Westerns for the New Millennium

Westerns conjure up images of daring adventures in the barren desert, cowboys and Indians, and outlaws and lawmen.  Though there are few novels that fit our classic image of a Western being published today, readers will be pleasantly surprised to discover there are a number of novels with many familiar western themes.  

  • In Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith, the year is 1893 and two cowboys, inspired by their hero, Sherlock Holmes, put their detecting skills to work to uncover the truth about the murder of a cowhand on their Montana ranch.
  • Territory by Emma Bull finds late nineteenth century college student, Jesse, summoned by a magician friends to Tombstone, where he witnesses the supernatural powers of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp.
  • Set against the backdrop of the great California Gold Rush, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, is a darkly comic novel that follows the adventures of two hired guns, who under the orders of the mysterious Commodore, try to kill a man who gives them a run for their money.
  • In Leif Enger's Peace Like a River, eleven year old asthmatic Ruben chronicles his family's search for his older brother, Davy, who escaped from jail before he could stand trial for the killing of two marauders who came to their Minnesota farm to harm their family.

Nonfiction for Novel Lovers

Non fiction sometimes gets a bad rap as being boring or dull.  Check out these true stories that read like novels.
  • Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian American, chooses to ride out Hurricane Katrina in his New Orlean home.  After the storm, he travels the city in a canoe rescuing neighbors and caring for abandoned pets until his is arrested by a group of National Guardsmen, accused of terrorist activity, refused contact with his family, and held with charges or trial for 23 days.  Dave Eggers tells his story in Zeitoun.
  • Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger follows a Texas high school football team as they pursue the state championship. The story attempts to understand a football crazy small town where sports overrules academics and most other aspects of life.
  • Investigative journalist Eric Schlosser examines the local and global influence of the United States fast food industry in Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All American Meal.

Books To Improve Your Mood

The end of summer can be depressing.  If you are finding yourself down in the dumps, check out one of these books that will help you improve your mood.

  • In Spontaneous Happiness, Andrew Weil offers tips on how to balance your life and incorporate spirituality as you work toward the ultimate goal of achieving optimal emotional health.

Guy Reads: Clawback

Mike Cooper's debut novel, Clawback is a thriller full of action and intrigue.  Although America is in the midst of a recession, Wall Street is doing great...until the killing starts.  After an assassin starts killing America's worst performing financiers, a coalition of bankers hires a fixer .  Bodies fall, stocks plunge, and the fixer finds himself a target as well.  Think Hollywood hero with a Beretta and disposable cell phone vs. a Gordon Gekko type!

Family Secrets inYou Are The Love Of My Life

Lucy, children's book illustrator and single mother leaves New York and the married father of her children to live in the Washington house where she grew up and where she discovered her father’s suicide. With the back drop of Watergate, Lucy's life is full of secrets: her children know nothing of her father’s death or the identity of their own father. As new neighbors enter their lives, her family’s safety and stability become threatened. Susan Shreve's You Are The Love Of My Life is a gothic story of complicated family secrets and how those secrets can stand in the way of human connections.

Was The "Green Beret Killer" Wrongly Convicted?

You may know Errol Morris as an award winning documentarian, but he's also an author.  In A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald,  Morris investigates the case of the notorious "Green Beret Killer" convicted 30 years ago of murdering his family.  Over the years, MacDonald has maintained his innocence and has insisted that his loved ones were slaughtered by four hippies.  After two decades of investigation, Morris concludes many of the things we think we know about the case are flawed and that MacDonald may in fact be innocent.  Not just an exploration of the case, A Wilderness of Error poses hard questions about the nature of proof, the media, and our whole criminal justice system.

Fresh Look at The Irish Potato Famine

In The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and Saga of the Irish People, John Kelly delivers a fresh narrative account of Ireland between 1845 and 1852.  Though there have been worse famines statistics wise, the Irish Potato Famine remains the worst in history in terms of percentage of population killed.  This well researched book delves into not only the causes of the famine and the politics behind the governments response but also covers the emigration experience. This is a must read for anyone interested in Irish history and readers who enjoy non fiction in general will enjoy Kelly's storytelling as well.

Historical Debut: The Twelve Rooms of the Nile

In an imaginative historical debut by Enid Shomer, two historical figures travel down the Nile and fall in love before they became famous.  The year is 1850.  Florence Nightingale, daughter of a prominent family and at 29, well on her way to being a spinster, sets sail on a trip down the Nile chaperoned by family friends.  Plagued by mysterious seizures, Gustave Flaubert has dropped out of law school and written his first (unpublished) novel when he decides to explore and document the largely unexplored monuments of ancient Egypt.  The two unlikely soul mates come together by sharing their deepest torments and biggest hopes      against the background of mid 19th century Egypt in The Twelve Rooms of the Nile.

Long Awaited Publication of George Orwell's Diaries

Published for the first time in the United States, Diaries gives readers insight into the interior life of George Orwell, author of iconic books such as 1984 and Animal Farm.  Written as separate books, these diaries include both political and domestic entries that chronicle Orwell's travels among miners and migrant workers, the drama of World War II, the death of Orwell's wife, and his battle with tuberculosis.  Edited by the world's foremost Orwell scholar, this groundbreaking work serves as the autobiography Orwell was never able to write.

Sequel to The Keeper of Lost Causes

In The Keeper of Lost Causes, Denmark's hottest crime fiction author, Juss Adler-Olsen introduced us to Detective Carl Moerck.  In The Absent One, Moerck is back, grumpy as ever, and determined to do as little work as possible.  When the cold case of a murder of a brother and sister which turns out to have ties to powerful socialites lands on his desk, Moerck must investigate.  Nothing is an it seems and Moerck ends up fighting for not only justice but for his life as well.  Fans of Scandinavian fiction will not want to miss this one.  Pre pub buzz rates The Absent One as being even better that Adler-Olsen's outstanding debut!

Heart Pounding New Thriller: The Survivor

International bestselling author Gregg Hurwitz delivers a roller coaster ride thriller with his latest book, The Survivor.  Recently diagnosed with Lou Gherig's disease, Nate is about to leap from a building to his death when he notices a bank robbery in progress.  Deciding to intervene, Nate uses his ROTC training to shoot dead five robbers.  In revenge, robbery's mastermind vows to kill Nate and his daughter unless Nate can complete the robbery's original purpose: retrieving an envelope in one of the bank's safety deposit box.  Nate's left with one last chance to defend his family but it may be, quite literally, the last thing he does.

Uplifting New Memoir: I'll Stand By You

Fourteen years ago Elissa Montanti was a part time singer/songwriter living in Staten Island.  After the deaths of her mother, grandmother, and first love, she found herself crippled by anxiety and panic attacks and unable to write or perform music.  When a friend asked Montanti to help with a fundraiser for Bosnian children, Montanti was so moved that she quit her job and started a charity to help bring wounded children to the United States to receive prosthetic limbs.  As Montanti opened opened her heart to these children, she was able to heal herself.  I'll Stand By You is an inspirational story of compassion and determination.

Spy Thrills in A Foreign Country

Six weeks before she is due to make history as the first female head of MI6, Amelia Levene vanishes.  With no ransom demand, no intelligence information, and no hint of defection, this is the worst crisis MI6 has faced in decades.  Ordered to find Levene, disgraced officer Thomas Kell sees the crisis as a chance for redemption.  His search takes him to France and then North Africa where he uncovers secrets of Levene's past that could compromise British national security and Kell's life.  Fans of John le Carre will enjoy Charles Cumming's suspenseful spy thriller, A Foreign Country.

Sequel to The Little Book: The Lost Prince

New York Times bestselling author Selden Edwards is back with The Lost Prince, sequel to the beloved novel The Little Book.  After the tragic loss of her great love, Eleanor is forced to resume her place in late nineteenth century Boston.  Believing she has knowledge of every major event that is to occur in her lifetime, she struggles to balance the expectations of her family with her resolve to prevent historical disasters.  Fans of both historical fiction and science fiction will delight in this truly magical novel.

Funniest Memoirs

Memoirs are one of the most frequently requested genres at the library.  When you're looking for a laugh, go to these hilarious memoirs!

  • Dry by Augusten Burroughs: An advertising executive remembers his childhood with an eccentric foster family and his early adult experiences of trying to forge an independent life for himself.

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey: The breakout star of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock gives a humorous account of her life as well as behind the scenes stories from her hit shows.

  • Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanna Darst: A memoir of having grown up in an eccentric family of faded wealth and gentility in which the father's faded dreams of being a famous writer puts his family in the poor house.

  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher: Based on Fisher's one woman show, this memoir covers growing up with celebrity parents, her early success in Star Wars, her battle with addiction and mental illness, turbulent romances, being a single mother, and her struggle for recovery and healing.

  • Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson: A memoir of growing up in rural Texas, awkward high school years, and the author's relationship with her long suffering husband.

Science Fiction for People Who Don't Read Science Fiction

Are you intimidated by a "science fiction" spine label?  Don't be!  Check out these novels that are so good, you won't even realize you're reading sci fi!
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: A look at the near future presents the tale of Offred, a handmaid in Gilead, once the United States, an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valuable only as long as they are viable for reproduction.

  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut: Billy Pilgrim returns home from the Second World War only to be kidnapped by aliens who teach him that time is an eternal present.

  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon: In a world in which Alaska, rather than Israel, has become the homeland for Jews following World War II, Detective Meyer Landsman, and his half Tlingit partner, Berko, investigate the death of a heroin addicted chess prodigy.

  • Fledgling by Octavia Butler: A young girl suffering from amnesia awakens to find she is actually a middle aged vampire.

New Historical Fiction: The Second Empress

Unable to bear children, Napoleon's beautiful wife, Josephine, is cast aside for him to marry Marie-Louise of Austria.  Arriving in Paris, Marie-Louise is shocked by the extravagance of the French court and the duplicity of Napoleon's sister, Pauline, who is doing everything in her power to encourage Napoleon to divorce his new wife.  Told from various perspectives and based on primary sources, this is the story of the last six years of Napoleon's reign, his wild court, and the women who tried to control it.  Be transported to the fascinating time of Napoleonic France while reading The Second Empress by Michelle Moran!

Guy Reads: West by West

Basketball fans who consider Jerry West a legend will be surprised to learn that at the end of the day he is simply a man carrying around a lot of baggage.  His brutally candid autobiography, West by West: My Charmed Tormented Life, discusses not only his glowing achievements but also lower points including physical abuse as a child, the death of his beloved brother, and West's struggle with clinical depression.  The intertwined brilliance and agony that is Jerry West's life is a powerful narrative that will draw fans in from the first page.
When you're looking for something to read, but you don't have a lot of time, a short story can be the perfect solution.  Check out these great short story collections!

  • Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle: Presents eleven short stories that feature shoes from Cinderella's glass slippers to hunting boots covered in mud.

  • Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li: This collection brings in elements of Chinese and Chinese-American experience while pondering big questions about the human fate.

  • Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom: A series of interconnected stories where a young woman struggles to come to terms with her roommate's murder, in-laws confess their indiscretions in a unlikely place, and two middle age friends discover a comedic attraction.

Cold Reads for Hot Summer Days

When the weather gets too hot, be transported to cooler climates with these cool reads!

  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: A childless couple working on a farm in the brutal landscape of 1920s Alaska find a little girl living in the woods, with a red fox as a companion, and take the strange, almost supernatural child in as their own.

  • Let the Right One In by John Lindqvist: In the aftermath of a bizarre murder of a 12 year old boy in a cold dark Swedish town, Oskar theorizes the killing was a revenge and wonders about the nighttime activities of the mysterious girl next door.

  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin: Follows the adventures of a human ambassador sent to the planet Winter on a mission to make peace between warring factions by finds himself being challenged by the strange citizens he meets and his own prejudices.

Sinister Side of Suburbia in Thy Neighbor

Why did Nick's father kill his mother and then himself?  Deeply cynical 30-something unemployed writer and alcoholic Nick decides to investigate exactly what made his father come unhinged.  Spying on his neighbors via hidden cameras and microphones, Nick begins to realize he himself is being stalked.  As he delves further into his investigation, he begins to realize the shocking truth about how and why his parents died.  At one unsettling and darkly humorous, Thy Neighbor is a spellbinding first novel from Norah Vincent.

Dystopian Novels for Grown Ups

With the success of The Hunger Games trilogy, many adults are looking for similar reading experiences.  Never fear, your Community Library has you covered with these dystopian novels:
  • The Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell recounts the connect stories of people in the past and the distant future including a nineteenth century notary, a 1970s journalist, and a young man trying to make his way through a post apocalyptic world.
  • Acclaimed author Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go tells the story of a reunion between childhood friends that draws Kathy and her companions on a nostalgic odyssey into their lives at an isolated private school and the truth about their childhoods.
  • A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" whose victims are confined to a mental hospital while a single witness to the events guides seven strangers through the barren urban landscape in Jose Saramago's Blindness.
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood gives a look at the near future through the story of Offred, a handmaid in the republic of Gilead, once the United States, an oppressive world where women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are capable of reproduction.
  • The classic, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, showcases a futuristic culture where teens rule with violence.

New Spellbinding Suspense: The Crime of Julian Wells

Thomas H. Cook melds mystery and spy thriller into one with his new novel, The Crime of Julian Wells.  In it, Julian Wells, a well known true crime author, rows out into the middle of a pond and takes his own life.  With no note to be found, Julian's sister Loretta and his best friend Philip, are left to sift through pieces of Julian's life to try to find the reason for his suicide.  As they trace over the last 40 years of his life, they come to realize how little they truly knew Julian.   With  a plot that spans four decades and three continents, The Crime of Julian Wells is sure to keep readers in suspense!

Debut Novel: In the Shadow of the Banyan

Vaddey Ratner's searing debut novel is based on her own personal story.  In the Shadow of the Banyan is the story of a young girl coming of age among the killing fields of Cambodia.  Seven year old Raami's childhood of privilege dissolves into chaos when civil war comes to the streets of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh.  At first, Raami's family believes the new government will stem the tide of injustice but they quickly realize the true nature of the Khmer Rouge and must flee to the countryside. One terrible event follows another but ultimately Raami's resilience helps her survive.  

Dark Days of China's Cultural Revolution in A Hundred Flowers

"Let a hundred flowers bloom.  Let a hundred school of thoughts contend."
Though Chairman Mao has declared a new openness in society with citizens free to express their views about Communism, many intellectuals fear it is a trick.  Kai Ying must safeguard her family after her teacher husband is arrested for criticizing the Communist Party and sent to a labor camp for "reeducation".  A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama is a powerful novel about an ordinary family experiencing China's Cultural Revolution.

Memories of Marilyn Monroe

50 years after her death, the life Marilyn Monroe continues to spark curiosity and interest.  Learn more about the late actress with these biographies.

  • Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters is a collections of written artifacts in Marilyn's own handwriting.  The bits of text including notes jotted in notebooks and on hotel letterhead, reveal a woman who deeply loved acting and strove to perfect her craft.

  • Marilyn Monroe: The Final Years traces the final two years of the star's life including her relationship with JFK, her incarceration in a mental asylum, and her exploitation by mobsters.

  • The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe profiles the life of the iconic actress touching on subjects including her mentally ill mother, her estranged father, Marilyn's own struggles with mental illness, and her relationship with the Kennedys.