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Friday, June 24, 2011

Featured Staff Picks - Novel Destinations

Staff Picks are located in the lobby - you can browse the collection of available titles or look through the binder of all picks and reviews. This week's featured picks are great reads for our Adult Summer Reading Club "Novel Destinations".

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost—who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs—decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish—all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life).

With The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost has delivered one of the most original, rip-roaringly funny travelogues in years—one that will leave you thankful for staples of American civilization such as coffee, regular showers, and tabloid news, and that will provide the ultimate vicarious adventure.

Buying a Piece of Paris is a charming and witty love song to the most beautiful city in the world.

Paris has seduced many admirers, but for Ellie Nielsen it’s true love. So deep is her infatuation that she’ll only be satisfied with a little place to call her own. The object of her desire seems so simple: the sort of apartment she’s seen a thousand times in magazines and movies. Something effortlessly charming, and quirky, and old— and expertly decorated. Something exuding character and Parisian chic. Something quintessentially French.

Little does she realize that the French real estate scene is not quite the dreamscape she’d imagined. With two weeks to find and secure an apartment, and a cursory grasp of the language, Ellie embarks on a mad dash through the streets of Paris, negotiating the fraught world snobby real estate agents, xenophobic bankers and perplexed Parisian naysayers. Thwarted at every turn, in the end it only makes her more determined to succeed.

With her trusty French phrasebook in hand, and plucked up reserves of savoir faire, Ellie undertakes the adventure of a lifetime. Beauty is everywhere even if, like all true romances, there are many obstacles to be overcome. But then, c’est toujours comme ça à Paris. Written with great verve and a superb ear for language, Buying a Piece of Paris is a joy to read and a pleasure to dream about.

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