Staff Picks: Books We Can’t Put Down
For readers, one of life’s great pleasures is a good read. Sometimes it is a dense tome in the dead of winter that requires concentration and perseverance that we might not have at other times of the year. In the summer it might be a light read that entertains us while we multitask, watching kids play in the pool or splash at the beach. Dipping into a trove of beautifully crafted poetry or prose is a favorite fall pastime, savoring the imagery of both the literature and the spectacular season. That leaves spring – that beautiful time of year where everything is so fresh and new…and busy! Between spring cleaning, garden preparation and sneaking in some time to enjoy the unrivaled paradise that our lovely county becomes in spring, reading has a lot of competition this time of year. Fret not – Bealeton staff has selected a few that will hold their own. So dust off the lawn chair and settle in. Here are a few books that we found hard to put down:
Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal – Sue Eisenfeld
This was a book I just didn’t want to put down, not because the plot thickened, or I wanted to see “who done it” – just pure interest.
In “Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal,” author Sue Eisenfeld shares her love for the Shenandoah National Park and her numerous hikes there. But she also delves into some lesser known details on the history of the park’s inception, and the people who were displaced as a result of the park. The author is a “bushwhacker hiker,” meaning she intentionally explores off the beaten path in hopes of finding relics from the past inhabitants – a piece of broken pottery, family cemeteries, old home foundations, or even an old fence post. This passion led her to investigate more about the park’s creation, the propaganda campaign surrounding it and the families that were displaced from their homes and property to establish Shenandoah National Park.
I am an avid supporter of the National Park system and the conservation of land, but one doesn’t always realize or pause to think of the sacrifice that is made for us to enjoy this preserved land.
∼ Alicia, Library Associate, Bealeton branch library
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Listening to the audiobook of this fast-paced young adult story of interstellar action was so intense, I didn’t want to leave the car after my commute.
Until recently, Kady’s worst problem had been breaking up with Ezra…then her planet was invaded. It’s the year 2575, and Kady and Ezra find themselves evacuating with the space fleet. But that’s the least of their troubles. The Al on board, which is programmed to protect, turns against them and shoots down their ally ship. Meanwhile, a deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, turning everyone into psychopathic killers.
Told through a fascinating series of hacked documents, classified military files, interviews, intercepted personal messages, schematics and more this futuristic page-turner is perfect for fans of the “Hunger Games” and “Divergent.” Expert computer hacker, Kady, is a smart rebel, fighting for a cause. Unexpected twists will keep you wondering and there’s just enough snarky humor to lighten the tense drama as civilians and soldiers fight to survive The first in the series, “Illuminae” will grab you from page (or disc) one and have you running for the next volume.
∼ Ann, Youth Services Librarian, Bealeton branch library
The Taming of the Queen by Phillippa Gregory
For some reason, I have always been fascinated by the British Monarchy (past not present). Henry the VIII and his six wives are especially interesting. Phillippa Gregory has long been writing about the monarchy and Henry’s queens in particular. Her newest book on the subject, “The Taming of the Queen,” is a fascinating mix of fact and fiction on the life of Katherine Parr, the last queen.
Katherine was twice widowed and in love with Thomas Seymour when the King proposed. Of course she couldn’t tell him no. No one told Henry “No.” She agreed to marry him, surely knowing that he had already set aside 2 wives and executed 2 others. Not to mention the fact that he was moody, obese, impotent, and had a perpetually seeping wound on his leg. But, she couldn’t turn down the “honour” he had bestowed upon her. Katherine also stepped into the role of mother to his 3 surviving children, all born to different wives. She was very successful as a mother, despite never having had children of her own.
In addition to having to walk the tightrope of beloved or betrayed with Henry, Katherine was embroiled in the struggle between religious factions in the court. She was a very intelligent woman and read and wrote about religion often. Katherine was a Reformist wanting to do away with the Catholic Church and its Latin services. She wanted every British citizen to be able to read the Bible and create their own relationship with God. There were those in the court who wanted to get rid of her for that reason and sometimes her own husband was included in that camp. No one knows for sure what Katherine Parr had to do to outwit her enemies and her husband. But, “The Taming of the Queen,” is a gripping story of the terror she faced and the woman she was.
∼ Jen B. Circulation Clerk, Bealeton branch library
Through a Dog’s Eyes by Jennifer Arnold
About a year ago, quite out of the blue, a new dog came into my life. Of course, when I say new, I mean old. Keira was 10, utterly adorable and brought with her an odd assemblage of habits. One motion in particular – she would stare at me and paw at the air – really perplexed me. It seemed obvious that she was trying to communicate something. But what?
Then one day, on a whim, I picked up “Through a Dog’s Eyes” and suddenly many of Keira’s quirks made sense.
The book chronicles Arnold’s life-long love of dogs, her struggle to establish Canine Assistants (an organization dedicated to training service dogs) and her journey to develop her own choice-based training method.
Unsurprisingly, my favorite chapter was ‘Language’ which translates some common canine body signals. The appendices covering training tips and behavioral problems were also incredibly helpful.
So what was Keira telling me? Turns out while I was struggling to understand her, she was trying to get to know me and was offering what Arnold calls the ‘Paw of Placation’ meaning ‘What can I do to make you happy?’
If you enjoy the book, be sure to check out the DVD narrated by Neil Patrick Harris!