Library Staff Recommended Reading Summer 2014

Recommended Reading Archive

Paris, my sweet a year in the city of light (and dark chocolate)

Paris My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas (CD-book)


Advertising copy writer Amy Thomas moved from New York City to take a job in Paris for Louis Vuitton.  The result of her year there is Paris My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate).  Thomas takes the reader on a delicious tour of chocolate, buttery croissants, café au lait, pralines, baguettes, petits gateaux, madeleines and macarons.  She also lists the names and locations of Paris’s best and most famous patisseries, boulangeries, fromageries, and other specialty dessert venues.  Although the Elm Grove Library does not own the book, watch for the CD-book version coming this summer.

~ Sarah Muench ~

Dreams of gods & monsters

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (YA)


Taylor's expansive, final book in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy offers a satisfying yet complex conclusion to readers who have grown to love the fantasy series' many characters.  Taylor is a gifted writer, with each chapter full of lyrical, lush language.  A star-crossed romance is at the heart of her novels; however, it does not take precedence over impending calamities that threaten Earth and the parallel realm of Eretz.  I highly recommending the first two titles, as well: Daughter of Smoke and Bone  (a National Book Award Finalist) and Days of Blood and Starlight.  At 1,500+ pages the entire trilogy makes for an action-packed summer read!  


~ Abby Landers ~


Everyman, by Philip Roth


Oftentimes in literature, particularly contemporary literature, the lives and accomplishments (or lack thereof) of ordinary individuals are ignored, as authors opt for bold theatrics and preposterous storylines to articulate their messages. While overblown stories can be hugely entertaining, they do not always offer an accurate reflection of the types of lives led by the overwhelming majority of the world, filled with the small dreams, milestones, and regrets that may seem important only to those within an individual’s circle. As with Someone, Alice McDermott’s celebrated 2013 novel of an ordinary woman’s seemingly banal existence, Philip Roth’s Everyman looks at the life of an ordinary man as he faces the realities of advancing age, the consequences of a lifetime of mistakes, and the death which surrounds him. Although small in pagination, Roth’s ability to so simply voice the anxieties felt by many who see life in a rear view mirror will leave an emotional wallop that can last for days.


~ Noah Weckwerth ~

Chelsea Chelsea bang bang

Burial rites a novel

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler (Playaway)

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Playaway)


I was very intrigued by the innovative Playaway devices which contain an entire book in one small mp-3 style device.  To test this new (to me) technology, I listened to two books that could not be more different from each other: the very funny "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" written and read by comedian  and media personality Chelsea Handler, and the very serious "Burial Rites," by Hannah Kent, a novelization of the true 1800's story of the last woman to be beheaded for a capital crime in Iceland.    

Chelsea Handler's deadpan delivery made her absurd adult humor as hilarious as intended, but I found  the sepulchral tone of narrator Morven Christie in Burial Rites to overly dramatic and drawn out until I discovered that simply adjusting the speed of the recording changed it to  compelling and urgent. 


 My experience with recorded books had tried my patience in the past: changing the cassette or CD, becoming distracted by speed or the voice of the narrator, forgetting to bring the package with me to and from the car or the house, even choosing the appropriate and least obtrusive portable device.  The Playaway eliminates all of these problems. The whole book is contained on the device which is its own player; all you need is a set of headphones or ear buds (tip: with a simple audio cable, you can listen to it in your car or plug it into any MP3 speaker). I tested the Playaway books in the car, in the kitchen, on my walk, and while mowing my lawn (using noise-cancelling headphones for this last one).  Without exception, each experience was enhanced by this wonderful new way of "reading" a book.   You will love it!

~ Shannon McKeown ~

The secret life of Walter Mitty

Secret Life of Walter Mitty  (DVD – Ben Stiller (2013)

Secret Life of Walter Mitty  (DVD – Danny Kaye (1947)


When I watch a movie that I enjoy, I usually end up researching aspects shown that pique my curiosity. After viewing the movie, I tracked down the short story to read the “original” material. In the most recent version of the adaptation of James Thurber’s famous short story, actor Ben Stiller plays the title character, a man who has served in obscurity for all of his career as a (photograph) negative assets manager at Life Magazine. Mitty is one who dreams big but never really steps out in reality. When a love interest spurs him to go off in pursuit of a missing negative sent to him by a career staff photographer, Walter sets off on a whirlwind adventure quite unlike any of his secret daydreams. Stunning scenery filmed on location in Iceland and the sweet way that the Walter Mitty character grows in confidence are just a couple of reasons why I loved this film.  If you are in the hold queue for the most recent movie, try watching the 1947 version with Danny Kaye to get in the mood.


Writings and drawings by James Thurber (includes the original short story published in 1939)

Read the short story upon which both DVDs were based and compare it with the movie versions! You may keep reading and discover more stories from this prolific American humorist.

~ Paulette Brooks ~

“Staff Recommends” Compiled by Paulette Brooks


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