Richard’s April Recommendation

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

waiting for godotRichard says:  “Samuel Beckett’s infamous, highly influential Waiting for Godot is among the most well-regarded (and infuriating) tragicomedies of the 20th century.  The plot, such as it is, is a trifle:  two men are waiting for Godot.  Why, for how long they have been waiting, where this occurs, etc. all tend to be open for interpretation; there is precious little information given about Vladimir and Estragon, their circumstances, or much anything else.  Instead, the narrative (such as it is) unfolds in the protagonists’are they protagonists?conversations and the play’s exploration of the absurd and existential.

Waiting for Godot is rightly identified with two popular, post-World War I literary and philosophical movements:  absurdism and existentialism.  If not the original ‘show about nothing’there are surely earlier examples, although I can’t think of any offhandthen it at least captures a certain feeling of time and place, which is to say a vacuum.  Most of the action takes place in strange dialogues and pronouncements, many of which will ring true to devotees of this genre.  In a review, theater critic Vivian Mercier once famously said ‘nothing happens, twice.’  If this description sounds dull or tedious, then you might want to skip this one; however, anyone with a taste for philosophy, wordplay, and biting humor will likely find Waiting for Godot a great reador viewing.  My advice?  Read the play before seeking out any productions.  The last time I saw this performed, more than half of the audience walked out after the first act.  The main complaint?  ‘Nothing happens.  I get it.’  That may be, but that’s why Waiting for Godot so effective.”

3 Similar Reads

The Fall by Albert Camus

Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Mary Ann’s June Recommendation

Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

lady audley's secretThis “sensation novel” was published in 1862.  I first heard of it from a Newberry Library seminar called Beach Reading for Victorians.  The notes explain that “sensation novels… were works of suspense, scandal, and sex that inherited gothic conventions and influenced detective fiction.”  Wilkie Collins worked in the genre.

Lady Audley’s Secret was riveting and suspenseful.

I downloaded the novel  from iBooks for free.  Many older books are available for free downloading fromiBooks, Kindle, and an app called Free Books – 23,469 classics to go.

This is the first book I read on an ereader.  I loved being able to instantly have a word defined, or linking to a short explanation of a reference such as “Boer War. “ Particularly handy in a mystery novel, you can search for a detail that you recall from early in the book, and want to reread because you realize its relevance to later plot developments.

3 Similar Reads 

The Odd Woman by George Gissing

East Lynne by Mrs. Henry Wood

Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell



Hadley’s July Recommendation

 The Bad Seed by William March

“Yes, this is the novel that inspired many campy stories of evil children (and Nick Cave’s band name)- but it is also the classic novel that was nominated for the National Book Award in 1955 and was adapted into a long running Broadway play and an Oscar-nominated film. If you’re looking for some chills this summer I would recommend giving this classic horror/suspense novel a try. It’s a quick read, well written and the concept is quite horrifying without including any real graphic violence.”

We can interlibrary loan this book for you, just ask at the Reference desk.

Or request it yourself via the SWAN catalog.

Blaise’s January Recommendation

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

“I wanted to read ‘a classic and a good story’ and so this title was recommended by one of my colleagues.  It follows the life of an impoverished family in England during a period in the 1930’s.  The family is quite eccentric and lives in a home that is part of an old castle.  It was easy to get quickly swept up the family’s story. I enjoyed reading this book and it satisfied my request for ‘a classic and a good story’!”

Read About It

Request It

You can find this book in the library at Call # FICTION SMITH

Lisa’s April Recommendation

gotellitGo Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

“Go Tell it on the Mountain is a beautifully written book that brings the emotion of its content directly to the reader’s heart. It reminds us how far we have come, and also registers how absolutely necessary that change has been”.

Read About It

Request It

Or, find it in the library under FIC BALDWIN.

Katie’s January Recommendation

jacket2 The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Review from Bloom’s Literary Reference Online: “An enduring classic of American literature, The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most significant—and controversial—novels to appear after World War II. J. D. Salinger’s only novel, published in 1951, arrived at a telling moment in American history—a prosperous postwar period that gave rise to suburban conformity and teenage angst (the novel was so influential in the 1950s that the decade has sometimes been called “the Age of Holden Caulfield,” in reference to the novel’s 17-year-old main character). The Catcher in the Rye has remained a favorite for the more than 50 years since it was first published because of its scathing indictment of middle-class values, its irreverent, caustic humor, the precision with which Salinger captured colloquial speech, and above all, because of its narrator and main character, Holden Caulfield, perhaps the most sensitive and sorrowful adolescent in all of postwar 20th-century American adult fiction.”

You can find this book in the library under PAPERBACK SALINGER.

Find this title in the library catalog.

Lisa’s December Recommendation

fireinthebloodFire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky

Review from Library Journal: “If you loved the author’s Suite Franaise —and how could you not?—you’ll likewise take to this recently discovered treasure by Nmirovsky, who perished in Auschwitz. “Fire in the blood” is the passion that propels all kinds of human triumphs and follies in the lives of otherwise undistinguished French paysans , citizens of the countryside in the early part of the last century, “a region that has something restrained yet savage about it, something affluent and yet distrustful that is reminiscent of another time, long past.” Love, intrigue, mystery, death, and murder all figure in this exquisitely wrought tale, as related by the reclusive Silvio, who reconstructs an ultimately shocking family history that links the generations in unexpected ways. So great is Nmirovsky’s reading of the human heart that her tale has the power of myth. And so true does it ring to reality that one could call it not so much a love but a life story. If anyone has taken an accurate reading of the pulse of the French, it is surely Nmirovsky.”

You can find this book in the library at FICTION NEMIROVSKY.  Find this title in the library catalog.