Take Ten: World War I Fiction

British_55th_Division_gas_casualties_10_April_1918 This August marks the centennial of the beginning of The Great War. For much of Europe, it was a devastating mess, causing deaths and destruction beyond the scope of any prior European war. The aftermath was also transforming on a large scale – political boundaries were redrawn, socioeconomic class distinctions were shaken, and the seed for revolution was planted in almost every region.

The era remains rich for storytelling, however. With varied subjects such as the causes, the trenches, the homefront, and the psychological and physical effects, many writers have plumbed the depths of the war in search for understanding. The novels listed here are prime examples of our need to comprehend the whys and hows of the First World War.

Regeneration by Pat Barker

  • Stressed by the war, poet, pacifist, and protestor Siegfried Sassoon is sent to Craiglockhart Hospital, where his views challenge the patriotic vision of Dr. William Rivers, a neurologist assigned to restore the sanity of shell-shocked soldiers. (This is the first book in the Regeneration WWI trilogy. The others are The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road.)

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

  • After loving and losing a French woman from Amiens, Stephen Wraysford serves in the French army during World War I.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

  • Follows the fates of five interrelated families–American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh–as they move through the dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

  • Story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front during World War I and his love for an English nurse.

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak

  • Uprooted from a nineteenth century mining town in Colorado by a shocking family tragedy, young Jozef Vinich returns with his father to an impoverished shepherd’s life in rural Austria-Hungary. When war comes, Jozef is sent as a sharpshooter to the southern front, where he must survive the killing trenches, a perilous trek across the frozen Italian Alps, and capture by a victorious enemy.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

  • The testament of Paul Baumer, who enlists with his classmates in the German army of World War I, illuminates the savagery and futility of war.

To the Last Man by Michael Shaara

  • In the spring of 1918, when America enters World War I, the world waits to see if the tide of war can be turned with the renewed spirit and strength of the untested American Expeditionary Force under General John “BlackJack” Pershing.

The First of July by Elizabeth Speller

  • Follows the lives of four very different men, Frank, Benedict, Jean-Batiste, and Harry, as their fates converge on the most terrible and destructive day of World War I, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

  • Independent-minded Bess Crawford’s upbringing is far different from that of the usual upper-middle-class British gentlewoman. At the outbreak of WWI, she volunteers for the nursing corps, serving from the battlefields of France to the doomed hospital ship Britannic. On one voyage, she promises to a deliver a message from a dying officer to his brother. Once she’s able to do so, she’s disturbed at the brother’s indifferent reception of the message, and when an unexpected turn of events provides her with an opportunity to stay with the family for a short time, she takes it. (This the the 1st of the Bess Crawford series, followed by An Impartial Witness, A Bitter Truth, An Unmarked Grave, A Question of Honor, and An Unwilling Accomplice.)

My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young

  • The lives of two very different couples–an officer and his aristocratic wife and a young soldier and his childhood sweetheart–are irrevocably intertwined and forever changed in this WWI epic of love and war.


Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus. Log into NoveList Plus using your Library card.

The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1995

Let’s take a leisurely stroll back to 1995 – only 19 years ago. (Crazy to think so, isn’t it!) In August of that year, we were all fascinated by the release of Windows 95, which introduced the Start menu button and shortcuts on the desktop – things that we wouldn’t know what to do without today (though they tried, and failed, to get rid of the Start menu button in Windows 8).

In case you wonder what else was going on, here are a few other events that might trigger your memory of 1995:

  • For all you trekkies out there, Star Trek: Voyager premiered in January.
  • A new optical storage format, the DVD, is released in September.
  • The final Calvin and Hobbes comic strip is published in December.

There were a few weightier things you might remember better from that year (Oklahoma City bombings, O.J. Simpson verdict, Unabomber), but let’s concentrate on some positives by looking at what we were reading, according to the New York Times Best Seller list, the week of August 6, 1995.



1. Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice

2. Beach Music by Pat Conroy

3. Lightning by Danielle Steel

4. The Rainmaker by John Grisham

5. The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

6. Rose Madder by Stephen King

7. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

8. The Witness by Sandra Brown

9. Disney’s Pocahontas

10. Dangerous to Know by Barbara Taylor Bradford

11. Let Me Call You Sweetheart by Mary Higgins Clark

12. Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

13. The Apocalypse Watch by Robert Ludlum

14. Once Upon a More Enlightened Time by James Finn Garner

15. Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler



1. To Renew America by Newt Gingrich

2. New Passages by Gail Sheehy

3. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

4. A Good Walk Spoiled: Days and Nights on the PGA Tour by John Feinstein

5. Spontaneous Healing by Andrew Weil

6. Sisters: Essays by Carol Saline

7. Sleepers by Lorenzo Carcaterra

8. Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys, By Dave Barry

9. The Death of Common Sense by Philip K. Howard

10. When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan Mccarthy

11. The Eagle and the Rose by Rosemary Altea

12. The Language of Life by Bill Moyers

13. Paula by Isabel Allende

14. The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett

15. Sleeping at the Starlite Motel by Bailey White

16. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr

Summer Reading is Almost Over…

Don’t forget – Adult Summer Reading still has another week! You have time to finish up your “Periodic Chart of Literary Elements” – even if you haven’t participated in the weekly drawings. Just get 20 items finished by August 2 and you’ll be entered into our Grand Prize Drawing for an Amazon Kindle reader. Contact the Reference Desk (733-2964 ext 200) for information.

Set In: The Woods

The forest, in all its shadows, is a rather primeval setting. In fact, a number of us could probably rattle off a few frightening fairy tales or legends that take place in the woods – “Hansel and Gretel” or “Red Riding Hood” come quickly to mind. But how many of us could name a more contemporary work? Still, this setting, whether we picture sinister activities or nature in its original state (or camping with the family, which can be sinister in its own sweet way) is just unfamiliar enough to create dramatic tension.

See the forest and the trees with one of the following trips into woods…



Cold Tracks – Lee Wallingford

  • Ex-Seattle cop Frank Carver’s new job patrolling Oregon’s Neskanie National forest begins to get complicated when he and local ranger Ginny Trask start investigating the death of an immigrant who has possible criminal connections.

The Darkest Part of the Woods – Ramsey Campbell

  • The lives and destinies of the Price family become intertwined with the ancient forest of Goodmanswood, from Lennox Price who discovers a hallucinogenic moss, to his grandson’s sexual encounter in the heart of the forest.

Forests of the Night – James W. Hall

  • Policewoman Charlotte Monroe intercepts a threat by one of the FBI’s most wanted men, intended for her husband, a situation that turns deadly when her troubled teenage daughter runs away with the outlaw to the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Glister: A Novel - John Burnside

  • Ever since George Lister’s chemical plant shut down, the neighboring woods have become the home to strange, sickly plants, and when a young boy named Leonard and his friends realize that boys from their school are vanishing after venturing into the poisoned woods, they alone are willing to confront the forces of evil that are destroying their once-happy town.

Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest – W. H. Hudson

  • An illustrated facsimile edition of a definitive work by the naturalist author of A Shepherd’s Life bridges the period between Romanticism and the ecological movement and traces an ill-fated relationship between a refuge-seeking European and a mysterious aboriginal in Venezuela.

Into the Forest – Jean Hegland

  • Two sisters survive a near-future apocalypse and retreat into a forest where they relearn what it means to be human.

The Inverted Forest – John Dalton

  • Along with the other new counselors, Wyatt arrives expecting to care for children. To their astonishment, they learn that for the first two weeks of the camping season they will be responsible for 104 severely developmentally disabled adults, all of them wards of the state. In preventing a terrible tragedy, Wyatt commits an act whose repercussions will alter his own life and the lives of the other Kindermann Forest staff members for years to come.

My Abandonment – Peter Rock

  • Thirteen-year old Caroline has been raised and home-schooled by her father in a wild nature preserves on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. They follow a rigid code that enables them to survive in the wilderness. Once a week, they go to the city to buy groceries, attend church and otherwise merge with the civilized world. Yet one small mistake allows the authorities to discover them and their forced relocation is only a brief respite in their flight from a world that doesn’t understand them.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel – Louise Murphy

  • A retelling of the classic fairy tale, set in Nazi-occupied Poland, follows two Jewish children, left by their father and stepmother to seek refuge in a dense forest, as they wander the woods until being taken in by Magda, an eccentric old woman.

Wild Rain – Christine Feehan

  • Finding a safe haven in the rain forest from a relentless killer, Rachael, armed with a new identity, finds her peace shattered by Rio, an exotic native of the forest who harbors a dark secret.



American Canopy: Trees, Forests and the Making of a Nation – Eric Rutkow

  • In the bestselling tradition of Michael Pollan’s “Second Nature,” this fascinating and unique historical work tells the remarkable story of the relationship between Americans and trees across the entire span of our nation’s history.

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America – Timothy Egan

  • Narrates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire of August, 1910, and Teddy Roosevelt’s pioneering conservation efforts that helped turn public opinion permanently in favor of the forests, though it changed the mission of theforest service with consequences felt in the fires of today.

The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Saved 1200 Jews, and Built a Village in the Forest – Peter Duffy

  • Discusses how the Bielski brothers banded together after the execution of their parents by Nazi soldiers, explaining how they and other Jews lived in the forest of Belarus, fighting the Nazis and saving many Jews along the way.

Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City – Greg Grandin

  • The story of the auto magnate’s attempt to recreate small-town America, along with a rubber plantation, in the heart of the Amazon details the clash between Ford and the jungle and its inhabitants, as the tycoon attempted to force his will on the naturalworld.

The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature – David George Haskell

  • Reveals what can be understood about the natural world through the author’s year-long observation of a one-square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest, explaining the scientific ties binding all life and how the ecosystem has cycled for millions of years.

The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, the Future of Our Forests, and an Urgent Plan to Save Our Planet – Jim Robbins

  • Describes the efforts of a former alcoholic nurseryman, whose near-death experience prompted him to attempt to find the best specimens of the U.S.’s 872 known species of trees and use them to propagate their offspring around the world.

The Pine Barrens – John McPhee

  • Describes the natural vegetation and rustic peoples of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, an area of wilderness in the center of urban sprawl.

Walden, or Life in the Woods - Henry David Thoreau

  • In 1845 Thoreau built himself a shanty in the woods by Walden Pond, where he lived from 1845-1847. Walden is a treatise on the subjects of self-sufficiency, individualism, relationship with nature, and rejection of material ambition. His residence at the pond was interrupted by a day’s imprisonment for refusal to pay a poll tax to a government that supported the Mexican War. this action was in accord with his belief in passive resistance, a means of protest he explained in his essay “Civil Disobedience” (1849).

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail – Bill Bryson

  • Traces the author’s adventurous trek along the Appalachian Trail past its natural pleasures, human eccentrics, and offbeat comforts.

Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees - Roger Deakin

  • Accompanying famed British nature writer Deakin through the woods of Britain, Europe, Kazakhstan, and Australia in search of what lies behind man’s profound and enduring connection with trees. Deakin lives in forest shacks, goes “coppicing” in Suffolk, swims beneath the walnut trees of the Haut-Languedoc, and hunts bushplums with Aboriginal women in the outback. Along the way, he ferrets out the mysteries of woods, detailing the life stories of the timber beams composing his Elizabethan house and searching for the origin of the apple.


Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus. Log in to NoveList Plus using your Twin Falls Public Library card.

Take Ten: We’re Having a Heat Wave

It seems senseless to complain about the weather here in the Magic Valley. After all, we should expect the heat – we’re living in the high desert. But, after a few days of 90°+ cloudless days, things tend to get a little old. So, it’s time to turn the tables – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The following are all books that deal in some way with a heat wave. Reading one might not cool you down, but it might make you feel better about the long, hot, summer.


The Dead Season: A Mystery in Florence – Christobel Kent

  • Sandro Cellini will not be joining the crowds of holidaymakers escaping the heat this year. The former policeman turned private detective has a case: a man who seems to have vanished into thin air, leaving his pregnant young wife alone in the city.  As Florence sweats it out, Cellini attempts to grapple with his case and the complications it throws at him. And when the weather finally breaks, it brings with it a shocking revelation. (This is the third Sandro Cellini mystery)

Frog Music – Emma Donoghue

  • Burlesque dancer Blanche Beunon tries to discover who murdered her friend Jenny, who was shot through a window in a railroad saloon in 1876 San Francisco, amidst a record-breaking heat wave and smallpox epidemic.

Full Blast – Janet Evanovich

  • Jamie Swift and Max Holt find themselves taking on a murderer who is targeting some of the less popular citizens of Beaumont, South Carolina, when they discover that the key to the killings lies in the personal ads of the newspaper. (Fourth in the Full series)

Good Graces – Lesley Kagen

  • During a sweltering 1960 Milwaukee heat wave, Sally O’Malley struggles with the trauma of her father’s sudden death and her sister Troo’s possible role in a string of burglaries, an escape from a reform school, and an orphan’s disappearance.

Heat Wave – Richard Castle

  • In the midst of a suffocating heat wave, NYPD homicide detective Nikki Heat investigates the falling death of real estate tycoon and a brutal attack on a Manhattan socialite. However, when another shocking murder puts Heat on a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy, her investigation may prove fatal. (First in the Nikki Heat series)

Instructions for a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell

  • When a recently retired family patriarch clears out his bank account and disappears during a sweltering summer in 1976, his three children converge on their mother’s home for the first time in years and track clues to an ancestral village in Ireland, where they uncover illuminating family secrets.

The Square Root of Murder – Ada Madison

  • While celebrating famous scholars of the past with her students, Dr. Sophie Knowles, a much loved math teacher at Henley College, must add up the clues to prove her assistant’s innocence when she is accused of killing Dr. Keith Appleton, the most disliked professor on campus. (First in the Professor Sophie Knowles mysteries)


And 3 nonfiction books:

Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt – Edward P. Kohn

  • Shows how Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s hopes for the presidency began to flag amidst the abhorrent heat of 1896 New York just as police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt scrambled to mitigate the dangerously high temperatures.

The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm – Juliet Nicolson

  • Chronicling four months during 1911, an evocative portrait of an English society on the brink of turbulent change describes such milestones as the crowning of a new king, strikes that paralyzed British industry, and the first London appearance of the Ballets Russes, from the viewpoints of a debutante, a suffragette, a trade unionist, a butler, a politician, the queen, and others.

Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War - James Mauro

  • The summer of 1939 was an epic turning point for America – a brief window between the Great Depression and World War II. It was the last season of unbridled hope for peace and prosperity; by Labor Day, the Nazis were in Poland. And nothing would come to symbolize this transformation from acute optimism to fear and dread more than the 1939 New York World’s Fair.


Great Online Resource – Idaho Parks and Recreation

Looking for a new adventure this summer? You don’t have to go too far to find something really cool – just check your own backyard! The Idaho Parks and Recreation Department‘s website is a great tool for deciding on your weekend vacation plans. Start with this retro map and then click on a park that appeals to you. From there, you’ll get specified information on amenities, events, and how to make reservations. Plus, each park has its own Facebook page so you can keep up-to-date with the latest happenings. Tourism in Idaho isn’t just for out-of-staters!

The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1971

Let’s back the machine out of the garage and set the dial for 1971. Smack dab in the middle of the Nixon era, as well as the middle birth years for Generation X. And, unfortunately, 1971 was at the height of bell-bottom popularity. Not a great omen for the rest of that decade’s fashion…

It was also the year that:

  • All in the Family premiered (January). On the air until 1979, its impact can still be felt on television and society today.
  • Jim Morrison died in France (July). His grave is one of the most visited in Paris.
  • Walt Disney World opened (October). The park’s size now is about the size of the city of San Francisco.

Here are the most popular fiction and nonfiction books, according to the New York Times Best Sellers list, for the week of June 27, 1971. Check out one of these and relive the year!



1. The Passions of the Mind by Irving Stone

2. The New Centurions by Joseph Wambaugh

3. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

4. QB VII by Leon Uris

5. Penmarric by Susan Howatch

6. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

7. The Other by Thomas Tryon

8. The Throne of Saturn by Allen Drury

9. The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald

10. Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy



1. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

2. The Sensuous Man by “M”

3. The Greening of America by Charles Reich

4. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer

5. Boss by Mike Royko

6. Future Shock by Alvin Toffler

7. The European Discovery of America by Samuel Eliot Morison

8. Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945 by Barbara Wertheim Tuchman

9. Mr. Cub by Ernie Banks and Jim Enright

10. Capone by John Kobler


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.