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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The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1981

Let’s head back 33 years and take a look at 1981. The year started with the release of the Iran hostages, and ended with Muhammad Ali’s last fight. Plenty of other things happened in between. Perhaps you remember…

  • The shooting of President Reagan in March.
  • Lady Diana Spencer marries Charles, the Prince of Wales in July.
  • MTV, the first 24-hour music video channel, begins in August.

All momentous stuff to happen in one year, isn’t it? Beyond those events, we can take a look at the New York Times Best Sellers for the week of October 18, 1981 and see quite a few beloved authors – even some who are still publishing today. Check out one of these oldies, but goodies, the next time you drop into the Library.



1. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

2. Cujo by Stephen King

3. The Cardinal Sins by Andrew M. Greeley

4. The Third Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders

5. Noble House by James Clavell

6. The Last Days of America by Paul Erdman

7. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

8. The Glitter Dome by Joseph Wambaugh

9. Luciano’s Luck by Jack Higgins

10. Night Probe! by Clive Cussler

11. Bread Upon the Waters by Irwin Shaw

12. The Clowns of God by Morris West

13. False Witness by Dorothy Uhnak

14. Goodbye, Janette by Harold Robbins

15. License Renewed by John Gardner



1. The Beverly Hills Diet by Judy Mazel

2. The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot

3. Never-Say-Diet Book by Richard Simmons

4. How to Make Love to a Man by Alexandra Penney

5. The Cinderella Complex by Colette Dowling

6. Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life by Miss Piggy (as told to Henry Beard)

7. Jane Brody’s Nutrition Book by Jane Brody

8. Living Alone & Liking It! by Lynn Shahan

9. The Eagle’s Gift by Carlos Castaneda

10. Theory Z by William G. Ouchi

11. Keep It Simple by Marian Burros

12. You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen

13. Cosmos by Carl Sagan

14. The Hite Report on Male Sexuality by Shere Hite

15. Mornings on Horseback by David Mccullough


Take Ten: 8

In the old Roman calendar, October was the 8th month – hence the “octo” part of its name. Culturally, eight is also a significant number; it’s considered lucky to the Chinese, and it’s the length of the Hanukkah holiday (Dec 16 – 24, this year). Set it on its side and the number becomes the symbol for infinity. Here are a few other reminders of the “use” of the number 8:

  • Eight is the atomic number of oxygen
  • An octave consists of eight notes
  • The eight ball is the most important in a game of billiards
  • Spiders (and most other arachnids) have eight legs.
  • There are now 8 planets in our solar system (sorry, Pluto)


In honor of the number, here are a few books with eight in the title.

8 Minutes in the Morning: A Simple Way to Shed up to Two Pounds a Week, Guaranteed – Jorge Cruise

  • Cruise’s get-slim secret involves just 8 minutes of his unique strength-training moves each morning, a cutting-edge eating program that teaches you how to eat right and cut your calories, plus a daily dose of motivational support.

8 Sandpiper Way – Debbie Macomber

  • Cedar Cove is shocked after Pastor Dave Flemming is accused of stealing jewelry. His wife, Emily, doesn’t know what to believe, especially since Dave is being so evasive. Then she finds an earring in his pocket. Could he have stolen it–or is he having an affair?

The Eight – Katherine Neville

  • A young novice during the French Revolution risks her life to keep a jeweled chess set that Moors gave Charlemagne, and in the 20th century, a computer expert and a chess master try to solve its mystery.

Eight Girls Taking Pictures – Whitney Otto

  • A tale inspired by the lives of famous twentieth-century female photographers traces the progression of feminism and photography in various world regions as each woman explores private and public goals while balancing the demands of family and creativity.

Eight Men and a Duck: An Improbable Voyage by Reed Boat to Easter Island - Nick Thorpe

  • A journalist traces his 2,500-mile journey from South America to Easter Island with an eight-man crew on board an eighteen-meter pre-Incan reed boat as part of an adventure to reopen controversial migration theories by Thor Heyerdahl.

Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series – Eliot Asinof

  • Recounts the fixing of the 1919 World Series, covering events from the first meetings between White Sox players and gamblers to the 1921 trial and its aftermath.

Eight Million Ways to Die – Lawrence Block

  • Kim was a young hooker who wanted out: a beautiful kid, old before her time, seeking Matthew Scudder’s protection. She didn’t deserve to die the way she did: slashed to ribbons in the seedy waterfront district. Now the tormented ex-cop-turned-P.I. wants to find her killer.

Eight Women, Two Model T’s, and the American West – Joanne Wilke

  • In 1924 eight young women drove across the American West in two Model T Fords. In nine weeks they traveled more than nine thousand unpaved miles on an extended car-camping trip through six national parks, “without a man or a gun along.”

From a Buick 8 – Stephen King

  • The state police in Statler, Pennsylvania, have kept the mysterious, vintage Buick Roadmaster caged out in back of the barracks ever since 1979. But even as it sleeps, it breathes–inhaling a little bit of this world, exhaling a little bit of whatever world it came from–until the fateful day when its terrifying secrets are finally revealed.

The Great Eight: How to Be Happy (Even When You Have Every Reason to Be Miserable) – Scott Hamilton

  • Olympic Gold Medal figure skater Scott Hamilton shares his eight secrets to finding happiness in the face of a life filled with challenges, difficulties, and career-canceling odds, with never-been-told, behind-the-scenes stories from the skating world.


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Freegal Music Playlists: Halloween

Download a few songs to get you in the mood for Halloween! Whether you want something to creep you out or want to have a little fun with the holiday, the songs below will set the scene for a “spook”tacular season. All of the music is free with your TFPL card: start from our homepage and then click on “Get E-Audio” to pull up the link for Freegal. (Remember, you have 3 downloads each week.) Have fun – or scare yourself silly!


Black Magic Woman by Santana (Album: Ultimate Santana)

Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr. (Album: Ghostbusters)

I Put a Spell on You by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (Album: Halloween Classics)

Monster Mash by Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers (Album: Monster Mash Halloween Party)

A Nightmare on My Street by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Album: Halloween Classics)

Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley (Album: Are We There Yet?)

Spooky by Classics IV (Album: Greatest Hits)

Thriller by Michael Jackson (Album: Thriller)

Tocata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach (Album: Scary Classical Masterpieces)

Werewolves in London by Warren Zevon (Album: 70s Classic Rock)

Great Online Resource – Reader’s Corner

One of the wonderful things about the Internet (for readers, that is) is the ability to find great author interviews. Whether they’re found in print, audio, or video format, the interviews can often bring to light ideas or contextual information that might be missing from the actual work. Plus, there’s always a chance the interviewer will ask about the whys and hows of crafting of the book – which can be fascinating in its own right.

Locally, we’re lucky that our NPR station (KBSW – Boise State Public Radio) broadcasts author interviews in a program called “Reader’s Corner.” Bob Kustra, the President of BSU, hosts, taking time out of his busy schedule to read and then talk with the authors. A good many of the authors he speaks to have written nonfiction, and quite a few have some tie to Idaho (see his interviews with Idaho author Anthony Doerr about his brilliant novel, All the Light We Cannot See.) The actual interviews are broadcast on Friday evenings, but there are also apps available for the podcast. And, far from spoiling the reading of the books, Kustra’s interviews will make you want to come in to the Library and pick one up. A win-win situation all around!

Set In: Wine Country

Seeing as late summer/early fall is the ideal time to harvest grapes (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), we thought we’d take a look at books set in wine country. These regions, whether in Northern California, or virtually anywhere in France, lend themselves to unique stories involving growing, harvesting, and of course, competition. Keep in mind, however, reading a few of the following titles might just get you a bit tipsy with wine knowledge. Santé!



Bordeaux – Paul Torday

  • Taking an unexpected detour on the way home from work, Wilberforce, a wealthy, self-contained young man, is drawn into an unexpected new world thanks to an encounter with Francis Black, an eccentric and enigmatic wine merchant, who introduces Wilberforce to fine wines, new friends, and his new wife, but he soon discovers that his new life comes at a price.

A Delicate Finish – Jeanette Baker

  • Left by her husband, Jake, without a word of explanation, Francesca DeAngelo struggles to cope with a hundred-year-old vineyard, a young son, and feisty mother-in-law, but now she is confronted by smooth-talking Mitchell Gillette, who is putting small independent vintners out of business and the return of her repentant husband.

A Good Year – Peter Mayle

  • Having lost his biggest client to an unscrupulous boss, Max Skinner journeys to Provence to inspect a vineyard he has inherited and finds additional challenges in a California woman’s claim on the estate.

House of Daughters – Sarah-Kate Lynch

  • Expecting to inherit the family’s vineyard in the French province of Champagne after her father’s death, Clementine discovers to her dismay that she must share the inheritance with her two half-sisters.

Nose – James Conaway

  • Delightedly discovering a first Cabernet to receive his highest score, egotistical wine critic Clyde Craven-Jones investigates the vintage’s mysterious origins with his wife and two underdogs only to land in the middle of a scandalous family squabble with ties to a decades-old wrongdoing.

Sideways – Rex Pickett

  • What better way for two friends to contemplate their last days of freedom (Jack) or reevaluate their lives (Miles) than to take off on a weeklong road trip from L.A. to the Santa Ynez wine country?

The Villa – Nora Roberts

  • Sparks fly, as two wine-making families merge–the Giambellis and the MacMillans–and try to make the deal work. Tyler MacMillan and Sophia Giambelli are forced to work very closely together and are torn between a powerful attraction and a professional rivalry.

The Vineyard – Barbara Delinsky

  • A woman and her daughter accept an invitation to spend the summer on a vineyard to help the owner, a widow, write her memoir. They soon learn that all is not as it seems at the vineyard.

The Vintner’s Daughter – Kristen Harnisch

  • When Sara Thibault escapes a murder charge in 1895 France, she ends up in America, where she can put her knowledge of the wine-making process to work to save herself and her sister.

The Winemaker’s Daughter – Timothy Egan

  • Brunella, an accomplished Seattle architect, stumbles upon a web of family secrets, while struggling to help her aging father protect his beloved vineyard during a drought that is ravaging the Pacific Northwest.



Joni Folger’s Tangled Vines series

  1. Grapes of Death
  2. Of Merlot and Murder

Ellen Crosby’s Wine Country series

  1. The Merlot Murders
  2. The Chardonnay Charade
  3. The Bordeaux Betrayal
  4. The Riesling Retribution
  5. The Viognier Vendetta
  6. The Sauvignon Secret

Carole Price’s Shakespeare in the Vineyard series

  1. Twisted Vines



Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine – Benjamin Wallace

  • Describes the 1985 purchase of a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux for $156,000, the mysterious background of the wine, and the enigmatic wine collector who discoverd the bottle, once supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson, in a bricked-up Paris cellar.

Blood and Wine: The Unauthorized Story of the Gallo Wine Empire – Ellen Hawkes

  • A portrait of the Gallos uncovers the existence of the family’s black sheep, Joseph Jr.–Ernest and Julio’s younger brother–and probes into why he was denied his third of the winery.

Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures – Paul Lukacs

  • Describes the eight thousand year history of wine, chronicling the changes that have taken place in preparation and taste as the ancient world gave way to the scientific, industrial, social, and ideological revolutions of modern times.

Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine – George M. Taber

  • Looks at an event held in 1976 in which French judges, during a blind taste-test, chose unknown California wines to be superior to Frances’ best wines.

Passion on the Vine: A Memoir of Food, Wine and Family in the Heart of Italy  – Sergio Esposito

  • Recounts the author’s childhood in Naples and New York, focusing on his deep association between wine and family, and discusses the winemaking process in different parts of the world.

Reflections of a Wine Merchant – Neal Rosenthal

  • A successful importer of classically made European wines discusses his decision to learn about wine and old-world wine production thirty years ago, his observations about the role of terrain in imparting distinctive qualities, and his relationships with traditional winemakers.

The Road to Burgundy: The Unlikely Story of an American Making Wine and a New Life in France – Ray Walker

  • Recounts the author’s decision to abandon his financial career to pursue a dream of running a Burgundy vineyard, describing his immersion into regional wine history and the ancient techniques that rendered him a first non-French winemaker to produce a vintage from Le Chambertin.

A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover’s Dream – Ferenc Máté

  • Shares the story of how two New Yorkers converted an ancient farm into a renowned winery, a labor of love during which they struggled to plant fifteen acres of vines while drawing on the wisdom of famous vintner neighbors.

Virgile’s Vineyard: A Year in the Languedoc Wine Country – Patrick Moon

  • An Englishman crosses the Channel to spend a year in the vineyards of France. Overcoming the traditional Briton’s bewilderment at sunshine, he learns a bit about the quaint locals and an awful lot about oenology.


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The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 2002

Only going back a dozen years this week (still, though, is it even possible we’re almost 15 years into this new century? Doesn’t 2002 seem like yesterday?) For those of us in the Intermountain West, 2002 started out with a big bang since the Winter Olympics were in Salt Lake City. If you can’t remember that, maybe you’ll remember these events:

  • In January, Euro notes and coins start circulating.
  • In March, Denzel Washington and Halle Berry take home the top acting Oscars at the 74th Academy Awards, the first time the two awards went to African-Americans in the same year.
  • In November, the UN passes a unanimous resolution warning Saddam Hussein to disarm.

In case you’re still having difficulty thinking back to 2002, here are the New York Times Best Sellers for the week of September 22. Maybe you’ll recognize a favorite – or remember what was going on in your life as you read them.



1. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

2. Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy

3. Dark Horse by Tami Hoag

4. Standing in the Rainbow by Fannie Flagg

5. The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara: Morgawr by Terry Brooks

6. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

7. The Remnant by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

8. Celebrate Through Heartsongs by Mattie J. T. Stepanek

9. The Beach House by James Patterson and Peter De Jonge

10. Mission Compromised by Oliver North with Joe Musser

11. The Grave Maurice by Martha Grimes

12. A Love of My Own by E. Lynn Harris

13. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen



1. Let’s Roll! by Lisa Beamer with Ken Abraham

2. Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity

3. What We Saw by CBS News

4. Above Hallowed Ground by Photographers of the New York City Police Department

5. Breakdown: How America’s Intelligence Failures Led to September 11 by Bill Gertz

6. A Mind at a Time by Mel Levine

7. Slander by Ann Coulter

8. Longitudes and Attitudes by Thomas L. Friedman

9. The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It by John Miller and Michael Stone with Chris Mitchell

10. Good to Great by Jim Collins

11. Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss

12. Stupid White Men by Michael Moore

13. A Nation Challenged by The New York Times

14. The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw

15. Among the Heroes by Jere Longman

14. Charleston by John Jakes

15. Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card



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