Monday, December 10, 2007

Favourite Reads of 2007 - The Librarian's Picks Part 3

Continuing our series, today we have some great reading picks by librarians from Toronto and Kingston.

Valerie Casselman - Toronto Public Library

My titles are all literary fiction. Because I am a librarian, they are in alpha order by title:
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
by Gary Shteyngart
by Penelope Lively
Exit Ghost
by Philip Roth
The Lay of the Land
by Richard Ford
On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan
The Pesthouse
by Jim Crace
The Post-birthday World
by Lionel Shriver
The Song Before it is Sung by Justin Cartwright
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

Valerie Casselman is the Adult Materials Collections Librarian for the Toronto Public Library. Her proudest accomplishment is having raised two readers - twin boys who have both asked for "some serious fiction" for Christmas!

Bessie Sullivan - Kingston Frontenac Public Library
Like many librarians, I am an avid reader. It wasn’t until recently that I began to realize that there is some pattern to my reading. Also that some of my reading directly influences the next choice. The YA titles I chose are good examples of books that encourage young people to think individually and to be aware of, and involved in, social issues. The non-fiction title I chose appeals to my love of statistics and the ways in which they can be interpreted. The fiction titles represent an eclectic mix of Canadian mystery, fiction about other cultures, and women’s stories. I want to be entertained by what I read but sometimes I also want my thoughts provoked. The following are what stood out the most for me over the course of my reading in 2007.

YA Fiction

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
In his first novel for a younger audience, Carl Hiaasen plunges readers into the middle of an ecological mystery, made up of endangered miniature owls and the owls' unlikely allies--three middle-school kids determined to beat the screwed-up adult system. All of Hiaasen’s dark humour slightly sanitized for the young adult reader. This effort was followed by Flush in 2005.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The story centres on a new tenth grade student at Mica Area High School in Arizona: Stargirl Caraway, an eccentric and compassionate non-conformist vegetarian who has spent her previous years in homeschooling. Eleventh-grader Leo Borlock narrates with equal amounts of grudging admiration for her eccentricity and the hope that Stargirl could somehow be more normal, and thus attract less ridicule. A sequel, Love, Stargirl, was released in August of this year.
Schooled by Gordon Korman
This book is about Capricorn Anderson, a home-schooled boy raised in isolation by his grandmother, an ex-hippie from the sixties. It's the story of what happens when he's suddenly thrust into a large middle school. An accident befalls his grandmother, Rain, and Cap is placed in the care of a social worker while his grandmother recuperates. Having never handled money or lived in a house with a telephone, Cap finds himself baffled by what the people around him take for normal.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The book is a collection of economic articles written by Levitt, translated into prose meant for a wide audience. Levitt had already gained a reputation in academia for applying economic theory to diverse subjects not usually covered by "traditional" economists. This fascinating book connects economic statistics with social and cultural phenomenon.

Adult Fiction
Later at the Bar by Rebecca Barry
By telling the stories of regular patrons at Lucy’s Tavern, Rebecca Barry captures the idiosyncrasies of an upstate New York backwater where social life revolves around the happenings of the bar.

Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Nazneen is a Bangladeshi girl whose father arranges a marriage to Chanu, a Bengali immigrant living in England. Although Chanu—who is twice Nazneen's age--turns out to be a foolish blowhard, Nazneen accepts her fate, thereby applying the main life lesson taught by the women in her family. Over the next decade and a half Nazneen grows into a strong, confident woman who doesn't defy fate so much as bend it to her will.

Still Life by Louise Penny
The residents of a tiny Canadian village called Three Pines are shocked when the body of Miss Jane Neal is found in the woods. Miss Neal, the village's retired schoolteacher and a talented amateur artist, has been a good friend to most of the townsfolk, and so her loss is keenly felt. At first, her death appears to be a tragic accident, but the seemingly peaceful, friendly village hides dark secrets.

The Birth House by Ami McKay
Modernity meets tradition during World War I in the isolated coastal town of Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, where the men make their living building boats and fishing and the women tend to matters of the home, including birthing and raising children, feeding their families, and cultivating gardens and friendships. When Dr. Gilbert Thomas arrives, promising to bring safe and hygienic methods to childbirth, the local women are faced with the choice of turning to him or continuing to be cared for by the midwife and all she represents.

The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly
Karen Connelly’s first novel recreates the world of a Burmese prison, and of the country’s tumultuous years in the late 1980s, when millions of people rose up to protest against the brutality of their military government. This is a story of human resilience, love and humour in a world that celebrates the human spirit in the midst of injustice and violence.

By the Time You Read This by Giles Blunt
Giles Blunt is Canada’s answer to Ian Rankin. This dark, gritty novel is the latest in a series featuring Detective John Cardinal. Here, he is on the hunt for an ingenious killer even as he mourns his own wife’s tragic death. In this thriller of heart-stopping suspense, Blunt makes Northern Ontario seem not so removed from big-city problems, after all.

Bessie Sullivan is the Branch Librarian for the Calvin Park, Kingscourt, and Pittsburgh branches of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. Her eclectic reading habits are derived from having too many cats, kids, and parents. (Two, two, and two) Thankfully she has a supportive partner who understands that reading is ”professional development” and doesn’t get too concerned about the lack of cleaning that gets done at home.

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