Thursday, January 15, 2015

What We're Reading

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

One of the joys I get from listening to audiobooks, versus reading a print book, is hearing the languages and accents of other cultures. However, I picked up Graeme Simsion’s “The Rosie Project” only because I kept hearing about it. I was very happy when the lilting tones of an Australian man came out of my car speakers, and as the story moved along, the man became much quirkier (and funnier) by the minute.

Don Tillman is a genetics professor in Australia, and he is a thoughtful, socially awkward perfectionist. We begin to see that Don may be bordering on autistic, without admitting it. He wants to find the perfect wife, yet going on dates usually ends in disaster, and he devises a 16-page, multi-question survey for women to take to find his perfect wife. The criteria are nearly impossible to meet (no smoking, no late arrivers, must have high talent for ice-cream tasting, etc.), and the methods Don uses to narrow his candidates are hilarious (the accent of audiobook narrator Dan O’Grady helps too)!  Don’s best friend, also a professor, tries to help by basically ignoring Don’s Wife Project Survey and setting him up with women, including Rosie. Rosie is a gorgeous redhead who Don is attracted to but she fails almost every category of the Wife Project. They do have a reasonable conversation and he, in his endearing way, gets interested in helping with what he calls the Father Project. Rosie is not sure who her dad is, and her mother has died, and so the unlikely pair of Don and Rosie begin an adventure to scientifically prove who the man is.

“The Rosie Project” is a delightful romantic comedy, and the sequel (which Simsion says he didn’t intend to write, until his great debut success) “The Rosie Effect” has just been released, so once you finish Don and Rosie's first adventures, get on the wait-list for part 2. I highly recommend Rosie for a good laugh.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best of the Year

The end of the year always brings out the “best” lists, and books are no different. Reviewers from major magazines and newspapers, from “The New York Times” to “Entertainment Weekly” to “Publishers Weekly,” chime in with their favorites and “bests” in the literary world. Harrison Memorial Library has checked its list of patrons’ favorites too, and the lists look quite different!

Topping out the most circulated books in Carmel are “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (Pulitzer Prize winner), “The Gods of Guilt” by Michael Connelly and “The Heist” by Janet Evanovich, mainstream best-sellers all. In fact, there is no non-fiction on Carmel’s list until #46, “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel Brown.

Looking at the “experts’ bests” list for 2014 fiction, we find “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr (on the library’s list too, but not until #49), "Euphoria" by Lily King, "Redeployment" by Phil Klay (winner of the National Book Award), and "Station Eleven" by Emily Mandel. Best reviewed non-fiction includes "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant" by Roz Chast (actually a graphic novel), "Lives in Ruins" by Marilyn Johnson, and "Capital in the 21st Century" by Thomas Piketty.

More Carmel readers' favorites: "Top Secret 21," "The Target," "Personal," "Sycamore Row," "The Collector," "Act of War," and "Carnal Curiosity."

The critics' top fiction? "The Bone Clocks," "Lila," "The Paying Guests," "The Blazing World," "A Brief History of Seven Killings," and "Boy Snow Bird." We have all of these in the library so if you want to see what reviewers have been reading, just ask us! If we're missing anything, please suggest it!

By the way, are you a movie fan or audiobook lover? The most popular DVDs in Carmel Library this year include three seasons of "Downton Abbey," plus "Blue Jasmine" and "American Hustle." The most checked-out audiobooks (on CD) were "Shantaram," "The Boys in the Boat," "The Goldfinch," "Gone Girl" and "How the Light Gets In."


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What we're reading...

In Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, author David Sedaris displays his usual wit, sharing humorous and painful anecdotes about such divergent topics as the medical world, international travel and its inherent difficulties, school athletics, family, bad parenting, and insect collecting. Like many comedians, some (perhaps most) of the author’s humor comes from pain. No topic is off limits; some of Sedaris’ essays are not for the faint of heart. Available from Harrison Memorial Library in the following formats/locations: NonFiction, Large Print, E-Audiobook (online through Overdrive), and Electronic Book Reader (Nook).

Friday, December 12, 2014

What we're reading....

I’m plugging away at The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and What They Reveal about Being Human. Author Noah Strycker shares his lifelong fascination—some might say obsession--with our avian cousins, in a way that will make you alternately say, “Wow!,” or “I always suspected that.” How do pigeons find their way around? Experts still disagree, but there seems to be a combination of factors, including but not limited to having a sense of the Earth’s magnetic field, as well as hearing and smell. Did you know that pigeons have a better sense of smell in their right nostril than their left, whereas with humans it tends to be the other way around? What about vultures? Can they smell dead stuff, or do they rely more on sight? People as brilliant as Darwin and Audubon pondered the same question and devised sometimes crude experiments to try and come up with an answer.

We sometimes take these ever-present creatures for granted, yet they are complex, highly evolved beings that we are still striving to understand. The Thing with Feathers can provide you with some of this knowledge and tell you a great deal about where we we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going in our understanding of birds.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What we're reading....

I just finished Dave Egger's The Circle.  I didn't know what it was about when I picked it up, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it grapples with the way the internet has changed our lives and impacted our privacy.  The main character, Mae Holland, gets a dream job at "The Circle," a Google-like technology firm that's on the cutting edge of everything internet-related.  The people who work at The Circle are brilliant and fascinating, and the benefits include gourmet food, on-site apartments, and regular staff parties with lavish entertainment.  Slowly the company becomes  the center of Mae's life, to the exclusion of everything (and everyone) else.  She embraces the corporate culture and doesn't recognize that the company's seemingly altruistic efforts to "improve" human life also result in serious breeches of privacy and personal freedom.  The book explores so many fascinating and timely issues, yet at the same time it's a total page-turner that I couldn't put down. The Circle makes you think--it also makes you just a bit paranoid about what our future holds.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Harrison Memorial Library Partners with Hoopla Digital to Give Patrons Online and Mobile Access to Free Movies, TV Shows, Music and Audiobooks

We are excited to announce the public availability of thousands of movies, television shows, music albums and audiobooks, all available for mobile and online access through a new partnership with hoopla digital – all you need is a valid library card!

Harrison Memorial Library card holders can download the free hoopla digital mobile app on their Android or IOS device or visit to begin enjoying thousands of titles – from major Hollywood studios, record companies and publishers – available to borrow for instant streaming or temporary downloading to their smartphones, tablets and computers.

Hoopla digital has a simple sign-up and attractive, easy-to-use interface, so it’s easy to get to your listening and viewing experience. There’s also no waiting to borrow popular movies, TV shows, albums or audiobooks. And hoopla digital’s automatic return feature eliminates late fees.

To access the system on your mobile device, you will need to visit or download the FREE hoopla digital app from the App Store on your Android or IOS device. Simply ‘Sign Up’ to get started. There is no need to download an app or extension for your internet browser.

We hope you enjoy this new service and encourage you to share your experience on our Facebook page!

What We're Reading

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan


     These days, there are people who love bookstores and paper books, and people who love digital books and the Internet, and probably a sub-section who enjoys both…although some say the popularity of one is bad news for the survival of the other.  Clay, the star of “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-HourBookstore” is likely in that small sub-section. He is doing well as a Web-design artist in San Francisco until he is down-sizing and he tries to figure out his next career move. He spends some weeks hanging out with his friend Neel , who during their teenage years was a sci-fi geek of the highest order and now is a multi-millionaire from building a company that creates digital boobs for video games and Hollywood movies.
     Finally, Clay must get a job. One night he is wandering a certain San Francisco neighborhood and finds a small dusty bookstore that is hiring. The odd place is next door to a “adult film” theater and Clay is a bit nervous of what kind of customers he will have at his new job. The front of the store has a few shelves of used paperbacks, some mainstream fiction and best-selling nonfiction. The back and dark upper levels contain “members’ books,” explains new boss Mr. Penumbra. It’s not exactly a library but the members will come in for a certain book and staff must search through an elaborate system of shelves and ladders to find the very esoteric books, then write down everything about the book and its borrower.
     What follows is a literary code-breaking adventure with kooky readers, Google employees, Eastern European graphic designers, and sinister ancient book thieves, and much more. The language is meant for an artsy Silicon Valley crowd, with its many literary and tech references, and “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” is a ton of fun to read or listen to, especially because you don’t know what’s coming next.

If you like it, I recommend “ReadyPlayer One” by Ernest Cline (for readers who grew up in the 1980s or enjoy that pop culture), or “Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (for more of a literary mystery book set in Spain), or "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin for lovers of paper books and traditional bookstores.