Library announces five book finalists

The Schenectady County Public Library announced the five titles for the voting phase of its fourth One County, One Book program.

The selection committee, which was made up of community residents, library staff and board members, decided to use the past three years of titles nominated by the community to choose the final titles. Library Trustee Edwin D. Reilly Jr., chairman of the 2009 One County, One Book program, made the announcement.

The finalists are:

Atonement by Ian McEwan. Three children lose their innocence, having their lives changed forever in a novel set in England during World War II.

"The Island at the Center of the World" by Russell Shorto. In this nonfiction book, Shorto provides a new view of American beginnings with a narrative history of Manhattan's founding.

"The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. In this work of nonfiction, Pollan discusses how food is grown and what exactly it is that we're eating. The book covers industrial farming, organic food and what it is like to hunt and gather food for oneself.

"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen. In this novel, a 90-something nursing home resident looks back on his Depression-era days as a member of a second-rate circus.

"When the Emperor Was Divine" by Julie Otsuka. This novel tells the story of one Japanese-American family that must put its life back together after its internment in an enemy alien camp in Utah during World War II.

In describing the nominated books, Reilly said, "These are excellent reads, all with such a good chance to be the leading vote getter that I anticipate a close vote. Reviewer comments say of the author of 'Atonement' that, 'No one now writing fiction in the English language surpasses Ian McEwan.' I agree.

"Of 'The Island at the Center of the World,' the New York Times says, 'A tour de force. The dramatic story of New York's origins is splendidly told. A masterpiece of storytelling and first-rate intellectual history.'

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