Saturday, July 26, 2014

Good Finds at the Library!

I've been having fun going to the library and seeing what's on the shelves when I get there. I particularly like seeing what's new, and I make the bestseller shelves my first - and sometimes only - stop.

The downside of using the library is that there is no guarantee that a particular book is going to be there when I want to check it out. Bestsellers are not holdable or requestable, and when they do become holdable, there is often a long waiting list.

The upside (other than that I can read books for FREE) is that it's kind of fun to see what's here right now...books come and go, and who knows what treasure I will find at any given time?

I've found a few!

Here are a few I've been enjoying lately:

THE EMPATHY EXAMS by Leslie Jamison
I'd read about this book and was excited to see it on the bestseller shelf, just waiting for me! Jamison does an incredible job exploring empathy with depth. Much more than addressing empathy in what we'd think of as traditionally potentially empathic situations (a hospital or with a friend, perhaps), Jamison digs deep to explore opportunities for empathy in challenging situations as well as hindrances to empathy. There is a lot to think about here. Well done.

THE FARM by Tom Rob Smith
Daniel is a young man living in London. He gets a frantic phone call from his father, who has been living in Sweden with his mother for several months. His father tells him that his mother is not well, that she is making accusations and behaving irrationally and even dangerously. This is worrisome and scary for Daniel, as his mother has never been anything but gentle and loving his whole life. This phone call from his father is completely out of character for his father as well, as the father makes accusations about his mother, and he also was a calm, loving presence in Daniel's childhood. Daniel is completely surprised and taken aback. What is going on? There is much to be revealed, and we find out in this psychological!

THE SPACE BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar
Okay, I admit, I found this in the regular stacks at the library. While not a bestseller (which, in my library, seems to mean new-ish releases, not always books on a best seller list), this was a find, nonetheless. I'd seen it when I worked at the bookstore and heard good things about it from other booksellers. And they were right. I was drawn into the story of Sera and Bhima, two women living in Bombay. Bhima is Sera's servant. And while their lives are intricately intertwined after their intimate working relationship covering decades, there is the employer/servant barrier, which is significant and brings its own complications into the relationship. Life is complicated, and Umrigar brings these two women to life as they relate to each other and their own families. Beautifully done.

I'd never heard of this book or this author when I saw it at the library. I usually comb the shoves and select several books that look interesting to me. Then I take them over to a table and get a better sense of each book, knowing that the title and cover art may not be enough to carry a book through for a full read. This book started it opens, Avis, a 53 year old woman, is trying to seduce her husband by going to the rarely visited naughty-underwear drawer. The story starts there, Avis telling about her marriage to Jim, her daughter, and her soldier son, Nate. Other people narrate as well, Bashkim, a young Albanian boy who also lives in Las Vegas with his family. Luis, a soldier sent home from war, and Roberta, a CASA volunteer. Using different people to tell the story isn't a new device, and I quite like how it's done here. Each character is distinct and comes alive. While I figured that their stories would intersect somehow, and I correctly predicted some of what happened, I didn't predict all of it, and the characters kept me wanting to read more. A good find!

This book has been on my periphery for a while...first recommended to me by a friend of mine on Goodreads (thank you, Susan!). I was delighted to find it on the Bestseller shelf. I zipped through this and loved it. A.J. owns a bookshop that is not doing well. His wife died a few years previously, and he is depressed. Isolated and living alone in his bookshop, A.J. is in a funk. He meets Amelia, a publisher rep who travels to bookstores in her territory to sell books, and is quite rude to her. The townspeople of Alice notice, and with help from the police chief, his sister-in-law, and the arrival of a mysterious package, A.J.'s life changes. This was a delightful read. Lots of great bookish references. Fun!


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