Norman Public Library
This month’s “Staff Selections” column comes to us from Judy, manager of the Information Services Department at the Norman Public Library.
Before coming to work for Pioneer Library System in the early 1990s, Judy worked in the world-famous Western History Collections at the University of Oklahoma. She also served as an archivist in OU’s Carl Albert Center. “Undoubtedly this is where my love of all things old and historical comes from - in addition to having a double major in history and geography,” says Judy.
Though she grew up in Fayetteville, Arkansas (“Go Razorbacks!”), Judy spent time in Norman visiting her grandparents and came to love Oklahoma and its unique history. “Then I ended up living and going to library school here,” she says, “and I proudly received my 20-year pin for working in the Pioneer Library System last October.”
“My reading tastes lean toward literary fiction, historical fiction, and narrative nonfiction, with a few mysteries sprinkled in,” says Judy. “I also enjoy reading the work of debut authors. Right now I’m hooked on southern literature and fiction, which probably comes from growing up a southern girl!”
The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
Judy : “The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.” So begins author Lauren Groff’s novel, set in a fictional town in upstate New York fashioned after Cooperstown of James Fenimore Cooper fame. Willie Upton, a graduate student in archeology, returns home licking her wounds after a disastrous affair with her professor. Believing herself to be the product of her free-love mother’s counterculture ways in 1970's San Francisco, she is stunned to find out that her father might actually live in Templeton. It’s up to Willie to find out who he is. While researching her town’s past and her family tree, she finds that Templeton has more “monsters” than the one in the lake! Photos reproduced in the book, along with family trees, lend an air of historical authenticity. This is one quirky yet engaging read!”
Judy: “This title is full of tried-and-true recipes that Ina Garten uses over and over because they are easy, they work and they are loved by everyone. This cookbook contains beautiful photographs of her signature dishes, her home and East Hampton. Don’t miss the Old-Fashioned Potato Salad and Tri-Berry Muffin recipes!”
Into Thin Air: a Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
Judy: “An oldie but a goodie! Jon Krakauer, a journalist for Outside magazine, signed up for an expedition during the fateful May 1996 season, intending to write an article for the magazine. His first-person account weaves a story that reads like fiction. He brings to life the real concerns of guided ascents up Everest, the use of oxygen by guides, the inexperience of people who pay mega-bucks to be escorted to the world's highest peak, the state of mind that thin air brings to the human mind, and the accomplishments and follies of those who attempt such extraordinary feats. You'll feel the frigid wind, the snow, the ice, the pain, the desperation, the sorrow and the regrets. I’ve always been fascinated with Mount Everest, but only as an armchair climber. This book is a riveting read, with maps and photos to aid in keeping the people and places straight.”
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Judy: “It’s 1791 and seven-year-old Lavinia loses both of her parents on the voyage from Ireland to America. The ship’s captain, Jamie Pyke, takes her to his tobacco plantation home in southern Virginia to work as an indentured slave. Lavinia lives in the kitchen house, put in the care of Belle, a young slave who is also the captain’s illegitimate daughter. Lavinia eventually is accepted into the world of the big house. She is deeply bonded to her adopted slave family even though she is set apart by her white skin. The story spans 20 years and is told by Lavinia and Belle through alternating chapters. This novel is rich in period and detail. The author studied slave narratives and the letters of William Byrd, founder of Richmond, who wrote of the nuts, vegetables and fruits available at that time in Virginia. The book is full of twists and turns - there are secrets, births, deaths, drug and alcohol abuse, and more. This is a compelling read with characters you really come to care about. I didn’t want it to end!”
They Did It with Love by Kate Morgenroth
Judy: “This one is just plain fun! Sophie and her husband move to Greenwich, a wealthy Connecticut neighborhood, in search of a more tranquil life in the suburbs. In order to fit in and meet other women, Sophie joins the neighborhood mystery book group. When one of the members is found dead on her lawn, Sophie decides to play amateur detective. Was it suicide or murder? With a nod to the life of the rich and famous, the members of the book club and their spouses are just stereotypical enough to be interesting. Skeletons come out of the closet and dark secrets float to the surface in this Agatha Christie-like mystery. This book is perfect, with surprises throughout and twists at the end! It's light and entertaining, yet still smart.”