Friday, May 19, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru,  Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching .   I always look forward to the beautiful ceremonies throughout Sea Cliff, especially the breakfast on the front lawn of the Children’s Library, followed by the piercingly poignant parade through the Village. With this long weekend ahead, I will have lots of time to get into a good book. Do you have a recommendation?  Memorial Day Marcher

Dear Memorial Day Marcher,   Yes, this weekend is one of memory and anticipation. Summer’s future glories lie before us as we pause to remember the past. Paul Auster’s enormous (867 pages) novel 4321 captures this in a startlingly unique way.  The numbers in the title reflect the four possible lives of one young man.  In Chapter 1.0 we meet Ferguson as he is born on March  2, 1947, son of Stanley and Rose.  From then on, each of  its seven chapters is divided into four parts beginning with 1.1.  – each part offering us a different version of Ferguson’s life. Same boy – varying outcomes-  but with some constants:  he loves Amy, films, music, baseball, and writing, Rose is a photographer and Stanley, a businessman; throughout Ferguson is enmeshed in the politics and culture of the 60’s. Beyond these, we see the effects of chaos and chance.  Death comes early to one while the other three see extraordinary differences in fortune, health, love, friendship, and success.  This fascinating novel poses the question we all ask ourselves about our own lives: what if…?  Highly recommended!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru, We are going to a beautiful wedding in a small village two hours outside of Barcelona,  and I would like to have a good book for the plane ride.  I have a few novels on my Kindle but I would like a thought-provoking piece of non-fiction. Any thoughts?   A Very Excited Wedding Guest

Dear Very Excited….Last night I finished a wonderfully challenging book that will make your plane ride fly: UTOPIA FOR REALISTS by Rutger Bregman.  Bregman is a young Dutch philosopher/economist with startling ideas about reconstructing society. He recounts the history of utopia going back to the 13th century where “The Land of Plenty” was described in exquisite detail- plentiful meats and sweets and peace enjoyed by all. He offers an interesting albeit controversial take on how modern society can create a Utopian society in three steps: by instituting a universal basic income, a fifteen hour work week, and opening borders around the world. The United States during the presidency of Richard Nixon came days away from offering a basic $10,000 universal income only to be defeated by spurious data. Probably the most difficult piece to implement would be  the opening of all territorial borders, which Bregman sees as the simplest  way to equalize income.  While many may think his ideas quixotic, he presents them in such a forthright and optimistic manner that he makes  a Utopian world seems very possible- indeed probable. Highly recommended!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Dear Great Book Guru, I am getting together with my family for Mother’s Day and I want to suggest we start a book club.  We all live on Long Island and we all love mysteries. Most of us have read and enjoyed all of Michael Sears’s great books, so if you have something like those, it would be perfect.  Lover of Long Island and Mysteries

Dear Lover of Long Island and ….. I just finished a mystery your family might enjoy: WHERE IT HURTS by Reed Farrel  Coleman.  Gus Murphy is a retired Suffolk County Police officer whose life took a tragic turn with the death of his teenage son. As he tries to put his life back together, he finds himself embroiled in many mysterious events set throughout Long Island towns and villages.  Police malfeasance, gang warfare, and petty crime all figure in this dark tale.  A shuttle bus driver at a small motel, Gus meets many quirky characters in his search for answers to the most existential of questions.  With evil lurking in the most innocent of encounters, we watch as Gus takes chances only the most desperate of sleuths would allow themselves.  Recommended!