February 24, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Musicophilia 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.
James 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.
Dreher 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
The 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.)
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.
O’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.
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.
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.
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
In 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
Former 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
Bestseller 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.
Gerald 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
Death 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
February 20, 2014 by Reader's Connection
The Big Library Read is not to be confused with LibraryReads.
LibraryReads is a monthly list of new publications, picked as favorites by librarians around the country.
The Big Library Read is a program implemented by OverDrive, one of our e-book vendors. They select an e-book which becomes available on an unlimited basis. No one has to make a request and wait for an available copy.
From Monday, February 17th through Tuesday, March 4th, an e-book version of Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen: The Essential Reference for Becoming a More Accomplished, Adventurous Cook will be available for unlimited check-outs
“This comprehensive manual collects more than 300 innovative, contemporary recipes as well as color photographs, plenty of informative illustrations, a substantial technique primer, and helpful how-to information on subjects as wide-ranging as rust removal, throwing a cocktail party, and knife skills. For members of the tech-savvy new generation who can’t cook but want to, this essential reference guide makes an ideal starting place and for those already at ease in the kitchen it’s full of “who knew” moments for expanding their repertoire of great recipes.” — OverDrive
February 17, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Are you a dedicated fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series? You may think so because you’ve read all the books and you’re all set to catch the series when it hits the small screen in 2014. But did you know that there is another book, nestled away in the non-fiction section, which provides details for even the most expert of fans? It is the Outlandish Companion published in 1999 (and due for a serious update!) It is all the behind the scenes trivia about Jamie and Claire (and the world they inhabit.)
The book is shelved at 813 Gabaldon GAB. The 800 section of the library (the secret Dewey Decimal code for books about literature) holds many guides to the fictional worlds by authors we love. (if you’re curious about the meanings behind the numbers, here is a Dewey cheat sheet!)
For the fans of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide. (813.6 Ward WAR)
For fans of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed. (813 Cussler CUS)
For fans of the Orson Scott Card’s Ender series The Authorized Ender Companion. (813.54 Card BLA)
For fans of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga The Vorkosigan Companion. (813.54 Bujold VOR)
All these, and many more, can be found hiding in the 800 section. Check our catalog or the shelves, or ask a librarian, for your favorite authors!
– Selector Robin Bradford
February 14, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Librarians around the country have picked 10 favorites from among the books published in February and late January.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
The next great read for those who loved The Hunger Games. This story has so much action, intrigue, social commentary and character development that the reader who never reads science fiction will happily overlook the fact that the story takes place on Mars far in the future. The characters are perfectly flawed, causing the reader to feel compassion and revulsion for both sides. Can’t wait for the next installment! — Cindy Stevens, Pioneer Library System, Norman, OK
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
Socially-awkward 40-year-old Bartholomew has lived with his mother all his life and has never held a job. When she succumbs to cancer, he channels her favorite actor, Richard Gere, to make her happy during her last days. Funny and sad, with moving, unsentimental prose and a quick, satisfying pace. Highly recommended. — Michael Colford, Boston Public Library, Boston, MA
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Cash’s second novel is as good as his first. In this story, we meet Easter and her sister Ruby, who have been shuffled around the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina. Then their ne’er-do-well father whisks them away in the middle of the night. I was on the edge of my seat as I followed the girls’ tale and hoping for a safe outcome. Fans of A Land More Kind Than Home will enjoy this book as well. — Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH
The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir
An edge-of-your seat debut thriller with laugh-out-loud dialogue mixed in. After a bad storm cuts his team’s Mars mission short, injured astronaut Mark Watley is stranded. Now he’s got to figure out how to survive without air, shelter, food, or water on the harsh Martian landscape until the next manned mission in four years. It’s Science Fiction with a capital S, but Weir does a fabulous job of making it accessible to non-science geeks (like me). — Dan Brooks, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, NC
After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman
So much fun to read. In Lippman’s newest book, bookie Felix Brewer goes missing just before his indictment because he can’t stand the thought of spending years in prison. He leaves behind a wife, three young daughters, a mistress, and Burt, his best friend and attorney. Enter retired police detective Sandy Bayard who works as a consultant on cold cases. A delicious bon bon! — Anne Lee, Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Ripper by Isabel Allende
Allende does an amazing job of developing characters in this taut, suspenseful literary thriller. The story has a lightning-fast denouement, and the mystery is artfully styled to keep the reader guessing. — Amanda Viana, Norton Public Library, Norton, MA
The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin
A cargo ship sailing from New York to Italy is discovered empty and drifting near Gibraltar in the 1870s. The mystery brings grief to two Massachusetts seafaring families and ignites the public’s imagination, including one Arthur Conan Doyle, who authors a fantastical magazine piece that purports to be an account by the ship’s doctor. Crossing time and space, this wide-ranging story proves Martin once again to be a master of the historical novel. — Margaret Donovan, Cary Memorial Library, Lexington, MA
The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
A captivating mystery, based on the real-life disappearance of New York Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater. Told through the voices of the three women closest to Judge Crater–his trophy wife, his beautiful maid, and his Broadway starlet mistress– this is excellent historical fiction, about the era of Prohibition and the culture of 1930s New York City. Riveting characters make for a quick and entertaining read. — Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, TX
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
The small Vermont town of West Hall has been the scene of mysterious deaths, disappearances, and ghost sightings. The scattered pages of a turn-of-the-century diary relate the events that lead to a murder and the apparent beginning of all the trouble. Odd and intriguing clues emerge, and the final conclusion is thrilling. — Nancy Russell, Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH
E.E. Cummings: A Poet’s Life by Susan Cheever
Cummings is a pivotal figure in the creation of modern verse, and Cheever conveys his journey with color, warmth, and understanding, especially his imprisonment in France during the First World War, his father’s death and his final reunion with his daughter. She leaves the reader with only one wish: to be a fly on the wall while the poet held forth to his friends. — Linda Jeffries-Summers, Howard County Library, Columbia, MD
February 12, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Each year, there are many books that are published which don’t get the press or the publicity that they deserve. Books that inspire, motivate, and promote positive lifestyles.
Fortunately, there is an organization which has chosen to highlight these worthy titles and to honor their authors. The Books for a Better Life award is presented annually by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Arranged in ten categories of five books each, the list of nominated titles can be accessed by clicking on the award’s link above. The list is quite comprehensive, and all of the books are available at the library. Here are three books that I have chosen as examples:
The Shape of the Eye by George Estreich
Describes a family’s joys and trials of having a baby with Down Syndrome, emphasizing that she is a child and not just a syndrome.
The Reason I Jump by Noaki Higashida
Features a rare look into “the inner voice of a thirteen-year old boy with Autism”.
Following a career-ending injury, former NBA star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway returns to his hometown of Memphis to help an old friend lead an inner-city middle school team to the Tennessee state championship.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony on March 10th in New York.