A Year in Books – by Charlotte Canelli

Charlotte Canelli is the Library Director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin this week.

It might seem like the Y2K craze was only a few years ago but we all have to admit that it’s now been more than a decade. Before you ask yourself where 12 years have gone or how we’ve all become 12 years older let’s focus what’s been written about the book-worthy events of the past year, 2011.
Non-fiction published in 2011 was much-anticipated and some of it focused on sensational trials and crime. Two murder cases had our attention, the Florida trial of Casey Anthony and the trial in Perugia, Italy of American Amanda Knox. “Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony: A Psychological Portrait” by Keith Ablow and “Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony” by Jeff Ashton were just two books focusing on the Florida mother of Kayley Anthony.
“The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox” by Nina Burleigh delves into not only the accused murderess but also Italian culture and justice.
In addition to crime, celebrity and politics make for interesting reading. At least a plethora of books were published in 2011. Those written by and about the Palins have mesmerized readers since the Alaskan governor nearly won the vice-presidency in 2008. This year daughter Bristol Palin co-authored her own story with “Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far” with Nancy French. A few months later, the book “Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs” by the father of Bristol’s child was published.
Some of the more uncomplimentary books about Sarah Palin were published this year: “The Lies of Sarah Palin: The Untold Story Behind Her Relentless Quest for Power’ by Geoffrey Dunn, ‘Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years” by Frank Bailey, and the much-anticipated “The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin” by Joe McGinniss.
The couple-most-watched across the Atlantic, of course, was Kate Middleton and Prince William. Their wedding enthralled many of us and spawned a host of coffee-table photographic journeys in addition to “William and Catherine: Their Lives, Their Wedding” by Andrew Morton.
More important world events inspired books written in 2011 and we can expect many more to be written about the Arab Spring in the coming year. “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World” by Robin Wright and “Generation Freedom: The Middle East Uprisings and the Remaking of the Modern World” by Bruce Feiler. Feiler is the author of “Walking the Bible” and has lived fifteen years in the Middle East. Wright is a foreign correspondent who is watching a hopeful change in the region which is rejecting Islamic extremism and embracing liberation on many fronts.
After the death of Osama Bin Ladin in May, 2011 several books were published including “Wanted Dead or Alive: Manhunts from Geronimo to Bin Laden” by Benjamin Runkle and “SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden” by Chuck Pfarrer. Novelist John Weisman wrote a fictional account, “KBL: Kill Bin Laden: A Novel Based on True Events.”
Anticipating the 10th anniversary of the tragedy of the Twin Towers and 9/11 brought us over a dozen books. “One Nation: America Remembers September 11, 2001, 10 Years Later” was written by journalist Tom Brokaw. Some others were more poignant because they include the personal memories and experiences of those relatives and friends left behind. “The Legacy Letters: Messages of Life and Hope from 9/11 Family Members” was edited by Brian Curtis and “A Decade of Hope: Stories of Grief and Endurance from 9/11 Family and Friends” was compiled by Dennis Smith and Deirdre Smith.
“The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11” by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan explores every aspect of the day’s events and the aftermath. In “Where You Left Me” author and widow, Jennifer Gardner Trulso, moves through the intense pain to find joy in her life again.
In 2011 the 12th edition of the hundred-year old Concise Oxford Dictionary was released. Over 400 new entries were added, including the words cyberbullying and sexting and the terms gastric band and slow food. Certainly when the 13th edition is released sooner or later it may include new meanings for words like “occupy” and new concoctions like Ron Paul’s “Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan.”
April 2011 saw the release of local author Howie Carr’s book “Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano: Whitey Bulger’s Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld.” After Whitey’s arrest last June we can anticipate at least three books scheduled for publication in 2012.
Many of other of the events of 2011 have yet to hit the bookstands. Chicagoans Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich were sentenced to terms in prison. Rebecca Black’s Friday video went viral along with that of the Talking Twin Babies. The Iraq War ended and we learned of the deaths of authors Vaclav Havel, Christopher Hitchens and Brian Jacques (of the Redwall series.)
Andy Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Kevorkian and Joe Frazier were other notable losses of the year and we can expect new biographies of their lives sometime in the next few years. And certainly the first months of 2012 might bring books about the scandal of Jerry Sandusky at Pennsylvania State University and Robert Wagner’s role in the death of his wife, Natalie Woods.
If you need help searching for any books in the Morrill Memorial Library or the Minuteman Library Network, please call our Reference or Information desks (781-769-0200) or visit the library.

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