Highlights from a Book Talk

By Marcia Allen, Collection Development

Thursday, May 8th,   was the date for the North Central Kansas Libraries System Annual Book Fair.  This was a grand opportunity for public librarians throughout the system to learn about and purchase some of the better books published during the last few months.  While a great many titles were mentioned, the following were chosen as some of the best of the best in adult books.

“The Ogallala Road” by Julene Bair is the latest in Kansas books.  This is a memoir written when the author returned to her Smoky Valley family farm after a long absence.  She has a distinctive knack for describing the Kansas terrain in such a way that she instantly recalls for us the sweltering heat of an August afternoon or the view of a tree line on the edge of a field.  Of particular interest to Bair is the alarming rate at which the Ogallala Aquifer is being depleted by irrigation systems throughout the western part of our state.  This concern leads to her making a painfully necessary decision about her own family’s farm.

Snowblind” by Christopher Golden is a horror story reminiscent of those early New England tales that Stephen King wrote.  The story begins with a flashback to a paralyzing blizzard that took place some twelve years ago in a small New England village.  During that horrendous storm, several of the local residents suffered violent deaths through unexplained means.  Now, some years later, another crippling storm is on the way, and events are already beginning to have eerily familiar overtones.

“The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden” by Roy Diblik is for the Midwestern gardener in all of us.  This handy how-to manual makes purchase recommendations that really are suited for our climate.  Diblik also provides excellent advice on plant groupings and plant “communities” that we will truly enjoy.  Best of all, his guidelines are designed to keep work to a minimum, as enjoying the garden is of prime importance.

“Mother Nature is Trying to Kill You” by Dan Riskin, Ph.D. is a lighthearted look at the forces of nature that, yes, do pose a serious threat to our safety.  Riskin, the host of the “Animal Planet” television series, is an enthusiastic and funny guide through some of the perils that await us.  And poison-injecting spiders are the least of our worries.  His own experience with a parasitic maggot will have you chuckling and cringing.

“The Dark Affair” by Maire Clarement is a treat for romance readers.  The lovely Lady Margaret Cassidy must determine if she can rescue the troubled Lord James Stanhope from the depression he suffers over the losses of his wife and daughter.  Lots of witty banter casts two very independent souls into romantic territory.  Might there be a marriage in the works?

“The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living” by Amit Sood, M.D. is a terrific plan for letting go of some of life’s worst frustrations.  Sood, for example, offers a thoughtful plan for banishing those late-night worrying sessions that accomplish nothing.  He also offers sound advice for releasing lasting resentments we might hold toward others.  He promises that we can lessen physical symptoms if we learn to channel negative feelings in positive ways.

“The Martian” by Andy Weir would make a great film.  This science fiction log follows the misadventures of astronaut Mark Watney who is injured on the fourth day of his Mars adventure and left for dead by his fellow astronauts.  With obstacles looming, Watney must re-establish contacts with Earth, heal his injuries, repair essential equipment, and somehow procure food.  Those who like space travel stories, with lots of references to pricey gear, will love this.

“Mr. Owita’s Guide to Gardening” by Carol Wall is my favorite from the list.  This nonfiction story is about a friendship that grew between Carol Wall, a high school English teacher, and Mr. Owita, a university professor from Kenya who could not find a teaching job.  The two bonded over gardening, but their friendship became one of mutual caring and support when major health issues struck.  This is a lovely story about the human capacity for compassion.

Looking for a good summer read?   One or more of the titles mentioned above might just be what you want.  If the books are checked out, don’t be discouraged.  Just place holds, and we’ll have the books waiting for you as soon as possible.

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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