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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Recommendations for Adults


Before the End, After the Beginning by Dagoberto Gilb - Before the End, After the Beginning is a personal and honest collection of ten exquisite stories from Dagoberto Gilb. The pieces come in the wake of a stroke Gilb suffered at his home in Austin, Texas, in 2009, and a majority of the stories were written over many months of recovery. The result is a powerful and triumphant collection that tackles common themes of mortality and identity and describes the American experience in a raw, authentic vernacular unique to Gilb.

These ten stories take readers throughout the American West and Southwest, from Los Angeles and Albuquerque to El Paso and Austin. Gilb covers territory familiar to some of his earlier work—a mother and son’s relationship in Southern California in the story ‘Uncle Rock’ or a character looking to shed his mixed up past in ‘The Last Time I Saw Junior’—while dealing with themes of mortality and limitation that have arisen during his own illness. Confronting issues of masculinity, sexuality, and mortality, Gilb has recovered and produced what may be his most extraordinary achievement to date.

The Beginners by Rebecca Wolff - Dread and desire hang deliciously over every page of Wolff's gothic tale of an adolescent New England girl's unlikely education. Ginger is imaginative, her nose always in a book, and not as advanced, sexually or socially, as her best friend, Cherry, who wants to talk to boys rather than play castle at the abandoned mill. Ginger's family, meanwhile, has lived in a state of near suspended animation since the death of her older brother. But when an odd young couple walk into the cafe where Ginger works, she has her own entrée into a sophisticated world of frank sex talk and philosophical musings. The Motherwells, Raquel and Theo, say they are in town to research the town's past—witch trials, the legend of a town sunk beneath the reservoir—and they allow Ginger and Cherry, but mostly Ginger, into their strange cohort and a party to their sometimes alarming schemes. As Ginger starts avoiding most contact that does not involve the Motherwells, her shrinking world grows more sinister and seductive. Wolff conjures the state of smothering awe and fixation Ginger has for the Motherwells, and her twin needs to be wanted by them sexually and as a stand-in daughter lends a throbbing urgency to a novel as creepy as it is marvelous. (Publisher’s Weekly)

Fever Dream by Dennis Palumbo - There’s a sweltering heat wave outside. Nearly a year after Pittsburgh psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi helped unravel a baffling murder, he finds himself drawn into another case. When a daring bank robbery goes horribly wrong, resulting in the deaths of all the hostages except one, Rinaldi is called in to question Treva Williams, the traumatized young woman who survived. However, what seemed a simple robbery soon explodes into a series of events that plunge the investigating officers, Sgt. Harry Polk and Det. Eleanor Lowrey—as well as Rinaldi himself—into a vortex of mistaken identity and kidnapping. Meanwhile, thrown together by the demands of the case, Rinaldi and Eleanor deal with the growing attraction between them. Then there’s the gubernatorial campaign of Rinaldi’s former romantic rival, District Attorney Leland Sinclair. Plot twists multiply as a frenzy of accusations and political maneuvering gathers steam.

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney - Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed. But before the accident that landed him there, he'd been hired to find Rose Janko, the wife of a charismatic son of a traveling Gypsy family, who went missing seven years earlier. Half Romany himself, Ray is well aware that he's been chosen more for his blood than his investigative skills. Still, he's surprised by the intense hostility he encounters from the Jankos, who haven't had an easy past. Touched by tragedy, they're either cursed or hiding a terrible secret-whose discovery Ray can't help suspecting is connected to Rose's disappearance.


Your Medical Mind by Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband - Making the right medical choices is harder than ever. Whether we're deciding to take a cholesterol drug or choosing a cancer treatment, we are overwhelmed by information from all sides: our doctors' recommendations, dissenting expert opinions, confusing statistics, conflicting media reports, the advice of friends, claims on the Internet, and a never-ending stream of drug company ads. Your Medical Mind shows us how to chart a clear path through this sea of confusion. Drs. Groopman and Hartzband reveal that each of us has a set of deeply rooted beliefs whose profound influence we may not realize when we make medical decisions. How much trust we place in authority figures, in statistics, or in other patients' stories, in science and technology or in natural healing, and whether we seek the most or the least treatment-all are key factors that shape our choices. When conflicting information pulls us back and forth between options, when we feel pressured by doctors or loved ones to make a particular choice, or when we have no previous experience to guide us through a crisis, Your Medical Mind will prove an essential companion.

A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor - The history of humanity is a history of invention and innovation, as we have continually created new items to use, to admire, or to leave our mark on the world. In this original and thought-provoking book, Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, has selected one hundred man-made artifacts, each of which gives us an intimate glimpse of an unexpected turning point in human civilization. From the very first hand axe to the ubiquitous credit card, each item has a story to tell; together they relate the larger history of mankind-revealing who we are by looking at what we have made.

Pinched: How the Great Recession has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It by Don Peck - What lies on the other side of Great Recession? While the most acute part of the economic crisis is past, the downturn's most significant impact on American life remains in the future. The personal, cultural, and political changes that result from severe economic shocks build slowly. But history shows us that, ultimately, downturns like this one profoundly alter the character of society. Don Peck's Pinched keenly observes how the recession has changed the places we live, the work we do, and even who we are--and details the transformations that are yet to come. Every class and every generation will be affected: newly minted college graduates, blue-collar men, affluent professionals, exurban families, elite financiers, middle-class retirees. We sit today between two eras, buffeted, anxious, and uncertain of the future. Through vivid reporting and lucid argument, Peck helps us make sense of how our society has changed, and why so many people are still struggling.

SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden by Chuck Pfarrar - On May 2, 2011, at 1:03 a.m. a satellite uplink was sent from Pakistan crackling into the situation room of the White House: "Geronimo, Echo, KIA." These words, spoken by a Navy SEAL, ended Osama bin Laden’s reign of terror. SEAL Target Geronimo is the story of Neptune's Spear from the men who were there. After talking to members of the SEAL team involved in the raid, Pfarrer shares never-before-revealed details in an exclusive account of what happened as he takes readers inside the walls of Bin Laden’s compound penetrating deep into the terrorist’s lair to reach the exact spot where the Al Qaeda leader was cowering when the bullet entered his head. SEAL Target Geronimo is an explosive story of unparalleled valor and clockwork military precision carried out by the most elite fighting force in the world—the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six.


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