Archive for July, 2009

NPR Audience Picks 100 Best Beach Books Ever

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Looking for a good book to read on the beach this summer, a friend came across this NPR article: Audience Picks: 100 Best Beach Books Ever

Almost 16,000 NPR listeners cast some 136,000 votes in the Best Beach Books Ever poll. Said NPR, “Whether such a vote can determine literary quality, who can say? But there’s one thing a multitude of book-loving NPR types can most definitely do, and that’s pick a list of books that will appeal to… book-loving NPR types.”

The poll produced a list of audience favorites, dubbed, “The 100 Best Beach Books Ever.” Here are the top 10 from the list:
1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
Click here for the rest of the list.

One Maryland One Book Author Tour with James McBride

Friday, July 31st, 2009


Contact: Andrea Lewis

Maryland Humanities Council Announces One Maryland One Book Author Tour with James McBride, Author of Song Yet Sung

The Maryland Humanities Council is pleased to bring celebrated author James McBride to tour Maryland this September and October. McBride’s novel, Song Yet Sung (Find this book in our catalog), has been chosen as the 2009 title for One Maryland One Book, Maryland’s only statewide community reading program, which is now in its second year. McBride, an award-winning author, composer, and screenwriter, is also the author of the New York Times best-selling memoir, The Color of Water, and the novel, Miracle at St. Anna, which was recently made into a film directed by Spike Lee. Set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in the 1850s, Song Yet Sung weaves an intricate and gripping tale of escaped slaves, free blacks, and slave-catchers. The protagonist is an enslaved woman called The Dreamer, whose gift for visions of the future quickly reaches mythic proportions following her escape from a local plantation.”I am delighted. It has to be one of the proudest moments of my career,” said McBride on hearing of the selection of Song Yet Sung as Maryland’s book for 2009. “The fact that the book was chosen by native Marylanders means all that much more. Like many Americans, I had no idea that the Eastern Shore of Maryland was the gateway to freedom for so many; nor did I realize the depth and complexity of relationships that existed between blacks and whites at that time, all of which were played out in Maryland.”

McBride will kick-off his tour of Maryland at the 2009 Baltimore Book Festival, where he will speak at the festival’s Literary Salon. In addition to Baltimore City, McBride will visit seven Maryland counties. Baltimore tour date and location:
Baltimore Book Festival,
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Literary Salon
Mount Vernon Square (East Park), Baltimore
Information: 410-685-0095
(visit the website at for more tour dates)

In addition to McBride’s author tour, every Maryland jurisdiction will participate in One Maryland One Book by holding local programs in September and October at libraries, colleges and universities, high schools, museums, and bookstores. There will be over 100 events around the state, including book discussions, living history performances, author appearances, and writing workshops. Harford County Public Library will be participating. More information will be forthcoming. Updated event information will be posted on the One Maryland One Book calendar at

One Maryland One Book, a program of the Maryland Center for the Book at the Maryland Humanities Council, is Maryland’s first and only statewide community reading project. One Maryland One Book is designed to bring together diverse people in communities across the state through the shared experience of reading the same book and participating in book-centered discussions and other related programming. All related public programming will take place in September and October 2009. One Maryland One Book is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, LSTA grant funds, through the Division of Library Development & Services, Maryland State Department of Education; Bank of America Foundation; Verizon; Constellation Energy; and Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and in partnership with the Enoch Pratt Free Library and Barnes and Noble.

For more information or for organizations interested in partnering with the Maryland Humanities Council on this project, visit the website at or call 410-685-6161.

Mystery Fans – Try Award-Winning Author

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Death Message by Mark Billingham Find this book in our catalog

“‘Delivering the death message’. That’s what coppers call it when they have to tell someone that a loved one has been killed. Now Detective Inspector Tom Thorne is receiving messages of his own. Photos of murder victims sent to his mobile phone. The killer is quickly identified as a man just released from prison; someone who believes he has nothing left to live for. But why is he sending these pictures to Thorne? The answer lies in Thorne’s past, with a man he himself sent away, for life. Even behind bars, the most vicious psychopath Thorne has ever faced is still a master at manipulating others to do his dirty work for him. Particularly his killings…”(plot description on Mark Billingham’s official website)

This UK author’s U.S. reputation will get a boost since the author’s recent coup winning the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award for Death Message, featuring London copper DI Tom Thorne. Read more about the award… Mark Billingham won the first Theakston award for Lazybones, also available at HCPL.

Fans of police procedurals and of books about psychopathic master-mind serial killers, why not take a chance on a lesser-known author – an author who is one to watch!

Man Booker Longlist Announced – Excellent Book group Titles!

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

The Man Booker Longlist has been announced. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is sponsored by Man Group plc. and was first awarded in 1969. According to the official website, this internationally respected British award, “promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. The prize is the world’s most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and even publishers….”

Try these titles from the Longlist. Deemed to be among the finest in fiction, they would make excellent choices for book group discussions! You will find them in Harford County Public Library’s catalog:
* The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
* The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey
* Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
* Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
* Love and Summer by William Trevor
* The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The shortlist will be unveiled September 8, and the winner named October 6 at a dinner at London’s Guildhall.

Romance Writers of America conference and awards

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

The Romance Writers of America hosted their annual conference last weekend in Washington, D.C. According to By Rose Fox in Publishers Weekly for 7/22/2009, around 2,000 members descended on the conference.
Romance Writers of America is dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy. Their annual conference attracts a diverse crowd of writers, publishers, would-be writers, and all many fans of romance novels who flock to see their favorite authors. Click here to read more about the association, the conference, and the RITA and other awards.
These are some of the award winners we have in our catalog:
Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore
The Edge of Impropriety by Pam Rosenthal
My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne
Finding Stefanie by Susan May Warren
Seducing Mr. Darcy by Gwyn Cready
Tribute by Nora Roberts
Take No Prisoners by Cindy Gerard
Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson

Street Lit – monthly e-newsletter

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Looking for the latest news on Street Lit? I learned this titbit from Rollie Welch of Cleveland P.L. in Library Journal, 7/14/2009.

Rollie writes in his column, “The Word on Street Lit, ” for LJ: Author Karen E. Quinones Miller… publishes a monthly e-newsletter that alerts readers to news of the African American literary world. Literary News and Views…That I Hope You Can Use covers the latest in street lit, urban fiction, general fiction, romance, and nonfiction. To subscribe, send an email to with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line.”

Books to Movies – A Woman in Berlin

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

According to PW of 7/17/09, “Today, the independent film A Woman in Berlin opens in limited release, starring Nina Hoss, Yevgeni Sidikhin and Irm Hermann. It’s based on A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary by Anonymous (then a 34-year-old journalist who started the diary in April 1945, when the Russians were invading Berlin and the city’s mostly female population was heading to its cellars to wait out the bombing), translated by Philip Boehm.” Find this book in our catalog.

Summary from our catalog: “For six weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman, alone in the city, kept a daily record of her and her neighbors’ degradations, determined to describe the common experience of millions.”

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

The Abingdon Book Group had a summer open house this month & instead of reading a particular title, read whatever they wanted & then shared that book with the group.
Below is a short list of titles that they recommend.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
This novel follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen.

Lying with the Enemy by Tim Binding
This novel is set on the Island of Guernsey during World War II. It is partly a war story and partly a murder mystery, & follows the relationships between the islanders and the invading Germans.
Try this if you enjoyed The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Since it was first published in 1955, Gift from the Sea has enlightened and offered solace to readers on subjects from love and marriage to peace and contentment.

Fidali’s Way by George Mastras
From Publishers Weekly
Nick Sunder, a disillusioned Boston lawyer, has been backpacking in Asia for more than a year when disaster strikes at the start of Mastras’s stirring first novel: the police in Peshawar, Pakistan, arrest him for cutting his French girlfriend’s throat. Innocent of the crime, Sunder escapes custody by killing a cop. He heads into the Himalayas on foot, and after several weeks arrives at a remote medical clinic in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, where he gets a job as an aid worker, falls in love with a female Muslim doctor and witnesses horrifying acts of terrorism. Mastras, a TV writer (Breaking Bad) who’s trekked through Asia himself, delivers a winding, character-rich plot full of authentic detail and regional history. While sentimentality mars some passages, the odysseylike story grips. Though Sunder’s naïveté can be distracting at times, readers will cheer him along his path toward spiritual renewal, guided by the wisdom and advice of the titular Fidali, whom he meets on his journey. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

The Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons
When Maude Chambliss first arrives at Retreat, the seasonal home of her husband’s aristocratic family, she is a nineteen-year-old bride fresh from South Carolina’s Low Country. Among the patrician men and women who reside in the summer colony on the coast of Maine, her gypsy-like beauty and impulsive behavior immediately brand her an outsider. She, as well as everyone else, is certain she will never fit in. And of course, she doesn’t…at first.
This brilliant novel, rich with emotion, is filled with appealing, intense, and indomitable characters. Anne Rivers Siddons paints a portrait of a woman determined to preserve the spirit of past generations–and the future of a place where she became who she is…a place called Colony.

In Memoriam – Frank McCourt

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Frank McCourt, author of the memoirs Angela’s Ashes, ‘Tis and Teacher Man, died Sunday, July 19 at 78 in New York City. He had suffered from metastatic melanoma, according to the New York Times, which has a long obituary.

On scanning the obituaries, it seems to me that all writers highlight McCourt’s gifts as a consummate storyteller. I remember how, when Angela’s Ashes came out in 1996, people would recount to each other anecdotes from the book. They would laugh and cry at the same time at tales of Frank McCourt’s growing up in grinding poverty in Ireland: some of the incidents in his life are shocking and tragic and yet told so outrageously and engagingly that they are funny and very human.

Here are links to Frank McCourt’s memoirs in our catalog:
Angela’s Ashes
Teacher Man

Frank McCourt also co-authored some books:
Ireland ever / photographs by Jill Freedman ; texts by Frank McCourt and Malachy McCourt
Brotherhood / text by Tony Hendra; introduction by Frank McCourt
“A lively introduction by Frank McCourt reflects on the civil connection we feel with firefighters….”

And he wrote fiction:
Angela and the baby Jesus / by Frank McCourt
“When my mother, Angela, was six years old, she felt sorry for the Baby Jesus in the Christmas crib at St. Joseph’s Church near School House Lane where she lived…. * * * *Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela’s Ashes is a modern classic. Now he has written a captivating Christmas story about Angela as a child — often cold and hungry herself — compelled to rescue the Baby Jesus and take him home.”

Julia Blackburn’s The Three of Us won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for memoir and autobiography.

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Julia Blackburn’s The Three of Us won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for memoir and autobiography. Find this book in our catalog

Jacket notes: The Three of Us is a memoir like no other you have read.”
This is what is says in the Summary in our catalog: “This is the story of three people: Julia Blackburn; her father, Thomas; and her mother, Rosalie. Thomas was a poet and an alcoholic who for many years was addicted to barbiturates, which would often make him violent. Rosalie, a painter, was sociable and flirtatious; she treated Julia as her sister, her confidante, and eventually as her deadly sexual rival. After Julia’s parents divorced, her mother took in lodgers, always men, on the understanding that each would become her lover. When one of the lodgers started an affair with Julia, Rosalie was devastated; when he later committed suicide, the relationship between mother and daughter was shattered irrevocable. Or so it seems until the spring of 1999, when Rosalie, diagnosed with leukemia, came to live with Julia for the last month of her life. At last the spell was broken, and they were able to talk with an ease they had never known before. When she was very near the end, Rosalie said to Julia, “Now you will be able to write about me, won’t you?” The Three of Us is a memoir like no other you have read. The writing is magical, and the story is extraordinary, not only for its honest but also for its humor and its lack of blame. Ultimately, this is a tale of redemption, a love story. It will surely become one of the classics of that genre. From the Hardcover edition.”
Read more about the PEN/Ackerley Prize…