June 16, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Back at the beginning of this Year of the Horse, I raved about Jane Smiley’s novel Horse Heaven. The horse-love that fueled that book is alive and kicking (but mostly cantering and trotting) in her novels featuring Abby Lovitt, a teenager growing up on a California horse ranch.
The library has shelved these books in the children’s area, and the narrator is a teen, but I’m older than dirt and I can’t stop reading them. I’ve read The Georges and the Jewels and A Good Horse, and I’m halfway through True Blue. (There are two more in the series: Pie in the Sky and Gee Whiz.)
Abby’s mom and dad subscribe to a brand of Protestantism that stands in the way of their having a TV in the house; but most of Abby’s friends watch The Dick Van Dyke Show, which means these novels are set in the early-to-mid 1960′s, at which time author Smiley would have been Abby’s age. Smiley grew up in Missouri, though, not in California, and I don’t know to what extent the books are autobiographical.
The horses on the ranch, and Abby’s mom and dad and estranged brother, may be the focus of her life; but she also has to attend a school, which is its own kind of ranch.
At a friend’s house, girls read through Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and one girl, according to Abby, makes some portentous Roman occurrences “sound like a Frankenstein movie.” The play gets Abby thinking about how different people can do completely different things, each thinking he’s doing the right thing.
In another class, students are paired up to build models of California mission churches–Catholic churches, of course. Abby’s mom and dad are unhappy about the assignment.
And when boys are cruel to each other, Abby ponders the religious implications.
You shouldn’t try the series if you don’t want to read about horses, but these rich, engaging novels are full of human life.
June 12, 2014 by Reader's Connection
The last few years have seen a surge of interest in mainstream vampire lit. Among the top contenders is Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries book series (also known as the The Sookie Stackhouse Novels).
Based on Harris’ books, the popular HBO television series True Blood has taken the vampire obsession to a whole new level with its large, devoted fan base. Since it began airing in 2008 it has received huge ratings, great reviews, and plethora of awards including a Golden Globe and an Emmy. Season Six of True Blood was released on DVD June 3rd and the seventh and final season will air on June 22nd. If you love the show and haven’t read the books yet, you still have time to catch up! The library owns the entire book series and all six seasons of the show on DVD.
Southern Vampire Mysteries Books
1. Dead Until Dark (2001)
In this first installment, the author introduces the character of Sookie Stackhouse, a young telepathic waitress from the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, and her world, an alternate history where vampires, shapeshifters and other supernatual beings coexist with humans. Sookie begins a romantic entanglement with her vampire neighbor and is faced with a series of murders in town.
2. Living Dead in Dallas (2002)
This second novel follows Sookie as she is employed by Dallas vampires to use her telepathy to help find their lost companion. Sookie agrees to help investigate and in Dallas she has her first encounter with the anti-vampire organization “The Fellowship of the Sun”, as well as learning of the existence of werewolves.
3. Club Dead(2003)
Things between Sookie and her vampire boyfriend Bill seem to be going excellently until he leaves town for a while. A long while. Bill’s sinister boss Eric has an idea of where to find him, whisking her off to Jackson, Mississippi to mingle with the under-underworld at Club Dead.
4. Dead to the World (2004)
Sookie only has a few close friends, because not everyone appreciates Sookie’s telepathic gift. Vampires, though, are impossible to read. And that’s just the kind of guy Sookie’s been looking for. Maybe that’s why, when she comes across a vampire struck with amnesia, she doesn’t just drive on by. He hasn’t got a clue who he is, but Sookie does, and whoever took his memory now wants his life.
5. Dead as a Doornail (2005)
When Sookie sees her brother Jason’s eyes start to change, she knows he’s about to turn into a were-panther for the first time — a transformation he embraces more readily than most shapeshifters she knows. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population.
6. Definitely Dead (2006)
As a person with so few living relatives, Sookie Stackhouse really hated to lose one. But she never guessed that it would be her cousin Hadley—a consort of the Vampire Queen of New Orleans. Someone doesn’t want Sookie looking too deeply into Hadley’s past and they’re prepared to do anything in their power to stop her. But who?
7. All Together Dead (2007)
Sookie Stackhouse has her hands full dealing with every sort of undead and paranormal creature imaginable. And after being betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Sookie must not only deal with a new man in her life—the shapeshifter Quinn—but also contend with the long-planned vampire summit.
8. From Dead to Worse (2008)
After Hurricane Katrina and the manmade explosion at the vampire summit in New Orleans, Sookie Stackhouse faces danger, death, and, once again, betrayal by someone she loves.
9. Dead and Gone (2009)
In Bon Temps, Louisiana, a race of unhuman beings–older, more powerful and far more secretive than vampires or werewolves– is preparing for war. And Sookie Stackhouse will find herself an all-too human pawn in their battle as she investigates the murder of a were-panther.
10. Dead in the Family (2010)
After the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she’s angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman who is under scrutiny by the new Vampire King. As the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie’s connections draw her into the debate and up against a Fae who wants her dead.
11. Dead Reckoning (2011) Sookie Stackhouse witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Caught up once again in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human–and that there is a new queen on the board.
12. Deadlocked (2012)
Sookie investigates the body of a woman discovered in vampire Eric Northman’s yard, she has no idea the murderer is an enemy out to get her.
13. Dead Ever After (2013)
When Sookie learns the reason why Eric’s vampires are keeping their distance from her, she is devastated. Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime in this final Sookie Stackhouse novel.
True Blood DVDs
Season 1 (2008)
The small town of Bon Temps, Louisiana boasts a wide array of colorful locals. Sookie Stackhouse is a sweet and innocent waitress who hides her powerful ability to read minds. Bill Compton is a 173 year-old vampire who’s just moved back to town. Sookie’s brother Jason is a ladies’ man who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Tough-as-nails Tara is Sookie’s loyal best friend and Sam is the owner of Merlotte’s who tries to keep his feelings for Sookie to himself. Lafayette is a man about town who’s always cooking up something illicit.
Season 2 (2009)
Welcome back to Bon Temps, home to mystery, Southern sensuality, and dark secrets. Tara finds herself in love and under a spell; Sam puts his trust in an unlikely ally; Jason becomes involved with an anti-vampire sect; and Eric recruits Sookie to investigate the disappearance of a 2,000-year-old vampire.
Season 3 (2010)
The Maenadian reign of terror may be over, but Sookie Stackhouse and the townspeople of Bon Temps face a new calamity that makes the bacchanalian evils of Maryanne Forrester seem tame by comparison. Sookie desperately tries to locate her fiance, ending up in a netherworld of human and undead interlopers, among them the powerful Vampire King of Mississippi, Russell Edgington.
Season 4 (2011)
Follows the life and loves of Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic barmaid who lives in a small Louisiana town inhabited by both humans and vampires.
Season 5 (2012)
Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, season five goes deep into the battle between the Vampire Authority and ‘vampire fundamentalists’: a political power play whose outcome could decide not only the fate of Sookie and her Bon Temps friends, but of all human existence.
Season 6 (2013)
Season six introduces several jarring storylines. As ‘Billith’ comes to terms with his newfound powers after emerging from a pool of blood at the end of season five, Louisiana governor Truman Burrell declares open season on vampires, replete with novel anti-vamp weapons and high-tech internment camp. Sookie and Jason steel themselves for an encounter with the killer of their parents; the mysterious and ancient Warlow.
Check out some of these titles or be brave and explore deeper into our collection to see what thrilling hidden gems you can find!
June 8, 2014 by Reader's Connection
The 2014 Summer Reading Program for children was launched on June 2nd. We’ve also selected a group of books, and planned a series of events, for adults.
The program’s theme this summer is Read in Any Language, and these adult books tell stories from around the globe. Our related events–music and meditation and beer and Casablanca and book discussions–pop up here and there in the city.
Tuesday, June 17 — China
First, the event–this is one of the events that isn’t really linked to the book.
June 17, 6:00-8:00 pm
Come and watch Secrets of the Dead: China’s Terra Cotta Warriors.
Central Library Clowes Auditorium
40 E. St. Clair Street
Find out about this stunning achievement at a free screening of the PBS documentary. Following the film, learn more from the Children’s Museum staff about how the Terra Cotta Warrior Exhibition will engage visitors of all ages.
Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
Dreaming of love and success in rapidly changing Shanghai, four individuals including a starry-eyed waitress, a wealthy developer’s son, a pop artist and a poetry-loving activist confront unexpected realities in regional challenges, including a billionaire’s complex business strategy.
Wednesday, July 9 — Chechnya
In this extraordinary first novel, Marra homes in on a people and a region that barely register with most Americans and, in heartrending prose, makes us feel their every misfortune. In rural Chechnya, during the second war, a small group of people struggle to survive in the bleakest of circumstances. A gifted surgeon works tirelessly in a crumbling hospital, hardening her heart so that she can perform her gruesome work. An eight-year-old girl who has already seen too much is being hunted by the government ever since the night her father was abducted by Russian soldiers. An incompetent doctor who longed to be an artist paints portraits of 41 neighbors who were killed by government forces and hangs them in the doorways and trees of his ruined village . . . Marra collapses time, sliding between 1996 and 2004 while also detailing events in a future yet to arrive, giving his searing novel an eerie, prophetic aura. — Booklist
Also on Wednesday, July 9 — Spain/Morocco
At least one reviewer of María Dueñas’s The Time In Between (not the reviewer quoted below) was reminded of the film Casablanca.
Come attend a screening of that classic at
White Rabbit Cabaret
1116 Prospect Street
July 9, 7:00-9:00 pm
Dueñas’s wonderful debut (a runaway bestseller in her native Spain) opens during the mid-1930s as Spain is on the brink of civil war and young Sira Quiroga is preparing a simple wedding in Madrid, where she lives. Sira’s plans are thrown off track when she meets Ramiro Arribas, the cunning older manager of a typewriter shop who convinces her to embark on an exotic life in Morocco. The future that he envisions for her differs from what he imagines for himself, however, and he abandons Sira after pilfering her inheritance and leaving her saddled with debt. Newly adrift, Sira travels to northern Morocco, where she is reluctantly taken in by Candeleria, a disreputable woman known for housing dispossessed souls. In Candeleria’s care, Sira returns to her roots as a dressmaker’s apprentice . . .As WWII looms, an influential client implores Sira to make a dangerous return to Madrid and set up shop there, adding another level of difficulty and peril to her journey. This thrilling debut is marked by immaculate prose and a driving narrative, establishing Dueñas as a writer to watch. — Publishers Weekly
The Time in Between has also been ordered as an audiobook on CD.
Monday, July 14 — Japanese immigrant experience in U.S.
In the early 1900′s, numerous Japanese mail order brides came to America seeking better lives. Otsuka’s latest novel paints a delicate, heartbreaking portrait of these women. Using a collective first-person narrator (“On the boat we were mostly virgins.”), Otsuka looks at the experiences of these “picture brides,” organizing their stories into themes which include: their arrival in America; their first nights with their husbands; their interactions with white people; their children; and finally, the experience of World War II. Each section is beautifully rendered, a delicate amalgam of contrasting and complementary experiences. Readers will instantly empathize with these unnamed women as they adjust to American culture . . . By the time readers realize that the story is headed toward the internment of the Japanese, they are hopelessly engaged and will finish this exceptional book profoundly moved. — Publishers Weekly
Thursday, July 17 — Afghanistan & locales to which Afghanis migrate
Pop-up discussion: Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed– and while discussing the book, enjoy music and food that highlight Afghani culture.
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
340 N. Senate Avenue
July 17, 6:30-8:00 pm
This bittersweet family saga spans six decades and transports readers from Afghanistan to France, Greece, and the United States. Hosseini weaves a gorgeous tapestry of disparate characters joined by threads of blood and fate . . . Each character tells his or her version of the same story of selfishness and selflessness, acceptance and forgiveness, but most important, of love in all its complex iterations. In this uplifting and deeply satisfying book, Hosseini displays an optimism not so obvious in his previous works. – Library Journal
Saturday, July 26 — Nigeria to U.S. (and London)
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, will be featured in a pop-up discussion and workshop.
9 Johnson Avenue
July 26, 1:30-3:30 pm
Following the discussion, participate in a writing activity led by the Indiana Writers Center. Enjoy music, food, and arts that showcase the Nigerian culture from 10 am – 4 pm at Bookmamas.
Ifemelu, the Nigerian expat and Princeton lecturer at the heart of this novel, writes biting, dead-on blog posts taking aim at the cultural schism between non-African blacks, Africans, and everyone else. She also observes her Auntie Uju turning herself inside out to attract a man as Ifemelu’s nephew silently accepts his mother’s aspirations. Whether Ifemelu is writing a treatise on how to care for black hair or a scathing take on American students earning extra credit for bombast, her opinions bring her money and acknowledgment. But one day, as she is complimented on her nurtured American accent, Ifemelu senses that she has lost her way. A parallel plotline follows Obinze, the man Ifemelu left behind in Lagos, who emigrated to London and longs for a life in America with her. Witty, wry, and observant, Adichie is a marvelous storyteller who writes passionately about the difficulty of assimilation and the love that binds a man, a woman, and their homeland. — Library Journal
Sunday, July 27 — Ireland to U.S.
We’re back at Central Library, for a concert highlighting traditional Irish music and dance.
Ceili Band Concert
July 27, 2:00-3:00 pm
And our book: Fever, by Mary Beth Keane.
In this compelling historical novel, the infamous Typhoid Mary is given great depth and humanity by the gifted Keane. Irish immigrant Mary Mallon is eager to better her station in life and unafraid of hard work. When she is finally made a head cook, she is hired by some of the best families in Manhattan but unwittingly leaves a trail of disease in her wake. A “medical engineer” ultimately identifies her as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever and quarantines her on North Brother Island, where she is separated from her lifelong companion, Alfred Briehof, and forced to live in isolation. She is released three years later under the condition that she never cook again. But her inability to understand her condition, her passion for cooking, and the income she had become used to all conspire to lure her back into the kitchen. Keane not only makes of the headstrong Mary a sympathetic figure, she also brings the New York City of the early twentieth century to teeming life . . . – Booklist
Fever is also on order as an audiobook on CD.
Wednesday, July 30 — South America
Piano Concert in Central Library’s Atrium
40 E. St. Clair Street
July 30, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Enjoy South American folk and jazz music performed by pianist Paulo Castro.
And our book: Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcón
Set in a fictional South American nation where guerrillas have long clashed with the government, Alarcón’s ambitious first novel (after the story collection War by Candlelight ) follows a trio of characters upended by civil strife. Norma, whose husband, Rey, disappeared 10 years ago after the end of a civil war, hosts popular radio show Lost City Radio , which reconnects callers with their missing loved ones. (She quietly entertains the notion that the job will also reunite her with her missing husband.) So when an 11-year-old orphan, Victor, shows up at the radio station with a list of his distant village’s “lost people,” the station plans a special show dedicated to his case and cranks up its promotional machine. Norma, meanwhile, notices a name on the list that’s an alias her husband used to use, prompting her to resume her quest to find him. — Publishers Weekly
Lost City Radio is also available as a downloadable e-book.
Monday, August 4 — India
Take part in a pop-Up discussion of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland.
Where? Sun King Brewery
August 4, 6:30-8:00 pm
135 N. College Avenue
Before the discussion, bring your yoga mat and participate in an invigorating 30 minute meditation. Sun King beer samples to be provided during the book talk and writing workshop led by the Indiana Writers Center.
The clever Mitra brothers are inseparable even though Subhash is serious, cautious, and reliable, while Udayan is brash, impassioned, and rebellious. Both excel in their studies even though, thanks to Udayan, they get into mischief in their quiet, middle-class Calcutta enclave with its two adjacent ponds and water hyacinth-laced lowland, a gorgeously rendered landscape Lahiri uses to profound effect. In college, Subhash studies chemistry, Udayan physics, but while Subhash prepares to go to America to earn his PhD, Udayan experiences a life-altering political awakening. It’s the late 1960s, a time of international protest, and Udayan joins the Mao-inspired Naxalite movement, which demands justice for the poor. He also secretly marries self-reliant, scholarly Gauri. Subhash’s indoctrination into American life and Rhode Island’s seasons and seashore is bracing and mind-expanding, while Udayan’s descent into the Naxalite underground puts him in grave danger. — Booklist
Tuesday, August 12 — Haiti
Edwidge Danitcat’s Claire of the Sea Light will be the subject of a pop-up discussion, which will be followed by a writing activity led by the Indiana Writers Center.
New Day Craft
1102 Prospect Street
August 12, 6:00-8:00 pm
As a native Haitian, Danticat is known for taking an innate cultural understanding and mixing it with a spare, striking writing style, always with marvelous results. The setting for her latest is Ville Rose, a small coastal town in Haiti, where baby Claire is born as her mother dies in childbirth. The novel begins on Claire’s seventh birthday and then flows back in time, revisiting previous birthdays and their parallel events. In the village, life and death coexist in heartrending fashion, and the people live with the understanding that any one of them may be instantly and forever altered by natural forces, irrational acts, or simple circumstances. As Claire’s father, a poor fisherman, makes a difficult decision, personal histories converge and the village comes together both to mourn a death and to save a life. Throughout, everything seems to be driven by the mystical power of the sea, for which Claire is named . . . Danticat . . . has the ability to conjure up the rarified air of Haiti as she manages to pull tightly at one’s heartstrings; this novel is no exception. — Library Journal
Thursday, August 21 — North Korea
The Indianapolis Museum of Art will host a pop-up discussion of Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea.
4000 Michigan Road
August 21, 6:00-8:00
Following the discussion, participate in a writing activity led by the Indiana Writers Center and browse the IMA’s vast Asian Collection.
A detailed, grim portrait of daily life under the repressive North Korean dictatorship, where schoolchildren are taught to sing anthems in praise of their leader asserting that they “have nothing to envy in this world.`Los Angeles Times foreign correspondent Demick bases her account on seven years of interviews with North Koreans who escaped to South Korea. She focuses on individuals whose stories began in the 1990s and continue to the present, including Mi-ran, a lower-class girl who became a teacher; Jun-sang, a university student who eventually got a glimpse of outside life through books, radio and television; Mrs. Song, a middle-aged true believer, and her defiant daughter Oak-hee; Dr. Kim, an idealistic female physician; and Kim Hyuck, an orphan boy surviving alone on the streets. Along with their personal stories, Demick includes background information on the Korean War and the dictatorships of Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il . . . In one unforgettable scene, Dr. Kim, having crossed a river into China, sees that dogs in China eat better than human beings in North Korea . . . Demick shows the state of mind of each of her subjects, what their daily life was like, how they coped and eventually how each escaped. — Kirkus Reviews
Have a great summer.
June 5, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Have you developed an addiction to Scandinavian crime fiction? If you have, you are certainly not alone. In July 2009, The Guardian reported on the rise of Scandinavian crime fiction. On May 12, 2014, The New Yorker took on the same topic.
And click on the spooky tent with its Norwegian northern lights to read about ten favorites picked in 2011 by our own Cheryl Holtsclaw (West Indianapolis Branch).
If you’re looking for a place to get started, here are a few of the most popular books in this area.
Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
The Bat by Jo Nesbø
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Eva’s Eye by Karin Fossum
The newer crop of authors are just as intense as their predecessors, and proving to be just as popular.
The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg
Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin
If you’re looking for Scandinavian crime stories in a sampler size, short stories are a great introduction to the works of some of the sub-genre’s most popular authors.
Copenhagen Noir edited by Bo Tao Michaëlis
A Darker Shade of Sweden: Original Stories by Sweden’s Greatest Crime Writers edited and translated by John-Henri Holmberg
But wait! If you prefer your Scandinavian crime on DVD, we’ve got that too!
And, of course, you can watch Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Swedish or English.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish, with subtitles)
But if you want to see the other two movies in the trilogy, you’ll have to watch them with subtitles.
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Swedish, with subtitles)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Swedish, with subtitles)
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to Scandinavian crime fiction, the New York Public Library has a good one available.
June 2, 2014 by Reader's Connection
Dr. Stanley Warren will visit the Eagle Library on Saturday, June 21st at 2:00 p.m. to discuss his life as a writer and the writing process.
Warren’s latest book is High Five : African-American Institutions That Have Strengthened the Indianapolis Community, and copies of that book will be available for sale and signing.
Dr. Warren’s earlier books include The Senate Avenue YMCA : for African American Men and Boys, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1913-1959 and Crispus Attucks High School: Hail to the Green, Hail to the Gold.