Review: The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country, by Helen Russell

Helen, a magazine editor, and her husband moved from London to Denmark after he was offered a job there at Lego headquarters which is in rural Jutland. While researching Denmark, Helen discovers that this country consistently comes out at the top of well-being and happiness indexes from several sources including the United Nations and the European Commission. She decides to devote their year in Denmark to researching various aspects of  this small Scandinavian country and determining the Danish secret to happiness. It just might involve paying higher taxes, family and community involvement, and having first class pastry.  Read this one to decide if you could benefit from parts of the Danish lifestyle.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

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Reviewed by: kh

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Books Librarians Give – Holidays 2015

Starting your holiday shopping soon? Check out this list of books that the Newton librarians would give as gifts!

If you’re planning on doing some shopping on Amazon, consider using this link to benefit the Friends of the Library.

And if you’re shopping for a Middle Schooler check out this list made specifically for them!

Happy Holidays!

 

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Review: Interred With Their Bones, by Jennifer Lee Carrell

interredThis novel has a split personality crisis. It is a murder mystery crossed with The Da Vinci Code crossed with a Shakespearean criticism tome. I think it would have been better with the Shakespearean puzzle but without the murders. The victims are good friends of our heroine but she has an “Oh well, too bad for them” attitude that I found off-putting. There is a lot of interesting information about Shakespeare and his times but the characters tend to run on in too great detail at the drop of a hat–or gun or knife–about Elizabethan theater, historical personages or contenders for the real author of Shakespeare’s plays. That said, I did enjoy the book on CD version. The narrator, Kathleen McNenny, gave each character his or her own voice and appropriate personality.

RATING: * * * A good read

Reviewed by: kh

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Review: Summer Lightning, by P.G. Wodehouse

wodehouseOriginally published in 1929, this is another absurd send-up of the British aristocracy at which Wodehouse excelled. The Hon. Galahad Threepwood is busy writing his Reminiscences which promise to incriminate half of the local gentry, much to their horror. This promised publication leads to the abduction of Lord Clarence Emsworth’s prize pig, a.k.a. The Empress of Blandings. Then there is the chorus girl disguised as an American heiress, the flower pot throwing ex-private secretary and, did the butler do it after all? The narrator, John Wells does a fantastic job narrating, giving every character an appropriate voice.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

Reviewed by: kh

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Review: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Some may be a little unsettled reading Coates’ very blunt account of life as a black American. Written as letter to his son, Coates’ ties his life experiences growing up in Baltimore, attending Howard University, and living in New York as a writer to the historical and current oppression of black people. Coates is raw in describing the reality of race relations in the U.S. and offers no comfort to the reader, but is emotional in his treatise and offers wisdom through knowledge and experience. In light of recent social and political movements sparked by police violence against black people in the U.S. this is a must read for anyone concerned with human rights, civil liberties, and the state of the world.

ADDITIONAL INFO: I also listened to the audiobook, read by the author. It was a bit difficult to listen to due to the complex prose and Coates’ rather monotone reading. However, the reading comes off as forlorn and leaves you with an added emotional twinge you might not get from just reading it.

RATING: * * * * Very, very good

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Reviewed by: Bri

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Review: Yes Please, by Amy Poehler

Did you know that Amy Poehler was born right here in Newton? In her memoir, Yes Please, Poehler shares her own personal anecdotes of growing up in nearby Burlington, Massachusetts, attending Boston College and going on to her comedy career at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Saturday Night Live. Poehler also gives her audience a look into her personal life as an adult as well, talking about her marriage to Will Arnett as well as being a mother to two small boys. This memoir is candidly refined and will give you insight into Poehler’s life without being an expose of her life in celebrity life in Hollywood.If you enjoy Amy Poehler on screen, you will surely enjoy Poehler on the page. The audiobook, playaway or digital audiobook version of this book is highly recommended, as Poehler reads it herself, and it is with hearing her voice that her words really come to life.

ADDITIONAL INFO: Through OverDrive, you can download the digital audiobook copy.

RATING: * * * A good read

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Reviewed by: Laura

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Review: Reykjavik Nights, by Arnaldur Indridason

This novel was published in Iceland in 2012 and translated into English in 2014. It is the second of the “Young Erlendur” books featuring Inspector Erlendur who is also the main character in eleven other mysteries set in Iceland, nine of which have been translated into English. Erlendur, one of the brooding, introspective, Scandinavian policemen is haunted by the long ago disappearance of his younger brother when they were both children. In this case, Erlandur investigates the drowning death of a homeless man which has been written off as an accident or suicide by the authorities. No one seems to think this man’s death is of any consequence, but Erlandur uncovers a larger web of crime as he conducts his interviews with other homeless and alcoholic of Reykjavik.

RATING: * * * A good read

Reviewed by: kh

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