Monday, November 29, 2010

Nicholas Sparks Read-Alikes

Bestselling American writer Nicholas Sparks' novels usually revolve around fate, love and/or tragedy. If you enjoy his works, consider checking out the following authors:

Looking for a laugh? Check out this 2010 Thurber Prize winner

The 2010 Thurber Prize for American Humor was awarded on October 4 to Steve Hely's debut novel How I Became a Famous Novelist. I read the novel back in August '09 (I used the Reading History feature in my online library account to figure the date out) and after many laughs, gave it a five-star rating.

Hevy's protagonist, Pete Tarslaw, an employment-challenged liberal arts graduate, utilizes any/all formulaic publishing tricks to become a famous novelist. His aim isn't glory and riches, mind you (but they are a nice benefit), but simply to make an ex-girlfriend, who is about to marry someone else, jealous.

Inspired by fictional best-selling author/hack Preston Brooks, Pete's rules (aka "Writery Statements") for certain best-seller list glory include, "Must include a club, secrets/mysterious missions, characters whose lives change suddenly, surprising love affairs, women who've given up on love but who turn out to be beautiful." Glance at any best seller list and I'm sure you'll see a few authors who employ these tacks on a regular basis. Pete succeeds with the best selling Tornado Ashes Club.

Hely, who currently writes for the hit sitcom The Office, uses satire and a sharp wit to make a mockery of the publishing industrial complex, including the authors who aspire to literary success. While there are moments of sentimentality, How I Became a Famous Novelist, remains funny through the end.

Read an excerpt and listen to Terry Gross' interview with Mr. Hely on NPR's Fresh Air.

Alison @ Warrenton

Monday, November 22, 2010

Smart Start-Small Business Information

Many people are opening their own businesses these days. If you want to join them but aren’t sure what sort of venture to undertake do a little market research with the help of: Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes by Mark J. Penn, The Small-mart Revolution by Michael Shuman or How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation by Anthony Mancuso. If you decide to start a nonprofit corporation you will want to be sure to visit the Bealeton Library where the staff will help you make use of a special Grants and Funding Research Center.

Is there is a market for the service or product you plan to provide? You can find out about your competition, how well they’re doing and where their businesses are located by using databases available on the library’s website and do some research through the: Business and Company Resource Center or Reference USA, to name just two of the many resources you will find there.

When you’re ready to get the business underway use Mike P. McKeever’s book: How to Write A Business Plan to help you organize all the details, and if you plan to build a website read; Webonomics; Nine Essential Principles For Growing Your Business On The Web by Evan I. Schwartz. The Women’s Small Business Start-up Kit is helpful for women just venturing into the self employment market. A business loan or other funding is often essential to get the business going so you might need to consult Ashees Advani’s; Investors In Your Backyard or read the; Loan Financing Guide for Small Business Owners by D. Neil Berdiev.

Perhaps you already have a business and are looking for ways to modify or improve it. If you are considering incorporating you should read Tips and Traps When Incorporating Your Business by Jeffery A. Jensen. If you are trying to figure out what changes to make and what aspects of the business you want to keep the same as you grow, John C. Bogle helps you get a perspective on what is truly essential to a good business in his book Enough: True Measures of Money, Business and Life.

The library has a good supply of books and other materials to help business managers and prospective managers do market surveys, locate funding, write business plans and even start a business from scratch.

Come to the library. Let us help you get your business started.

Jeanne @ Warrenton

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mystery Book Club Recommends

Members of the Mystery Book Club recently discussed the books of two British authors, Minette Walters and Robert Goddard. While Walters and Goddard might best be described as writers of psychological thrillers, their plots generally involve the pursuit of clues to get at the truth of something and a quest for justice.

This quest is often taken on by an individual as in Walters’ The Shape of Snakes in which the main character pursues the truth in a case the police have mishandled. In Goddard’s Into the Blue main character Harry Barnett searches for a women missing and thought dead when the police decide not to pursue a murder without a corpse.
Robert Goddard peoples his novels, such as Sight Unseen, with lots of interesting characters. Three of the book club’s members especially recommend Hand in Glove for wonderful character development and a “couldn’t put it down” reading experience. Betty very much liked its exciting, intricate plot. Steve described Goddard’s Caught in the Light as “excellent — a mystery within a mystery” but ultimately a story about revenge as a dish best served cold. Another of Goddard’s complex plots was found by Sue, who read Long Time Coming, which involves forged Picassos, Irish politics and betrayal by an old school friend.
One book club member enjoyed the psychological complexity of The Chameleon’s Shadow by Minette Walters. Dave thought that her book called The Breaker was an easy to read police procedural. Anna found The Sculptress an easy read with an unusual premise that keeps the reader engaged to the end. Some members felt that Walters’ detailed scenes of violence and cruelty and her depiction of unlikable and unsavory characters make her books more of a challenge despite being well-written.
Books by both Walters and Goddard contain complex plots and interesting characters. Goddard’s characters travel from one European country to another while Walters’ generally stay closer to home. Both authors offer well-written, suspenseful stories that keep the reader engaged to the very end, usually with a few surprises along the way. The Mystery Book Club highly recommends Robert Goddard and Minette Walters.

Happy Reading!

Maryellen & the Mystery Book Club members.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

Questions about learning ability, intelligence measures and various ways to stimulate creative thinking are in the news of late.

A resource that might help you make sense of these terms is: Intelligence And How To Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count. Many of us who are trying to help children measure up or excel may tend to overlook the fact that intelligence, learning and creativity are important concerns for adults as well.

If your child is nervous about measuring up you might want to check out the books from the Core Knowledge Series, such as, What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know. This book is designed for fourth-grade students and will give your child a stimulating taste of what is to come in the year ahead. Learn more about the Standards of Learning tests.

What will become of your own mental abilities as you age? Some say that with age comes wisdom so there is hope for the aging brain. A good book about tracking down wisdom is: How To Live: A Search For Wisdom From Old People.

On the more scientific side you might like to read about ways to keep your brain active into old age by reading Zaldy S. Tan’s: Age-proof Your Mind: Prevent, Detect And Stop Memory Loss—Before It’s Too Late.

Take the time to learn about the fascinating connection between our health and state of mind in: Extraordinary Healing: The Amazing Power of Your Body’s Secret Healing System and to learn about how music and art contribute to our ability to think creatively in: The Mozart Effect: Tapping The Power Of Music To Heal The Body, Strengthen The Mind, And Unlock The Creative Spirit.

In many ways just conversing with another person presents us with the biggest mental challenge we face in life. The Art Of Conversation: A Guided Tour Of A Neglected Pleasure will remind you of this and help you get the most out of your opportunities to speak with others. Coming together to enjoy some mind stretching games or puzzles can help get the conversation going. There are plenty of ideas for games you can play with friends and family in Creative Family Projects, Games, And Activities by Cynthia MacGregor.

After you have spent some time looking at these books you realize that, whether you’re in the fourth grade or in your fourth decade, one thing you have in common with everyone else is a wonderful mind.

Jeanne @ Warrenton

Friday, November 5, 2010

Twelve Books

Some of us who are avid readers have begun to wonder at the state of publishing these days. It is not unusual to find typos, mix up of character names, poor grammar and other small but annoying problems in recently published books.

For this reason, I am impressed when a publisher dares to be different. Such is the case with Twelve. According to the company’s Mission Statement, Twelve was established in 2005 to publish only one book per month, books that “explain our culture; that illuminate, inspire, provoke, and entertain.” This publisher further promises that “each book will be carefully edited, designed, and produced.”

Whether you are looking for fiction or non-fiction, memoir or social commentary, there will probably be a book by Twelve to interest you. Three of my favorites are:

And there are others such as: War by Sebastian Junger, Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens, Hard Call by John McCain, Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley, and Columbine by David Cullen.
With the gift-giving season fast approaching, many of us will purchase books as gifts for friends and family. It is nice to have the option to select from such a long list of books exhibiting both quality and timely content. See more about library staff recommendations for gift-giving this season with titles chosen especially for children, teens, or adults.
Don't forget that purchasing from through the library's Wowbrary site sends contributions directly to Fauquier County Public Library. And see other ways to give gifts to the library.

Maryellen @ Warrenton

Monday, November 1, 2010

Recommendations from Marshall...

Johnetta @ John Marshall - A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick, is the first in the Cobbled Court series. This is the story of a quilting shop and the women that it brings together. The owner regularly organizes a “Quilt Pink” day to recognize breast cancer awareness. When she is diagnosed with cancer, the sisterhood of quilters come together. Uplifting and inspiring. - Johnetta

Veronica @ John Marshall - The Passage by Justin Crow is yet another vampire novel! This one is very well written and certainly a page turner. The government accidentally releases a virus that infects most of the world. The people who are not turned into “virals” (vampires) are in a fight for their lives and it seems a losing battle until a young girl appears.

Deborah @ John Marshall - Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, is a funny and touching story of a resilient young girl of twelve, living in the South of the 1960s. CeeCee was the caretaker of her troubled mother until circumstances change her life. This book is sure to be enjoyed by anyone who loved The Secret Life of Bees.