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

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Recommendations for Adults


Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson - Every day Christine wakes up not knowing where she is. Her memories disappear every time she falls asleep. Her husband, Ben, is a stranger to her, and he's obligated to explain their life together on a daily basis--all the result of a mysterious accident that made Christine an amnesiac. With the encouragement of her doctor, Christine starts a journal to help jog her memory every day. One morning, she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "Don't trust Ben." Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion. What kind of accident caused her condition? Who can she trust? Why is Ben lying to her? And, for the reader: Can Christine’s story be trusted? At the heart of S. J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep is the petrifying question: How can anyone function when they can't even trust themselves? Suspenseful from start to finish, the strength of Watson's writing allows Before I Go to Sleep to transcend the basic premise and present profound questions about memory and identity. One of the best debut literary thrillers in recent years, Before I Go to Sleep deserves to be one of the major blockbusters of the summer. (Reviewed by Miriam Landis)

The Hottest Dishes of Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky - Rosa Achmetowna, the frightening narrator of Bronsky's dark and wily latest (after BrokenGlassPark), is a difficult person to like, much less love. She lives in a cramped Soviet apartment with her husband, teenage daughter Sulfia, and a nosy, disagreeable roommate. Brusque, brimming with bile, and ever judgmental, she is less than pleased when the "rather stupid" Sulfia winds up pregnant. Rosa immediately tries a variety of crude home remedies for aborting Sulfia's baby—but nine months later, Aminat, is born. Rosa is fundamentally nasty, yes, but she instantly falls in love with Aminat (who coincidentally bears a striking resemblance to Rosa), tries to wrestle Aminat away from Sulfia, and enjoys watching Aminat grow into a wild, willful thing as Rosa and Sulfia kidnap the little girl back and forth. Rosa's machinations grow increasingly devious until Aminat matures and comes to a crossroads of her own. Rosa is absolutely outrageous, a one-woman wrecking crew with no remorse, an acid tongue, and a conniving opportunist's sense of drive and desperation. Bronsky lands another hit with this hilarious, disturbing, and always irreverent blitz. (Publisher’s Weekly, May 2011)

The Inverted Forest by John Dalton - Late on a warm summer night in rural Missouri, an elderly camp director hears a squeal of joyous female laughter and goes to investigate. At the camp swimming pool he comes upon a bewildering scene: his counselors stripped naked and engaged in a provocative celebration. The first camp session is set to start in just two days. He fires them all. As a result, new counselors must be quickly hired and brought to the Kindermann Forest Summer Camp. One of them is Wyatt Huddy, a genetically disfigured young man who has been living in a Salvation Army facility. Gentle and diligent, large and imposing, Wyatt suffers a deep anxiety that his intelligence might be subnormal. All his life he’s been misjudged because of his irregular features. But while Wyatt is not worldly, he is also not an innocent. He has escaped a punishing home life with a reclusive and violent older sister. Along with the other new counselors, Wyatt arrives expecting to care for children. To their astonishment, they learn that for the first two weeks of the camping season they will be responsible for 104 severely developmentally disabled adults, physically indistinguishable from Wyatt. For Wyatt it is a dilemma that turns his world inside out.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - Set in New York City in 1938, Rules of Civility tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising twenty-five-year- old named Katey Kontent. Armed with little more than a formidable intellect, a bracing wit, and her own brand of cool nerve, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future.

The story opens on New Year's Eve in a Greenwich Village jazz bar, where Katey and her boardinghouse roommate Eve happen to meet Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a ready smile. This chance encounter and its startling consequences cast Katey off her current course, but end up providing her unexpected access to the rarified offices of Conde Nast and a glittering new social circle. Befriended in turn by a shy, principled multimillionaire, an Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, and a single-minded widow who is ahead of her times, Katey has the chance to experience first hand the poise secured by wealth and station, but also the aspirations, envy, disloyalty, and desires that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her orbit, she will learn how individual choices become the means by which life crystallizes loss.

Elegant and captivating, Rules of Civility turns a Jamesian eye on how spur of the moment decisions define life for decades to come. A love letter to a great American city at the end of the Depression, readers will quickly fall under its spell of crisp writing, sparkling atmosphere and breathtaking revelations, as Towles evokes the ghosts of Fitzgerald, Capote, and McCarthy.


The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve by Peg Tyre - We all know that the quality of education served up to our children in U.S. schools ranges from outstanding to shockingly inadequate. How can parents tell the difference? And how do they make sure their kids get what's best? Even the most involved and informed parents can feel overwhelmed and confused when making important decisions about their child's education. And the scary truth is that evaluating a school based on test scores and college admissions data is like selecting a car based on the color of its paint. Synthesizing cutting-edge research and firsthand reporting, Peg Tyre offers parents far smarter and more sophisticated ways to assess a classroom and decide if the school and the teacher have the right stuff. Passionate and persuasive, The Good School empowers parents to make sense of headlines; constructively engage teachers, administrators, and school boards; and figure out the best option for their child, be that a local public school, a magnet program, a charter school, homeschooling, parochial, or private.

The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America by Mae Ngai - If you're Irish American or African American or Eastern European Jewish American, there's a rich literature to give you a sense of your family's arrival-in-America story. Until now, that hasn't been the case for Chinese Americans. From noted historian Mae Ngai, The Lucky Ones uncovers the three-generational saga of the Tape family. It's a sweeping story centered on patriarch Jeu Dip's (Joseph Tape's) self-invention as an immigration broker in post-gold rush, racially explosive San Francisco, and the extraordinary rise it enables. Ngai's portrayal of the Tapes as the first of a brand-new social type--middle-class Chinese Americans, with touring cars, hunting dogs, and society weddings to broadcast it--will astonish. Again and again, Tape family history illuminates American history. Seven-year-old Mamie Tape attempts to integrate California schools, resulting in the landmark 1885 Tape v. Hurley. The family's intimate involvement in the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair reveals how the Chinese American culture brokers essentially invented Chinatown--and so Chinese culture--for American audiences. Finally, Mae Ngai reveals aspects--timely, haunting, and hopeful--of the lasting legacy of the immigrant experience for all Americans.

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the
by Dorothy Wickenden - In the summer of 1916, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, close friends from childhood and graduates of Smith College, left home in Auburn, New York, for the wilds of northwestern Colorado. Bored by their society luncheons, charity work, and the effete young men who courted them, they learned that two teaching jobs were available in a remote mountaintop schoolhouse and applied—shocking their families and friends. “No young lady in our town,” Dorothy later commented, “had ever been hired by anybody.” They took the new railroad over the Continental Divide and made their way by spring wagon to the tiny settlement of Elkhead, where they lived with a family of homesteaders. They rode several miles to school each day on horseback, sometimes in blinding blizzards. Their students walked or skied on barrel staves, in tattered clothes and shoes tied together with string. The man who had lured them out west was Ferry Carpenter, a witty, idealistic, and occasionally outrageous young lawyer and cattle rancher. He had promised them the adventure of a lifetime and the most modern schoolhouse in Routt County; he hadn’t let on that the teachers would be considered dazzling prospective brides for the locals.

The World Series: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Fall Classic by Josh Leventhal - A lavish volume chronicling the history of baseball's ultimate annual event, featuring anecdotes, lore, trivia, photographs-and all the stats fans cherish. The World Series combines lively commentary with thorough statistics to tell the story of every Fall Classic ever played, from the inaugural 1903 contest between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Red Sox to the Subway Series of 2000 that pitted the Yankees against their crosstown rivals, the New York Mets. The author's historical research has uncovered a wealth of little-known facts and stories from each series, along with unforgettable tales involving baseball's most legendary players and managers. Every key moment is included, along with game-by-game line scores and series box scores-including stats for every player who ever appeared in a World Series game! Beautiful photographs bring each contest to life and illustrate the evolution of the great American pastime. Special sections highlight the Fall Classic's greatest (and not-so-great) performers and performances over the years, including the top 10 World Series home runs and the 10 most shocking Series upsets.


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