Readers’ Place

Readers Place: Truth is Stranger than Fiction


In this Readers Place we’ve paired current novels with nonfiction books on a related topic.

patriots The patriots  by Sana Krasikov. 2017. FIC KRA
When the Great Depression hits, Florence Fein leaves Brooklyn College for what appears to be a plum job in Moscow—and the promise of love and independence. But once in Russia, she quickly becomes entangled in a country she can’t escape. Many years later, Florence’s son, Julian, will make the opposite journey, immigrating back to the United States. His work in the oil industry takes him on frequent visits to Moscow, and when he learns that Florence’s KGB file has been opened, he arranges a business trip to uncover the truth about his mother, and to convince his son, Lenny, who is trying to make his fortune in the new Russia, to return home.

CollusionCollusion : secret meetings, dirty money, and how Russia helped Donald Trump win  by Luke Harding. 2017.  327.73 HAR
Harding supplements his reliance on Steele’s dossier, summed up here as claiming that “for at least the past five years [before the election] Russian intelligence had been secretly cultivating Trump,” with a helpful synthesis of existing reporting from sources such as the New Yorker, Politico, BuzzFeed, and the Washington Post. 


The end we start from by Megan Hunter. 2017.  FIC HUN end we start from
As London is submerged below floodwaters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, she and her baby are forced to leave their home in search of safety. They head north through a newly dangerous country seeking refuge from place to place. The story traces fear and wonder as the baby grows, thriving and content against all the odds.


The water will come   by Jeff Goodell. 2017. 551.458 GOO water will come
The Water Will Come is the definitive account of the coming water, why and how this will happen, and what it will all mean. As he travels across twelve countries and reports from the front lines, acclaimed journalist Jeff Goodell employs fact, science, and first-person, on-the-ground journalism to show vivid scenes from what already is becoming a water world.


Border child: a novelBorder child  by Michel Stone. 2017.  FIC STO          
For Héctor and Lilia, pursuit of the American Dream became every parent’s worst fear: their infant daughter vanished in the midst of their border crossing from Mexico to the United States. Now, four years later, the family finally has a chance for reunion, but the damage wreaked by their traumatic separation may well be irreparable.


Tell me how it ends: an essay in forty questionstell me how it ends  by Valeria Luiselli. 2017.   23 LUI
Luiselli asks undocumented Latin-American children facing deportation forty questions, humanizing these young migrants and highlighting the contradiction of the idea of America as a fiction for immigrants with the reality of racism and fear–both here and back home.





Compiled by Ina Rimpau


Posted by Barbara | 13 Feb 2018 | Comments Off on Readers Place: Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Readers Place: Cultures Clash

In her recent article “On optimism and despair,” novelist Zadie Smith wrote, “As a child I did not realize that the life I was living was considered in any way provisional or experimental by others: I thought it was just life. And when I wrote a novel about the London I grew up in, I further did not realize that by describing an environment in which people from different places lived relatively peaceably side by side, I was “championing” a situation that was in fact on trial and whose conditions could suddenly be revoked… The people who ask me about the “failure of multiculturalism” mean to suggest that not only has a political ideology failed but that human beings themselves have changed and are now fundamentally incapable of living peacefully together despite their many differences.” Smith concludes, “Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated, and reimagined if it is to survive.” [New York Review of Books, December 2017]

Following are several new titles depicting the harmonious, or not very, mingling of cultures.

We are unprepared: a novel  by Meg Little Reilly, 2016. Ash and Pia move from hipster Brooklyn to rustic Vermont in search of a more authentic life. But just months after settling in, the forecast of a superstorm disrupts their dream. Fear of an impending disaster splits their tight-knit community and exposes the cracks in their marriage.

A separation by Katie M. Kitamura, 2017. A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it’s time for them to separate. As she begins her new life, she gets word that Christopher has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged south of Greece; she reluctantly agrees to go and search for him, still keeping their split to herself. In her heart, she’s not even sure if she wants to find him. Adrift in the wild landscape, she traces the disintegration of their relationship, and discovers she understands less than she thought about the man she used to love. 

Bed-Stuy is burning : a novel by Brian Platzer, 2017. Aaron, a disgraced rabbi turned Wall Street banker, and Amelia, his journalist girlfriend, live with their newborn in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in New York City. The infusion of upwardly mobile strivers into Bed-Stuy’s historic brownstones belies the tension simmering on the streets below. But after a cop shoots a boy in a nearby park, a riot erupts–with Aaron and his family at its center.

Since I laid my burden down by Brontez Purnell, 2017. DeShawn lives a high, artistic, and promiscuous life in San Francisco. But when he’s called back to his cramped southern hometown for his uncle’s funeral, it’s inevitable that he’ll be hit by flashbacks of handsome, doomed neighbors and sweltering Sunday services. Amidst prickly reminders of his childhood, DeShawn ponders family, church, and the men in his life, prompting the question: Who deserves love?

Fingerprints of previous owners: a novel  by Rebecca Entel, 2017. At a Caribbean resort built atop a former slave plantation, Myrna works as a maid by day; by night she trespasses on the resort’s overgrown inland property, secretly excavating the plantation ruins that her island community refuses to acknowledge. When Myrna discovers a book detailing the experiences of slaves, who still share a last name with the majority of the islanders, her investigation becomes deeply personal, extending to her neighbors and friends. A new generation begins to speak about the past just as racial tensions erupt between the resort and the local island community when an African-American tourist at the resort is brutally attacked.

Live from Cairo: a novel  by Ian Bassingthwaighte, 2017. An impulsive American attorney, a methodical Egyptian translator, and a disillusioned Iraqi-American resettlement officer try to protect a refugee who finds herself trapped in Cairo during the turbulent aftermath of the January 25 revolution.

Compiled by Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 3 Jan 2018 | Comments Off on Readers Place: Cultures Clash

Readings on Sustainability

One of the ways in which we can help our overburdened planet is by integrating sustainable practices into our lives. Sustainability is “the physical development and institutional operating practices that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, particularly with regard to use and waste of natural resources. Sustainability presumes that resources are finite, and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used.”

Sustainability made simple by Rosaly Byrd, 2017   338.927 BYR

After an introduction to sustainability and a rundown of the big issues, Byrd offers a number of relatively easy to implement ways to lessen our carbon footprint, organized by space: where in the house, at school or work, at holidays and parties, and traveling.

A $500 house in Detroit : rebuilding an abandoned home and an American city  by Drew Philp, 2017  307.34 PHI

After his bid of $500 on a house in a devastated Detroit neighborhood is accepted, Philp undertakes most of the refurbishing of the house by himself, moving slowly in keeping with his modest cash flow, making friends and becoming a good neighbor. Along with a very personal journey, the reader is asked to contemplate what it means to genuinely rejuvenate, and not just gentrify, neighborhoods that after all are parts of living, breathing communities.

DIY Solar projects: updated edition  by Smith, Schmidt and Wanek, 2017 644 Smi
For the truly ambitious and competent do-it-yourselfer, here are instructions for mounting solar modules to provide heat and electricity, for permanent/stationary and mobile/camping use.

Homegrown pantry: a gardener’s guide to selecting the best varieties & planting the perfect amounts for what you want to eat year-round  by Barbara Pleasant  635 Ple
Growing your own organic food is one of the most planet-friendly changes you can make. Improving your diet, and enjoying fresh food straight from the ground are additional benefits. Pleasant lists the best fruits, vegetables and herbs you can grow and preserve yourself.

Compiled by Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 3 Oct 2017 | Comments Off on Readings on Sustainability

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