My Favorite Reader: Scott Brick

The Grammy Awards were recently handed out, but you probably missed the award for Best Spoken Word Album. It’s not surprising; it’s an often overlooked category. And that’s why I’m calling attention to it. Nominees and winners for this award have run the gamut, from Barack Obama to Betty White to Elvis Costello. And while my favorite reader, Scott Brick, has not won this award, I want to introduce you to him.

Brick is one of the most prolific readers in the industry, reading the works of many bestselling authors, such as Steve Berry, David Baldacci, Clive Cussler, Douglas Preston and Harlen Coben. But it is his breadth of reading that I admire most. I’ve enjoyed listening to titles that I otherwise wouldn’t have selected except for wanting to hear his mellifluous voice while driving in my car. Learn more about Scott Brick here, and check out these audio titles featuring his voice.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin

This was the audio that started it all for me! Brick’s voice will always be that of A.J. Fikry, a book-loving curmudgeon who is coming around to the fact that he will spend his days in the quiet bookstore he owns on a quiet island. That is, until the day his life takes a drastic turn. A heartwarming, funny, sad book about books, and love, and what’s important in life.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

by Nathaniel Philbrick
Philbrick has become one of my favorite nonfiction writers, but I only listened to this because Scott Brick was the reader. Brick relates the story of the whaleship Essex, which was rammed and sunk by a whale. What follows is a story of survival and endurance, decisions made both good and bad, and, ultimately, a movie that was not as good as the book, Chris Hemsworth notwithstanding.

dead-wake-audio

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

by Erik Larson
Erik Larson is another one of my favorite authors. His writing is chock full of information, and he goes off on many tangents but then expertly brings everything together. In Dead Wake, Larson writes of the Lusitania and the lives of the people on board, as well as those who bring about its destruction. Brick’s reading makes the density of this book a lot more palatable.

lowcountry-heart-audio

A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life

by Pat Conroy
We lost Conroy last year, but his writing lives on in this compilation of his blogs and letters and a wonderful introduction by his widow, writer Cassandra King. Listening to his writing is like listening to a song — and it makes me miss him all the more. He’s buried in Saint Helena Memorial Gardens in his beloved Beaufort, South Carolina. The cemetery is owned by the Brick Baptist Church, and he was interred there even though he was not African-American or a Baptist — a lesson on inclusion and acceptance we could all learn from.

in-cold-blood-audio

In Cold Blood

by Truman Capote
I always thought this story was creepy, and listening to Brick’s narration makes it that much more creepy. The wonderful prose of Capote makes unsettlingly real the murder of a family in a small Kansas town and the investigation, trials and executions that followed. The movie Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, covers much of what the author writes in the book and the aftermath.
I think you’ll find some enjoyable listening with these titles. And you can find more of Brick’s work in this list or by searching our catalog.

The Life-Changing Magic of Trying to Tidy Up (My Life)

Sigh … January 2017 is already in the rearview mirror and most of my New Year’s resolutions have been left in the dust! To be honest, I’ve never been good about resolutions, except one. A few years ago I decided my life was filled with too much material and mental clutter, so I set about trying to simplify and tidy up. I’m not perfect, and I’m definitely not a neat freak (just ask my wife), but along the way I’ve come across a few books that helped me organize, simplify and declutter. Maybe one or two of these will work for you.

 

zen-habits-0217

 

Zen Habits – Handbook for Life: Hundreds of Tips for Simplicity, Happiness and Productivity
by Leo Babauta

Babauta got me moving toward a less-cluttered life. He writes about finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of life in his blog Zen Habits. He took many of the best tips from the blog and put them in this book. He’s written other books on simplicity, organization and mindfulness — they are all on his blog, and a number of them are available from Douglas County Libraries.

 

 

 

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
by Marie Kondo

The big book in the world of decluttering is this tiny book by Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo (and it was also DCL’s most checked-out nonfiction book in 2016). This New York Times bestseller highlights her KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing and storing. I picked a few choice methods from the book instead of subscribing to the entire method, and I still fold socks and t-shirts as prescribed in this video as my little bit of life-changing magic.

If you want more KonMari tips, read Kondo’s follow-up release Spark Joy.

 

new-order-0217

 

New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else)
by Fay Wolf

In less than 180 pages, New Order covers physical and digital decluttering, organization, productivity and collaboration, and provides a bunch of resources on how and where to donate and recycle all the stuff you’ve tossed. It’s an informative, quick read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

un-eff-habitat-0217

 

Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess
by Rachel Hoffman

This book is a new entry (2017) in the organization/simplification scene. It’s written for those of us who don’t have the time to follow a complex system of organization. Designed to develop better habits in your habitat, the book has a simple goal: “Not everyone will have a showcase of a home, but whatever your habitat, you deserve for it to bring you happiness, not stress.” You don’t need to be perfect and have tons of time to follow the advice in the book — you just need to start!

 

 

 

 

 

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
by Daniel Levitin

For those more interested in the “why” than the “how-to,” Levitin’s book looks at organization in the 21st-century human by examining brain science, and how “new research into the cognitive neuroscience of attention and memory can be applied to the challenges of our daily lives.” Although a bit dry at times, The Organized Mind is an interesting read filled with illuminating examples and a little how-to as well, and it’s a good match for those who like reading Malcolm Gladwell.

 

 

magic-of-not-giving-an-eff-0217

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck
by Sarah Knight

On the opposite end of the spectrum and subtitled How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have With People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do, this book is written as part parody and part remedy to complex organization-overload manuals. The book talks of finding ways to better enjoy your life by focusing on the things that matter to you, instead of worrying about what others think. It’s R-rated and funny, but also filled with practical advice.

 

 

 

 

 

high-fidelity-0217

 

High Fidelity
by Nick Hornby

Huh? If you’ve gotten this far, you are probably wondering why High Fidelity is on this list. One reason is that I really like the book (and the movie as well). But I also think it fits — at its core, it’s a story of a guy trying to organize and declutter his past relationships so he can move forward. And isn’t that what simplification/organization/decluttering projects are all about? Let’s stop living in the past, holding on to stuff we don’t need anymore, and let’s look to the future!

 

Best of luck in the rest of 2017 — may it be simpler, less cluttered, and more enjoyable!

Grumpy Pants

Sometimes I wake up grumpy. Other days, I let him sleep in. This is the only joke that I seem to be able to remember. But with the increased amount of mumblings and grumblings of friends and co-workers around me, it also reminded me that there are a lot of great books where the main character is a bit on the grumpy side. So if you’re feeling just a little bit edgy these days, check out these wonderful titles and you’ll be in good company.

 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Is there anyone grumpier than Mr. Darcy? Despite his wealth and position in Victorian society, he certainly behaves like he sucks on lemons daily. If you haven’t read this classic, now is the time! Then just for fun, watch the movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Grumpy + zombies = pure entertainment!


Storied Life of AJ Fikry

 

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A.J. Fikry’s life is not what he had planned. He didn’t plan on becoming a bookstore owner, he didn’t plan on losing his wife, he didn’t plan on having his rare book of Edgar Allan Poe poems stolen, and he definitely didn’t plan on discovering a 2-year-old girl in his children’s section with a note from her mother asking Fikry to take care of her because, “I want Maya to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about such kinds of things.”

 

 

 

 

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

While many readers might relate to Harry Potter, there are those who love Severus Snape, and no one does grumpy like Snape. Of course, he has good reason to be moody. This series is one of the best for fantasy readers of all ages.

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This was the first novel written by Backman and it was a bestseller across Europe. Ove is a curmudgeon who spends his days inspecting his community and criticizing others. He thinks he’s surrounded by idiots, and don’t even get him started on BMW drivers! Yet, somehow, the people around Ove slowly weave themselves into his life, and this book becomes a thoughtful reflection on loss, love and community.

 

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Backman created another unforgettable character with Britt-Marie. It’s not so much that Britt-Marie is grumpy, it’s just she likes things to be done a certain way and she can be pretty brusque when things are done differently. While it’s certainly not her intention to be offensive, she struggles with social interactions on every level. What will happen when she moves to a new town and becomes the coach of the local children’s soccer team? Is there a place that Britt-Marie can finally feel at home?

 

Widower's Tale

 

The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass

Percy Darling is similar to other “grumpy” characters — he is opinionated and cantankerous. He is extremely unhappy about the changes in libraries with all the new technology. At 70 years of age he feels pretty certain that each day is going to be constant: He will never leave his house, he will be a widower until he dies, and his grandson who is attending Harvard will do great things. But surprises soon come knocking on Percy’s door. Relationships are never that simple — especially with family.

 

 

 

 

 

grumpy-cat-blog

 

Grumpy Cat by Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat helps you celebrate the grouch in everyone, yet puts a smile on your face. While it’s not fiction, this book teaches the fine art of grumpiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And last but not least, if you want to shed your grumpiness, follow the solution found in Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer — a very fun picture book.

 

7 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Picks for 2017

A great new year means great new books. And in the realm of science fiction and fantasy, it will be a bountiful year, regardless of whether George R.R. Martin’s or Patrick Rothfuss’ newest installments actually make it to print. (You guys know what I mean!)

These are the seven books that I’ll be saving room for on my sci-fi/fantasy bookshelf this year.

1. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown (August 2017)

All you fans of the Red Rising trilogy should have this one on your radar. Word is, Brown’s spinoff series will pick up where Morning Star left off, introducing new characters, as well as revisiting old favorites. Want to know what happens after? We’ll be watching the new bookshelf in August to find out.

Haven’t read Pierce Brown’s debut trilogy, Red Rising? It’s a must-read for anyone who’d enjoy an adult read-alike for Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, but with more action, adventure and mayhem!

Find the first book here. It’s also available in e-book and audiobook formats.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor2. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (March 2017)

The first in a brand-new series by the author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, this book is highly anticipated by rabid Taylor fans. With a new publication date (it was pushed out from the end of 2016), readers are buzzing.

Based on her past works, Taylor brings a meld of the classic fantasy with modern, edgy characters that appeal to teen and adult readers alike. Expect adventure, play on the concept of good vs. evil, powerful friendships (and enemies), and a good dose of humor.

Preview Strange the Dreamer on Entertainment Weekly’s website. If you’re like me, you’ll be hooked!

 

3. The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (March 2017)

Author John Scalzi is best known for his Old Man’s War series, which contemplates how age might be an asset in space travel and intergalactic feuding.

Scalzi is more traditional in his science fiction because of his focus on the possibilities of science, rather than simply setting novels in the future or in space. What makes his offerings strong and unique is that he’s fond of finding an angle on the science that makes you think!

His new novel looks to be a stand-alone offering that contemplates space travel via extradimensional means. Get on the request list here.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

4. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (February 2017)

Schwab hit upon a magical combination when she started the Darker Shade of Magic trilogy. Sword and sorcery? Check. Witty dialogue and fantastic characters? Check. Masked balls? Check. Pirates? Check!

The world-building in this alternate, magically inclined Georgian-era London is fantastic. With characters who resonate as real, despite their fantastical setting, Schwab’s trilogy is dark, light, and everything in-between.

Add A Conjuring of Light to your request list today.

5. The RelThe Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durstuctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst (July 2017)

This is book two in Durst’s Queens of Renthia series, following The Queen of Blood. The book covers may look sweet, but the nature spirits of Renthia are definitely not. In fact, the spirits prefer to live in a world without humans, but they are held in check by the powerful human queen who controls them. Our young hero has the potential to one day take on this role, and book two promises to continue unfolding her powerful story.

Durst creates a complex and seamless landscape, taking us along for the ride as politics, destiny and magic clash. Get started on the first book in preparation for book two’s July release!

6. Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke (March 2017)

In this work of speculative fiction, Clarke takes family drama to new horizons. Esme is poised to take over her father’s business empire, but the closer she gets to her new role, the more she learns about her father’s more dubious ventures. And her three sisters’ estrangement from the family. Sounds like a typical TV drama, right? But this business empire spans multiple planets. And the dubious ventures might involve alien DNA.

Star’s End promises to be a rousing space drama, and Clarke is just the master storyteller to take it on! Check the author’s website for the full book blurb.

7. In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle (February 2017)

The author of one of the most beloved unicorn tales of all time, The Last Unicorn, is back in 2017 with a new unicorn-focused novel. Beagle’s work is charming and heartwarming with its exploration of love, friendship, and the possibilities of everyday magic.

Add In Calabria to your request list today.

unicornAnd while you wait, take time to reacquaint yourself with his classic work in either its traditional format or one of the adapted versions. Added bonus: The beautiful animated film is family-friendly!

 

Are there any sci-fi or fantasy novels that you’re excited about reading in 2017? Share your bookshelf picks with us in the comments!

Survival Stories

One of my favorite things to do on a snow day is curl up with a good survival story. Sometimes I want to read about a fictional character surviving on bark and berries. Other times, I want to read how real people pulled through difficulty and persevered.

With that second preference in mind, I’ve put together a short list of titles written about or inspired by real-life survival situations.

Junior Fiction

walk-to-water

A Long Walk to Water: A Novel Based on a True Story
by Linda Sue Park

The story alternates between Nya, in 2008 Sudan, and Salva, in 1985. Nya must walk two hours each way, twice a day, to collect water. Salva is one of 17,000 Sudanese boys who fled hundreds of miles across the desert to Ethiopia during the Second Sudanese Civil War. The two characters’ stories eventually intersect.

 

 

 

 

 

Young Adult Fiction

fever-1793

Fever, 1793
by Laurie Halse Anderson

This historical fiction read is based on the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 that killed over 5,000 people. A teenage girl is left on her own when her mother falls ill with the fever, and she must find a way to persevere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

trapped

Trapped
by Michael Northrop

Seven high school students are stranded in their high school during a weeklong blizzard in New England. This read is loosely based on the Northeastern United States blizzard of 1978 that struck New England, injuring and stranding thousands of people and killing 100.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Nonfiction

blind-descent

Blind Descent: Surviving Alone and Blind on Mount Everest
by Brian Dickinson

Dickinson decides to summit Everest even after his Sherpa falls ill and turns back. At the top, he is struck with snow blindness and must find his way down alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-ledge-2017

The Ledge
by Jim Davidson

A tragic accident on Mount Rainier in Washington sparks a harrowing survival experience for Davidson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

adrift-2017

Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea (e-book)
by Steven Callahan

Callahan’s boat capsizes and he is left alone on an inflatable raft to fight for his survival.

 

Books That Satisfy Those Podcast Cravings

Recently, Wired magazine talked about the rise of modern fictional podcasts. The article immediately caught my attention because I have listened to — and loved — half the shows it mentioned. The other half I finished afterward. It’s incredibly easy to binge on an excellent podcast, and now I’m back to where I started: impatiently waiting for the next episode!

Luckily, I’m in a library full of books to tide me over until the next one is released. In case you’re in the same situation as me, I’ve put together a list of books to tide you over.


night-vale

 

Welcome to Night Vale has its own spinoff novel (even available in audiobook!), but it could also be compared to Mira Grant’s Feed because of the unique narrator. Cecil is Night Vale’s radio journalist who investigates his surreal community. Feed follows news bloggers during the zombie apocalypse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we-are-all-completely-fine

 

The Bright Sessions follows a therapist for people with supernatural powers. The first book to recommend for this has to be We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory. It also uses therapy as a starting point, but for survivors of supernatural events, bringing them together and then pulling out their stories and thrusting them into a new adventure. The Humans by Matt Haig could also work, as it humorously follows the point of view of an alien trying to understand human thought processes.

 

 

 

 

 


the-compound

 

The Deep Vault seems much easier to compare to something like Fallout 4, but since we’re sticking to books, perhaps S.A. Bodeen’s The Compound. It doesn’t have robots or monsters, but it does have the creepy bunker that the protagonist can’t escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

annihilation

 

The Black Tapes has a huge X-Files feel to it. Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation matches the horror and the scientific feel, but the supernatural and episodic aspects pair well with an urban fantasy series like Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books. The first one is Moon Called.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14-novel

 

Archive 81 is a spooky podcast that revolves around a mysterious apartment building and the incredibly strange people who live there. The book that immediately comes to mind is 14 by Peter Clines. It also centers on a strange apartment building, though these residents band together to discover why every apartment has a secret. Messages are hidden in the walls, there’s a room that attracts death, a locked door is strangely cold — so much mystery, and the tension levels are perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

horrorstor

 

I want to get Alice Isn’t Dead perfectly right. It’s my favorite podcast. Maybe try Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix for the creepiness that exists in seemingly ordinary places — a haunted furniture store instead of Alice’s creepy highways. I’m about to try The Brotherhood of the Wheel by R.S. Belcher because I’m hoping this trucker battling supernatural horrors on the road can tide me over until Alice rides back onto the  airwaves for season two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me know if you’ve got recommendations of your own — either book read-alikes or new fictional podcasts. Listening to all of these makes me wonder if one will be produced in our own Recording Studio, located at the new Douglas County Libraries in Parker.

~ mg

Books Becoming Movies

Are you a “book to movie” fan, even if it’s just to prove that the book is always better than the movie? If so, you have lots of reading to do to be ready for these exciting fall releases!

 

ampastoralAmerican Pastoral by Philip Roth, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1998, came out October 21 and chronicles the life of Seymour “Swede” Levov in 1960s New Jersey. Ewan McGregor plays Swede, a hardworking regular guy who watches his seemingly perfect middle class life fall apart as his daughter’s new radical political affiliation threatens to destroy their family.

 

 

thecircle

 

In The Circle, by Dave Eggers, a young woman takes a job at a Google-like tech company, where she quickly climbs the corporate ladder. The company’s tagline? “Secrets are lies. Sharing is caring. Privacy is theft.” No dearth of stars here — watch Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton in major roles. Release is scheduled for late October.

image1
Emma Watson on the set of The Circle

 

 


fantasticbeasts

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling revisits the Harry Potter universe and follows the adventures of writer Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards 70 years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. The movie is due to be released November 18.

 

Coming in February 2017 — a month of romantic movies at Douglas County Libraries in Highlands Ranch, James H. LaRue branch! Keep an eye on our events calendar, or better yet, sign up for one of our monthly newsletters to stay informed on everything happening at Douglas County Libraries.

~ do

A Few Staff Favorites

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Morning StarMorning Star is a fitting conclusion to the Red Rising trilogy. Darrow, raised as a Red who mined under the surface on Mars and transformed to the ruling Gold caste by the rebellious Sons of Ares, has fallen spectacularly after being at the height of success. He must make his way back to his friends in order to salvage his dead wife’s dream of freedom for people of all castes. Morning Star explores questions of loyalty and friendship in the midst of the brutality of war. As Darrow’s identity as a Red launches an all-out uprising of the lower castes in the Solar System, he must balance the needs of the many with the lives of his friends of all castes and histories. The end was satisfying and surprising; it was thoroughly enjoyable.

~Melissa          PST @ PSM

 

The Secret by Beverly Lewis 

TheSecretI was surprised by this read! I wasn’t sure if I would really engage in a story about the Amish, but this story was really fascinating! It was a very quick and easy read, and the character development was really well done. I never knew anything about the Amish or their way of life before reading this story, but this book inspired me to learn more about the Amish beliefs and lifestyle. It was truly a charming story, with plenty of intrigue and mystery. I would highly recommend The Secret!

 ~Susan             PST @ PSM

 

 

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

way of KingsAs the first book in The Stormlight Archive series, The Way of Kings demonstrates — once again — that Brandon Sanderson is a masterful world-builder. Surreal landscapes, unforgettable characters, and an unstoppable plot make this epic tale a must read for any fantasy lovers out there! Check out Sanderson’s website for updates about his upcoming books: http://brandonsanderson.com.

 ~Brittany        PST @ LT

 

 

 

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

my grandmotherFredrik Backman is a master storyteller. This very clever story filled with charm, wit and authentic characters will touch your heart and make you laugh out loud. For Elsa’s entire life her grandmother has told her fairy tales about the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miasma. When Elsa’s grandma dies, she leaves a series of letters that Elsa must deliver on her grandmother’s behalf. While delivering these letters, Elsa discovers that her grandmother’s fairy tales are based on real people Elsa has known her whole life. Lovable characters, a loyal dog, and fun Harry Potter references make this a book that I highly recommend.

~Nikki              PST @ PA

 

 

Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

DearMrHenshawThis is about Leigh, a boy who starts writing to his favorite author in second grade. Through these letters and then through a personal diary that the author encourages him to write, he begins to cope with his feelings about divorce, being the new kid, and dealing with an absent, unreliable dad. Through humor, learning empathy, and a little help from the warm and caring cast of characters around him, his self-confidence and sense of empowerment grows and he begins to take control of these issues for himself. This was a great read for fourth grade and up. An excellent book that centers around often difficult, real-life circumstances and challenges that happen to children.

 ~Robin             PST @ PSM