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Readers' Nook

Readers Nook

by
Celeste Steward

While in college, I found a copy of Lolita in a pile of discarded library books. After scanning Vladimir Nabokov's opening paragraph, this line piqued my curiosity:. "Lo-Lee-Ta taking a trip three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth." Conjuring these images is how I fell under Humbert Humbert's spell, marveling at how the author could so convincingly present a monster as a respectable middle-aged man.

Reading a book as a spontaneous discovery, and not because it was just published or on your to-be-read list, has its own rewards. Lolita sparked my fascination with Russian literature. Accidental reading recently led me to  Bookcrossing.com, a website that connects readers and books, where old favorites are passed on rather than collecting dust on a bookshelf. 

In the spirit of reading it forward, several Mechanics' Institute staff members recently shared the following titles they found accidentally but thoroughly enjoyed:

"If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you probably have relegated Mrs. Hudson, his landlady and housekeeper, to a background character in his adventures. However, in Laurie R. King's The Murder of Mary Russell (2016), I learned her backstory and totally changed everything I ever thought about the housekeeper and her relationship to the famous detective. I couldn't put the book down!"--Deb, Library Director

"I am afraid of heights and I hate cold weather so Jon Karkauer's book Into Thin Air describing a disastrous expedition up Mt Everest would appear to be an unlikely choice for me.  However, once I was convinced by some coworkers to give it a try, I was absolutely captivated.   It is a remarkable work of reportage and self examination that reads like literature.  I have been told that Into Thin Air is one of the greatest books written about mountaineering.  It is the only one I have ever read and I recommend it highly.  I couldn't put it down!" -- Lisa, Library Assistant

"From the moment I began reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, I was stunned by his ability to describe America's darkest truth in such an eloquent manner.  I am struck by his feelings of "an old and distinct sadness" in the world around him. Here is a black  man writing about his vulnerability, one that he shares often with his teenage son; not the black man that is often portrayed as a threat to justify violence against them. This book sunk into my soul and held me in a suspended state of being, until I realized I was holding my breath throughout most of it."--Rhonda, Library Assistant

"I remember when I was about 14, I still had difficulty reading and did not read unless compelled to do so. After my family watched the movie version of "Ice Station Zebra" on television, my father pointed out that it was almost entirely different from the book and that he liked the book better. It happened that we still had the book so I could start reading it right away. It was the first truly 'extracurricular" reading I ever did and although Alistair MacLean wrote popular fiction rather than great literature, there's an enormous value to a popular work of fiction if it gets people (especially children) to read. This was the first book that ever "grabbed" me and I read it over the course of a week and only put it down when I had to do my chores. I continued to read more and more on my own initiative ever since." --Steven, Head of Technical Services

"One I would definitely recommend is Wanderers by Chuck Wendig.  It's about a sleepwalking epidemic and the political upheaval that happens as a result.  It's also the first and only book to give me a panic attack -- which is a good thing in this case!  It's extremely suspenseful and eerily similar to what is going on in the world right now.  I also really enjoy the Miriam Black series by the same author (the first book is called Blackbirds).  It's about a woman who can see how others are going to die and is a unique blend of horror and fantasy with a little bit of science fiction thrown in."--Hannah, Membership Coordinator
If you, dear members, would like to recommend a title that you discovered spontaneously, please share! Send it to [email protected] and we'll be happy to share with our readers.

While in college, I found a copy of Lolita in a pile of discarded library books. After scanning Vladimir Nabokov's opening paragraph, this line piqued my curiosity:. "Lo-Lee-Ta taking a trip three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth." Conjuring these images is how I fell under Humbert Humbert's spell, marveling at how the author could so convincingly present a monster as a respectable middle-aged man.

Reading a book as a spontaneous discovery, and not because it was just published or on your to-be-read list, has its own rewards. Lolita sparked my fascination with Russian literature. Accidental reading recently led me to  Bookcrossing.com, a website that connects readers and books, where old favorites are passed on rather than collecting dust on a bookshelf. 

In the spirit of reading it forward, several Mechanics' Institute staff members recently shared the following titles they found accidentally but thoroughly enjoyed:

"If...

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by
Cherilyn Banson

EBOOKS

FICTION
Elin Hilderbrand 28 summers
Hank Green A beautifully foolish endeavor
Kristin Harmel The book of lost names
James Patterson Cajun justice
Gail Tsukiyama The color of air
Catherine Coulter Deadlock
Donna Andrews The Falcon Always Wings Twice
Kirkland Hamill Filthy beasts
Hank Phillippi Ryan The first to lie
Jonathan Kellerman Half Moon Bay
Maggie O'Farrell Hamnet: a novel of the plague
Jill McCorkle Hieroglyphics
James Patterson Hush
Elly Griffiths The lantern men
Fiona Davis The lions of Fifth Avenue
Susan Wiggs The lost and found bookshop
Kirsty Manning The Lost Jewels
Christopher Buckley Make Russia great again
Natasha Trethewey Memorial Drive
Brad Thor Near dark
Jeff Abbott Never ask me
Megan Goldin The Night Swim
Daniel Silva The order
David Klass Out of time
Linda Castillo Outsider
Jenn McKinlay Paris Is Always a Good Idea
Jasper DeWitt The patient
Randy Ribay Patron saints of nothing
Jim Butcher Peace Talks
JP Delaney Playing nice
Ace Atkins The revelators
Kevin Kwan Sex and vanity
James Patterson The summer house
Paul Tremblay Survivor Song
David (David Stephen) Mitchell Utopia Avenue
Debbie Macomber A walk along the beach
Katherine Center What You Wish for

NONFICTION
Aminatou Sow Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close

EBOOKS

FICTION
Elin Hilderbrand 28 summers
Hank Green A beautifully foolish endeavor
Kristin Harmel The book of lost names
James Patterson Cajun justice
Gail Tsukiyama The color of air
Catherine Coulter Deadlock
Donna Andrews The Falcon Always Wings Twice
Kirkland Hamill Filthy beasts
Hank Phillippi Ryan The first to lie
Jonathan Kellerman Half Moon Bay
Maggie O'Farrell Hamnet: a novel of the plague
Jill McCorkle...

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by
Cherilyn Banson

Matt Ruff 88 Names
Kristan Higgins Always the last to know
Charlie Kaufman Antkind
Simon Brett Clutter Corpse
ConnieSchultz The daughters of Erietown
Sara Paretsky Dead land
Max Brooks Devolution: a firsthand account of the Rainier sasquatch massacre
Samantha Downing He started it
Matthew Quirk Hour of the assassin
Daniel (Daniel Philippe) Mason A registry of my passage upon the earth: stories
Nathan W Pyle Stranger Planet
Mindy Mejia Strike me down

Matt Ruff 88 Names
Kristan Higgins Always the last to know
Charlie Kaufman Antkind
Simon Brett Clutter Corpse
ConnieSchultz The daughters of Erietown
Sara Paretsky Dead land
Max Brooks Devolution: a firsthand account of the Rainier sasquatch massacre
Samantha Downing He started it
Matthew Quirk Hour of the assassin
Daniel (Daniel Philippe) Mason A registry of my passage upon the earth: stories
Nathan W Pyle Stranger Planet
Mindy Mejia...

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by
Cherilyn Banson
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by
Cherilyn Banson

EAUDIOBOOKS

FICTION
Jeanine Cummins American dirt
Neil Gaiman American gods
Sarah Vaughan Anatomy of a scandal
Suzanne Collins The ballad of songbirds and snakes
Jennifer Weiner Big summer
Anne Rice Blood canticle
Kim Michele Richardson The book woman of troublesome creek
Megha Majumdar A burning
Deb Spera Call your daughter home
Madeline Miller Circe
Robyn Carr The country guesthouse
Frank Herbert Dune Frank
Shirley Jackson The haunting of hill house
Kathryn Stockett The help
Joe Ide Hi five
T J Klune The house in the Cerulean Sea
Genki Kawamura If cats disappeared from the world
Emily Giffin The lies that bind
Charlaine Harris A longer fall
Danielle Steel Moral compass
Jacqueline Woodson Red at the bone
Thrity N Umrigar The space between us
James Patterson The summer house
Jack Carr The terminal list
Jayne Ann Krentz The vanishing
Joe Ide Wrecked
Jean Hanff Korelitz You should have known

NONFICTION
Bryan Stevenson Just mercy : a story of justice and redemption
Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the world and me notes on the first 150 years in America
Austin Channing Brown I'm still here black dignity in a world made for whiteness

EAUDIOBOOKS

FICTION
Jeanine Cummins American dirt
Neil Gaiman American gods
Sarah Vaughan Anatomy of a scandal
Suzanne Collins The ballad of songbirds and snakes
Jennifer Weiner Big summer
Anne Rice Blood canticle
Kim Michele Richardson The book woman of troublesome creek
Megha Majumdar A burning
Deb Spera Call your daughter home
Madeline Miller Circe
Robyn Carr The country guesthouse
Frank Herbert...

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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...

Continue reading...
by
Cherilyn Banson
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