Alexander McCall Smith is a remarkably prolific writer, adding to several popular series each year. The "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" follows the adventures of Precious Ramotswe, the first female private detective in Botswana. The thirteenth book in the series, "The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon," will be published in November.
Television commentator Rachel Maddow has transferred her skills as a broadcaster into writing a book, "Drift: The Unmooring of American MilitaryPower." This treatise covers presidential tenures from LBJ through the present, focusing on how the executive branch of government has taken over American military policy. I remember many of the events she describes, although not as many facts and quotes as she recounts. Maddow maintains that we the people have allowed the use of the US military to drift away from the authority of our representatives in Congress.
The nation's founders wanted war to be difficult to declare. They meant for warfare to involve the public, even or especially when it hurts. War was not supposed to be a tool of foreign policy or diplomacy.
I have a confession. I'm addicted to cat mysteries. Cats are natural sleuths. If they're connected to a library or bookstore, they are unstoppable. This summer if you're looking for a purrfect summer read, let me recommend a few of my favorite series.
The Cat Who mysteries by the late Lillian Jackson Braun are at the top of the list. She wrote 29 mysteries featuring KoKo and Yum-Yum and their two legged companion, James Qwilleran. The mysteries are set in the fictional town of Pickax located in Moose County "400 miles north of everywhere." While not the greatest mysteries, the characters, dialogue, and of course, the cats make these a light hearted summer read.
A recent trend in guidebooks is the "before you die" list of things to do or see. Thus we have "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," "1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die," and "1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die."
I am not a fan of this concept. When deciding on leisure activities, do you really need that kind of pressure? But I did enjoy St. Louisan Amanda Doyle's new book "100 Things to Do in St. Louis Before You Die."
Rarely has a book, teen fiction or otherwise, stayed with me the way this marvelous John Green novel has since completing it. Friend after friend recommended this book to me. Often this recommendation came with the warning, "the book is amazingly awesome. Get the tissues." Right away I began to empathize with characters to the point where I wondered...Did John Green know these families? Is this actually one of those non-fiction books that's been categorized as fiction with names changed in an effort to "protect the innocent?" The author's note assures us. No, this is fiction. The medicine used to help the cancer patients in the novel is a figment of his imagination. This is a true pity.
Many think that summer reading clubs are just for kids, but SLCL offers programs for all age groups, including adults. This year's Adult Reading Club asks participants to read six books over a 12-week period. Signing up is easy and can be done online.
Mention of the Inquisition frequently brings up memories of Monty Python or Mel Brooks's singing portrayal of Torquemada in "History of the World." However, the real story, while arguably less entertaining, is much more fascinating. "God's Jury: The Inquisition and the making of the Modern World" By Cullen Murphy discusses the three separate operations of the Inquisition throughout history and the fact that there was never really one program that can be accurately termed "The Inquisition." While the author tries to weave stories of inquisitorial practices into modern history with some bias, the volume of historical information does make this an interesting read. A historical footnote of interest, the Vatican bureaucracy overseeing what was known as the Inquisition remains in operation and was named the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition until as recently as 1904.
--Michael B., Jamestown Bluffs Branch
In "My Ideal Bookshelf," readers of every walk of life give us insight into what books would sit on their ideal bookshelf. Artist Jane Mount and Editor Thessaly La Force do a great job of making us see the titles on the shelves. Each page of the book is filled with hand drawn illustrations of book spines chosen by the contributors, which include Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Jennifer Egan and Dave Eggers among others. There are many different titles featured in the book, as evidenced by the eclectic mix of contributors. The last page of the book is blank for the reader to start dreaming of their own ideal bookshelf. Enjoy!
--Laura Thomas, Weber Road Branch