Ken Lay, ex-CEO of Enron, is dead

Ken Lay

Ken Lay, convicted ex-CEO of Enron, has died.

Lay, 64, was awaiting sentencing on multiple counts of fraud, conspiracy and bank fraud, when he died of a massive coronary in Aspen, Colorado.

In his book, Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story, two-time Pulitzer finalist author Kurt Eichenwald, chronicles the stunning rise and devastating fall of Enron under Ken Lay's leadership.

Last year's documentary, Enron, the Smartest Guys in the Room, directed by Alex Gibney, exposes in shocking video and audio tapes, the depth of the greed and corruption that was part of the upper echelon culture. This much-touted documentary, which was nominated for and/or won several awards, spells out in heartbreaking detail, the thousands of lives wrecked by Enron's collapse.

A tortoise's observations of the human species and much more

Verlyn Klinkenborg, author of other books on the natural world and writer on the editorial board of the New York Times, has created a most disarming tortoise in his latest, Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile. In this wondrous tale or meditation, full of luxuriant language, humor and wry observation of the human species, Timothy in her elder years (yes, it's a female) is resident in the garden of pastor and amateur naturalist, Gilbert White, author, in real life, of The Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne, the village where he lived.

Pirates or Superheroes?

Who said the library isn’t hip and cool? We change with the times and have the perfect books to go along with the popular movies in the box office. Are you interested in getting clued in on insider information on Jack Sparrow and the Pirates of the Caribbean? Check out the Pirates of the Caribbean Visual Guide. If you are more of a superhero fan and camped outside to see the new superman movie, Superman Returns, you should spend time browsing the Superman graphic novels. So the question is: Who would win, Jack Sparrow or Superman, in a fight to the death?

One Green Apple by Eve Bunting

One Green Apple tells the story of a Muslim girl who is a stranger in a strange land. On a school field trip she finds that there are many similarities in her old culture and her new one. Eve Bunting brilliantly captures the feeling of isolation experienced by a Muslim girl as she attends her second day of school.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #27

One of the hottest trends in reading is urban fiction. It’s a sure sign that it is no longer just a fad when The New York Times wrote about it. Alternately called street lit, hip-hop, gangsta lit, or urban fiction, it depicts life on the mean streets, and often prides itself in the authenticity and gritty details of drugs, crimes and violence. Lurid book jackets, profanities, explicit sex, and the lifestyle fueled by easy money add to its appeal.

I met T.J. Williams this week. A Princeton University student, he is not your typical street lit author writing in prison, but maybe that is why his debut novel 5 minutes and 42 seconds was so accessible for my first dip into this genre.

Oh, have no doubt, all the gritty elements are there (the drug-dealing, the illicit sex and the street culture) but it is also a thoughtful and often humorous exploration of the meaning of family and sexuality. Give it a try and check out this reading list for other suggestions.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (7/2/06)

About fifteen years ago I stopped reading Robert B. Parker. After a terrific start with compelling stories and characters, his Spenser series became stale and dull. Several years later, there was a positive review in the New York Times Book Review and I gave him another look. Now a Parker mystery is a treat, pleasing in its predictability and effortless style. Perfect for a summer day.

At #6 is Blue Screen by Robert B. Parker: in this mystery Sunny Randall arrives in Paradise to investigate a mystery and hooks up with the Chief of Police, Jesse Stone; sparks fly, relationships change and a mystery is solved. The only unresolved question is whether we will meet Sunny and Jesse together again.

At #11 is The Wrong Hostage by Elizabeth Lowell: when her teenage son is held hostage by a Mexican drug kingpin, a divorced judge turns to a former lover for help.

At #12 is Baby Proof by Emily Giffin: after leaving her husband because he wants a child, a New York book editor begins to feel she may have made a mistake.

The Play Ground

The Play Ground

Ah, Chelsea in the summer. A perfect place to browse the shops, have a bite and see a wonderful play at the Purple Rose Theatre. Check out the current production: the Midwestern Premiere of Honus and Me, a play, adapted from the Dan Gutman novel by Steven Dietz, about a Little League player who finds the most valuable baseball card in the world while cleaning an elderly neighbor’s attic. Filled with baseball history, time travel and romance, this story goes to the 1909 World Series between Ty Cobb’s Detroit Tigers and Honus Wagner’s Pittsburgh Pirates and back again. June 22 - August 26, 2006, 734 433-7673

Learn the art of book design

Are you interested in learning a new hobby this summer? Do you love books? If you said "yes!" to both questions then check out our books on the art of book design and bookbinding! Consider taking a book or paper art class at Hollander's School of Book and Paper Arts in historic Kerrytown. Try making your own journal or scrapbook and filling it with summertime observations and thoughts, for a truly handcrafted summer.

Worries: Global Warming

Al Gore is concerned about global warming and has a movie and a book explaining the problem. The movie is at the Michigan Theater, the library has the book:
An Inconvenient Truth: the Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Al Gore

Three other recent excellent books on global warming:

Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change by Elizabeth Kolbert
The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim F. Flannery
The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations by Eugene Linden

When I got home from watching Al Gore's movie I turned on the TV. John Edwards was talking about poverty. He heads the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina and has an extensive speaking schedule. And it is only 2006.

Beach Reads 2006 (#3)

beachread3

His Majesty's Dragon* by Naomi Novik. Alternate history set in the Napoleonic Wars, flying dragons and sea battles make for a fantastic read.

The Last Spymaster by Gayle Lynds. Young maverick CIA agent matches wit with a legendary spymaster. Complex and engrossing.

Looking for Mr. Goodfrog by Laurie Graff Searching for one's prince in the rather muddled urban dating pond. Deadly hilarious.

Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde. An engaging encore from the author of Pay it Forward, on the many incarnation of love and the nature of family.

Make Him Look Good* by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. Six women and their relationships with one Latin heartthrob. Sexy fun.

The Penultimate Chance Saloon* by Simon Brett. Comedy of sexual manners for a mature single guy, with wit and compassion. For fans of Julie and Romeo and Philosophy Made Simple.

The Virgin of Small Plains* by Nancy Pickard. Love and deceit behind a 17-year-old unsolved murder in a small town. A stand-along from the award-winning author of the Jenny Cain and Marie Lightfoot series. A must for Cold Case fans.

The World to Come* by Dara Horn. Two siblings are tangled up with a stolen Chagall of suspect provenance, Jewish folklore and family history. Intelligent and imaginative.

* = Starred reviews

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