The Art of Hearing Heartbeats


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The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp SendkerThe Great Reads Book Club will discuss The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker on Tuesday, May 20.

Desciption:  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 her belief in the power of love.


The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana TrigianiThe Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

Crossing the Borders of Time by Leslie Maitland

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Other Family by Joanna Trollope

Light on Snow by Anita Shreve

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Art Heist 1990

Below are a few links to information regarding the art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 which has a connection to our February title, The Art Forger by Barbara A. Shapiro.  The museum still has the empty frames hanging where the stolen art was located.

Read-a-likes to The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro

Asunder by Chloe AridjisThe Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro

Catch Me if You Can by Frank W. Abagnale

Deadline by Brian McGrory

The Gardener Heist by Ulrich Boser

The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Hemlock Bay by Catherine Coulter

Cold Hit by Linda A. Fairstein

The Fair Index by Robert Harris

Eight Days to Live by Iris Johansen

Blue Smoke and Murder by Elizabeth Lowell



January First by Michael Schofield

January First is the true story of Jani, a young girl with childhood on-set schizophrenia, told by her father, Michael Schofield.  This is a very interesting book and really shows the love Jani’s parents have for her and the lengths they go to to provide Jani with as normal a childhood as possible.January First by Michael Schofield

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “people with the disorder may hear voices other people don’t hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them.” (From on 1-22-14.)  People with schizophrenia usually develop symptoms between the ages of 16 and 30, with 1% of the population affected by it.  Schizophrenia in children is very rare which makes Jani’s story even more interesting.

Because of schizophrenia’s rarity in children, there weren’t a lot of resources and help for Jani’s parents, in fact it took a while before she was diagnosed with the disorder.  Jani felt compelled to hurt her brother, Bodhi, which forced her parents to do the only thing they felt they could do to protect both their children.  They loved their children so much that they moved into separate apartments so Jani wouldn’t hurt Bodhi.  Imagine, living in an apartment with one child while your spouse is living in another apartment with your other child.  So many things could have torn the Scofield’s marriage apart – the expense of two apartments and treatments for Jani, having no personal life away from the children, the fear of Jani hurting Bodhi, and not being able to help your child.  But they persevered as a couple and a family.

January First is the story of love for a child.  Jani is surviving, thanks to the tremendous love and determination exhibited by her father and mother.  Below are some links which detail more about Jani’s story and schizophrenia.

December Book Club


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Oscar the cat

Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa is a wonderful book about a standoffish cat who visits and cuddles with Alzheimer patients right before they die.  Dosa is a geriatric doctor with many patients who live in Steere House, Oscar’s home.  Doctors, nurses, and family members witness this amazing phenomena of Oscar and the Steere House patients.

How does this happen?  The book explains that animals have a keen sense of smell and may notice chemicals that the body gives off during the dying process or Oscar may notice the increased immobility of these patients.  Whatever the reason, Oscar has a fairly consistent success record.  And what I find so interesting is Oscar doesn’t go out of his way to be friendly, except with the dying patients.  I think it would be very comforting to have an animal snuggle next to a loved one, either when sick or dying.  Pet owners say that their pets can sense when they or a family member are ill.  They will lay next to them on the bed, lay across their cold feet, or just snuggle when they are feeling down.  What an amazing sense of intuition!  Too bad we can’t always be this perceptive.

Making Rounds with Oscar is also about Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.  The book gives lots of good information about these diseases, what to expect, how family members can cope with loved ones with these diseases, and end of life choices-living wills and considering to let your family member pass away gently vs. doing whatever it takes to keep them alive.  I really enjoyed this book and I hope there are lots of Oscars out there doing their jobs to comfort and provide peacefulness to dementia patients and their families alike.

Pets & the Elderly


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Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa tells the story of a cat who lives in an Alzheimer’s unit of a nursing home and spends time with patients before they pass away.

I read some information about the usefulness of pets, specifically dogs, in helping Alzheimer’s & dementia patients deal with their everyday lives.

One articles stated that “‘Dementia dogs’ can be trained to remind their owners where their clothes are, which medicines they should take, and even raise an alarm in case of an emergency.” (Savedge, 2013.)  Since dogs love predictability and routine, it is easy to teach them to help their disabled owner.

Animals can have a calming effect and help immensely with the agitation, anxiety, and frustration Alzheimer’s patients exhibit.  Many patients had pets at one time and miss the unconditional love they received from them.  Some places have pet visitation programs with trained therapy dogs who visit and interact with patients.  Others are hiring pet coordinators to aid in the care of residents’ pets.  The organizations’ websites listed below includes more information about the benefits of using pets with the elderly.

from Savedge, Jenn, ‘Dementia dogs’ give patients back their lives., on 12-16-13.

Animal Stories



Cat lying down.In preparation for our December book, Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa, I’ve listed a few of the library’s many books about unique and special animals.   They are a special part of our lives and families.  Animals can keep us entertained, make us smile, help us exercise, keep us sane, and/or drive us insane!   Check out a story about one of our furry or not-so-furry friends!

Me and my cat : amazing and endearing true stories by Carmel Reilly

Homer’s odyssey by Gwen Cooper

Dewey : a small-town library cat who touched the world  by Vicki Myron

Chicken soup for the cat lover’s soul by Jack Canfield

The dog with the old soul by Jennifer Basye Sander

Soldier dogs : the untold story of America’s canine heroes by Maria Goodavage

A Dog Named Boo by Lisa J. Edwards

The Puppy that Came for Christmas by Megan Rix

Oogy : the dog only a family could love by Larry Levin

The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery

A good dog : the story of Orson, who changed my life by John Katz

Modoc : the true story of the greatest elephant that ever lived by Ralph Helfer

Grayson by Lynne Cox

Remarkable Creatures


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Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier is an interesting book about female fossil hunters in the 1800s; it’s based on true people but is a fictionalized story.  In the book, scientists and working people alike marvel at the discoveries of skeletons of unknown creatures and wonder at the implications these discoveries have on their basic belief of creation. Mary Anning, a poor working girl, “has the eye” to find curies (fossils) and finds herself working with male scientists in a time when society deems this unacceptable. Elizabeth Philpot, her spinster friend eases the way at times for Mary to interact with the science world but Mary has a mind of her own and tensions develop between the two women.

I thought it interesting how Mary’s world thought of finding fossils as a way to put bread on the table, it was considered normal for her to scour the beaches finding curios, even in the 1800’s. I think it’s an odd occupation but I guess you work with what you have. It’s ironic that Mary wasn’t allowed to work alone with the male scientists or was chastised for doing so but it was perfectly fine for Elizabeth to walk the coastlines alone because she was old and a spinster. Thank goodness, times have changed! Many of our book club members thought this book was okay but a little slow moving. I enjoyed it but I have a soft spot in my heart for fossils and fossil hunters alike. Imagine the feeling of looking at a cliff and seeing the skeleton of something you have never seen before! Or even seeing a bit of that skeleton and imagining what the whole looked like, being able to put the skeleton together, bone by bone. Fascinating!  There is a lot of information on fossils, the time period, and more pictures on Tracey Chevalier’s website: