Archive for May, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

May 18, 2010


This is a riveting, suspenseful, really good young adult novel. The main character, 16 year old  Katniss, is powerful and smart and sympathetic.  It’s a futuristic, dark premise, but there are some really lovely moments in it, and the story is just really well told.

Available as ebook and audiobook on Libby/Overdrive and as an audiobook Hoopla .

Title details for The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Wait list

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

May 13, 2010


This is a powerful, riveting, at times heartbreaking book. It tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African American tobacco farmer, and her “immortal” cells, which were  taken by her doctor without her knowledge while she was dying of cervical cancer in the early 1950s.  The  “HeLa” cells were an integral part of many of the major scientific breakthroughs in modern history, including the polio vaccine, AIDS research, and cloning.  The story of the Lacks family, and how they were affected by the revelation years later that Henrietta’s cells were still alive and how they were being used,  is beautifully told, and is effectively interwoven with the history, and ethical implications, of the scientific research on the HeLa cells.  Excellent book!

Avaiable as an ebook and audiobook on Libby/Overdrive.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - ebook

Rework, by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

May 6, 2010


I picked up Rework in large part because it is blurbed/recommended by Seth Godin (a genius; try The Purple Cow or Big Red Fez) and by Unshelved (  It’s one of a new breed of business books that take an “outsider” perspective to comment on the “new” world of business success.  The writers are the founders of 37Signals, a small productivity software company and they have a popular blog Signals vs. Noise (“a weblog by 37signals about design, business, experience, simplicity, the web, culture, and more.”).

One of their core ideas is to stay small as long as possible.  It keeps a business/organization lean, flexible and in touch with its customers.  Makes sense to this public librarian!  I also really agree with their take on workaholism (it’s stupid), focusing on core principles (knowing your epicenter), and planning vs. doing (ummm, do).

This is an easy, quick read, broken into very short sections inside thematic “chapters”.  You can pick and choose topics or read cover to cover and take whatever makes sense for your situation.

Ballistics, by Billy Collins

May 6, 2010

If you like poems by Billy Collins you won’t be disappointed in his latest book. His usual sense of humor, droll perspective and sometimes surprising turns are present on every page. I have to admit that sometimes I would like this former US Poet Laureate to try something new, but sometimes you also need “comfort poetry” and a return to a familiar world.

Music Recommendations from Bill – Muse, Florence and the Machine and Lady Gaga

May 4, 2010


Do you like the Moody Blues? Are you one of those people who still have your “Days of future Passed” LP from 1967-68? Do you go misty eyed when at some point you hear the strains of “Nights in white satin”? if you answered yes, you are or will most likely become a Muse fan. What if you stepped into Doctor Who’s time and space machine and brought the “Moodies” forward in time by 40 or so years? You might just have this other powerful English rock band. Do not mistake me, Muse are not a 60’s rip-off band. My point is that they seem to write the kind of music that the Moody Blues would write today as young men. Clever lyrics, well written music and compelling vocals. You should give Muse a listen. We have “Black Holes and Revelations” and “The Resistance”. We hope to get more.

Occasionally, a singer’s voice will become instantly recognizable. Frank Sinatra, Elvis or Stevie Nicks.  So it is With “Florence and the Machine”. Florence Welch’s   release of “Lungs” in July 2009 was well received in the UK and USA. In the indie pop and alternative rock vein. Florence seems to sing at 33 1/3 rpm whilst the band plays at 45 rpm. An amazing voice and haunting songs.

Usually “divas” require a while to become established. Not so with Lady Gaga. She burst onto the music scene with a vengeance in 2009. Whatever you think of her, there is no doubt that she is a show-woman. One either loves or loathes her. Oddly, I fall into a third category, as I do neither. I merely observe the spectacle. Yet, the persona of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta of Brooklyn NY, is now ubiquitous. She will rule the world, or rather she does rule the world. Her voice, piano playing and what are conservatively called “costumes” astound. Lady Gaga’s debut CD “The Fame” I am certain that we will continue to be shocked, amazed, mesmerized and entertained by her. As with Elvis and The Beatles the music world will never be the same.