The True Meaning of Valentine’s Day

Image of two read hearts with text, be my friend, on one of them.Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Are you the first in line to buy teddy bears and greeting cards, or do you hold your nose at the scent of flowers and heart-shaped candy? If you are the latter, and you cringe at hyperbolic celebrations of romantic love, you are in luck because the Feast of Saint Valentinus is also a day to celebrate friendship. So, unless you are sworn to absolute misanthropy, you can still allow yourself to share some delicious chocolate with your true pals. Curb your curmudgeonly ways and ponder the value of friendship by reading one of these inspiring titles:

 
PACT: THREE YOUNG MEN MAKE A PROMISE AND FULFILL A DREAM by SAMPSON DAVIS. (2002) DB 54458 DLD DX 54458 RC 54458

Three twenty-nine-year-old African American doctors–two physicians
and a dentist–describe how their friendship helped them to overcome
obstacles and to pursue their career goals. They share how they
motivated each other to leave problem neighborhoods of Newark, enroll
in college, and enter professions. For senior high and older readers.

FIVE SKIES by RON CARLSON (2007)
BR 17520 DB 65452 DLD RC 65452

Three men share their life stories while working on a construction
project in Idaho. Carpenter Arthur Key, who left California after a
betrayal, and Ronnie Panelli, charming but shiftless, are led by ranch
foreman Darwin Gallegos–angry at man, God, and life. Strong language.

JOY LUCK CLUB by AMY TAN (1989)
BR 07747 DB 29021 DLD RC 29021

In 1949 four Chinese women living in San Francisco founded the Joy
Luck Club where they met to play mah-jongg, tell stories, and “feast”
on scraps. Forty years later one of the women dies, her daughter
takes her place at the club, and a secret is revealed that unleashes
in each person the need to reach back and remember. Bestseller.

TRUTH AND BEAUTY: A FRIENDSHIP by ANN PATCHETT (2004)
DB 62610 DLD RC 62610

Author reminisces about her long-term friendship with Lucy Grealy,
whom she met in college at Sarah Lawrence and who wrote Autobiography of a Face (RC 40052) describing her battle with facial cancer. Patchett describes their relationship until Grealy’s 2002 death from a heroin overdose.

Eat, Drink, and Be … Frugal?

The holidays are here. It’s the season for eating, drinking, being merry and exchanging gifts with friends and loved ones. Unfortunately it’s also the season for overspending. Money magazine recently interviewed two experts on the pitfalls of holiday shopping:  “Blame it on heightened emotional vulnerability, says psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. ‘There’s a lot of guilt and social comparison in holiday shopping,’ she explains, adding that people often compensate by exercising their purchasing muscles. What’s more, ‘if you see everyone out having fun while spending, you mimic the behavior,’ says Mary Gresham, a psychologist specializing in financial issues.”

Is the siren-song of your credit cards too seductive? Is your spending way too jolly?  Does your blood pressure go up just thinking about the bills you’ll receive in January? Read one of these great titles about keeping your debt under control and you out of trouble all year long.

CLARK HOWARD’S LIVING LARGE IN LEAN TIMES: TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY-PLUS WAYS TO BUY SMARTER, SPEND SMARTER, AND SAVE MONEY

By Clark Howard. 2011   DB   73952

Television and radio consumer advocate’s guide to saving money offers advice on range of topics from cars to homes to travel. The first   chapter covers changes that could have immediate effects on personal finances. Other chapters include tips for buying utilities, insurance, mortgages, health care, and education. Bestseller.

CHEAPSKATE NEXT DOOR: THE SURPRISING SECRETS OF AMERICANS LIVING HAPPILY BELOW THEIR MEANS

By Jeff Yeager 2010         DB   72384

Provides practical advice and tips on ways to live on less than you earn. Suggests a change in attitude about money, possessions, and life.

BUYOLOGY: TRUTH AND LIES ABOUT WHY WE BUY

By Martin Lindstrom 2008             DB   68128             RC   68128

Marketing expert explains “buyology,” his term for the subconscious thoughts, feelings, and desires that drive consumer decisions.  Discusses findings from a three-year, multimillion-dollar neuromarketing experiment that gauged responses to products and advertisements and tried to determine the ways sex, religion, subliminal messages, and bodily senses influence purchasing.

ABC’S OF GETTING OUT OF DEBT: TURN BAD DEBT INTO GOOD DEBT AND BAD CREDIT INTO GOOD CREDIT

by Garrett Sutton. 2004.    DB 60539  DLD   DX 60539   RC 60539

Advice on using debt wisely. Author describes the difference between good debt and bad debt, explains credit scores and reports, and     suggests ways to repair one’s finances and avoid scams. Includes case-studies, sample letters, credit reports, and resources.

CONSUMER REPORTS (monthly publication)

In-depth articles that rate consumer products tested for quality, durability, and safety; also contains general-interest articles on such topics as health and money management.

Money (monthly publication)

Articles on money management, consumer, and family issues; includes regular columns with news and advice on jobs, taxes, Social Security, investments, products, and services.

 

Staff Pick – Saidah

‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes.

Man Booker Prize, Bestseller.  2011

DB   73935     LB   07051

If you like gossip about other people’s love lives, you will like this book. You will even like it when your naughty predilection comes back to bite you in the butt at the end of the story.

Retired Tony Webster realizes his life is not what he thought after receiving a puzzling inheritance and a journal left behind by Adrian, a friend who committed suicide four decades ago. His entire life Tony has held a petty grudge against his first girlfriend Veronica and her relationship with Adrian. Reading the journal changes Tony’s perspective of what happened between the three of them. It leads him to discover unexpected and harsh consequences, and his own responsibility in bringing them about.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s short but powerful.  It does a great job of getting under the skin of the characters and weaving their emotional life into a larger picture, where the reader can link long forgotten causes to indelible results. Publisher’s Weekly says “From the haunting images of its first pages to the surprising and wrenching finale, the novel carries readers with sensitivity and wisdom through the agony of lost time.”

Other books by Julian Barnes:

ARTHUR AND GEORGE (2006)          DB 61635 DLD, RC   61635

NOTHING TO BE FRIGHTENED OF (2008)      DB   68481

LOVE, ETC. (2000)                RC   53948

ENGLAND, ENGLAND (1999)               RC   49553

PORCUPINE (1992)                RC   38098

TALKING IT OVER (1991)                RC   34498

HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN TEN-AND-ONE-HALF CHAPTERS (1989)                RC   31893

 

If You Liked “The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo” …

If you like Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest), you might enjoy these Scandinavian Crime Fiction titles:

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

Oslo detective Harry Hole is tracking a serial killer who leaves snowmen at murder scenes. Hole’s new young colleague believes there is a link between the crimes and a long-missing cop from her town.  
Originally published in Norwegian in 2007. Violence, strong language, and some explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 2010.            

Troubled Man: A Kurt Wallander Mystery by Henning Mankel

As aging chief inspector Wallander’s forgetfulness gets him into trouble at work, his daughter Linda has a baby with her lover Hans.  When the baby’s ex-military grandfather goes missing, Hans asks  Wallander to investigate. Then Hans’ mother disappears, too.  Originally published in Sweden in 2009. Some violence. Bestseller.

Quiet Girl by Peter Hoeg

Denmark. Kasper Krone, a circus clown and music instructor facing extradition for tax evasion, discovers that his former student KlaraMaria has been kidnapped. Kasper sets out to rescue her and others from sinister businessmen seeking to exploit their psychic abilities. Translated from Danish by Nadia  Christensen. Some violence.