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May We Suggest?
Park Falls Public Library Staff Reading Suggestions
The Encyclopedia of the Dog by Bruce Fogle
Written by a veterinarian, Dog is a practical, informative handbook for anyone who owns or enjoys these furry friends. The book includes a nice mix of history of breeds, how to choose a new puppy or dog and the basics of what to expect with dogs of any age. It is well written, indexed for easy use and peppered with fun photographs of awesome dogs.
Baking by James Peterson
I love to bake. This beautifully illustrated book has spent many hours in my kitchen, positioned well away from my mixer to avoid flour smudges but close enough to be able to glance for a quick reminder. Arranged systematically by types of baked goods, the recipes are easy to follow and the accompanying photographs add colorful support. My favorite chapter is breads; my favorite (and most challenging) recipe is the croissant. Yum!
Dick Francis' Bloodline by Felix Francis
An Epidemic of Absence by Moises Velasquez-Manof
Have we sanitized and anti-bacterialized ourselves into a new wave of ill health? Thus is the basic premise of this book. Velaquez-Manof travels to several countries doing research on human health, most especially allergies and autoimmune disorders; how some diseases have been obliterated, while others are taking their place. Case in point -- Why does a South American tribe living totally off the land and from the waters have no incidence of asthma, allergies or autoimmune disorders, while in developing countries, adopting “western ways”, all of the above are on the upswing? It doesn’t take a great leap of logic to figure it out. While I am not proposing all of those who are stricken with autoimmune diseases hop a bus to Mexico so as to be implanted with (expensive and borderline illegal) parasites such as hookworm (the author did this in an effort to “cure” or “kill”) the book is a fascinating glimpse into relatively uncharted territory. In the area of human health, what has society gained by shifting from a rural lifestyle to an urban one? What have we lost? The author draws conclusions driven by science. For someone such as myself, who has been afflicted with and affected by allergies and autoimmune disease all of my life, it gives a fresh insight and understanding of “how things work”. On an even more personal note it raised my antennae, since autoimmune disorders are thought to be hereditary. At the time of her death my mother had five such documented, including alopecia, vasculitis, lupus, chronic fatigue, and a variety of allergies. Since I’m already “behind the eight-ball” as regards allergy and autoimmune issues, where will that leave me? Hoping I inherited more of dad’s genes, that’s where!! This is no easy read, but an interesting and informative one.
Robert B Parker’s Ironhorse by Robert Knott
In this, the latest in the Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch series, we find our two protagonists on a train, having delivered their prisoner to his place of incarceration. They’d rather be on horseback and with good reason. Unbeknownst to our heroes, part of the train, with the Governor of Texas, his wife, and a whole lotta money aboard, is about to be hijacked by nefarious and downright mean outlaws. As the uncoupled cars head back down the upward grade the train has been traveling, Cole and Hitch decide to do the same. Drat --the brake has been disabled (said they were mean and nefarious, didn’t I?). This minor detail is soon taken care of with the help of a fellow passenger leaving our lawmen free to be off in pursuit of the evildoers. Prior to this book, though I rode through Brimstone, Resolution and Blue-Eyed Devil, Appaloosa was my favorite in the series. Now I’m wondering…Maybe it’s the trains’ comings and goings, or the female telegraph operators. As one who rarely indulged in series in the past I’ve come to find them as easy to slip into as an old pair of jeans, the rocking chair, or the seat of my truck. They’re predictable – but at times one can find comfort in that. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
Music, Music, Music by Artists Too Numerous to Mention
Browsed through the library’s music collection and could not pick out just one item to suggest. Thus I’m suggesting patrons do the same thing I did -- browse! From Bach to Beethoven to the Beatles to Beyonce, we own them all. Soundtrack is your thing? – we’ve got ‘em. Love Elvis? – he’s hasn’t left the building (unless his CD’s are checked out, of course). Have a hankering for the Six Fat Dutchmen? – they’re here. Yearning to relax? – music to sooth the savage beast is available in many forms – including bona fide “relaxation CD’s”. Classical to country; hip-hop to R&B, jazz to just plain fun Park Falls Public Library’s collection is an awesome one (didn’t do that poetic thing on purpose, really) and we’re constantly adding to it. Take a look. You might be surprised at what you find. Pssstttt. There’s music for kids in the children’s department too.
Calico Joe by John Grisham
When a rookie sets the baseball world on fire with his record-setting series of hits, a young boy is star-struck as he follows the player’s success. But this young boy’s father is also a baseball player, and his path and the rookies’ path cross with devastating results. This is the story of the boy, now grown, and his father as they try to somehow mend the errors of the past.
If you happened to be following the Chicago Cubs in the summer of 1973 this novel will bring back memories. Even though facts from that year are mixed with fiction, the story easily brings back the feel of Wrigley Field on a hot summer afternoon, cheering on favorite players and savoring the slow pace of a ballgame.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
A young boy growing up in India reveals his inquiring mind at an early age. His interest in religions leads him to join, and practice, more than one faith, much to the astonishment of his parents who are not religious. He has a loving family that also happens to own a zoo. When things begin to go downhill for the zoo the family decides to relocate to Canada, bringing along some of the animals. While crossing the ocean their ship tragically sinks, leaving the boy on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. How they survive this impossible situation is the story of a long journey back to land.
The library also has Life of Pi in movie format. It’s amazing to actually see the tiger in the lifeboat with the young man, Pi. Still, some things are better imagined. I liked the book better.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle : a year of food life by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
Barbara, Steven, Camille and Lily resolve to spend a year on their farm in Appalachia purchasing only locally grown, in-season foods and growing as much of their own food as possible. The family is making a back-to-the-land statement about the low quality of much of what we consume as well as the wastefulness of transporting food over long distances. Steven bakes bread and looks into the facts behind the food industry, Camille comes up with delicious recipes, Lily begins her own business raising chickens and Barbara tends a large garden, cooks, cans and keeps her family happy without many of the foods they had come to expect on a daily basis. This is an insightful look at how the food system in our country has become too costly and how the locavore movement is gaining steam, keeping production close to home and increasing quality and taste.
The family’s year of eating close to home wasn’t easy but they managed, and it seemed like they ate pretty well. What they learned along the way is skillfully presented by Barbara and her family, and is an inspiration to the rest of us.
May We Be Forgiven by A. M. Homes
In her darkly comic novel Homes begins with a heinous act of violence but quickly, without minimizing the horror of the crime, she propels the reader forward with tenderness and humor into the lives of those most affected by the brutal act. Harold Silver is aware of his brother’s violent outbursts but it is because of his own transgressions that he strives for redemption through connecting and caring for his acquired family... heartfelt and hilarious.
Arcadia by Lauren Groff
This the tale of a utopian society that attempts to live a peaceful agrarian lifestyle in upstate New York during the 1970’s. Groff’s extensive research into the communes that were established all across the United States in this hippie era of voluntary peasantry is evident. She does not romanticize the struggle to balance personal freedom with the practical issues of feeding and caring for a large community with limited resources. The narrator for this novel is Bit, first child born on the commune to master carpenter Abe and his wife Hannah. Bit grows up loved and sheltered, deeply committed to the land. When the inevitable collapse of the community comes, he is forced to navigate a capitalistic urban culture for which he is ill-prepared.
Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto
The novel follows the lives of 8 extraordinary women photographers of the 20th century. Otto skillfully knits together their disparate stories across continents and generations, the common thread being their struggle to balance the pursuit of their art and their family life. These finely developed characters are fictional although based on the author’s research into the lives and work of Imogen Cunningham, Madame Yevonde, Tina Modotti, Lee Miller, Grete Stern, and Ruth Orkin. The book includes reproductions of several of their photographs to further pique your interest in their innovative work.
The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye
This story takes place in northern Minnesota along the north shore back in the 1890’s where fishing and logging was the way of life, a very cold, harsh and lonely life. A Norwegian immigrant woman, Thea Eide, arrives alone and abandoned to this place she thought would be a better life. She finds work at a logging camp and gives birth to a son, Odd. Odd grows up in the village under the care of Hosea Grimm, getting an education and learning the fishing trade. He builds a fishing boat and someday hopes to escape Hosea and his bootlegging, prostitution and other enterprises. That day of escape comes faster than planned when Rebekah, Hosea’s live in girl, comes to Odd and says she is pregnant with his child. Odd hurriedly finished his boat and the two of them sneak off hoping for a better life for their family. But their pasts follow them, capsizing their fragile hope.
It’s a good story, although not necessarily happy. I think life there at that time was very tough. I mostly enjoyed this story for its wild and beautiful setting, the location being fairly local, and the era it takes place in.
Visiting Tom : A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace by Michael Perry
The reality of small town (or in this case, small farm) life, living your whole life in one house, a simple yet meaningful life. This is a true story of the author, Michael Perry, and his visits with his octogenarian neighbor just one valley over whose stories were so real and uplifting they make you feel as if you were there visiting with them. I loved this book because of the old rural farm setting and Tom’s ingenuity and view of life. He constructed a cannon that sits along his driveway that he shoots off now and then and also a snow-blower made from pieces of old farm equipment. Some of the visits are about how Tom and his wife of 60 years, Annelise, lived through the construction of the four-lane highway that went in right next to their farm in 1965. Tom is full of stories of way back when and Michael has a wonderful way of putting them down for others to read.
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
This story is a graphic novel done in scrapbook form which makes a fun and light read. The story takes place in the 1920s so the author uses lots of vintage memorabilia from that era to tell the story. It’s the story of Frankie Pratt who graduated high school in 1920 and was given a scrapbook and by her father, a Corona typewriter to help fulfill her dream of becoming a writer. Life has a way of changing your best laid plans as is the case with Frankie’s plans of going off to college. The author takes you on a journey of Frankie’s search for success and love through postcards, letters, catalog pages, ticket stubs, etc. If you haven’t tried a graphic novel before, this one is a delight.