The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1991

Let’s head back to 1991 for the last trip through time for 2015. It was only 24 years ago – and we still see some of the same authors on the Best Seller lists. The more things change, the more they stay the same, n’est-ce pas? A few things you might remember from 1991:

  • In January, the U.S. launched aerial bombs against Iraqi forces in Kuwait, the first military strikes of the Gulf War.
  • In April, Comedy Central began broadcasting in its current format.
  • In November, Magic Johnson announced he has HIV, which ends his NBA career.

If you don’t remember that year very well, check out one of the following books – from the New York Times Best Sellers list for the week of December 15, 1991 – for some nostalgia:



  1. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
  2. No Greater Love by Danielle Steel
  3. Needful Things by Stephen King
  4. The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy
  5. The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings
  6. Night Over Water by Ken Follett
  7. WLT by Garrison Keillor
  8. Comeback by Dick Francis
  9. The Firm by John Grisham
  10. The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon
  11. Remember by Barbara Taylor Bradford
  12. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
  13. All the Weyrs of Pern by Anne Mccaffrey
  14. Lila by Robert M. Pirsig
  15. Maus II by Art Spiegelman



  1. Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn
  2. Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart
  3. Under Fire by Oliver L. North with William Novak
  4. Uh-Oh by Robert Fulghum
  5. Memories by Ralph Emery with Tom Carter
  6. Childhood by Bill Cosby
  7. Backlash by Susan Faludi
  8. The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith
  9. Parliament of Whores by P. J. O’Rourke
  10. PrairyErth by William Least Heat Moon
  11. Iron John by Robert Bly
  12. Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? by Molly Ivins
  13. When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home by Erma Bombeck
  14. The New World Order by Pat Robertson
  15. Chutzpah by Alan M. Dershowitz
  16. Dance While You Can by Shirley MacLaine

Staff Favorites 2014

It’s December, so that means the staff has been surveyed for their favorite books of the year. One of the great things about our staff is that we’re rather diverse readers, so whatever genre or subject you’re interested in, we’ve probably got someone who will be able to suggest a good read.

You might notice that this year, a number of us chose the same book as a favorite – All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. There are a couple of reasons for that: first, it’s a great book (nominated for the National Book Award, listed on several year-end best of lists, and the winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Historical Fiction); second, Doerr makes his home in Idaho and has served as the Idaho Writer-in-Residence (and he’s presented at our Library in the past). It’s always a good thing when we can support an Idaho author!

Drop in and pick up one of these, or query the staff on any other recommendations!


Favorite Books Published in 2014

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander (Amy)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Amy, Beth, Jennifer, and Kate)

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (James)

Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris (Sara)

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (Sara)

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (Erica)

The Gods of Olympus: A History by Barbara Graziosi (Cody)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Katie)

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (Kate)

The Legend of Sheba by Tosca Moon Lee (Liz)

Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain (Liz)

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood (Susan)

Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival by Jennifer Chiaverini (Susan)

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop (Kathleen)

Night of the White Buffalo by Margaret Coel (Barbara)

The One by Kiera Cass (Darby)

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (Whitney)

Shots Fired: Stories from Joe Pickett Country by C.J. Box (Barbara)

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Katie)

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (Erica)

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty by (Stephanie)

A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life by James Bowen (Josie)

Unequal Affections by Lara Ormiston (Jessica)

The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland (Beth)

Where the Wind Leads: A Refugee Family’s Miraculous Story of Loss, Rescue, and Redemption by Vinh Shung (Susan)

Why Kings Confess by C.S. Harris (Jennifer)

The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Streetwise Cat by James Bowen (Stephanie)


Favorite Books Published Before 2014

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Darby)

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (CJ)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Erica)

Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews (Liz)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Darby, Josie, and Rachel)

The Forgotten by David Baldacci (Barbara)

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (Sara)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Sara and Rachel)

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner (Stephanie)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Katie)

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout (Susan)

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (Jennifer)

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (James)

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian (Kate)

Lyddie by Katherine Paterson (Beth)

Merciless Eden by Doug Tims (Susan)

The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (Erica)

The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell (Kate)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Amy)

Queen and Country: The Last Run by Greg Rucka (Jennifer)

The Secret Language of Color: Science, Nature, History, Culture, Beauty of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Violet by Arielle and Joann Eckstut (Jessica)

The Selection by Kiera Cass (Darby)

Terrier by Tamora Pierce (Stephanie)

A Time of Change by Aimee and David Thurlo (Barbara)

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman (Beth)

This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It by David Wong (CJ)

The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent (Liz)

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America by Peter Levine (Cody)

Written in Red by Anne Bishop (Kathleen)


Freegal Music Playlists – Jazzy Christmas

Spark up your holidays this season with some upbeat, jazzy Christmas songs. Some of the tunes in this playlist are classics, but I’m sure there are a few that will surprise you. I dare you not to hum along…

Remember, all of the music – 3 downloads each week – is free with your TFPL card. Just start from our homepage and then click on “Get E-Audio” to pull up the link for Freegal.


Jingle Bells by Duke Ellington (Album: Jingle Bell Swing)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Chris Botti (Album: December)

Christmas in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong (Album: 20 Swingin’ Christmas Jazz Hits)

I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm by Billie Holiday (Album: Hark! The Herald Angels Swing)

Frosty the Snowman by Ella Fitzgerald (Album: Ella Fitzgerald Wishes You a

Swinging Christmas)

Let It Snow! by Frank Sinatra (Album: Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and

Friends Sing Christmas Songs

Winter Wonderland by Wynton Marsalis (Album: A Jazzy Wonderland)

‘Zat You, Santa Claus? by Harry Connick, Jr. (Album: What a Night! A Christmas Album)

The Christmas Song by Mel Tormé (Album: The Best of Christmas Party Jazz)

Deck the Halls by Fourplay (Album: Christmas Jazz with Fourplay and Friends)

Thanksgiving – For the Birds

For most of us, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without the main guest – the turkey. Whether roasted, deep-fried, grilled, or shish-ka-bobbed, it almost doesn’t matter how it’s prepared, it’s always the star attraction. I mean, one of the nicknames for Thanksgiving is “Turkey Day,” which just shows you how seriously we take this All-American bird. No other bird is so honored (though, there are a ton of them featured in the Twelve Days of Christmas, and what would we do without baby chicks at Easter?)

It’s possible that the other birds feel slighted – after all, even the President pardons one turkey each year. So, to honor some other members of the avian class, here’s a list of books all about birds. Sit down with one of these over the holiday – but maybe not while you’re enjoying leftovers.


Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence – and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process - Irene M. Pepperberg

  • The story of a famous African Grey parrot documents his thirty-year relationship with his trainer and the ways in which his life has changed scientific understanding about language and thought.

Birdology: Adventures with a Pack of Hens, a Peck of Pigeons, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Living Dinosaur – Sy Montgomery

  • Combines popular science with personal anecdotes as the author describes her encounters with a range of avian personalities from various parts of the world.

Dodo: A Brief History – Errol Fuller

  • Examines the dodo, a bird native to Mauritius which became extinct after the arrival of Dutch and Portuguese sailors to the island in the sixteenth century, and looks at the mystique that continues to surround the dodo.

An Eagle Named Freedom: My True Story of a Remarkable Friendship – Jeff Guidry

  • An inspiring story describes how a dedicated man lovingly nursed a young eaglet with two broken wings back to health, and how this majestic bird later inspired him to triumph over his own life-threatening condition.

A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction – Joel Greenberg

  • Reveals how passenger pigeons have become extinct and how no serious effort was made to protect this species that inspired awe in the likes of John James Audubon, Henry David Thoreau, and James Fenimore Cooper until it was too late.

Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans – John Marzluff

  • Offers insight into crows ability to make tools and respond to environmental challenges, explaining how they engage in human-like behaviors from giving gifts and seeking revenge to playing and experiencing dreams.

The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker – Tim Gallagher

  • In this birder’s adventure story a writer and photographer chases after the ivory-billed woodpecker, the “ghost bird” of the swamp, reconstructing his search for a bird that was once declared extinct.

Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season Living Among the Wild Turkey – Joe Hutto

  • An account of an astonishing human-turkey relationship.

The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman’s Fight to Save the World’s Most Beautiful Bird – Bruce Barcott

  • Describes the efforts of a few determined villagers in Belize, led by Sharon Matola, the head of the Belize Zoo, to stop attempts to build a huge dam that would destroy one of Central America’s great rivers and the last scarlet macaws in Belize.

On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth with the Peregrine Falcon – Alan Tennant

  • A study of the transcontinental migration of the peregrine falcon follows the majestic raptors from the Texas barrier islands to the Arctic and then back south through Mexico, Belize, and the Caribbean, with chronicling his own adventures along the way.

Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga Of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird – Andrew D. Blechman

  • A study of pigeons and the people who both love and loathe them examines the natural history of this ubiquitous bird and explores the world of pigeon racing and breeding, and the radical “pro-pigeon underground” in New York City.

Rare Birds: The Extraordinary Tale of the Bermuda Petrel and the Man Who Brought It Back from Extinction – Elizabeth Gehrman

  • Chronicles the story of conservationist David Wingate and his efforts to single-handedly bringing back the Bermuda petrel, a seabird thought to be extinct until the early twentieth century.

The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong – Donald E. Kroodsma

  • Is their song a language? If so, what do they say? Kroodsma (ornithology emeritus, U. of Massachusetts) focuses on only a few of the ten thousand species of singing birds on this earth, but by doing so he thoroughly explains the basics in these 30 personal journeys over 30 years. He explains how, when and where birds sing, starting with birds we hear daily.

Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds – Miyoko Chu

  • Explores the remarkable lives of migratory birds and answers such questions about songbirds as where do they go, how do they get there, and what do they do in the places that they inhabit throughout the year.

A Supremely Bad Idea: Three Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All – Luke Dempsey

  • An unlikely birder traces his indoctrination into the hobby by a pair of obsessive fellow enthusiasts and their zealous nation-wide search for rare and noteworthy species, in an account that describes their haphazard encounters with human and natural challenges.

The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds, and What They Reveal About Being Human – Noah Strycker

  • A fun and profound look at the lives of birds, illuminating their surprising world–and deep connection with humanity.

Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of the Birds of America – William Souder

  • Traces the life of John James Audubon, his efforts to record the wild birds of North America, and his fifteen-year struggle against a conventional scientific establishment to find a publisher for his masterwork, “The Birds of America.”.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl – Stacey O’Brien

  • In this touching memoir, biologist and owl expert Stacey O’Brien introduces Wesley the Owl, a once-abandoned baby owl who was rescued by Stacey. Together, they’ve built a remarkable friendship over the past nineteen years.


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Take Ten: How to Write Fiction

We’re almost halfway through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, in case you didn’t know)! Hopefully, you budding authors out there have hit your 25,000 word mark. If not, or if you’ve gotten yourself in a rut, grab one of these handy guides to help you find your way. But don’t take too long perusing them – the next Great American Novel isn’t going to write itself!


13 Ways of Looking at the Novel – Jane Smiley

Beyond the First Draft: The Art of Fiction – John Casey

Creating the Story: Guides for Writers – Rebecca Rule

Guide to Fiction Writing – Phyllis A. Whitney

The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction – Stephen Koch

No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days – Chris Baty

The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life – Noah Lukeman

Writer’s Mind: Crafting Fiction – Richard Coehn

Writing the Breakout Novel – Donald Maass

Writing the Popular Novel: A Comprehensive Guide to Crafting Fiction that Sells – Loren D. Estleman

Freegal Music Playlists: Family

In honor of Thanksgiving, this month’s Freegal playlist is all about family. Each song below references a relative – some in good ways and some in not so good ways. The songs also highlight different types of music, from grunge to pop to musical theater. If you have an eclectic family, you might use this as the soundtrack for your Thanksgiving dinner. It will give you something else to agree on/fight about. After all, isn’t that what the holiday is for?

Remember, all of the music – 3 downloads each week – is free with your TFPL card. Just start from our homepage and then click on “Get E-Audio” to pull up the link for Freegal.


We Are Family by Sister Sledge (Album: Family Affair)

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh by Allan Sherman (Album: Hits of Pop and Doo Wop)

Mother and Child Reunion by Paul Simon (Album: The Essential Paul Simon)

Father Figure by George Michael (Album: Faith)

Daughter by Pearl Jam (Album: Vs)

Son of a Preacher Man by Dusty Springfield (Album: Oldies But Goodies)

Little Sister by Elvis Presley (Album: The Essential Elvis Presley)

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime by Rudy Vallee (Album: The Great Depression)

The Barber and His Wife by Len Cariou (Album: Sweeney Todd)

Dear Future Husband by Meghan Trainor (Album: Title)


Set In: Berlin

Revelers testing the wall in 1989.

Next month marks the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s hard to imagine that there is now an entire generation of young Germans who have known only a united Berlin (and Germany, for that matter), rather than the East and West versions. Although the wall no longer exists in physical form – except in small sections all over the world (the largest section in the U.S. is at the Wende Museum in Los Angeles) – there is still a psychological and emotional presence in those who lived with it.

Below are books set in Berlin, and many offer a story that includes the Wall. Pick up one and learn more about the Wall, the people it separated, or how its destruction has changed Germany.



Couplings – Peter Schneider

  • Eduard, a molecular biologist living in West Berlin, along with his friends Theo, a writer from East Berlin, and Andre, an international composer, scientifically examine every form of love and its complications and ironies, during the re-unification of the Germanies.

The Good German – Joseph Kanon

  • This compelling thriller is both a touching love story and a masterful portrayal of the struggle for geopolitical control of postwar Germany. Network correspondent Jake Geismar, who covered Berlin before the war, has returned to the devastated city, ostensibly to cover the Potsdam Conference but actually to find the woman he loves. When the bullet-ridden body of an American soldier washes up on the shores of Potsdam, Jake is plunged into a maelstrom of intrigue, corruption, and betrayal.

Secret Father – James Carroll

  • In 1961, at the height of the Cold War, three teenagers in West Germany head for Berlin to join a May Day rally on the Communist side of the divided city, only to find themselves arrested by the East German secret police.

The Story of Henri Tod – William F. Buckley, Jr.

  • Suave CIA agent Blackford Oakes returns to attempt to keep the Soviets from dividing Berlin with the infamous Berlin Wall, in a story of international intrigue, political machinations, and espionage set during the height of the Cold War.

The Student Conductor – Robert Ford

  • Returning to the orchestral communities of Germany just as the Berlin Wall falls, Cooper Barrow begins studying under the cruel and capricious maestro and concentration camp survivor Karlheinz Ziegler, an endeavor that is compromised by a psychologically complex relationship with a beautiful fellow musician.

Trudy’s Promise – M.K. Preston

  • Branded the wife of a defector and sent to prison, Trudy Hulst, wondering if her husband survived his attempted escape past the newly constructed Berlin Wall, makes a break for freedom, determined to find the son she had to leave behind.

The Wall – John Marks

  • A few hours before the Berlin Wall falls in 1989, an American spy defects to the East.



Berlin, 1961 – Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth - Frederick Kempe

  • Shares controversial perspectives on a defining event in the Cold War, revealing how nearly American and Soviet troops came to waging nuclear war while citing the specific challenges that were faced by international leaders.

Berlin Now: The City After the Fall – Peter Schneider

  • Berlin Now is a longtime Berliner’s bright, bold, and digressive exploration of the heterogeneous allure of this vibrant city. Schneider takes us on an insider’s tour of this rapidly metamorphosing metropolis, where high-class soirees are held at construction sites and enterprising individuals often accomplish more without public funding–assembling a makeshift club on the banks of the Spree River–than Berlin’s officials do. .

The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989 – Fred Taylor

  • A history of the 103-mile wall between East and West Germany discusses its geopolitical ramifications, its representation of the struggle between Soviet communism and American capitalism, and the internal and external pressures that led to its dismantling.

The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall – Mary Elise Sarotte

  • Historian Mary Elise Sarotte shows that the opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, was not, as is commonly believed, the East German government’s deliberate concession to outside influence. It was an accident. A carelessly worded memo written by mid-level bureaucrats, a bumbling press conference given by an inept member of the East German Politburo, the negligence of government leaders, the bravery of ordinary people in East and West Berlin–these combined to bring about the end of nearly forty years of oppression, fear, and enmity in divided Berlin.

Spies Beneath Berlin- David Stafford

  • An account of the covert cold war activities surrounding Operation Stopwatch/Gold traces the surveillance of German Red Army intelligence from a secret tunnel and the activities of a British secret service mole who impacted both sides.

Wall: The Inside Story of Divided Berlin – Peter Wyden

  • Erected in 1961 to stop the mass exodus of East Germans to the West, the Berlin Wall is a grim symbol of the Cold War. Wyden describes superpower confrontations in which the Wall has been central, and reveals in detail the policies and punishments imposed on citizens who either try to cross it or merely express a desire to live in the West.

When the Wall Came Down: The Berlin Wall and the Fall of Soviet Communism – Serge Schmemann

  • Articles from the archives of “The New York Times” and the author’s first-hand account of one of the greatest moments in European history relate the division of Berlin after World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.


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