Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

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Every summer I try to pick a classic that I’ve never read before.  This year I chose this little gem of a book.  It’s an extremely quick read and a truly beautiful book.  It follows Siddhartha as he tries to find spiritual fulfillment and wisdom after he says goodbye to his life of privilege and comfort.  Timely messages of how to achieve harmony and see the goodness in whoever you encounter in life.  So glad I finally read this and I would recommend it to anyone.

Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of the New Yorker by Thomas Kunkel

Man in Profile
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This is a biography of one of the most famous staff writers for the New Yorker Magazine.  Mitchell, from small-town North Carolina, was drawn to a writing career and landed in New York as a journalist.  He quickly became noticed by the New Yorker, and joined the staff in the heyday of the magazine.  The New Yorker featured the most notable writers of the day —  James Thurber, E. B. White, A. J. Liebling, Dorothy Parker, John Hersey…the list goes on and on.

Mitchell was interested in the characters in New York who made the City tick — bartenders, fishermen, eccentric characters, tug boat captains.  He is credited with raising journalism into the realm of literary art.  There were controversies along the way, and toward the end of his life, a stunning mystery.

The Hand That Feeds You by A. J. Rich

The Hand that Feeds You
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I read a lot of different genres and do like thrillers.  This definitely falls into that category.  The book wasted no time getting right into the suspenseful feel of a psychological thriller.

The story starts right away with Morgan walking into her home to discover her dead fiancee, Bennett, and her three dogs covered in blood.  Her dogs catch the blame and she scrambles to reconcile the dogs she knew  while trying to find her fiancé’s parents to tell them the bad news and learns that he wasn’t who he said he was.

As Morgan sets out to discover who Bennett really was, she uncovers a man with several fiancees, an ex-wife, and a trail of theft and deception.  Then she discovers that the ex-wife and fiancees have all recently died violently.  Morgan realizes that she might also be the target for murder.

I finished this book over a weekend to see how it would all play out, even though I had the bad guy figured out a little before the final action took place.  Still a good quick read.



If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

If I Could Turn Back Time
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The night before her birthday, 38 year old Ramie hits her head and wakes up in her bedroom two days before the last day of her senior year of high school.  She navigates through life as an 18 year old, exploring an old relationship with her high school boyfriend and also interacting with her father, who passed away a few years later.

I’m a sucker for books like this and I enjoyed all the passages on time and fate and who we are and how we are affected by events in our lives.  I liked this more than I thought I would.  I love time travel stories, and I was excited when I heard about this one. Enjoyable read.

Love May Fail by Matthew Quick

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So if you like quirky, messed up and lost characters that are in search for something better in their lives, then you will enjoy this book, Love May Fail.  I enjoyed how this book was told through the perspectives of four wildly diverse characters: Portia Kane, a woman in search of goodness in men, after she leaves her pornographic husband who is having an affair; Mr. Vernon, a former high school English teacher contemplating suicide after being attacked by a student; Chuck Bass, an ex-heroin addict turned elementary teacher, and the crazy nun who reaches out to her son on her deathbed.  These four characters’ lives all intertwine as the story unfolds: they search for love and a purpose in life to rekindle that spark.  If you liked the author’s Silver Linings Playbook, then you will enjoy this.

Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

Some Assembly Required
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If and when my library teens want to discuss what is going on in their lives, they know I am available as a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on, or as a resource for finding agencies that can provide further help.  Some of my teens have come to me while they were in the process of coming out and/or transitioning.  Thankfully, there are brave young people like Arin Andrews who are willing to share their own stories so that transgender and cisgender people can better understand both the obstacles transgender people face and the resources that are available to them as they decide how they would like to move forward with their lives.

I thought Arin did a great job of explaining the process of [female to male] transitioning both simply and thoroughly; the fact that he managed to do so without being didactic was very impressive!  Though Arin’s transition involved both hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery, he was careful to explain that there are many people who opt to transition differently and that all choices are valid.  I was especially grateful for Arin’s candor about dating and sex, since I am sure many people are curious about how that all “works,” when one or more of the people in the relationship is transgendered.  I think this book would be an excellent resource for someone who is preparing for or struggling with his/her own transition, but I also think it is an important book to share with cisgender teens.  As a woman who feels perfectly at home in the body into which she was born, it has taken years of conversations with transgendered teens to even begin to fully appreciate their struggle.  I can only hope that the open sharing of stories like Arin’s will help future generations to be more understanding and empathetic and that the struggle for trans rights will soon become a part of history.