What would President Obama read?

obamaThe other day, the President spoke with the press about what he’s planning to read on his summer vacation this year. Here’s this list! Click through on the links to get to our catalog listings.

  1. All That Is – James Salter
  2. All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  3. The Sixth Extinction – Elizabeth Kolbert
  4. The Lowland – by Jhumpa Lahiri
  5. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
  6. Washington: A Life – Ron Chernow


Mary Ann’s November Recommendation

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

“All summer I kept seeing this novel pop up in lists of recommended books. Now I see why.  Scenes shift back and forth from 1962 Italy where Cleopatra (the one with Richard Burton and Liz Taylor) is being filmed to modern Hollywood to Edinburgh.  There are poignant and very funny events.  It’s easy to follow the changes of scene. You will quickly get interested in how the characters’ lives play out and how they intersect.”

Read about or request Beautfiul Ruins from the library catalog today!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson

2) A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

3) High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) The Way We Lived Then by Dominick Dunne

2) City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940’s by Otto Friedrich

3) Just Kids by Patti Smith

Anna’s November Recommendation

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

“An oldie, but a goodie–I just read The Grapes of Wrath for the first time this summer.  The bleak, but honest look at how the rejection of accountability and the dehumanization of corporations can affect the individual is a story that can still speak to us today–particularly in light of our still struggling economy.”

Read about or request The Grapes of Wrath from our library catalog today!

3 Similar Classics (Fiction)

1) Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

3) Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

3 Similar Contemporary Novels (Fiction)

1) The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle

2) A Garden of Earthly Delights by Joyce Carol Oates

3) Sea Glass by Anita Shreve

Laona’s October Recommendation (#2)

Silver Like Dust: One Family’s Story of America’s Japanese Internment by Kimi Cunningham Grant

“After reading Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine and The Buddha in the Attic, I became very interested in reading more about what happened to our Japanese American citizens following the bombing at Pearl Harbor.  This memoir is ultimately ‘the poignant story of a Japanese American woman’s journey through one of the most shameful chapters in American history'”.

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (Access to library catalog here!)

2) An Album of Memories: Personal Histories From the Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw (Access to library catalog here!)

3) Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II by Roger Daniels (Access to library catalog here!)

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas (Access to library catalog here!)

2) How to be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway (Access to library catalog here!)

3) The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaug (Access to library catalog here!)

Laona’s October Recommendation

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

This is “a novel about fractured families, relationships, lost souls, and trying to make good.  Wonderfully written characters, that are extremely likable, especially the tight group of middle aged divorced men who support their fellow downtrodden.  Here is a brief description: ‘Drew Silver is dying in many ways: his marriage has been over for seven years, his ex-wife is getting remarried, his career as a rock drummer is long past, his 18-year-old daughter is pregnant, and he has a life-threatening heart condition…Silver has never been much of a dad or a husband, so when he finds out about his defective heart, he determines he will not have a life-saving operation.  After all, what does he have to live for?'”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles (Access to the library catalog here!)

2) Everything Hurts by Bill Scheft (Access to the library catalog here!)

3) A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Access to library catalog here!)

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) Life by Keith Richards (Access to library catalog here!)

2) When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (Access to library catalog here!)

3) Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity by Joel Stein (Access to library catalog here!)


Tara’s October Recommendation

The Stand by Stephen King

“Just in time for Halloween, here’s a horror novel that will knock your socks off!  The story begins with a lethal viral accident that occurs in a military lab.  Only one man escapes alive, and lives to infect his family and all of the nearby cities.  As the world begins to crumble, two camps begin to emerge.  One camp is led by a 108 year old woman named Abigail.  The other is led a lethal man with unspeakable powers, Randall Flagg.  The Stand is a futuristic, dystopian horror novel set in the United States. King combines skilled character development with gory detail that will keep you reading to the very end.  A warning to the squeamish–this may not be the book for you!

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (Access to library catalog here!)

2) The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell (Access to library catalog here!)

3) The Passage by Justin Cronin (Access to library catalog here, and don’t miss the sequel to this excellent novel, The Twelve, coming out October 16th!)

As a side note: Post-apocalyptic literature is a huge book trend, and there are tons of reading lists out there–check out this one from the Huffington Post, or try this list of End of the World reads from Flavorwire.  There is no doubt that the The Stand is one of the best, but there’s a whole lot to choose from, and all of it is great!

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (Access to library catalog here!)

2) Collapse by Jared Diamond (Access to library catalog here!)

3) The Viral Storm by Nathan Wolfe (Access to library catalog here!)

Weekly Spotlight On…Cult Classics in Literature

What, exactly, is cult fiction? In his book Classic Cult Fiction, Thomas Whissen defines it as “a reader-created genre. A cult book can appear within any type of literary genre–for instance, romance, mystery, science fiction–but will achieve cult status only on the basis of reader response. It has qualities that speak to a reader, who may feel that it has been written for him or her alone; yet this very personal appeal is widespread, and such a book may grow in popularity almost as an underground movement, inspiring a generation of readers and sometimes enduring as a mainstream classic.”

I was inspired to write this post by a list I stumbled across on Flavorwire called “10 Underrated Books Everyone Should Read”. When I scrolled through the list, I was ashamed to say that I had not heard of, much less read, a single one of the books on it. Click on the linked article title to see the full list.  The fall reading season is full of author heavyweights such as Michael Chabon, Junot Diaz, J.K. Rowling, Tom Wolfe, Barbara Kingsolver, Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, Justin Cronin…need I go on?  Sometimes a season filled with blockbuster names needs to be counterbalanced by something a little more unexpected.  Feel like going against the grain? Check out these books that many consider to be ‘literary cult classics’ and are guaranteed to satisfy the fiction reader:

My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl

Yes, Roald Dahl wrote books for adults.  Yes, his books and stories for adults are exceptionally weird, quirky, and in this case surreal.  Like J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy that just came out today, don’t expect this material to be child-friendly.  DO expect a work of fiction that is as highly imaginative as any of Dahl’s works for children.

Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

Really, any Tom Robbins book will do, but this is considered to be one of his best.  Here is a short description: “Sort of a love story that takes place inside a pack of Camel cigarettes. It reveals the purpose of the moon, explains the difference between criminals and outlaws…and paints a portrait of contemporary society that includes powerful Arabs, exiled royalty, and pregnant cheerleaders. It also deals with the problem of redheads.” Who wouldn’t want to read this book?

A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

A true crosser of genre-boundaries, this book is science fiction, horror, and literary fiction all rolled into one.  Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of twentieth century literature — a chilling and still-provocative look at a post-apocalyptic future.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

While not a fiction book, this biography/memoir/philosophical work is also considered to be a ‘cult classic’.  A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, this book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions on how to live…the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism.

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Also, pretty much anything by Hermann Hesse can be considered a cult classic.  This is a work of fiction but some would argue that it belongs just as much in the philosophy section.  This classic of twentieth-century literature chronicles the spiritual evolution of a man living in India at the time of the Buddha—a spiritual journey that has inspired generations of readers.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

It accomplished for its own time and place what Hubert Selby, Jr.’s Last Exit to Brooklyn did for his. Rents, Sick Boy, Mother Superior, Swanney, Spuds, and Seeker are as unforgettable a clutch of junkies, rude boys, and psychos as readers will ever encounter. Trainspotting was made into the 1996 cult film starring Ewan MacGregor and directed by Danny Boyle.

The Dice Man by Luke Rineheart

Here is a book description of this interesting little book: “The cult classic that can still change your life!  Let the dice decide! This is the philosophy that changes the life of bored psychiatrist Luke Rhinehart — and in some ways changes the world as well.  Because once you hand over your life to the dice, anything can happen. Entertaining,humorous, scary, shocking, subversive, The Dice Man is one of the cult bestsellers of our time.”

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

Lou Ford is the deputy sheriff of a small town in Texas.  The worst thing most people can say against him is that he’s a little slow and a little boring.  But, then, most people don’t know about the sickness–the sickness that almost got Lou put away when he was younger.  The sickness that is about to surface again. An underground classic since its publication in 1952, The Killer Inside Me is the book that made Jim Thompson’s name synonymous with the roman noir.

Looking for more? I found this list from the Telegraph naming 50 cult classic books!