2015 Adult Summer Reading Program

June 29, 2015 by

Adult Summer Reading Slogan

The 2015 Adult Summer Reading Program starts today!!! Through Friday, August 14th, participants can submit reviews in the library or online for a chance to win prizes at the Wrap-Up Party, which will be held in the library on Wednesday, August 19th at 7:00pm. Share your review(s) with friends and neighbors by having it posted right here on the Palisades Free Library Blog! The more reviews you write, the more chances you have to win. No registration is required to participate in the 2015 Adult Summer Reading Program. Please register in the library, by phone, or online for the Adult Summer Reading Wrap-Up Party. Happy Reading!!!

The library would like to thank the following local businesses for generously donating to the 2015 Adult Summer Reading Program prize baskets:

Mimi's Plate

Greek Village

Soft Cloth Car Wash

“More Happy Than Not”

June 27, 2015 by

Cover image for MORE HAPPY THAN NOT BY ADAM SILVERA

Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not reminds me of a Junot Diaz-type urban, “let me spit it to you” tale, mixed with some (but minimal) SCI-FI . The story is about Aaron, a teenager growing up in a Bronx neighborhood where tragic deaths, poverty, and drugs, leaves everyone feeling like they are lacking. Each character in Aaron’s neighborhood, from his gamer brother, Eric, to the neighborhood crazy kid, plays their “role” in their community- and they play it well. But Aaron realizes that they are all trapped in these roles. Trapped in their jobs, their broken families, and their crappy, too-small apartments. After the suicide of Aaron’s father, and his own subsequent suicide attempt, Aaron is just trying to make his own role (or more-so trying to find one) more bearable. His girlfriend Genevieve helps in his quest for happiness, until she goes away to Art Camp for three weeks. While she is gone Aaron becomes close friends with a mysterious boy named Thomas. Thomas is a self-proclaimed “quitter” of anything that he feels he doesn’t want to deal with anymore. From Thomas’s minimum-wage jobs and his half-written screenplays, to his girlfriends, he seems to prefer to move alone, ghosting through the lives of the people that he is surrounded with – because he doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. Aaron’s friendship with Thomas makes him question every aspect of his life and is the only person with whom he shares his unpleasant past, and how he feels about it.  Silvera brings topics of race, class, and sexuality to the forefront, and, I don’t want to give too much away, but draws you in wonderfully with his unreliable narrator. This book makes you think that you know where the story is going, but surprises you at every corner.
Ahh, now for the “SCI-FI” part. There is an institution, the Leteo Institute that allows people to repress certain memories so that they can live “better” lives, and forget painful memories. Ever had an unpleasant experience that prevents you from living your life? Imagine if you could make it so that it never happened. Convenient, right? But, as Genevieve points out, “Leteo suppresses memories. It doesn’t erase them.” Suppression of one’s true self is a theme in this novel that everyone can relate to and reading it made me contemplate if altering our memories can really make our lives better. Do we deserve to have our difficult memories erased? Aren’t our memories and experiences what makes us human? As one protester of the procedure in the book points out, “Grief is natural. Guilt is deserved.” You will have to read the book to see how the Leteo procedure is woven into the lives of these characters, but don’t worry- this book is a page turner!

 

Children’s author, Judith St. George

June 25, 2015 by

 So You Want to Be President? What Was the Lewis and Clark Expedition?

Children’s author Judith St. George passed away this month at the age of 84.  She is the author of more than 40 children’s books and won the Caldecott Medal in 2001 for So You Want to be President (illustrated by David Small).

She has written children’s biographies of Lincoln, Sacajewea, and George Washington. More recently she wrote What Was the Lewis and Clark Expedition?

“The Third Wife”

June 23, 2015 by

The Third Wife: A Novel  by Lisa Jewell.  Jewell is a British author. I read one of her first books, “Ralph’s Party” about 20 years ago about young, single people living in London. It may have been one of the seed starters to the Chick Lit genre that sprouted years later. She has matured as well as the characters in her novels.

The main character in “Third Wife” is in his late 40’s and has just been widowed.  Adrian is a nice guy. He is such a nice guy that his 2 ex-wives and the children he had with them still get together frequently as a blended family.  This is the first time he’s been on his own now that his 3rd wife, Maya, was mysteriously hit by a bus.  Jewell sketches out his first two families and the problems of each of his 5 children: his 2 older children in their 20’s (Luke is aimless and jumps from 1 mindless job to the next) and Cat is suddenly eating non-stop. His 3 younger children also have their quirks.

A mystery weaves its way through the plot as we learn that Maya had been receiving emails from an unknown person before she died. As Adrian advertises to give away Maya’s pet cat, a woman responds to the ad, stalks him for a week and then disappears. The family descriptions work to reveal why Adrian finds women to love, marry and leave.  Adrian attempts to track down the elusive potential cat-adopter believing she can provide him with answers to Maya’s death.

Comedians Turned Authors

June 23, 2015 by

In recent weeks, a couple more comedians joined the ranks of comedians turned authors. Aziz Ansari examines the many ways in which advances in technology have, and have not, changed the dating world in Modern Romance: An Investigation, while Colin Quinn uses life experiences and a sense of humor in an attempt to address a serious issue in The Coloring Book: A Comedian Solves Race Relations in America (soon to be available in the library in print). As I had with Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns), I chose to listen to the audiobook versions of these books, narrated by the authors.

Ansari’s Modern Romance was a little more academic and a little less funny than I had anticipated. In the book, the Parks and Recreation actor discusses the benefits and drawbacks of online dating, the effect of new forms of communication on our interactions with romantic interests/partners, the influence of technology on our perceptions of relationships and marriage, and other related topics, drawing from interviews, focus groups, and his own experience. In order to lend scientific credibility to his conclusions he recruited, along with a host of other researchers, sociologist Eric Klinenberg (professor at New York University and author of 2012’s Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone). I think my appreciation of the book may have suffered from having already read and enjoyed OkCupid founder Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking), which Ansari concedes covers some of the same ground. For those interested in the audio version of this book, I might recommend borrowing a print copy, which incorporates visual representations of the data used, to refer to as you go along.

I’ve only just started former SNL Weekend Update anchor Colin Quinn’s The Coloring Book, in which he recounts his experiences growing up in a multi-ethnic New York City. Quinn is nostalgic for this New York of the past, where people were much more willing to tell it like it was. He laments the current climate of political correctness and the resultant lack of honest discussions about race and ethnicity. Quinn suggests the importance of acknowledging and celebrating differences rather than denying them. So far, the book is proving to be both funny and engaging.


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