Reading Room Blog

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

What was it that defined the 1960s and made it one of the most important decades of the 20th century?  This question is often asked, even by those who lived through its tumultuous events. Many classic novels portrayed and influenced the counterculture of the 1960s, including Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, and Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Another classic novel indelibly linked the culture of the 1960s was The Crying of Lot 49, one of Thomas Pynchon’s earliest works.  Supposedly the story of a woman seeking to sort out the estate of her dead boyfriend’s will, The Crying of Lot 49 is a kaleidoscopic narrative that ventures through centuries-spanning conspiracies, bizarre characters, and an American rock band desperately pretending to be part of the British Invasion.  One of Pynchon’s earliest and shortest novels, The Crying of Lot 49 is a surreal whirlwind of 1960s literature.

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

Sailor Twain is a graphic novel that is heavy on the novel half of that term. The book draws from the romantic authors of the nineteenth century, from the sirens of the Odyssey, and from the emotional and carnal explorations of modernist literature.

On a riverboat churning through the Hudson, we meet two very different men. One is the serious, contemplative Captain Twain. The other is the more freewheeling boat owner Lafayette. They are about to become ravaged by the same obsession: mermaids.

Project Gutenberg

project gutenberg logo

"Powered by ideas, ideals, and by idealism." This is one of the first few lines in the mission statement of Project Gutenberg, a Web site stating that it is the first—and largest—single collection of free eBooks. Another tidbit worth mentioning is the fact that it is completely run by volunteers, and there are no dues or membership requirements. While they do gladly accept donations and new volunteers, the site makes its main goal clear: “...provide as many eBooks in as many formats as possible for the entire world to read in as many languages as possible.”

Headquarters Book Group

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

Meets the second Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the 3rd floor conference room

Current Selection:

A Classical Idea! Book Group (Headquarters Library)

Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser

Rediscover the timeless, treasured delights of the classics. Read, savor, and engage in lively discourse with our newest Book Group. Meets the 3rd Monday of every month, 7-8 p.m. For more information, please call the Adult Research Desk at 372-1144 ext. 232.

Current Selection:

Porter Book Group

September 4: Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

Meets the first Thursday of the month at 7:30 pm.

Current Selection:

Book It! Salem Church Book Group

August 26: One Summer America 1927 by Bill Bryson

Join other readers to talk about books. The group meets the fourth Tuesday of the month from 7-9 pm.

Current Selection:

August 26One Summer America 1927 by Bill Bryson
Bryson examines closely the events and personalities of the summer of 1927 when America's story was one of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy. 

England Run Book Group

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7pm

Current Selection:

How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman

How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman

Have you ever wanted to become a writer and brave the strange and confusing world of trying to sell your work to the publishing industry? Do you feel you might need a refresher course in creating a marketable thriller or romance novel?  If you are curious about improving your writing technique to make your work more compelling, concise, or appealing to publishers, you may benefit from How Not to Write a Novel, a writing guide from Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman.  This guide is a compilation of examples of common writing mistakes that can make novels confusing, boring, or unappealing to read.  Humorous and well-organized, this book is both a great educational resource and a good comedic read.

How Music Works by David Byrne

How Music Works by David Byrne

How Music Works offers many answers to a question that I had never even asked. Now that I've read it I wonder, "How could I have gone so long without this information?" Musician and writer David Byrne crafts such an enticing collection of essays, dropping factoids and anecdotes along the way, that I was equally informed and entertained.

More of a blend of personal experience and hypothesis than a hard-line course in objective facts, Byrne tackles nearly every conceivable aspect of the art form: venues throughout history; the creative process; collaboration; recording; and business.