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April 23, 2012
Falling Upward: Essays in Defense of the Imagination
by Siegel, Lee
Here's a critic who loved Stanley Kubrick's film "Eyes Wide Shut," which was panned by the critics I read when it was released. They thought it was garbage. Sometime afterward, I sent a bizarre letter to a friend, complete with stills, explaining why I liked the movie. But--influenced as I was by the negative reviews--I put forth the theory that Kubrick had been deranged, hadn't known what he was doing, and had made a great dream movie without understanding that he was making a dream movie. Lee Siegel will have none of that.
Also in this book: A wonderful essay about Jane Austen, an appreciation of J. K. Rowling, an anti-appreciation of the way television covered Pope John Paul II's funeral, and a ballistic anti-appreciation of Barbara Kingsolver. I've never read Kingsolver's books, due to my fear that each one was awaiting the moment when Robert Redford would turn it into a well-meaning film. So why bother to read Siegel's essay about her? Because the opening section, too strange to describe here, collared me and wouldn't let me stop; and now I'm proud of myself for having known paranormally that I should avoid her.
Which is stupid. If you've read anything by Kingsolver, read this essay. Your reaction will have to be more intelligent than mine.
— Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology
April 16, 2012
Love Finds You In Branson, Missouri
by Faulkenberry, Gwen Ford
After reading dark mysteries, I thought it was time to brighten things up by reading an inspirational romance novel. Love Finds You in Branson, Missouri is part of the Love Finds You series. The novels in the series inspire romance, history, travel and spirituality. Ellie Heinrichs is an aspiring actress who longs to be on Broadway. She receives a call from her agent to notify her that she was chosen for the lead role of a play, but there is one catch...the play is in Branson, Missouri, whereas Ellie dreams of performing in New York on Broadway. Upon embarking on her journey to Branson, Ellie's mother presents her with her great-grandmother's diary. As Ellie reads her great-grandmother's coming of age story, she soon realizes how closely intertwined her own story is with her great-grandmother's story. Readers are taken on Ellie's journey as she reluctantly fulfills her role in the play. She soon learns that things in Branson are not quite as bad as she thought. Ellie's journey allows her to explore romance, spirituality and opportunity. But Ellie is unexpectedly given the opportunity to audition for a role on Broadway. Readers will definitely be surprised at the twists and turns along Ellie's journey.
— Recommended by Kim Jones, Lawrence Branch
April 9, 2012
Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress
by Dai, Sijie; translated by Ina Rilke from French
Finishing to the last word, I held the petite volume to appreciate the elegant, exotic cover design and paged through the unique text font style...let the simple, beautiful, and lively story replay in my mind screen by screen.
During the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960's, two city boys were sent to rural Phoenix Mountain village in western China to be reformed. Their love for books and their fascinating story-telling of western literature stories ignited imagination and awakened free spirits that irrevocably changed lives of the little seamstress, the tailor, and themselves.
Readers will appreciate the book in multiple levels--the rustic village life and the natural environmental beauty; the refreshing parade of great writers like Balzac, Victor Hugo, Dumas; and the transformation of characters inspired by western literature. Readers will also learn about an historic episode unknown to most westerners - the massive coerced transmigration of 17 million Chinese urban youths to rural areas from 1967-1978. Check it out!
— Recommended by Sailan Liang, Glendale Branch
April 2, 2012
Highest Duty : My Search For What Really Matters
by Sullenberger, Chesley with Jeffrey Zaslow
B Sullenberger, Chesley SUL
What do we learn of Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s capability in this now famous airliner crisis? We learn there was no great epiphany. The landing was instead the result of years of training and preparation, years as a private, military, and commercial pilot, an accident investigator, and safety consultant, all of which resulted in his "cool" approach to the events of January 15, 2009. This life of "skill honing" is central to our understanding of Captain Sullenberger. Our hero spent many years going to work...in an airplane.
Highest Duty culminates with Flight 1549. We are all aware of Captain Sullenberger’s moment of fame, as he and his crew pancaked the crippled jetliner in the Hudson River and successfully saved the lives of all 155 aboard. Yes, we readers know the outcome, and yet we are a part of the drama as the dangerous seconds pass in the cockpit of US Airways Flight 1549.
— Recommended by Mike Hylton, Irvington Branch, where this book will be discussed on April 12th
March 26, 2012
A Big Little Life: A Memoir Of A Joyful Dog
by Koontz, Dean
If you are familiar with Dean Koontz's fiction titles, this is definitely a change of pace. A Big Little Life is the story of a 3-year-old rescue dog who came to live with the Koontz family. In this true account of his life with Trixie, Mr. Koontz shares many tales of the trickster. During obedience class, trainers would leave the room with dogs on a "sit/stay". Trixie moved down the line of dogs, trying to get one to break the command, running back into place when hearing the doorknob rattle. She was also very bright. While on a walk, Mrs. Koontz tried to get Trixie to leave the tennis court before she found a tennis ball. Trixie spoke, "BAW." She had never uttered anything similar to that before. She was allowed to look again for tennis balls that day, and she found one! Trixie taught Mr. Koontz that joy can be found in the simple things in life. If you want to learn more about Trixie, check out her series of books!
— Recommended by Jill Wetnight, Franklin Road Branch