3 More Quick-Read Titles

December 23, 2015

You can read any of these in an evening, or less. They’ll stick in your memory for a long time though.

Suggested by Librarian Ann Thompson:


The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
A beautifully-written novella about the pleasure of reading with Bennett’s inimitable manner of sending up both royalty and commoners but especially commoners around royalty.

The End Of The Alphabet by C. S. Richardson
What would you do if you had only a month to live and you were deeply, hopelessly, in love with your spouse? Sorry, cue the tissue box.

Three Men In A Boat: to say nothing of the dog by Jerome K. Jerome
A classic of English humor unscathed by time.

It’s a short work week at the paying job, for most of us, so we thought we’d throw out suggestions for some great quick reads because we know you’re busy too. Essex Library Staff were challenged to come up with 3 books that can be enjoyed when you don’t have time for a longer novel.

Librarian Emily Boucher’s suggestions:


84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff:
It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm, charming, feisty love affair.

We Were Liars: E Lockhart:
A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf:
A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

You asked for more…5 Books To Get You Through A Long Winter, this time

by Library Staffer Valerie Grabek:


1)The Darkest Part of the Forest– Holly Black -Warm weather, love, a mystery, and a faerie prince keeps you enthralled in this modern fairy tale.


2) A Court of Thorns And Roses – Sarah J. Maas –
Lovers of Beauty and the Beast rejoice for an epic revision that makes you forget the world around you.


3) Raven Boys Series– Maggie Stievfater –
Steeped in Welsh lore and myths, the series really leaves the reader wondering what will happen next.


4) All Souls Trilogy– Deborah Harkness – So many layers are involved in this series for romance fanatics, supernatural lovers, and historical fiction readers; makes one forget about the raging blizzards!

 5) Iron Druid Series– Kevin Hearne – A laugh out loud and inviting universe to escape to, and the best part is there are many in the series to get lost in.


narrowroadAustralian author Richard Flanagan won the 2014 Man Booker Fiction Prize for his novel The Narrow Road To The North. He beat out some stiff competition, especially as this year marked the first time books by authors from the United States could be considered. The Prize carries with it £50,000 and a bounce in sales that will carry over to Flanagan’s 5 previous novels as well as the other novels shortlisted for the 2014 Prize.

The other shortlisted books were:

How To Be Both by Ali Smith
How to be both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a Renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real–and all life’s givens get given a second chance.

J by Howard Jacobson
Kevern Cohen doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a word starting with a J. It wasn’t then, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions. When the extravagantly beautiful Ailinn Solomons arrives in his village by a sea that laps no other shore, Kevern is instantly drawn to her. Although mistrustful by nature, the two become linked as if they were meant for each other. Together, they form a refuge from the commonplace brutality that is the legacy of a historic catastrophe shrouded in suspicion, denial, and apology, simply referred to as WHAT HAPPENED, IF IT HAPPENED. To Ailinn’s guardian, Esme Nussbaum, Ailinn and Kevern are fragile shoots of hopefulness. As this unusual pair’s actions draw them into ever-increasing danger, Esme is determined to keep them together–whatever the cost.

The Lives Of Others by Neel Mukherjee
The aging patriarch and matriarch of the Ghosh family preside over their large household, made up of their five adult children and their respective children, unaware that beneath the barely ruffled surface of their lives the sands are shifting. Each set of family members occupies a floor of the home, in accordance to their standing within the family. Poisonous rivalries between sisters-in-law, destructive secrets, and the implosion of the family business threaten to unravel bonds of kinship as social unrest brews in greater Indian society. This is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change: the chasm between the generations, and between those who have and those who have not, has never been wider. The eldest grandchild, Supratik, compelled by his idealism, becomes dangerously involved in extremist political activism–an action that further catalyzes the decay of the Ghosh home.

To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
Paul O’Rourke is a man made of contradictions: he loves the world, but doesn’t know how to live in it. He’s a Luddite addicted to his iPhone, a dentist with a nicotine habit, a rabid Red Sox fan devastated by their victories, and an atheist not quite willing to let go of God. Then someone begins to impersonate Paul online, and he watches in horror as a website, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account are created in his name. What begins as an outrageous violation of his privacy soon becomes something more soul-frightening: the possibility that the online “Paul” might be a better version of the real thing. As Paul’s quest to learn why his identity has been stolen deepens, he is forced to confront his troubled past and his uncertain future in a life disturbingly split between the real and the virtual.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.” Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she’s managed to block a lot of memories. She’s smart, vulnerable, innocent, and culpable. With some guile, she guides us through the darkness, penetrating secrets and unearthing memories, leading us deeper into the mystery she has dangled before us from the start. Stripping off the protective masks that have hidden truths too painful to acknowledge, in the end, Rosemary” truly is for remembrance.


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Spring is a busy time for publishers…and readers. Not only are these months a prime time for memorable bestselling books to be released, this is also a time when debut authors take their plunge. May will see the sure-to-be-bestseller releases of Dan Brown’s Inferno and Khaled Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed as well as 2 highly-anticipated debut novels from award-winning authors.

(Click on the links to place your hold on the book at the Essex Library.)

infernoInferno by Dan Brown releases on May 14. You’ll likely remember Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code if you were born before 2003. Dr. Langdon returns for more adventure, this time centering on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces à Dante’s Inferno. Mysteries and riddles abound for the Harvard professor of symbology who battles a chilling adversary as he races to find the answers.

andthemountainsAnd The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini releases May 21. You may remember the author’s previous books: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. With his new book, Hosseini presents a story inspired by human love, how people take care of one another and how choices resonate through subsequent generations. He explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

constellationofvitalIn May we’ll also see A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena, the debut novel of Anthony Marra, a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University with an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Marra’s stories have already wowed readers, in the process winning the 2012 Whiting Writers’ Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Atlantic’s Student Writing Contest. Ann Patchett called his debut novel “simply spectacular”.

youareoneofthemAnother May debut we’re looking forward to is You Are One Of Them by Elliott Holt. Holt has also won a Pushcart Prize. “Holt’s “prose crackles,” says Michael Cunningham, who runs the fiction section of Brooklyn College’s M.F.A. writing program, which she is graduating from this spring. (2010) “She understands that, in fiction, the sounds of words matter as much as their meanings.”

Every November, the Amazon Books editorial team announces their picks for the best 100 books of the year. This list contains adult fiction and non-fiction books with a few Young Adult fiction titles included. There aren’t any surprises here, we think. All of the titles will be familiar to those who watch weekly book reviews during the year. It is a good round-up of books worth reading if you’re looking for your next book. Most, if not all, may be found at the Essex Library. You can search for the title and place a hold in our catalog here.

Best Books of Year: Top 100 Picks for 2012

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to read through the first group of 2012 Best Summer Reading. This second group contains a lot of books that were released in July, many of which still have holds on them. Put a hold on what looks good and then come in and check out the display for great books to read while you wait for your copy of the hottest book of the summer: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

        If you like staying up late into the night turning pages…

The 500 by Matthew Quirk
Former con artist and Harvard Law student , Mike Ford, accepts a position with the DC-based The Davies Group whose specialty is navigating the web of power and corruption by pulling strings for the top 500 most powerful people inside the Beltway.

15 Seconds by Andrew Gross
When a random act of violence plunges him into a nightmarish world, Henry Steadman, a successful surgeon accused of murdering two people, must clear his name and discover who is trying to destroy him in order to save himself and his family.

Broken Harbor by Tana French
In the aftermath of a brutal attack that left a woman in intensive care and her husband and young children dead, brash cop Scorcher Kennedy and his rookie partner, Richie, struggle with perplexing clues and Scorcher’s haunting memories of a shattering incident from his childhood. By the Edgar Award-winning author of In the Woods.

Creole Belle by James Lee Burke
A continuation of the events in The Glass Rainbow finds Dave Robicheaux in a New Orleans recovery unit, where he is introduced to a country blues song by a Creole girl whose subsequent disappearance prompts his search for the girl’s sister against a backdrop of a bayou-threatening oil well rupture in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva
When the body of a woman is found beneath Michelangelo’s dome, Gabriel Allon is summoned by Monsignor Luigi Donati to secretly investigate this mysterious death that has been ruled a suicide–a case that brings about an unthinkable act of sabotage that will plunge the world into a conflict of apocalyptic proportions.

The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman
In 17th-century New Amsterdam, today Manhattan, 22-year-old trader Blandine von Couvering and British spy Edward Drummond investigate the mysterious disappearance of orphan children.

Tigers In Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann
Old secrets are revealed and lives become unraveled when the children of a well-heeled New England family discover the body of a murder victim near Tiger House, their estate on Martha’s Vineyard.

        If you like your fiction from days gone by…

The Absolutist by John Boyne
In September 1919, 21-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to the sister of a man he fought alongside of during World War I, but the letters are not the real reason for Tristan’s visit.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
A historical love story inspired by the author’s Armenian heritage finds early 20th-century nurse Elizabeth Endicott arriving in Syria to help deliver food and medical aid to genocide refugees, a volunteer service during which she exchanges letters with an Armenian engineer and widower. By the best-selling author of Midwives.

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Her world upended by the death of a beloved artist uncle who was the only person who understood her, fourteen-year-old June is mailed a teapot by her uncle’s grieving friend, with whom June forges a poignant relationship.

        If you like your fiction right out of today’s headlines…

Gold by Chris Cleave
Sharing a close friendship and rivalry throughout their Elite training, world-class athletes Zoe and Kate find the limits of their physical and emotional realities tested on the eve of London 2012, where they consider difficult sacrifices and weigh their senses of mortality. By the author of the best-selling Little Bee.

A Hologram For The King by Dave Eggers
A struggling American businessman travels to a rising Saudi Arabian city with the hopes of securing a contract that will earn him a commission large enough to stave off his economic woes and hold his family together.

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman
Moving his young bride to an isolated lighthouse home on Australia’s Janus Rock where the couple suffers miscarriages and a stillbirth, Tom allows his wife to claim an infant that has washed up on the shore, a decision with devastating consequences.

         If you like to laugh a little, cry a little…

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
Believing she is realizing her dreams when her sitcom is bought, television writer Ruth Saunders finds her happiness threatened by demanding actors and executives as well as an unrequited crush on her boss and her septuagenarian grandmother’s upcoming wedding.

Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank
In the South Carolina Lowcountry, three generations of a family–a grandmother, a mother, and a son–discover the indelible power of love as they share a memorable summer on Sullivan’s Island.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
Possessing a Harvard education and all of the accoutrements of a privileged life, Winn Van Meter attends the wedding of his eldest daughter, which is scandalized by the bride’s advancing pregnancy, her sister’s broken heart and the seductive machinations of wedding party members.

Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer
When fabricated aspects of their picture-perfect world are embarrassingly exposed by a car accident, Sunny Mann, an everyday woman longing for an ideal life; and Maxon, her savant astronaut husband, struggle through blame and fear before confronting realities about their deep bond.

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
Follows the lives of four high school students, their friends, and families after a fatal car accident on graduation night on Nantucket has lasting repercussions for everyone involved.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Jolted out of emotional numbness by a letter from an old friend who wants to say goodbye before she dies, Harold Fry embarks on a 600-mile hiking journey to his friend’s side without supplies, an endeavor that stirs up memories of his unhappy marital and parenting experiences.

You & Me by Padget Powell
This hilarious novel, from a master of American fiction, follows two garrulous men as they, sitting and talking on a porch, argue about love and sex, how best to live and die, false truisms, the meaning of nihilism and the merits of Miles Davis, Cadillacs and Hollywood starlets of yore.

        If you liked the first one then you’ll like the sequel even better…

The Shadow Of Night by Deborah Harkness
In Elizabethan London, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch Diana Bishop seeks a magical tutor, while vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont confronts elements from his past at the same time the mystery of the enchanted manuscript Ashmole 782 deepens.

Summer is the perfect time to settle down with a good book or 10. Check out the Summer Reading Flow Chart from Teach.com’s site below. If you don’t see anything that you’d like to read, come to the Library and we’ll make some reading suggestions for you that you’re sure to enjoy. Just ask us for a good book. And don’t forget to pick up one of our Adult Summer Reading program booklets to make your reading pay off with great prizes from local businesses.Summer Reading Flowchart

Via Teach.com and USC Rossier Online

Introversion and shyness are not the same thing–one point Susan Cain makes in her recent book,  Quiet : the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Dictionary.com defines an introvert as “a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings” Cain’s book makes the point that many people are introverted–between 1/3 to 1/2 of the population and we miss out on their thoughts and creativity due to their preference for solitude.

From the jacket:

“Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.”

Watch Susan Cain’s TED Talk as she describes the ironies of introversion and leaves the audience with 3 tasks to make better use of the power of introverts. Before you watch the Talk however, read her Back Page essay in The New York Times “An Introvert Steps Out” to see how she mustered the ability to get in front of all those audience members.

For our patrons who listen to books while they commute to work or school or while they’re working, etc., etc., we have a load of new audiobooks on CD that recently arrived:


Carry The One by Carol Anshaw
When a car of inebriated guests from Carmen’s wedding hits and kills a girl on a country road, Carmen and the people involved in the accident connect, disconnect and reconnect throughout 25 subsequent years of marriage, parenthood, holidays and tragedies. By the award-winning author of Aquamarine.

Wild Thing by Josh Bazell
When a reclusive billionaire offers Dr. Peter Brown, a.k.a. Pietro Brnwa, a job accompanying a sexy but self-destructive paleontologist on the world’s worst field assignment, Brown has no real choice but to say yes. Even if it means that an army of murderers, mobsters, and international drug dealers–not to mention a lake monster–are about to have a serious Pietro Brnwa problem.

Stay Close by Harlan Coben
A bored suburban wife, a documentary photographer-turned-paparazzo and a detective who cannot let go of a cold case hide secrets from their loved ones only to have the past return in dangerous ways. By the best-selling author of Live Wire.

Taken by Robert Crais
Hired along with Joe Pike to investigate the alleged kidnapping of a wealthy industrialist’s son, Elvis Cole quickly disproves police theories and goes undercover to infiltrate a ring of professional border kidnappers only to be abducted himself. By the award-winning author of The Sentry.

The Thief by Clive Cussler

When a scientist he recently rescued from kidnappers is murdered, private investigator Isaac Bell discovers that a ruthless agent wants the scientist’s secret new invention in order to exploit it to seize power for Germany. From the bestselling author of The Race.

A Partial History Of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois
Abandoning her life when her father succumbs to Huntington’s disease, Massachusetts native Irina discovers an unanswered letter from her father to an internationally renowned chess champion and political dissident, who she decides to visit in Russia. A first novel.

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner
Approached by a young woman who claims her murder is imminent, detective D. D. Warren hears her chilling story about how all of her close childhood friends have been murdered on the anniversary of the same day and that she is the only one still alive, a case that is complicated by a vigilante shooter. By the best-selling author of Love You More

A Good American by Alex George
The Meisenheimer family struggle to find their place among the colorful residents of their new American hometown, including a giant teenage boy, a pretty schoolteacher whose lessons consist of more than just music and an spiteful, bicycle-riding dwarf.

Defending Jacob by William Landay
His happy life and long-time respectability as a suburban Massachusetts assistant district attorney shattered when his 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student, Andy Barber faces a wrenching decision about family loyalty when the facts increasingly suggest that the boy is guilty.

Guilty Wives by James Patterson

The vacation of a lifetime in Monte Carlo turns into a hellish nightmare when best friends Abbie, Winnie, Serena, and Bryah are arrested aboard an unfamiliar yacht and accused of an unthinkable crime. From the bestselling author of Private Games.

The Book Of Lost Fragrances by M J Rose
Haunted by memories of a past infused with exotic scents, Jac L’Etoile, the heir to a French perfume company, is hurtled into a nightmare when her brother goes missing after making a profound discovery about the family’s possession of a mystical fragrance.


Quiet : the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking  by Susan Cain
A former Wall Street attorney, business coach and creator of ThePowerofIntroverts.com demonstrates how introverted people are misunderstood and undervalued in today’s culture, charting the rise of extrovert ideology while sharing anecdotal examples to counsel readers on how to use introvert talents to adapt to various situations and empower introverted children.

Thinking, Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman
A Nobel Prize-winning psychologist draws on years of research to introduce his “machinery of the mind” model on human decision making to reveal the faults and capabilities of intuitive versus logical thinking, providing insights into such topics as optimism, the unpredictability of happiness and the psychological pitfalls of risk-taking.

Imagine : how creativity works by Jonah Lehrer
An examination of the new science of creativity challenges popular misconceptions to explain that creativity involves distinct thought processes that can be tapped by anyone, revealing the practices of successful companies and creative individuals while considering how to use scientific principles to make cities, businesses and cultures more creative.

Killing Lincoln : the shocking assassination that changed America forever by Bill O’Reilly
Describes the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the hunt to track down John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices. Featuring some of history’s most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller. From the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
The author of the best-selling Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit traces her life-long search for happiness as the adopted daughter of Pentecostal parents who raised her in a north England industrial town through practices of fierce control and paranoia, an experience that prompted her to search for her biological mother and turn for solace to the literary world.