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Welcome to Books R Us, a recommended reading blog from InfoSoup librarians and users and home to A Year of Listening Dangerously, the 2014 InfoSoup Reading Challenge! Find a great book to read next, add your own reviews, and check out our book related resources such as NoveList and BookLetters.

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Originally posted in: APL Picks

Bossypants

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Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey

You are all familiar with the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and yet, many of us are guilty of this offense each and every time we stroll through the library or bookstore searching for the next perfect read. Do yourselves a favor and heed this advice! Bossypants by Tina Fey, quite literally, boasts one of the most hideous covers of 2011. (Seriously! Look at it! What were they THINKING?!?) However, if you pass this one up, you will be depriving yourself of one of the funniest memoirs to come along in recent memory.

Those of you familiar with Fey’s work on SNL and 30 Rock, will be delighted to get a 'behind the scenes' look into the creation of those shows. In addition, there is plenty of Tina’s self-deprecating humor to go around. Throughout the book, you get the inside look at Fey’s rise to the top of the comedy industry and the uphill battles she faced along the way in a male dominated industry. If you are searching for a light & funny read after the chaos of the holiday season, look no further.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

If You Ask Me (and of Course You Won't)

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Author: Betty White

If You Ask Me mixes seven-time Emmy winner Betty White’s thoughtful observations with humorous stories from a seven–decade career in Hollywood, with a focus on the past fifteen years. Long time fans and new fans alike will relish Betty’s candid take on everything from her rumored crush on Robert Redford to her beauty regimen to the Facebook campaign that helped persuade her to host Saturday Night Live despite her having declined the hosting job three times previously.

This book is divided into short sections that cover a variety of topics ranging from her work and life to her involvement in the animal rights movement. Unlike some show business stars, she does not glorify her work. The content is very entertaining. Her wonderful sense of humor comes shining through. Her book is a delightful easy read. I read the 245 pages in 2 sittings. I especially liked her adventures with a gorilla and a whale. I recommend the book to all. Those enjoying television history will enjoy her stories of programs she starred in like the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls.”

Originally posted in: APL Picks

I am Half-Sick of Shadows

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Author: Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is eleven years old, one of three motherless sisters living in 1950s England. She takes an extreme interest in chemistry--especially poisons--and fortunately is in possession of her Uncle Tar's laboratory where she can make use of the information she discovers. In the first three books she deals with a corpse in the cucumber patch, cruel pranks by her older sisters, and gets involved in mysteries involving old murder investigations, puppet theaters, and gypsies.

The fourth book, the title taken from the poem The Lady of Shalott, takes place just before Christmas. Money has gotten so tight that Flavia's father has rented Buckshaw, their family home, to a film company. Meanwhile, Flavia has reached the age where she is not so sure that Father Christmas is real and has formulated a plan to prove his existence once and for all.

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Originally posted in: APL Picks

Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter

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Author: Lisa Patton

LeeLee Satterfield leads the charmed life. She married the high school football star, has 2 beautiful daughters and comes from an established Southern family. LeeLee’s life is suddenly turned upside down when her husband, Baker, comes to her with the plan to move his family to Vermont, where he intends to run a local inn. Though devastated at the thought of leaving her beloved Memphis and her lifelong friends, her proper southern upbringing has her packing up and following her husband across the Mason-Dixon Line.

LeeLee quickly discovers that Vermont is not the picture of perfection that the travel brochures made it out to be. Instead, she discovers Mud Season, biting flies, blizzards and an inn that needs more than a little TLC. If that isn’t enough to send this southern belle run screaming back to sunny Memphis, her husband’s abrupt desertion leaves her alone with an inn to run, a mortgage to pay, and two daughters to raise.

With her Southern charm and quick wit, readers will find themselves charmed by LeeLee Satterfield. Add to that all the quirky characters she meets in Vermont and her crazy, but loyal friends back in Memphis and you get an entertaining story that will keep you laughing and reading on.

Follow LeeLee for more adventures in Patton’s newly released book Yankee Doodle Dixie, yet another hilarious read that will leave you laughing and wanting more.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

In a Sunburned Country

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Author: Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is well known as the popular author of books such as A Walk in the Woods, his account of walking the Appalachian Trail, and his recent bestseller, Home, providing the stories behind the objects that make up the modern household. In a Sunburned Country is one of Bryson’s best books, a fascinating and frequently hilarious report of his travels across Australia. From a laugh-out-loud description of a cricket match to a serious rumination on Ayer’s Rock, Bryson provides the feeling of actually being there—without the 14 hour plane trip.

Delightful!

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Author: Alexander McCall Smith

I am in love with the character of Mma Ramotswe who runs the detective agency in Botswana in this series. She is smart, compassionate, ambitious, and thorough in her investigations. Her cases are very interesting, too. I like how we learn about Africa and African customs and lifestyle through the story. But also, we see how all human nature embodies the same motivations and contentments. Very good. Can't wait to read another.

(the made for HBO shows are outstanding)

Originally posted in: APL Picks

Dead Girls are Easy

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Author: Terri Garrey

This book would appeal to those of you who like reading chick lit, paranormal, or just enjoy a fun story. I am normally not a reader of things unworldly but love this series, so do not let the “paranormal” label scare you away. Nicki Styx, the Goth owner of Gladrags, a vintage clothing store in Atlanta, has a near-death experience and now finds herself able to see and interact with dead people. Nicki tries to live a normal life but the ghosts of Atlanta keep seeking out her help straightening out the messes they left behind.

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Home to Harmony

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Author: Philip Gulley

The story takes place in Harmony and is narrated by a Quaker pastor. His roots are there and when he came home he found joy. He talks about the people of Harmony and the everyday happenings. For those that enjoyed visits to Mitford with Jan Karon, they will enjoy checking in with the people of Harmony.

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Author: Mary Roach

Mary Roach is known for digging into scientific topics and making them readable. In Packing for Mars, she illuminates the nitty-gritty aspects of space travel and the lives of astronauts. She throws herself into her work, experiencing space shuttle toilet training and the Vomit Comit (a C-9 transport plane modified to fly in parabolic arcs — a method of experiencing weightlessness without being in orbit).

Be prepared for intimate details of living in space, including what do you do when you upchuck into your helmet on a spacewalk, and how to coexist with astronauts from other cultures for months at a time in a tiny confined area.

Mary asks questions that most of us would never dare to voice, and gets surprisingly frank answers. Her writing style is humorous and approachable.

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Author: Meghan Daum

From the time she was a child, Meghan was either moving, or unpacking and decorating, or looking for a new home. Her mother was never satisfied with where they lived, and her father wanted his own space which would stay the way he wanted. By the time Meghan went to college they were living separately, her father in an urban apartment in New York near his office, her mother in a constantly redecorated home across the state line in New Jersey.

Once she was on her own as a student at Vassar, fantasies of new and different dorm rooms or apartments or houses permeated Meghan’s life. No matter where she lived she was constantly imagining herself living in a different place, with a different life and the perfect boyfriend to fit that lifestyle. She rented, and then purchased, multiple fixer-uppers in New York, Nebraska and Los Angeles, sometimes two states at the same time. Eventually she discovered that the idea of a perfect house/perfect life interconnection is only an illusion.

Meghan has written for numerous publications including a weekly column in the Los Angeles Times, as well as a New York Times Notable Book, The Quality of Life Report, and a collection of essays, My Misspent Youth. For those who love biographies or are searching for that perfect bargain house