Reader’s Lounge: August


by Meredith Schickel

As summer wanes, we are thinking ahead to a new season of creativity. Read on to find inspiration for celebrating the arts.


Astonish Me

by Maggie Shipstead

Joan’s dreams of becoming a world-famous ballet dancer are shattered when she becomes pregnant. Instead, Joan moves from New York City to the suburbs in California, and teaches ballet to kids at a local dance studio. As her son Harry grows, his dance talent becomes apparent. While Harry becomes famous himself, secrets from Joan’s past come to light. Through the stories of Joan and Harry, we get a glimpse of the cutthroat world of ballet. This beautifully written novel is sure to leave you with a great appreciation for the determination and skills required of professional ballet dancers.


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

by Cary Elwes

In essence, this memoir is a love letter to one of my very favorite films, The Princess Bride. Cary Elwes, who plays Westley (the lead character) in the movie, tells delightful anecdotes about the making of the film. From casting and the fans to the 25th anniversary screening at Fenway Park, As You Wish captures all the magic of the film. The memoir provides additional anecdotes from others involved in the movie creation including Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner and even Princess Buttercup herself, Robin Wright. Through it all, the actors were always able to “Have fun storming the castle.”


Vienna Nocturne

by Vivien Shotwell

In her debut novel, opera singer Vivien Shotwell offers a fictionalized account of the life of British opera singer Anna Storace. As a young singing prodigy, Anna’s parents move her from England to Italy to Austria to advance her opera career. She becomes a favorite singer of Joseph Haydn, Emperor Joseph II, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. She later meets Mozart and becomes his muse. She inspires some of Mozart’s most famous pieces. In turn, he helps her cope with great personal crises. Shotwell imagines that Storace and Mozart’s professional relationship develops into a great love affair, although they are married to others at the time. In this historical novel, Shotwell demonstrates her love of music and shows the reader how opera was evolving at the height of its popularity.


The Interestings

by Meg Wolitzer

In 1974, six artistic teenagers meet at a New England summer camp for the arts. A few years later, after events at a holiday party turn violent, several characters react against one another. Their friendship is forever changed. As time goes on, some of them make it big; others give up dreams of stardom for more practical and steady employment. In this character-driven novel, the author explores how time, distance, fame and success can complicate and alter friendships.



Laughing for a Living

by Sue Merrell

Do you ever wonder how it feels to be a critic? Sue Merrell, a former writer and editor for The Grand Rapids Press, recounts her experiences as a theater reviewer. She met, interviewed or reviewed the performances of many prestigious stars. She recounts times when Tony Curtis flattered her, Cary Grant hung up on her, and Patty Duke was her alter-ego. Through it all, we see that while a reviewer may be knowledgeable and make valid comments, the audience may feel different, and that could be what really matters.

Meredith Schickel is an Adult Services Librarian at the Byron Township Branch of Kent District Library. She usually hates finishing books because she gets very attached to the characters.


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