Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Marg and myself that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
To The Castle and Back by Václav Havel
As president of Czechoslovakia and of the nascent Czech Republic, playwright-turned-statesman Havel led central Europe out of communism and into the twenty-first century before stepping down in 2003. With this book, Havel reflects upon his 14 years at Prague Castle but resists the constraints of a traditional memoir, instead combining retrospective commentary with excerpts from memos written to his staff while in office. Although fragmentary and offered with minimal context, these excerpts provide a diarylike glimpse into a leader simultaneously confronting challenges both major (Havel’s struggle against so-called Mafia capitalism) and mundane (Havel’s struggle to master his own computer system). Besides providing insightful, gently ironic commentary on the rigors of democratic leadership, Havel’s unconventional narrative form also highlights his personality–his struggles with writing, his fondness for smokers, and his admiration for Madeleine Albright–somewhat above his significant personal achievements. He also weighs in on current events, including the Iraq War and the obstacles to complete European unification. The net result is a fresh and intimate self-portrait
Beyond the Chestnut Trees by Maria Bauer
Reloot. I borrowed this back in May but never had a chance to start it.
Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart
I loved Urquhart’s The Stone Carvers and Away and was excited to have actually gotten this within a month of it being released. Usually, I’m either much farther down on the hold list or it takes longer for the book to be processed into the system. The book has also been placed on the longlist for this year’s Giller Prize, increasing my interest in it.
Set in the present day on a farm at the shores of Lake Erie, Jane Urquhart’s stunning new novel weaves elements from the nineteenth-century past, in Ireland and Ontario, into a gradually unfolding contemporary story of events in the lives of the members of one family that come to alter their futures irrevocably. There are ancestral lighthouse-keepers, seasonal Mexican workers; the migratory patterns and survival techniques of the Monarch butterfly; the tragedy of a young woman’s death during a tour of duty in Afghanistan; three very different but equally powerful love stories. Jane Urquhart brings to vivid life the things of the past that make us who we are, and reveals the sometimes difficult path to understanding and forgiveness.