By February 12, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

Meeting the Best, Pt. 1

The staff group at Williamsburg Regional Library met last Friday to discuss some of the best books of 2011. Some of us had books that I’ve already mentioned in posts about the 2011 All-the-Best-Books Compilation (ABBC), such as Moonwalking with Einstein, In the Garden of Beasts, Steve Jobs, and Bossypants, but several other great book group choices were highlighted that also deserve mention. I have eight books to cover, so I’ll spread them over two posts.

Sheila from our Technical Services division likes fast-paced suspense, so she chose Lisa Gardner’s Love You More. Alternating chapters between her detective, D. D. Warren, and Tessa Leoni, a state trooper accused of murdering her husband, Gardner unwraps a story in which it becomes apparent that a seemingly open-and-shut case is something more. Sheila listened to the audiobook, and couldn’t wait to get into her car to here more of the story unfold. Other reviews indicate that Gardner may have reached a new career high with this novel.

One of our bookmobile drivers, Sean, enjoyed Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test: a Journey through the Madness Industry. Traveling to visit people such as a man who faked insanity to avoid a prison sentence and a psychiatrist who developed a popular test for psychopathic tendencies, Ronson discovers both foibles and successes in the process of making this controversial mental health diagnosis. Sean’s only caveat was that he thought Ronson sometimes inserted himself unnecessarily in his story.

Our security monitor Ann is a fan of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s series featuring the Episcopalian Reverend and reservist helicopter pilot Clare Fergusson and her now-boyfriend police chief Russ Van Alstyne. In One Was a Soldier, Clare deals with a murder connected to a support group for soldiers returned from Iraq, a group of which she is a member. For those who like to start at the beginning, this superb crimes series begins with In the Bleak Midwinter.

Lisa from our Technical Services brought David Margolick’s Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock. It’s the complicated story of the lifelong relationship of two women caught in an iconic photograph as one made the hard walk into the newly integrated Little Rock Central High School and the other followed her, screaming racial epithets. Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan Messery went on to a lifetime of speaking tours and on-again, off-again friendship. Lisa liked how Margolick illuminated the broader story of race relations in the U.S. through this relationship and the reaction of others to it.

I’ll return in a few days to share more books from this invigorating meeting.

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About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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