This week, Library Journal and School Library Journal staffers are reading some books very much of the moment: the follow-up to Elizabeth Wein’s multiple-award winner, Code Name Verity; Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the basis of Baz Luhrmann’s fizzy film. Other staff reads are stuck in the past, or someplace in the middle.
Shelley Diaz, Associate Editor, SLJ
I just finished Robin Wasserman’s The Waking Dark (Knopf, Sept.). I haven’t read something this creepy in a long time! It will be a hit with fans of Stephen King’s Tommyknockers, and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave. I will start Wein’s Rose Under Fire (Hyperion, Sept.), on my commute home. Code Name Verity was one of my favorite reads last year, and winner of the 2012 Edgar Allen Poe Award, among others. I’m sure this companion novel will be just as good.
Kate DiGirolomo, Editorial Assistant, LJ
This week seems to be a lesson in expectation vs. reality. I was kindly given a copy of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani (Riverhead, Jun.), with the hope that it would be my personal, long-awaited female equivalent of the movie Stand By Me, based on the novella The Body by Stephen King. It’s early yet, and I’m still in that odd limbo of deciding if this is a book I’m reading because I enjoy it or because I’ve never really grasped the notion of stopping a book in the middle. If nothing else, the mysterious circumstances surrounding main character, Thea’s, banishment to the camp in the first place has sparked my interest. I’ve also just pulled The Great Gatsby (Scribner) off of my shelf to revisit. Admittedly this is not exactly the most original choice right now. However, I have a clear memory of giving an impassioned speech to my high school English class about my undying love for Nick Carraway. I’m interested to see if the feeling still holds true, or if they were just the ramblings of a crazy 17-year-old.
Molly McArdle, Assistant Book Review Editor, LJ
I’ve hit the halfway mark on First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School (Chicago Review Pr. Aug.), and am starting to think about what I’ll read next. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian? Perhaps a book mentioned in First Class, one-time Dunbar principal Edward Christopher Williams’s 1926 novel When Washington Was in Vogue? In the meantime, my esteem for Alison Stewart’s lively, wide-ranging history of this seminal DC high school has not diminished. I loved reading about the school’s namesake, the great poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, whose childhood friend, Orville Wright, helped him self publish his first book of poems, Oak and Ivy, while Dunbar still worked as an elevator operator.
If a person got onto an elevator run by Paul Laurence Dunbar, that person likely got off the elevator woning a copy of Dunbar’s book. He had figured a way to pay back his debt: sell copies of his book to the people trapped in the elevator with him for a few minutes. It worked, and it helped Paul’s work go viral, insofar as things went viral in the nineteenth century.
Dunbar’s sports teams were, for many years, called “the Poets.”
Kathleen Quinlan, Events Coordinator, LJ & SLJ
Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck (New American Library) looks at the less glamorous side of the infamous Zelda Fitzgerald’s life: when she was committed to a psychiatric hospital in 1932. Zelda develops a close friendship with nurse Anna Howard, who in turn wonders which Fitzgerald is the true genius.
Meredith Schwartz, News Editor, LJ
I’m reading I See By My Outfit (Centro), by Peter S. Beagle, an unlikely nonfiction adventure in which the author of The Last Unicorn rides across the country on a motor scooter. If you can picture Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance starring Billy Crystal and Gene Wilder as wistful, klutzy BFFs, you have the idea.
Henrietta Thornton-Verma, Reviews Editor, LJ
I recently picked up Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin), which was released earlier this month. When things are stressful I reach for something enjoyable and easy, and contemporary women’s fiction usually fits the bill for me; this novel, though, is a little less contemporary than my usual fare, as it’s set in the 1950s. Leavitt portrays here a divorced single mom in crisis. Ava and her son Lewis are different from their Boston neighbors—the other families have married parents and are Christian where Ava and her son are Jewish. Ava also has the nerve to have a date now and then, an activity her prudish female neighbors look down upon. Their suspicion that the single mom cannot possibly care for her child is—maddeningly for Ava and the reader—confirmed when he goes missing. I hear from my colleagues that things turn out differently. I’m rooting for this mom and eagerly waiting the neighbors’ comeuppance; I’ll keep you posted. What I am not reading is Dan Brown’s Inferno (Doubleday). I took it home this weekend with plans to drop everything and devour it, but life got in the way…but there’s always next week.