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Staff Recommendations – November 2006

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November 2006 Recommendations

thunderboltkidThe Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir
by Bill Bryson (B B8432)

Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods, A Short History of Nearly Everything) provides a humorously nostalgic and only slightly exaggerated look at what it was like to grow up in the happiest decade and place in America: Des Moines in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Adopting the persona of the Thunderbolt Kid (after having found an old sweater in the attic), Bryson recounts the adventures of a city kid (including bumps and bruises) growing up in Des Moines, during a period of great prosperity and change in America. Bryson, the son of a distinguished Des Moines Register sports writer, and whose mother was the editor of the Women’s section at the same paper (thus his facility with the written word), gives us a pithy view of growing up in the middle class Midwest, with observations about the foibles and prejudices that enabled one to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to those quite not so fortunate.

( official Thunderbolt Kid page on the official Bill Bryson web site )


Recommended by Jerry F.
Walt Branch Library

stormfrontThe Dresden Files series
by Jim Butcher (Butcher)

What do you get when you cross Buffy the Vampire Slayer with The Maltese Falcon? You get the novels in the Dresden Files series, by Jim Butcher. Harry Dresden is a Chicago P.I. but with a difference: He’s a practicing wizard – only one listed under “Wizards” in the yellow pages – working only on magic- or paranormal-related cases. Harry’s a bit down-on-his-luck, and is forced to take cases he’s not really interested in, since his position as a police consultant on paranormal incidents isn’t enough to pay the bills. The Dresden Files books mix the sarcastic, wry sense of humor about the supernatural, as seen in the Buffy or Charmed tv series or the novels of Laurell K. Hamilton, with the world-weariness of noir films and hard-boiled detective fiction, and somehow manage to balance them out. If you like a good dark fantasy novel, with over-matched wizards taking on fantastical foes, or if you like to see a downtrodden gumshoe going through his seedy contacts to save a mysterious damsel-in-distress, you’ll find something in the Dresden Files books to appeal to you. Personally, I’ll have to admit that it took me a while to get into the series. The first one (Storm Front) didn’t immediately hook me. However, following friends’ recommendations, by the 2nd (Fool Moon) and 3rd (Grave Peril), I’d really gotten sucked into Harry’s world and the style and atmosphere of the books.

(Related Note: The Sci Fi Channel launched a tv series based on The Dresden Files books in early 2007, however it only lasted for 13 episodes, only one of which was based on any of the books.)

( Wikipedia file on The Dresden Files ) | ( official Jim Butcher web site )


Recommended by Scott C.
Reference Department — Bennett Martin Public Library

geekloveGeek Love
by Katherine Dunn

Truely and American Gothic.

( Wikipedia page for Geek Love )


Recommended by Matt N.
Circulation Department — Bennett Martin Public Library

whatskansasWhat’s the Matter With Kansas?
by Thomas Frank (320.52 Fra)

Frank’s book is really about America–why do people vote Republican when Republican economic policies harm them? He discusses how Kansas, once a hotbed of Populist calls for policies helping poor farmers and workers against the rich, now votes for politicians who support tax cuts for the rich and cuts to social benefits. He shows how Republicans have used the emotional appeal of such issues as abortion and “filth” on TV to gain their support. This is a careful, engaging, book.

( publisher’s official What’s the Matter With Kansas? web site ) | ( official Thomas Frank web site )


Recommended by Bob B.
Reference Department — Bennett Martin Public Library

emotionalintelligenceEmotional Intelligence
by Daniel Goleman (152.4 Gol)

Have you ever wondered why a really intelligent person just can’t seem to get along with co-workers or family? Maybe the way we think of intelligence needs tweaking. Daniel Goleman’s book, written a decade ago but still very thought-provoking, describes abilites that allow people to lead more satisfying lives. His term for these abilities is “emotional intelligence.” They include such things as self-awareness, impulse control, persistence, empathy and self-motivation. In the latter part of his book Goleman describes how emotional intelligence can actually be taught at home or school and what the impact of such teaching can have for those leading troubled lives.

( official Daniel Goleman web site )


Recommended by Cindy C.
Technical Processes Department — Bennett Martin Public Library

attackThe Attack
by Yasmina Khadra (Khadra)

Amin, a successful Palestinian surgeon, and his young wife live a very comfortable life in Tel Aviv with both Jewish and Palestinian friends. When Amin’s wife is killed by a suicide bomber and then is accused of BEING the bomber, he goes from disbelief to acceptance and anger, which fuels his sleuthing to discover why and how this could have happened. The search for answers is a riveting tale which provides some insight into the terrorists’ motivations, at the same time as Amin realizes that he will always want to save lives, not take them.

( publisher’s page for The Attack )


Recommended by Mary L.
Walt Branch Library

openseason2Open Season
by Archer Mayor (Mayor)

Open Season is the first book in this long running series. We meet Joe Gunther, a police lieutenant in Brattleboro, Vermont who has two seemingly unrelated cases to solve. In one case a wealthy young man who is looking for his stolen dog is shot and killed by a frightened widow who has been set up to expect an intruder. In the second case a young woman is assaulted by a ski-masked man with a false tattoo. Gunther finds that the victims were jurors on a trial three years before where a Vietnam veteran was convicted of murdering a young woman. Despite pressure from local politicians to drop the case Gunther continues to hunt for the criminal. I was quickly captivated by Mayor’s writing when I read this book and I have eagerly awaited each new novel. In an interview, Mayor described each book as a chapter in a never-ending series. As the series progresses the reader gets to know Joe Gunther and his co-workers better – the irascible Willie Kunkle and the loyal Sammie Martens. We also watch Joe’s career progress and his relationship with his girlfriend, Gail Zigman, change. Not only do we see the characters evolve but we watch the nature of the crimes alter. Drugs become more and more of a factor in the later novels.

( official Archer Mayor web site )


Recommended by Donna G.
Eiseley and Walt Branch Libraries

thanksgiving101Thanksgiving 101
by Rick Rodgers (641.568 Rod)

This is an excellent holiday cook book for the beginning cook and expertise alike. I love the stories that go along with the recipes and the author provides simple tips that even the savvy cook might not have thought of. Did you know that when mashing your potatoes you should use always use hot milk instead of cold milk? This insures piping hot mashed potatoes when it’s time to serve them. The recipes are easy to follow and will make any cook’s first time turkey dinner a grand success.


Recommended by Patty L.
Walt Branch Library

eatsshootsEats, Shoots & Leaves
by Lynne Truss (421 Tru)

This book was recommended to me by a fellow co-worker who understands the pain of misplaced punctuation. This humorous ode to the lost art of editing is one of the best books I have read this year.

( the official Lynn Truss web site )


Recommended by Kim J.
Reference Department — Bennett Martin Public Library

bookthiefThe Book Thief
by Markus Zusak (Zusak and/or YA Zusak)

Fascinating narrative and a different view of the Holocaust.

( official Markus Zusak web site )


Recommended by Susan S.
Eiseley Branch Library


Rated by — Kris T.
Customer of the Anderson branch

Truly excellent. A captivating story about a Holocaust family, told from an interestingly suspicious narrator.


Rated by — Jeremiah J.
Staff at the Bennett Martin Public Library

Screening Room

deepbluedvdformatdvdDeep Blue
DVD 591.92 Dee)

This movie uses exceptional cinematography to show animal life in various ocean areas. Emperor penguins, polar bears, great blue whales, and even the strange creatures at the bottom of the Marianas Trench 7 miles down. This will leave you saying, “wow!”

( Internet Movie Database page for Deep Blue )

Recommended by Jodene G.
Walt Branch Library


Rated by — Julie H.
Customer of the Bess Dodson Walt Branch

last updated April 2022
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