Check It Out

Check It Out Blog

What to Read for National Reading Group Month

Reading Group Month logoThe truth that “good books bring people together” is one of the founding principles of National Reading Group Month. Whether you have been involved with a book club for years or have been thinking of trying your first, there is no better time to explore the possibilities of a story ripe for discussion. Find your category below and celebrate with a new title that entertains, challenges, and inspires!

 

Fabulous for First Discussions

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society book coverThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
Sandra Dallas

 

Never Tried Nonfiction?

Year of Yes book coverYear of Yes
Shonda Rhimes
Warren St. John

 

Looking for a Lighter Option

Crocodile on the Sandbank book coverCrocodile on the Sandbank
Elizabeth Peters
Laura Dave

 

Staff-Selected Superstars

Cover of The Book of Unknown AmericansThe Book of Unknown Americans
Cristina Henríquez
Candice Millard

 

Not Afraid of Next-Level Reads

Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel
Land of Love and Drowning book coverLand of Love and Drowning
Tiphanie Yanique
Kate Atkinson

 

UPDATE: Find more suggestions in Part Two of this series!

Interested in more suggestions? Stop by Fiction/AV/Teen Services on the second floor or ask online to visit our virtual desk. Also, check out titles in our book discussion collection, shop those available as Books-to-Go discussion kits, and help yourself to original questions and resources available through our website.

Dyslexia in Fiction

dyslexia awareness month header

October is National Dyslexia Awareness month. Did you know that approximately 17% of the population has dyslexia? Throughout the month of October, we’ll be putting up displays featuring actors with dyslexia, authors with dyslexia, and dyslexia in fiction. Here are a few books to start with that feature characters with dyslexia. Make sure to check out one of our displays or ask us at the Fiction/AV/Teen desk for more suggestions!

MAggot Moon book cover

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell–who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright–sees things differently than the rest of the “train-track thinkers.” So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big

 

Instructions for a Heatwave book cover

 

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

When a recently retired family patriarch clears out his bank account and disappears during a sweltering summer in 1976, his three children converge on their mother’s home for the first time in years and track clues to an ancestral village in Ireland, where they uncover illuminating family secrets.

 

ahgottahandleonit book cover

 

Ahgottahandleonit by Donovan Mixon

Tim’s a dyslexic black kid on the mean streets of Newark. He wants to do what is right, but anger boils deep inside him. Despite everything, Tim wants his life to matter

 

 

Book summaries provided by publishers.

Staff Pick: Greetings from Utopia Park by Claire Hoffman

Dale from Research Services suggests Greeting from Utopia Park by Claire Hoffman

Greetings from Utopia Park book coverGreetings from Utopia Park chronicles author Claire Hoffman’s personal experiences living and participating in the Transcendental Meditation movement. At age 5, Claire moves with her mother and brother to Fairfield, Iowa to join the followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This book is both the story of Claire’s childhood spent living in this community and a history of what Maharishi called the Global Headquarters of World Peace. Claire eventually rebels, moving away from the teachings of Transcendental Meditation, only to return later in life to examine and attempt to reconnect with her spiritual upbringing. If you have ever been curious about Transcendental Meditation and wanted to learn more about both the positive and negative aspects of this practice, you will find this book fascinating and enlightening.

 

Looking for something similar? Try one of these books!

Cover of Free Spirit Growing Up on the Road and Off the Grid

Free Spirit: Growing Up on the Road and Off the Grid
by Joshua Safran
A mother and son head for the road to find a utopia they could call home

by Augusten Burroughs
 A memoir detailing the unusual childhood of a boy sent to live with his mother’s eccentric psychiatrist.

 

A Tale of Love and Darkness book coverA Tale of Love and Darkness
by Amos Oz
Chronicles the author’s childhood in 40’s and 50’s Jerusalem.
Trancendence healing and transformation through transcendental meditation book coverTranscendence: healing and transformation through transcendental meditation
by Norman E. Rosenthal
This book discusses the benefits of Transcendental Meditation through stories of both ordinary people and well-known artists.
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel book coverA Girl Named Zippy
by Haven Kimmel
 A memoir about growing up in small town Indiana.

 

Movies and TV: If You Like Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies DVD coverMaybe you were already a fan of the blockbuster novel by Liane Moriarty. Maybe you became swept up in the combination of critical acclaim and breakroom buzz when the TV adaptation first aired. Or maybe the eight Emmy wins, including for acting, directing, casting, music, and the top prize of Outstanding Limited Series broke down your defenses. One way or another, you’re now a fan.

Whether you have already binged the pitch-perfect Big Little Lies or are waiting patiently for your turn, you may be interested in related shows that offer variations on those same delicious appeals.

Top of the Lake DVD cover

 

Top of the Lake

Description: Obsessed with the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl near a freezing lake in New Zealand, a brave detective finds herself up against small-town secrets and a side of herself that was meticulously kept at bay.

Why This? Atmosphere! Both limited series lean in to the twisted and the dark beneath the surface. With complex, fascinating female characters, dynamic performances, and the exposure of sinister secrets in an insular town, you will be riveted.

 

Pretty Little Liars DVD cover

Pretty Little Liars

Description: Four friends band together against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets.

Why This? The similar title words are not the only reason this series is one of the most frequently mentioned watchalikes for Big Little Lies. Though the protagonists are younger and the machinations perhaps a bit soapier, the intrigue and drama inspire an equally obsessive viewing, especially as dangerous secrets threaten to come to light.

 

Broadchurch DVD cover

 

Broadchurch

Description: Two strong yet compassionate detectives are brought together to solve the murder of an eleven year-old boy in a small coastal town.

Why This? Season one of this celebrated series ticks all the boxes: seaside setting, murder mystery, almost-too-close community, and rich layers of storytelling. As the increasingly twisted evidence is followed, the prejudices, grudges, and underbelly of the idyllic town become exposed with dire consequences. You might also watch for the magnificent performances, especially that of Olivia Colman, who is more than equal to the standouts of Big Little Lies.

 

Little ChildrenLittle Children DVD cover

Description: The lives of two lovelorn spouses from separate marriages, a registered sex offender, and a disgraced ex-police officer intersect as they struggle to resist their vulnerabilities and temptations in suburban Massachusetts.

Why This? This 2007 film is based on a novel by Tom Perrotta, an author credited as a master of suburban noir. That means you can expect secrets behind closed doors of a seemingly benign neighborhood. Also, if you were interested in the parent roles of Big Little Lies, you will find parallels including the larger question of who might be misbehaving like little children, regardless of actual age.

 

RevengeRevenge DVD cover

Description: Wealth, beauty, and power define the residents of New York’s most exclusive community, but one woman will stop at nothing to exact revenge from those who ruined her father’s life.

Why This? The central character is presented as a newcomer to a wealthy beachside community. Not only does she navigate making new friends and learning whom she can trust, but she is also dealing with the aftershocks of a pivotal event in her past. Ring any bells? This is another series option for those who like shows that won’t let you go once you start.

 

Music: Your Fall Soundtrack

With fall here it’s time to surround yourself with the sounds of autumn. What songs do you have lining your days? For a mix of slower, laid-back tunes, try these!

Bon Iver album coverFor Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
Song: “Re: Stacks”

Passenger All the Little Lights album coverAll the Little Lights by Passenger
Song: “Things That Stop You Dreaming”

Breaking Dawn Soundtrack album coverBreaking Dawn Part 1 Soundtrack
Song: “From Now On” by Sleeping at Last

Wish You Were Here soundtrack coverWish I Was Here Movie Soundtrack
Song: “Cherry Wine (Live)” by Hozier

Book Discussion Questions: The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

Title:The Girls of Atomic City
Author: Denise Kiernan
Page Count: 309 pages
Genre: World War II Nonfiction, History
Tone: Informative, Atmospheric

Summary:
The story of several women who worked in various positions at the Clinton Engineering Works in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during World War II to secretly make fuel for the atomic bomb.

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: 2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. Chapter one opens with women riding on a “train to nowhere”. What were some of the things made these women open to doing this? How hard was it on people to leave? Was it harder for some than others? What about those who had families?

2. How did secrecy affect the community at Oak Ridge?

3. How did privacy affect the community at Oak Ridge? How did the residents feel about the fact that anyone could be watching them or listening to them at any time? Was this different than the broader United States at that time?

4. How did the earlier residents of this area feel about their land being taken from them to use for this project (“the taking.”) How did this follow some of the other “land taking” they’d experienced, like the Great Smoky National Park and the Norris Dam? Did patriotism and the war effort affect this? If so, in what ways?

5. How were African Americans treated differently than the white Americans in Oak Ridge? How do you feel about this? (Hutment: 16’x16’ plywood box with a door and a shutter, heated by a potbellied stove, housing 4 women, for $6.50/person/month with no spouses. Whites had dorms for 2 people at $10/person/month. Also trailers, houses, etc where couples and families could live.) What other ways were African Americans discriminated against? Did they sacrifice more?

6. This was an untold story of WWII that the author has brought to light. The part women have played in history has often been overlooked. Why are these important to tell even years later? Have you read other books or seen movies that have told their stories? (Hidden Figures) Why do you think the book is called “The Girls of Atomic City” not women?

7. Before reading this book had you heard of some of the notable female scientists who worked with atomic physics? Have their contributions been given the same weight that males in that discipline have?

8. Lise Meitner played a large part in discovering atomic fission, but when she realized the application of this discovery she decided not to join the Manhattan Project? How do you feel about that?

9. Read these quotes from Albert Einstein and discuss how you feel about them?

He wrote to physicist Niels Bohr in December 1944, “when the war is over, then there will be in all countries a pursuit of secret war preparations with technological means which will lead inevitably to preventative wars and to destruction even more terrible than the present destruction of life.”
Einstein withheld public comment on the atomic bombing of Japan until a year afterward. A short article on the front page of the New York Times contained his view: “Prof. Albert Einstein… said that he was sure that President Roosevelt would have forbidden the atomic bombing of Hiroshima had he been alive and that it was probably carried out to end the Pacific war before Russia could participate.” (“Einstein Deplores Use of Atom Bomb”, New York Times, 8/19/46, pg. 1). Einstein later wrote, “I have always condemned the use of the atomic bomb against Japan.”
In November 1954, five months before his death, Einstein summarized his feelings about his role in the creation of the atomic bomb: “I made one great mistake in my life… when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made; but there was some justification – the danger that the Germans would make them.” (http://www.doug-long.com/einstein.htm)

10. Do you think it was acceptable to hire people to work on this project without them knowing what it was that they were helping to make? Who do you think risked exposure to radiation? Any people stand out? (Those who carried the canisters to Los Alamos. Ebb Cade’s experimentation.) How did the statement, everything’s going in, nothings coming out play into this?

11. Talk about the “ordinary” people who worked on the bomb. Who stood out to you and why? What were their jobs? Who did you empathize with? Who were the “extraordinary” people involved in the project? What were their jobs? Did you feel you got to know them?

12. Talk about the physical characteristics of Oak Ridge? Why was it selected for Site X? How did the environmental conditions affect the residents of the town?

13. How did people try to bring a sense of normalcy to the structured and secretive life at Oak Ridge? Why do you think some were successful in adapting to Oak Ridge while others were not?

14. Was Kiernan successful in transporting you to the world of World War II? Why or why not? What things gave you that sense of time or the era? How did you feel about the way in which the book moved from the stories of the “ordinary people” to the stories about the scientists, generals and politicians involved in the highest level of the project?

15. How much did you know about The Manhattan Project before reading this book? Did you learn anything interesting about it you didn’t know before. (One example for me is just this past summer I saw the headquarters of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco, and I knew it was a private, all-male club, but I didn’t know it was involved with the Manhattan Project.)

16. How did WWI and WWII differ from previous wars and subsequent wars the US has been involved in? Are wars unifying or divisive for a country?

17. What did most Americans at that time feel about the war and the use of the atomic bombs? Has our thinking about this changed with time? Why or why not? What have been the ramifications of the atomic bomb and atomic energy, both positive and negative? Let’s talk about how the bombs were used. How were the targets chosen? What were the outcomes? How did the US try to lessen casualties? Hiroshima – August 6, 140,000 killed. Three days later Nagasaki – 40,000 killed. Five days later Japan surrendered.

18. There was a real sense that Americans trusted their government and military leaders and would follow them in this period of time. How is our world different today? Is something this huge, involving so many people, over so long a period of time, with such secrecy possible today? Is that a negative or a positive?

19. How many of you liked this book? How many disliked it? Reasons for or against? Would you have liked this better as a movie?

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

OTHER RESOURCES:

The Girls of Atomic City website
PBS feature “Women on a Top- Secret Mission in ‘Atomic City'”
Simon and Schuster Discussion Questions
The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History from the U.S. Department of Energy

READALIKES:

Our Mothers’ War
by Emily Yellin

Rise of the Rocket Girls
by Nathalia Holt

Hidden Figures
by Margot Lee Shetterly

Staff Pick: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

Picture of EvanMarko and Alana were soldiers on opposing sides of an ages-long intergalactic war, but Brian K. Vaughan’s epic sci-fi comic Saga opens with the birth of their daughter. With incredible artwork and hilarious wit, this tale of building a family unfolds in a harsh and multilayered universe with a cast of colorful, endearing characters (including the large green Lying Cat, snarling “Lying” at any untruth). A counsel for readers: it is a graphic story, both that it is in comic form as well as its depictions of violence and sexuality.

List: Books Set in Bulgaria

Bulgaria and US flagsThis week the Library added nearly 50 books in Bulgarian to our shelves, establishing it as the 15th language represented in our adult World Language collections. If you are curious about Bulgaria but are limited to reading in English, choose one of these to learn about the past, present, and imagination of this inspiring nation.

 

Making of June book coverThe Making of June
by Annie Ward
Leaving her idyllic home in California to follow her husband to Bulgaria, production assistant June finds herself abandoned in a country on the verge of civil war.
Shadow Land book coverThe Shadow Land
by Elizabeth Kostova
Twentysomething Alexandra heads to Bulgaria to teach English and attempt to escape the pain of losing a family member. She ends up searching for a family when she realizes she accidentally kept one of their bags after helping them on her first day in the country.
Street Without a Name book coverStreet Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria
by Kapka Kassabova
Recalling her childhood in Bulgaria under Soviet rule and her family’s escape when the Berlin Wall came down, the author describes her return to see how her homeland has changed since it became a member of the European Union.

 

Solo book coverSolo
by Rana Dasgupta
A portrait of a century through the story of a hundred-year-old blind Bulgarian man by way of both life lived and life imagined. Denied his real passions, Ulrich instead dreams of what could have been, and we follow his fantasy children, born of communism but making their way into a post-communist world of celebrity and violence.
Baba Yaga Laid an Egg book coverBaba Yaga Laid an Egg
by Dubravka Ugresic
Stories connected to the myth Baba Yaga describe a writer’s journey to Bulgaria to find peace with her mother’s fading memory, the true reason behind three friends’ trip to a resort, and a folklorist’s explanation of the myth.
Elusive Mrs Pollifax book coverThe Elusive Mrs. Pollifax
by Dorothy Gilman
On a simple courier assignment to deliver eight forged passports to a mysterious underground in communist Bulgaria, lovable CIA agent Mrs. Pollifax ends up putting a dictatorial general in prison, corrupting the agency’s last Bulgarian contact, and even storming the equivalent of a Bulgarian bastille to rescue a supposedly dead American. (Kirkus)

Fiction: Never Been Kissed by Molly O’Keefe

Never Been Kissed book coverNever Been Kissed by Molly O’Keefe is a steamy story of temptation. Ashley Montgomery’s plans to volunteer at a refugee camp in Africa are interrupted when she is captured by Somali pirates. Luckily for her, her family’s old bodyguard Brody Baxter comes to her rescue. To protect Ashley from the press and her family, they hole up in a small apartment above Brody’s brothers bar where Ashley learns Brody is in need of some rescuing too.

While your adventures will most likely be a lot different than Ashley Montgomery’s, you can help change someone’s life through volunteering! Come out to the Mount Prospect Public Library Volunteer Expo on September 23, 2017 to see a variety of volunteer opportunities available to you in or near Mount Prospect.