Book critics pick their favorites for Spring 2008

I’m number 134 on the Library hold list for Beginner’s Greek by James Collins — but I’m not worried. Not only does the Library have 52 copies, I know I’m in good company with 174 other Seattle readers (of which I am confident the 133 ahead of me are all super fast readers), as well as the 800-some reviewers in the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC), who just included Beginner’s Greek in a list of their favorite 10 novels for spring. In fact, the NBCC’s list looks remarkably similar to my current reading stack and hold list. Here are their top three:
1. Lush Life by Richard Price
2. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
3. Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser

Beginner’s Greek, which my co-workers Susan and Hannah deemed “a male Jane Austen novel,” is tied for fourth place by the critics. Check out the list of recommended novels, nonfiction and Continue reading “Book critics pick their favorites for Spring 2008”

Unleash your inner librarian!

image-of-library-stamp-courtesy-of-exlibrisWhat are the odds? The brand spanking new Library of Congress subject heading for “Public Libraries – California – anecdotes’” is getting quite a workout. In the past six months we have seen the publication of two humorous memoirs by librarians in the Los Angeles area: Don Borchert’s Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library and Scott Douglass’s Quiet Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian. They’re both entertaining slices of the library life (or as I like to call it, “The Game”), and I recommend them both. You may have to get in line, as they are both proving to be very popular, and not just with library staff either! It seems a lot of you are interested in exploring your inner librarian. While you’re waiting to get a behind-the-scenes look at the glamorous, high-stakes world of public librarianship, let me introduce some of my favorite fictional librarians.

Meet Cassandra Mitchell, librarian of the small town of Sechelt, British Columbia. While perhaps less well-known than the prim and plucky Miss Helma Zukas just down the coast in Bellehaven, Miss Mitchell is smart, compassionate, resourceful, sexy, Continue reading “Unleash your inner librarian!”

Metro Reads: Books spotted on local buses

Photo by Chasten FulbrightWe’re always interested in what people are reading: We’re the ones on buses craning our necks to get a look at book titles and authors. Perhaps you’re the one maneuvering the book cover at the perfect covert angle to make us really work for our noseyness. Or perhaps, like us, you also notice what others are reading. No judgments; no assumptions. Just curiosity.

Here are a few titles we spotted on Metro and Sound Transit buses around Seattle earlier this week:

Cold War Graphic Novels

laikaThe Cold War and the post-Cold War era gave authors and artists a lot of grist to mill.  While the novels and plays are famous and plentiful, there isn’t much in the way of graphic art that conveys the history of the time while also telling a great story.  Here are four graphic novels that tackle that history in different ways, all with beautiful results.

  • Laika by Nick Abadzis follows the imagined life of the first creature in outer space, the Russian dog Laika, along with her trainer Yelena and the Chief Designer, a survivor of the gulag.
  • A Jew in Communist Prague by Giardino is a three-volume story of a boy who loses his father to wallthe authorities during the Cold War.
  • Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco is a devastating work of journalism as the author interviews survivors of the Bosnian War of the 1990s.
  • The Wall by Peter Sis tells the author’s own story of growing up in Cold War Czechoslovakia and how the invasion of Western culture overwhelmed the invasion of Soviet tanks.

Cozy up with a Northwest mystery author

Alpine Traitor book coverSeattle author Mary Daheim’s “Alpine” mystery series takes place in a gorgeous town in the Cascade Mountains where newspaper editor Emma Lord solves murders and still meets her weekly deadlines. Wondering where to start with this series? Daheim brilliantly titles these in alphabetical order, starting with The Alpine Advocate, The Alpine Betrayal and so on up to the newest entry, The Alpine Traitor, just out this spring. For more cozy nights, try Daheim’s Bed-and-Breakfast mystery series.

But wait! What in the world is a “cozy”? My friend asked me that Continue reading “Cozy up with a Northwest mystery author”