Top Reads for 2013

Kick off the new year with a great book.

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to relax and enjoy the simpler things in life - like reading - local libraries are able to lend a helping hand, or a few books.

Patch caught up with some area librarians to find out what's coming out, what's hot and what's a must read. 

Here's a few suggestions:

  • "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History" by Robert Edsel & Bret Witter. (history)

From 1939 through the end of the Second World War, the Nazi army seized priceless paintings, sculptures, tapestries and other works of art from museums, palaces, cathedrals, private homes and chapels. Nazis plundered the cultural history of every nation they invaded. The Monuments Men (a few hundred men and women, curators and archivists, artists and art historians from 13 nations) tracked these missing treasures down during the latter years of the war.  

Matt Damon stars in a forthcoming movie about the work of this unusual group of cultural warriors. Read about the real “Monuments Men” in Edsel & Witter’s book, based on research in military archives and interviews with the last surviving members of this unusual cadre.

  • "The End of Your Life Book Club" by Will Schwalbe. (memoir)

After Will Schwalbe’s 73-year-old mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007, he began accompanying her to chemotherapy treatments and doctor’s appointments. Both book lovers—Schwalbe is the former editor-in-chief of Hyperion Books—they often passed the time reading or talking about reading.  Their informal waiting-room book club endured for the remaining two years of her life, and led to this tender tribute to Schwalbe’s mother and to the universal power of books to unite and heal.

  • "A Possible Life: A Novel in Five Parts" by Sebastian Faulks. (fiction/short stories)

This “novel in short stories” brings to life five wildly disparate protagonists in stories linked by the strength of their characters, all challenged by the horrors of war, of abandonment, of the struggle between trust and faith, and of romance gone shockingly wrong. Early buzz about this book among reviewers and booksellers is very enthusiastic.

  • "The Art Forger" by B. A. Shapiro. (mystery/romance)

Boston painter Claire Roth is living down guilt and scandal over her involvement with painter Isaac Cullion, whose breakthrough work, 4D, she painted for him when he suffered the artist’s version of “writer’s block.” She has survived financially by painting reproductions. When influential gallery owner Aiden Markel bribes her with a proposal for her own show if she will forge a copy of a Degas, one of the pictures stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum--she says yes. As she works, Claire discovers that the stolen Degas is itself a copy. This romantic thriller wrestles with the ethics of art forgery and unravels an intriguing possible explanation for one of the art world’s most famous unsolved crimes.

  • "Tiger Rag" by Nicholas Christopher (fiction)

This novel mixes fiction with jazz history. In 1904, Charles "Buddy" Bolden, "the father of all jazz trumpeters," makes three Edison cylinder recordings of his signature song “Tiger Rag.” The enigmatic jazzman never recorded again before dying in a New Orleans insane asylum. Two of the three cylinders were destroyed. The third disappeared without a trace. Or did it?

Fast forward to 2010. Middle-aged, divorced, manic depressive Miami anesthesiologist Ruby Cardillo and her daughter, Devon Sheresky, a jazz pianist and recovering drug addict embark on a trip to New York. There they meet with Emmett Browne, an elderly music dealer who thinks her recently deceased grandmother may be a link to the missing recording. As the chapters alternate between Buddy Bolden’s story and the contemporary Cardillo family, readers trace the convoluted path to the missing historic jazz recording. Based on a real-life rumor the recordings exist, Christopher's intriguing yarn lays out how their zealous guardians have preserved Buddy Bolden's jazz legacy.

  • "After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead" by Alan S. Blinder (economics & financial policy)

Renowned economist Alan Blinder explains the ongoing global financial crisis that began in 2008. He asserts his book is the most comprehensive so far. Less of a whodunit than a "why did they do it," it emphasizes public policymaking over arcane financial dealings. Blinder analyzes the following paradox: financial markets left to police themselves after ill-advised, ideological government deregulation needed previously unwelcome intervention to avert complete calamity. Blinder does not portray government decision-makers as heroic, but he demonstrates that without their energetic intervention, many more institutions would have collapsed, more homes would have been foreclosed on, and more jobs would have been lost. Blinder’s cogent analysis ends with a warning that lessons learned from the crisis are already being ignored.

  • "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis.  (fiction)

Oprah Winfrey selected this first novel to re-launch her “Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.” In 1923, 15-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who brings her nothing but heartache. Her firstborn twins die from an illness a few pennies could have prevented. She rears nine more children with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them for the difficulties they are sure to face in a world that will not love or be kind to them. Captured in twelve narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage in America’s “Great Migration.”

A few more:

  • "Notorious Nineteen" by Janet Evanovich (for laughs)
  • "The Forgotten" by David Baldacci (thriller)
  • "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis ("enlightening")
  • "Threat Vector" by Tom Clancy (always a favorite)
  • "Grace, Gold and Glory" by Gabrielle Douglas (for all ages)
  • "Burned (Pretty Little Liars, Book 12)" by Sara Shepard (teens)
  • "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel" by Jeff Kinney (kids)
Ashish Sitapara MD February 20, 2013 at 02:40 PM
For some thought provoking news on personalized health and the convergence of wireless technology with the doctors office, I highly recomend Dr Eric Topol's "The Creative Destruction of Medicine". (He is the world renowned cardiologist who discovered the dangers of Vioxx and forced Merck to take it off the market, genetics professor and personalized medicine believer). Book is about the coming last mile where social media, wireless patient centered apps and microtechnologies like sensors in our bloodstrwam will let you know and your doctor know in advance of a heart attack or stroke. Laptop computing power will let you know your genetic sequence in seconds so doctors can decide are you the personal who is genetically resistant to statins or plavix so alternatives can be found. Personalized medicine, not population medicine. A good read and plenty to challenge your doctor with!


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