For the Love of Reading

Book reviews and items of interest for readers, by Library Staff

How to Stop Time

Despite being over four hundred years old—alive in the time of Shakespeare—Tom Hazard (one of his many non de plumes) is still learning how to live life.

Recently, he relocated to London, and became a history teacher in a secondary school. While lecturing about Elizabethan England or Mussolini during World War II, Tom gets tripped on things he actually saw, versus things he should only be familiar about through books. The students notice and look at him quizzically.

Reading with Patrick

Everyone has heard about the talented, super-smart teachers who work for the Teach for America program. But why do many of these new teachers only stay for a year or two and then move on?

In Reading with Patrick, compelling and emotionally resonant memoir, Michelle Kuo, a Harvard-educated Asian American, relates her two years teaching in poverty-torn Helena, Arkansas, a delta town close to the Mississippi state line that has lost nearly all of its industry. Kuo also describes her parents’ great expectations for her career, and their deep disappointment when she takes a low-paying position in education.

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone

Did you ever dream of being in a tsunami? As a college freshman I did, repeatedly over a course of a couple of months. Luckily, I lived in the mountains then, a few hundred miles from the sea.

Richard Lloyd Parry, an English journalist, who spent over a decade in Japan, did six years of research for this excellent book. In one chapter, he recounts Teruo Konno’s experience being swept and tossed for hours in the great tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011. Konno’s tale reads like a thriller.

As a city employee, Teruo opened the doors to evacuees at a city hall branch office next to the Kitakami River, fifteen feet above sea level and inland from the ocean. Everyone in the building survived the severe shaking, but the building lost power. No one knew that officials had revised the tsunami warning to 120 feet.

The Dry

If you've followed the news reports about Day Zero in Cape Town, South Africa, you might understand what happens to people who live in a place with little or no water. In Dry, a fast-paced thriller set in Kiewarra, Australia, everyone goes crazy when lack of access to water threatens their livelihood.

It's the second year of massive drought: thirsty blowflies enter people’s eyes and stick to open wounds; farmers struggle to find any water in their wells, many shooting their starving livestock. Friendship between neighbors turns to distrust and paranoia, and fences no longer only mark property lines—they serve as dire warnings not to enter. Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to this dried-up part of Australia after reports that a farmer has gone berserk and killed his wife and son, then himself. Only one-year-old Charlotte has survived the killings—could that be because she can't talk?

The Boys in the Boat

Even if you seldom follow sports, this story of the 1936 Olympic rowers will excite you and touch your heart. Eight young men—most tall and scraggly, nearly all from poor, working-class backgrounds—beat the elite British, the powerhouse Germans, and the determined Italians to win gold as Nazi hysteria took over Berlin. But even though we know who wins the 1936 Olympics from the beginning, Brown ups the ante with dramatic descriptions of the racing with a filmmaker’s eye for visual details, practical rowing crew experience, and extensive interviews and research.

The book brims with history: personal, cultural and factual. It begins with the author’s neighbor, Judy, inviting the author to meet her father, Joe Rantz, one of the Olympic winners who, with only a few months to live, is in hospice. Over many interviews, he shares his story, but insists that Brown also write about all the men on his crew who, working as one, bring home the gold against impossible odds.

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