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Lawrence Reads: Week of August 5, 2013

Every Sunday, we ask our Facebook fans what they are reading. Each week we’ll be sharing ten featured books mentioned in the comments that are available from our collection. If you’re interested in checking one out, clicking on the title will direct you to the catalog listing for the book. This week’s list features frequently banned books (perhaps people are searching for inspiration for Banned Book Trading Cards) as well as local history, classics, and YA favorites.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

catch22Catch-22 is like no other novel. It is one of the funniest books ever written, a keystone work in American literature, and even added a new term to the dictionary.

At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. His efforts are perfectly understandable because as he furiously scrambles, thousands of people he hasn’t even met are trying to kill him. His problem is Colonel Cathcart, who keeps raising the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he is committed to flying, he is trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

Catch-22 is a microcosm of the twentieth-century world as it might look to some one dangerously sane — a masterpiece of our time.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

112363On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? The author’s new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination. In this novel that is a tribute to a simpler era, he sweeps readers back in time to another moment, a real life moment, when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-FiveA fourth-generation German-American now living in easy circumstances on Cape Cod (and smoking too much), who, as an American infantry scout hors de combat, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, “The Florence of the Elbe,” a long time ago, and survived to tell the tale. This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from. Peace.

 

Quantrill and the Border Wars by William Elsey Connelley

quantrill1909. The story of the leader of the most savage fighting unit in the Civil War. Quantrill, outside of the heads of government, was the most widely known man connected with the Civil War. His place in the public estimation of the South was based upon a misapprehension of his life and motives. He voluntarily imposed himself on the South. He told little of his prior life, and that which he did tell was wholly untrue. It is due to the South that his life be revealed as it actually was.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingslover

flight behaviorSet in the present day in the rural community of Feathertown, Tennessee, this novel tells the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a petite, razor-sharp 29-year-old who nurtured worldly ambitions before becoming pregnant and marrying at seventeen. Now, after more than a decade of tending to small children on a failing farm, oppressed by poverty, isolation and her husband’s antagonistic family, she has mitigated her boredom by surrendering to an obsessive flirtation with a handsome younger man. In the opening scene, Dellarobia is headed for a secluded mountain cabin to meet this man and initiate what she expects will be a self-destructive affair. But the tryst never happens. Instead, she walks into something on the mountainside she cannot explain or understand: a forested valley filled with a lake of silent red fire that appears to her a miracle. In reality, the forest is ablaze with millions of butterflies. Their usual migratory route has been disrupted, and what looks to be a stunningly beautiful view is really an ominous sign, for the Appalachian winter could prove to be the demise of the species. Her discovery of this phenomenon ignites a media and religious firestorm that changes her life forever.

Matched by Ally Condie

matchedAll her life, Cassia has never had a choice. The Society dictates everything: when and how to play, where to work, where to live, what to eat and wear, when to die, and most importantly to Cassia as she turns 17, who to marry. When she is Matched with her best friend Xander, things couldn’t be more perfect. But why did her neighbor Ky’s face show up on her match disk as well?

 

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

middlesex“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.”

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling,Middlesexis an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

Lunar Park by Breton Easton Ellis

lunar parkAt a fateful Halloween party he glimpses a disturbing (fictional) character driving a car identical to his late father’s, his stepdaughter’s doll violently “malfunctions,” and their house undergoes bizarre transformations both within and without. Connecting these aberrations to graver events—a series of grotesque murders that no longer seem random and the epidemic disappearance of boys his son’s age—Ellis struggles to defend his family against this escalating menace even as his wife, their therapists, and the police insist that his apprehensions are rooted instead in substance abuse and egomania.

Lunar Park 
confounds one expectation after another, passing through comedy and mounting horror, both psychological and supernatural, toward an astonishing resolution—about love and loss, fathers and sons—in what is surely the most powerfully original and deeply moving novel of an extraordinary career.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

100yearsofsolitudeThe novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.

Alternately reverential and comical, One Hundred Years of Solitude weaves the political, personal, and spiritual to bring a new consciousness to storytelling. Translated into dozens of languages, this stunning work is no less than an accounting of the history of the human race.

Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

unwhollyThanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa, and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp, people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens and, in the same stroke, providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but expand, allowing the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished. Cam is a teen who does not exist. He is made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds. Cam, a 21st century Frankenstein, struggles with a search for identity and meaning, as well as the concept of his own soul, if indeed a rewound being can have one. When a sadistic bounty hunter who takes “trophies” from the unwinds he captures starts to pursue Connor, Risa and Lev, Cam finds his fate inextricably bound with theirs.

 

One Comment

  1. Erica J-W says:

    I am reading Unwholly. You have to read Unwind, the 1st in the series. Unwind is one of my favorites. The 3rd will come out in October!
    I have read Matched, which is great, but the other 2 in the trilogy are kind of weird.

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