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Book Discussions at the Library March 2014 (Franklin Road’s discussion moved to March 17th)

February 24, 2014 by Reader's Connection

MusicophiliaMusicophilia by Oliver Sacks was going to be discussed in January at Central Library , but snow and arctic cold shut the library down. The event was rescheduled for February, but that date, too, became meteorologically hazardous.

These people are so musical! They have discussed books about Shostakovich and the premiere of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps.

Now (I feel really good about this) on Tuesday, March 4th at 6:00 p.m., Musicophilia will be discussed at Central.

Here, I’ve come up with a different review than the one I’ve been using:

Avid readers of Sacks’s other work will delight in this treatment of the neurology of music. Those in the fields of psychology and physiology have written books about music’s effect on the brain, but none of those works is as readable, and few are as insightful, as this one. Sacks argues that human neurology is designed for music in the same way it is designed for language. Until quite recently, scientists learned about the normal human brain primarily by studying brains gone awry. Sacks acknowledges that technological innovations will reveal much about the brain, but he believes that case histories are equally legitimate sources of information. The case histories included here include a man who could remember nothing but music for more than seconds, a man struck by lightning who took up the piano, and a woman plagued by musical hallucinations. Sacks also includes general examinations of intriguing topics–absolute pitch, synaesthesia, amusia, music “stuck” in one’s head. But the book’s best quality is Sacks’s clear, probing, yet compassionate writing. He demonstrates how understanding human engagement with music can help one understand the meaning of being human. — Choice

 

In my excitement, I’ve gotten ahead of myself. There’s a book discussion before Central’s.

 

Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic : A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President will be discussed at the Wayne Library on Monday, March 3rd at 6:30 p.m.

Destiny of the Republic : A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a PresidentJames Abram Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, a renowned congressman, and a reluctant presidential candidate who took on the nation’s corrupt political establishment. But four months after Garfield’s inauguration in 1881, he was shot in the back by a deranged office-seeker named Charles Guiteau. Garfield survived the attack, but become the object of bitter, behind-the-scenes struggles for power–over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic brings alive a forgotten chapter of U.S. history. — Publisher’s note

 

Rod Dreher’s The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life will be discussed at the Warren Library on Thursday, March 6th, at 10:30 a.m.

The Little Way of Ruthie LemingDreher and his sister, Ruthie, had always been different. While he chafed at their small town of St. Francisville, Louisiana, she was deeply at home and settled. His journalism career took him to New York and Washington, D.C., while she taught school and raised a family with her childhood sweetheart, staying close to the homestead their parents had made. She also stayed close to the rituals, traditions, and spirituality that knit family and community, a closeness and spirituality that fortified Ruthie when she was diagnosed with a virulent cancer. Watching his sister’s grace and the kindness of family, friends, and neighbors, Dreher pondered what he’d been missing in his own life and how he might achieve the sense of peace and connection at the center of Ruthie’s life. He goes deeper, in search of the reason for the abiding tension in their otherwise loving relationship and for the balance in his own family life that ultimately leads him back to the hometown he once fled. Dreher offers a hard-eyed self-examination and a loving, but complex, portrait of filial love. — Booklist

 

Collected StoriesThe Shared Reading Group at Spades Park Library is reading short stories at the moment. Drop in any Friday–March 7th, 14th, 21st or 28th–from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., and read aloud. Or, if you prefer, listen to others do so.

Facilitator Anja Saak has chosen the following stories for March or late February:
Bernard Malamud: “The Jewbird”
Samuel Beckett: “First Love”
Frank 0′Connor: “First Confession”
Nathaniel Hawthorne: “The Gray Champion”

Refreshments are served.

The Shared Reading Group is not to be confused with the Spades Park Book Discussion. (See below, March 26th.)

 

 

The Family Business 2

 

Oh, no! The Duncans are returning to Flanner House! Carl Weber’s The Family Business was discussed at the Flanner House Library in 2012, and now The Family Business 2, by Weber with Treasure Hernandez, will be discussed on Monday, March 10th at 6:00 p.m.

Check out the reviews at Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

The East 38th Street Library will host a discussion of Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard’s Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot on Monday, March 10th at 2014 6:00 p.m.

Killing KennedyO’Reilly and Dugard team up again with a comprehensive account of the John F. Kennedy administration and its untimely end. As with their previous work, this is quick, gossipy and sure to please Kennedy buffs . . . The authors cover the events of the three short years of the administration from the president’s dalliances to the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and the star power of the family. It’s a noteworthy picture of Kennedy’s transformation into a world leader and the outside influences that were used and discarded. O’Reilly and Dugard also expose Kennedy as a man who avoided unpleasant confrontations, using his brother to deal with contentious issues and express opinions that countered the general consensus of the cabinet. By paralleling the period with loner Lee Harvey Oswald’s desperate attempts at recognition and his fixation on communism, it’s easy to see how the assassin slipped under the radar . . . A quick-fire, easy-to-read account of the Kennedy years, with some salacious details to spice it up. — Kirkus Reviews

 

Sandy Tolan’s The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew and the Heart of the Middle East will be discussed at the Fountain Square Library on Thursday, March 13th at 1:30 p.m.

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew and the Heart of the Middle East Tolan focuses on one small stone house in Ramla–once an Arab community but now Jewish. Built in 1936 by an Arab family but acquired by a Jewish family after the Israelis captured the city in 1948, this simple stone house has anchored for decades the hopes of both its displaced former owners and its new Jewish occupants. With remarkable sensitivity to both families’ grievances, Tolan chronicles the unlikely chain of events that in 1967 brought a long-dispossessed Palestinian son to the threshold of his former home, where he unexpectedly finds himself being welcomed by the daughter of Bulgarian Jewish immigrants. Though that visit exposes bitterly opposed interpretations of the past, it opens a real–albeit painful–dialogue about possibilities for the future. As he establishes the context for that dialogue, Tolan frankly details the interethnic hostilities that have scarred both families. Yet he also allows readers to see the courage of families sincerely trying to understand their enemy. Only such courage has made possible the surprising conversion of the contested stone house into a kindergarten for Arab children and a center for Jewish-Arab coexistence. — Booklist

 

The Franklin Road Library discussion of Ruth Ann Hanley’s No Pulling Back: Tale of a Fighter Dog,  scheduled for Monday, March 3rd, was postponed due to worries about the weather. The discussion, with the author in attendance, will take place on Monday, March 17th at 6:30 p.m.

No Pulling Back: Tale of a Fighter Dog

 

Daemon is a trained fighter dog and is a favorite of the crowds who come to the Roman amphitheater to witness the bloody fights. He puts fear into every creature he meets until one day he turns against his handlers. After escaping his own upcoming execution, Daemon lives free and trails a man called “Jesus” until he finally meets him alone. – Publisher’s note

 

 

 

 

On Monday, March 17th at 6:30 p.m., readers from the Jordan YMCA will join with readers at the Nora Library to discuss Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail.

Please call 275-4470 to register for this event.
Wild : From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Unsentimental memoir of the author’s three-month solo hike from California to Washington along the Pacific Crest Trail. Following the death of her mother, Strayed’s life quickly disintegrated. Family ties melted away; she divorced her husband and slipped into drug use. For the next four years life was a series of disappointments . . . While waiting in line at an outdoors store, Strayed read the back cover of a book about the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially, the idea of hiking the trail became a vague apparition, then a goal. Woefully underprepared for the wilderness, out of shape and carrying a ridiculously overweight pack, the author set out from the small California town of Mojave, toward a bridge (“the Bridge of the Gods”) crossing the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border. Strayed’s writing admirably conveys the rigors and rewards of long-distance hiking. Along the way she suffered aches, pains, loneliness, blistered, bloody feet and persistent hunger. Yet the author also discovered a newfound sense of awe; for her, hiking the PCT was “powerful and fundamental” and “truly hard and glorious.” Strayed was stunned by how the trail both shattered and sheltered her. Most of the hikers she met along the way were helpful, and she also encountered instances of trail magic, “the unexpected and sweet happenings that stand out in stark relief to the challenges of the trail.” A candid, inspiring narrative of the author’s brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self. — Kirkus Reviews

 

Me Before You, a novel by JoJo Moyes, will be discussed at the Lawrence Library on Tuesday, March 18th at 10:15 a.m.

Me Before YouIn Moyes’s disarmingly moving love story, Louisa Clark leads a routine existence: at 26, she’s dully content with her job at the cafe in her small English town and with Patrick, her boyfriend of six years. But when the cafe closes, a job caring for a recently paralyzed man offers Lou better pay and, despite her lack of experience, she’s hired. Lou’s charge, Will Traynor, suffered a spinal cord injury when hit by a motorcycle and his raw frustration with quadriplegia makes the job almost unbearable for Lou. Will is quick-witted and sardonic, a powerhouse of a man in his former life (motorcycles; sky diving; important career in global business). While the two engage in occasional banter, Lou at first stays on only for the sake of her family, who desperately needs the money. But when she discovers that Will intends to end his own life, Lou makes it her mission to persuade him that life is still worth living. In the process of planning “adventures” like trips to the horse track–some of which illuminate Lou’s own minor failings–Lou begins to understand the extent of Will’s isolation; meanwhile, Will introduces Lou to ideas outside of her small existence. The end result is a lovely novel, both nontraditional and enthralling. — Publishers Weekly

 

Janice Y.K. Lee’s The Piano Teacher will be discussed at the Irvington Library on Thursday, March 20th at 1:30 p.m.

The Piano TeacherFormer Elle editor Lee delivers a standout debut dealing with the rigors of love and survival during a time of war, and the consequences of choices made under duress. Claire Pendleton, newly married and arrived in Hong Kong in 1952, finds work giving piano lessons to the daughter of Melody and Victor Chen, a wealthy Chinese couple. While the girl is less than interested in music, the Chens’ flinty British expat driver, Will Truesdale, is certainly interested in Claire, and vice versa. Their fast-blossoming affair is juxtaposed against a plot line beginning in 1941 when Will gets swept up by the beautiful and tempestuous Trudy Liang, and then follows through his life during the Japanese occupation. As Claire and Will’s affair becomes common knowledge, so do the specifics of Will’s murky past, Trudy’s motivations and Victor’s role in past events. The rippling of past actions through to the present lends the narrative layers of intrigue and more than a few unexpected twists. Lee covers a little-known time in Chinese history without melodrama, and deconstructs without judgment the choices people make in order to live one more day under torturous circumstances. — Publishers Weekly

 

Jodi Picoult”s Nineteen Minutes will be discussed at the Southport Library on Monday, March 24th at 6:30 p.m.

Nineteen MinutesBestseller Picoult takes on another contemporary hot-button issue in her brilliantly told new thriller, about a high school shooting. Peter Houghton, an alienated teen who has been bullied for years by the popular crowd, brings weapons to his high school in Sterling, N.H., one day and opens fire, killing 10 people. Flashbacks reveal how bullying caused Peter to retreat into a world of violent computer games. Alex Cormier, the judge assigned to Peter’s case, tries to maintain her objectivity as she struggles to understand her daughter, Josie, one of the surviving witnesses of the shooting. The author’s insights into her characters’ deep-seated emotions brings this ripped-from-the-headlines read chillingly alive. — Publishers Weekly

 

 

The Eastside Readers Youth Book Club is meeting at the East 38th Street Library to discuss Sharon Draper’s Hazelwood High Trilogy. They’ll discuss the trilogy’s second novel, Forged by Fire, on Tuesday, March 25th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Forged by FireGerald Nickelby, a minor character in Tears of a Tiger, emerges full-fledged and courageous in this companion story. His stable life with a firm but loving aunt (who is caring for him while his mother serves a prison sentence for child neglect) is shattered when his mother returns to claim him on his ninth birthday. With her is a young daughter, Angel, to whom Gerald is drawn, and her husband, Jordan, whom Gerald instinctively dislikes. When Gerald learns that Jordan is sexually abusing Angel, he risks physical assault and public embarrassment to rescue her. Although written in a more conventional form than the earlier novel, the dialogue is still convincing, and the affection between Angel and Gerald rings true . . . Draper faces some big issues (abuse, death, drugs) and provides concrete options and a positive African American role model in Gerald. — Booklist

 

Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief will be discussed at the Spades Park Library on Wednesday, March 26th at 6:00 p.m.

The Book ThiefDeath itself narrates this deeply affecting tale of “a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.” It is 1939 when nine-year-old Liesel, on her way to a foster home in Molching, Germany, steals a book — the first she’s ever owned — from a graveyard. From then through 1943, her life is chronicled in books stolen (from Nazi book burnings; from the mayor’s wife), books given (by her foster parents, irascible Rosa and kindly Hans Hubermann; by Max Vandenburg, the Jew hiding in their basement), and books written (her own story, finished in that basement during a devastating air raid). As her relationships and beliefs deepen, Liesel grows into a tough, earnest heroine, convincingly ordinary yet with an extraordinary capacity for caring. The small, poor town of Molching proves an effective microcosm for exploring the double-edged dangers faced by everyday Germans, and Zusak’s gift for detail brings its streets and citizens richly to life. As a narrator, Death is startlingly, wrenchingly compassionate, struggling to turn away from the survivors left behind to live with “punctured hearts” and “beaten lungs” yet immeasurably moved by the tenderness they wring from despair . . . Exquisitely written and memorably populated, Zusak’s poignant tribute to words, survival, and their curiously inevitable entwinement is a tour de force to be not just read but inhabited. — Horn Book

On Monday, July 7th at 6:30 p.m., Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail will be discussed at the Franklin Road Library .

Please call 275-4470 to register for this event.
Wild : From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Unsentimental memoir of the author’s three-month solo hike from California to Washington along the Pacific Crest Trail. Following the death of her mother, Strayed’s life quickly disintegrated. Family ties melted away; she divorced her husband and slipped into drug use. For the next four years life was a series of disappointments . . . While waiting in line at an outdoors store, Strayed read the back cover of a book about the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially, the idea of hiking the trail became a vague apparition, then a goal. Woefully underprepared for the wilderness, out of shape and carrying a ridiculously overweight pack, the author set out from the small California town of Mojave, toward a bridge (“the Bridge of the Gods”) crossing the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border. Strayed’s writing admirably conveys the rigors and rewards of long-distance hiking. Along the way she suffered aches, pains, loneliness, blistered, bloody feet and persistent hunger. Yet the author also discovered a newfound sense of awe; for her, hiking the PCT was “powerful and fundamental” and “truly hard and glorious.” Strayed was stunned by how the trail both shattered and sheltered her. Most of the hikers she met along the way were helpful, and she also encountered instances of trail magic, “the unexpected and sweet happenings that stand out in stark relief to the challenges of the trail.” A candid, inspiring narrative of the author’s brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self. — Kirkus Reviews

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