Library Resources, Library Staff, Readers' Advisory

Winter Break Reads: Part One

Every year, when winter break rolls around, the library staff have time to venture into their “TBR” pile. While working in libraries may seem like the perfect place to read, most of our time is happily spent working on projects to help the Fordham University community.

This series will share some of the books our library staff were able to read over the winter break. Perhaps you will find a book for your “TBR” stack for spring or summer break!

Note: Some books are available through NYPL. For more information on getting your NYPL card, check out our blog post!

Linda Loschiavo, Director of Libraries

The Man Who Never Returned by Peter A. Quinn

On the evening of August 6, 1930, Justice Joseph Force Crater of the New York State Supreme Court, stepped into a cab on West 45th St. in Manhattan and was never seen again.  The disappearance of Judge Crater remains one of the most enduring and compelling unsolved cases in the city’s history. Novelist Peter Quinn, speech writer for New York Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, as well as former editorial director for Time Warner, resurrects Fintan Dunne, his jaded but restless ex-cop/detective, to solve the case. In 1955 Dunne is hired by a NY newspaper mogul who sees even greater notoriety and dollars if the Crater case can be cracked by his publication on the 25th anniversary of the Judge’s disappearance.  Dunne’s search leads him down dangerous, confusing, and unexpected paths. Did Crater have information about illegal dealings in the New York judiciary? If so, would this information jeopardize Franklin Roosevelt’s plans to become President?  A married man, Crater was known to have an amorous streak with young women.  Did he run afoul of organized crime in one or more of his liaisons?  Quinn paints an evocative picture of New York City in the 1950s, complete with on the mark descriptions of many places that now exist only in grainy black and white photos.  Quinn’s invented solution is reasonable without rewriting history.  Like Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa, the missing Judge Crater will continue to be a source of fascination to Americans, and especially New Yorkers. 

A footnote about the author: Peter Quinn received his M.A. from Fordham University and spent a great deal of time in the Duane Library Reference Room in the 1970s. While doing his research he became well known to the library staff both as a graduate student and a colleague.  His most recent book, “Banished Children of Eve: A Novel of Civil War New York” (PS3567.U3486 B36 2021) was published by Fordham University Press in 2021.

Check it out!

Robert Allen, Assistant Director of Fordham Libraries; Director of Quinn Library

Silverview by John Le Carré

Julian Lawndsley has renounced his high-flying job in the city for a simpler life running a bookshop in a small English seaside town. But only a couple of months into his new career, Julian’s evening is disrupted by a visitor. Edward, a Polish émigré living in Silverview, the big house on the edge of town, seems to know a lot about Julian’s family and is rather too interested in the inner workings of his modest new enterprise.

When a letter turns up at the door of a spy chief in London warning him of a dangerous leak, the investigations lead him to this quiet town by the sea . . .

(Summary provided by publisher.)

Check it out!

Michael Wares, Assistant Director for Technical Services

Maybe because I worked for many years as a cataloger, seeing as many as a hundred books in a day, I think nothing of reading multiple books simultaneously.

Over the extended Christmas break, I finished something I had started around Thanksgiving, Travel Writing by Peter Ferry, 2008. A novel by a high school teacher and travel writer, about a high school teacher and travel writer; among the themes are the power of stories, and the line between fact and fiction.

The most enjoyable reading I did was The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym, 1978.  A somewhat darker story than her earlier novels, such as Excellent Women and Crampton Hodnet, but with her typical keen observations and wit.  Her main character Leonora is definitely not an excellent woman, but an interesting one.  In this case all the characters, not just the men, are ineffectual and self-centered, if not selfish.

“Now [Leonora] was wide awake for the second time, and there seemed nothing for it but to go down and make tea, a drink she did not much like because of the comfort it was said to bring to those whom she normally despised.”

The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym (1978)

I also very much enjoyed reading a play, Trudy and Max in Love by Zoe Kazan, 2016. A simple but versatile set, with a cast of four, two to play the title characters, and two to play everyone else.  Trudy and Max are writers who share a workspace.  Complications ensue.     

Collections are particularly suitable for reading multiple books at once.

Bronx Noir edited by S J. Rozan, 2007, contains 19 crime stories, all set in The Bronx.  I particularly liked “Hothouse” by S. J. Rozan, set at Rose Hill’s neighbor, the Botanical Gardens; and “A Visit to St. Nick’s” by Robert J. Hughes, at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church on Fordham Road.

I opened Marjorie Garber’s insightful collection of essays Shakespeare After All, 2004 particularly for her treatment of Macbeth, intending to see the Denzel Washington film.  The COVID surge discouraged me from going to the movies, but I’ve since read about a half dozen other chapters.

All I Did Was Ask by Terry Gross, 2004, collects a number of her interviews from her “Fresh Air” PBS series.  A Christmas present, and so a late entry in the pile of books I’ve been reading, but I’ve read about a third of it.

I’m just a few pages into Chasing the Last Laugh by Richard Zacks, 2016, and enjoying it.  An account of Mark Twain’s world tour at a difficult period in his life, when among other things rumors of his death had been exaggerated.

And finally, there’s another Christmas present: Librarian Tales by William Ottens, 2020.  The author’s ups and downs in the profession, from library school through various roles in public libraries, including reference librarian and director, until he saw the light and became a cataloger.

Check it out!

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