Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Facebook, Book Club, & The Top 100

If you are a social media aficionado, please become our "Friend"  by clicking on “Like” at the top of our Facebook page, it is a very easy way to keep up with all the breaking news at BCPL! 
I’d also like to invite everyone to join our monthly Bee Cave Book Club, click here to see our selections for 2011.  Once again we continue our tradition of having an eclectic and interesting mix of fiction and nonfiction.  There are some really great books on this year's list! Are you saying to yourself, I’ve never joined a book club because they are stuffy and academic?  Not this group!  We are a very informal and diverse bunch of people of all ages who get together to share our love of reading and to enjoy relaxed conversation.

We always welcome new members and invite everyone who is interested to join us, even if you have not read the book.  Come for whichever book(s) strike your fancy! We will meet the first Monday of each month (holidays can change the schedule) and beginning in February, 2011, we will meet at the Barnes & Noble in the Hill Country Galleria (since the Library is closed on Mondays).  Look for us in the comfy chairs in the cookbook section.   Any changes in the meeting location or date will be announced on  our Web site, Facebook page, and monthly newsletter.  Contact me if you need more information. 

I'd like to share the most circulated books of 2010 with you.  Here are the 100 top most popular books in Adult Fiction and Nonfiction, Young Adult Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, and Easy (Picture) books.  The Adult Fiction List was dominated by books that have been on (and usually at the top) of the best seller list for months, and in some cases  (e.g. The Help and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) for over a year.  Thrillers and mysteries were also the most popular genres.  My favorite books on this list are People of the Book, Loving Frank, and Roses-an old-fashioned sweeping generational saga, it could be made into a 1980s type miniseries.  If you like this type of fiction, try Ken Follett's most recent book, Fall of Giants, which I am listening to right now.

The most popular type of nonfiction books was cookbooks of all kinds-from healthy eating titles such as The Kind Diet to Rebecca Rather's The Pastry Queen.  Rather has a bakery/restaurant in Fredericksburg and her book is a must-check-out because it contains one of the most incredible cake recipes ever - Mexican Chocolate Fudge-Pecan.  Heaven!  The nonfiction list was also topped by books that have been on the bestseller list for years, and in some cases four or more years (e.g. Eat, Pray, Love; Three Cups of Tea; and The Tipping Point).  We are on trend here in Bee Cave!

Don't forget Lake Travis Reads is just a couple of weeks away!  Please join us for an evening with Ben Rehder on Wednesday, February 9, at 7:00 pm.  Here is the flyer for more information-it is going to be a very fun evening!

Happy Reading!

p.s. to tempt you further, here is a picture of the Mexican Chocolate Fudge-Pecan cake that has been made into mini-cakes.  You can also make a bundt cake or cupcakes with the recipe.  It is super easy to make and it looks so incredible.  Impress your guests, friends, and family with some of this moist, toasted pecan goodness!   It is an excellent Valentine's Day treat too!

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Year, New Books Part Two

Our 4th year of Lake Travis Reads is currently underway.  This year it is "Lake Travis Reads Ben Rehder" and we are inviting everyone to read any of his very funny Blanco County mysteries.  Join us here at Bee Cave Public LIbrary on Wednesday, February 9, at 7:00 pm for a visit and talk by Ben Rehder himself (the event is free, there will be refreshments, and he will be signing books!).  I can't wait to hear him in person because by all reports he is a fabulous speaker.  What a great way to spend an evening! 
     Last week I talked about some of the nonfiction books I am eagerly waiting to read.  I wanted to share that the author of one of those books, Rodney Crowell, will be  at BookPeople on  Friday, January 28, at 7:00 pm.  Sure to be a great event.  Kester Smith reviewed Crowell's book on his blog and it included this great line when talking about Crowell's family, "To put it a different way, if Rodney Crowell’s family hadn’t existed, Flannery O’Connor would have had to make them up… and then Johnny Cash would have had to sing about it."  I just love that line!  
     I am not just looking forward to reading nonfiction as I am also awaiting a number of less serious and wonderfully confectionery mind candy fiction titles in January. I think I have shared that I love to read romance novels, particularly those set in the Regency period in England but in the past 5 or 6 years I have enjoyed contemporary romances also.  I am absolutely thrilled that one of my favorite contemporary authors, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, has a new book coming out this month! Her books always make me laugh and for months beforehand I very eagerly look forward to the publication of each book in the American Lady (her new book, Call Me Irresistible, is the third in this series) and Chicago Stars/Bonner Brothers Series. I also can’t wait to read There is Cake in My Future, by Kim Gruenenfelder-it contains a touch of magic to go along with the romance and humor.  
Not that I have forgotten about my beloved Regency period, because I hope I have a nice rainy day to curl up and read Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right, by Kieran Kramer; The Girl in the Gatehouse, by Julie Klassen; and the latest in the Secret History of the Pink Carnation series, The Orchid Affair, by Lauren Willig. Willig’s series focuses on the real and imagined “flower spies” that fought the good fight against Napoleon-check out her very nice Web site.  Her books are flavored with the spiciness of espionage and intrigue, liberal doses of witty dialogue, just the right amount of romance (for my taste), and tasty historical detail.   The historical detail is not surprising as Willig has a Ph.D. in English history from Yale as well as a law degree (magna cum laude) from Harvard.  So who says that romance writers and readers aren't serious scholars? 
     Susan Vreeland’s Clara and Mr. Tiffany continues her fictionalization of the lives of artists but this time she moves away from painters to explore the life of Clara Driscoll, one of premiere glass artists in Louis Comfort Tiffany’s art nouveau studio. If you have ever watched Antique’s Roadshow I am sure  you have seen her work, such as the shade on the famous Dragonfly lap.  I seem to remember that all the works are attributed to Tiffany and not individual studio artists, unlike the works of famous pottery schools.  Vreeland's new book exposes the inequities and hardships that women faced and just how little credit they received for their enduring contributions that resulted in the success of the House of Tiffany.  Vreeland also addressed such shoddy treatment of women n my favorite book of hers, The Passion of Artemisia, which chronicles the interesting life and career (!) of the 17th century Italian female painter, Artemisia Gentileschi.
     I have recently began dipping my toe back into the pool of mysteries and have found that I prefer (no surprise!) the chick-lit romance type (e.g. Lisa Lutz or Harley Jane Kozak) or the more traditional “Agatha Christie like” mystery. I loved Dame Christie’s books growing up. One of the best writers in that tradition is Canadian Louise Penny and I have fallen in love with her exceptionally well-written Chief Inspector Gamache series. I urge you to try these, the first book in the series is Still Life.  After reading the review for the second book in Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series and I decided that it strongly reminds me of Penny’s’ books. So I am going to continue reading mysteries with Griffith’s The Janus Stone.  I also urge you to check out Alan Bradley's precocious heroine, Flavia de Luce, the third book in this delightful series comes out in the next month.
A wild card book, which I am surprised appealed to me at all because I am heartily tired of reading reviews of books that feature vampires (Jane Austen as a vampire anyone?), is The Radleys, by Matt Haig. I have seen it described as an exploration of the modern nuclear family, which just happens to be composed of vampires; quirky and intriguing. My interest in this title was also piqued by the line “We’re middle-class and we’re British. Repression is in our veins” that was quoted in the Booklist review.  I wonder if the title is a reference to the Radley family in To Kill a Mockingbird?   Love the cover too! 

It's a new year, so try one new book in a genre that you usually would not read, you might enjoy it.  I have found that the one problem with branching out on a regular basis is that my "just read" list gets longer and longer.

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Year, New Books

Yet again, I have crashed out of the blogosphere but this being the season of resolutions hereby let it be known that I, Angela Palmer, am resolved to become a very regular blogger in 2011. This week, I’ll ease myself into the practice by spotlighting some of the upcoming releases that I just ordered for the library that I look forward to reading.
     We are getting some great nonfiction and recently I have been reading more nonfiction than fiction. As someone who leans toward falling on the more pessimistic end of the life outlook spectrum, I am surprisingly eager to read The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, by Eric Weiner. Weiner apparently inhabits my part of the spectrum but his search lead him to some interesting insights about what makes us humans happy.
     Singer Rodney Crowell is publishing a memoir, Chinaberrry Sidewalks, which focuses on his early life and his parents. I’ve long admired his pithy storytelling/songwriting and I predict that he will use the same talent to write a dynamic book. I also enjoyed his ex wife’s, Roseanne Cash, 2010 memoir Composed. It was deeply thoughtful and personal but it was not a Hollywood mudslinging/finger pointing blame fest, and I expect that his will be the same.
     Due to budget constraints, I did not get to purchase two nonfiction titles, Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers and The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, when they were first published. However, I squeezed (by bumping other titles that were being published this month) some room in the current month’s budget because they both lived up to their initial rave reviews and have been showing up on every “Best Books of 2010” list.
     I do worry that Zeitoun will discuss the plight of companion animals in the wake of Katrina and since I worked with many animal survivors of that storm, I may have to read it with a large box of Kleenex by my side.  Bailey's memoir chronicles her fascination with the daily life of a snail, which she closely observed on a plant brought to her by a friend during a long and mysterious illness.  The reviews and descriptions of this book intrigue me as does writing about such a focused and small subject.
     When the new books arrive, I’ll post a message on our Facebook page. This gives me the opportunity to urge you to follow us on Facebook. Just click on the “like” button at the top of the page, to the right of our name (and I can’t pass up the opportunity to say “like us, really like us” as Sally Field would). We will be posting periodic updates about all sorts of news and information about the library, we’ve entered the world of social media! So keep an eye out for the new books are here announcement. It is so exciting opening up the boxes of new, shiny books and it makes my “to-be-read” list grow by leaps and bounds-I plan on reading a great deal in the weeks to come!

Happy Reading!