Readers' Nook | Mechanics' Institute

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Readers' Nook

Readers Nook

by
Cherilyn Banson

EBOOKS

FICTION
Sue Monk Kidd The book of longings
Megha Majumdar A burning
Michael Connelly Fair warning
Jim Kelly The great darkness
Lucy Foley The guest list
Julia Spencer-Fleming Hid from our eyes
Nora Roberts Hideaway
Fernanda Melchor Hurricane Season
Stefano Massini The Lehman Trilogy
Emily Giffin The lies that bind
John Farrow Roar Back
Amity Gaige Sea wife
Paulette Jiles Simon the fiddler
Sara Sligar Take Me Apart
Cara Black Three hours in Paris
Brit Bennett The vanishing half
David (David A) Pepper The voter file
C S Harris Who speaks for the damned
Camilla Bruce You let me in

EBOOKS

FICTION
Sue Monk Kidd The book of longings
Megha Majumdar A burning
Michael Connelly Fair warning
Jim Kelly The great darkness
Lucy Foley The guest list
Julia Spencer-Fleming Hid from our eyes
Nora Roberts Hideaway
Fernanda Melchor Hurricane Season
Stefano Massini The Lehman Trilogy
Emily Giffin The lies that bind
John Farrow Roar Back
Amity Gaige Sea wife
Paulette Jiles...

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by
Cherilyn Banson

EBOOKS

FICTION
Emma Straub All adults here
Philipp Meyer American rust
Anne Rice Blood canticle
Aldous Huxley Brave new world with the essay "Brave new world revisited"
Deb Spera Call your daughter home
Norman Partridge Dark harvest
William Landay Defending Jacob
James McBride The Good Lord Bird
Shirley Jackson Hangsaman
Shirley Jackson The haunting of hill house
Genki Kawamura If cats...

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by
Autumn Stephens

Last week, we posted a list of books that have lingered (sometimes for  decades) in the minds of Mechanics’ Institute staff. Read on for their takes on more indelible titles:

Lisa Braider (Library Assistant)

In elementary school I was introduced to Little Women [Louisa May Alcott, 1868]. I was immediately smitten. Like the March sisters in the story, I was one of four daughters growing up in Concord, Mass. From Little Women I took not only the importance of sisters and family but also the idea that a young woman could make her own life.

I stumbled across Joseph Heller's Catch-22 [1961] in high school. I still remember how surprised I was that a book on such a dark topic (World War II) could be laugh-out-loud funny. Reading it when I did informed my views on the futility and absurdity of war. To this day it is one of the most potent examples of laughing to keep from crying that I have ever read.

I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance [Robert Pirsig, 1974] during the long, hot summer between my sophomore and junior year in college. Despite having little interest in Zen and no interest in motorcycles, I was enthralled. One of my most vivid memories of that summer is my attempt to describe the book’s thesis to the elderly women I worked with at what was then called the Concord Antiquarian Society.

Craig Jackson (Collections/Acquisitions Librarian)

I consult the following titles constantly . . . just can’t get them out of my mind.

A History of the English Language [Albert Baugh, 1978] first came to my attention in the 1970s while I was in high school and working as a page at Toronto Public Library. The book ties together the historical development of English by examining political and social considerations and the influence of other languages. It piqued my interest to such an extent that I acquired more specialized titles such as Old English and Its Closest Relatives and The Syntax of Old Norse.

The Story of Latin and the Romance Languages [Mario Pei, 1976] spotlights the evolution of Latin into Spanish, Italian, and French, etc. Most interesting is why and how each language developed so distinctly from the others, yet remains similar in many ways to its “sister” languages. This book inspired an ongoing study of the subject and additional titles like The Evolution of French Syntax: A Comparative Approach and From Latin to Modern French with Especial Consideration of Anglo-Norman.

Steven Dunlap (Head of Technical Services)

James Michener was one of my favorite authors when I was a teenager. His novel Caravans [1963] is the story of a young woman who disappears and the man her parents hire to find her in post-World War II Afghanistan. But it involves much more than that. My adolescent thinking tended to black-and-white without much room for gray. This book changed that, compelling me to confront the fact that the capacity for both good and ill exists in everyone, including me. Other books or experiences may have taught that lesson to others—this is the one that taught it to me.

 

In my early 20s, I read Brian Fawcett’s Cambodia: A Book for People Who Find Television Too Slow [1986]. It changed the way I think about civilizations and progress, social and political movements, public and economic policy, leaders and tyrants, and government and governance. Fawcett takes a unique approach: a nonfiction essay runs the length of the book along the lower half of the pages while a series of short stories run across the top half of the pages. The stories and essay are brilliant on their own, but the device of making you read them concurrently has a profound effect as each reinforces the other. 

 

 

Last week, we posted a list of books that have lingered (sometimes for  decades) in the minds of Mechanics’ Institute staff. Read on for their takes on more indelible titles:

Lisa Braider (Library Assistant)

In elementary school I was introduced to Little Women [Louisa May Alcott, 1868]. I was immediately smitten. Like the March sisters in the story, I was one of four daughters growing up in Concord, Mass. From Little Women I took not only the importance of sisters and family but also the idea that a young woman could make her own life.

I stumbled across Joseph Heller's Catch-22 [1961] in high school. I still remember how surprised I was that a book on such a dark topic (World War II) could be laugh-out-loud funny. Reading...

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by
Cherilyn Banson
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by
Diane Lai

If your favorites tend to be from the non-fiction genres, you might enjoy one of the staff picks below.

Rhonda (Library Assistant) recommends:

Wheat Belly (2011) by William Davis, M.D. 

“In this #1 New York Times bestseller, a renowned cardiologist explains how eliminating wheat from our diets can prevent fat storage, shrink unsightly bulges, and reverse myriad health problems."

Every day, over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat. As a result, more than half experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes and high blood sugar to the unattractive stomach bulges that preventive cardiologist William Davis calls "wheat bellies." According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: it's due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch.” ~from Publisher Marketing

Deb (Library Director) recommends:

BART: the dramatic history of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (2016) by Michael C. Healy 

After reading this book, I will never take BART for granted again. The effort over decades to bring BART to fruition and the ongoing expansion today are truly a feat of vision and perseverance that has impacted public transit both nationally and internationally.

Craig (Librarian, Collections Manager):

One 'pandemic favorite' that I enjoyed reading is entitled Ninety-nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret (2017) by Craig Brown (print & e-book formats available). Before reading the book, I had heard that she could be quite an enigmatic character, especially given her high-handed manner, how rude and demanding she was, and her colorful life in high society.  At the same time, you have to feel sorry for her life of dashed hopes. Find out how she 'iced out' Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor. Reading about her misbehavior and, at the same time, her unhappiness was hard-to-put-down.

“We read to know we're not alone.”

― William Nicholson, Shadowlands

If your favorites tend to be from the non-fiction genres, you might enjoy one of the staff picks below.

Rhonda (Library Assistant) recommends:

Wheat Belly (2011) by William Davis, M.D. 

“In this #1 New York Times bestseller, a renowned cardiologist explains how eliminating wheat from our diets can prevent fat storage, shrink unsightly bulges, and reverse myriad health problems."

Every day, over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat. As a result, more than half experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes and high blood sugar to the unattractive stomach bulges that preventive cardiologist William Davis calls "wheat bellies." According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: it's due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch.” ~from...

Continue reading...
by
Autumn Stephens

What book(s) can’t you get out of your mind? That’s the question we asked library staff this month. Their responses, ranging from 19th-century classics to a 2019 burial guide,

may inspire you to revisit your own top titles or make the acquaintance of theirs.

Rhonda Hall (Library Assistant):

Passing by Nella Larsen (1929); available as an eAudiobook

This novel about two women living in Harlem in the 1920s is based on the real lives of many mixed-race women in the post-slavery era. It could almost be the story of my grandmother, who could pass as white and move between worlds during segregation. Another memorable book is No Name in the Street by James Baldwin (1972). Baldwin's experiences in the 1950s and ’60s resemble those of my parents as a young couple navigating life during the civil rights movement.

Steven Dunlap (Head of Technical Services):

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851); available as an eAudiobook

I started to read this as I was about to turn 40. It took me over a year and a half to finish, because I found some chapters and passages so breathtakingly beautiful that I had to read them several times. When I stumbled into the ER one day, this was the book I had on my person and therefore what I read in the hospital while recovering from surgery. When I told a colleague about my difficulty making my way through the novel while on a morphine drip, he pointed out that Moby Dick is a morphine drip in its way. I can think of no more apt description of the novel and my experience reading it.

Deb Hunt (Library Director):

Everything in its Place: First Loves and Last Tales by Oliver Sacks (2019)

This final volume of essays by the well-known neurologist covers everything from Alzheimer’s disease to a fern-seeking expedition in New York City to touring North America with someone with Tourette’s.

My favorite essays here focus on nature and mental illness. In one, Sacks describes how mental health institutions used to offer valuable work for the mentally ill—farming, milking cows, etc.—so their lives had a purpose and they were not just locked away. And I really like the essay “Why We Need Gardens.” Over the years, my own gardens have kept me sane and provided a safe haven when life felt very stressful.

Reimagining Death: Stories and Practical Wisdom for Home Funerals and Green Burials by Lucinda Herring (2019)

I had been considering cremation, but it is toxic to the environment, so I am looking at alternatives such as a green burial. This is a great follow up to the classic American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford.

Celeste Steward (Library Supervisor):

Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon (1982)

This is the autobiographical account of an unemployed English professor, newly separated from his wife, who travels only on back roads as he embarks on a circular journey around the U.S.

The author coined the term “blue highways” based on old Rand McNally atlases indicating in blue the small, forgotten, and rural roads. What appeals to me most about these roads less traveled is the cast of characters he meets on his journey, including a teenage runaway, a Hopi medical student, an evangelist hitchhiker, a monk, a maple syrup farmer, a boat builder, a Nevada prostitute, and owners of Western saloons and remote country stores.

Heat-Moon’s contemplative and mindful journey helped shape my own philosophy when traveling. In general, I try to explore the routes less traveled for the most inspirational and educational experiences.

What book(s) can’t you get out of your mind? That’s the question we asked library staff this month. Their responses, ranging from 19th-century classics to a 2019 burial guide,

may inspire you to revisit your own top titles or make the acquaintance of theirs.

Rhonda Hall (Library Assistant):

Passing by Nella Larsen (1929); available as an eAudiobook

This novel about two women living in Harlem in the 1920s is based on the real lives of many mixed-race women in the post-slavery era. It could almost be the story of my grandmother, who could pass as white and move between worlds during segregation. Another memorable book is No Name in the Street by James Baldwin (1972). Baldwin's experiences in the 1950s and ’60s resemble those of my parents as a young couple navigating life during the civil rights movement.

Steven Dunlap (Head of Technical Services):

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851); available as...

Continue reading...
by
Cherilyn Banson

EBOOKS

FICTION
James Patterson The 20th victim
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Agafya
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Ariadne
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Ward No 6
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov The Grasshopper
Suzanne Collins The ballad of songbirds and snakes
Best Russian Short Stories
Jennifer Weiner Big summer
John Grisham Camino winds
Mikhail Evgrafovich Saltykov The History of a Town
Juan Pablo Villalobos I don't expect anyone to believe me
Stephen King If It bleeds: new fiction
Scott Turow The last trial
JohnSandford Masked prey
Mikhail Zoshchenko Sentimental tales
David Baldacci Walk the wire

NONFICTION
Glennon Doyle Untamed
Linda Tirado Hand to mouth : living in bootstrap America

EBOOKS

FICTION
James Patterson The 20th victim
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Agafya
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Ariadne
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov Ward No 6
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov The Grasshopper
Suzanne Collins The ballad of songbirds and snakes
Best Russian Short Stories
Jennifer Weiner Big summer
John Grisham Camino winds
Mikhail Evgrafovich Saltykov The History of a Town
Juan Pablo Villalobos I don't expect anyone to believe me
Stephen King...

Continue reading...
by
Diane Lai

In case you are looking for something good to read during our continuing shelter-at-home order, here are a few more suggestions from our staff:

Autumn (Library Assistant):

Some of my prime pandemic reads:

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon : the diary of a courtesan in tenth century Japan (2011), a literary memoir of court life by an aristocratic Japanese lady-in-waiting circa 1000 A.D.  Shōnagon uses narrative, poetry (mostly her own), and, famously, her short poem-like lists to describe her esoteric, aesthetically-obsessed world. Dreamy escapist reading.

Susan Orlean’s The Library Book (2018). Who knew that a work of nonfiction about a library closure could be a page-turner? Orlean writes with verve, imagination, and a keen instinct for building suspense about the devastating 1986 fire that shut down the Los Angeles Public Library for seven years—as well as the importance of libraries in American lives, and the people who are passionate about them.

Poems of the day, every day! Poetry Daily, Poetry Foundation, American Life in Poetry, Academy of American Poets…somehow I’ve signed up to receive daily infusions from them all. Mostly, the poems are delicious, even the downbeat ones (lots of pandemic poetry coming out right now, not surprisingly). Plus, most are bite-size—perfect for this mass moment of scattered attention.

Steven (Librarian, Head of Technical Services) recommends:

Fantasyland: how America went haywire : a 500-year history (2017) by Kurt Andersen

I'm not sure how much I can say this is a pandemic favorite but it does provide an explanation for some of the more bizarre and outlandish behavior we have seen in many people's reactions to the shelter-in-place orders and the inexplicable refusal to accept the advice of scientists and medical professionals. Andersen traces the credulity and the resistance to evidence-based information back to colonial times, when people sailed to North America in search of gold in North America because the Spanish found gold among the Aztecs and Incas -- in Central and South America. You cannot argue with reasoning like that. Given the vast parade of examples in his book, I find it hard to argue with Andersen's central thesis: that believing in whatever nonsense most appeals to you does not come about in recent years as a result of television, or Star Wars or other recent popular culture. Instead, it's baked into the cake as part of the origins of the U.S. 

Enjoy and stay healthy!

In case you are looking for something good to read during our continuing shelter-at-home order, here are a few more suggestions from our staff:

Autumn (Library Assistant):

Some of my prime pandemic reads:

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon : the diary of a courtesan in tenth century Japan (2011), a literary memoir of court life by an aristocratic Japanese lady-in-waiting circa 1000 A.D.  Shōnagon uses narrative, poetry (mostly her own), and, famously, her short poem-like lists to describe her esoteric, aesthetically-obsessed world. Dreamy escapist reading.

Susan Orlean’s The Library Book (2018). Who knew that a work of nonfiction about a library closure could be a page-turner? Orlean...

Continue reading...
by
Cherilyn Banson

EAUDIOBOOKS

FICTION
Arthur Hailey Airport
Angela ElwellHunt Daughter of Cana
Jennifer Steil Exile music
La Jill Hunt Private property
Briana Cole The Vows We Break
Michel Moore Carl Weber presents kingpins Detroit

NONFICTION
Willie Mays 24: life stories and lessons from the say hey kid
Neen James Attention pays how to drive profitability, productivity, and accountability
Scott Duffy Breakthrough how to harness the aha! moments that spark success
José RHernandez Broken business seven steps to reform good companies gone bad
Bernard Garrette Cracked it! how to solve big problems and sell solutions like top strategy consultants
Manny Khoshbin Driven the never-give-up roadmap to massive success
Daniel Priestley Entrepreneur revolution how to develop your entrepreneurial mindset and start a business that works
David Parmenter Key performance indicators developing, implementing, and using winning kpis, 3rd edition
Amy Jen Su The leader you want to be five essential principles for bringing out your best self--every day
Scott Stein Leadership hacks clever shortcuts to boost your impact and results
Juliana Stancampiano Radical outcomes how to create extraordinary teams that get tangible results
Shashi Upadhyay The revenue acceleration rules supercharge sales and marketing through artificial intelligence, predictive technologies and account-based strategies
William A Adams Scaling leadership building organizational capability and capacity to create outcomes that matter most
Alex L Goldfayn Selling boldly applying the new science of positive psychology to dramatically increase your confidence, happiness, and sales
Dermot Crowley Smart teams how to work better together

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by
Cherilyn Banson

EAUDIOBOOKS

FICTION
Anne Enright Actress
Emma Straub All adults here
Ovidia Yu Aunty lee's delights
Susan Howatch Cashelmara
Thornton Wilder Heaven's my destination
Alka Joshi The henna artist
Luke Jennings Killing eve: die for me
Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence The last room in Manhattan
Patricia Harman The midwife of Hope River
PatriciaHarman Once a midwife
Jessica Ruben Reckoning
Cassandra Clark Murder at whitby abbey

NONFICTION
Barry Sonnenfeld Barry Sonnenfeld, call your mother : memoirs of a neurotic filmmaker
Jennifer Worth Call the midwife: farewell to the east end
Jennifer Worth Call the midwife: shadows of the workhouse
Jennifer Worth The midwife: a memoir of birth, joy, and hard times
Leo Tolstoy War and Peace

EAUDIOBOOKS

FICTION
Anne Enright Actress
Emma Straub All adults here
Ovidia Yu Aunty lee's delights
Susan Howatch Cashelmara
Thornton Wilder Heaven's my destination
Alka Joshi The henna artist
Luke Jennings Killing eve: die for me
Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence The last room in Manhattan
Patricia Harman The midwife of Hope River
PatriciaHarman Once a midwife
Jessica Ruben Reckoning
Cassandra Clark...

Continue reading...