5 things Halloween can teach us about reading

1.  Don't judge a book by its cover.  The gore-encrusted trick-or-treater who knocks at your door is just wearing a costume; similarly, unappealing cover art can disguise a gem of a book.
2.  People like to be scared - as long as they know they're safe.  R.L. Stine credits the popularity of his children's Goosebumps series with the principle of the "safe scare."  Admit it; there are probably a few scary books you've enjoyed reading while snug in your home, too.
3.  Free candy makes life sweeter.  With Winter Reading Club starting soon, you will soon get your own sweet treat in exchange for reading.
4.  It's okay to object to things. Maybe you disapprove of sexy Halloween costumes, or of the holiday in general.  Chances are, you have strong views on fiction, too.  Not to worry, your Community Library prides itself on having reading material for people from all idealogies.  Sign up for a NextReads email newsletter to get the inside scoop on favorites from all genres, including Christian Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.
5.  Sometimes, you just have to get outside of yourself and pretend to be someone you're not.  Part of the joy of fiction is in escapism.  Escape with a good book from your Community Library!

Humorous Horror for Halloween

Enjoy your creepy stories on the light side?  Check out one of these humorous works of horror for perfectly amusing Halloween reading.

'Descendents' Author Counts Her Blessings

Few would-be novelists are able to get their books published, let alone get their debuts turned into movies starring George Clooney.  But, as reported in this issue of Shelf Awareness, that's exactly what happened to new author Kaui Hart Hemmings.  Set in Hawaii, her book The Descendents tells the story of wealthy landowner Matthew King, his two out-of-control daughters, and his comatose wife, whom they are about to remove from life support.  Now, the author of The Descendents is counting her blessings; the movie adaptation of her book is premiering November 18th, and you'll see plenty of the author's friends and family as extras in the background.  Reserve this book before the rush here at your Community Library!

Jackie Kennedy still has it

Jackie Kennedy still has it - the power to charm and enthrall America, that is.  The new book by the former First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historical conversations on life with John F. Kennedy has jumped to the top of the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.  The popular book is built around transcripts of a seven-part interview recorded in 1964.  Reserve a copy today!

2011's Top Ten Debut Novels

Enjoy sampling new literary talent?  Debut novels are almost always high-quality, because publishers will only gamble on an unknown author if they really believe in his or her book.  Plus, reading debuts allows you to discover a new author before anyone else does!  In this article from Booklist, the top ten debut novels of 2011 are highlighted.  Some, like The Family Fang, The Language of Flowers, and The Submission have been featured previously on this blog.  Other first novels on the list available from your Community Library include The Arriviste, The Art of Fielding, The Borrower, Swamplandia!, The Taker, When God was a Rabbit, and The World Beneath.  Are there any 2011 debuts you especially enjoyed?  Leave a comment!

Spooky Reads for Halloween

Looking for something to chill and thrill you this Halloween?  Grab one of these spine-tingling stories from your Community Library.  Have any other spooky story suggestions?  Comment!

New Miniseries Stephen King's Bag of Bones

Master of horror Stephen King is having one of his books turned into a miniseries.  Deadline reports that King's book Bag of Bones will be released as a 4-hour, 2-night special on A&E.  The publisher describes Bag of Bones as "a tale of grief and lost love's enduring bonds, of haunting secrets of the past, and of an innocent child caught in a terrible crossfire."  In the story, a grieving widower returns to the lakeside getaway he once shared with his wife, and finds the town under the control of a powerful, vindictive millionaire.  Nothing is quite as it seems; read the book and/or watch the forthcoming miniseries to find out more!

National Book Award Finalists in Fiction

Looking for a high-quality work of fiction?  Try one of this year's National Book Award finalists:
  1. The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak - Follows young Jozef Vinich as he struggles to survive the brutal conditions on the Southern Front of World War I.  A debut novel. 
  2. The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht - Struggling to understand why her beloved grandfather left his family to die alone in a field hospital far from home, a young doctor in a war-torn Balkan country takes over her grandfather's search for a mythical ageless vagabond while referring to a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book." 
  3. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka - Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment. 
  4. Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman - Presents a collection of short stories that focus on the trials and tribulations of a group of Northeasterners. 
  5. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward - Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups.

Water for Elephants Read-alikes

Enjoyed Water for Elephants?  This popular novel by Sara Gruen (which was recently turned into an equally successful movie available at your library) tells the story of two circus performers during the Great Depression.  If you're looking for something similar in style to read, try any of the following books from this librarian-compiled list: The Help, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, The Thirteenth Tale, A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Kite Runner, and The Dry Grass of August.  Select titles are on display downstairs in the Fiction section; you're welcome to check them out! 

Families in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Did you enjoy the new book The Night Strangers by Chris Bohaljian?  For other stories about families in the aftermath of tragedy, Shelf Awareness recommends the following three books. Tess of the D'Urbervilles is a work of classic literature in which the lower-class Tess becomes the victim of her father's desire to rise in society.  In the fictional Red Hook Road, the accidental death of a newlywed couplebrings out the simmering class tensions in a Maine resort town.  Finally, A Rip In Heaven is the true story of the author's brother and two female cousins who were raped, pushed off a bridge, and left for dead.  Got any other suggestions for this topic?  Share them by commenting!

Attention Wicked Fans!

Hundreds of thousands of people are familiar with Gregory Maguire's "Wicked Years" series that retells the classic Wizard of Oz from the villain's point of view.  The first book, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, was published in 1995 and was soon thereafter adapted as a hit Broadway musical.  Book two, Son of a Witch, came out in 2005, followed by A Lion Among Men in 2008.  The fourth and final installment in this magical series, Out of Oz, is due to be released on November 1st of this year.  Get your hold requests in now!

Pessimists' Reading List

War, terrorism, corporate greed; this article from The Millions features a pessimist's reading list styled as "troubled reading for troubled times."  Highlighted titles available from your Community Library include The Night Manager by John Le Carre, which deals with illegal drug and arms trafficking, and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, where a dystopian future is ruled by calorie companies that regulate the Earth's dwindling food supply.  Check one out, or for additional troubled-times reading selections, take a look at this earlier post about top-ten schadenfreude novels.

Big Push for The Marriage Plot

If you're one of the over 100 Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library patrons who has signed up for the discounted train trip to New York City on 10/29/2011, then chances are good that you'll soon see the giant billboard in Times Square advertising The Marriage Plot, a forthcoming book by Pulitzer-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides.  In this story of love triangles and self-actualization, Madeleine Hanna breaks out of her straight-and-narrow mold when she enrolls in a semiotics course and falls in love with charismatic loner Leonard Morten.  However, things are complicated by the resurfacing of man who is obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is his destiny.  Interested?  Reserve your copy today.

Happy 50th Birthday, Catch 22!

Catch-22, Joseph Heller's famous novel about the absurdity of war, is turning 50!  Inspired loosely by Heller's own experiences as a soldier in World War II, this book was published in 1961 to mixed reviews.  However, with public frustration building over the conflict in Vietnam, the book resonated with many readers.  Since then, the book has become so universally known that its title has entered our language: the phrase "catch-22" means a bureaucratic trap, or a situation from which there is no escape.  If you haven't yet read this classic novel, check it out from your Community Library today!

New TV Series: The Magicians

Did you enjoy Lev Grossman's The Magicians or is recently-released sequel, The Magician King?  You're not alone; in fact, the books have achieved such popularity that Fox has bought the rights and plans to produce a television series.  Deadline reports that the writers of the forthcoming show will be none other than the ones who penned the blockbuster movie X-Men: First Class. In the story, Quentin Coldwater graduates from a secret, exclusive college of magic in upstate New York and finds that a fictional land from a series of childhood fantasy novels is real, but is more darker and dangerous than he could have imagined.  If you haven't yet treated yourself to this humorous portal fantasy described as "at once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing," then reserve The Magicians today!  

New 'In Death' Novel

Can't get enough of J.D. Robb's "In Death" series?  Then you probably know that the newest book in the series, New York to Dallas, has just come out, immediately jumping to second place on the New York Times bestseller list (superceded only by Kathryn Stockett's ever-popular book The Help).  In this newest series installment, Lt. Eve Dallas is pursued by a revenge-obsessed child molester whom she had sent to prison early in her career.  New York to Dallas is the 33rd book in this wildly popular series of thrillers; the complete and chronologically ordered list of titles is available here.

Reading with a Southern Accent

One of the best things about reading is the ability to visit anywhere in the world without leaving your home.  Take a reading trip to the American South with books from the Reading with a Southern Accent booklist, assembled by librarian Carolyn P.  Selected titles include Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, about a newly-orphaned twelve-year-old girl who is whisked away to live with her great-aunt in Savannah, and Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks, in which a newcomer to a small North Carolina town gradually overcomes her troubled past. These and other books from this list are on display downstairs in the Fiction section, across from the Readers' Advisory desk.  Check one out!

Books by TV Characters

The recent publication of Pawnee: The Best Town in America is somewhat unique because its author, Leslie Knope, is herself a fictional character from the sitcom "Parks and Recreation."  Still, as this article in The Atlantic points out, there has been more than one book authored by television characters.  Bart from "The Simpsons" has published a Guide to Life.  In the fifth season of NBC's "How I Met Your Mother," character Barney Stinson explains that his foolproof method for seducing women is outlined in his playbook, which was later published under the title The Playbook, with the character receiving authorial credit.  Richard Castle, the main character on ABC's detective show "Castle," has an entire series of murder mystery novels!  In fact, Castle's books are so popular that the Community Library purchased two copies of his latest book, Heat Rises, in order to meet the high demand.  Know of any other books authored by fictional characters?