What are the hot items at the Library?

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Here’s what Ann Arbor District Library staff members are recommending to readers. Visit aadl.org/theann for links to the material discussed below.

Want to jam on a theremin? AADL is the place to go

Editor’s note: The library is introducing a new collection, Music Tools, in this article. Al Sjoerdsma, a technohost in community relations and marketing at the AADL, cowrote this item.

Erin Helmrich is a teen and IT/production librarian at the AADL.

Erin Helmrich is a teen and IT/production librarian at the AADL.

It is the only musical instrument that you play without touching it. Invented in 1920 by Leon Theremin, the theremin’s distinctive “otherworldly” electronic sound infuses such famous movie soundtracks as the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Spellbound.” (A cousin of the theremin, the electro-theremin, creates “that sound” on The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.”)

And if you watched the FX television show “American Horror Story: Coven,” one of the witches, Myrtle (played by the formidable and fantastic Frances Conroy), played the theremin on the show.

Wonder if you can play the instrument yourself? AADL is now offering a Moog etherwave theremin for checkout as part of the Music Tools collection, complete with a user’s guide and an instructional DVD. Music Tools can be checked out for a week, are not renewable and cannot be requested. You can find them on the shelves next to the Downtown Library Circulation Desk.

Learn more about Leon Theremin’s unusual life in the documentary “Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey” and explore other electronic instruments in the Music Tools collection, such as the stylophone and the monotron.

Thriller in reverse leaves you thirsting for the beginning

Kayla Pennoyer is an information desk clerk at AADL.

Kayla Pennoyer is an information desk clerk at AADL.

Jeffery Deaver has added yet another action-packed thriller to his ever-growing list of published novels: “The October List.” What sets this novel apart from other works — besides the intriguing title — is its backward format.

The novel begins with an intensely mysterious ending, with each subsequent chapter subtracting minutes back in time. Deaver so earnestly pursues this unique format that he places his dedication, title page and table of contents on the last pages. Although many readers desperately try not to peek at the ending of books, readers of “The October List” will thirst for its beginning.

The plot surrounds Gabriela McKenzie, an office manager whose 6-year-old daughter was ruthlessly kidnapped by a man not unlike Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight.” She and her new acquaintance Daniel must go on a wild goose chase to try to meet the kidnapper’s deadlines and save Sarah. Readers will be intrigued by curious references slowly revealed throughout the book, including “the professor,” Charles Prescott’s disappearance, a plastic CVS bag, and Daniel’s incident in New Hampshire.

Jeffery Deaver has received multiple awards for his work in the mystery genre, including the Steel Dagger from the Crime Writers’ Association and the Nero Award.

Creepy, brilliant (pre ‘Hunger Games’) teen science fiction

Anne Martino is an information desk clerk at the Pittsfield branch of the AADL.

Anne Martino is an information desk clerk at the Pittsfield branch of the AADL.

Neal Shusterman’s “Unwind” is a wildly imaginative, dystopian tale published in 2007, before we had even heard of “The Hunger Games.” Shusterman’s believable, terrifying science fiction thriller is based on a fictional future law which allows parents of children ages 13 to 18 to have their teens “unwound,” with all their organs transplanted into different people.

As a result of this law, the main characters in the novel — Connor, Risa and Lev — are running for their lives in a world gone mad. The story contains several nightmarish medical scenes that may keep you up at night, worrying about the future of the characters and/or of America. But overall, I found this to be an entirely engaging, exciting book that once begun, could not be put down.

When it was published, the novel was well received and earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association named “Unwind” as a Best Book for Young Adults and a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.


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