Archive for October, 2014

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!