Take Ten: You Can Do Magic…

Those of us living here in the Magic Valley tend to equate magic with water. After all, we’d be a land of lava rocks and sagebrush if Perrine and his investors hadn’t crafted an irrigation system to water our high desert. But our list today deals with a more ‘common’ idea of magic – that of using mysterious forces to influence our surroundings. The following books all deal with magicians, whether they are simple sleight of hand practitioners or if they practice on a more mystical level. Regardless of your choice, you’ll probably find that the outside world seems to disappear as you’re reading… without even waving a wand.


The Bullet Trick – Louise Welch

  • Delighted when his agent books him for a series of Berlin cabaret appearances, mentalist and conjurer William Wilson soon finds himself in over his head thanks to some dangerous after-hours work and dark secrets from his past.

Carter Beats the Devil – Glen David Gold

  • In 1920, Charles Carter, known as Carter the Great, who became a master illusionist out of loneliness and desperation, creates the most outrageous stunt of all, involving President Harding–one that could cause his downfall.

Dreams and Shadows – Robert C. Cargill

  • Swapped for a changeling by the Bendith Y Mamau when he was just an infant, Ewan Thatcher grows up in the Limestone Kingdom — a magical realm located, oddly enough, just outside of Austin, Texas. But Ewan isn’t the only human to end up in this mythical place. Thanks to the intervention of the djinn Yashar, young Colby Stephens gets his wish: to become a wizard. But life in the Limestone Kingdom is far from paradise: scheming gods and fairies have their own plans for their mortal wards.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke

  • In nineteenth-century England, all is going well for rich, reclusive Mr Norrell, who has regained some of the power of England’s magicians from the past, until a rival magician, Jonathan Strange, appears and becomes Mr Norrell’s pupil.

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

  • Harboring secret preoccupations with a magical land he read about in a childhood fantasy series, Quentin Coldwater is unexpectedly admitted into an exclusive college of magic and rigorously educated in modern sorcery.

The Magician’s Assistant – Ann Patchett

  • After the death of a homosexual magician, his female assistant journeys from Los Angeles to Nebraska in search of the man’s hidden past and discovers his estranged family, as well as the love she has always been denied.

The Magician’s Lie – Greer Macallister

  • Arden is a famous illusionist whose show involves sawing a man in half, but one night, she grabs an axe instead of a knife and her husband is found dead under the stage. Can Arden, an expert at deception, get away with murder–or is she really innocent? Recommended to anyone who likes historical fiction, strong women characters, and surprisingly twisty plots.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

  • A fierce competition is underway, a contest between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in “a game,” in which each must use their powers of illusion to best the other. Unbeknownst to them, this game is a duel to the death, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

The Paper Magician – Charlie Holmberg

  • Bound to a magic she never wanted, a young apprentice falls deeper into its mysteries when she must use everything she’s learned from her master in order to save him, and his heart.

Zig Zag Girl – Elly Griffiths

  • Investigating a murder committed in the style of a famous magic trick, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens reconnects with an illusionist friend from World War II to uncover links to their special ops service.


Annotations are from NoveList Plus, a great database that provides even more cool book and author information. Log in to NoveList Plus using your TFPL card.

Summer Reading 2016 Challenge: Books into Movies

Ready for another Summer Reading challenge? This one is not too hard, I promise!

Pick up a book, any book, that has been made into a movie or a television show. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy – am I right? In fact, to make it even simpler, here’s a personally recommended list of books (and below that, a list of even more choices).

What’s the catch, you say? Well, all you have to do is write a 5 page essay comparing your book to its film and contrasting the ways in which…. just kidding! Read and relax and enjoy the rest of your summer:).


11/22/63 – Stephen King

King’s novel takes readers back in time – via a wormhole – to try and stop JFK’s assassination. The novel is a big read, but it moves fast, and the alternate history aspects are fascinating. (Watch the miniseries starring James Franco on Hulu).


84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff

Can a book be both heartwarming and snarky? If so, this is it. A memoir, told in letters, between a feisty NY reader and a stuffy British bookseller. And, with a movie that stars both Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, you can’t go wrong.


Catch Me if You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit – Frank W. Abagnale

Read the book for the incredible details of Frank Abagnale’s true life of crime and deceit, then watch Spielberg’s movie for the stunning cinematography and the performances of Tom Hanks and Leo DiCaprio.


A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Read this classic out of season for a twist; the humor and heart still shine through even if it’s not snowing! Then, watch whatever version of the movie – muppets, animated, Patrick Stewart-ified – you love most.


The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje

One of my favs – both the movie and the book. Ondaatje is lyrical, and this love story, set in Italy during WWII, offers a great escape from the busy-ness of summer. The movie, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture, is also worth a view.


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

If you haven’t seen the Nature documentary, My Life as a Turkey, you should definitely watch this fascinating account of one man and his attempt to raise a brood of wild turkeys in Florida. Then, pick up the book for more insight and Hutto’s great sketches.


The Leftovers – Tom Perotta

What happens after the Rapture comes and people disappear? How do the survivors deal with loss, love, and the fear of the unknown? Perrotta’s book is not necessarily about the spirituality of the moment, but of the reality. (The HBO miniseries uses the book as a basis, but goes beyond Perrotta’s original story.)


The Martian – Andy Weir

Read this book, about an astronaut left alone on Mars, first – it’s way funnier than the movie. Then buckle down with the movie, starring Matt Damon, to get an incredible visual experience of what “stranded on Mars” means.


The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

If you’re looking for a fun, light read, check out the first in McCall Smith’s set of stories about Botswana’s dedicated and intrepid female detective, Precious Ramotswe. The first few books in the series have been made into an excellent BBC/HBO miniseries.


Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel features a number of linked short stories revealing the personality and story of a somewhat cantankerous Maine woman. The title character is portrayed by Frances McDormand in the Emmy Award-winning miniseries.


The Spies of Warsaw – Alan Furst

If you haven’t read Furst before, Spies is a good place to start. This espionage novel – set just at the cusp of WWII – combines the best aspects of the genre: a somewhat mysterious spy, a number of close (and missed) calls, and the possibility of a romance. When you’re done reading, check out the BBC miniseries. (The jazz soundtrack is excellent!)



As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary Elwes

Okay, so this one wasn’t a book first, but it’s a great behind-the-scenes look at what happens when you make a movie from a beloved book (which you should also read, by the way). Elwes explores the cast, the scenes, and the extraordinary story of how such a small film blossomed into a cult classic. An awesome way to spend a summer afternoon or two!


And for more books into movies, here’s a list from Goodreads. Read on!

Great Online Resource: IndieFlix

Last year we began a subscription to a video streaming service called IndieFlix. We know there are quite a few of you who have taken advantage of this service, watching everything from independent movies to cool documentaries to quirky classics. For those of you who haven’t tried it out, here’s a handy-dandy list of a few videos you should give a try. (Plus, there are Summer Reading tickets available for using IndieFlix!)

First, surf on over to IndieFlix and create an account (in the top right corner). As long as you have an Internet connection, you’re now ready to stream! And, if you’re interested in one of the movies below, just type the title (or copy and paste it) into the Search field. Have fun!


Combine your interest in documentaries with your love of food in THE BOTANY OF DESIRE.


Get your history doc fix with FORGOTTEN ELLIS ISLAND.

GIRL’S ROCK features teen girls learning rock basics from indie stars.

Love old movies with vintage stars? Watch Danny Kaye in THE INSPECTOR GENERAL.

Ready for some summer “camp”? Watch JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN’S DAUGHTER!

Try THE MESSENGER for a contemporary war drama.

In the mood for a creepy classic? Watch Hitchcock’s thriller PSYCHO.

If you’re looking for a foreign film, start with the classic, THE RED BALLOON.

Get dramatic with Michelle Williams in WENDY & LUCY.

Summer Reading Challenge – Read a Pulitzer Winner

Girl_OutdoorsHow’s your Summer Reading going? Hopefully, you’ve carved a few minutes out of barbecuing, swimming, landscaping, running-the kids all over, and general dealing-with-the-heat-time to sit down and read. And though it may be easy to pick up a fluffy read, we’ve challenged you to read something with a bit more substance. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring or dry.

The Pulitzers are awarded each year to recognize achievement in American writing, which means that you’re getting a critically acclaimed read. But some of those can be fun, or exciting, or just plain unputdownable. Here are our choices for some Pulitzer winners that should keep you interested (even if you only have a few minutes between coming and going this summer).



All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (2015)

Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor (1956)

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (1989)

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (2008)

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1983)

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (1986)

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener (1948)



The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee (2011)

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (1998)

The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman (1963)

Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America by Garry Wills (1993)

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (1975)



Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People by Elizabeth A. Fenn (2015)

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis (2001)

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (2009)

A Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (1991)



Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (1997)

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (2013)

Growing Up by Russell Baker (1983)

John Adams by David McCullough (2002)



The Simple Truth by Philip Levine (1995)

Time and Materials by Robert Hass (2008)

The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck (1993)


The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1987

Let’s zoom back a number of years – 29 to be exact – and take a look at what we were doing, and thinking, and reading way back when. The year is 1987 and:

  • Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January.
  • Ronald Reagan, during a June visit to West Berlin, demands “tear down this wall.”
  • Teens (and many adults) may live to regret the time they will spend in the next year trying to win “The Legend of Zelda,” which is released in August.

And what books did we look to for information or escapism? Check out the titles below, all appearing on the New York Times Best Sellers list for the week of June 21, 1987.



1. Misery by Stephen King

2. The Haunted Mesa by Louis L’Amour

3. Pale Kings and Princes by Robert B. Parker

4. Fine Things by Danielle Steel

5. Heiress by Janet Dailey

6. Windmills of the Gods by Sidney Sheldon

7. Empire by Gore Vidal

8. The Timothy Files by Lawrence Sanders

9. More Die of Heartbreak by Saul Bellow

10. The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough

11. The Eyes of The Dragon by Stephen King

12. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy

13. Sphere by Michael Crichton

14. Destiny by Sally Beauman

15. Texasville by Larry McMurtry



1. The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom

2. Hammer by Armand Hammer with Neil Lyndon

3. Cultural Literacy by E. D. Hirsch Jr.

4. Communion by Whitley Strieber

5. A Day in the Life of America

6. The Different Drum by M. Scott Peck

7. Love, Medicine & Miracles by Bernie S. Siegel

8. Glory Days by Dave Marsh

9. Hold on, Mr. President! by Sam Donaldson

10. Everything to Gain by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter

11. Grace by James Spada

12. A Season on the Brink by John Feinstein

13. This ‘N That by Bette Davis with Michael Herskowitz

14. The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes

15. The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Take 10: Not Lost in Translation

As part of our Summer Reading challenges this year we threw out an interesting dare – read a book that was translated in English from another language. There are a ton of good stories to read in languages like French, Russian, or Chinese, but not all get translated into English. Those that do are definitely worth reading.

We’ve put together a list of some great titles you should check out, even beyond our summer reading challenge. Give one of these a try – you might get caught up in the story, but you shouldn’t get lost in translation.


The Art of Hearing Heartbeats – Jan-Philipp Sendker

  • A successful lawyer suddenly disappears leaving behind his wife and daughter. Neither have any idea where he might be until they discover an old love letter written years ago to a woman in Burma. Daughter Julia takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of her father’s past as she uncovers a tale that will reaffirm the listener’s belief in the power of love.

The Bat – Jo Nesbo

  • When a young Norwegian girl taking a gap year in Sydney is murdered, Harry is sent to Australia to assist with the investigation. (First in a series)

The Feast of the Goat – Mario Vargas Llosa

  • Returning to her native Dominican Republic, forty-nine-year-old Urania Cabral discovers that Rafael Trujillo, the depraved dictator called “the Goat,” still reigns over his inner circle, which includes Urania’s father, with brutality and blackmail.

Ines of My Soul – Isabel Allende

  • A work of historical fiction chronicles the brave deeds and passionate loves of a spirited woman who journeyed to the New World and helped found a nation.

1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

  • An ode to George Orwell’s “1984” told in alternating male and female voices relates the stories of Aomame, an assassin for a secret organization who discovers that she has been transported to an alternate reality, and Tengo, a mathematics lecturer and novice writer.

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

  • Beginning in the 1950s Elena and Lila grow up in Naples, Italy, mirroring two different aspects of their nation. (First in a series)

Palace Walk – Najib Mahfouz

  • The first book of the Cairo Trilogy recreates turn-of-the-century Cairo, with characters who are simultaneously disciplined and sensual.

Silent House – Orhan Pamuk

  • Awaiting the arrival of her grandchildren in her home outside Istanbul, bed-ridden widow Fatma shares memories and grievances with her late husband’s illegitimate son until his cousin, a right-wing nationalist, involves the family in the Turkish military coup of 1980.

Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky

  • A story of life in France under the Nazi occupation includes two parts–“Storm in June,” set amid the chaotic 1940 exodus from Paris, and “Dolce,” set in a German-occupied village rife with resentment, resistance, and collaboration.

 The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu

  • Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project’s signal is received by an alien civilization on the brink of destruction, which plans to invade Earth; meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.

Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus, which offers much more book and author information.

Summer 2016 Music Playlist!

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Summer Reading 2016 is here! Our theme this year is “Exercise Your Mind: Read!” Of course, reading is a great way to get your mind moving, but Twin Falls Public Library is also interested in helping you get your body moving as well. And, what could be more motivating than some music to inspire you to move?

Luckily, TFPL offers our patrons a subscription to Freegal – a great database of music from the Sony Music Catalog – and from which you can download 5 free songs a week. You can find new hits, oldies but goodies, and cool beats from around the world (they even have a few comedy albums). And, if you need help getting started, we’ve put together a Summer Reading Playlist of songs to get you moving – we dare you to sit still while you listen!




Back in Black by AC/DC (Album: The Complete Collection)

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (Album: The Essential Bruce Springsteen)

The Cup of Life by Ricky Martin (Album: La Copa de la Vida)

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson (Album: HIStory: Past, Present, and Future – Book 1)

Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (Album: The Essential Survivor)

Get Lucky by Daft Punk f. Pharrell Williams (Album: Random Access Memories)

Get the Party Started by P!nk (Album: Greatest Hits…So Far!!!)

Gonna Make You Sweat by C&C Music Factory (Album: 14 Top Hits of 1991)

Groove Is In the Heart by Deee-Lite (Album: Ultimate Club Dance 90s)

I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry (Album: Ultra Dance 10)

Pump Up the Jam by Technotronic (Album: Ultimate Club Dance 90s)

SexyBack by Justin Timberlake (Album: FutureSex/LoveSounds Deluxe Edition)

Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson (Album: Greatest Hits – Chapter One)

Snap Yo Fingers by Lil Jon (Album: Snap Yo Fingers – Single)

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson f. Bruno Mars (Album: Uptown Funk)

Yeah! by Usher f. Lil Jon and Ludacris (Album: Crunkest Hits)


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