The Reading List 2013 (ALA RUSA)

Established in 2007 by the CODES section of Reference and User Services Association (RUSA, a division of the American Library Association), The Reading List seeks to highlight outstanding genre fiction that merit special attention by general adult readers and the librarians who work with them.

The 2013 List in 8 categories. What sets this list apart from all the other awards is the short listed honor titles, and the thoughtful readalikes.

Adrenaline
Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
It’s her fifth wedding anniversary: where’s Amy? Assumptions are dangerous in this chilling psychological thriller. The dark and twisty plot, unbearable levels of tension, and merciless pacing will rivet readers.

Fantasy
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
When Myfanwy wakes up with no memory, surrounded by corpses, she must immediately impersonate herself in order to unravel the conspiracy at the heart of a secret supernatural intelligence agency. This offbeat debut combines the fast pacing and suspense of a thriller with the gritty, detailed world-building of urban fantasy.

Historical Fiction
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Ambitious royal advisor Thomas Cromwell is at the pinnacle of his power and uses it to subtly engineer the downfall of his enemies, including the Queen, Anne Boleyn, and her inner circle. This intricately plotted character study presents a fresh perspective on the ever popular Tudor Court.

Horror
The Ritual by Adam Nevill
In the remote forests of Sweden, the friendship between four men disintegrates when they wander off the hiking trail and find themselves stalked by an unseen and increasingly violent menace. “Blair Witch” meets black metal in this dark and suspenseful horror novel.

Mystery
The Gods of Gotham
by Lyndsay Faye
The discovery of a mass grave of child prostitutes spurs “copper star” Timothy Wilde to hunt a killer through the seamy underbelly of 1840s New York City. Colorful period slang enlivens this carefully researched story about the dawn of modern policing.

Romance
Firelight by Kristen Callihan
Bartered as a bride to the masked nobleman Benjamin Archer, Miranda Ellis – a woman with a supernatural secret – becomes his only defender when he is accused of a series of murders. This is a dark and smoldering Victorian paranormal where love redeems two complex and damaged characters.

Science Fiction
Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey
One wants control; one wants vindication; one wants his daughter back; and one wants revenge (and maybe a new suit). The shifting points of view of these four distinctive characters, an electrifying pace, and the threat of an evolving alien protomolecule propel readers through this grand space adventure.

Women’s Fiction
The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway
Galilee Garner’s carefully managed routine of teaching, rose breeding, and kidney dialysis is disrupted when her teenage niece moves in. Readers will root for the growth of this prickly character as she discovers the importance of cultivating human connections.

Rose Martin, champion of Ann Arbor's low income citizens, has died

Rose Martin, co-founder and director of Ann Arbor's Peace Neighborhood Center, died yesterday.

PNC was established in 1971 to provide a safe environment for residents of the diverse West Side to get together to solve problems. Co-operation between Peace Lutheran, Trinity Lutheran, and Zion Lutheran Churches made possible the Center at 1111 North Maple Road. Five years later, Ms. Martin became its Executive Director, a position she held for 30 years. Over the years she expanded its services to include working to end violence and drug abuse through educational and economic initiatives.

In 2001, Ann Arbor's Nonprofit Enterprise at Work awarded PNC its Prize for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.

A year later, Ms. Martin published her autobiography, One Rose Blooming: Hard-Earned Lessons about Kids, Race, and Life in America. Former Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon wrote of this book: "It grabbed my heart and forced me to evaluate myself. A fantastic book from a visionary community leader."

When she retired, Ms. Martin went right back to work. She opened Rose's Good Company whose clientele, according to RGC's mission statement is to "...serve individuals and families who have lost hope." The organization's focus is on the unemployed, the homeless, dependent children, ex-convicts and recovering addicts.

Ms. Martin, who was 70, died at a local restaurant of cardiac arrest.

Chickadee wins 2013 Scott O'Dell Award

Louise Erdrich's Chickadee has received the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, announced on January 16. This award was established in 1982 by Scott O'Dell to encourage writers to focus on historical fiction, and it is awarded annually to an author for a "meritorious book published in the previous year for children or young adults," according to the award website. To be eligible for the award, the book must be published by a U.S. publisher and set in the Americas.

Chickadee is the fourth installment in Erdrich's Birchbark House Series and takes place in the nineteenth century, chronicling the kidnapping of Chickadee, an eight-year-old Anishinabe (known today as Ojibwe) boy, and the adventures that follow as Chickadee tries to return home and his family leaves home to look for him.

Some previous Scott O'Dell Award winners in the library's collection:

Dead End in Norvelt

In the historic town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Jack Gantos spends the summer of 1962 grounded for various offenses until he is assigned to help an elderly neighbor with a most unusual chore involving the newly dead, molten wax, twisted promises, Girl Scout cookies, underage driving, lessons from history, typewriting, and countless bloody noses.

One Crazy Summer

In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

The Storm in the Barn (Graphic Novel)

In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father's failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of "dust dementia" would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot's abandoned barn - a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it's hard to trust what you see with your own eyes, and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes.

Click here for a complete list of previous O'Dell Award winners.

Stan "The Man" Musial, baseball's gentleman player, has died

Stan Musial, the low key, brilliant batter for the St. Louis Cardinals for 22 years, died January 19th.

Musial's career was not just about the numbers -- 475 homes runs, seven batting championships, 3630 hits (half on the road, half at home). It was also about his character as a calm, decent, fair, and polite professional. He loved the game, purely and simply, both the mechanics of his performance and the team player cooperation that made for success on the field.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969, his very first year of eligibility. In 2011, President Obama bestowed on Musial the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S.'s highest civilian award,

Baseball historian/author George Vecsey's biography of Musial, Stan Musial: An American Life was published in 2011.

At his last game against the Cincinnati Reds on September 29, 1963 at the Cards' Busch Stadium, baseball's Commissioner Ford Frick, honored Musial with a tribute so apt, it is immortalized on one of the two Stan Musial statues at the stadium: "Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."

Stan Musial was 92.

The 2013 Edgar Allan Poe Awards nominees have been announced

The nominees for the 2013 Edgars, honoring all things mystery -- novels, non-fiction, and television -- that first appeared in 2012, have been announced.

Named after Edgar Allan Poe, considered the grandfather of the genre, the Edgar is enjoying its 67th year.

Some of the nominees are:

Best novel category:
Gone Girl, Gillain Flynn. In this twisted, double-triple-quadruple backstabbing epic, the reader falls into an ever-changing quagmire between one of literature's most twisted couples. Haven't heard yet of a reader who read the whole thing and DIDN'T fling it across the room.

Live by Night, by Dennis Lehane is set in the Prohibition Era and stars Joe Coughlin, son of a Boston cop who eschews his father's line of work and strives to be a gentleman gangster. Since this is a Lehane novel, you know that's not going to happen.

Best first novel category:
The Expats, by Chris Pavone -- CIA spy Kate Moore falls in love, marries has two sons, and willingly gives up her career to move to Luxembourg with Dexter, her nerdy banker husband. They are befriended by a couple who raise warning flags for Kate. Soon she becomes in clandestine efforts to unravel the threads that make less and less sense, not the least upsetting is the growing suspicion that even Dexter is not who he seems.

Best paperback original:
Louis Berney produces a sequel to Gunshot Straight (2010) with Whiplash River. In another fast-paced thriller, Shake Bouchon buys a restaurant on Ambergris Gray, an island off Belize. But things don't work out so well -- not only does he dodge three hitmen's bullets, but someone burns down his restaurant.

Another sequel is in contention in this category. Malla Nunn brings back her popular character, Det. Emmanuel Cooper, first seen in A Beautiful Place to Die (2009), in Bleassed are the Dead who is investigating the death of a beautiful Zulu housemaid.

For a complete list of nominees, check out this link.

The winners will be announced on May 2nd in New York.

2012 National Book Award winners have been announced

The 2012 The Story Prize has announced its finalists for short story collections that were written in English and published last year in the U.S.

The finalists are:

Stay Awake, by Dan Chaon. A two-headed baby, a child with a sleeping disorder, a near-fatal car accident -- these are just some of the themes around which Chaon builds twelve stories filled with unsettling tension and unexpected resolutions.

In Dominican author Junot Diaz's wildly popular This Is How You Lose Her, he brings back Yunior, the narrator of Drown (1996) and of his prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) who takes it upon himself to relate the "...important and necessary story of the inner lives of 'bad boys..." in nine riveting stories.

Battleborn, by Claire Vaye Watkins is a collection of ten stories in which the rich Nevada landscape is as much a character as the individuals who populate these tales.

For the first time in the Story Prize's nine-year history, they are announcing a new award, The Spotlight Award, given to an author who may have slipped under the radar. This year's recipient is Krys Lee for her debut collection Drifting House. Ms. Lee's nine stories tackle the Korean immigrant experience.

The winner of The Story Prize will be announced at the New School's Tishman Auditorium in New York City on Wednesday, March 13th.

Books in the Oscar Spotlight

The 2013 Academy Award nominations have been decided and it's clear that movies based on books are garnering a lot of attention this year. But which books will prove they are oscar-movie-making material? Many of the award categories have multiple book-based films running against each other. Best Picture nominees alone include Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Silver Linings Playbook. That's some tough competition! How do you compare, Argo (a secret-ops/hollywood masquerade movie) with, say, Les Miserables (a musical version of Hugo's historical epic)? The selection of book adaptations on the ballot offers book-to-movie lovers a variety of genres to choose from. If CIA rescues and revolutionary France aren't your cup of tea, perhaps revisiting the timeless fairy tale, Snow White, sounds more appealing. The brothers Grimm classic is working double-time this year, with two separately produced films, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, both appearing in the list of nominees.

2013 Oscar nominated movies based on books:

  • Anna Karenina - based on Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  • Argo - based on Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History, by Antonio J. Mendez
  • The Hobbit - based on The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Les Miserables - based on Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
  • Life of Pi - based on Life of Pi, by Yann Marel
  • Lincoln - based on Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • "Mirror Mirror" & "Snow White and the Huntsman" - both films are based on Snow White, by the Brothers Grimm
  • Silver Linings Playbook - based on The Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick
  • The Sessions is not based on a book technically. However, it is based on a short work published by Mark O'Brien in The Sun Magazine.
  • Last, but certainly not least, Skyfall is not based on a single work, like many of the other Bond films, but is nonetheless derived from the Bond series by Ian Fleming.

    For a complete look at Oscar nominees click here.

  • Fabulous Fiction Firsts #373

    A runaway bestseller in its native Germany since its publication in 2011, Alex Capus's Leon & Louise has just been longlisted for the German Book Prize. This story of enduring love that survives the tribulations of two world wars is inspired by the author's French paternal grandfather, a police chemist at the Quai des Orfèvres.

    Leon Le Gall and Louise Janvier met as teenagers in the summer of 1918 in the village of Saint-Luc-sur-Marne. Their tentative romance was cut short when both were severely wounded by German artillery fire. When they met up in Paris a decade later, circumstances and their strong conviction about family and responsibility kept them apart. The Occupation of Paris during WWII sent Louise into the wilds of Africa and Leon under the watchful eye of the SS. Their love, however remain constant.

    "On its surface, this is a story about enduring love. But it is also about the way that power can be abused, particularly in times of war, and the daily sacrifices people make to preserve what they hold most dear."

    Capus was born to a French father and a Swiss mother. He spent his formative years in his grandfather's house in Normandy and may account for the lovely depiction of the locale (map) as the haven for Parisian holidaymakers at the turn of the 20th century. As a student of history and a former journalist, Capus was able to recreate, in great details and stoic realism the Nazi occupation of Paris and the hardships on its citizens.

    A captivating read for a cold dreary day. Will appeal to fans of Tatiana de Rosnay. Readers might also like The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman, and Anita Shreve's Resistance.

    Double Dash Duo Derby

    Saturday December 22, 2012: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

    It's the return of networked Mario Kart: Double Dash gameplay! This team event lets you experience Double Dash the way it was meant to be, played on a GameCube - one screen per team! Come with your cart-mate to enjoy some tense competition! We'll have prizes for champions!

    This event is for teens (grade 6 and up) and adults.

    Fabulous Fiction Firsts #372

    The New York Times review by Francine Prose called Deborah Levy's 2012 Man Booker Prize finalist Swimming Home a "spare, disturbing and frequently funny novel... that suggest an improbable hybrid of Virginia Woolf, Edward St. Aubyn, Absolutely Fabulous (a BBC sitcom), and Patricia Highsmith? ... (one that) should be read with care".

    Two British couples are to share a vacation home in the South of France - idyllic, right? When Joe Jacobs arrives with his family at the villa, he sees a beautiful girl emerging from the swimming pool, naked. She is Kitty Finch and she walks right into the heart of their holiday.

    "Levy winds her characters up and watches them go, and they do as most humans do, which is to mess up in the face of desire. Her novel is utterly beautiful and lyrical throughout, even at the most tragic turns"

    South African–born Londoner Deborah Levy (author website) writes fiction, plays, and poetry. Her work has been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company and broadcast on the BBC.

    In the meantime, if you are way down on the waiting list, don't despair. Try Lawrence Osborne's The Forgiven * * (2012) about other not-so-innocents abroad, sets in the Moroccan desert. Here is another Fabulous Fiction Firsts that has been selected by The Economist and Library Journal as one of the 10 Best Books of 2012.

    You might also like Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins "Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising... a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams."

    * * = starred reviews

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