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The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown is this week’s staff pick.  Our staff member said she was totally absorbed by the book and learned about rowing, or crew, while immersing herself in Joe Rantz’s (one of the rowers) story.  While the story mostly focuses on Rantz, it goes into the personal history of the entire team and sets their quest for Olympic gold against the backdrop of Hitler’s rise to power and the propaganda machine.  This balance of personal history and world events makes a riveting story.  We have it in several formats, so check out a copy today.

“Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.


The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled  by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam’s The Amateurs.”–Taken from Goodreads.com

 

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This week’s staff pick is Lexicon by Max Barry.  And it’s a doozy.  Our staff member read this a year ago and still can’t’ stop talking about it.

At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren’t taught history, geography, or mathematics–at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as “poets”, adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.

Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization’s recruiters. She is flown across the country for the school’s strange and rigorous entrance exams, where, once admitted, she will be taught the fundamentals of persuasion by Bronte, Eliot, and Lowell–who have adopted the names of famous poets to conceal their true identities. For in the organization, nothing is more dangerous than revealing who you are: Poets must never expose their feelings lest they be manipulated. Emily becomes the school’s most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.

Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. Although he has no recollection of anything they claim he’s done, it turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. Pursued relentlessly by people with powers he can barely comprehend and protected by the very man who first attacked him, Wil discovers that everything he thought he knew about his past was fiction. In order to survive, must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, to discover who he is and why an entire town was blown off the map.

As the two narratives converge, the shocking work of the poets is fully revealed, the body count rises, and the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless. Lexicon is a brilliant thriller that explores language, power, identity, and our capacity to love–whatever the cost.”–Goodreads.com 


Lexicon

Max Barry

Published: Jun 18, 2013 by Penguin Press HC, The
Find in the Library


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This week’s staff pick is “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo. Our staffer loved this book so much she told us all about it for days.  Written by the author of “The Tale of Despereaux” and “Because of Winn-Dixie” this book has the same kind of characters who leap off the page and into your heart and never leave.

Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who treated him with the utmost care and adored him completely. 

And then, one day, he was lost. 

Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the top of a garbage heap to the fireside of a hobos’ camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. And along the way, we are shown a true miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.”–Taken from Goodreads.com

Look for it in the catalog here.

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A Discovery of Witches is the first in a trilogy by Deborah Harkness.  The trilogy is now complete with July’s publishing of The Book of Life, and the series is so consistently great that really, we think you should read all three. These books are a fantastic combination of fantasy, historical fiction, romance, suspense and adventure. Our staff member thought they were like a more accessible (and fantasy instead of science fiction) Neal Stephenson.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism” –Taken from Goodreads.com

The Library has these in regular and large type, as well as audiobooks.  Please note, the large type works are on order and should be in soon.

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This week’s staff pick of the week is Enigma by Robert Harris.  A code breaking mystery set in WWII, this book has it all and is a rivetingly good read.

A gripping World War II mystery novel with a cryptographic twist, Enigma‘s hero is Tom Jericho, a brilliant British mathematician working as a member of the team struggling to crack the Nazi Enigma code. Jericho’s own struggles include nerve-wracking mental labor, the mysterious disappearance of a former girlfriend, the suspicions of his co-workers within the paranoid high-security project, and the certainty that someone close to him, perhaps the missing girl, is a Nazi spy. The plot is pure fiction but the historical background, Alan Turing’s famous wartime computing project that cracked the German U-boat communications code, is real and accurately portrayed. Enigma is convincingly plotted, forcefully written, and filled with well drawn characters; in short, it’s everything a good technomystery should be”–Taken from Goodreads.com

Check it out today! We have it in regular and large print.

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