Are you listening to Serial?

The hot new podcast from the people at This American Life?

It’s Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he’s innocent – though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School says she knows where Adnan was. The trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found.

Told in weekly installments, the episodes analyze Adnan Syed’s murder conviction. Did he do it or is he innocent? That is what we are trying to discover in each episode. New information is coming in about what maybe didn’t happen on January 13, 1999. And while Adnand’s memory of that day is foggy at best, he does remember what happened next: being questioned, being arrested and, a little more than a year later, being sentenced to life in prison. Serial is a podcast designed to be listened to in order. If you’re just discovering the series, be sure to start with Episode 1.

There have been articles about this podcast all over the place. Entertainment Weekly has it on their must list. The New York Times says it is a ‘break-out hit”!

And even the Atlantic has weighed in.

I am definitely hooked as are other members of the library staff. We wondered what books would be like The Serial and here is what we found:

Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a murder trial by Janet Malcolm. Also check out her 1990 book, The Journalist and the Murderer about the 1970 Jeffrey McDonald case (which declares it “unsolvable”, which was also explored in two other nonfiction books: Joe McGinniss’ Fatal Vision that declared MacDonald “a narcissistic sociopath,” and Errol Morris’ A Wilderness of Error that argues MacDonald was innocent.

In cold blood: A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences by Capote, Truman

Alias Grace (1996) by Atwood, Margaret

and to listen and subscribe to the podcast you can go to:

Finishing Books…

I hear a lot of things at the circulation desk, but one comment comes up the most: How long should I give a book before I quit?

What…did you think we finish every book? My rule of thumb though is that you should give a book at least 100 pages. By then, if it hasn’t grabbed you it never will.


One book that this theory applies to is LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry I would have put the book down in the first dozen pages. A friend said to skip to page 75 and start there. I was so in love with the book by page 100 i went back to the beginning and could start again and fall in love. It is still one of my favorite books.

hedgehogI always tell people that the story doesn’t start until page 122 for THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG by Muriel Barbery and I know that many readers don’t make it that far.

A book that is being talked about right now is Donna Tartt’s THE GOLD FINCH. goldfinch Although it is the 2014 Pulitzer winner for fiction, it doesn’t have a great fan base. I wonder how many readers stop before 100, or just there after?

It’s no fun to slog through a book but sometimes you just have to give it a go, like at least 100 pages, to find out what a great read you have in your hands.

Summer reads

Summer is almost here, and with it comes a slew of books that shouldn’t be missed. Some call them beach reads, others call them back porch specials. Whatever you call them our ‘New” shelf is full of the latest whodonits, wholovedits, and whothoughtofits?

You might wonder how we choose books for the Fanwood Memorial Library shelves. First and foremost we think of our patrons, you and your family, what you like to read and check out. We go to Publishers Weekly, an industry publication that tells of up coming titles. Magazines like People, Entertainment Weekly, and Oprah have strong book review sections and I have noticed many people coming in to the library with those reviews in hand to put that book on hold. The Star Ledger and The New York Times book reviews add in to the mix. And, of course, we take suggestions from YOU! Many requests are made to purchase a book and if it fits in to our shelf then we will.

Here’s what I have on my request list:

China Dolls by Lisa See

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum,

Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton

The Blessings by Elise Juska

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport

If only there was more time to read…