October 4, 2015 by Reader's Connection
Leading up to the dinner, the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation is sponsoring a silent auction online.
GenCon tickets, Pacer tickets, movie tickets, theater tickets, a round of golf, wine and beer and skin care products and a year’s pass to use those yellow bicycles downtown. The range of prizes is amazing.
CLICK THE PICTURE TO SEE THE AUCTION ITEMS. When you’ve looked the items over, you can go to the upper right and click on Register for Auction.
The bidding will go on until 8:45 Saturday evening. You don’t have to be present at the dinner to win. (One of the winners last year was in California that night.)
Proceeds of the silent auction benefit programs of The Indianapolis Public Library and the Library Foundation. If you have questions about the silent auction, please contact Caity Withers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 1, 2015 by Reader's Connection
There’s a statute of limitations on quotation use, so it’s legal for me to once again quote W. S. Merwin (who turned 88 on Wednesday): “I have been younger in October than in all the months of spring.” In the same poem, he called October “a month that has been to the mountain and become light there.”
To help us celebrate my favorite month, here are ten new books, reviewed by ten librarians from eight different states.
City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
WOW! An excellently executed work with intricate plot lines and fascinating characters. It’s a story of how the stories of many different people of New York City in the late seventies crash into each other like waves on rocks. This work may encapsulate the whole of New York City, as it has wealth, love, filth, passion, aimless angst, and the myriad of other aspects of humanity swirling in that amazing city. — Racine Zackula, Wichita Public Library, Wichita, KS
After You by Jojo Moyes
I loved Me Before You and thought it ended in the perfect place, but any doubts I had about continuing the story were quickly erased when I started this sequel. Jojo Moyes is a master at tugging on your heartstrings. I laughed, I cried, and I nearly threw my Kindle against the wall at one point. Give this to anyone in your life who has experienced a tragic loss. With a box of tissues. — Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cleveland, OH
A Banquet of Consequences: A Lynley Novel by Elizabeth George
Still reeling from a previous fall from grace, police detective Barbara Havers has a chance to redeem her standing–if she can unravel the very twisted threads that led to the murder of a prominent English feminist. Meanwhile, her superior officer Thomas Lynley pursues a love interest even as he keeps a sharp lookout for any slip-ups by Havers. This is the strongest addition to the series in years. — Starr Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, Falls Church, VA
Slade House by David Mitchell
Every nine years, Slade House appears in a little alley in London, and every nine years, someone disappears into it, never to be seen again. Fans of The Bone Clocks will inhale this compact, six-part work that draws on Mitchell’s established mythology and reintroduces a familiar character or two. New readers, however, won’t be lost. Literary fiction, fantasy, and a dose of horror combine here to make a deeply satisfying book. — Jenny Arch, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
(Blogger’s note: I appreciate Jenny Arch’s review, but as I pointed out in the previous post, I disagree on one point: I think it’s important to read The Bone Clocks before entering Slade House.)
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
The premise of Atwood’s latest is interesting, grounded strongly in current social and economic issues. The writing is as elegant and beautiful, as always with Atwood. I recommend this book because it is a wonderful and thought-provoking novel. People who have enjoyed other Atwood works should definitely take a look at this one. — Lauren Mitchell, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
Brooks does it again, in this fascinating and richly detailed fictionalized account of the life and times of King David. We see David as he might actually have been: a charismatic leader of men, both brutal and conflicted. This is perfect for historical fiction readers who enjoy lots of detail and believable characters. It transports you to the times and places inhabited by David. — Marilee Cogswell, King County Library System, Issaquah, WA
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
From the creators of the popular podcast about a nameless town where the supernatural and strange are commonplace comes a new mystery novel. This is classic Night Vale in written form. It’s an absolute must for Night Vale fans, and will possibly provide an introduction for those who haven’t found this snarky little podcast yet. — Debra Franklin, York County Public Library, Rock Hill, SC
In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward
Great new mystery set in the atmospheric Peak District of England. When a woman’s suicide is found to be related to an unsolved case of a missing girl, the police must reinvestigate a long cold case. I hope this book will be the first in a new series! — Pamela Wiggins, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC
Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA by Roberta Kaplan, Edie Windsor and Lisa Dickey
The attorney who argued before the Supreme Court for the plaintiff in this landmark case gives the story behind the headlines. Kaplan integrates personal narrative with legal strategy throughout, combining her own struggles with a fascinating look at the brave and unconventional life led by her client. This is a heartwarming and inspiring account of one widow’s pursuit of justice and dignity. — Darren Nelson, Sno-Isle Libraries, Marysville, WA
We Were Brothers: A Memoir
by Barry Moser
Moser’s deeply personal memoir of his volatile relationship with his brother in the segregated south is thoughtful and beautifully written. Strong differences of opinions divided the brothers. Late in life, reconciliation came, but only after years of heartache. There is much to ponder from this work, which is timely given current racial tensions. — PJ Gardiner, Wake County Public Libraries, Raleigh, NC
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September 28, 2015 by Reader's Connection
I don’t remember if my holiday gift suggestion list has ever paid attention to Halloween before, but listen up: David Mitchell’s Slade House is due to be published on October 27th. This is a horror tale, and the house named in the title is haunted.
That’s not quite accurate, but as close as I can come.
Some reviewers disagree with me, but I think you should read Mitchell’s 2014 novel The Bone Clocks before visiting Slade House. At least three characters from the earlier novel make appearances of some sort, and one of them has a supernaturally important effect on the way the story goes.
If a friend on your list loved The Bone Clocks, he or she would love to get a copy of Slade House. The new novel is much shorter, doesn’t take place on as many continents, and didn’t make me as weepy as the latter parts as The Bone Clocks did; but it grabbed me and made me laugh and reminded me again that we humans are sacred beings.
Stay tuned. Slade House will probably be available in other formats, too.
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September 24, 2015 by Reader's Connection
A breathless beginning and an unexpected lack of reference to the lush setting mark this lively launch of a projected series of Venetian mysteries. When legendary German conductor Helmut Wellauer is found dead in his dressing room two acts into a performance of La Traviata , police commissario Guido Brunetti is called in. Among those who might have provided the cyanide poison that killed the maestro, immediate suspects include the vaunted conductor’s coolly indifferent young wife and those many in the music industry who are offended by his homophobia . . . Though burdened by a dictatorial superior and two lumpen subordinates, Brunetti gets help from his aristocratic wife and her well-connected parents. — Publishers Weekly
Hubbard & Cravens Coffee & Tea
4930 North Pennsylvania
Thursday, October 1st, 5:00 p.m.
Monday, October 5th at 3:30 p.m.
Ivy Tech Library
50 West Fall Creek Parkway
Thursday, October 8th at 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 14th at 6:00 p.m.
Cologne Sister City Committee
401 East Michigan Street
Tuesday, October 20th at 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 21st at 6:00 p.m.
Quentin–or “Q.” as everyone calls him–has known his neighbor, the fabulous Margo Roth Spiegelman, since they were two. Or has he? Q. can’t help but wonder, when, a month before high-school graduation, she vanishes. At first he worries that she might have committed suicide, but then he begins discovering clues that seem to have been left for him, which might reveal Margo’s whereabouts. Yet the more he and his pals learn, the more Q. realizes he doesn’t know and the more he comes to understand that the real mystery is not Margo’s fate but Margo herself–enigmatic, mysterious, and so very alluring. Yes, there are echoes of Green’s award-winning Looking for Alaska: a lovely, eccentric girl; a mystery that begs to be solved by clever, quirky teens; and telling quotations (from Leaves of Grass, this time) beautifully integrated into the plot. Yet, if anything, the thematic stakes are higher here, as Green ponders the interconnectedness of imagination and perception, of mirrors and windows, of illusion and reality. That he brings it off is testimony to the fact that he is not only clever and wonderfully witty but also deeply thoughtful and insightful. In addition, he’s a superb stylist, with a voice perfectly matched to his amusing, illuminating material. — Booklist
I missed a birthday! The Shared Reading Group at Spades Park Library turned 2 in early August.
The group at will continue to read aloud from William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! on Fridays in October–the 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th–from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
A poem is always read. If you can’t make it to Spades Park to read with the group, here’s a favorite of mine from a couple years ago: Hum for the Bolt, by Jamaal May. But that’s just one poem, and four others will be read in October.
Refreshments are always eaten. If you can’t make it to Spades Park, you can munch on a Little Debbie; but the Shared Reading Group offers such a variety.
And when you sit down to read Absalom, Absalom by yourself, you won’t have all the other voices to listen to. They can help you hear something different. (And I think they’ll be starting a new book pretty soon.)
In addition to this weekly shared reading, there will be a monthly book discussion at Spades Park on September 28th. See below.
The What Would Jane Austen Read? Book Club will meet at the College Avenue Library on Monday, October 5th, at 1:30 p.m.
This is a group that reads selections of 18th century literature that Jane Austen might have read. Well-known novels of Burney, Edgeworth, Fielding, Defoe, Sterne and others formed our earliest reading. If you enjoy Jane Austen, you may like some of the writers who influenced her. We now are reading lesser-known works which were popular in her day . . . As these are sometimes obscure works, the library often doesn’t have copies, so our members have to use on-line sources, purchase second hand copies (under $5) or use interlibrary loan to obtain the books. — Group facilitator Elizabeth K. Jarvis
|Glendale Library‘s Cooking Chats: On Monday, October 5th, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Denise Ferguson–Coordinator of Nutrition Services for the Marion County Health Department–will discuss crockpot cooking.
Registration for this program is required by calling 275-4410.
The Franklin Road Library will host a discussion of Molly Guptill Manning’s When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II on Monday, October 5th at 6:30 p.m.
By telling the story of the “Armed Services Edition” series of books, released specifically for consumption by U.S. soldiers during World War II, Manning demonstrates the power that positive morale and a strong connection to the world left behind can have on the fighting spirit. The author catalogs the struggles–obtaining quality books, maintaining high standards while meeting the voracious reading demands of the soldiers, securing adequate funding and resources–that made the project a success, with an eye for a stirring narrative. As Manning explains through the letters and reminiscences of the soldiers themselves, providing those in combat with tangible reminders of home gave them the balance and hope they needed to overcome dreadful conditions and maintain even the slightest optimism amid the horrors of war. Well written, carefully researched, and drawing upon primary sources and news articles, this book brings to life a little-known part of World War II culture. — Library Journal
A long journey from home and the struggle to find it again form the heart of the intertwined stories that make up this moving novel. Foster teen Molly is performing community-service work for elderly widow Vivian, and as they go through Vivian’s cluttered attic, they discover that their lives have much in common. When Vivian was a girl, she was taken to a new life on an orphan train. These trains carried children to adoptive families for 75 years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the start of the Great Depression. Novelist Kline (Bird in Hand, 2009) brings Vivian’s hardscrabble existence in Depression-era Minnesota to stunning life. Molly’s present-day story in Maine seems to pale in comparison, but as we listen to the two characters talk, we find grace and power in both of these seemingly disparate lives. Although the girls are vulnerable, left to the whims of strangers, they show courage and resourcefulness. Kline illuminates a largely hidden chapter of American history, while portraying the coming-of-age of two resilient young women. — Booklist
Liss is at his best when buried deep in the bowels of eighteenth-century finance . . . It’s a tumultuous time, with Hamiltonians sparring with Jeffersonians, and Hamilton himself hoping to secure his position with the establishment of the National Bank. Into the mix comes Ethan Saunders, a celebrated spy during the war but now living a dissolute life in Philadelphia as a drunkard and gambler. Attempting to come to the aid of his former lover, the wife of a stock trader and associate of Hamilton’s, Saunders falls in with the whiskey rebels, backcountry moonshiners furious with Hamilton’s whiskey tax and ready with the help of the wily Joan Maycott, wife of one of the whiskey boys to foment trouble in the financial markets, possibly causing the failure of Hamilton’s bank. Like all of Liss’ novels, this one has a remarkably complex plot, but it’s so rich in fascinating detail about the early days of stock trading, about the Federalist movement, and about whiskey making that one hardly minds getting lost in the plot machinations now and again. But Liss brings it all together in the end, uniting multiple narrators and different time lines in a bravura finish. — Booklist
While a highly motivated killer murders his family, a baby, ignorant of the horrific goings-on but bent on independence, pulls himself out of his crib and toddles out of the house and into the night. This is most unfortunate for the killer, since the baby was his prime target. Finding his way through the barred fence of an ancient graveyard, the baby is discovered by Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a stable and caring couple with no children of their own and who just happen to be dead. After much debate with the graveyard’s rather opinionated denizens, it is decided that the Owenses will take in the child. Under their care and the sponsorship of the mysterious Silas, the baby is named Nobody and raised among the dead to protect him from the killer, who relentlessly pursues him. This is an utterly captivating tale that is cleverly told through an entertaining cast of ghostly characters. There is plenty of darkness, but the novel’s ultimate message is strong and life affirming. — Booklist
The Graveyard Book is also available as a downloadable e-book, an audiobook on CD, and in large print. And I don’t usually include graphic novels in these groupings, but I raved about the graphic The Graveyard Book, a few weeks back, and here’s my rave.
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League, by Jeff Hobbs, will be discussed at the Flanner House Library on Monday, October 12th at 6:30 p.m.
A man with seemingly every opportunity loses his way in this compelling biographical saga. Novelist Hobbs (The Tourists) chronicles the life of Peace, who was born in a Newark, N.J., ghetto to an impoverished single mom and a father who went to prison for murder. Thanks to his mother’s sacrifices and his extraordinary intellect he went to Yale and got a biology degree but when he returned to Newark after college, he became a drug dealer and was eventually shot to death by rivals. Writing with novelistic detail and deep insight, Hobbs, who was Peace’s roommate at Yale, registers the disadvantages his friend faced while avoiding hackneyed fatalism and sociology. Hobbs reveals a man whose singular experience and charisma made him simultaneously an outsider and a leader in both New Haven and Newark, Peace was a pillar of his family and community, superbly capable in both settings, but he could not reconcile their conflicting demands. (The author’s indelible portrait of Peace’s inner-city neighborhood shows how it could draw him back from the world his talent and education had opened.) This is a classic tragedy of a man who, with the best intentions, chooses an ineluctable path to disaster. — Publishers Weekly
In his run-down store in a gentrifying neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Ethiopian immigrant Stepha Stephanos regularly meets with fellow African immigrants Ken the Kenyan and Joe from the Congo. Their favorite game is matching African nations to coups and dictators, as they consider how their new immigrant expectations measure up to the reality of life in America after 17 years. From his store and nearby apartment, Stephanos makes keen observations of American race and class tensions, seeing similarities–physical and social–to his hometown of Addis Ababa, where his father was killed in the throes of revolution. When Judith, a white woman, and Naomi, her mixed-race daughter, move into the neighborhood, Stephanos finds tentative prospects for friendship beyond his African compatriots. Mengestu, himself an Ethiopian immigrant, engages the reader in a deftly drawn portrait of dreams in the face of harsh realities from the perspective of immigrants.
The Country of Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett’s masterpiece, established her among the consummate stylists of nineteenth-century American fiction. Composed in a series of beautiful web-like sketches, the novel is narrated by a young woman writer who leaves the city to work one summer in the Maine seaport of Dunnet Landing, and stays with the herbalist Mrs Almira Todd. She writes a New England idyll rooted in friendship, particularly female friendship, weaving stories and conversations, imagery of sea, sky and earth, the tang of salt air and aromatic herbs into an organic ‘fiction of community’ in which themes and form are exquisitely matched. To quote Willa Cather: ‘The ‘Pointed Fir’ sketches are living things caught in the open, with light and freedom and air spaces about them. They melt into the land and the life of the land until they are not stories at all, but life itself’. — Publisher’s note
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, October 25th at 1:00 p.m. The theme for this program will be “Eldritch horrors that will ruin your sanity.”
He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited. Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his–based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. — Kirkus Reviews
St. Elizabeth’s is a home for unwed mothers in the 1960s. Life there is not unpleasant, and for most, it is temporary. Not so for Rose, a beautiful, mysterious woman who comes to the home pregnant but not unwed. She plans to give up her baby because she knows she cannot be the mother it needs. But St. Elizabeth’s is near a healing spring, and when Rose’s time draws near, she cannot go through with her plans, not all of them. And she cannot remain forever untouched by what she has left behind … and who she has become in the leaving. — Publisher’s note.
Interested in wrestling with the infinite? You can contribute poetry (and do other things) via Spirit & Place.
September 22, 2015 by Reader's Connection
In an earlier blog post about this year’s Spirit & Place Festival, I said that Rodger Kamenetz, author of The History of Last Night’s Dream: Discovering the Hidden Path to the Soul, feels that Genesis is the first great dream work of the western world.
And Genesis will be included among the many ways in which Spirit & Place approaches its Dream theme. From the festival’s website:
This year’s Spirit & Place Festival will feature on-going programming and displays in the Indianapolis Artsgarden in which the story of Jacob’s dreams will serve as a prism through which we can look at our own dreams. Fourteen artists participating in the “Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts” (RSA) initiative will entertain the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 7, from 12:30-1:30pm with premiere performances meant to inspire attendees to tap into their own imaginations and spiritual dreams.
Throughout the rest of the week, visitors will be encouraged to draw with oil pastels on a huge scroll, write poetry, play rhythmic music, and dance their own dream interpretations. Artists and volunteers will be on hand to talk about their artistic discipline and help inspire participation.
|Click the picture to see the “Wrestling with the Infinite” schedule. Note that an RSVP is requested if you plan to attend the the opening event on Saturday, November 7th.|
|And click the picture below to see the “Wrestling with the Infinite” trailer.|
|Oh, in that earlier blog post, I said I was going to read Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams sometime this year. Hasn’t happened yet. I’ve switched over to another translation (that I haven’t read), and am planning to read it by the end of the Year of the Goat (February 7th, 2016) at the latest.|
I used this picture of Mount Shasta in northern California as my homepage thumbnail because I spent two months at a Zen abbey near Mount Shasta, years ago, and hiking a bit up the mountain did something to my knees, which has spread to my back; and now I hobble around on a cane. Like Jacob limping, after his wrestling. Thought you’d want to know.