Vegas Seven

Librarian Loves

  • Librarian Loves

    Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics

    In Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics (Harper Perennial, 2006) the late Miriam Engelberg has done the unthinkable: made her “journey”—from diagnosis through treatment to subsequent diagnosis of metastasis—roll-on-the-floor funny. Through her naïve cartooning style and the limitations of thought bubbles, she pares down her experiences to jagged nuggets portraying her thoughts, feelings, reactions and self-judgments with harrowing honesty. Her “shallow” is a mile deep and well worth plumbing.

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    Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age

    Here’s a fresh take on what has already become a rather tiresome topic. Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age (Harper, 2010), by William Powers, makes the case that in our screen-obsessed age, we need to take time to disconnect from all our assorted gadgetry. What makes this analysis new?

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    The Expats

    A move to Luxembourg for her husband’s career is a good reason for CIA officer Kate Moore to leave her life of secrets behind and reinvent herself as an expat, shuttling kids to school and lunching with other expat moms. But when Kate notices suspicious behavior from some new friends, she’s not sure if her past is catching up with her, or if her husband has been keeping secrets of his own. The Expats (Crown, $26) by Chris Pavone is a fast-paced and exciting thriller. I found myself reading faster than I wanted to, just to find out what was going to happen next.

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    Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them

    During his more than 50 years as an actor, Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, Dracula) has met and known such luminaries as Jackie Kennedy, Rita Hayworth, the Queen Mother, Arthur Miller and Elizabeth Taylor. In his first book, Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them (Harper, $26), he shares details of his encounters with more than 50 famous people, revealing intimate details of them, as well as of himself. Written with humor, tenderness and honesty, Langella’s book is both very entertaining and very personal.

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    The Paris Wife

    In The Paris Wife (Ballantine Books, 2011), author Paula McLain captures the allure of the Lost Generation of expatriates in Paris through her surprisingly sympathetic depiction of the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley. When they met, she was a 28-year-old Midwestern spinster, he a charismatic 21-year-old aspiring writer, just back from his stint as an ambulance driver in World War I. Her practical steadiness and self-effacing support complemented his passionate yearning to experience and create. Yet, it came apart too soon.

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    A Cold Treachery

    A Cold Treachery is the seventh mystery in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series by the mother-son writing team of Charles Todd. The Scotland Yard detective must discover who brutally murdered five members of a family, and why. Like the others in the series, A Cold Treachery (Bantam, 2005) features intelligent writing, richly realized characters and a gripping storyline set in post-World War I England. Rutledge’s flawed but endearing persona adds a fascinating layer to these finely crafted whodunits. Read them in order or not, the books are addictive.

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    Take the Stairs

    In his new book, Take the Stairs, Seven Steps to Achieving True Success (Perigee Trade, $23), author and motivational speaker Rory Vaden reminds us that self-discipline is the key to achieving success in all aspects of our lives. Procrastination, lack of focus, acceptance of the “average” and incomplete commitment are all enemies of self-discipline that get in the way of our creating our best selves. This book is a quick read and an inspiring reminder that what seems to be the easy way in the short term can end up being harder in the long term. 

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    Rules of Civility

    From the rat-a-tat-tat Hepburn/Tracy dialogue to the languid woman on a chaise lounge on the cover, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Viking Adult, $27) is a delicious depiction of 1938 Manhattan. Boardinghouse-dwelling secretaries, charming bankers, Greenwich Village jazz clubs, parties in the Hamptons and martini-swilling in brown Bentleys are all part of the complex, stylistic but character-driven environment created in this deft debut novel. I can’t wait for Towles’ next one!

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    The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

    A brilliant writer, surgeon and MacArthur Fellow, Atul Gawande has written, in The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (Metropolitan Books, 2009), about how we can significantly reduce errors by using humble, well-designed checklists. As a surgeon, he was motivated to find ways to assist doctors in making split-second decisions in pressure-filled, complicated environments. His provocative thinking and findings are readily applicable to any daily or work-life situation.

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    Salvage the Bones

    The 2011 National Book Award winner for fiction, Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury USA, $24), recounts 12 days in the lives of a poor, motherless, rural Mississippi family as Hurricane Katrina builds up and then hits their dilapidated home. The characters—including pregnant 14-year-old narrator Esch, her drunken father, feckless brothers, pit bull China and the unloving father of Esch's baby—are deftly drawn and placed in a situation that would be trying for less imperfect people. Wrenching but worth it.

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    Naked in Death

    The holiday season is a good time to indulge in delectable treats, and my secret indulgence is the In Death series by J. D. Robb (the pseudonym for prolific romance writer Nora Roberts).  I wouldn’t be caught dead reading a romance novel (not that there’s anything wrong with them), but I’ve become hooked on this futuristic thriller series featuring street-tough police lieutenant Eve Dallas and sexy billionaire businessman Roarke.

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    Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy

    Believe it or not, cola marketing executives have figured out how many bubbles they need to depict in print and on store displays to get you to crave their soft drink.

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    In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

    You may remember Erik Larson’s fascinating and disturbing book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America (Vintage, 2004). His latest book, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (Crown, $26), is even more astonishing. A naïve and unassuming history professor, William E. Dodd, is appointed by President Roosevelt as America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s government.

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    All Your Base Are Belong to Us

    By Jeanne Goodrich

    Video games now form a $20 billion-a-year industry, bigger than movies, music and DVD sales combined. More than 68 percent of Americans play video and computer games, and the average player age is 35. In All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture (Three Rivers Press, $15), author Harold Goldberg provides a rollicking account of the history and development of this addictive cultural phenomenon. You’ll find yourself thinking nostalgically about Pong, Myst and Donkey Kong.

  • Librarian Loves

    A Duty to the Dead is the first in a relatively new mystery series set during World War I

    Selected by Jeanne Goodrich, executive director for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.

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