Community Library Notes
February 1, 2024
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place
by Judith Kvinsland
It is always a joy to revisit several locales that I have had the pleasure to once call “Home.” Mendocino is one of those places. This past December, after enjoying several weeks there connecting with friends, former colleagues and neighbors while shopping, or passing each other on the colorful streets, or taking long walks with my family, I welcomed a quiet afternoon. I was surprised when my daughter announced, “One more holiday errand to run. It’s a gift for all of us. Come along, you’re going to love this surprise!”
How right she was. In a few minutes we pulled up before the Mendocino Community Library at 10591 William Street. Two desk volunteers quickly and efficiently responded to her request, “I’d like to buy a Family Membership as a Christmas gift for my family.” I was thrilled, knowing that I might also be able to access the library while visiting my family during the coming year.
I currently live in eastern Washington and am an avid patron of our large Mid-Columbia Library System that is composed of 12 branches. I visit my local branch once or twice a week and always begin my visit at the Recent Acquisition shelves. On the afternoon a few weeks ago in Mendocino, I was drawn to the prominent bookcase marked Recent Acquisitions. As I browsed, I saw many of the same books I had just checked out and marveled at the currency of the local collection. As well, I was drawn to authors I did not know, including Donna Leon.
Returning to my daughter’s house, I curled up with Leon’s memoir, Wandering Through Life. As a writer, as well as an avid reader of memoirs, I found Leon’s book an enjoyable read. If you like memoirs, you’ll enjoy it too. That book led me to check out several of her previous novels at my local library when I got back home. Most are mysteries set in Italy, where she was once a resident. Leon now lives in Switzerland.
Another recent acquisition that caught my eye was by an author well known to me and perhaps, to you: Charles Frazier of Cold Mountain fame. That unforgettable book was published in 1997, and won The National Book Award for Fiction. Frazier’s latest work of fiction, The Trackers, provides a wide-ranging glimpse of The Great Depression years. It begins in rural Wyoming, carries the reader west to San Francisco, and then across the country to Florida. If you are interested in historical fiction and enjoy more than a bit of suspense, you may want to acquaint, or reacquaint, yourself with Charles Frazier.
To support, enjoy, or learn about this remarkable local resource, visit the Mendocino Community Library. It is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Family Memberships can be purchased for only $25 annually, and Individual Memberships for $15. After becoming a member, you can also apply to be a volunteer, joining others who are active in this wonderful community organization.
Community Library Notes
March 2, 2023
Real Page Turners
by Sarah Nathe
It’s called popular fiction for a good reason: it flies off the shelves in book stores, libraries, and airport gift shops. Also known as vacation books or trade paperbacks, these novels come in various genres: mystery, romance, crime, horror, adventure, science fiction, fantasy, and period histories. The Mendocino Community Library’s Pop-Up Fiction Section was developed nearly a year ago; with nearly 90 titles, it has proven to be a favorite of many readers. If you are not familiar with any of these authors, we invite you to try one or two.
We have brand new titles by New York Times #1 bestselling writers as well as a number of evergreen authors—Agatha Christie and Josephine Tey, named one of the greatest crime novelists of all time by the Crime Writers’ Association. If you like your murder mysteries set in an English school for young women vulnerable to sinister undercurrents of rivalry and jealousy, Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes will not disappoint.
For a little Gallic ambience, try The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester, an internationally best-selling Australian writer. When Kat Jourdan discovers a collection of priceless Dior gowns hidden in her dead grandmother’s remote cottage, she is drawn into the mystery of their origin, determined to know more about her beloved grandmother’s secret past. Prior to her writing career, Lester was a marketing executive for L’Oreal, managing the Maybelline brand, so she knows a few things about the fashion world.
In a neighboring arondissement, Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown, presents us with the diary of a stodgy grandmother in which she chronicles a romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris. The exciting life she lived there during the 1920s inspires her granddaughter to live her own Parisian adventure, as the story shifts between the present and the past and each woman fights for a chance to choose for herself.
To the north and west of the City of Light, in a wild Irish landscape, Niall Williams’ Four
Letters of Love is an affecting love story and a testament to the power of magic and fate. Called a “classic of Irish literature” by the Belfast Telegraph, the novel is currently being made into a movie with Pierce Brosnan and Helena Bonham Carter.
Continuing in the Hibernian mode, Flynn Berry’s Northern Spy is a portrait of the modern IRA and of sisterhood and motherhood, as well as a look at life in a deeply divided country. Named by both the New York Times and the Washington Post as one of the top thrillers of 2021, Northern Spy was chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her Book Club: “I loved this unputdownable thrill ride of a book.”
Just off the coast of the Emerald Isle on a remote island, a dizzying array of suspects at a celebrity wedding populate Lucy Foley’s The Guest List, called “the perfect whodunit” by Marie Claire. There’s a murder, but there’s so much more than that. The Library Journal promises that “Fans of Christie, Louise Penny, and Ruth Rendell will absolutely love this book.”
Jenny Colgan is a Scottish writer of romantic comedy fiction and science-fiction, and the library owns several of her titles. “Nobody does cosy, get-away-from-it-all romance like Jenny Colgan,”according to the Sunday Express. With The Little Beach Street Bakery, 500 Miles from You, and others, Colgan won the 2013 Romantic Novel of the Year award and the 2018 Romantic Novelists Association award for Comedy Novel of the Year.
A Beautiful Blue Death, by Charles Finch, serves up equal parts Sherlock Holmes and P.G. Wodehouse, and an appealing gentleman detective in Victorian London who investigates crime as a diversion from his life of leisure. Charles Lenox likes to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book, but he cannot resist the chance to unravel a mystery.
Set in England during and after WWII, Kate Quinn’s Rose Code is a riveting tale of three women code breakers who worked at Bletchley Park, and the spy they must find when the war is over. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip takes center stage in British life, the three friends suspect that a traitor is lurking in the shadows.
Another story with historical roots is The Second Mrs. Astor, by Shana Abe, which brings to life the romantic love story between John Jacob Astor and his young bride, Madeleine. You may fall in love with this appealing couple as they move from their honeymoon in Egypt to their mansion on Fifth Avenue and, despite knowing better, find yourself hoping they avoid the tragedy that awaits on the Titanic.
Author of 19 bestsellers, some of which spent over a year on the NYT list, Lisa Jewell has been called “the queen of psychological suspense.” Among her more popular titles are the domestic dramas The Family Upstairs and the million-copy seller Then She Was Gone, which delves into the lingering effects on her family of a 15-year old girl’s disappearance.
In Jessica Francis Kane’s Rules for Visiting, when 40-year-old gardener May Attaway receives a month of vacation from the university where she works, she decides to visit four old friends, each one from different periods of her life. Through this starting point, Kane explores the mysteries of female friendship over time and especially now in the digital age.
I have mentioned only a few of our Pop-Up Fiction titles, but drop by the library sometime and check out a couple. The Mendocino Community Library is open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Besides books, we have magazines, jigsaw puzzles, books on CD, and movie DVDs. On our web page (https://www.mendocinocommunitylibrary.org/) you can find any item in our collection.
February 9, 2023
Get ‘Em While They’re Hot
by Sarah Nathe
There’s no better way to start the new year than by laying in a supply of new books, and the Mendocino Community Library has done just that. We have award-winning fiction, gripping mysteries and thrillers, and serious and humorous nonfiction, many of them New York Times notable books of 2022. Through the generosity of our book donors, we have also acquired some not-so-new books that are nonetheless worth reading, and some vintage British crime whodunits that are less known on this side of the pond, but beloved by connoisseurs of the genre. Space doesn’t permit annotating all the new books here, but this list will pique your interest.
Quan Barry, When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East, 2022. Across a windswept Mongolia, estranged twin brothers make a journey of duty, conflict, and renewed understanding.
Marie Benedict, The Mitford Affair, 2023. This biographical novel tells the story of the influential British Mitford sisters and the roles they played for and against the Nazis in the lead-up to, and during World War II.
John Boyne, All the Broken Places, 2022
Katherine Chen, Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc, 2022. Not your grandmother’s St. Joan, this one is an ass-kicking, avenging angel fighting simply for the right to fight.
Tess Gunty, The Rabbit Hutch, 2022
Elin Hilderbrand, Hotel Nantucket, 2022
Clare Keegan, Foster, 2022. Don’t let the length of this beautifully subtle novella by an accomplished Irish writer make you think it won’t move you more than a 400-page tome.
Kerri Maher, The Paris Bookseller, 2022
Cormac McCarthy, Stella Maris, 2022
Joanna Quinn, The Whalebone Theatre, 2022. Follows a trio of British youngsters from childhood idylls on the beach to service and spycraft in WWII.
From the Golden Age of British crime detective fiction, we have four new-to-us classics: George Bellairs, Death of a Busybody, 1942; John Bude, Death Makes a Prophet, 1947; Mavis Hay, Death on the Cherwell, 1935; and Anthony Wynne, Murder of a Lady, 1931.
Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, 1985. While not a mystery, this is Atkinson’s debut novel and her fans will want to read it.
Rhys Bowen, Peril in Paris, 2022
Janet Evanovich, Game On: Tempting Twenty-Eight, 2021. Stephanie Plum returns to hunt down a new kind of criminal operating out of Trenton in the 28th book in the popular series.
Sulari Gentill, The Woman in the Library, 2022. How can you go wrong with a murder mystery that starts off in a crowded library full of book lovers?
Catriona McPherson, Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses, 2013. A mystery writer perfect for fans of “Upstairs Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey,” McPherson charms readers with her clever series set in 1920s Scotland.
Mystery Writers of America, Odd Partners: An Anthology, 2019. Unlikely pairs join forces to crack a slew of intriguing cases in an anthology edited by Anne Perry, with original stories by Jacqueline Winspear, Jeffery Deaver, Allison Brennan, Charles Todd, and Perry herself.
James Patterson, Shattered, 2022.
Thomas Perry, The Left-Handed Twin, 2021, and The Murder Book, 2023.
Karin Slaughter, False Witness, 2021. A master of the no-holds-barred law enforcement thriller turns to legal intrigue, with sobering results.
Martin Walker, To Kill a Troubadour, 2022.
Iain Boall, West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California, 2012. Describes the remarkable flowering of communalism in the 1960s and ’70s in northern California, with vivid portraits of life on the rural communes of Mendocino and Sonoma counties.
Andy Borowitz, Profiles in Ignorance, 2022.
Kerri Greenidge, The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family, 2022.
Pico Iyer, The Half-Known Life, 2023.
Joseph Ledoux, The Deep History of Ourselves, 2019. A leading neuroscientist’s history of the evolution of the brain from unicellular organisms to the complexity of animals and human beings today.
Adam Nicolson, Life Between the Tides, 2022. Everyone who lives on the coast will enjoy this beautifully illustrated exploration of the marine life that lives where the sea meets the land.
Imani Perry, South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon. Winner of the 2022 National Book Award and an elegant meditation on the complexities of the American South by a daughter of the South and one of our most provocative thinkers.
In addition to all these terrific hardbound books, don’t forget to browse our "PopUp" fiction collection. We're always adding new and almost new thrillers, historical novels, and cozy reads in convenient paperback format.
On February 18th, the library will hold one of its acclaimed book sales, offering all kinds of reading material at irresistible prices. Also puzzles, CDs and DVDs. Drop by and check it out; leave with some great stuff; benefit the library and feel good about yourself. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside the library at Little Lake and William Street.
Google Maps - Directions
After more than half a century of community support, the Mendocino Community Library now holds 13,000+ books, movies, music CDs, PUZZLES and audiobooks.
The library has an extensive collection of puzzles, children’s books, audio books and movies including those filmed in Mendocino.
Library is staffed by volunteers and supported by donations. We welcome donated books.