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Kern County Library Staff Suggests...: November Recommendations for Adults

Monday, November 1, 2010

November Recommendations for Adults


The Dead Lie Down by Sophie Hannah - Det. Sgt. Charlotte Charlie Zailer and Det. Constable Simon Waterhouse face one of their strangest cases yet in this superb thriller from Hannah (The Wrong Mother). Ruth Bussey, who suffered a violent attack years earlier, arrives at the police station in the English town of Spilling and explains that her boyfriend, painter Aidan Seed, confessed to murdering a woman named Mary Trelease. Charlie and Simon—who recently got engaged, despite their bizarre relationship—are reluctant to take Ruth seriously, especially after they learn that Mary, a reclusive painter, is alive and well. Ruth's insistence, bordering on the obsessive, prompts the detectives to start digging into Mary's history. The pair soon discover disturbing links to Aidan and the art world. When an actual murder is committed, Charlie and Simon must sort out what's real and what's imagined. A master of intricate plotting, Hannah seamlessly melds the police procedural with a gothic-inspired whodunit. ~Publishers Weekly.

The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire - With the new millennium approaching, the eccentric town of Thebes grows even stranger. Mrs. Leontina Scales begins speaking in tongues after being clocked by a Catholic statuette. Her daughter, Tabitha, and her sons scheme to save their mother or surrender her to Jesus—whatever comes first. Meanwhile, choir director Jeremy Carr, caught between lust and ambition, fumbles his way toward Y2K. The ancient Sisters of the Sorrowful Mysteries join with a gay singing group. The Radical Radiants battle the Catholics. A Christmas pageant goes horribly awry. And a child is born. Only a modern master like Gregory Maguire could spin a tale as frantic, funny, and farcical as The Next Queen of Heaven.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, a Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris - Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life. In "The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck," three strangers commiserate about animal bureaucracy while waiting in a complaint line. In "Hello Kitty," a cynical feline struggles to sit through his prison-mandated AA meetings. In "The Squirrel and the Chipmunk," a pair of star-crossed lovers is separated by prejudiced family members. With original illustrations by Ian Falconer, author of the bestselling Olivia series of children's books, these stories are David Sedaris at his most observant, poignant, and surprising.

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich - Life in Marblehead has had a pleasant predictability, until Diesel arrives. Rumor has it that a collection of priceless ancient relics representing the Seven Deadly Sins have made their way to Boston’s North Shore. Partnered with pastry chef Lizzie Tucker, Diesel bullies and charms his way through historic Salem to track them down—and his criminal mastermind cousin Gerewulf Grimorie. The black-haired, black-hearted Wulf is on the hunt for the relic representing gluttony. Caught in a race against time, Diesel and Lizzie soon find out that more isn’t always better, as they battle Wulf and the first of the deadly sins.


The Best American Crime Reporting, 2010 by Stephen J. Dubner (guest editor) - Thieves, liars, and killers—it’s a criminal world out there, and someone has to write about it. A thrilling collection of the year’s best reportage by the aces of the true-crime genre, The Best American Crime Reporting 2010 brings together the mysteries and missteps of an eclectic and unforgettable set of criminals. Gripping, suspenseful, and brilliant, this latest addition to the highly acclaimed series features guest editor Stephen J. Dubner, award-winning and megabestselling coauthor of SuperFreakonomics and Freakonomics.

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr - Carr—author of The Big Switch (2007) and the much-discussed Atlantic Monthly story "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"—is an astute critic of the information technology revolution. Here he looks to neurological science to gauge the organic impact of computers, citing fascinating experiments that contrast the neural pathways built by reading books versus those forged by surfing the hypnotic Internet, where portals lead us on from one text, image, or video to another while we’re being bombarded by messages, alerts, and feeds. This glimmering realm of interruption and distraction impedes the sort of comprehension and retention "deep reading" engenders, Carr explains. And not only are we reconfiguring our brains, we are also forging a "new intellectual ethic," an arresting observation Carr expands on while discussing Google’s gargantuan book digitization project. What are the consequences of new habits of mind that abandon sustained immersion and concentration for darting about, snagging bits of information? What is gained and what is lost? Carr’s fresh, lucid, and engaging assessment of our infatuation with the Web is provocative and revelatory. --Donna Seaman, Booklist

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey - For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dismissed these stories—waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea—including several that approached 100 feet. As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of people as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100-foot wave.

In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast.

What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets by Peter Menzel - In this fascinating study of people and their diets, 80 profiles are organized by the total number of calories each person puts away in a day. Featuring a Japanese sumo wrestler, a Massai herdswoman, world-renowned Spanish chef Ferran Adria, an American competitive eater, and more, these compulsively readable personal stories also include demographic particulars, including age, activity level, height, and weight. Essays from Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham, journalist Michael Pollan, and others discuss the implications of our modern diets for our health and for the planet. This compelling blend of photography and investigative reportage expands our understanding of the complex relationships among individuals, culture, and food.


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