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Tags >> Reviews & Recommended Books
Jul 10

Amy Suggests..

Posted by amy in Reviews & Recommended Books

Feed by M.T. Anderson

“I don't know when they first had feeds. Like maybe, fifty or a hundred years ago. Before that, they had to use their hands and their eyes. Computers were all outside the body. They carried them around outside of them, in their hands, like if you carried your lungs in a briefcase and opened it to breathe.” Feed. M.T. Anderson


Feed cover art

Feed is the kind of book that stays with you. It’s the kind of story that serves as a benchmark- a post by which you measure other events in your life, stories that you hear, things you read on the internet. It’s a book that’s hard to shake. It’s disturbing and cynical and kind of hilarious the way a fever dream can be all of those things.

Feed is the story of Titus, a teenage boy who lives in a hyper-connected future Earth where everyone has an information feed hard-wired in their brains. Titus and his friends are constantly inundated with information through the Feednet. They can chat with each other or watch t.v. shows like, “Oh? Thing! Wow!”  But mostly they are subject to a constant barrage of consumer information. The Feed is an integration of technology and biology that started out as a great technological innovation, but ended up creating a population of distracted, ill-informed, inarticulate consumers. The planet is dying or dead, everyone is sick and none of Titus’s friends are too worried about it.

The story begins on the Moon, where Titus and his friends have gone for spring break, despite it’s horrible lameness. When a protester hijacks their feeds, they are taken offline and sent to recuperate in a hospital. That’s when Titus falls for Violet, a beautiful, smart girl who chooses to fight the feed.

Feed was written 11 years ago.  It’s a little scary how close to the bone M.T Anderson cuts in this book, considering it was written before most people were familiar with social media. Reading Feed, it’s hard to believe it was written before Facebook and Twitter.

An excellent review of this book by Tony McMillan of DigBoston (linked below) says, "...ultimately the thrust of this novel is not how thoroughly communication technology and its marriage with consumer culture rots our intelligence, it’s how deeply it rots our compassion." I think it’s also about how this marriage eats away at what makes us human; our ability to be present, to connect with other people, to reason. All of this connection tends to make us disconnect from where we are and what is happening to us right now. Feed is what happens when we aren't paying attention.

Feed is available in the “New” section in the teen room. The call number is YA F AND.

Tony McMillan’s exceptional review of M.T Anderson’s Feed can be found here.


Jun 25

Is the book always better than the movie?

Posted by amy in Reviews & Recommended Books

Recently we shared a Buzzfeed article on our Facebook page that lists 14 new movies based on popular fiction. You can see the original article here.  They are all terrific books and we have many of them at the library. The premise of the article is that, as they say "99% of the time the book is better than the movie." As librarians, we're inclined to agree with this statement, but we're also curious to know what you think.

This may be a controversial/ surprising statement, but there are a few movies that we think outshine the books on which they are based.  Here are 3 great movies based some "meh" books (or some pretty great books, that are out-shined by their film adaptations). Use the comments to let us know what you think!


What is Jaws without the "budump. budump budump?" Everything we love about Jaws comes from the movie.  From the amazing and instantly recognizable score to Robert Shaw's performance as the unflappable sea captain, Quint- Jaws has been making kids afraid to go in the water for over 30 years. The novel by Peter Benchley, while based on true stories of shark attacks, lacks the emotional oomph and sheer terror of the movie.

The Godfather

There's no doubt that Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather is a classic. It's rich, it's epic and it served to introduce Americans to the world of Mafia. But the thing we like most about The Godfather: A Novel, is that it brought us Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather-  and even better, The Godfather II (we will not mention The Godfather II except to say that we will not acknowledge it). 

In some ways comparing the book and the movies is really apples to oranges. What Coppola brings to the film adaptation is a lushness and fullness that is lacking in the novel(s). When your uncle does his best Godfather impression, it's not the book he's impersonating, it's Marlon Brando. Maybe we're feeling a little misty eyed and sentimental at the passing of James Gandolfini, but when you see Tony Soprano impersonating Michael Corleone ("I keep trying to get out, but they keep dragging me back in") you can't help feel like you've hit the trifecta of American cinema.

The Princess Bride

It's clever and it's funny but we think The Princess Bride by William Goldman pales in comparison to the film version. Just as in the film, the book is presented as an "abridged" version of another book, by S. Morgenstern (this full-version of the book doesn't exist, btw. We wish we would have know this when we were 12 and desperately searching for it). Just as the movie follows the adventures of Princess Buttercup, Prince Humperdinck, Westley the farm boy, and Vazzini and his small band of thugs, so too does the book. It's the places where the book and film diverge that lose interest. Goldman interjects large passages of "journal entries" from the modern world that, which are hilarious, but detract from our intent, which is always to "get Humperdinck."

BTW Goldman's book began as bedtime stories that he told his daughters.  How awesome is that?!

So what do you think? Have you read any of these books? Seen the movies? Are there books you want to read before the movie comes out? Are there movies that you think are better than the books they were adapted from? Let us know!


Apr 10

Travel the world without ever leaving home!

Posted by amy in Reviews & Recommended Books

Get out of town with a good book!

Check out these travel narratives available at the library...

 In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.  A funny and factual account of his trip to Australia by America’s premier travel writing humorist. BASM 919.4 BRY

· Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The author leaves her entire life behind and takes a year to travel the world and focus on food, faith and love. BASM B GIL

· Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck.  Steinbeck chronicles his trip across America aboard his camper, Rosinante with his poodle, Charley during one of the most tumultuous times in our nations history. BASM 973.92 STE

· Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.  (from B STR

Or explore the joys of staying home…

· Where the  Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living & Writing in the West by Wallace Stegner. BASM 813.52 STE

· Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes BASM 945.5 MAY



Apr 04

Amy Suggests...

Posted by amy in Reviews & Recommended Books

You may have seen the book recommendations in the Waitsburg Times today from Amy Rosenberg, the new branch manager. If you haven't, here they are!

The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver

A lacuna is a missing part, a cavity, an emptiness defined by the things that surround it. There are many lacunae in Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, but perhaps the most apparent is it’s narrator, Harrison Shepherd. We know facts about him, like that he was born in the US and grew up in Mexico. He was a cook for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. He wrote torrid novels about Mexican history. But we find out who he is only peripherally, by what is unsaid and what he says about others.

But it is through Shepherds journals and letters, along with some real newspaper articles that Kingsolver pieces together the story. It begins when Shepherd is a child, in a hacienda surrounded by howler monkeys on Isla Pixol in 1929.  As the novel progresses Shepherd becomes part of the lives of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky. Yet, in the tumultuous Rivera/Kahlo household, Shepherd remains apart. He keeps his head down and his pen busy. After the assassination of Trotsky, he moves to the US. There, he lives as a recluse until called before the House Un-American Activities Committee to give testimony about life among the Trotskyites.

Librarian and human action figure, Nancy Pearl, says that readers usually enter a book through one of four doorways, Character, Story (or plot), Setting or Language. Reading The Lacuna is like entering all four doorways at once. The characters are alive and richly painted. The story is fascinating, heartbreaking and complex. Despite it’s length (and it is long, folks) I read it in just a few days. The setting is lush and sensuous. The language is gorgeous. I’ve always been a big fan of Barbara Kingsolver’s and The Lacuna is I think, her best work.

The Great House, By Nicole Krauss

The Great House is comprised of 4 stories centered around an antique writing desk. The desk itself is “an enormous, foreboding thing that bore down on the occupants of the room it inhabited, pretending to be inanimate but, like a Venus’ flytrap, ready to pounce on them and digest them via one of its many little terrible drawers.” One of which is forever locked. The desk is an omnipresent feature in the book and in the lives of the characters who live around it.

Nicole Krauss is spectacularly gifted at weaving together the threads of disparate narratives into a wondrous, heartbreaking whole. The Great House is, in essence, a mystery. Like the desk with the locked drawer, it doesn’t give its secrets up easily. In the beginning, it’s unclear how these characters relate to one another. Gradually, as the connections between them become clear and as the mysteries slowly reveal themselves, we are left with a sense of having touched something important.

Krauss is a young writer and The Great House is her third book. Her second book, History of Love, is an amazing piece of fiction, one of my all-time favorites. She is an exceptionally talented story teller, but it’s her descriptions and her use of the language that will break your heart. Then mend it, and break it again.


Nov 19

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

Posted by heather in Reviews & Recommended Books

"The Story of Beautiful Girl" by Rachel Simon. It is one of our new books.  I highly recommend it. It is well written and the story is very thought provoking.

by Sandy

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If you wish to reserve "The Story of Beautiful Girl " by Rachel Simon , please contact the library:


Nov 09

Buffalo Music by Tracey E. Fern

Posted by heather in Reviews & Recommended Books

I love the rough quality to Castillo's art, and how it it fits Fern's story of one stubborn woman with a kind heart who took in some orphan bison to save their lives. This story really gets at the heart of farm/rural life -- the love of animals and the kindness of strangers.

by Heather

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If you wish to reserve "Buffalo Music" by Tracey E. Fern, please contact the library:


Nov 07

Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey

Posted by heather in Reviews & Recommended Books

I have read this book more often than I can count. It is my favorite of Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall trilogy, and it remains as fantastic today as it was when I first read it. "Dragonsinger" is the continuation of Menolly's story -- she is a gifted female musician in a world where it is frowned upon for girls to do such a thing. At the opening of "Dragonsinger," Menolly finds herself at the doorstep of the Harper Hall (Pern's equivalent of an elite music school) after having been tapped by the Masterharper himself -- who is trying to change the 'old ways' for the better.
What remains the biggest draw to this book for me is how Menolly's story mirrors my own: growing up, I was always the odd one out. Like Menolly, I wanted to write songs and stories -- but faced obstacles in my pursuit. Watching Menolly grow into herself, watching her come to terms, and ultimately, find her very own niche gave me hope that someday, I would find my own as well.

Thank you, Menolly (and Ms. McCaffrey), for giving me the courage to follow my own dreams.

reviewed by Heather

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If you wish to reserve "Dragonsinger" by Anne McCaffrey, please contact the library:


Nov 03

The Rebels by Jack Cavanaugh

Posted by heather in Reviews & Recommended Books

5 out of 5 stars

The author doesn't write history as it may be thought of universally, but searches for actual facts. This is a refreshing look at the Civil War that is not bent by the propaganda of then and today. The author presents history just like history happened, with a fair view of both sides. He (the author) writes with an open mind and does not tarnish his writing with his own preconceived notions.

Review by Sebastiana Radebaugh

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If you wish to reserve "The Rebels" by Jack Cavanaugh, please contact the library:


Oct 28

My Life, The Theatre, and Other Tragedies by Zadoff

Posted by heather in Reviews & Recommended Books

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

[I gave it three and a half stars] because I thought it was cool how it was all about Adam's theatre life, as a techie, and how he tries to save the show and get the girl.

by an anonymous teen

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If you wish to reserve "My Life, The Theatre, and Other Tragedies" by Allen Zadoff, please contact the library:


Oct 21

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

Posted by heather in Reviews & Recommended Books

I had a hard time getting through this book. Sacks is obviously a very intelligent psychologist and thorough researcher, however, when I picked up this book, I had thought it was a book about the fascinating, "good" powers of music on the brain... Instead, it seemed to be a study in "music gone wrong": people with hearing loss having their lives disrupted by inexplicable and hellish noise, people with perpetual 'ear worms' that threaten to drive them insane, people driven to near physical destruction by the sudden onset of epileptic seizures in response to their most loved music...

I didn't finish this one. As a musician and avid music lover, I found the majority of the stories disheartening (or even frightening!) to read.

by Heather

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If you wish to reserve "Musicophilia" by Oliver Sacks, please contact the library:



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