Darlene Hellenberg and I go way back... back to high school, - where we shared the same after-school-job, putting books away at the .
Fourteen years later, we somehow wound up back here, we just couldn't stay away. And, ya know, it's a bit surreal, but also inspiring, to see Darlene rise to the ranks of Librarian - having graduated last December with a Master's in Library Science from Wayne State University.
My own regard for Dar aside, (...I could tell you some stories...), she is well-known around the stacks at FPL and to many patrons for being the go-to staffer when it comes down to Reading Recommendations. She's an avid reader with refined taste, her sensibilities for the fine art of the written word were honed through her studies in English/Literature (receiving a Bachelor's from Central in '05).
When you scan sites like IMDB or Netflix -looking for "recommendations," Dar's lists can be like the "Critic's Choice..." She'll give you engaging works, some of them dense, richly worded and colorfully rendered, but always rewarding reads, and sometimes quite fun. Recommending is, she admits, likely her favorite part of the job - there's a nuanced delight that only a dorky librarian could appreciate to sharing a suggestion for someone... (Not to say that Dar is that dorky, though she does have her days...)
Book suggestions are inherently social - another one of Dar's redeeming qualities, one she utilizes often in her organizing of various programming and special events at the Library, including the Ferndale Reads' spring book club, the -hosted "Book Parties," and, recently, having a humble hand in putting on the .
"I enjoy figuring out ways to connect the community to the library," Hellenberg said. That's one reason, the connections we're able to make with our patrons, that libraries will survive in the digital age...
Anyway - here are Dar's current picks ...
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
"- I’m not in the habit of reading nonfiction, but when I read an excerpt of Mindy Kaling’s book in Glamour Magazine, I knew I had to read every word. Kaling shares entertaining stories from childhood, post-college life and about landing her job on the show “The Office.” Without trying, she says a lot about being independent and finding your own way in the world regardless of what others might have in mind for you. It’s also hilarious. I highly recommend it."
Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
" -Blackbird House is small and sits on a large farm, filled with sweet peas, a pond and is home to a white blackbird (yes, a white blackbird). There’s a little magic, interweaving storylines and a setting which is so vivid that it takes on the role of a character. All of the characters that come through Blackbird House are intriguing and Hoffman’s writing is beautiful. This is my favorite kind of story. This is also a pretty quick read. Each chapter can be read as a separate short story or you can read the book as a whole."
Oryx and Crake -&- The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
"-Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. These two companion novels are like car crashes; you’re horrified by the world Margaret Atwood has created, but you can’t look away. Written many years apart, both deal with the same post-apocalyptic world. Oryx and Crake tells how that world came to an end and The Year of the Flood tells what it’s like after it happens. The stories are told from different perspectives, but involve many of the same characters. There is talk that Atwood will make this a proper trilogy."
The Passage by Justin Cronin
"-A top secret military experiment goes terribly wrong and civilization as we know it no longer exists. Justin Cronin’s The Passage does not disappoint. This book is long and the middle was a little slow for me but overall Cronin is a master storyteller and I can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy. So, I have a thing for post-apocalyptic and dystopian literature."
(FYI - there's a sequel to The Passage that's scheduled for publication this October, just in time for Halloween...)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
-"Never Let Me Go is about friendship, love, deception in a world much more sinister than our own. Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel is one of those books that has stayed with me. I read it a few years ago and forced it on anyone who asked for a book recommendation for months after. The movie adaptation is decent, but if you’re at all interested in this story the book is your best bet. It follows the lives of Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. It’s also beautifully written."
Ferndale Patch thanks circulation specialist Jeff Milo and librarian Darlene Hellenberg for contributing to Patch! Check back soon for more ideas from library staff. Are you looking for recommendations on something specific? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll pass on your questions to the library.