Rockport Public Library
One Limerock Street, PO Box 8, Rockport, Maine 04856-0008

February ‘11

After yet another snowstorm, some of us were able to dig out in time for BookLovers’ Cafe. We had Colombian coffee by Foglifters and Chocolate Cinnamon Yeasted Coffee Bread from the March issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Our conversation wove through ancient Rome, to our favorite BBC Masterpiece series, to a memoir about a friendship, and a hysterical tale of modern vampires. Just a typical sampling of our eclectic tastes at BookLovers’ Cafe!

One more tip that I forgot to share at our last meeting: I have a new personal reading manifesto. My plan is to read for fun, for 15 minutes each day, during daylight hours! Just to stop my day and read, as opposed to only reading in bed, after all the chores are done, and my day is finished. So far, it’s going well!

A booklover shared a favorite book blog, because if you’re not reading books you might as well be reading about books, called Unputdownables. Check it out if you’re looking for some books to add to your reading list.

Come join us on March 26th for another session of BookLovers’ Cafe. You’re invited to come at 9:30 for visiting and informal booktalking, and we will begin officially at 10 a.m. All are welcome!

FICTION

Ashbaugh, Regan C. Downtick. (1998).

A classic in the genre of Wall Street thrillers, this book is about some power brokers who think they have it all, until a character from their past resurfaces who is seeking revenge! It is an “unputdownable,” according to the recommender, who buys extra copies to have for her summer visitors to read.

Bradley, Alan. A Red Herring Without Mustard. (2011).

Ah, dear Flavia de Luce! The intrepid 11 year-old self-taught chemist and amateur sleuth is back with a vengeance in this third installment of her adventures. (And what would she have to say about the adjective “amateur” associated with her skills of detection?!) This series is not to be missed, and began with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009), which we discussed back in October 2009. Also highly recommended on audio!

Davis, Lindsey. Nemesis. (2010).

Set in AD 77, this mystery is rife with fascinating details of ancient Rome. Informer (like a private investigator) Marcus Didius Falco is the protagonist, who must race against his adversary in the court of the Emperor to solve a mystery in the Pontine Marshes. Good mystery and interesting portrait of family and daily life in ancient Rome. This book reminded another reader of Robert Harris’ recent release Conspirata (2010) about the life of Cicero.

Haig, Matt. The Radleys. (2010).

Just another tale of a suburban family facing the usual struggles: the son who is being bullied, the daughter who wants to become a vegan, the mom who’s trying to hold it all together, and the dad who reminisces about his youth. The twist is that they are a family of vampires, though they are “abstainers.” A more realistic twist on vampires than the Twilight Saga (no sparkles), this is an exciting, mysterious, dark comedy that was hysterical in parts.

Lipman, Elinor. The Pursuit of Alice Thrift. (2002).

Alice is aware of her social awkwardness and is on a quest to “become real,” similar to Pinocchio’s quest. She is a lousy doctor because she has no bedside manner, but it’s not on purpose or malicious, just sort of mildly missing the mark. This is a touching and well-written book, and you’re really rooting for Alice’s success!

McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. (1992).

First in the Border Trilogy and winner of the National Book Award, this is an “easier” McCarthy book than some of his other, darker tales. On some levels, it’s simple, but on another level it’s a different type of writing that invites a user to experience it. There are some really brutal scenes of human interactions, but also very lyrical and vivid descriptions of the American west. One reader likened McCarthy’s writing style to Hemingway’s simple, poetic, directness, and recommended it as a book club selection.

Walls, Jeanette. Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel. (2009).

The author of the popular memoir, The Glass Castle (2006), wrote this fictionalized account of her grandmother’s life on the prairie. “A little like Little House on the Prairie for grown-ups.” The grandmother is a spunky character: her story helps a reader to understand what might have contributed to the unorthodox family life in The Glass Castle.

NONFICTION

Caldwell, Gail. Let’s Take the Long Way Home. (2010).

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Caldwell has fashioned a tender memoir of a friendship. It is an emotional book, but not maudlin, that celebrates the importance of female friendship through shared experiences, loss, and memories.

Heffernan, Maureen. Native Plants for Your Maine Garden. (2010).

A fabulous reference book for any Maine gardener, this book offers color pictures, tips, and advice about Maine’s native plants.

Sterba, Jim. Frankie’s Place. (2003).

This is a love story, but it is also the story of the tension between development and wilderness in Maine.

Children’s Books

Hill, Laban Carrick. Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. (2010).

A Caldecott Honor book and National Book Award Finalist, this title is a beautifully illustrated portrait of Dave, the talented African-American potter and poet.

Obama, Barack. Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters. (2010).

This children’s picture book sparked quite a debate among our booklovers. While some appreciated the book’s message of hope, inclusiveness, and inspiration, others felt that this represented yet another piece of the “marketing machine” that is today’s world of politics. (“Shouldn’t our President be doing more important things than writing a kids’ book?” “Did he even write this book?”)

Say, Allen. The Boy in the Garden. (2010).

The talented author/illustrator Allen Say has done it again: a stunningly illustrated story that may require multiple readings, at many levels. It’s about reality and imagination, in the eyes of a child.

Recommended DVDs

The Forsyte Saga. (BookLovers prefer original series of 1967).

The Pallisers. (1974, BBC series).

Remains of the Day. (1993).

Upstairs, Downstairs. BBC series from 1971-1975.