Nerdy Special List September 2015

Happy September! Even though fall in L.A. looks the same as summer, I always welcome it because it’s a good season for books and marks the start of TV and movie awards season. From now until the end of the year, lots of noteworthy titles will be released, including what my blogger pals and I recommend for this month.

I’m happy to welcome new contributor Patti from Patti’s Pen & Picks. Patti is the Adult Materials Selector for the Collection Development Office of the Pima County Public Library in Tucson. In other words, she knows books.

Here are our September selections.

From Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts:

Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert B. Reich (Knopf, Sept. 29)

saving capitalismBefore you skip over this title because it’s *shudder* nonfiction about economics, give me a minute to tell you why this may be the most important book you read this year. Saving Capitalism isn’t about liberals and conservatives, even though Reich is liberal in his political standings. Saving Capitalism is about debunking the myths that continue the financial spiral sending a minute few almost everything and a vast majority little to nothing.

This book explains why the debate of “free market” vs. large government is a fallacy that effectively prevents people from seeing the reality, why meritocracy doesn’t hold water, and why the partisan divide needs to be overcome in order to right the American economy. A capitalist society where over 90% of the people can’t afford to buy in cannot sustain itself. Both Democrats and Republicans are at fault for the current state of affairs, but it can be reversed—and the system can be saved—if we have the facts and work together as a single powerful voice.

While some of the concepts Reich outlines in Saving Capitalism are complicated and complex, he delivers them in a clear, accessible approach with relatable examples and explanations. He offers realistic solutions and sound, experienced advice. Relevant, well researched, and so vitally important, this is a book that shouldn’t be skipped.

From Rory at Fourth Street Review:

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 1)

girl waits with gun

If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading Amy Stewart’s nonfiction, you’re missing out. The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants are two of the most charming and hilarious books about plants ever written. I say this as a horticultural librarian, so my range of plant-based literature is actually quite large. Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to reading her first novel. I was not disappointed, not even a little.

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and women’s history is often more relevant than we’d like to admit. Those two things combine to make one delightful mystery. Constance Kopp, soon to be thirty-five, is having a more adventurous year than she anticipated. The destruction of her buggy by an automobile sets off a series of increasingly alarming events. Constance and her sisters make quite the trio standing against the bullying, harassment, and threatening behavior of Henry Kaufman, the driver of the car.

Based on the true story of Constance Kopp, Amy Stewart’s witty debut novel is full of charm. Although I imagined it as rather effective deadpan humor, Constance’s pragmatic voice is also one of a woman eschewing the expectations of 1914. The novel is fun and fresh, and Amy Stewart has managed to impress me once again. I highly, highly recommend it.

From Lauren at Malcolm Avenue Review:

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (Scout Press, September 1)family bill clegg

Did You Ever Have a Family will shoot hundreds of tiny arrows into your heart, then take advantage of the breaches to crush it to a pulp. Hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year, Family is a before-and-after story, told from multiple perspectives and time periods, all anchored to an epic tragedy occurring just as the curtain opens on the small resort town of Wells, Connecticut.

A tightly written, continuous rabbit-puncher of a novel, Family is about connections (family and otherwise), burdens, guilt, loss, secrets, misconceptions, judgments, betrayal, love, sacrifice, grief, and, ultimately, forgiveness. Clegg manages to give unique voices to more than ten character perspectives in a truly magnificent portrait of sacrifice and loss at their deepest. Get your Kleenex ready. (Read Lauren’s full review here.)

The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor by Robert Schnakenberg (Quirk Books, September 15)

bill murray bookThe Big, Bad Book is really a glorious encyclopedia, right down to the alphabetical format, thick glossy pages, and numerous photographs. It’s a dense, almost square volume that will look great on any coffee table, and is packed with material, which lends itself perfectly to parsing out the goodness an entry—or a letter—at a time.

There is a piece on every movie Murray has been in (and some he missed out or passed on), personal facts and opinions (he has many), history, weird tidbits, quotes, and fantastic stories, some told in Murray’s own words, some by others.

If you’re a fan of Bill Murray, who, if not the best, is certainly the most versatile actor of our time, this book is a must have. It exceeded my expectations even though it was one of my most anticipated books of the year.

From Patti at Patti’s Pen & Picks:

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn (NAL, September 1)

a curious beginningA Curious Beginning is an interesting beginning to a new series. The main character is Veronica Speedwell, a cross between Temperance Brennan (as played in the TV series Bones), and Amelia Peabody, the wonderful character from Elizabeth Peters’s series. Veronica is blunt, occasionally naive, will attempt almost anything, and is a very strong-willed woman supporting herself in the 1880s.

Veronica, an orphan raised by two spinster aunts, is a lepidopterist who travels the world catching a variety of butterflies for clients. She’s visited by a baron who knew her mother and tells Veronica her life is in danger. She accompanies him to London, where his friend Stoker, a natural historian, will protect her. The baron is murdered after Veronica and Stoker meet, and the two take to the road, trying to unravel the murder mystery and why Veronica’s life is in danger.

I really liked how Veronica is always full steam ahead and not afraid to try new things or adventures. I look forward to more books in this series!

From PCN:

make meMake Me by Lee Child (Delacorte Press, September 8)

Jack Reacher is back for his 20th outing, and this one is more unsettling than the series’ recent installments. Reacher finds himself in a small town called Mother’s Rest, and though he starts out wanting to learn only the origin of the name, he ends up entangled in a much deeper, sinister mystery after he meets an FBI-agent-turned-PI named Michelle Chang who’s searching for a missing colleague.

Make Me has the requisite bone-crushing action, and is as entertaining as it is haunting. Reacher takes some hard physical blows in this book, but the series is still going strong.

Which books are you looking forward to this month?

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    lauren
    September 3, 2015 at 6:22 am

    Great stuff this month, ladies!

    Jen – You win for making a book about capitalism sound appealing to me. I agree this is important information everyone should know and I’m going to try and put this one in the queue.

    Rory – You win for making me aware that there is a large selection of “plant-based literature” and make me want to go get some, black thumb be damned.

    Patti – Welcome! So glad to have you here.

    PCN – After talking with you and reading this review, I can’t wait to get to this Reacher after a few that created a bit of a lull. It’s always a favorite, but this one sounds like a reversal back into the early days. Thanks for lighting my Reacher fire again.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 3, 2015 at 11:43 am

      You win for being #1 supporter of this site!

      • Reply
        lauren
        September 3, 2015 at 12:15 pm

        I will take my fitted vee-neck PCN tee in a size medium. Please and thank you.

        • Reply
          Pop Culture Nerd
          September 3, 2015 at 12:21 pm

          Ooh, PCN T-shirts. That’s an idea. How about I throw in a book bag, too? Pens? Lapel pins?

  • Reply
    Stephen Buehler
    September 3, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Girl Waits With Gun makes me want to read it just from the title. I also like Elizabeth Peters’ books so A Curious Beginning sounds intriguing – and it’s the first in a series. I always like to get in on the ground floor. Saving Capitalism sounds like something that would help my political IQ but it also sounds daunting.
    All around great choices!
    – Stephen

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 3, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      GWWG not only has a great title, the cover is fantastic, too.

      CAPITALISM does seem intimidating, but vital as we go into the elections next year. I’m so grateful to Jen for reading all the hard, daunting books so she can tell us about them!

  • Reply
    Eirego
    September 3, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    If Lauren gets a T-Shirt, then I want one, too!

    Girl Waits With Gun title grabbed my attention immediately. That probably implies the wrong things about me, but so be ti.

    I’m still reluctant to embrace Saving Capitalism. Maybe if it came with a sandwich? Lol.

    The new Jack Reacher is a no brainer, but I also like Did You Ever Have A Family and A Curious Beginning look very promising.

    Regarding The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray…… I appreciated the anecdotes, but there’s not much depth to the book and in the end, it’s just a bunch of tiny blurbs that confound more than enlighten, Lauren.

    • Reply
      lauren
      September 3, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Wow, what if books were marketed with sandwich sides. What a wonderful world this would be.

      Interesting reaction to BBBBMurray. What kind of enlightenment were you looking for/expecting? More of a bio? I suppose the “critical appreciation” subtitle is somewhat misleading. I was expecting more fun/weird than depth, so I got what I asked for. I can see being disappointed if you were expecting more depth. I was expecting fun/weird since Bill is, well. weird.

      • Reply
        Eirego
        September 3, 2015 at 1:08 pm

        I just expected more depth, more insight to the man. I’m a huge fan, even of The Razor’s Edge, so I expected it to be humorous, but some of the bits go nowhere. It’s like mediocre stand up.

        • Reply
          lauren
          September 3, 2015 at 1:13 pm

          My perception, which may be way off, is that as “out there” as BM is, he’s pretty private, so I’m not sure there’s much insight available. This is very interesting, because we had very different impressions of what this book was going to be, which is a failure somewhere down the line. Not of ours, but it’s something to think about, particularly when I sit down to review it. I was looking for Murray escapism, not Murray insight. But I think I’ve learned not to expect that over the years.

        • Reply
          lauren
          September 3, 2015 at 1:14 pm

          BTW, did you see St. Vincent? Just got to it recently and loved it.

          • Reply
            Eirego
            September 3, 2015 at 7:18 pm

            It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t think it was his best work. Broken Flowers, The Razors Edge, Stripes, GB1, and even the small parts he did in Zombieland and The Grand Budepest Hotel were better.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 3, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      I second the idea of books coming with sandwiches. Or cookies. Or a bag of chips.

      That’s two points for GWWG.

      • Reply
        lauren
        September 3, 2015 at 1:15 pm

        Why haven’t the genius marketing people come up with this yet? Find that food tie-in to every book. Reacher should come with a bag of coffee beans. What would Elvis and Joe come with? Veggie pizza?

        • Reply
          Pop Culture Nerd
          September 3, 2015 at 7:02 pm

          Omelet with cottage cheese? Vietnamese food? Elvis ate some in STALKING THE ANGEL.

          • Reply
            Lauren
            September 4, 2015 at 10:43 am

            I thought they used to eat veggie pizza because Joe is a vegetarian? Did I make that up? Or were you just adding to the menu? I don’t remember those other things, though now that you mention it, Elvis does make some rudimentary egg things, right?

            • Reply
              Pop Culture Nerd
              September 4, 2015 at 4:57 pm

              Joe is vegetarian, and he may have eaten veggie pizza. Or veggie fried rice. I could be wrong about that, and about Elvis’s omelet. He might’ve made pancakes with cottage cheese. I am certain about the cheese. I always remember the cheese.

              • Reply
                Lauren
                September 4, 2015 at 5:37 pm

                WHO COULD FORGET CHEESE?!

      • Reply
        Rory
        September 3, 2015 at 5:34 pm

        I firmly believe all books should be paired with food (preferably food easily eaten with one hand).

        • Reply
          Lauren
          September 3, 2015 at 5:36 pm

          I agree with the caveat that this excludes library books. I have found some disgusting things in library books. Put me off the library for decades.

        • Reply
          Pop Culture Nerd
          September 3, 2015 at 7:11 pm

          We need to start a business that delivers books with accompanying takeout.

          “What do you feel like tonight?”

          “I’m in the mood for a thriller with a side of phở.”

          We’d be rich.

          • Reply
            Rory
            September 8, 2015 at 11:43 am

            And quite satisfied…

  • Reply
    Lauren
    September 4, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Who’s gonna cook?

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 4, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Not me. I don’t want to drive the delivery car, either.

      • Reply
        Lauren
        September 4, 2015 at 5:37 pm

        We might have some small snags getting this gig off the ground.

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