Students Recommend Books to Teachers

(CLICK HERE for our full Summer Borrowing list of reviews, videos, and more.)

In a delightful reversal of the usual order of things, we polled students this month to find out what they think the teachers should read this summer.  They had a great deal to say!  About 1 in 7 students responded with a list.  Among those recommendations, we’ve gathered up copies of all the titles we own, and have made a book display at the front desk.  We took our students’ advice, and placed orders for several of their top choices.

Take a look:

Teachers, here you go!  Let the students assign YOU a book to read for a change.

Happy Summer Borrowing to all.



Those Marks on My Neck…

Have you fallen under the spell of vampire fiction?  If you’ve survived the ordeal of the Twilight series, and want a taste of other options, here’s a list to sink your teeth into:

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
“A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire,  a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.” (from


(image: GoodReads)

 Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness
“Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures.” (from

Interview With the Vampire, by Anne Rice
When Anne Rice authored this novel in the 1970s, she helped establish a whole new generation of vampire enthusiasts.  The story is a particularly creepy, compelling one that begins in modern times, and spans generations.

Click HERE for the film trailer at

The Complete Vampire Chronicles:  The Tale of the Body Thief, by Anne Rice
“Lestat speaks.  Vampire-hero, enchanter, seducer of mortals.  For centuries he has been a courted prince in the dark and flourishing universe of the living dead. Lestat is alone.  And suddenly all his vampire rationale–everything he has come to believe and feel safe with–is called into question.” (from GoodReads)

Fledgling, by Octavia Butler
“Fledgling, Octavia Butler’s new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire.” (from GoodReads)

I am Legend, by Richard Matheson
“Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth…but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville’s blood.” (from GoodReads)


(image: GoodReads)

Angels & Visitations, by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories includes Vampire Sestina.  If you’re a Gaiman fan, this is one to put on your list.

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova
Ooh, this one is genuinely creepy:  A young woman discovers an ancient book and a cache of old letters in her father’s library, and thus begins her adventurous quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, a search that will span continents and generations, and a confrontation with the darkest powers of evil.
What makes it extra creepy is that Vlad the Impaler was a historical figure, who later became the inspiration for the creation of Count Dracula.

What is the source of our fascination with vampires?  As this assortment of books will demonstrate, there’s a lot of vampire history and fiction worth exploring that was created long before the Twilight series.  Still, it’s rather fun to have our own Northwest incarnation of this ancient tradition of romantic horror.



It has been an inarguable truth over the ages that pirates are cool. As far back as the 1700’s, authors have been writing about and romanticizing the lives of those who sailed the seven seas. Here’s a list of books on pirates and piracy, fiction and nonfiction, new and old. I even threw in a few at the end for those digital pirates out there.

Under the Black Flag: Romance and Reality of Life Among Pirates, by David Cordingly. Find out what about pirates is fact and is fiction. The myths are debunked and replaced with a more accurate, and often more gruesome, account.

The Pirates of Somalia: Inside their Hidden World, by Jay Bahadur. Reading about the inner working of modern pirate organizations from Jay Bahadur, the first man to write about the Somali pirates from on the inside.

Red Rover(inside Sea Tales), by James Fenimore Cooper. Cooper’s iconic style from Last of the Mohicans, but with pirates on the open ocean instead of Native Americans in the forests.

Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian – The first of several novels detailing the friendship of Captain Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, the ship’s surgeon, as they sail in service of the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Contains some very detailed descriptions of life aboard a man-of-war.

Crossbones, by Nuruddin Farah. Over a dozen years after leaving, two brothers return home to Puntland, the region of Somalia notorious as being a pirate hideout. Things are not as they remember them to be.

The Planet Pirates, by Anne McCaffrey. It’s about pirates…in space.


Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock down Culture and Control Creativity, by Lawrence Lessig – If our society values freedom of speech and freedom of the press, how do allow such tight control of major media outlets? Lessig examine how large media corporations have manipulated copyright law and broadcast agencies to control the market and stifle creativity.

Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity, by Siva Vaidhyanathan – Along similar lines to Free Culture, this books focuses more on the history. It a bit on the small side for a history, but this one is packed full of information.

Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom, by Rebecca MacKinnon – How do Facebook privacy settings really affect people? Here’s just one example:

June 2009: Facebook encourages underground opposition groups in Iran to use Facebook as an organizing tool.
December 2009: Facebook changes its privacy policy with no warning. Sections of Facebook that were now private (friend list, groups, etc) no longer even have that option. The Iranian government uses this information to find and arrest political prisoners.

That’s all for now. Make sure to check back for more recommendations. Or just stop in and ask in person!


Fakes, Forgers and Thieves!

Are you curious about the psychology of people who try to get away with things?  One of the most intriguing categories of books we have tells the stories of people whose egos and obsessions drive them to attempts to trick experts, lie and steal, or outwit the Vegas casinos.  Only a few of them succeed.  If you enjoy psychological nonfiction (and a little fiction, too), take a look!

Caveat Emptor:  The Secret Life of an American Art Forger, by Ken Perenyi  caveatemptor
This book reads like a confessional conversation with a talented artist who slips into increasingly delusional behavior as he forges artworks and sells them as originals.  The FBI is on his trail, and his life and lies become increasingly complicated.  Sue recommends this book not for the writing, but as a study of self-deception.  (Cover image:  GoodReads)

Busting Vegas:  The MIT Whiz Kid Who Brought the Casinos To Their Knees, by Ben Mezrich
The novel “reveals how Semyon Dukach uses his mathematical skills to create a system that beat the casinos, earning him millions of dollars in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Aruba, London, and Monte Carlo.”  It’s a fascinating, weird, and true story.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, by Allison Bartlett
As someone who has spent thousands of hours prowling around used bookstores and antiquarian shops, I found the story of John Gilkey’s obsession a quirky and fascinating glimpse into the specialized world of booksellers.  What could motivate him, you ask?  This book is filled with odd characters, strange, furtive behaviors, and a galloping literary detective plot.  Hear from the author about her book:

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel–a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

Headhunters, by Jo Nesbøheadhunters
“Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and he’s a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes.” (text and cover image: GoodReads)

Provenance:  How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art, by Laney Salisbury
Provides an account of the art forgery scheme perpetrated by John Drewe and artist John Myatt in the late twentieth century, explaining how Drewe was able to establish provenance for the paintings done by Myatt, who did not realize initially that Drewe was passing his work off as real, and discussing the repercussions of the fraud on the art world.

My Life as a Fake, by Peter Carey
Sarah Wode-Douglass, the editor of a London poetry magazine, accompanies the famous and infamous John Slater on a trip to Malaysia, hoping to find out how he destroyed her parents’ marriage, but instead finds herself drawn into a dangerous mystery abroad.


%d bloggers like this: