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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
The Divide
Author
Matt Taibbi
Rating
Review
The Divide will make you mad. That is the point. Matt Taibbi writes about the gross inequality in America today by shining a light on the nightmare that is every day life for the poorest citizens and then shining the same light on the white-collar criminals that inhabit the power centers of our financial institutions. While there is one set of justice for the poor there is another for the rich. It is hard to come away unconvinced.
Taibbi's language is clearly hostile, sometimes angry. In another book I would be turned off but here it drives the point home and makes the author's opinions clear. He doesn't shy from outlining the hypocrisy for what it is. And Taibbi's descriptions of financial transactions is easy to understand so one needn't be an economist to understand the financial crimes of the super-rich.
Anyone who wants to understand America should read this book. I will be looking for other books by Taibbi.   Read this book
ISBN
9780812993424
Read this book
Title
Dead End Street
Author
Sheila Connolly
Rating
Review
"This a "Museum Mystery," one of a series featuring Nell Pratt, director of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society. The author, once a financial advisor to Philadelphia, emphasizes the problems of urban blight and the need for groups like historical societies to pay attention to all neighborhoods, not just historic districts or areas with beautiful mansions. Nell Pratt is shot at while visiting a devastated city district and is moved to consider enlarging the scope of her society's mandate. The book leans a little too heavily on its theme and doesn't move along as quickly as the author's "Orchard Mysteries," which I have enjoyed.
  Read this book
ISBN
9780425273470
Read this book
Title
Stories of your life and others
Author
Ted Chiang
Rating
Review
A very curious book. It is a collection of short stories where science plays a central role. Or I should say science fiction because it is not quite the science we know: aliens come and a linguist learns to communicate in their language, a Victorian English man lives in a world where Hebrew letters animate clay objects, hormones impart super intelligence to brain damaged patients are a few examples. The characters are strongly influenced by the circumstances they encounter in their world.
This book didn't quite grab me but it is impressive and well written.  Read this book
ISBN
9780765304186
Read this book
Title
Moonglow
Author
Michael Chabon
Rating
Review
Michael Chabon skillfully retells the story of a man seen through the eyes of his grandson. Caring for him in his final days, he listens as his grandfather opens up and reveals his hidden life. As a reader I felt very engage in following the messy, twist and turns of a life that is ordinary and extraordinary
  Read this book
ISBN
9780062225559
Read this book
Title
Cleopatra: A Life
Author
Stacy Schiff
Rating
Review
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography in 2011. Schiff combed ancient Greek and Roman sources, which she often found contradictory, biased, or rather imaginative, in order to learn about the celebrated queen and separate myth from reality.
Cleopatra is presented as an intelligent, well-educated, courageous, and wise ruler during uncertain times of Egyptian and Roman civil wars. The queen turned to Caesar and Mark Antony for protection from enemies, both domestic and foreign, as a way to preserve the fading power of Egypt from the growing power of Rome.

Schiff's writing style is clear and witty with wry ancient and modern comparisons. She evokes the splendor of Alexandria, a center of culture, learning, and luxury compared to Rome of that time. Indeed, Roman scorn for Cleopatra for being an ambitious and accomplished female has contemporary echoes.

Readers of the history of Ptolemaic Egypt and the Roman empire can learn a lot from this book. Readers of women's history will get a new appreciation of a much maligned ruler. I found the book interesting and informative, and I appreciated the author's humor and critiques of the writing of ancient historians about Cleopatra. The queen was far from the sexy seductress of much historical writing and the movies. The biographer gives Cleopatra her due and places her in the complicated historical context.  Read this book
ISBN
9780316001922