Advice for Readers

Highlights from our 2012 Adult Summer Reading Program

You still have one week (until August 11) to participate in Oakland Public Library's summer reading programs and win some great prizes! To participate in the adult program, just sign up here and submit a book review. Each review enters you in a raffle with different prizes at each branch. You can sign up from home or from any library computer.

Plus, if you need a suggestion for your next book, the Adult Summer Reading Program website is a fantastic resource! Readers from all over town have posted their recommendations. The sheer variety of books is simply stunning, and I found many of the reviews to be both helpful and entertaining. A few are featured below, but for more just visit the Adult Summer Reading Program reviews page.

Some recommendations from Oakland readers:

The Buddha In The Attic by Julie Otsuka
Otsuka's poetic collective account of Japanese "picture brides" experience of immigration to and life in the U.S. in the decades leading up to WW2 is an unusual & moving book. It reads like a "spoken word" recitation by a group of voices who actually held their lived stories in careful silence. Many subtle historical revelations reward the reader. Recommended.

Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden
Narrated by the voice of the spirit of a place called Money, Mississippi, this novel will take the reader on a journey through two side-by-side interactive worlds- one populated by the living, dreaming, striving human inhabitants of a twentieth century Southern small town, and the other by the spirits of people who have passed on. I felt the influence of Toni Morrison's writing in the author's "voice".

What Is Left The Daughter by Howard Norman
What Is Left The Daughter is a complex family tale told in the form of a long letter from a loving father to his long-estranged daughter. Set in a Nova Scotia where German U-boats lurked in coastal waters and sank many Canadian ferries and fishing boats, the story says much about the values of friendship, mutual support, and small-minded prejudices that can both weave together and tear apart the social fabric of a small community. The writing, plot, and characters of this book are all strong.

God Don't Make No Mistakes by Mary Monroe
The last installation of the God Don't Like Ugly series as Annete struggles to overcome her past and deal with all the drama in her present life. Monroe's description of the various characters is very colorful and amusing at times.

Eviction Notice by K'WAN
A story about three friends pulling scams and schemes to pay their back rent and avoid eviction. If you are a fan of K'WAN, this is a must read!!! 

The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson
Who is John Wells? Is he a double agent? Has he been compromised? Or is he the one person who has infiltrated al Qaeda? Who can he trust and who trusts him? Has he lost his son and family for nothing? Yet nothing seems to go well for John, not even at the end.

1984 by George Orwell
This was rough!! It was really interesting, but hard to get through because it was painful to read, especially given its relevance today with torture, radicalism, communism, etc. In one word, creepy... 

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
I usually have mysteries figured out well before the last half dozen pages. Not in this case even though I was loving the skill of the writing enough to be paying strict attention. I adore this author!

The Hoarder in You by Robin Zasio
The book starts with compelling stories about the author's clients who have had problems with hoarding. The book then moves on to give useful and practical tips on decluttering and avoiding accumulating clutter in the first place. After reading this, I was highly motivated to get rid of all the junk around our house. The best takeaway: OHIO--only handle it once! 

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
This is the story of a boy in Malawi who, after surviving a famine and being thrown out of secondary school because his family could not afford school, learns about windmills from a book. He builds one at his farm from metal scraps he finds in a junkyard. William ultimately transforms his village and his life. I liked the book so much that I read it with my children aloud. It has some adult themes, so I am glad that we read the book together rather than handing it to my third and sixth graders. A true story and very inspiring.

Tulipomania by Mike Dash
Imagine a flower bulb that some mistake for a wild onion being valued at many times the yearly earnings for an average Dutch family. In the 16th century that's exactly what happened. Sort of like Bay area housing prices--they couldn't ever go down, right? Then the bubble burst. Fascinating reading of another time and place but so close to us here and now.

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan
An excellent book following the conflict in Israel from an historical perspective dating back to the 1800's. Thoroughly referenced, two families brought together by the ownership of one house; once owned by a Palestinian, then an Israeli. The friendship and hatred that is intertwined. Great reading with less bias and more understanding of the conflict, yet the realization that peace will not be easy.


Posted on 8/4/12 by Christy Thomas, Librarian, Main Library.

What to read while you're waiting for Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is one of the most popular books of this summer so far. Flynn's first two novels, Dark Places and Sharp Objects, earned much acclaim, but Gone Girl has proven to be her breakthrough novel, topping the New York Times bestseller list as well as numerous lists of summer reading recommendations. Described as "an intelligent, gripping tour de force, mixing a riveting plot and psychological intrigue with a compelling prose style that unobtrusively yet forcefully carries the reader from page to page" (Library Journal), Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy, celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy suddenly disappears. As evidence begins stacking up against Nick as the main suspect, the story of a toxic and deceitful marriage unfolds through a series of disturbing twists.

Do not fret if you find yourself on the hold list for this book! Here are some suggestions of similarly gripping psychological thrillers and mysteries (with quick descriptions from our library catalog) to try while you're waiting:


5 Books I'm looking forward to reading this summer

My name is Christy Thomas and I am the librarian in charge of the fiction collections at the Main Library. I'd love to hear about what you're excited about reading this summer (including non-fiction) in the comments. Also, I encourage you to participate in our Adult Summer Reading Program here where you can share thoughts about what you've read this summer and have the chance to win a prize.

While I enjoy some of Oakland's fabulous summer weather, I plan on cracking open the following novels: