Archive for the ‘Albany Book Reviews’ Category

I watched the seasons change firsthand last week while on vacation in Arizona, throwing snowballs on Monday and hiking among desert wildflowers on Saturday. As luck would have it I brought along the perfect book, The Princess Bride, William Goldman’s novel that eventually became a movie. A fantasy featuring everything from true love to magic potions and a friendly giant–not to mention an entertaining parallel story featuring the author himself–this story is like spring fever in written format. Looking for a fun read? Check it out.

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almost-moon.jpg“When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.” Alice Sebold follows the success of Lovely Bones, a story told from the point of view of a girl who was murdered with Almost Moon, a story told by a woman who commits a murder. 

Saturday by Ian McEwan is the next book that will be discussed by the Albany Library Evening Book Group (Wednesday, December 19, 7-8 p.m.). Like Sebold, McEwan tells the story of a day in the life of a character from the character’s unique point of view.       


A great writer transports the reader into the essence of someone else (even for just a day) – in the trance of reading.

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After a great response to the Albany Reads series of events, people are asking “What is the next Albany Reads book?”. The answer is that the committee that works on this won’t come together until next spring, and the book will be announced in the summer.

slaughterhousefive.jpgMeanwhile, avid readers be meeting once a month, at the Albany Library, for a great evening book group facilitated by Albany High School Librarian Rosalie Gonzales. The book that will be discussed on November 28 at 7 p.m. is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Rosalie says this is “a classic autobiographical science fiction novel of World War II, telling the story of Billy Pilgrim, soldier and prisoner of war, who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden and becomes ‘unstuck in time’.” Many of us read this some time ago, so this is a great opportunity to reread with different eyes, and talk about.  There are many copies available right now at the library, as well as the DVD and the book on tape.

The December book (12/19) is Saturday by Ian McEwan. A complete list of books is available at the library.

You are welcome to drop-in for any of the discussions, There are no tests, or grades based on participation – just people talking about books. 

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This is a frequently asked question at the library. Librarians usually respond with, “Where are you going?” I just returned from a trip to New York equipped with the Albany Library copy of Moon Metro New York City. Even for a former New Yorker like myself, it was handy to have a small book of fold-out maps and short descriptions of some neighborhoods I planned to explore.  For my family the planning of a trip always start with books – a perusal of the library shelves, the ordering of interesting guides, and a culling of the information I intend to use. Check out the library’s collection of travel guides!

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shakespeare-wars.jpgAlbany Library Board member Leah Flanagan recommends The Shakespeare Wars by Ron Rosenbaum.  “This is entertaining non-fiction about the main arguments inside the worlds of Shakespeare scholarship and the theater.  It’s a lot of fun to discover what these scholars (and directors and actors) do, and how they think.  And the insights into Shakespeare’s language make this a must read for any Shakespeare lover.”

this-house-of.jpgAnd Albany High School Librarian, Rosalie Gonzales suggests This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind, by Ivan Doig.  “It’s a poetic, yet down to earth memoir of Doig’s childhood and early adulthood.  He draws unforgettable portraits of his childhood companions: his father and grandmother, and his childhood landscape: Montana ranches and small towns.   This beautifully written book was Ivan Doig’s first. I’m looking forward to reading his latest, The Whistling Season.”

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Summer is almost over – one last long weekend to read something wonderful. I asked members of the Friends of the Albany Library, and some others to share their best book of the summer.

 1776.jpgFriends’ president, Clara-Rae Genser said “the best book I have read this summer is David McCollough’s 1776. The Revolutionary War as we never have seen it.  Stirring, exciting, heart breaking, real.  I couldn’t put it down.” 

crashingthroughFriends’ Vice-President Ann Jennings suggests  Crashing Through, A True Story about Risk, Adventure and the Man Who Dared to See, by Robert Kurson. “This is the story of Mike May who was blinded in an accident at age 3. Through the marvels of modern medicine his vision was restored when he was in his 40’s. It is a fascinating story —not at all what a sighted person would expect. The science of vision was an eye opener (no pun intended!).” 

Next week – Albany High School Librarian, Rosalie Gonzales’ favorite book of the summer. 

What was yours?  

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samuraisgarden.jpgJoin your friends and neighbors in the second annual Albany Reads program.

The book for this year is The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. Books are now available at the Library (but being checked out at a rapid rate). We will have three programs in October: Saturday, October 20, 2-4 p.m. “Traditional Japanese Garden Styles”; a facilitated book discussion on Wednesday, October 24 from 7-8 p.m. and a program featuring the author, Gail Tsukiyama, on Sunday, October 28 at 2 p.m. More specific details on all to follow, but for now – come to the library, check out the book, and start reading!

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Since becoming a “teen librarian” in February, I’ve been reading

books written for young adults as fast as I can. I want to be able to recommend books to our patrons and to know more about what high school students are reading. Two of the books I’ve read recently are related to one my old favorites, The Catcher in the Rye. The first one has been compared to that classic but I thought it was boring. If any of you reading this have read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, can you tell me what you liked about it? The other book, which I loved, is called King Dork. This one includes a mystery related to a dead father’s notes in the margins of his old copy of Catcher in the Rye, among many other wacky things. Besides being funny and strange, this book was written by a local writer who happens to be in a punk band. How cool is that? Here’s an excerpt.

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Mystery in the Big City

adultgame.gifIt is not too late to enter the Alameda County Library’s reading game for adults – Mystery in the Big City.  Every Monday at 4, we are drawing a name and awarding a prize of  a $15 gift card to either Peet’s Coffee or See’s Candy. The grand prize of a $50 gift card to Borders Books will be awarded on August 20. The funding is from the Alameda County Library Foundation.Many of us at the Albany Library read mysteries. What follows is a couple of Big City suggestions:For Chicago atmosphere and interesting plots, I recommend Sara Paretsky. If you can’t get to Paris this summer, check out Cara Black and her unconventional sleuth Aimee Leduc. One of my “guilty pleasures” is the Stone Barrington series from Stuart Woods. Steve likes the James Lee Burke’s mysteries set in New Orleans featuring David Robicheaux, and Gerry suggests the traditional hard boiled mysteries of Raymond Chandler (LA) and Dashiell Hammett (SF). Linda reminds me that local author Sue Dunlap writes about the big city of Berkeley. Today’s winner was for Messenger of Truth, one of Jacqueline Winspear’s mysteries featuring Maisie Dobbs, a woman P.I. in London during World War I.

What could be better than mysteries, chocolate and coffee – or browsing a book store with $50 to spend?

Come to the library and enter the contest.

And tell us, what are you reading?

- Ronnie Davis

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Welcome to the Albany Library Blog. The Albany Library staff is excited to be sharing ideas and information.

And what do library staff like to talk about — good books. So, one of the features of this blog will be the sharing of what we are reading — and a place to tell us about what you are reading. Library staff as well as guest celebrities from the community will contribute.

saturday.jpgI’ll start: A couple of weeks ago, I read Saturday by Ian McEwan. Saturday is the story of a day in the life of one man, a neurosurgeon living in London in the months after September 11. The day starts at 4 a.m. when he wakes up and sees a plane on fire outside his bedroom window, and continues through the early morning hours of the next day. McEwan writes from the point of view of a man with the detail and analysis that I usually associate with women writers. He covers family relationships, being the victim of a crime, what it feels like to operate, and even the thoughts as he competes in a game of squash.

Anyone out there a McEwan fan? What do you think?

 – Ronnie Davis, Albany Library Manager

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