What we’re reading.

Some of the books that KFL staff members are reading at the moment (descriptions from the publishers will follow each title):

One staff member is already preparing for next year’s garden by reading Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening:

When he created the “square foot gardening” method, Mel Bartholomew, a retired engineer and efficiency expert, found the solution to the frustrations of most gardeners. His revolutionary system is simple: it’s an ingenious planting method based on using square foot blocks of garden space instead of rows. Gardeners build up, not down, so there’s no digging and no tilling after the first year. And the method requires less thinning, less weeding, and less watering.

“I found a better way to garden, one that’s more efficient, more manageable, and requires less work,” Bartholomew explains. Not surprisingly, his method quickly received worldwide recognition and has been written up in every major newspaper and gardening magazine. His book, which served as the companion to the nationally acclaimed television series, has sold over 800,000 copies. Now freshened with new illustrations, the book Ingram calls “the largest selling garden book in America” is reissued for the delight of a whole new generation of gardeners.

Another has just finished off Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series, with #8: Wanted.  She said that she started losing interest mid-way through the series, but that she’s glad she stuck with it because the author brought all of the pieces back together for an extremely satisfying conclusion:

In Rosewood, majestic estates sprawl for acres, and Tiffany toggle bracelets dangle from every girl’s wrist. But not all that glitters is gold, and the town harbors secrets darker than anyone could imagine—like the truth about what really happened the night Alison DiLaurentis went missing. . . .

Back in middle school, Ali plucked Emily, Hanna, Aria, and Spencer from obscurity and turned them into the beautiful, popular girls everyone wanted to be. Ali was the best friend they ever had. But she also made them do terrible things and taunted them with their worst secrets. Now, three years later, all their questions about Ali have finally been answered and they can put this awful chapter of their lives behind them. Or so they think.

Not every story has a happy ending, especially when four pretty little liars have done so many wicked things. In the dramatic conclusion of Sara Shepard’s bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, Emily, Hanna, Aria, and Spencer could get everything they’ve ever wanted—unless A has one more horrifying twist in store.

I’m about to start the second book in Y.S. Lee’s The Agency series, The Body at the Tower:

Mary’s second adventure as an undercover agent forces her to relive some harrowing childhood experiences as she seeks the identity of a murderer.

Mary Quinn is back, now a trusted member of the Agency, the all female detective unit operating out of Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. Her new assignment sends her into the grimy underbelly of Victorian London dressed as a poor boy, evoking her own childhood memories of fear, hunger, and constant want. As she insinuates herself into the confidence of several persons of interest, she encounters others in desperate situations and struggles to make a difference without exposing —or losing —her identity. Mary’s adventure, which takes place on the building site of the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, offers a fictional window into a fascinating historical time and place.

Another co-worker is reading Laura Bush’s memoir, Spoken from the Heart:

In this brave, beautiful, and deeply personal memoir, Laura Bush, one of our most beloved and private first ladies, tells her own extraordinary story. 

Born in the boom-and-bust oil town of Midland, Texas, Laura Welch grew up as an only child in a family that lost three babies to miscarriage or infant death. She vividly evokes Midland’s brash, rugged culture, her close relationship with her father, and the bonds of early friendships that sustain her to this day. For the first time, in heart-wrenching detail, she writes about the devastating high school car accident that left her friend Mike Douglas dead and about her decades of unspoken grief.

When Laura Welch first left West Texas in 1964, she never imagined that her journey would lead her to the world stage and the White House. After graduating from Southern Methodist University in 1968, in the thick of student rebellions across the country and at the dawn of the women’s movement, she became an elementary school teacher, working in inner-city schools, then trained to be a librarian. At age thirty, she met George W. Bush, whom she had last passed in the hallway in seventh grade. Three months later, “the old maid of Midland married Midland’s most eligible bachelor.” With rare intimacy and candor, Laura Bush writes about her early married life as she was thrust into one of America’s most prominent political families, as well as her deep longing for children and her husband’s decision to give up drinking. By 1993, she found herself in the full glare of the political spotlight. But just as her husband won the Texas governorship in a stunning upset victory, her father, Harold Welch, was dying in Midland.

In 2001, after one of the closest elections in American history, Laura Bush moved into the White House. Here she captures presidential life in the harrowing days and weeks after 9/11, when fighter-jet cover echoed through the walls and security scares sent the family to an underground shelter. She writes openly about the White House during wartime, the withering and relentless media spotlight, and the transformation of her role as she began to understand the power of the first lady. One of the first U.S. officials to visit war-torn Afghanistan, she also reached out to disease-stricken African nations and tirelessly advocated for women in the Middle East and dissidents in Burma. She championed programs to get kids out of gangs and to stop urban violence. And she was a major force in rebuilding Gulf Coast schools and libraries post-Katrina. Movingly, she writes of her visits with U.S. troops and their loved ones, and of her empathy for and immense gratitude to military families.

With deft humor and a sharp eye, Laura Bush lifts the curtain on what really happens inside the White House, from presidential finances to the 175-year-old tradition of separate bedrooms for presidents and their wives to the antics of some White House guests and even a few members of Congress. She writes with honesty and eloquence about her family, her public triumphs, and her personal tribulations. Laura Bush’s compassion, her sense of humor, her grace, and her uncommon willingness to bare her heart make this story revelatory, beautifully rendered, and unlike any other first lady’s memoir ever written.

And lastly, yet another librarian is reading Outside Passage, by Julia Scully:

“Alaska, in its way, demands your full attention. Like a slap in the face, the assault of the weather, the landscape, the sheer physical effort of enduring forces memories further and further away.”

In Outside Passage Julia Scully regathers the memories of her childhood, and, like the strange territory and time they cover–the isolated far western Alaskan frontier before and during World War II–these memories demand our full attention. They begin with her immigrant parents’ efforts to make a living during the Depression in California and the Pacific Northwest. Faced with illness and despair, Julia’s father commits suicide when she is seven, and she and her older sister, Lillian, discover his body. Julia’s mother then leaves her daughters in a San Francisco orphanage and goes to Alaska, searching for an economic toehold at the edge of the continent.

Julia seeks comfort in the rituals of the orphanage–learning how to knit and darn, roller-skating outside after dinner, listening to One Man’s Family on the radio. Trying to adapt, she submerges her memories: “It’s not that I can’t remember my mother or what it was like before . . . but I don’t think about any of it because, when I do, my chest aches.” Eventually, her mother buys a roadhouse–the only public place in Taylor, Alaska, it serves the settlement’s small-time gold miners–and at last sends for her daughters to rejoin her.

Despite the cold and isolation of Alaska, there are small blessings for Julia to count: secretive summer wildflowers and berries on the seemingly barren landscape, and the wild animals–reindeer, fox, and wolves–that roam the endless tundra. The young Julia serves whiskey to the rough customers who play poker at the ramshackle roadhouse, pans gold with a beguiling prospector, kisses her first boyfriend–one of the soldiers ordered to Alaska to defend against a possible Japanese invasion. As she begins to understand the mysteries of sexuality and her parents’ secrets, she also begins to build the privations and the minor pleasures and the perceptions of her childhood into a platform for a wider and fuller life. In the same way, she has transformed her memories of that childhood into a written record sometimes as painful but always as beautiful as the cold, clear streams under which the gold lay hidden.

As always, if you would like to place a hold, please call the library at 985-2173 or visit our website.

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