By Shaileen B.
Every day we're excited to receive book reviews from participants in our adult summer reading program, “Exercise Your Mind. Read!” Here is a sampling:
Constance A. (Canton Branch) on Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: This is one of those "can't put down" books. Even though it is fiction, it is heavily based on a time in American history when orphans were sent via train to find new homes. Fascinating!
Abigail A. (Central Library) on Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley: Circus Mirandus gave me everything I hope for in a story: characters to care about, relationships to root for, mystery, magic, animals, comedy, tragedy, love and hope. It's beautiful. As for the story itself, it has the spirit of The Story of Doctor Doolittle, the heart of Secondhand Lions, the mystery of The Bad Beginning, the fun of Lionboy, and the magic of The Polar Express. What's more, each chapter begins with an illustration, and they are on point (I only wish I could see them in color). I loved every page.
Lowell L. (Central Library) on Touching the Wild: Living with the Mule Deer of Deadman Gulch by Joe Hutto: Joe Hutto has written an awe-inspiring and a frightening book about mule deer. What is inspiring is his commitment to understanding mule deer by living amongst them for seven years and his account of what he has learned about them. What truly remarkable animals are mule deer. What is frightening is the destruction of mule deer habitat by humans and how that destruction has put the species in danger of extinction.
Heather T. (Central Library) on What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera: ...WOW. What a story. The author dared to take an act so taboo and write it from the perspective of the perpetrator. By the time the main character has done her horrible deed, I was left feeling remorse not as much for the harmed but for the one who did the harm. The harm done unto her was much more than imaginable and therefore left me wondering how the author could write of such things without enduring those horrors herself. Munaweera has an extraordinary talent. Her story will change your worldview.
John C. (Govans Branch) on Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen: Well-crafted novel of the life of a small-town girl in Pennsylvania farm country that is slated for flooding by the state water authority. Overflowing with interesting characters and empathy for all.
Mickie G. (Govans Branch) on Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett: The host, and creator, of NPR's Speaking of Faith program speaks of her engagement with faith. Not surprisingly for an interviewer, Tippett includes long quotes from those who have influenced her from monks to theologians to scientists, from Christians to Buddhists to Muslims to agnostics and atheists--Tippett takes grace from wherever she finds it.
Melina T. (Govans Branch) on Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: Written as a letter to his son, this is an important book for all people to read. It's a difficult read but sheds light on the injustices that African-American people, especially men, have had to deal with and continue to struggle with daily. He does not provide lots of answers on how to deal with a society that is historically unequal but reminds his son about history and the continuing struggle and not to buy into a dream that was created by those who invented "whiteness" for their own gains and advantages.
Mikell W. (Govans Branch) on Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore: ...Moore guides us to rediscover the central place of images in our lives. Through historical explanations and strikingly beautiful color plates, he guides us to care, or therapy, for our souls. Fine arts, mythology, religion, dreams and poets are suggested vehicles. In a world filled with doom and gloom, Moore's book provides refreshing alternatives that truly do soothe the soul.
Leah S. (Hampden Branch) on The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan: I started reading this book on recommendation from one of my middle-school students who strongly identifies with the dyslexic and ADHD main character. A great book for kids and adults alike!
Shontell J. (Herring Run Branch) on The Prada Plan by Ashley Antoinette: Disaya was money-hungry and used her friends to get what she wanted and in the end her demons came for her. Life lessons and the company you keep came into play in this book. Good read and food for thought.
Joni D. (Light Street Branch) on An Abbreviated Life by Ariel Leve: Whether you believe all, some, or none of this memoir, it is a heartbreaking story of a young girl and her famous-in-NYC-literary-circles-yet-mentally-ill mother in the mid-70s. Although the telling is disjointed, jumping from young childhood to the author's 20s and 30s and today, it is not distracting as the story weaves together confusion, pain, awareness, fear, terror, resilience, and bravery. With a father who lives on the other side of the world, the author is left to figure out how to survive with a mother who is unaware of her inability to be a parent. Others provide a needed support and normalcy--but all eventually leave her on her own. As an adult, Leve reaches for a healthy life which involves something she feels she cannot but must do.
Joe P. (Light Street Branch) on Dark Hollow by John Connolly: Travel with "Bird" to the wilderness and mean streets and towns of Maine as he struggles with his own and also real demons in a timeless 'noir' thrill ride.
LizNoel D. (Mobile Library Services) on Bully Nation by Susan Eva Porter: This book is essential reading for all parents, teachers, counselors--anyone who works with or knows children. We are approaching the bully "epidemic" all wrong, and we are making it worse for our kids and not better. Porter not only explains what we are doing wrong as a society, but she gives ideas on how we can actually help our children learn how to interact with others appropriately.
Devon R. (Patterson Park Branch) on The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag: A magical story, perfect for those who love powerful females. A fictional story full of nonfiction women.
Katherine L. (Reisterstown Road Branch) on Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall: It is an amazing book. I love how the author describes the Taraumara's ability to run, where this ability comes from in this native community, how they every day improve it, and how adventurous they are. It made me wish to run.
Leslie J. (Roland Park Branch) on Auggie and Me by R. J. Palacio: Fantastic book! Loved the way the author "filled" in the details and thinking of some of the "quiet" characters in Wonder. A wonderful read for all ages.
Kim W. (Southeast Anchor Library) on I Almost Forgot about You by Terry McMillan: Terry's characters make you feel at home. When reading her books you truly get INTO her story. You feel like the main character, and you are friends with her friends, and you know them and really feel them...
Suzanne S. (Waverly Branch) on Essential Manners for Men by Peter Post: I read this book as a mother of three boys to gain a better understanding of appropriate etiquette for men. As a woman, I know when a gentleman's manners get my attention, but I wanted a basic resource that explained what the basic guidelines for men are and to support me in teaching my boys good manners. This book satisfied that need. It's not an exhaustive resource (nor does it attempt to be as it explains in the beginning), but it's a direct, quick and helpful read.
For a chance to win fabulous prizes, submit an entry to the Adult Summer Reading Program here. Hurry! The program ends August 10.