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summer reading

Apr 13 2015

I Challenge You!

by Jencey G

Are you up for a challenge? Are you tired of reading the same types of books all the time and interested in a change? A reading challenge is a great way to do that. There are no prizes, but there are opportunities for you to try something different. Who is ready for something new or different?

Reading challenges, such as Pop Sugar, have tasks to help you pick books that you the reader would not ordinarily read. Since summer reading is coming up soon, this challenge would be a great way to keep track of books for the summer reading program at your local library. This year, Pop Sugar came out with a reading challenge that offers many opportunities for you to grow as a reader.  The challenge offers up tasks such as:

What book can you read in one sitting?

What is the first book that came out by your favorite author?

Read a book that has a number in the title.

Read a nonfiction book.

The Library has all kinds of resources to help you pick a great read.  Take a look at our Shelf Help page, DCPL on Pinterest, or use our online resource Novelist. For other reading challenges to participate in visit Goodreads or Book Riot. See how one of these challenges might fit into your summer reading!  You never know where a good book might take you!

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Jun 26 2014

Under the Radar Summer Reads

by Jesse M

TS Spivet coverSearching for something good to read this summer? Look no further than this post! NPR’s “books guru” (librarian Nancy Pearl) has a list of under the radar reads that she thinks deserve more attention than they’re getting. While we don’t have every title she recommends available in our catalog, we do have several of them, including Astoria by Peter Stark, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, and The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove.

If that doesn’t satisfy your desire for book recommendations, check out another recent NPR summer reading list–All Aboard! A Reading List For Riding The Rails focuses on the journey, not the destination, featuring books involving transport by plane, train, car, boat, horse, balloon, rocketship, and even a giant peach!

Still need more reading lists? Take a look at Nancy Pearl’s trio of guides to what to read next: Book Lust, More Book Lust, and Book Lust To Go. Happy reading!

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Jul 12 2013

ShareReads: A View From the Peanut Gallery

by Veronica W

sharereads_intro_2013

For anyone who loves sci-fi and/or fantasy, the Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins was a treat. It held you enthralled until the very end and when the movie came out, it was greeted with cheers. Although I didn’t go to the movies to see it, I didn’t want to be number 328 in line for a library copy either. So, when I found it on sale, I grabbed a copy. Big mistake. The book was wonderful; the movie, in my opinion, not so much. Even on sale, I felt it cost me too much.

FredericaAs I read my way leisurely through the summer, I can’t help thinking sometimes “What a great movie this book or that book would be!”  I even select the cast for them. A friend and I lament continually about the injustice of Jane Austen’s many works being made into movies (which we love) while the fans of the prolific and wonderful Georgette Heyer must make do with rereading her books over and over again.  (I know, literary elitists will be appalled that we would compare the two). However for those who often find it tiring to read Austen but love the regency era, Heyer’s works are clever, witty, true to the times and darn good reading. I would recommend starting with Frederica.

motherrainwaterThis summer, in addition to rereading Heyer, I have been drawn to fiction about the Dust Bowl during the depression era and can recommend two very good books. Mother Road, by Dorothy Garlock, has everything you need for some lightweight, on-the-beach reading, as does Rainwater by Sandra Brown. They have drama, history, suspense, action and romance. Also, they would both make great movies.

Have you ever been disappointed in a book’s transition to the big screen? Is there a book you feel screams to be made into a movie? Let me know. I have Warner Bros. studio on speed dial.

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Jun 17 2013

ShareReads: Finishing the Hat

by Ken M

sharereads_intro_2013 If I could choose to be any Broadway composer of the 20th century, my choice would be Stephen Sondheim. While I love the music of Richard Rodgers, Fritz Loewe and any theater work Leonard Bernstein created for the stage, I’ve always felt that Sondheim’s art stands in a class by itself.

I recently reacquainted myself with his work by way of two recent books, Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made A Hat. I think these are the closest we’ll get to an autobiography or memoir from the man himself. In these books, he shares the wealth of knowledge gained in more than fifty years of writing for the stage. Finishing the Hat

Finishing the Hat takes you from the early show Saturday Night through 1981’s Merrily We Roll Along. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on West Side Story, which gives you the real dirt on who wrote what in the collaboration with Leonard Bernstein. I’m a big fan of Sweeney Todd, and I learned lots of new trivia from this chapter. I was surprised to find that Sondheim was always displeased by the last few lines of the Act 1 closing number, A Little Priest. He says he got it right, belatedly, for the movie version starring Johnny Depp. (By the way, if you only know that version, you really should see the television adaptation of the stage musical starring George Hearn and the marvelous, original Mrs. Lovett, Angela Landsbury.)

Look, I Made A Hat contains some of the shows I got to know first, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods. I’ve played for high school productions of the latter twice, so I was fascinated to learn that cast input solved a particular problem for Lapine and Sondheim. I won’t tell you what that was – you should read this to find out. You also get the full explanation of the creation of his most recent work, last named Road Show. This one had a particularly difficult evolution, and he effectively guides you through the complicated maze of what stayed, what went, and what was completely rewritten. In fact, both books contain lots of cut lyrics, observations and musings, as well as reproductions of neat documents like handwritten drafts with lots of discarded ideas. You’ll also learn why rhyme and precision are so important to him.

While the words are wonderful, his music is equally exquisite. Hearing makes the reading even more fun, and you can enjoy cast and tribute albums from the DCPL collection to enhance your reading. I do hope you spend a little time with Sondheim this summer, and I really must go now. I have a meat pie in the oven…

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May 31 2013

ShareReads: Groundbreaking Reads

by ShareReads

Adult Summer Reading-Groundbreaking ReadsThe DeKalb County Public Library kicks off its 6th Annual Summer Reading for Adults program beginning May 25 and ending July 31, 2013. This year’s theme is Groundbreaking Reads. Hold up before you panic and think this is going to be a labor intensive task of critiquing books and a writing mini-dissertation. To the contrary, it’s as easy as 1, 2, and 3. Truly, just record three book titles or attend a branch book discussion or read/comment on our weekly ShareReads blog post (posted every Friday right here on DCPLive) or any combination of the three and be registered to win gift certificates from area DeKalb restaurants and a gift bag full of good books and goodies. Allof these activities make you eligible to enter into the reading program. I realize that summer is a time of travel, fun with family, gardening and for some just plain ol’ leisure. Therefore, if reading isn’t your thing ?feel free to listen to an audiobook or attend and listen to an interesting book discussion being held at one of our library branches. Don’t delay. Register online or at your closest branch and participate in our 6th Annual Summer Reading for Adults reading program.

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Jul 13 2012

ShareReads: Summer Reading Times Two

by Patricia D

ShareReads intro

My summer reading has taken a two-pronged approach.  Not only am I reading for myself (some cookbooks, Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody books, Arabella by Georgette Heyer, The President’s Club: Inside the Worlds Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and My Life in France by Julia Child ) but I am reading with Junior.  We’ve worked our way through The Mouse and the MotorcycleThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and a huge stack of picture books.  Favorites out of that pile have been Mr. Pusskins, who can give Rotten Ralph a run for his money in the horrible department, the Pete the Cat books with wonderful illustrations by James Dean and favorite since toddler-hood Lyle the Crocodile.  Most importantly though, Junior has been reading to me, taking full advantage of any reader we can lay our hands on, as well as every bus, street sign and inappropriate billboard we pass.

Reading has been a hard-won skill for her and the only way I know to keep that skill sharp and improve on it is constant practice, something that is harder to achieve during the summer.   She has latched on to one reader in particular that was a hand-me-down from her cousin.  In all honesty, I am not enjoying repeated readings of the adventures of Stan, Dan and Lee at the pool.  Yes, there are plenty of wonderful readers out there but she prefers Stan and his ilk over Mr. & Mrs. Green, Mr. Putter and Tabby  and  Little Bear.  While I still make some selections for her, she is now insisting on her own choices when she is doing the reading.  I know she reads better when it’s something she wants to read, and that repetition in reading builds both comfort and confidence.  So, I listen while she reads the same books (there are others also not to my literary tastes) over and over.  This is what is called, in the world of parenting, a sacrifice. Yes, the book is meh but the payoffs?  The sound of my child’s voice as she works her way through a book with only 64 words and the obvious thrill she gets from conquering something that looked impossible last winter.  I imagine it will be pretty easy to forget the not so exciting books she loves this summer, but I will cherish the moments she’s cuddled next to me, frowning over how to sound out the word “aw,” while the miracle of learning to read becomes ordinary.

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Jul 11 2012

Hit the beach…reading!

by Dea Anne M

I’m heading for the Outer Banks at the end of the week and I’m excited—not only by the prospect of some down-time at the ocean, but also by the promise of hours of uninterrupted time to read. When I worked as a bookseller, the publisher reps would invariably try to sell certain titles as “the perfect beach read.” Actually, “beach reading” is a fairly broad category. It’s usually a book that goes down easy but it can be any author from Sophie Kinsella to Clive Cussler to Michael Chabon. Some people prefer non-fiction and there are certainly some beach worthy titles out there (Under the Banner of Heaven and The Tipping Point are two that come immediately to my mind) but for my beach reading it’s fiction all the way. I’m normally an enthusiastic reader of non-fiction but somehow it just doesn’t hold my interest near the waves as a well as a work of writing that carries me away to a different time and place. My co-worker and car pool buddy, Fran, describes a similar phenomenon. She is reading Agatha Christie but says that she is only able to read her when she’s away from home.

For this trip, I will, as usual, be overpacking books but I figure that it’s better to have too many than not enough. That sad situation actually occurred one year and I was forced to run to the grocery store in Gulf Shores AL to buy an emergency paperback. It turned out to be Dark Debts by Karen Hall, an excellent horror novel set in and around Atlanta that scared me silly (for me, a good thing) and proved impossible to put down. This time around, I’ll be steeping myself in Regency England as I re-read some of my favorite Jane Austen, specifically Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. Also coming along will be Georgette Heyer’s Frederica and The Grand Sophy. I’m excited as well about a new thriller writer I discovered recently, Cornelia Read, and I’ll be taking along her novels A Field of Darkness and The Invisible Boy. I also hope to take along The Paris Wife by Paula McClain, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, and I may re-read Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.

Do you need some ideas for your vacation reading?

For “brainy” beach reads check out this list.  If Chicklit is your thing then take a look at this.

This year, GoodReads is asking readers to cast their votes for top beach reads, and back in 2009 NPR asked readers and their own Books Board to nominate the 200 “best beach books ever”. You can check the lists out here and here and get inspiration for great new reading or books you’ve read before that you can enjoy rediscovering.

What are some of your favorite beach/vacation reads?

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May 23 2012

Dream Big—READ!

by Nancy M

I know I am not alone when I say I cannot believe this school year is over already! But what a year it was and another summer is upon us—so gather up your kids and let’s make it a great one! This could be the summer your child meets renowned author Carmen Deedy, or is inspired by the storytelling skills of Barry Stewart Mann. This could be the summer you encourage your child’s love of snakes, while your own reptilian fears manifest in new and disturbing ways. Or maybe, just maybe, this is the summer where your child wins the Path2College sweepstakes, over $5,000 that goes towards his or her future college education.  One thing is for sure, we have worked hard to make this the best summer yet and with so many fun, free and educational programs being offered, DeKalb County Public Library is the place to be!

This summer’s Vacation Reading Program, Dream Big—READ! begins on Saturday, May 26 and continues through July 31. This reading incentive program is a great way to keep kids reading through the summer. Sign up online or at any DeKalb County Public Library branch. The teen program, Own the Night, is for teens ages 13-17 years old. Visit the teen page for more information. And who says kids have all the fun? DCPL is offering an adult reading program, Between the Covers, from May 29-September 4. You can pick up the guidelines at any of our branches, or sign up online.

We will be kicking off the summer at the Tucker, Stonecrest and Decatur branches with a magic show by Ken Scott as well as crafts and other activities fun for the whole family. A list of dates and times can be found here.

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Jul 23 2010

ShareReads: A Vote for Arthur and George

by ShareReads

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

With an election only a few days behind us, I’m ready for another. ShareReads is the new ballot box, and I’m casting a public vote for Arthur and George by Julian Barnes as the best novel I’ve read in the last year and a half (maybe even longer).

It’s a wonderful work of historical fiction, based on real events which occurred in Britain in the late Victorian area. Arthur and George grow up completely apart, not knowing each other at all, living in different environments. Then, their circumstances are drastically altered, and ultimately the two meet. The reader is slowly and expertly drawn into a mystery which addresses all sorts of complex life issues: belief (or the lack of it) and its changing nature, honor, identity, friendship, personal morals, ambition, family relationships, and the passage of time. Read this book, and I guarantee you’ll discover even more. It’s deep, rich, resonant, and subtle all at the same time.

A previous ShareReads post raised the question of reader preference for character driven vs. plot driven novels. I’m happy to tell you that this book scores off the chart on both counts. The characters are well developed, vivid and compelling, and the plot never slackens. Another selling point: for those who love short chapters, you’ve got ‘em, and for those who love long chapters, ditto.  Furthermore, while there’s suspense and drama, the reader is not shortchanged on humor along the way.

Confession time: Arthur and George has kicked me out of a real reading slump. For months I’ve rarely gotten past the first 50 pages of most novels I’ve tried. Pardon me for rhapsodizing a little here, but this book made me realize all over again the sheer power of reading, and not only in the sense of inhabiting the thoughts and feelings of characters and being swept away by a narrative. It reminded me of why I read because it shook me up, making me think about those life issues I mentioned earlier and engaging me thoroughly while doing it. It has been the experience I hope for in a book, but rarely encounter.

Arthur and George also a perfect book club book, as several of our library book clubs have or soon will discover. I read it on the thoughtful recommendation of a trusted friend to whom I’m very grateful. Consider me a friend who’d like to recommend it to you, whether you read it alone or with a group of friends.

Is there a book you’d consider to be the best you’ve read so far this summer? Conversely, have you found one which you’d warn readers to miss by a country mile? Let’s kick up some ShareReads dust out there! What are you reading?

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Jul 9 2010

ShareReads: Find a New Favorite!

by ShareReads

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

Many of us have had the experience of reading a book that, long after it is over, we can’t seem to shake. The characters stick with us, the surprising plot twist at the end keeps popping up in our mind, the beauty of the writing compels us to seek out something of equal quality. I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated from the French by Alison Anderson for my monthly book club earlier in the spring. There are always “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” members of the group for each book we read but this was the first—and possibly only—unanimous “thumbs up” title we’ve had since I joined. The interesting and somewhat unique quality (for a modern novel in any case) is that not much seems to happen in terms of plot, but to me, that was perfectly fine. The novel takes place in Paris, and centers around two main characters, Renee and Paloma. Renee is a middle-aged concierge of an upper-class apartment building who wears the façade of a frumpy, vacuous, stereotypical working-class grunt in order to camouflage her true identity: a deep thinker, and a lover of Russian literature, Japanese cinema, and philosophy. Paloma, a 12-year old who lives in her building, is more than precocious, with astute, adult observations about herself and those around her. Her dissatisfaction with her world has led her to the decision to commit suicide when she turns 13, and her side of the story is told in the form of a journal in which she records her profound thoughts for posterity. When a new and mysterious resident moves into the building, the characters’ lives begin to more closely intersect as they gradually reveal their true selves to each other.

These characters, while perhaps unbelievable, are so rich and vivid (thanks to truly poetic prose) that I wanted this book to go on and on so that I could continue getting to know them. The last book to affect me the way this one has was The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, and I think a large part of its appeal is its engaging and charming characters (also a child and an adult, an elderly man in this case) and a tendency on the part of the writer to prefer depth as opposed to breadth. I wholeheartedly recommend both, as well as Barbery’s first book, Gourmet Rhapsody.

In general, do you find that a plot-driven book catches and holds your interest more than one that is character-driven? I would have placed myself in the first category until I reflected on those books that have most impacted me; almost all of the books that I would rate 10 of 10 focus much more on characters than plot.

Are there characters that have stuck with you, the way that Renee and Paloma have done for me? What are qualities that make a character memorable or compelling?

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