This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Friday, January 6, 2006

January 6, 2006 - Favorite 2005 reads

By Rochelle Logan, Associate Director of Support Services

Libraries are not just about books. We consider the public library a meeting place, a center of the community, somewhere you can check out music, DVDs, audio books and work on a computer. With that said, it is still true that when you say the word “library” to most people, they think of books. It is also true that many librarians love to read and talk about books and I'm no exception. Through the holidays, I attended parties and my ears perked up whenever I heard friends talking about their latest favorite books. I'm here to give you my list of favorites. They were not all new in 2005 and they were not bestsellers. My favorites are, of course, available at your local library.

/Lost in the Forest/ by Sue Miller
Sue Miller is best known for her novel /The Good Mother/ published to critical acclaim and made into a motion picture. Miller often writes about family dynamics, especially broken families. /Lost in the Forest/ takes place in the wine country of Napa Valley. The story centers on a divorced woman and her children after her new husband dies in a traffic accident. The middle child, Daisy has a hard time dealing with the loss. Her journey is especially poignant. Miller presents a cast of characters who are full of life and a story that kept me pondering even when I put the book down.

/This is Not Civilization/ by Robert Rosenberg
A seemingly unconnected cast of characters and places come together in this story by first novelist Rosenberg. Jeff Hartig, an American Peace Corp volunteer travels to Kyrgyzstan after what he considers a failed mission at an Apache reservation. His relationships with an Apache teenager, the people of a small Kyrgyzstan village and eventually a circle of friends in Istanbul may sound unlikely. However, Rosenberg's style makes it work. I'm going to recommend this one to my reading group. It would be a good discussion book.

/The Birth of Venus/ by Sarah Dunant
Set in the 1400’s in Florence, Italy, British author, Dunant writes a full-bodied novel about a young girl’s infatuation with the disturbed artist her parents hire to paint the walls of the family chapel. Her life is complicated by an arranged marriage and the political upheaval of the times. This excellent period piece transports the reader to a luxurious, passionate, and violent time.

/Baker Towers/ by Jennifer Haigh
In her sophomore offering after the award-winning /Mrs. Kimble/, Jennifer Haigh writes a story about a family's struggles in a Pennsylvania coal town after World War II. The hardship of the women's lives and their relationships with each other as well as the colorful members of the community makes for an enjoyable read. A /Library Journal/ reviewer said, "Haigh uses evocative prose to create a picture of a company town—and of the human condition—that is both accurate and moving."

/Broken for You/ by Stephanie Kallos
This debut novel by Seattle teacher, Kallos has some unexpected twists in a well-crafted plot. Her main character, Margaret lives alone in a mansion, rarely going out after the death of her young son. She talks to the priceless antiques in the house as one might talk to a pet. After a cancer scare, she decides to open her home to a renter, then two renters, then three. This is a compelling story of how an invented family comes together, finding unconventional ways to help each other heal.

/The Known World/ by Edward P. Jones
In pre-Civil War Virginia, former slave, Henry Townsend makes enough money to buy land and (paradoxically) slaves. I listened to this on CD while driving in my car. It kept me going on long stretches of road. Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2004 for /The Known World./

The rest of my 2005 favorites:

/The Lake, the River and the Other Lake/ by Steve Amick
/The Inner Circle/ by T. C. Boyle
/The Confessions of Max Tivoli/ by Andrew Sean Greer
/Blackbird House/ by Alice Hoffman
/Twilight/ by Katherine Mosby
/Shadow of the Wind/ by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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