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Important Messages
If you had to settle on just one reason to love books, what would it be? Friends of Poets & Writers’ Magazine Executive Director, Elliot Figman, recently said that books help us to grow, enrich our lives and give us hope. He stated that “studies have linked reading fiction, in particular to an increased capacity for empathy.” His top reason, though, is simply that “reading makes us human.”

Join with others at the start of 2017 and share your experiences of reading with our community. Prizes will be awarded based on a random drawing of entries, as well as two prizes for the best reviews as judged by the criteria below. Prizes will be to Cinemapolis and Buffalo Street Books. Reviews will be accepted between January 3 and February 28, 2017.

For more information, please contact: Teresa Vadakin at tvadakin@tcpl.org


a. At least one book should be either an award winner (see sample list at library.booksite.com/6631/nl/?list=CNL1&group=EB555 or chosen from the Staff Picks lists available at tcpl.org/we-suggest/staff-picks.php
b. The second book may be any book of your choice.

Reviews should be based on a thorough, careful reading of the book and will be judged by a panel of TCPL librarians on the following criteria

a. Word count: 50-200 words (slightly outside this range is acceptable)
b. State whether this book was chosen from the Staff Picks lists, or, if it has won an award, provide the name and year of the award.
c. Includes a brief statement of the thesis or description of the book
d. Contains an appraisal of the author’s writing style
e. Advises what readers this book would most likely appeal to and/or what other books are similar to this one
f. Incorporates a statement that reflects your own opinion about this book, the topic and/or its relevance to readers today
g. Optional: If you listened to this book on audio, how well did the narrator/reader deliver the contents?
h. Spelling, grammar, accuracy will be considered in judging reviews.
*Criteria derived in part from “Guidelines for Library Journal Reviews” reviews.libraryjournal.com/about/guidelines-for-library-journal-reviews/ .

Reviews
Read this book
Title
American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of the Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China
Author
Matthew Polly
Rating
Review
A winner of the Alex Award of the American Library Association in 2008, this is a funny memoir of the author's two years studying kung fu with Shaolin monks in China after dropping out of Princeton to find himself. The author reveals a lot about himself as well as manners and morals of youth in modern China. I would recommend it for those with an interest in martial arts, China, or just a good read.  Read this book
ISBN
978-1-592-40337-0
Read this book
Title
The Bride's Farewell
Author
Meg Rosoff
Rating
Review
This is the second book by this author that I read recently. I am struck by despite what the 2 novels have in common (character driven, engaging writing and happy endings), they are very different as well. Some authors write books that feel like they follow the same basic formula. But with this writer, it seems she likes experimenting with style, eras, and genres. The story of this book takes place in rural England in the 1850's. Not too original (a plucky heroine, an aloof mysterious hero, difficult life circumstances that are admirable overcome) but enjoyable.  Read this book
ISBN
9780670020997
Read this book
Title
A Man Called Ove
Author
Frederik Backman
Rating
Review
"A Man Called Ove" has recently been on the NYTimes Bestseller list. The story follows the life of a grumpy and veraciously honest, no-nonsense man in Stockholm, called Ove. As the story unfolds, we learn how and why he has developed his stubborn, perfectionist, inflexible, and somewhat depressed personality. Bits of his past are slowly divulged throughout the book, which allows the reader to gradually understand who he is and why he is the way he is. We begin the book having sympathy for the people who Ove encounters, and end the book understanding him and seeing him as a friend. Ove changes as the book progresses, from a lonely and depressed curmudgeon, to someone who realizes his worth and importance to others, and sees that he is loved. It is written in a humorous style, and mostly from Ove's inflexible and cynical view of the world and the people in it.
I very much enjoyed this book, and would think it would appeal to people like myself--women and mothers, though some men would probably identify with Ove and also enjoy reading it. I think I will be more understanding and appreciative of older people after reading this book.   Read this book
ISBN
9781476738024
Comments
A grumpy old man is surprisingly compelling
Read this book
Title
Outline
Author
Rachel Cusk
Rating
Review
I could not finish this book, I wanted to, I struggled to, but I just couldn't. There are authors (and Cusk is one of them for me) whose writing are so dense with words, whose descriptions are so lyrical, so metaphoric, so filled with insightful meaning that I just give up.
The premise was not without interest, a woman writer goes to Greece for a few days to teach a writing workshop. She writes about each encounter she has along the way: her neighbor on the flight, a fellow teacher, an old friend (this is as far as got before calling it a day). She herself remains distant, in the background, perhaps the point being that she is only defined by the people around her. Anyway, a valuable experience, sometimes it is good to find out who and what I don't want to read.  Read this book
ISBN
9780374228347
Read this book
Title
Gravestone
Author
P.M. Carlson
Rating
Review
This is the first in a mystery series featuring Marty Hopkins, a deputy sheriff in southern Indiana. The Klan is still active in the area, though underground. Hopkins deals with a ne'er-do-well husband, a young daughter, an enigmatic professor interested in life in caves, and a respected judge now gravely ill while on the track of Klan members responsible for two murders. The author provides good characterization and setting, and the plot moves right along.  Read this book
ISBN
0-671-76975-8