Armchair Traveller RA Display

I just read a readers advisory article today in Booklist Online . The writer chose to highlight a Michigan library’s monthly display called “Outside the Book”. Materials from several different collections in the library are displayed under a monthly theme. A recent favorite display of one of the librarians was entitled: “Outside the Book: Armchair Travel to the South of France.” (That sounded really neat – who wouldn’t want to check that one out ?) Displayed were memoirs of writers who live/lived there: Peter Mayle’s titles (he also writes fiction titles set in that location), Gully Wells’ The House in France, and a new title by Jamie Ivey: Ten Trees and a Truffle Dog: Sniffing out the Perfect Plot in Provence.

Also displayed were fiction titles including mysteries, non-fiction titles such as Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who ruled Europe, cookbooks, and of course travel guides, DVDs and CDs. I liked this idea of a display, maybe we could incorporate here if space permits?

Once we were brothers by Ronald Balson

This tale begins with two boys, one taken in by the other boy’s family, during the Nazi occupation of Poland.  Ben Solomon, years later in Chicago, accuses Elliot Rosenzweig of being Otto Piatek, a notorious Nazi SS officer.  The book does a fair job of keeping one guessing the truth.  There is a touching romance thrown in, and some “zoning out” which help the investigation along with some clues from beyond.  Not a bad quick read.

National Book Awards

Finalists were announced Wednesday for the awards.  We had all the fiction: Kushner The Flamethrowers, Lahari The Lowland, McBride The Good Lord Bird, Pynchon Bleeding Edge and Saunders Tenth of December.  But only one of the nonfiction: Packer The Unwinding book & BCD, but not Lepore Book of Ages, Lower Hitler’s Furies, Taylor Internal Enemy and Wright Going Clear. 

I’ll add these to our working order for consideration.

High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service

High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service by Micah Solomon is very entertaining.

One of my favorite stories is about how Micah was on a small chartered airplane that almost crashed. Because of the professionalism of the crew and airline and how they treated him after the mishap, he had a positive view of the airline. This was compared to a flight he took on American Airlines when he spent over $1,000 on his ticket for a long flight. After many hours on the plane he asked for a second bag of peanuts and no one on the crew could find him a bag. He was outraged that he had paid so much money and was treated so poorly. His point is that you will make mistakes but how you treat your customers during the make-up is what makes the difference – even when it is the customer’s fault.


Woman Upstairs

Sometimes when I start a book I have the feeling the ending is going to be “not good.”  This novel by Claire Messud does not disappoint.  Nora is a third grade teacher.  She wanted to be an artist but her mother thought she should be able to support herself, and wanted her not to end up as she had, an unhappy homemaker.  Nora is full of anger.  She becomes friends with a new student’s mother who happens to be an artist.  (The family is visiting from Paris for a year, the husband a Lebanese lecturer at Cambridge.)  They decide to share a studio and become very close, Nora obsessively so.   Nora’s art is tiny dioramas.  Sirena’s art is huge installations and she is being sought for showing her work.  They support and help each other, becoming very close, Nora being considered “family.”

Throughout the book, I was unsure if Nora’s telling is reality or her skewed vision of reality.  I won’t spoil the ending but it is indeed “not good.”