Dewey Know How to Run a Book Group? We Do! 350-400, Part 2

Book Group Buzz Last week I shared some of the reading suggestions from the 350–400 range of the Dewey system that members of the Williamsburg Regional Library staff group brought to a recent meeting. This is the second part of those selections.

Nothing Daunted, by Dorothy WickendenAnnmarie from Outreach is always looking for books that will entertain her senior service population, and so she was well pleased with Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West, by Dorothy Wickenden (2011). It chronicles the 1916 adventures of the author’s grandmother, when she and her friend Rosamond, freshly graduated from Smith College and bored with New York high society,  headed to the wilds of northwestern Colorado. Little did they know that the country school where they had been recruited to teach was also in a tiny community desperate for eligible bachelorettes.

Summer at Tiffany, by Marjorie HartAnn, one of our security monitors, selected a book that flipped the premise of Nothing Daunted. Marjorie Hart’s Summer at Tiffany (2007), tells the story of the author and her friend Marty, who came east from the University of Iowa in 1945 to experience the big city. They were hired on as pages at the famous jewelry store, the first women to work on the sales floor. It’s a story of living in the city on inadequate salaries, rubbing elbows with celebrities and society people, and experiencing summer romance.

Murder of the Century, by Paul CollinsCela, recently retired from Tech Services, chose The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars, by Paul Collins (2011). It’s about the lurid 1897 discovery of body parts in multiple locations in New York, the attempts to identify the body, and the way the case became politicized in a newspaper battle between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. Collins gracefully blends many elements to re-create crime coverage in the Gilded Age.

Kingpin, by Kevin PoulsenMy book choice was Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground, by Kevin Poulsen (2011). Poulsen tells the story of Max Butler, a Montana man who rose through the ranks of both white hat hackers (supposedly working to prevent cyber attacks) and criminals, eventually starting an underground chat site where those who had stolen credit card data and other online information sold it to those who fabricated false ID and used it to purchase goods. After starting this “carder’s market,” he forced other similar sites out of business through a combination of cyber attacks, exposing rivals as police informants, and other subterfuge. Ultimately, Butler was tracked down by an intrepid FBI agent. The book succeeds both as a true-crime story that reasonably tech-savvy readers will enjoy and a look behind the scenes at life in the new computer-crime underground.

My blogging colleague, Sue Dittmar,
isn’t crazy about multiple book meetings.
I’ll respond in my next post.

Thunderstruck, by Erik LarsonGail, a recently retired reference librarian, picked Thunderstruck, by Erik Larson (2006). She reached the same conclusion as many others: this isn’t quite as strong as Isaac’s Storm or The Devil in the White City (2003), the author’s earlier books, but it’s still enjoyable. Thunderstruck combines the famous Hawley Crippen murder case in England and Marconi’s development of the wireless radio that came to fruition just in time to alert police in the Americas of Crippen’s attempted transatlantic escape. Larson knows how to make history come to life and combine disparate stories into one tense narrative. This isn’t his personal best, but an average book for him is better than the top efforts of most of the writers who attempt similar narratives.

I Am Murdered, by Bruce ChadwickFinally, Laura, who heads Digital Services, went in search of the story behind a Virginia historical figure with Bruce Chadwick’s book I Am Murdered: George Wythe, Thomas Jefferson, and the Killing that Shocked a New Nation (2009). While Wythe isn’t as well known as many founding fathers, he inspired their thinking. Wythe taught Thomas Jefferson, among others, the practice of law, and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1806, the then elderly Wythe was poisoned, along with two others. He lived for a couple of weeks after the poisoning, though, long enough to provide clues that would help finger his killer, his nephew. Unfortunately, the key witness was a servant, whose testimony was not admissible at the time, ironically because of laws that Wythe had influenced.

My blogging colleague, Sue Dittmar, isn’t crazy about multiple book meetings. I’ll respond, respectfully, with a few thoughts in my next post.

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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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