April 2008 Archives

Charles Bukowski - Contemporary Novelist and Poet

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Post Office by Charles Bukowski

The first novel by "Beat" poet Bukowski is an excellent introduction to the writings of this acclaimed and original poet/novelist. Though decidedly harsh in terms of language and subject matter, Bukowski opens a window into his life as a mail sorter/carrier in a way only a writer of exceptional talent and vision can. Published in 1971, this novel is a true contemporary classic. Check catalog for availability.


For a good starting point in sampling the poetry of Bukowski try:

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The People Look Like Flowers at Last: New Poems by Charles Bukowski

This posthumously published collection of poetry is the 5th from Bukowski since his death in 1994. Using poetry to explain his philosophy on life, this fine collection will enlighten the reader to the inner workings of Bukowski's mind through his alter-ego character Chinaski. Poems on topics such as gambling, women, and booze are the norm from this outstanding poet. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan @ Central

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Handsome wastrel and dandy Sebastian Horsley has written an improbably hilarious memoir of alcoholism, drug addiction, and recovery. Rich, well-connected and always impeccably dressed, Horsley willfully degrades himself in every imaginable way. And yet he is so witty and likeable you gladly go along for the ride. Not for the squeamish (he undergoes an actual crucifiction in the Philippines at one point), but fans of Oscar Wilde will be delighted. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Mary @ Forest Home

Queens & Seamstresses

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The Queen's Handmaiden by Jennifer Ashley, 2007

The narrator of this story, seamstress Eloise, becomes Princess Elizabeth's favorite lady-in-waiting. She recounts her own story as well as Elizabeth's from childhood to the throne. Check catalog for availability.

I found this book a bit dull and slow until the end when the action, danger and romance picked-up. I would recommend the following books instead.


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The Queen's Fool: A Novel by Philippa Gregory, 2004

The narrator of this story, the court's fool and secretly Jewish, Hannah Green, recounts the turbulent and dangerous times of Queen Mary and later Queen Elizabeth. Gregory offers more depth in her characters, an intricate plot and a bit of magic to these historic times. Check catalog for availability.

Gregory's style and attention to detail make for an enthralling read.


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The Innocent: A Novel by Posie Graeme-Evans, 2004

The narrator and main character of this story, Anne de Bohun recounts her own tale as an herbal healer, business woman and mistress to King Edward IV. Anne finds numerous enemies and almost insurmountable dangers everywhere she goes. The action is nonstop, but unwanted by Anne. First book in a trilogy. Check catalog for availability.

Although I found some of Anne's adventures to be unbelievable, the action kept me quickly reading until I completed book three.

- Submitted by Paula @ MPL Central

Stealing the General

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Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor by Russell S. Bonds
This story is exciting enough to have inspired two motion pictures, Buster Keaton’s classic 1927 silent film “The General,” and the 1956 Walt Disney movie “The Great Locomotive Chase,” starring Fess Parker. A small group of Union soldiers, under the leadership of spy James J. Andrews, stole a Confederate locomotive in Georgia with the intention of wrecking the Western and Atlantic Railroad from Atlanta to Chattanooga. The General’s conductor, William A. Fuller, chased after his stolen train – and caught it. Author Russell Bonds pursues the truth behind this legendary story and the myths it has inspired.

Check catalog for availability

- Submitted by Richard @ Central

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

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Cornelia, Teo and Clare were introduced in de los Santos' debut novel, Love Walked In, when they were living in the heart of New York City. This novel finds them ready to leave urban life behind as they move to suburban Philadelphia. Among a pack of hypercritical neighbors, led by Piper Pruitt, Cornelia experiences a rough time. She didn’t anticipate the transition to suburban life being this tough; what to do but search for comfort in a dish of Pasta Puttanesca? She finds what she hopes are friends in clever waitress Lake and her exceptionally bright son Dev.

Piper has her own struggles; her best friend Elizabeth is struggling with cancer. In spending all her time and energy caring for her she alienates her husband, Kyle, and children. The characters lives all become entwined and as they learn to accept and love one another you too, may find yourself making a space for them in your heart. Check catalog for availability.

This story is so well written and individually compelling that you shouldn’t hesitate to jump right in without reading Love Walked In.

- Submitted by Jacki

A Man on the Moon

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A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin
If you have an interest in how we got to the moon, this book is for you. These fascinating personal accounts of every aspect of the space program will make you feel as if you were right there for that "one small step"...

Check catalog for availability


- Submitted by Alison @ MPL Central

Autism Awareness Month Selections

A 2007 Centers for Disease Control report found that 1 in 150 children in America today have an autism spectrum disorder. The Autism Society of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans and their families are now affected. As such, more and more books on the subject are being written each day. Here are a few standouts from our shelves:


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Not Even Wrong: Adventures In Autism by Paul Collins, 2004

Author Paul Collins’ son, Morgan, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. In Not Even Wrong, Collins intersperses a historical look at autism with his family’s personal experience. An informative and engaging read that serves as a good introduction to the subject. Check catalog for availability


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Born On A Blue Day: Inside The Extraordinary Mind Of An Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet, 2007

Author Tammet has savant-like powers on the order of Rain Man. Especially when it comes to his to aptitude for memorizing numbers and language. He sets a record by remembering and reciting the mathematical constant Pi to 22514 places. He later learns Icelandic (considered by many to be one of the world's most difficult languages) in one week. At the same time he often struggles with what for most of us are considered simple social interactions. In this memoir, Tammet shares the workings of his mind and details his path to a successful self-sufficient life. Check catalog for availability


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Look Me In The Eye: My Life With Asperger’s by John Elder Robison, 2007

John Elder Robinson was rather recently diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. It helped him put his life in perspective and spurred by his brother and acclaimed author, Augusten Burroughs, to write this book. With an innate facility for mechanical and electrical design, Robinson worked as a special effects guru for the rock group KISS, a toy designer for Milton Bradley and now owns and operates a repair shop for high-end automobiles. But along the way he struggled through an odd upbringing and living with an undiagnosed disease. Check catalog for availability


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The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon, 2003

A comical and touching fictional account of a 15-year-old autistic named Christopher John Francis Boone and his attempt to solve a crime. One of those books that you’ll want to read in a single sitting – especially as Christopher ventures out into the city alone (aside from his pet rat that is) and suspense builds along the way. Author Haddon takes from his past experience working with autistic youth and creates a likeable and memorable character in Christopher. Check catalog for availability


- Submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

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A member of a species that takes over the minds of human bodies, Wanderer is unable to disregard her host's love for a man in hiding, a situation that forces both possessor and host to become unwilling allies. A first adult novel by the author of the Twilight series. Check catalog for availability.

A couple of friends kept telling me to read Twilight, but I was skeptical because I don't read 'vampire books.' But, they wore me down and I inhaled the first book in less than 48 hours. Now, I look forward to every addition to the series, the movie, and anything else Ms. Meyers has for me to read. The Host is also not a book I would typically expect to enjoy, but she has an uncanny way of making me want to know her characters and everything that happens to them in their lives. If you've read Stephenie Meyer, please share your comments. How did you hear about her? Would you recommend any other authors like her?

- Submitted by Jacki

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Welcome to the new READ @ MPL blog.

Beginning April 14, 2008, this blog will be updated multiple times per week with reading recommendations from MPL staff.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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