December 6, 2013 by Reader's Connection
South African anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner and president Nelson Mandela died on Thursday at the age of 95. You can search by his name in our catalog to see a list of the library’s books, DVDs, CDs and downloadable media about this heroic figure.
Conversations With Myself (2010)
He has been called the most famous person in the world. Certainly for 27 years he was the most famous prisoner until his release in 1990 and then his election in 1994 as the first president of a democratic South Africa. He was welcomed by the pope, the queen, and world leaders everywhere. But even with the shelves of books by and about him, this volume of personal papers, published worldwide in 21 editions and languages, adds much that has never been said before about Nelson Mandela, including diary entries from his time in the underground, debates about passive resistance and guerrilla warfare, letters from prison, and recorded reminiscences with former fellow prisoners. Mandela knew that his letters, even those to his young daughters, might not get past the prison censors, so he kept copies in a journal that was always with him. Now official archivists have arranged this material chronologically, including some facsimiles in Mandela’s own handwriting. Yes, readers will skip some of the bits and pieces, but not much. He is as eloquent about the personal, such as his two-year “honeymoon” with his wife, Winnie . . . With a foreword by Barack Obama, this insightful volume includes a time line, map, and detailed notes on related people, places, and events. — Booklist
In 1918 Nelson Mandela was born, the son of a tribal chief in the Xhosa nation. In 1994 has was elected the first black president of a South Africa newly free of apartheid. In the 76 intervening years, Mandela’s path was the path of his pepole and his country: painful, obstacle-ridden, often seemingly impassable. Here the leader of black South Africans’ fight for freedom details each step of that journey. He writes with respect and affection of the traditional culture in which he was raised, even of his ritual circumcision at the age of 16; and he describes with remarkable dispassion the events that aided his growing politicization, such as the failed miners’ strike of 1946; his quest for dignity even while imprisoned on Robben Island; and the dramatic negotiations with President F.W. De Klerk that culminated in a peaceful revolution in South Africa. This memoir is remarkably free of polemics, self-pity, and self-aggrandizement. It is the work ofo a man who has led by action and example–a man who is one of the few genuine heroes we have. — Kirkus Reviews
Nelson Mandela : A Life in Photographs (2009), text by John D. Battersby
With beautiful color photos and well-chosen text, including contributions from South African journalist Battersby and six of Nelson Mandela’s seminal speeches, this enlightening coffee table tour covers all stages of Mandela’s career: a young and passionate activist, an eloquent spokesman for his oppressed countrymen, a political prisoner of 27 years, a transformative president, a larger-than-life international figure of peace, and an eternally charming elder statesman (one of many memorable full-page photos shows Queen Elizabeth breaking into an uncharacteristically broad smile in Mandela’s presence). Battersby quotes Mandela the outspoken (“The grave plight of the people compels them to resist to the death the stinking policies of the gangsters that rule our country”) and unafraid (“[Democracy] is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”), and explains the man vividly on Mandela’s own terms and the world’s: “As he was paraded on the rooftops of limousines, in pickups, and on podiums, Mandela walked the talk.” — Publishers Weekly
December 3, 2013 by Reader's Connection
Mayor Greg Ballard appeared at Central Library Tuesday morning to announce the beginning of our “One Book, Two Cities” program.
We are joining our Sister City Cologne in reading Eva Menasse’s novel Vienna. Free copies of the book will be given out, as long as they last, at library branches; and there are copies to check out.
I’m only halfway through the book, myself, and have more questions than answers, but here are some links that may be of help.
If you want to read a review of the novel, I enjoyed Patrick Schabe’s review on Pop Matters. Don’t read it if you don’t want to learn about what happens in the book; but Schabe has something interesting to say about how the novel turns the Holocaust into
the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room. Instead of retelling the tale of gas chambers and mass graves, these facts of the Holocaust are taken as understood and are for the most part left out entirely. Rather than concentrating on those events, Vienna is primarily the story of a family and its generation-spanning quest for identity, one with the Holocaust as the black hole at the center of its galaxy, pulling its characters into orbit around the dark heart of its gravity.
If you’re disturbed by the absence of a visual family tree in the book, have a look at the multipage tree that Cologne readers have put on the Sister Cities blog. I’m intrigued rather than put off by the fact that the descriptions of characters are in German. On the uncle’s page, for instance, I see missglückte adoption “Mimi” and–having read that part of the story–I already know what is meant before I put missglückte into the Google Translator.
Here’s a link to discussions of Vienna that are scheduled at library branches, early next year.
And since the novel is concerned with family history, we’ve scheduled programs which relate to that theme. The first one listed, with Josh Taylor, will occur only once; but the other two will be repeated at several branches.
|One Book, Two Cities: Finding the Roots of Your Family Legends with Josh Taylor|
|One Book, Two Cities: Writing Your Family History|
|One Book, Two Cities: Preserving Family Photos – From Daguerreotype to Digital|
Our thanks to Mayor Ballard, to the bloggers of Cologne, to the Library Foundation, to the Indianapolis Foundation Library Fund, and to the BMO Harris Bank for helping to make this program possible. Let the international read begin!
November 29, 2013 by Reader's Connection
Librarians around the country ate too much food on Thanksgiving and woke up groaning, then struggled out to some Black Friday sales . . . No, wait, I’m supposed to be talking about LibraryReads: Librarians around the country have picked some favorites from among the new books being released.
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean
In the third book of MacLean’s Rule of Scoundrels series, Mara Lowe mysteriously disappears on the eve of her wedding day. Widely believed to be responsible for her murder, Temple leaves society in disgrace and becomes a partner in the Fallen Angel club. He doesn’t remember what happened that night 12 years ago, until Mara returns asking for his help. Seeking his vengeance and eager to return to his Dukedom, will Temple sacrifice Mara to make it happen? — Kim Storbeck, Timberland Regional Library, Tumwater, WA
The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol
When Joséphine Cortès finally kicks her do-nothing, two-timing husband out of the house, she struggles to make a living for herself and her two daughters. Despite the criticism and contempt of her own family members, the mousy and insecure Joséphine gradually emerges as an entirely new creature. The secondary characters add lots of personality and drama to the tale, and the overall effect is entertaining and light–with some touching moments and bright flashes of insight as well. — Nancy Russell, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH
How to Run with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Molly Harper’s third book in the Naked Werewolf series is a relatable romance with a supernatural twist. Doctor Anna Moder spent several years hiding among werewolves in Alaska, but in order to protect herself and those she cares about from an ex, she runs away, and right into the arms of Caleb, who happens to be a werewolf. This supernatural romance is not only light-hearted and fun, but also has characters who face real-life problems. — Emily Savageau, Thief River Falls Public Library, Thief River Falls, MN
The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani’s new novel covers all the major milestones in life from birth to death, with a wedding and much Italian family drama in the middle. As Valentine struggles to figure out how to grow her successful shoemaking business while adjusting to life as Gianluca’s wife and partner, she learns to rely on her extended family for support. This is a beautifully written novel that will make you laugh and cry. — Jean Anderson, South Central Library System, Madison, WI
Catherine Bailey’s The Secret Rooms is a very interesting and intriguing read. The author attempted to write a book about World War I, but ended up researching a historical mystery and presenting great historical facts about the war. This is an easy book to suggest to readers who like historical fiction and nonfiction alike. — Joni Walter, Nappanee Public Library, Nappanee, IN
Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
With a range of amazing voices — from Martin to Butcher, Abercrombie to Gabaldon — comes a range of amazing, dangerous women. Queens and bounty hunters, magicians and bandits, these 21 stories will take you all over the world, and other worlds, and proves the adage wrong: women are definitely not the weaker sex! — Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Library, Easthampton, MA
Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, has written an all-encompassing treatise on the condition of anxiety, one of the most pervasive yet most misunderstood human conditions. Stossel not only recounts the history of the condition itself, its causes, and its treatment, but bravely relates his own lifelong battle with anxiety. Sits well alongside other works on mental health like Daniel B. Smith’s Monkey Mind and Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon, and highly recommended for anyone who struggles with anxiety or who has loved ones who suffer. — Cristella Bond, Anderson Public Library, Anderson, IN
The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing
What a unique way of looking at some of the most written-about 20th century authors. Olivia Laing, with prose that draws the reader in, traces the connections between alcohol and the relationships of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever and Raymond Carver. As she travels the United States following their trails, she beautifully weaves together their stories, hopes, dreams, fears and failures, while at the same time exploring the history of alcohol and alcoholism in our society. An engrossing book. — Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ
Innocence by Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz’s new novel Innocence goes beyond anything he has written before. He brings us two unique and complex characters who are against all humanity in a battle against all battles. What seems to be more sci-fi than horror ends with a beautiful spiritual ending that puts Koontz in a whole new light! — Michele Coleman, Iredell County Public Library, Statesville, NC
Vatican Waltz by Roland Merullo
Cynthia Piantedosi has always lived an interior life filled with a devotion to prayer. As she becomes older and her world changes, the spiritual messages that she receives become more and more urgent with a message that appears to be counter to the Church’s doctrine. Should she trust her faith, or should she meekly follow the teachings of the Church? Merullo’s writing gives depth and breadth to this winning heroine and her spiritual quest. You can’t help but love her and cheer her on her way. — Jennifer Dayton, Darien Library, Darien, CT
Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Hanukkah! Here’s an interview with Dr. Charles Thomas, who will give a “practical wine talk” at the library in December.
November 27, 2013 by Reader's Connection
On Saturday, December 14th at 1:00 p.m., Dr. Charles Thomas, owner of the Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield, will appear in the Riley Room at Central Library to discuss his new book Practical Wine Talk: A Physician-Winemaker Examines Wine, and to talk about holiday wine pairings.
Click on his picture to hear Dr. Thomas interviewed by the library’s Jon Barnes.
November 23, 2013 by Reader's Connection
Our last discussions of the year will focus on three holiday stories, two mysteries, two historical novels, and any number of books about the joys and perils of family life.
Adrift and depressed in the summer of 1997,Owen Keane heads to Kenya, at the urging of a mutual friend, to help out Father Philip Swickard, a former seminary classmate. Father Swickard has been quite vocal with his opinions, and his priestly stature doesn’t give him immunity in Kenya’s unsettled political climate. Locally, the recent appearance of a mysterious man claiming to be the reincarnation of a long-dead chief, Wauki (killed in the late 1800s by the British), has heightened tension. Then there’s a sword that’s been stolen from a retired British schoolteacher, a longtime resident . . . Owen listens, solves the mystery, and rediscovers purpose in his life. VERDICT Readers are transported immediately into Kenya’s border region by Faherty’s graceful prose. His unhappy protagonist may be uncertain, but he’s profoundly curious. — Library Journal
Hoffman makes ancient history live and breathe in this compelling story, set in 70 CE, detailing the siege of the mountain stronghold Masada, where 900 Jews held out for months against the Romans. Hoffman’s novel follows four extraordinary women. Red-haired Yael has long been shunned by her father, a renowned assassin, because of her mother’s death in childbirth. Forced to flee from Jerusalem, she makes a tortuous journey across the desert, during which she becomes involved with a married man, and after finally reaching Masada, is assigned to the dovecote, where she meets three charismatic women: Revka, a baker’s wife who witnessed her daughter’s horrific death at the hands of Roman soldiers; Shirah, a tattooed wisewoman; and Shirah’s daughter Aziza, a warrior of uncommon skill. Forced to deal with the outside forces intent on eradicating them and with their people’s patriarchal system, which is quick to condemn unconventional behavior, the women draw great strength from their own inner resources and from each other. This is both a feminist manifesto and a deeply felt tribute to courageous men and women of faith, told with the cadence and imagery of a biblical passage. — Booklist
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement. — Random House
Henry Winkler’s I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River : Reflections on Family, Photography, and Fly-Fishing will be discussed at the Warren Library on Thursday, December 5th at 10:30 a.m. The Maltese Falcon, as it turns out, will not be read until April.
Actor, director, and children’s author Winkler offers an amalgam of memoir, self-help, fishing, and photography in this slim, illustrated volume. Born to German immigrant parents in Manhattan, Winkler had undiagnosed dyslexia that wreaked havoc on his early education and self-esteem (his parents calling him “dumb dog” didn’t help either), yet he managed to graduate college, earn a drama master’s from Yale, get film work, and land a career-defining role on a popular sitcom. An invite from a friend introduced Winkler to fly-fishing; he was instantly smitten. Fly-fishing became his overwhelming passion, and his angling jaunts to the trout heaven of Montana’s rivers became an annual ritual. The majestic scenery surrounding the water led to an interest in nature photography (the book sports numerous pix). Winkler’s message is positive and upbeat, making the book as much a motivational title as a fishing memoir . . . Well done, Henry.– Library Journal
THE SHARED READING GROUP AT SPADES PARK WILL PROBABLY FINISH MOBY DICK IN DECEMBER! I SAW FRED AT THE BOOK SALE, THIS WEEK, AND HE SAID . . .
I’m sorry. Have to collect myself. Just meant to say that the Shared Reading Group at Spades Park will read from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, will discuss what they’ve read, will enjoy some refreshments, and will read a poem, on Friday mornings, December 6th, 13th, 20th, and probably even 27th, from 10:00 until 11:30.
Fred thinks they’re going to read The Scarlet Letter next. It’s a great time for new members to join.
And I just heard from Fred that Anja, “our glorious founder and fearless leader,” is back on a regular basis. Hurrah.
Best-selling author Evans takes the biblical story of Joseph and transposes it to contemporary times in Denver, Chicago and New York. This novel turns biblical archetypes into authentic, believable characters and uses an interesting and credible plot to convey an important message. Joseph Jacobson, or J.J as he likes to be called, is his father’s 12th son, one of two sons born of his father’s fourth wife. His 11 brothers are jealous of him because he is also his father’s favorite. The biblical coat of many colors is, in this modern tale, the father’s Navy flight jacket from Vietnam decorated with the colorful patches of his deployment. Joseph’s father chose to give him this precious gift at a family dinner on the same night he celebrated his favorite son’s success in saving an account for the family advertising firm. And so the story begins. The oldest brothers find a way to banish their hated younger brother . . . Readers will relate to these characters, be moved to tears and laughter by them, and most importantly, be inspired by them. If you know how the biblical story ends, it won’t spoil anything for you to know that this book has a happy ending. Getting there is a journey you should definitely take. — Kirkus Reviews
Mean Girls gets an urban makeover in this bleak rags-to-riches tale from Bryant. Four high-school friends from hardscrabble Newark, N.J., drift apart as they elbow their way to success. Monica goes from ruthless mistress to savvy CEO of an investment firm with celebrity clients; hard-hearted Keesha sheds a drug habit, bad men, and an abusive mom to raise a caring daughter and become a promising author; Latoya survives her domineering religious family and promiscuous past only to get hooked on pills and endure a loveless marriage to an ambitious minister; and Danielle defies her foster-care upbringing to become a successful TV career woman, but loses her true love. Each woman guards an ugly secret that threatens her carefully calculated life . . . Bryant . . . gives these sexy, fearless women a razor-sharp edge that reveals admirable grit and honesty. — Publishers Weekly
Word by word, metaphor by metaphor, McDermott writes the most exquisitely perceptive and atmospheric fiction published today . . . In her sixth and most commanding novel, National Book Award-winning McDermott continues to till her verdant fictional home ground, Irish-Catholic family life on Long Island, in an extraordinarily refined through-the-decades family saga. The story begins as Mary steps out of church on a wildly windy day at the close of World War II and hurries into a diner, never imagining as she sits at the counter that she will soon marry the stranger beside her and with him raise two sons and two daughters. As their lives unfold, every beautifully rendered occurrence resonates deeply on both personal and social planes, from a tree toppled by a hurricane to quietly hilarious classroom scenes; a premature birth, an abortion, and a high-school pregnancy; a visit to the 1964 World’s Fair to see Michelangelo’s Pieta; a son serving in Vietnam; and a life-changing college year abroad . . . McDermott elucidates all that changes and all that endures with wondrous specificity and plentitude of heart. — Booklist
Lamb offers up a charmingly nostalgic tale for the holidays. Felix Funicello, a distinguished professor of film studies, recalls an eventful fall. In 1964, he was a mischievous fifth-grader who spent his days getting into trouble with his best friend, Lonny, and fantasizing about his third cousin, actress Annette Funicello, whose poster graced the wall of Felix’s family’s bus-station diner. A well-meaning scamp, Felix inadvertently causes Sister Dymphyna, his teacher, to have a breakdown when he scares a bat out of hiding during class. The vibrant Madame Marguerite takes over the class and shakes things up, as does the arrival of a new student: the bawdy and daring Zhenya, whose thick accent, colorful language, and athletic prowess make her a hit with the boys. Big things loom for Felix–his mother is going to be in a televised baking contest, and he’ll be in the Christmas nativity play, then a calamity provides him with an unexpected chance to shine. Sweet and old-fashioned, Lamb’s Christmas yarn will appeal to readers wistful for more-innocent days. — Booklist
Self-published in paperback during the Christmas season 1994, Evans’s first novel quickly gained national media attention. Now the cleverly told tale, which the author reputedly wrote for his daughters . . . is available in hardcover. The story relates how a young couple, Richard (who narrates) and Keri, accept a position to care for a lonely widow, Mary Parkin, in her spacious Victorian mansion. As Christmas draws near, Mary becomes anxious about Richard’s obsession with success and his failure to make time for his family. She urges him to reconsider his priorities, but he is always too busy to heed her advice. — Publishers Weekly, 1995
Walls, who spent years trying to hide her childhood experiences, allows the story to spill out in this remarkable recollection of growing up. From her current perspective as a contributor to MSNBC online, she remembers the poverty, hunger, jokes, and bullying she and her siblings endured, and she looks back at her parents: her flighty, self-indulgent mother, a Pollyanna unwilling to assume the responsibilities of parenting, and her father, troubled, brilliant Rex, whose ability to turn his family’s downward-spiraling circumstances into adventures allowed his children to excuse his imperfections until they grew old enough to understand what he had done to them–and to himself. His grand plans to build a home for the family never evolved: the hole for the foundation of the “The Glass Castle,” as the dream house was called, became the family garbage dump, and, of course, a metaphor for Rex Walls’ life. Shocking, sad, and occasionally bitter, this gracefully written account speaks candidly, yet with surprising affection, about parents and about the strength of family ties–for both good and ill. — Booklist
Amina grew up in Bangladesh, and her family always dreamed of sending her to the United States. She gets her chance when she meets George, an engineer in Rochester, NY, on an online dating site. As Amina adjusts to married life with the kind but somewhat rigid George, she slowly assimilates to American culture while planning to bring her parents to Rochester. Family feuds in Bangladesh, a rough patch in her marriage, and the economic downturn put this plan in jeopardy. With delicate precision, Freudenberger . . .slowly builds a story that feels utterly real and present. The subtle and detailed observation of human relations is reminiscent of Alice Munro, and the bittersweet humor and struggles of modern immigrant life are captured in a manner similar to the work of Bharati Mukherjee . . . Highly recommended. — Library Journal
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, December 22nd from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The theme this month will be “The Best of 2013?: Discuss the F&SF Award Winners for 2013″.