Staff Picks: Cool Fall Reads

Posted by Aaron on

As we head into fall Jeanne and Vicky take a last glance at their summer reading. What’s cool about these reads is that they offer new perspectives on old friends.  When you read them it is like going back to school and seeing how much everyone has changed.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I noticed that “Animal Farm” was on the high school reading list again for some of our teenagers.  It seems to be a staple of the summer reading list. Many of us will remember reading this book back when we were in high school.  Well, this year I decided to read it again just for fun.  I checked out the CD and listened to it on my commute to work.

In this classic story the farm animals chase off their neglectful and abusive owner and are determined to do their best to create a new society where all the animals will be equal.  Things begin to go wrong almost immediately but at first this is overbalanced by their zeal for their new society.  As time goes on the “personalities” of the animals emerge more fully, as do their aptitudes for manipulating one another.  The simple sheep manage to learn one saying that sums up all they can comprehend about the new farm arrangement:  “Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad.”  Whenever they are confused, or whenever they are called upon to do so, they begin baaing this line over and over, drowning out all further conversation on important subjects.

Orwell’s “Animal Farm” seems like a simple story but it raises issues on a range of topics from personality to political history.  It is easy to see why our teachers keep this book on the reading list.  If your teen has read it recently you might consider reading it too and having a conversation about it.

∼ Jeanne, Reference Librarian, Warrenton Central Library

Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman

For my summer reading, I decided to go back to biographies, one of my longtime favorite reading genres. Lately I’ve been reading musician biographies and autobiographies, mainly of contemporary musicians.  I’m obsessed with all things Beatles, so I listened to Philip Norman’s “Paul McCartney: The Life.” At 30.5 hours in length, it took a very long time to finish but was well worth it. Norman, whose previous books include “John Lennon: The Life,” was given access to many of McCartney’s friends and associates. The result is a fairly well-balanced book, showing McCartney’s flaws as well as his admirable qualities and incredible talent as a musician and songwriter.  I may not now like McCartney quite as much as I did before reading this book, but as always, I appreciate his talent and influence on popular music for the last fifty years.

Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins

I also read Phil Collins’s autobiography, “Not Dead Yet.” Collins, the drummer and later lead singer for the group Genesis, also had a very popular solo career in the 1980s and 1990s. He writes honestly about himself, the person, as a performer, musician, husband, and father, flaws and all. As a former Texan, I found this anecdote interesting–Collins had a lifelong fascination with the Alamo. After years of collecting Alamo memorabilia, he donated it all back to the Alamo. This is one of the better rock music bios that I’ve read and by the end of this book, I found myself liking Collins much more than I had previously.

∼ Vicky, Reference Librarian, Warrenton Central Library

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