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

November ‘06

November BookLovers’ Café
Reading List

This month there was a bit of lively discussion about the books that have stumped us: the books we have tried to like but couldn’t get through.  Some of the titles mentioned in this category by our group were: the Harry Potter books, The Brothers Karamazov, and Doctor Zhivago.  Sometimes we recognize that a book is not to our taste and never will be, while at other times it is a case of “wrong book, wrong time.”  One reader attended Camden’s recent Maine Authors Series and Literary Festival in early November; she highly recommended the event and was inspired by several of the lectures she attended.  The treats this month were pumpkin-chocolate chip bread, cranberry-orange scones, and a lovely poppy seed cake brought by one of our BookLovers.  Please join us on Saturday, December 16th from 10:30 to 11:30 for more engaging conversation about the books you love!

FICTION TITLES:

Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury (2006):  This new novel by Bradbury is NOT science fiction, for those of you familiar with Bradbury’s other classics.  This story is the gentle portrait of a boy on the cusp of his coming-of-age, told with great lyricism and “a beautiful view of the world.”  There is a lovely sadness about the end of boyhood and with some anticipation of where it will all end up.  (Rockport Library owns: New Fiction BRA)

The Giver by Lowis Lowry (1993):  This young adult novel and Newbery Award winner is an engaging story set in an unspecified future.  The writing in this book is exquisite; it feels like a good poem, spare but with just the right details.  The main character, Jonas, is coming of age in a society that will choose his career for him based on observations of his talents and personality.  While that fate may sound grim, it is the way this story is elegantly told that is memorable.  (Rockport Library owns: YA Fiction LOW)

McCall Smith, Alexander:  This popular author was mentioned by two participants.  For his fans, there are several series to consider: The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency mysteries, set in Botswana; The Sunday Philosophy Club mysteries, set in Edinburgh; The 44 Scotland Street stories, also set in Edinburgh.  The Scotland Street books (there are two now) are unique: the author penned them as a serial for one of the Scottish newspapers.  The focus is on a diverse group of characters, and the stories follow them through their interesting, painful, and humorous escapades.  One reader enjoys the way the author shares philosophy and ethics with his readers in such a likeable way.  For fans of McCall Smith, be sure to try the Botswana mysteries on audio book—the reader is excellent!  (Rockport Library owns all; Botswana mysteries on audio as well.)

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious (1956; new introduction by Ardis Cameron 1999):  The attendee of the Literary Conference in Camden was lucky enough to hear Ardis Cameron speak about the interesting story behind this classic book.  The lecture inspired a second read of Peyton Place by the reader, who said that the second read “felt pretty tame” when compared to the controversy when it first came out.  The author’s life story sounded so intriguing that the reader decided to check out a biography of Metalious.  (Rockport Library owns: Fiction MET)

Para Handy by Neil Munro (1999):  This book is set in the coastal lowlands of Scotland during pre-WW I.  The stories were originally published in a newspaper as a serial, and give a delightful and humorous look at life in a small working-class fishing village.  The protagonist is the captain of a small steam-driven lighter or “puffer.”  Great Scottish dialect!  (On order.)

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (1995):  This seamlessly-crafted young adult fantasy is captivating, and is the first in a trilogy.  The setting is Oxford, England, but it becomes quickly apparent that we are not quite in this time or world.  Lyra, the protagonist, is on a quest: there is suspense, battles between good and evil, and ethical dilemmas that she must face.  While these books reside in the young adult section, there are challenging references and complex content that will appeal to adult readers.  (Rockport Library owns: YA Fiction PUL)

Aimee and David Thurlo:  These mysteries are set in New Mexico on a reservation, and were described as similar to Tony Hillerman “but better.”  The mysteries are spellbinding, but the descriptions of the landscape and culture are equally appealing.  The protagonist is an ex-FBI agent, who has returned to her home on the reservation as a special investigator for the Navajo Police.  (Rockport Library owns several—check the series binder.)

Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood (2006):  This Portland native has written a complex novel of human interest: the story of a priest who is accused as a child molester.  The author writes well and gives depth to her characters.  (On order.)

NONFICTION:

Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground by Twenty-five Women Over Forty edited by Kim Barnes and Claire Davis (2006):  There are many uplifting stories in this collection, and a variety of quality, writers, culture, and styles.  The essayists are not all well-known, and there was a lot of food-for-thought about the way our society treats women and men too, who are aging.  (Rockport Library owns:  New Nonfiction 305.24 KIS)

The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids by Alexandra Robbins (2006):  This twenty year-old writer gives an unflinching account of career-driven teens.  Surprisingly the pressure is not always induced by over-involved parents, but instead comes from peers.  Advanced Placement classes, SATs, HYPS (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford) are the stuff that these teens are staying up all night for, and academic dishonesty is rampant.  We wondered: who’s raising these kids?!  (Minerva owns.)