Summer Nightstand

During the summer “What’s on Your Nightstand” event at the Des Plaines campus, the following books were discussed.

Remember, if Oakton doesn’t own the book or our copy is checked out, you can request a copyto be sent from one of our consortium libraries for FREE! Most books take less than a week to arrive.

Nonfiction

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
by Michael Finkel

“In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food.

Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries.

Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifrenka

“The true story of an all-American girl and a boy from Zimbabwe and the letter that changed both of their lives forever.

It started as an assignment. Everyone in Caitlin’s class wrote to an unknown student somewhere in a distant place.

Martin was lucky to even receive a pen-pal letter. There were only ten letters, and fifty kids in his class. But he was the top student, so he got the first one.

That letter was the beginning of a correspondence that spanned six years and changed two lives.

In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends—and better people—through their long-distance exchange. Their story will inspire you to look beyond your own life and wonder about the world at large and your place in it” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

It Looked Different on the Model
by Laurie Notaro

“Everyone’s favorite Idiot Girl, Laurie Notaro, is just trying to find the right fit, whether it’s in the adorable blouse that looks charming on the mannequin but leaves her in a literal bind or in her neighborhood after she’s shamefully exposed at a holiday party by delivering a low-quality rendition of ‘Jingle Bells.’

Notaro makes misstep after riotous misstep as she shares tales of marriage and family, including stories about the dog-bark translator that deciphers Notaro’s and her husband’s own ‘woofs’ a little too accurately, the emails from her mother with ‘FWD’ in the subject line (‘which in email code means Forecasting World Destruction’), and the dead-of-night shopping sprees and Devil Dog-devouring monkeyshines of a creature known as ‘Ambien Laurie.’ At every turn, Notaro’s pluck and irresistible candor set the New York Times bestselling author on a journey that’s laugh-out-loud funny and utterly unforgettable” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss One Song at a Time
by Rob Sheffield

“Mix tapes: Stick one into a deck and you’re  transported to another time in your life. For Rob Sheffield, author of Turn Around Bright Eyesthat time was one of miraculous love and unbearable grief. A time that spanned seven years, it started when he met the girl of his dreams, and ended when he watched her die in his arms.

Using the listings of fifteen of his favorite mix tapes, Rob shows that the power of music to build a bridge between people is stronger than death. You’ll read these words, perhaps surprisingly, with joy in your heart and a song in your head—the one that comes to mind when you think of the love of your life” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke
by Rob Sheffield

“Once upon a time I was falling apart. Now I’m always falling in love.

Pick up the microphone.

When Rob Sheffield moved to New York City in the summer of 2001, he was a young widower trying to start a new life in a new town. Behind, in the past, was his life as a happily married rock critic, with a wife he adored, and a massive collection of mix tapes that captured their life together. And then, in a flash, all he had left were the tapes.

Beyonce, Bowie, Bon Jovi, Benatar . . .

One night, some friends dragged him to a karaoke bar in the West Village. A night out was a rare occasion for Rob back then.

Turn around

Somehow, that night in a karaoke bar turned into many nights, in many karaoke bars. Karaoke became a way out, a way to escape the past, a way to be someone else if only for the span of a three-minute song. Discovering the sublime ridiculousness of karaoke, despite the fact that he couldn’t carry a tune, he began to find his voice.

Turn around

And then the unexpected happened. A voice on the radio got Rob’s attention. The voice came attached to a woman who was unlike anyone he’d ever met before. A woman who could name every constellation in the sky, and every Depeche Mode B side. A woman who could belt out a mean Bonnie Tyler.

Bright Eyes

Turn Around Bright Eyes is an emotional journey of hilarity and heartbreak with a karaoke soundtrack. It’s a story about finding the courage to move on, clearing your throat, and letting it rip. It’s a story about navigating your way through adult romance. And it’s a story about how songs get tangled up in our deepest emotions, evoking memories of the past while inspiring hope for the future” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

Grant
by Ron Chernow

The author of Hamilton and Washington has written a new biography about Ulysses S. Grant to be published in the fall.

“Ulysses S. Grant’s life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don’t come close to capturing him, as Chernow sows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.

Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had ended dismally, and despite distinguished service in the Mexican War he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in war, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign, and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Along the way, Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. Grant’s military fame translated into a two-term presidency, but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff members.

More important, he sought freedom and justice for black Americans, working to crush the Ku Klux Klan and earning the admiration of Frederick Douglass, who called him ‘the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race.’ After his presidency, he was again brought low by a dashing young swindler on Wall Street, only to resuscitate his image by working with Mark Twain to publish his memoirs, which are recognized as a masterpiece of the genre” (book details fromBarnes & Noble).

Fiction

Homegoing: A Novel
by Yaa Gyasi

“Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery.

One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nati

ons wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi’s magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual

against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel
by Dominic Smith

“Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city’s Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes (they are generally restricted to indoor subjects), a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the i

mage of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it.

New York City, 1957: The only known surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of a wealthy Manhattan lawyer, Marty de Groot, a descendant of the original owner. It is a beautiful but comfortless landscape. The lawyer’s marriage is prominent but comfortless, too. When a struggling art history grad student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer, she finds herself entangled with its owner in ways no one could predict.

Sydney, 2000: Now a celebrated art historian and curator, Ellie Shipley is mounting an exhibition in her field of specialization: female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. When it becomes ap

parent that both the original At the Edge of a Wood and her forgery are en route to her museum, the life she has carefully constructed threatens to unravel entirely and irrevocably” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

No One is Coming to Save Us
by Stephanie Powell Watts

This book was named the first ALA Book Central choice.

“JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he’s startled to find that the people he once kne

w and loved have changed just as much as he has. Ava is now married and desperate for a baby, though she can’t seem to carry one to term. Her husband, Henry, has grown distant, frustrated by the demise of the furniture industry, which has outsourced to China and stripped the area of jobs. Ava’s mother, Sylvia, caters to and meddles with the lives of those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s unworthy but charming husband, just won’t stop hanging around.

JJ’s return—and his plans to build a huge mansion overlooking Pinewood and woo Ava—not only unsettles their family, but stirs up the entire town. The ostentatious wealth that JJ has attained forces everyone to consider the cards they’ve been dealt, what more they want and deserve, and how they might go about getting it. Can they reorient their lives to align with their wishes rather than their current realities? Or are they all already resigned to the rhythms of the particular lives they lead?” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

It Takes a Village
by Hillary Clinton
illustrations by Marla Frazee

This book is coming out September 12, 2017.

“Inspired by the themes of her classic bestselling book It Takes a Village, Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first picture book tells a heartwarming and universal story of how a community coming together can make a difference. All kinds of people working together, playing together, and living together makes their village a better place and many villages coming together can make a better world.A children’s version of Secretary Clinton’s best-seller that is coming out in the fall” (book details from Barnes & Noble).

—posted by Gretchen Schneider

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