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Read a Book with Nonhuman Characters

Up for a challenge? Read a story that is told from the perspective of an object, an animal, or an idea! You may be well familiar with the many books centering on dogs or cats (and we’re fans of those, too), but try stretching yourself to see what you can learn about the human condition from something less familiar but just as decidedly nonhuman.  Below are a dozen noteworthy entries in different genres that can help you Read for the Win!

Firmin book covera rat

 

Jacobs Folly book covera house fly

 

My Name is Red book covera coin, a corpse, a tree…

 

The Bees book coverbees
The Bees

 

Join the Summer Reading Challenge.
Print your events list and scorecard here.
Not sure how to get started?  We have advice!

For reading suggestions, email us at readers@mppl.org or tweet at us @MPPLIB

Regardless of what you read and how you choose to read it, share your picks using #MPPLsummer16

Nonfiction: Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte

Overwhelmed book coverdFor the parent that feels like they are being pulled in a variety of directions between work, family, and the rest of life, Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte could provide useful advice to help manage time or at least the comforting solace that you’re not alone. While most of the book is targeted toward middle to upper class working mothers in America, the information regarding the importance of seeking out time for leisure and tips on how to do so can be applied to other situations as well.

This book will count as category V: Read a book with a one word title in the Summer Reading Challenge!

 

 

For a few more one word titles, try..

Injection book cover Injection
by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey
Unbecoming book coverUnbecoming
by Rebecca Scherm
Pride book coverPride
by Lorene Cary

 

It’s not too late to join the Summer Reading Challenge.
Not sure how to get started?  We have advice!
Share what you read and see what other people are reading using #MPPLsummer16

For reading suggestions, email us at readers@mppl.org or tweet at us @MPPLIB

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Staff Pick: True Sadness by The Avett Brothers

Picture of JennyThe Avett Brothers’ newly released album True Sadness shows off the continued evolution of the band’s blended sound of indie rock and folk. While the band of four address the natural sadness experienced throughout life, there is more upbeat rhythms and hope than the album title may suggest!

Favorite song: “Ain’t No Man”
Favorite lyric: “Call the Smithsonian I made a discovery, life ain’t forever and lunch isn’t free.”  (from “Smithsonian”)

Also available on Hoopla for instant check out with a MPPL card.

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Movies and TV: Moone Boy

Moone Boy DVD coverIrresistible in its Irish charm, the quirky comedy series Moone Boy is guaranteed to bring a grin. Martin Moone may not be the brightest of twelve-year-olds, but he knows that life is more manageable with an imaginary grown-up buddy by his side to offer questionable advice. How else to contend with three older sisters, distracted parents, school bullies, and the general business of growing up? Set in a small town in Ireland in 1989, this winner of the International Emmy Award for Best Comedy is newly available on DVD. Co-creator Chris O’Dowd stars in one of the most cheerful, unique, and entirely lovable series on offer. You’ll find a friend in him.

Book Discussion Questions: Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

Still Life With Bread Crumbs Book CoverTitle: Still Life With Bread Crumbs
Author: Anna Quindlen
Page Count: 252 pages
Genre: Fiction
Tone: Moving, Romantic, Reflective

Summary:
Moving to a small country cabin, a once world-famous photographer bonds with a local man and begins to see the world around her in new, deeper dimensions while evaluating second chances at love, career, and self-understanding.

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

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2016 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. How did you like Rebecca Winter as a character?  Do you feel satisfied with how much you know about her?  Are there any aspects of Rebecca’s situation that you especially relate to?

2. How does the third-person narration affect your impression of Rebecca?  How different would the book have been had it been written from a first-person point of view?

3. What are Rebecca’s initial impressions of living in the country?

4. How did Rebecca’s marriage to Peter affect her?  Despite it not having been an ideal match, what does she miss about being married?

5. How is Jim intelligent in ways that Peter isn’t?  What are some other character traits that make Jim likable?  What do Rebecca and Jim like about each another?

6. How did you respond to the character of Rebecca’s mother?  Beatrice (Bebe) is described as being “as definite, as unyielding, as dark as the ungainly statue of Artemis” (p. 53).  As a columnist/author of nonfiction, Quindlen has written candidly about the importance of motherhood as well as its joys and challenges – why do you think she created a chilly, unsupportive mother figure for Rebecca?

7. How does her father, Oscar, compare as a parent?  How would you characterize Rebecca’s relationship with him?  Why does she keep her move to the country from him?

8. How did you respond to the portrayal of Bebe’s dementia?

9. What do the secondary characters contribute to the book?  Do you have any favorites?

10. In an interview published in The Washington Post (1-28-14), Quindlen said that Rebecca’s story was partially inspired by “how we live in New York City, about failing to see beneath the surface.”  One of the themes in Still Life With Bread Crumbs is things (objects / people / experiences) not being what they are initially perceived to be.  What are some examples of this?

11. A theme in much of Quindlen’s nonfiction pieces is the effect of losing her mother at a young age (19), and in particular how the loss influenced her appreciation for life and “the gift of getting older.”  Like Quindlen, Jim lost his mother at a young age.  What does this loss mean for his character and his worldview?

12. The book explores how Rebecca’s photography career took off after her Bread Crumbs photo, and yet “she mainly found her good work to be accidental, and immediate” (p. 78).  Why did her photography become so important artistically for feminism?

13. Jim is upset with Rebecca for taking pictures of the crosses despite not knowing why they were there.  Do you believe a photographer has a responsibility to understand what they are capturing with their photographs?  Why / why not?

14. Rebecca thinks her father believes “photography was a second-rate artistic pursuit.”  Some people do dismiss photography as an inferior art form, or as not art at all.  What are your thoughts on this?  What other types of creative expression are not held in high esteem?

15. Have you ever felt locked into an image of yourself, whether it was created by you or outside forces?  (p. 173: “People froze you in place, Rebecca sometimes thought… More important, you froze yourself, often into a person in whom you truly had no interest.  So you had a choice: you could continue a masquerade, or you could give up on it.”)

16. There is a particular life stage captured in this book, accepting that you are getting older but realizing there are still many possibilities ahead.  Do you believe this book appeals more to readers past a certain age, or is there a broader potential audience?

17. Do you find the idea of reinventing yourself exciting or terrifying?  How does the idea of control play into this?

18. At the end of the book, what does Rebecca like about her life and situation that she didn’t appreciate before?

19. Were there any lessons you learned from this book?

20. In By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from the NY Times Book Review (ed. By Pamela Paul), Anna Quindlen writes “I have many poetry collections – that’s my version of self-help” (p. 163).  Can Still Life With Bread Crumbs be seen as a form of self-help to its readers?  Why or why not?

21. Quindlen is a self-described feminist writer and has covered women’s issues in her journalism (exploring topics of women’s rights, political climate for women, balancing career and family, and modern life for women).  How does Still Life With Bread Crumbs contribute to the literature of contemporary women’s lives?  How is Rebecca’s story unique to the experience of women?

22. In an interview with Bookgirl TV pocast, Quindlen remarks “a simple, ordinary existence is just about the best thing out there.”  How does this novel reflect that belief?

23. With Still Life With Bread Crumbs, one of Quindlen’s goals was to write a love story.  How much does the romance element factor into this novel?  She also wanted to write a book with a happy ending.  Do you believe the conclusion of Still Life succeeds?

24. There are some interesting stylistic choices in the book.  Several scenes loop backward in time to a prior scene that the character recalls.  How did you respond to these multiple time shifts in certain scenes?  Does the circular patterning make you think of anything theme-wise?

25. In a direct reference to time, the phrase “but that was later” is a frequent comment at end of scenes.  What did you think of this pattern/repeated phrase?

26. Related to this, some chapters go far back in time (Thanksgiving 1956, for example) or way forward (one of the White Cross Series reviews).  What did you think of this?  What do you think the author was trying to achieve and do you think she succeeded?

27. Quindlen has stated that the theme of running out of money has been rarely explored in novels.  What do you think of the author’s choice to include specific dollar figures in Rebecca’s ruminations, when she does mathematical calculations in her head?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
Video Interview with Anna Quindlen on BookGirlTV
New York Times book review, “Second Shot” by Joanna Rakoff
Washington Post interview with Carole Burns
Transcript of NPR interview (2-2-14)

REadalikes:
Back When We Were Grownups book cover Open House book cover Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
Open House by Elizabeth Berg
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

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Staff Pick: In the Country by Mia Alvar

Picture of NancySummer is a wonderful time to pick up a collection of short stories.  I recommend Mia Alvar’s knockout debut, In the Country, which has been described by readers as dazzling, phenomenal, and stunning.  With a variety of characters as well as settings, these richly detailed stories capture the Filipino immigrant experience in an unforgettable way.

LGBTQ Romance: Love Wins

male couple holding handsThere are many stories to tell in LGBTQ literature, not just coming-of-age or coming out.  Especially when real-life events weigh on the heart, losing yourself in the promise of two people finding each other and hoping for that happily ever after can offer sweet satisfaction.

Celebrate life with these recommended titles, eligible for Summer Reading Challenge options (R) Read a romance or (K) Read a book by or about someone who identifies as LGBTQ.

 

Dont Let Me Go book coverDon’t Let Me Go
by J.H. Trumble

Nate and Adam are high school sweethearts separated by post-graduation dreams. Can young love survive a long-distance relationship, or might others hold the key to their hearts?

New Beginnings book coverNew Beginnings
by KC Richardson

Scarred by previous relationships, Jordan and Kirsten each discover solace in their new friendship and are tempted by the promise of something more.

Whistling in the Dark book coverWhistling in the Dark
by Tamara Allen

Two young men damaged in body and soul on the battlefields of The Great War cross paths in 1919 New York City. Despite a world of differences, their attraction cannot be denied.

Undertow book coverUndertow
by Amy Schutzer

In alternating chapters, Macy and Dotty recount their chance meeting but must cope with past ghosts before moving forward in their relationship.

Night We Met book coverThe Night We Met
by Rob Byrnes

When Andrew, who is stuck in a dead-end publishing job, falls in love with Frank DeBenedetto, the son of a Mafia boss, his life is unexpectedly fraught with danger, drag queens, and an overly sensitive FBI agent.

Love Burns Bright book cover

Love Burns Bright: A Lifetime of Lesbian Romance

Curated by award-winning editor Radclyffe, these stories of lesbian couples celebrating their lives and relationships are heartfelt, and best of all, sweetly sexy.

 

 

Join the Summer Reading Challenge.
Print your events list and scorecard here.
Not sure how to get started?  We have advice!

For reading suggestions, email us at readers@mppl.org or tweet at us @MPPLIB

Regardless of what you read and how you choose to read it, share your picks using #MPPLsummer16

Books Mount Prospect Library Users are Excited About

After Readers’ Advisors shared new releases to look out for during a recent book talk program, attendees got the chance to rave about books they read recently that they really enjoyed with the group. Below are titles attendees shared, but the conversation doesn’t end here… we are always interested in hearing about the books you like!

Herland book coverThe Herland Trilogy
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Circle
by Dave Eggers
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society cover imageThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Marry Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

 

The Mangle Street Murders
by M.R.C. Kasasian
Underground Airlines cover imageUnderground Airlines
by Ben Winters
The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield

 

Just Mercy
by Bryan Stevenson
The Boston Girl
by Anita Diamant
Nos4a2 cover imageNOS4A2
by Joe Hill

 

 

 Use #MPPLsummer16 to share what you’ve been reading recently that you loved, or to see what other Mount Prospect Library users are reading!

Join the Summer Reading Challenge.
Print your events list and scorecard here.
Not sure how to get started? We have advice!

For reading suggestions, email us at readers@mppl.org or tweet at us @MPPLIB

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Staff Pick: Girl at War by Sara Novic

Picture of BarbSara Novic’s Girl at War is a deeply moving story that deals with coming to terms with the past. Readers move between Ana’s childhood in war torn Croatia to her present life as a college student in New York City. This is a gripping journey that will keep you engrossed introducing issues of war, death and survival.

Read a Book of International Fiction

Shake your days up by taking an international trip this summer without leaving your armchair! While the books below vary in plot and tone, they each will take you on an adventure into someone else’s slice of life with the added bonus of no travel fees.

Try one of these titles for worldwide reading adventures and your choice can help you meet one of the Adult Summer Reading Challenge goals!

Australia
The Slap book coverThe Slap
by Christos Tsiolkas

Bosnia
The Making of Zombie Wars book coverThe Making of Zombie Wars
by Aleksandar Hemon

Mexico
Signs Preceding the End of the World book coverSigns Preceding the End of the World
by Yuri Herrera

AfghanistanEarth and Ashes book coverEarth and Ashes
by Atiq Rahimi

Turkey
The Forty Rules of Love book coverThe Forty Rules of Love
by Elif Shafak

China
Dream of Ding Village book coverDream of Ding Village
by Yan Lianke

Cuba
The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love book coverThe Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
by Oscar Hijuelos

Netherlands
The Dinner book coverThe Dinner
by Herman Koch

CroatiaGirl at War book coverGirl at War
by Sara Novic

 
 

Join the Summer Reading Challenge.
Print your events list and scorecard here.
Not sure how to get started?  We have advice!

For reading suggestions, email us at readers@mppl.org or tweet at us @MPPLIB

Regardless of what you read and how you choose to read it, share your picks using #MPPLsummer16