Friday, July 22, 2011

[Quick Picks] Beach Reads

Vacation season is in full swing, so we asked our library staff to share their favorite Beach Reads with Memphis Reads. This label includes any captivating works that help pass the time while sunning on the beach, on a extended airline flight, a road trip, or during a much-needed staycation. Titles below are listed in alphabetical order.

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg

This is a light, funny story bursting with quirky characters all of whom live in the small town of Elmwood Springs, MO. The premise is a little like the film, It's a Wonderful Life. Reading the "Southernisms" might bring back childhood memories!
--Jessie Marshall, Business/Sciences Department

The Emperor’s Tomb, by Steve Berry

Maybe because they are so far removed from my pretty routine real life, I indulge myself in spy thrillers in the summertime. The Emperor’s Tomb takes place in exotic locations all over the world, including the Himalayas, and uses a fiction surrounding Emperor Qin's Terra-cotta Army as the motivating force for Cotton Malone to do all his retired-but-not-quite spy tricks. It’s a fast enough read to read quite a bit between planes or swim sessions, and interesting enough to make all the background noise fade out as you follow the plot to its exciting conclusion.
--Mary Seratt, Central Children’s Department

A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore

Acclaimed writer Lorrie Moore's 2010 fiction A Gate at the Stairs was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the United Kingdom's Orange Prize for Fiction. It was also chosen as a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, Kansas City Star, Financial Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Real Simple; yet has resulted in reader reviews that range from "couldn't put it down," to "couldn't wait to put it down." Lorrie Moore, a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, having won honours from the Lannan Foundation, The Irish Times, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the Rea Award and the PEN/Malamud Award itself recommends the reading of A Gate at the Stairs if only to find out where on the "couldn't" or "couldn't wait" spectrum you might fall.
--Robert Bain, Randolph Branch

The Lacuna (Audiobook), by Barbara Kingsolver

I listened to this book in the car on my way to and from a family vacation. The narrator is a Mexican-American man, who reveals the story through his journals from childhood through adulthood. I love reading about other locales while I am on vacation, and most of this story is set in Mexico – on a tropical island, and in bustling Mexico City. Characters include artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and historical figures like Leon Trotsky. Kingsolver is a marvelous storyteller, and part of what makes this such a delightful “listen” is that Kingsolver herself reads the book, complete with Mexican and Russian accents. The writing is so filled with the color and music and food and politics of the setting that you feel that you are there, eating pollo mole as a guest at the table. --Audrey May, LINC/2-1-1 @ Central

One Day, by David Nicholls

The first chapter of One Day introduces Emma and Dexter on a particular date in 1988 - the day that they graduated from college and also the day that they met. Afterwards, each chapter revisits the two characters on the very same day a year later. At times very funny, at times very sad, this story takes you through a complex and dynamic relationship across the span of two decades. It's hard not to get caught up in their journey. (A movie based on this book will be coming out in August, so if you are like me and you prefer to read the book first, now is the time.)
--Sarah Frierson, History Department

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen

I couldn’t put it down. There was a little mystery, character development, great life story.
--Arlene Handerson, Frayser Branch

What do you like to read during the summer?

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