Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lost in Shangri-la : the epic true story of a World War II plane crash into the Stone Age by Mitchell Zuckoff

It sounds like it could be a classic Hollywood action film – a plane crashes in a dense jungle in New Guinea and the few survivors aboard must deal with a variety of life-threatening problems, the least of which includes the cannibalistic natives that are all around them. The crazy thing is that what could pass for an entertaining summer movie actually did happen and the events are recounted in Mitchell Zuckoff’s new book Lost in Shangri-La. During World War II, the United States established a military base in New Guinea. On one fateful day, a group of military men and women decide to take a sightseeing trip to an obscure part of the island, dubbed “Shangri-La.” When the plane crashes, only three members of the team manage to survive – a lively WAC (Women’s Army Corps), a young lieutenant who lost his twin brother in the crash and takes command of the trio, and a sergeant with a massive head injury.

The group has no food (relying on Charms hard candy), little water, no way to contact their military base, and the knowledge that the local Dani tribe are quite violent and unpredictable. The rest of the book is about their survival and the courageous efforts that the military takes to rescue them, including dropping in a group of paratroopers and a dangerous plane rescue.

This amazing story of courage and daring feats of bravery will ultimately inspire and thrill anyone (even non-fiction fans).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Summer 2011 Book Club selections

Without further ado, here are the selections for the library's summer 2011 book club:

6/28: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand7/12: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan7/26: Composed: A Memoir by Roseanne Cash

8/9: Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov8/23: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Registration will begin on 6/1. The first 25 people to register will receive free copies of the book. Space is limited, so make sure you register early by either calling 609-399-2434 ext. 5226 or email

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Having just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this year, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan offers a little bit of everything to everyone. Egan follows the lives of several individuals who are all loosely connected to each other at various points in their lives. The book starts off examining the life of Sasha, an assistant to a flourishing music producer living in New York City. Sasha is a beautiful but dark character– she’s a long time kleptomaniac with a rough past. As the novel takes off, readers learn more about Sasha’s history (through the eyes of her uncle), as well as take a peek into the lives of her boss, Bennie Salazar, former teenage friends and boyfriends, and several other motley characters with completely unique life stories all their own. Some chapters are touching and quirky (e.g. a story told entirely through the use of PowerPoint slides), while others are solid tragedies.

While the concept for the book could be confusing to some, it doesn’t feel disjointed at all. The hardest part in reading Goon Squad is figuring out where each person fits into the world that Egan has created and at what point in time. The connecting thread that runs through all of the chapters deals with human development– how do we change as we age? How did we get to this particular point in our lives?

If you liked the movies Valentine’s Day or Magnolia (both of which feature lots of different mini-narratives within one major story), you’ll undoubtedly love A Visit from the Goon Squad.