Featured Books from the Recreational Reading Collection

The recreational reading (McNaughton) collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase

Funny Girl

Nick Hornby (Riverhead Books 2015)

LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PR6058.O689F86 2015

“No, Nick Hornby’s latest is not a retelling of the story made famous by the old Barbara Streisand movie called Funny Girl – but the allusion to pop culture of the 1960s in this delightful novel is not coincidental. On the surface, this Funny Girl is about a working class English girl who comes of age as a TV star in the days of Carnaby Street, the Beatles, and the musical Hair; what it’s also about is the way the world turned over for everybody but especially actors and writers — in that explosive era. Sophie Straw is the gorgeous girl from Blackpool who, like Lucille Ball (to whom Hornby slyly introduces the starstruck Sophie in a late scene), is originally deemed too pretty to be funny; like Ball, she manages through wit, decency and pratfall to become her nation’s sweetheart. She’s a great character, and readers – like everyone in swinging London – will love her. But if Sophie is the star, the rest of the population here – the hilariously narcissistic lover/co-star, the director who pines for Sophie for years, and, my favorite, the writers who give her her vehicles – are exceptional supporting players. And Hornby, who was a bit of a pop culture wunderkind himself, is wise about the way artists’ (especially writers’) careers morph and change, and what it’s like to define a cultural moment and then watch yourself live past it.”  – Sara Nelson (Review from Amazon.com – Best Book of the Month February 2015)

 

New and Notable in the Library’s Recreational Reading Collection

Located on the 2nd floor of Library at the base of the stairs.

Michael Hastings, The Last Magazine (Blue Rider Press 2014) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3608.A86147L37 2014

“Hastings was one hell of a journalist, covering wars and geopolitical strife for venues like Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed. As it turns out, he would have made a fine novelist had he not died in a car accident in 2013. This “secret” novel was resurrected from his files by his widow, Elise Jordan; it’s a messy, caustic and very funny satire. His protagonist is a young journalist also named Mike Hastings, who has just landed his first job at The Magazine in the dying days of traditional journalism. Hastings, the author, tells the story of how Mike makes the journey from ambitious young man to cynical hack partially by showing us Mike’s new friend A.E. Peoria, a classic old-school journalist who fuels his brilliant war reporting with alcohol and drugs and transvestite hookers. In the crevasse between his sanitary cubicle and Peoria’s lewd adventures, our hero is also tracking the war of career strategy between his managing editor, Sanders Berman, and the international editor, Nishant Patel, whose favor Mike is carefully currying. Hastings chooses the start of the Iraq War to disrupt Mike’s burgeoning career path. “There’s war in the backdrop, looming and distant and not real for most of these characters, myself included,” Mike says. In a way, the book reflects Hastings’ career arc, from unpaid intern at Newsweek to becoming one of the essential war correspondents of his generation. A ribald comedy about doing time in the trenches and the bitter choices that integrity demands.” – Kirkus Book Review

M.R. Carey, The Girl With All the Gifts McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PR6056.I4588B77 2013

“A post-apocalyptic tale set in England in a future when most humans are “empty houses where people used to live. Sgt. Parks, Pvt. Gallagher, Miss Justineau and Dr. Caldwell flee an English military camp, a scientific site for the study of “hungries,” zombielike creatures who feast on flesh, human or otherwise. These once-humans are essentially “fungal colonies animating human bodies.” After junkers—anarchic survivalists—use hungries to breach the camp’s elaborate wire fortifications, the four survivors head for Beacon, a giant refuge south of London where uninfected citizens have retreated over the past two decades, bringing along one of the study subjects, 10-year-old Melanie, a second-generation hungry. Like others of her generation, Melanie possesses superhuman strength and a superb intellect, and she can reason and communicate. Dr. Caldwell had planned to dissect Melanie’s brain, but Miss Justineau thinks Melanie is capable of empathy and human interaction, which might make her a bridge between humans and hungries. Their philosophical dispute continues in parallel to a survival trek much like the one in McCarthy’s On the Road. The four either kill or hide from junkers and hungries (which are animated by noise, movement and human odors). The characters are somewhat clichéd—Parks, rugged veteran with an empathetic core; Gallagher, rube private and perfect victim; Caldwell, coldhearted objectivist ever focused on prying open Melanie’s skull. It may be Melanie’s role to lead second-generation hungries in a revival of civilization, which in this imaginative, ominous assessment of our world and its fate offers cold comfort. One of the more imaginative and ingenious additions to the dystopian canon.” – Kirkus Book Reviews.

New and Notable Short Story Collections from the McNaughton Recreational Reading Collection

New and Notable Short Story Collections from the McNaughton Recreational Reading Collection (2nd Floor of Library at the base of the stairs)

Lorrie Moore, Bark: Stories (Knopf 2014) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3563.O6225B37 2014

“There’s a reason Lorrie Moore is so beloved by her baby boomer brethren: she’s smart, she’s funny, her eye is even sharper than her tongue. In Bark, her latest collection of stories, all those qualities are well on display. “He had never been involved with the mentally ill before,” she writes of her mid-life anti-hero in the (sort-of) title story, “Debarking.” “[B]ut he now felt more than ever that there should be strong international laws against them being too good looking.” Acerbic? Check. Knowing? Check. Says out loud on the page what we less talented, less observant mere mortals wish we could form so well in thought? Check. Check. Check. The only reason not to read these seven stories is that, perhaps, they’re just too accurate and perceptive about the way we live now–but then, why would you ever want to read stories that were anything else?” -Sara Nelson, Amazon Best Book of the Month review, (March 2014)

George Saunders, Tenth of December: Stories (Random House 2013) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3569.A7897T46 2013 (National Book Award Finalist 2013)

“Saunders, a self-identified disciple of Twain and Vonnegut, is hailed for the topsy-turvy, gouging satire in his three previous, keenly inventive short story collections. In the fourth, he dials the bizarreness down a notch to tune into the fantasies of his beleaguered characters, ambushing readers with waves of intense, unforeseen emotion. Saunders drills down to secret aquifers of anger beneath ordinary family life as he portrays parents anxious to defang their children but also to be better, more loving parents than their own. The title story is an absolute heart-wringer, as a pudgy, misfit boy on an imaginary mission meets up with a dying man on a frozen pond. In “Victory Lap,” a young-teen ballerina is princess-happy until calamity strikes, an emergency that liberates her tyrannized neighbor, Kyle, “the palest kid in all the land.” In “Home,” family friction and financial crises combine with the trauma of a court-martialed Iraq War veteran, to whom foe and ally alike murmur inanely, “Thank you for your service.” Saunders doesn’t neglect his gift for surreal situations. There are the inmates subjected to sadistic neurological drug experiments in “Escape from Spiderhead” and the living lawn ornaments in “The Semplica Girl Diaries.” These are unpredictable, stealthily funny, and complexly affecting stories of ludicrousness, fear, and rescue.”–Donna Seaman, Booklist Starred Review.

New and Notable Books from the McNaughton Recreational Reading Collection

This collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library, at the base of the stairs.

Rebecca Makkai, The Hundred Year House (Viking 2014) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3613.A36H85 2014

“Charmingly clever and mischievously funny, Makkai follows her enthusiastically praised first novel, The Borrower (2011), with an intriguingly structured tale—each section takes a step back in time—set on a fabled, possibly haunted estate north of Chicago. After the alleged suicide of its beautiful first matriarch, Laurelfield was turned into an artists’ colony in 1906 and thrived until an even more mysterious turn of events led to the property’s return to strictly private use. Now, at the turn of the twentieth century, Zee, a Marxist English professor who grew up in Laurelfield, is living in the coach house with her jobless husband, Doug, who is supposed to be working on a book about a former artists’ colony resident. Not only does Zee’s imperious mother inexplicably stonewall his research, but Zee’s batty stepfather also invites his unemployed son and artist daughter-in-law to live in the coach house. Such close quarters provide the perfect setup for farce and scandal, and Makkai choreographs both in a dazzling plot spiked with secrets and betrayals hilarious and dire. Her offbeat characters and suspenseful story could have added up to a stylish romp. Instead, Makkai offers that and much more as she stealthily investigates the complexities of ambition, sexism, violence, creativity, and love in this diverting yet richly dimensional novel.” –Donna Seaman, starred review Booklist

Andrew Lewis Conn, O, Africa (Hogarth 2014) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3603.O542O23  2014
“The Grand brothers are known for their silent movies. With Micah directing and Izzy behind the camera, their comedies have been pleasing crowds for years, but in 1928, trouble looms. While the advent of talkies threatens the brothers’ livelihood, Micah’s interracial affair and penchant for gambling put them in physical danger, as well. With these perils lurking at home, their producer sends them to the jungles of central Africa to collect never-before-seen footage that he hopes will change the fate of their studio. Ultimately, though, it’s the brothers who will be most changed by their expedition. Stretching from New York to Africa to California, Conn sets the stage for the golden age of Hollywood with carefully placed contemporaneous events, then challenges that milieu with anachronistic behavior and dialogue. The result is a satirical, heartbreaking tale of disillusionment and self-discovery that, with its Jewish filmmakers, desegregated liaisons, and homosexual awakening, takes on the state of prejudice both then and now. History aficionados may quibble about the details, but classic film buffs will be enthralled.” –Cortney Ophoff, review Booklist

New and Notable Books from the McNaughton Recreational Reading Collection

This section is found on the 2nd Floor of Library, at the base of the stairs.

Smith Henderson, Fourth of July Creek (Ecco 2013) LAW- McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3608.E52737F68 2014

“Dedicated social worker Pete Snow lives in remote, impoverished Tenmile, Montana, in part because he’s hiding out from the fallout of his own fractious divorce and in part because he knows that poverty breeds dysfunctional families, and there are plenty of kids who need his care. When he is summoned to open a file on Benjamin Pearl, a nearly feral 11-year-old boy who is suffering from malnutrition, he comes into contact with the boy’s father, Jeremiah, a paranoid survivalist who mints his own money and is convinced that the end-time is near. Pete soon learns that the FBI is also interested in Jeremiah, targeting him as a homegrown terrorist. Meanwhile, Pete’s own family is in crisis; his teenage daughter has vanished, and his ex-wife can’t do much more than drink and pray. First-novelist Henderson not only displays an uncanny sense of place—he clearly knows rural Montana and its impassable roads, its dank bars, its speed freaks and gas huffers—he also creates an incredibly rich cast of characters, from Pete’s drunken, knuckleheaded friends to the hard-luck waitress who serves him coffee to the disturbed, love-sick survivalist. Dark, gritty, and oh so good.” -Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist starred review.

Heather O’Neill, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (Farrar Straus & Giroux 2014) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PR9199.4.O64G57 2014

“The girl of the title is Nouschka Tremblay; she and her twin brother, Nicholas, are the 19-year-old children of Étienne Tremblay, a once-famous folksinger and composer who, though his career is now in eclipse, is still celebrated. The twins, high-school dropouts and adrift, are famous, too, their every move reported in the tabloids. Set in Montreal in the 1990s, the story, told by Nouschka, follows her attempts to straighten out her life even as her brother’s becomes ever more erratic. Raised by their elderly grandfather, the twins live together on the edge of poverty, and Nicholas has resorted to petty thievery to support himself. Meanwhile, Nouschka has become a student in night school, hoping to receive her high-school diploma, go on to college, and become a writer. Her plans are interrupted when she falls in love with Raphael, who may be schizophrenic. Complications ensue. O’Neill (Lullabies for Little Criminals, 2006) has written a marvelously intriguing novel of a family in dissolution, each member of which is richly and memorably characterized. A secondary theme involving the Quebec separatist movement evokes the possible separation of the intense bond that has characterized the twins’ lives. The book is beautifully written, particularly rich in simile and metaphor. Compulsively readable, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is a delight for any night.” -Michael Cart Booklist Starred Review

Featured Book from the Recreational Reading Collection

astonish me

The recreational reading (McNaughton) collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase.

Maggie Shipstead, Astonish Me (Knopf 2014) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3619.H586A88 2014

Set in the world of ballet, this gripping novel spans three decades, starting in the mid-seventies, when Joan, a young American dancer, helps a Baryshnikov-like star defect from the Soviet Union. A brief relationship ensues, after which she retreats with another man to a life of suburban motherhood. The novel’s frequent chronological shifts feel strained and jarring, but the narrative effectively dramatizes the tensions between family and career, perfectionism and compromise. A young dancer spends her life in front of a mirror, and “without it she is halved, uncertain of her existence.” Shipstead rises to the challenge of evoking the excitement of dance, and her descriptions are all the more powerful for emphasizing the hard work behind the grace. (Review from New Yorker July 21, 2014 Briefly Noted column.)

Read a Good Book Lately?

rec readingNeed a break from reading legal textbooks?  On the main floor of the law library (near the stairs) is the law library’s recreational reading collection. The collection has an eclectic assortment of fiction and non-fiction and includes recent best sellers, mysteries and even cookbooks.

 

 

Featured Book from the Recreational Reading Collection

Dave Eggers, The Circle (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor) PS3605.G48C57 2013

“Most of us imagine totalitarianism as something imposed upon us—but what if we’re complicit in our own oppression? That’s the scenario in Eggers’ ambitious, terrifying, and eerily plausible new novel. When Mae gets a job at the Circle, a Bay Area tech company that’s cornered the world market on social media and e-commerce, she’s elated, and not just because of the platinum health-care package. The gleaming campus is a wonder, and it seems as though there isn’t anything the company can’t do (and won’t try). But she soon learns that participation in social media is mandatory, not voluntary, and that could soon apply to the general population as well. For a monopoly, it’s a short step from sharing to surveillance, to a world without privacy. This isn’t a perfect book—the good guys lecture true-believer Mae, and a key metaphor is laboriously explained—but it’s brave and important and will draw comparisons to Brave New World and 1984. Eggers brilliantly depicts the Internet binges, torrents of information, and endless loops of feedback that increasingly characterize modern life. But perhaps most chilling of all is his notion that our ultimate undoing could be something so petty as our desperate desire for affirmation.” Starred Review (Review by Keir Graff from Booklist via Amazon)

Featured Book from the Recreational Reading Collection

Alan S. Blinder, After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response and the Work Ahead (Penguin Press 2013) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor)   HB3717 2008.B55 2013

“An experienced economist explains the global financial crisis that began in 2008 and continues. Blinder (Economics and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) has accumulated real-world experience in the political realm of finance as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve board of governors and on President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. Noting that numerous books have already chronicled the origins and impacts of the crisis, Blinder suggests that his is unique for a few reasons: It is the most comprehensive so far, is less of a whodunit and more of a “why did they do it,” emphasizes public policymaking over arcane financial dealings and looks to the future. After explaining the genesis of the crisis, Blinder analyzes the responses by policymakers. In the United States, the policymaking yielded a paradox: financial markets left to police themselves after ill-advised, ideologically based government deregulation needed previously unwelcome intervention to avert complete calamity. But then public opinion seemed to view the federal government as villainous. Blinder does not portray government decision-makers as heroic, but he demonstrates that without their energetic intervention, far more institutions would have collapsed, more homes would have been foreclosed on, and more jobs would have been eliminated. Throughout the book, the author explains nuances unexamined or underexamined in the large number of previous books appearing since 2008. A clearheaded analysis with a final section suggesting that lessons learned from the crisis are already being ignored.” (Review from Kirkus Book Review)

Featured Book from the Recreational Reading Collection

The recreational reading (McNaughton) collection is located on the 2nd floor of the library under the staircase

Dave Eggers, The Circle (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor)   PS3605.G48C57 2013

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 12.18.47 PM“Most of us imagine totalitarianism as something imposed upon us—but what if we’re complicit in our own oppression? That’s the scenario in Eggers’ ambitious, terrifying, and eerily plausible new novel. When Mae gets a job at the Circle, a Bay Area tech company that’s cornered the world market on social media and e-commerce, she’s elated, and not just because of the platinum health-care package. The gleaming campus is a wonder, and it seems as though there isn’t anything the company can’t do (and won’t try). But she soon learns that participation in social media is mandatory, not voluntary, and that could soon apply to the general population as well. For a monopoly, it’s a short step from sharing to surveillance, to a world without privacy. This isn’t a perfect book—the good guys lecture true-believer Mae, and a key metaphor is laboriously explained—but it’s brave and important and will draw comparisons to Brave New World and 1984. Eggers brilliantly depicts the Internet binges, torrents of information, and endless loops of feedback that increasingly characterize modern life. But perhaps most chilling of all is his notion that our ultimate undoing could be something so petty as our desperate desire for affirmation.” Starred Review (Review by Keir Graff from Booklist via Amazon)

 

Featured Book from the Recreational Reading Collection

Sasha Abramsky, The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives (Nation Books 2013) LAW-McNaughton Collection (2nd Floor)   HC110.P6A54 2013  (New York Times Notable Book)

“Not since the Great Depression have so many Americans been counted among the poor. Freelance reporter Abramsky explores poverty in America 50 years after Michael Harrington’s groundbreaking book, The Other America. Abramsky offers historical perspective, detailing how poverty as well as social attitudes and public policy regarding poverty have changed. He points to the antitax policies of conservatives that have contributed to growing income inequality in the U.S. and growing concerns most evident in the Occupy movement and protest for the 99 percent versus the 1 percent. From Appalachia to Hawaii, from inner cities to rural areas, from families suffering intergenerational poverty to victims of the recent housing crisis, Abramsky’s portraits of the poor illustrate three striking points: the isolation, diversity—people with no jobs and people with multiple jobs—and resilience of the poor. Drawing on ideas from a broad array of equality advocates, Abramsky offers detailed policies to address poverty, including reform in education, immigration, energy, taxation, criminal justice, housing, Social Security, and Medicaid, as well as analysis of tax and spending policies that could reduce inequities” (Review by Vanessa Bush from Booklist)