BCL Staff Picks for 2009

Francesca Denton, Reference Manager, Bluffton Branch

Change in Altitude coverStruggling to maintain her sense of self and her understanding of the world while spending the first year of her marriage in Kenya, Geraldine participates in a climbing expedition to Mt. Kenya and is challenged to come to terms with a devastating accident. (Summary taken from NoveList, 1/16/2010)


Traci Cox, Reference Librarian, Bluffton Branch

A Girl Named Zippy coverI never thought a book full of a ‘whole lot of nothing’ would be such a great read! This is Haven Kimmel’s memoir about the humor and insanity in growing up in a small, uneventful town such as Mooreland, Indiana. (Mooreland’s population was only 300 at the time.) Kimmel provides a hilarious narrative. It’s so nice to read a book without doom and gloom. Highly recommended!

B Kimmel

Lanetta Sova, Circulation - Youth Services, Beaufort Branch

Amaranth Cover

This book was a quick read and is for all who enjoy reading fairy tales with a spin.


Brendagael Beasley~Forrest, Cataloging Librarian, Technical Services

Beach Music coverI picked this book up several years ago, and because I was too restless to get into its rhythm, I went on to something else. Now that I am more settled, and perhaps more well read, I discovered a treasure in Pat Conroy’s Beach Music. Perhaps now I better appreciate the detailed descriptions of person and place, and Conroy’s artistry with words. While the novel is a lengthy one, and it does verge off topic several times, within is a deeply moving story of family and how, despite geography and circumstances, one’s roots prevail in one’s character. The settings and descriptions of the Lowcountry will make you swell with pride, and those of Rome and Venice and the cookery and customs will transport you and make you want to physically go there and experience it firsthand. Here’s an example from Chapter 2:

Suddenly, on the Via del Pantheon, the air filled with a strange musky underground perfume that neither of us recognized. Like two bird dogs, we set out on the trail of the sent and found its origin by the entranceway of Da Fortunato. A basket of white truffles exuded the biting, exotic smell that seemed a transubstantiation of some essence of the forest to the garlic-scented, wine-splashed airstreams pillowing through the alley outside the trattoria.

Beach Music grapples with many themes; there is literally something for everyone here. It's a novel about Jack McCall, a South Carolina Lowcountry native who flees the South for Rome with his daughter, Leah, after his wife commits suicide, and tries to find peace and escape the drama of his dysfunctional family. He is an author of cookbooks and a restaurant critic. But his search for solitude is disturbed by his sister-in-law, and by two school friends who want his help in tracking down another classmate who went underground as a Vietnam protestor and never resurfaced. The novel explores Jack's younger years during the Vietnam War-era, the lives of his in-laws who survived the Holocaust, and coming of age in the twentieth century. Beach Music a complex and rich story that covers three generations and explores themes of sibling and parent/child relationships, orphans and orphanages, emotional abuse, mental illness, alcoholism, class differences, politics, man against nature in a test of survival skills, self-discovery, faith and religion, and subthemes of patriotism and peace. You’ll find Holy Mother sightings, nunneries and monasteries, a tree house, mental asylums, communication with dolphins, immigrant stories, Appalachian terror, seafood recipes, devil fish, collegiate rivalry, military brashness, Southern traditions, speech and food ways, turtle conservation; a love letter, a suicide letter. Plus it’s great fun recognizing the local sites and persons of Beaufort County that Conroy has given fictitious names.

While the novel is not as “tight” as his newest South of Broad, the story is more dramatic and the language more melodic. I found myself re-reading many passages to drink in the richness of words and meaning. In fact, I read the book twice last summer because the beauty of prose was slowing down the movement of plot. The second read allowed me to better appreciate the rhythm of language.

If it’s been several years since you’ve read it, give it another go. You may be surprised at what you forgot from before. And if it’s gathering dust on your shelf and you’ve been meaning to read it, consider yourself duly nudged.


Melinda Vest, Youth Services Librarian, Lobeco Branch

Born Round coverFrank Bruni’s memoir of a “full-time eater” chronicles a lifetime love of food, from his infancy as a “baby bulimic” to his ultimate career as restaurant critic with hilarious stories in between.