May 2009 Archives

Still Alice by Lisa Genova


This is a scary book. Not Stephen King scary, but for anyone who has ever forgotten where they put something, and then found it later in a bizarre location, or who has ever felt that for some reason their brain is not fully engaged or operating properly, they will find this book disturbing from the get-go. Still Alice tells the story of Alice, a woman who has just turned 50 and been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The story is told from Alice’s viewpoint throughout, and takes you on a rare journey into what it is like from the diseased person’s perspective as her brain slowly but surely loses the memories that have been built over 50 years, much like diodes dying out one by one on an electronics game. The most disturbing part of this book is her realization of what is occurring. Like I said, it’s scary! The book also brings to the surface the frustrating quest for medications to control and slow down the process, and the lack of support available for those who are suffering. This is Lisa Genova’s first book, and I hope there will be more from her. Anyone who enjoys reading Wally Lamb will enjoy Still Alice. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Mary S. @ MPL Central


Evan Wright was a Rolling Stone reporter embedded with twenty-three Marines in a platoon of the First Reconnaissance Battalion who were sent ahead of most of the U.S. forces to draw the fire of Saddam Hussein’s army and tie down some of his forces at the start of the invasion. Meanwhile the bulk of the U.S. Army, with their massive fire-power, took a different route toward Bagdad. The lightly armored Marines in “First Recon” (some of their patched-together humvees lacked doors or a roof) raced through dangerous cities and along deserted roads where it was often impossible to separate the civilians from the enemy combatants. Their gung-ho enthusiasm for the war is tempered by the death and destruction they inadvertently bring down upon the innocent, and their quirky – and sometime incompetent – commanders test their commitment to military discipline. Even at the beginning of the war with Iraq, there were signs of the future troubles that poor planning and poor equipment would inflict upon our men and women serving in Iraq. An HBO miniseries based on this book is also available.

Check catalog availability

Submitted by Richard


Life in rural Wisconsin, or anywhere else for that matter, has rarely been chronicled as thoughtfully and honestly as by Michael Perry. After writing about his experiences as a volunteer firefighter and resident of New Auburn, Wisconsin in Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time and Truck: A Love Story, this time out Perry writes about building a chicken coop. Or does he? This book is a deeply enriching memoir of love, devotion, responsibility, dedication, friendship and loss. Perry’s voice as a writer is reminiscent of two long time neighbors sharing a glass of lemonade across a picnic table while discussing the trials of life and family over the past year. He unabashedly shares his love for his wife, both his daughters and the rest of his friends and family. He’s also fond of a few pigs and chickens! But this is a memoir of love and about one man’s ability to both realize it and share it. We, as readers, are the better for it.

Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Dan

Hold Love Strong by Matthew Aaron Goodman


This glance at survival in the projects as a family fights with the demons of incarceration, drug addiction and death is one of the most powerful coming-of-age stories I’ve read.

Abraham is born on the bathroom floor of his grandmother’s apartment to a 13 year old girl in the Ever Park project. As he grows older, he dreams of living like the Huxtables, with a father like Bill Cosby. But, his reality is a mother turned crack addict and an uncle sent to prison. His grandmother does everything she can to keep the family together, but when Abraham’s cousin Donnel also goes to prison he’s ready to give up.

His girlfriend, Kaya, is determined to go to college and get out of the projects, but until Abraham is contacted by a recruiter from Brandeis he doesn’t think that possibility is open to him. Hoping for a scholarship, he’s encouraged and stays in school, successfully graduating. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

American Elf by James Kochalka


American Elf: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka

Graphic novelist, children's book author and minor rock star James Kochalka certainly wears his heart on his sleeve - a sleeve that has been on constant display since 1998 in the form of his online daily comic strip, American Elf. Strung together in book format (volume 3 just hit our shelves), the strip takes on epic proportions, giving us more than just a glimpse, and an unflinching one at that, into Kochalka's life as artist, husband, father and fun-loving goofball. At times crude, at times touching, and endlessly entertaining. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central

“The James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating, preserving and nurturing America’s culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence.” The James Beard Foundation Awards for the best cookbooks published in 2008 were announced recently. For a complete list of winners see the James Beard Foundation website.

The following cookbook winners are all available from Milwaukee Public Library’s extensive cookbook collection:

Cookbook of the Year


Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan. Check catalog for availability.

Baking and Dessert


Bakewise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking by Shirley O. Corriher. Check catalog for availability.



Winewise: Your Complete Guide to Understanding, Selecting and Enjoying Wine by Steven Kolpan, Brian H. Smith, Michael A. Weiss, The Culinary Institute of America. Check catalog for availability.

American Cooking


Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook by Martha Hall Foose. Check catalog for availability.

Cooking from a Professional Point of View


Alinea by Grant Achatz. Check catalog for availability.

General Cooking


How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition) by Mark Bittman. Check catalog for availability.

Reference and Scholarship


The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page, Andrew Dornenburg. Check catalog for availability.

Healthy Focus


The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger. Check catalog for availability.

Writing and Literature


In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Check catalog for availability.

- Submitted by Rebecca @ MPL Central

In Theaters Now--But Read the Book First!


The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright; starring Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., and Catherine Keener is based on the book by Steve Lopez. It is a biographical drama about real-life musical prodigy Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, who dropped out of Julliard after developing schizophrenia and became a homeless musician on the streets of Los Angeles. Journalist Steve Lopez discovers the former classical music prodigy, playing his violin on the streets. As Lopez endeavors to help the homeless man find his way back, a unique friendship is formed, one that transforms both their lives. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

It’s been a while since I read anything by Elizabeth Berg, in fact, not since Open House. And I’m not sure why, because once again as I started reading Home Safe I was struck by how easy she is to read, and how easy she is to relate to. In this book, the lead character, Helen, finds her life turned upside down when her husband dies suddenly. We catch up with Helen eight months after his death, and she appears to be moving along with her grief as would be expected. But within a few pages you find that Helen is not only unaccustomed to being on her own, but also somewhat inept. She has a good relationship with her daughter, although she has a tendency to want to control her life. And of course, there is the mystery of what her husband did with approximately $850,000 from their retirement account! This is an easy read that holds your attention and provides pure literary enjoyment. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Mary S. at MPL Central

Holy Moly: A Novel by Ben Rehder


Good satire has to be based on some semblance of fact for it to work and this wickedly twisted mystery scathingly satirizes the televangalism industry.

When backhoe operator Hollis Farley is found dead from an arrow injury on a construction site owned by an expanding televangist organization, Blanco County Game Warden John Marlin is assigned the case. In the fine tradition of Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey, Rehder creates a slapstick world of deceit, violence and foolishness.

If you're looking for a fun read that spoofs and skewers religion, academia and archaelogy, look no further than this page turner. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Dan @ Central

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick


If you’d like a book to keep you up past your bedtime, look no further. Set in rural Wisconsin during an unforgiving winter in the early 1900’s, we meet Ralph Truit, patriarch of the town which bears his name. What he has is money and power. What he craves is a wife, a reliable wife, and he advertises for one in the local newspaper. His ad is answered by Catherine Land, who is not the person she purports to be. Most telling quotes; “She knew a good deal more about what was to happen than he did,” and “She knew the end of the story.” You, too, will want to find out what Catherine knows and in doing so will be mesmerized by Mr. Goolrick’s use of language, and a plot with several twists that I won't give away here. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien


Wesley the Owl is the story of a barn owl who, at four days old, is adopted by a biologist from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) due to nerve damage in one wing that would prevent him from being able to survive in the wild. Thus begins an amazing relationship between the biologist and the owl. Because the owl is adopted before it has opened its eyes, the scientists at Caltech inform the biologist (Stacey) that the owl will imprint on her, regarding her as its mother and taking its cues to behavior largely from her. While some of his wild instincts are a natural part of him, things which would normally seem second nature, need to be taught to Wesley, or guided, by Stacey, including flying and eating mice. This is a fun and delightful read that had me smiling or laughing on almost every page. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Mary S. at Central

Ashes by Kenzo Kitakata


Ashes by Kenzo Kitakata (c2003)

Kenzo Kitakata ranks among Japan's most popular and prolific contemporary authors and his work has been the recipient of numerous literary awards. In Ashes, what many consider to be his masterpeice, Kitakata explores the inner world of the yakuza (i.e. the Japanese mob), focusing on a middle-aged, mid-career member named Tanaka. Tanaka is a complex man - muttering, brooding and violent, yet at the same time intensely meditative and reflective. The text is sparse to the point of being at times poetic but simmers along enticingly, hitting a full on boil on key occassions.

Highly recommended - especially to fans of hardboiled fiction. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central




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This page is an archive of entries from May 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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