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The world Jedediah Berry creates in The Manual of Detection is both familiar and strange. There are detectives who investigate mysteries, but their cases have names like “The Man Who Stole November 12th” and “The Three Deaths of Colonel Baker.” A man named Charles Unwin tries to get his old job back, but discovers he must first figure out who is controlling the sleeping city’s dreams. It’s this creative mixture of mystery and surrealism that makes Berry’s novel both unique and delightfully eerie.
Charles Unwin has many talents. He can ride his bicycle through the city’s slick streets while simultaneously holding his umbrella aloft; he is a meticulous dreamer, who can exert control over the images that flood his brain at night; and, perhaps most importantly, he is incredibly adept at maintaining order. As one of the Agency’s most dedicated clerks Unwin possesses a definite knack for transforming mysteries into tidy, logical explanations, especially when he is piecing together airtight solutions from the reports of Detective Travis Sivart. But when Sivart goes missing, Unwin’s own world is profoundly disrupted. In fact, he is whisked away from his clerk’s desk, handed a book, and told that his new title is Detective.
I’m going to Brooklyn to visit my daughter, and as with every excursion to the “Big Apple,” I make a list of must-see places. Usually I include a tea house, a photo gallery, and a farmer’s market. (If you’re a locavore, NYC’s markets are BEYOND compare!). But this time I’m making a reservation at Prune--Gabrielle Hamilton’s acclaimed West Village restaurant. Coincidentally, Hamilton is also the author of Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. Her book, like her food (or so I’ve heard), is exceptional!
Hamilton’s childhood in rural Pennsylvania was unconventional and idyllic. Her father was a stage designer, frequently involved with Broadway productions; her mother, French and a former dancer, spent her days aproned in front of a six-burner stove. The clan lived in a crumbling, 19th-century silk mill. They regularly hosted legendary parties—complete with spring lamb roasting on a spit and an endless variety of creative themes.
Jason Blake isn't a "neurotypical" kid. Jason is an autistic 12-year old struggling to live in a world filled with "neurotypicals," who unsuccessfully try to understand the problems he faces in day-to-day life. In the book, Anything but Typical, Nora Raleigh Baskin demonstrates what it is like to be a sixth grader with autism.
Jason tries to express himself with others but finds that people don't like to take the time to get to know and understand him. The only place that Jason feels safe to communicate is online. There he writes and posts short stories on a Web site where young writers share their work amongst each other. There he meets Rebecca; they quickly begin helping each other with their writing. Jason strikes up a friendship with Rebecca but fears that they could never meet due to his autism.
This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.
To Say Nothing of the Dog: "It is 1888 and Ned Henry is shuttling between the 1940s and modern day, researching Coventry Cathedral for a patron who wants to rebuild it. But when the time continuum is disrupted, Ned must scramble to set things right."
If you like Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, you may also enjoy these titles:
Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories by Terry Bisson
Readers turn from 'Bears Discover Fire', a meditative tale that blends the irreconcilable sadness of the loss of a loved one with the weirdness of the very literal title, to the delightfully silly 'They're Made Out of Meat', a dialogue between two odd aliens about the nature of life on Earth, to the elegaic 'England Underway', in which a bookish Englishman confronts the New World, bringing all of England with him. Leavening even his most serious tales with humor, Bisson can deal with issues frequently blighted by stridency: three stories address environmental concerns with a black humor that enhances rather than mitigates their impact."-from Pusblisher's Weekly
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
"Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. ... England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in Wordsworth poems, militant Baconians roam freely spreading the gospel that Bacon, not Shakespeare, penned those immortal works. And forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. This is all business as usual for brainy, bookish (and heat-packing) Thursday Next, a renowned Special Operative in literary detection -- that is, until someone begins murdering characters from works of literature. When this madman plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Bronte's novel Thursday faces the challenge of her career. Aided and abetted by characters that include her time-traveling father, an executive of the all-powerful Goliath Corporation, and Edward Rochester himself, Thursday must track down the world's Third Most Wanted criminal and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide."-(from the Book jacket)
When one thinks of heirs and heiresses, one thinks of bags and bags of money. But in T. H. White’s Mistress Masham’s Repose, ten-year-old Maria has no money. She is only the heiress to a falling down 17th-century English estate called Malplaquet. Even so, she might have enjoyed a lovely if quiet life in the countryside. But she doesn’t.
Attention all dog lovers: Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, by Ted Kerasote, is a must-read book about a dog and his human companion. This non-fiction tale takes the reader to the banks of the San Juan River where Ted, the author, finds Merle, a ten-month-old pup living on his own. Ted, who had been looking for a dog but never really felt connected to any of the dogs he had met, finds it impossible to leave this dog. Merle seems to also be looking for a companion and doesn't want to leave Ted's side either.
Merle and Ted strike up a relationship that any dog owner can understand. They share their lives together, all the while learning from each other. Merle teaches Ted how to navigate in nature and techniques for hunting, while Ted teaches about the ways of the human world. In actuality, Merle teaches Ted more about obedience and other dog behaviors than Ted teaches him. Ted uses his knowledge of Merle to translate dog behavior to human language. It's a fantastic relationship between dog and human.