A new feature – Hidden Gems – book reviews by our volunteer librarians on fabulous books you might have missed!
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ powerful book Between the World and Me is an intimate and eloquent letter to his fifteen year old son, exploring what it means to be a black person- and more specifically a black man, in America today. Coates weaves personal experiences and insights into the framework of American history from slavery to segregation to the killings of unarmed black men by police today. Reading this book caused me to consider all of the ways in which we as human beings share similar hopes, dreams and ambitions for ourselves and our children while exposing the deep divide between white and black Americans in gaining access to the avenues that make fulfilling these hopes, dreams and ambitions possible.
Commenting on this book, the author Toni Morrison wrote, This is required reading.” I agree.
A new book review by volunteer Charleen!
The Woman in Cabin 10
By Ruth Ware
Ruth Ware writes psychological crime thrillers. She is an award winning and New York Times best-selling author. In her newest book, The Woman in Cabin 10, the reader is rapidly engaged with the main character from page one.
Lo Blacklock is a struggling journalist for a travel magazine. She is given the opportunity to advance her career by covering the maiden voyage of a boutique luxury cruise and thinks, what could be easier? This could be the relaxing break she needs from her boyfriend Judah. But from the very start nothing is easy, or expected. A noise in the night – was it a scream? – leads to self-questioning, pleading for someone to believe her, and questions about whom Lo can trust.
The reader starts questioning too. Who are these wealthy, accomplished people on the boat? Are they frauds? Can they be trusted? Is one of them a murderer? Ms. Ware does not make the answers to these questions easy for the reader to gather. As Lo wends her way through numerous possibilities, the reader can feel her panic increase. As the boat makes its way through the Norwegian fjords, the sense of isolation is palpable. Lo tries repeatedly to contact her boyfriend or her family, but there is no cell phone service even although there was supposed to be. Is this too part of the plan to keep her from getting help?
The ending surprised me. Even when I thought I had all the pieces, I didn’t. I trust you won’t either!
This summer I read an amazing book that you might like too. “The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street” by Susan Jane Gilman is our latest Hidden Gem. This novel tells the story of Malka, a Jewish girl who, with her family, flees Russia to come to the United States in 1913. We follow this immigrant’s struggle through the tenements of the lower East Side to her rise as the self-proclaimed Ice Cream Queen. This rags to riches novel was captivating and a well written trip through history. I liked the strong woman Lillian Dunkle became. The book was loosely based on the Carvel Ice Cream story, according to the Q & A with the author at the end.
“String Theory David Foster Wallace on Tennis” by David Foster Wallace, published posthumously 2016.
Why is anyone attracted to a particular book, much less a book that falls into the lightly charted waters of essays on tennis? In my case the immediate impulse was to discover this widely recognized author, David Foster Wallace, and to learn from his personal knowledge of my life long sport and passion. (I am a never ranked life long ardent tennis player, well past the time to hang up my racquet but not quite ready.) Published posthumously in 2016, Wallace died tragically in 2008; this book reflects his amazingly graceful command of the language. It also reveals the lucid comments of a man who was an up and coming nationally ranked junior player. He could have easily chosen the professional tennis path. To our good fortune he became a nationally honored writer for a too brief span. As an introduction to the sport you can’t find a better book outside of the “Tennis for Dummies” category. As a way into the style and prodigious talent of this writer, it is totally absorbing. I tried reading another of his books, “Infinite Jest.” This is one of his books for which he won the Lannan Literary Award and the MacArthur Fellowship. It explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate life in the twenty first century. At 1,000 plus pages it requires time, energy and devotion. I know it has an admiring audience, but I strongly recommend “String Theory” for the time pressed reader.