: Fiction and Nonfiction

Every Friday the Library will bring you two 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.

Get your reading glasses on, because here we go!

New: Fiction Books

Tempting Fate book cover The Land of Steady Habits book cover The Cairo Affair book cover

     -  Tempting Fate by Jane Green

     -  The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson

     -  The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer

     -  Four Friends by Robyn Carr

     -  Falling Out of Time by David Grossman

     -  Citadel by Kate Mosse

     -  The Wicked by Douglas Nicholas

     -  Bone Deep by Randy Wayne White

New: Nonfiction Books

The Hippest Trip in AmericaA Nice Little Place on the North Side book cover Wolfgang Puck Makes It Healthy book cover

     -  The Hippest Trip in America by Nelson George

     -  A Nice Little Place on the North Side by George Will

     -  Wolfgang Puck Makes it Healthy by Wolfgang Puck

     -  Parentology by Dalton Conley

     -  The Age of Radiance by Craig Nelson

     -  The Crusades of Cesar Chavez by Miriam Pawel

     -  The Thing with Feathers by Noah Strycker

     -  The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu 

By Readers' Advisor on March 21, 2014 Categories: Books, New Arrivals, Nonfiction

Fiction: Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Republic of Thieves book coverHear ye, hear ye! The Republic of Thieves, the eagerly-awaited third installment of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, is finally here! Locke and Jean have escaped a heist-gone-horrible with their lives…barely. In fact, Locke has been poisoned and will die if he doesn’t agree to a Bondmage’s offer – to be a pawn in upcoming mage elections. To make matters worse, the campaign leader opposing Locke is his childhood love, Sabetha. If you like political parodies – especially witty, ruthless, adventurous ones – try The Republic of Thieves. Trust Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin who called Lynch, “a bright new voice in the fantasy genre.”

By Readers' Advisor on March 20, 2014 Categories: Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

National Book Critics Circle Awards

Five Days at Memorial book cover

Looking for something a little more substantial in your reading diet?  Check out the newly-named honorees of the National Book Critics Circle Awards.  The NBCC “honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature.”

NonfictionFive Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
Fink provides a landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina–and a suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.  Also available in audio, e-book, and e-audio.

FictionAmericanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected.

AutobiographyFarewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti by Amy Wilentz
Describes the author’s long and painful relationship with Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake, tracing the country’s turbulent history and its status as a symbol of human rights activism and social transformation.

John Leonard PrizeA Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
In a rural village in December 2004 Chechnya, a failed doctor Akhmed harbors the traumatized 8-year-old daughter of a father abducted by Russian forces and treats a series of wounded rebels and refugees while exploring the shared past that binds him to the child.
Also available in large print, audio, and e-book.

By Readers' Advisor on March 19, 2014 Categories: Audiobooks, Awards, Books, Lists, Literary, Nonfiction

Staff Pick: In the Mood for Love

John staff picks photoMr. Chow and Mrs. Chan are neighbors – his wife is having an affair with her husband. Frequently left alone by their unfaithful spouses, the two develop a bond that hovers agonizingly close to courtship. In the Mood for Love is an abstracted romance played out in the tiniest of gestures.

By Readers' Advisor on March 18, 2014 Categories: All Staff Picks, Movies and Television, Picks by John, Romance

Fiction: Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

Scarlett book coverYou may know that there is an authorized sequel to Gone with the Wind, but did you know that part of it takes place in Ireland? Not even quintessential Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara can resist the lure of the Emerald Isle. Leaving the Civil War and Reconstruction behind, Scarlett decides to explore her father’s working-class Irish roots in Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Historical romance author Alexandra Ripley was hand-picked by Mitchell’s heirs to continue the epic story of Scarlett and her determination to embrace tomorrow. That journey leads her across the Atlantic to a very different life among the O’Haras of County Meath, but even the lush landscapes can’t fully distract her from the man who walked away.

By Readers' Advisor on March 17, 2014 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Romance

Fiction: The 2014 Reading List Awards

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.

Get your reading glasses on, because here we go!

This week we invite you to check out The Reading List, which honors outstanding titles in the most popular categories. Here are the featured winners, and you can follow the link for the other finalists and readalikes.

Red Sparrow book cover

Vicious book cover

Outcasts book cover    

     -  AdrenalineRed Sparrow by Jason Matthews
     -  FantasyVicious by V.E. Schwab
     -  Historical FictionThe Outcasts by Kathleen Kent

Last Days book coverMurder as a Fine Art book coverAny Duchess Will Do book cover

     -  Horror Last Days by Adam Nevill
     -  MysteryMurder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
     -  RomanceAny Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

Love Minus Eighty book coverMe Before You book cover


     -  Science FictionLove Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh
     -  Women’s FictionMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

By Readers' Advisor on March 14, 2014 Categories: Awards, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Horror, Lists, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Romance

Fiction: Love Burns Bright: A Lifetime of Lesbian Romance edited by Radclyffe

Love Burns Bright book coverEverybody knows that lust burns to a dazzling, head-spinning degree. Not many romances dare to show the years after lust fades and couples are left to either drift apart or cling together knowing that love can be work. Love Burns Bright: A Lifetime of Lesbian Romance is an erotic yet touching anthology that explores not only the magic of a first kiss, but the passionate intimacy of mature couples. Edited by Radcylffe, this collection gets to the root of what happens once everyone lives “happily ever after”. This is a must read if you like slowburn romances, committed relationships in fiction, or quick reads.

By Readers' Advisor on March 13, 2014 Categories: Books, Romance

Book Discussion Questions: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Great Gatsby book cover

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


Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Page Count: 172
Genre: Modern classic
Tone: Lyrical, atmospheric


1. Rarely does anyone write a book hoping it will be deconstructed in a lit classroom.  Authors write to provoke thought and feeling and to create a story that will speak to readers. So, in those respects, how was this reading experience for you?

2. Who is in the running for the most tragic character(s)?

3. What distinguishes Gatsby and Tom? Would you argue they are more alike or different? What about Daisy and Myrtle? Do you find yourself more accepting of certain characters’ behavior? Are we supposed to?

4. What about the book is relevant to our post-Great Recession world?

5. How would you characterize the tone of the novel? Fun? Sad? Idyllic? Angry? Something else?

6. Have you seen the latest film adaptation? Reportedly, the budget for Luhrmann’s film was over $120 million. Is that fitting? Ironic? What did you think of the film? Did you see the Robert Redford version? Which did you like better? Are the films similar in tone?

7.    Robert Redford explains that he wanted to play Gatsby because at the time he had not before “played a desperate man.” Would you agree this is a defining characteristic for Gatsby?

8. In his 1931 essay “Echoes of the Jazz Age,” Fitzgerald wrote, “It was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire.” How are these perceptions reflected in The Great Gatsby?

9. Did you find any humor in the story?

10. One word often mentioned in regards to The Great Gatsby is “romantic”. What do you think?

11. What do you know of Fitzgerald’s life? In what ways could The Great Gatsby be considered autobiographical? What might explain our fascination with this era and/or the Fitzgeralds in particular?

12. The Great Gatsby’s title was not Fitzgerald’s choice and never his favorite. How would the book’s reception be changed if it were instead called Trimalchio in West Egg, The High-Bouncing Lover, Gold-Hatted Gatsby, or Among Ash Heaps and Millionaires?

13. Critic Thomas C. Foster argues that this book isn’t about Gatsby. It’s about watching, seeing, and blindness (Twenty Five Books That Shaped America). What do you think he means?

14. Who is the protagonist of the book? Is it Gatsby? Nick?

15. How would you characterize Nick Carraway? Do you trust his perceptions? Is Nick Carroway an outsider, or is he one of them? Is this consistent throughout the story? How does this affect us as readers?

16. Could Daisy and Gatsby have had a happily-ever-after?

17. Is Daisy more a symbol than a character? What does her statement, “I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” reveal about Daisy?

18. “[Gatsby’s] death preserves his greatness, and justifies the title of his story, a title that is anything but ironic.” (Harold Bloom, Jay Gatsby) Yet, other sources specifically point out the irony. What do you think?

19. In your experience, which of the other characters made the greatest impression on this reading:  Jordan, Tom, Myrtle, Wilson, Meyer, Mr. Gatz?

20. Is The Great Gatsby an indictment of the American Dream? Or is Fitzgerald championing it?

21. In what ways are illusion and disillusionment prevalent in the novel?

22. Would this have worked just as well (or even better) as a short story?

23. What did you notice about the language? The dialogue?

24. Gertrude Stein bestowed the label the Lost Generation on the group of American expatriate artists of the ‘20s. What qualities does this bring to mind? How does it inform the characters of The Great Gatsby?

25. Would you say that this is a fable of the 1920s? Are the characters merely caricatures? Either way, does this add to or detract from the story?

26. Do any of the characters learn a lesson? Change for the better or for the worse?

27. What are we to take away from the ending, especially considering who survives the book? Is it better not to dream? To be a Tom? What does the book have to say about being great? About being successful?

28. The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, more than four years before the Wall Street crash. Why might this affect our understanding of the story and themes? Would it mean as much if it were published in the 1930s?

29. Why is this book so often taught to teenagers? What does it have to say to us at that age? How might your experience with the story differ as an adult?

30. Final words:  “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” With what thoughts or feelings does this leave the reader?


Other Resources
The Big Read reading group guide
Simon and Schuster reading group guide
Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library reading group guide
F. Scott Fitzgerald documentary
NPR interview with Baz Luhrmann
Reading The Great Gatsby as an adult
7 Life Lessons from The Great Gatsby


If you liked The Great Gatsby, try…
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Z book cover     Object of Beauty book coverRules of Civility book cover






By Readers' Advisor on March 12, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Literary

Staff Pick: Living Proof by Buddy Guy

Donna S staff pick photoIn 2012, blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy was honored by the Kennedy Center for outstanding contributions to American culture. Buddy Guy was a member of Muddy Waters’ band, house guitarist at Chess Records, and a pioneer of Chicago blues. Check out the album Living Proof to hear his signature sound.

By Readers' Advisor on March 11, 2014 Categories: All Staff Picks, Music, Picks by Donna S.

Movies and TV: The Returned

Returned DVD coverA teenage girl clambers up a steep embankment and pulls herself over the guardrail of a twisty mountain road. She has awoken from a blackout, and the last thing she remembers is being on a school trip — a trip that ended in a tragic bus crash a full four years earlier. The Returned, a French series which emerges as a masterwork in eerie storytelling, purposely uncoils the accounts of those who mysteriously appear as if they have never been away. Inspired by the film Les Revenants, this fits easily in the current trend of stories which explore the dead returning, but none other does so with the same lyrical melancholy, the effect of which is enhanced by expert framing of tableaus and a haunting Mogwai score.

By Readers' Advisor on March 10, 2014 Categories: Horror, Movies and Television, Music, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense