Tag Archives: American history

June 2019

june 2019It’s June! Summer is just around the corner! Grab a good read and enjoy the warm weather.

 

 

 

Chris – Technical Services

scottish folkThe Rough Guide to Scottish Folk, New CD 781.62 Scottish Folk

Sung in Scottish, Gaelic, and English, this hour of folk songs by various artists sing of the history of Scotland and preservation of their musical traditions.

 

Jean – Reference

the worst hard timeThe Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan, Nonfiction 978 EGA

An excellent story along the lines of Grapes of Wrath, but unlike the story of the mass migration, this one is told from the point of view of those who actually remained in the panhandle during the “Dirty Thirties” due to stubbornness, or because they were too poor to leave. It’s also a good treatise on how humans can have a devastating impact on climate and on the earth. An amazing account of our country’s history that everyone should read.

Melissa – Technical Services

normal peopleNormal People, by Sally Rooney, New Fiction Rooney

A Man Booker Prize nominee, Normal People tells the story of two teens who could not be any more different, but are inexplicably drawn to each other when no one else is watching. Connell is charismatic and popular, and Marianne is withdrawn; a true rebel who doesn’t care a whit about other’s opinions. They keep their friendship, and eventually their relationship, secret. As they move to college and grow as adults, their relationship and personalities change shape. They cannot be together, but they cannot be apart. The tale is not so melodramatic as this summary makes it seem; it’s subtle and intoxicating. It’s a look into how small nuances can shape the deepest relationships.

11-22-63.jpg11/22/63, by Stephen King, Fiction King

King puts forth a time travel tale that is both vivid and riveting. A portal exists in a small-town diner that links modern day to September 9, 1958 every time it is used. After learning of it from the diner’s owner, Jake Epping is tasked with going from 2011 to 1958 to live for 5 years, gather information, and then attempt to stop the assassination of JFK. Within those 5 years, Jake’s “life” begins to catch up with him. But this is a Stephen King novel, so it is not without some paranormal elements (aside from time travel, that is). It is eerie, fun, and reflective.

 

Theresa – Youth Services

the house we gew up inThe House We Grew Up In, by Lisa Jewell, Fiction Jewell

If you like reading about dysfunctional families, this is the book for you!  The Bird family consists of Lorellei (Mom), Dad, Meg, Beth, and the twins, Rory and Rhys. Most of the story takes place in Cotswolds, England in their house, which over years becomes more and more filled with Lorelei’s “precious mementos.” Lorelei loves the early years of her children so much that she tends to collect mementos in an effort to somehow freeze time. She insists on hanging up every single piece of art produced by the children, along with craft items that they could never in a million years use. The yearly Easter egg hunt is extremely important to her, especially saving the candy egg “foils.” One Easter weekend a tragedy occurs, so terrible, that it begins to tear the family apart. Much is swept under the rug. Issues are not discussed. Years pass by, the children become adults, and Lorelai has become the county’s worst hoarder. After becoming a recluse, alienating her husband and children, something beckons them all back home… to the house they grew up in… and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago. I really enjoyed this. Each character has their own story. It gives a great deal of insight as to why someone would become a hoarder.

Chris – Circulation

the-good-neighbor.jpgThe Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, by Maxwell King, Nonfiction 921 Rogers, F. Kin

In this book, Fred Mcfeely Rogers, the famous Mister Rogers, walks us through his beginning as a Harvard graduate to his over 30 years in television. His program “Mister Rogers” touched almost all our lives, teaching us our virtues and how to be a good neighbor. His passion and unique way to show us that we are all different was part of his story, just as he was different. Showing children how to deal with events or just learn how to whistle was his magic. His puppets, movies, and regular guest visitors were a treat and lesson. He very much enjoyed this role he was blessed with in his life.

Hubbell – Circulation

a-private-war.jpgA Private War, starring Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, and Stanley Tucci, New DVD Private War

The late Marie Colvin was a tenacious and outspoken journalist. She died covering the Syrian Civil War in 2012 and had covered numerous conflicts during her career including Sri Lanka, Iraq, and numerous other Middle Eastern countries. Matthew Heineman’s A Private War (the director’s first dramatic piece) includes an excellent supporting cast including Jamie Dornan and Stanley Tucci. It uncovers Colvin’s life’s mission to show us the cost of war while also movingly personalizing her story.

Paula – Circulation

the breakfast clubThe Breakfast Club, starring Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, and Judd Nelson, DVD Breakfast…

The Breakfast Club is one of the most iconic movies of all time. A classic John Hughes masterpiece, the film centers on the lives of five teenagers stuck in detention on a Saturday. By spending the whole day together, the teens, who were strangers with nothing in common, become good friends and learn more about themselves through sharing some of their deepest secrets with each other. Full of some of the most memorable quotes and 80’s nostalgia, The Breakfast Club is a movie that people of all ages will enjoy.

 

 

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March

March2016coverIt’s March! Spring is just around the corner. In the meantime, enjoy the recommended titles below.

 

 

Sue – Circulation

goodnightmrwodehouseGood Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan, New Fiction Sullivan

This sweeping novel opens in 1900 and tells the life story of Nell Stillman and her family and friends living in the small town of Harvester, Minnesota. Nell is left reeling when her husband dies suddenly, leaving her with an infant son. Through the kindness of the Lundeen family, wealthy locals who own several businesses, Nell gets hired as a schoolteacher and so is able to support her son Hilly and hire a cousin, Elvira, to care for him while she teaches. Nell becomes great friends with the Lundeens and their son and daughter-in-law and becomes a mother figure to Elvira. Over the course of several decades (the novel closes in 1961), we see small town life through Nell’s eyes. Nell is a kind-hearted and resilient heroine who faces life’s ups and downs with grace. She suffers the loss of friends and her one great love, suffers slights due to malicious gossip, and sees her son return from WWI with a broken mind, but throughout her life, her friends are there for her and make her life whole and rewarding. The book is really a celebration of friendship, specifically life-long friendships and how they enrich our lives. It also celebrates the power of reading and how books can help us through rough times, take us to places we’d otherwise never know, and broaden our minds and hearts. In the book, Nell falls in love with the works of P.G. Wodehouse and turns to him to lift her spirits. As a huge fan of P.G. Wodehouse myself, it tickles me that Faith Sullivan has found a way to honor one of her favorite authors through her fiction.

brokenwheelThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, New Fiction Bivald

Amy and Sara are pen pals, bonded by their love of books. Amy lives in a small town in Iowa and Sara lives in Sweden. Sara comes for a planned two-month visit to find that Amy has passed away. So what is Sara to do? The rest of the townspeople insist that Sara remain and stay in Amy’s house. The town is very small and it was hit hard by the economic recession, so people are struggling, but everyone is welcoming to Sara, not letting her pay for anything and making her feel like she belongs. Sara decides to take Amy’s books (she had thousands of them) and use her closed shop to open a bookstore as a way to give back to the community by sharing Amy’s books with them. (Though Amy has already passed when the novel opens, we get to know her through her letters to Sara, interspersed throughout the book). Sara turns out to be a fabulous book seller – she can find just the right book for any person. The town and its residents slowly start to come back to life as they get involved with Sara and the bookstore. But what will happen when her visa expires? Ultimately, this is a book about community and belonging. Filled with memorable, quirky characters, a sweet love story, and numerous book references, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a warm and satisfying read. All the books mentioned in the novel are listed at the end, so it is also a great resource for finding books to read that you may have missed.

endeavourEndeavour starring Shaun Evans and Roger Allam, New DVD Endeavour, Series 1 and 2

Endeavour is a British detective series based on the Inspector Morse series that ran from 1987 to 2000 and starred the late John Thaw as Morse, a detective with the Oxford police. This series explores Morse as a young man just getting started in his detective career. Morse was famous for his curmudgeonly ways, his short temper, his love of beer, opera, and crossword puzzles, and his great skills as a detective. It is fun for fans of Inspector Morse to see the origins of the John Thaw Morse two decades earlier. Among other things, we see how his love of beer developed and get a glimpse of his famous red sports car. The show is set in Oxford in the mid-1960’s when Morse, played by Shaun Evans, joins the Oxford police as a detective constable after being promoted from a uniformed constable. The young Morse is solitary and reflective with a great mind, but not great social skills. Roger Allam co-stars as Morse’s boss, DI Fred Thursday, and his character is wonderful – a good and kind-hearted family man who sees Morse’s brilliance, supports his growth, and backs him against others in the force who resent Morse for his quick rise and superior brain. The two have a strong relationship and Allam’s performance is outstanding. Each episode solves a new case – the cases are normally quite complex and involved. The series has aired for three seasons and a fourth season has been ordered.

Dagmar – Circulation

strangerheremyselfI’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away by Bill Bryson, Nonfiction 973.92 Bry

An Anglo-American author, Bill Bryson, who is known for his humorous books on travel (A Walk in the Woods, etc.) has a new book out, called The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain, which is, of course, about his travels in England. The book is now available in our library. I have not read his new book yet, but I read and liked many others he has written. My personal favorite Bryson book is I Am a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away. Bryson once joked that there are three things in life which you can’t do: you can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you unless he is ready to see you, and you can’t go home again. Yet, after living in Britain for two decades, he moved back to the States in 1995 with his English wife and four children. He had left as a youth and was returning in his middle age. He settled in Hanover, New Hampshire, and found himself in charge of an old house in New England. There he started to discover that, at times, he was being mildly foolish and out of touch. He puzzled over ATM machines, automated gas pumps, and phones. Many good things about America for him were a bit of a novelty, such as the conveniences of daily life, the abundance of absolutely everything, the friendliness of waitresses, the wondrous, unfillable vastness of an American basement, the notion that ice is not a luxury item, and the notion that rooms can have more than one electrical outlet. He marveled at the fact that a letter from England addressed to “Mr. Bill Bryson, Author of A Walk in the Woods, Lives Somewhere in New Hampshire, America” was delivered to him just five days after it was mailed. He congratulated the U.S. Postal Service for this unassailable triumph. Bryson discovered that you indeed can go home again. The result is this extended, if often bemused, love letter to his homeland.

learningtodriveLearning to Drive starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley, New DVD Learning

Learning to Drive is a delightful film about an unlikely friendship that develops between two people in New York from very different walks of life. Wendy is a successful book editor and critic who is in a lot of emotional turmoil because her husband has just left her. She has to make a lot of adjustments to her new life and one of them is that she has to learn how to drive if she wants to (among other things) visit her daughter in Vermont. She hires Darwan, a gentle Indian driving instructor, and a former college professor on the brink of an arranged marriage, to teach her how to drive. That, as it turns out, is not always an easy task. In the process, they learn valuable lessons about life, friendship, and relationships.

Theresa – Youth Services

deathatprioryDeath at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick, Nonfiction 364.152 Rud

When Florence Ricardo, a beautiful widow, married successful attorney Charles Bravo, she quickly found out what an awful man he really was. After taking ill one evening, Bravo died an agonizing death later determined to be caused by poisoning. Florence, of course, became a suspect, along with a cast of characters including her lover and her companion and housekeeper, as well as a disgruntled former employee. This case was the talk of the day. Being a true story, the author pieced together newspaper articles and court testimony. The case was never solved due to lack of evidence, but the author leads the reader to conclude that there is only one person who could have committed the crime. This book gives a true depiction of how women in this era had few rights, even when it came to matters over their own bodies. They had to secretly take it upon themselves to deal with their personal miseries in whatever ways possible.

This is a must-read if you enjoyed Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson and/or Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul by Karen Abbott.

Michelle – Administration

nflconfidentialNFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football by Johnny Anonymous, New Nonfiction 796.332 Ano

I was attracted to this book by its promise to show the reader what the NFL is really like behind the scenes. It doesn’t quite deliver on its promise – most of the “confidential” parts are pretty well-known. However, Johnny Anonymous provides an interesting look at a season in his career as a third-string player. The writing is quick, witty, and fun to read – just don’t expect any earth-shattering revelations!

Hubbell – Circulation

mrrobotMr. Robot starring Rami Malek, New DVD Mr. Robot, Season 1

Starring Rami Malek, Christian Slater, and others, Mr. Robot was one of the best shows of 2015. It tells the story of Elliot, who is a cyber-security analyst by day and an anonymous activist hacker by night. But he is troubled by inner demons, hallucinations, and social pressures. Mr. Robot is a gripping social commentary on greed and economic inequality.

forensicsForensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid, Nonfiction 363.25 McD

Author Val McDermid is an experienced crime fiction writer; this is her second non-fiction work. It takes a detailed look at the history of forensic science, including arson and insect and pathological forensics. The history is explained through real-life crime synopses, making for a thrilling and informative read.

17761776 by David McCullough, Nonfiction 973.3 McC

1776 is an incredibly well-researched history of the most formative year in the country’s history. The first year of combat in the War for Independence was a rough one for Washington and the Continental Army. McCullough’s work, which stands out from other Revolutionary War histories, concentrates on the military personalities and events during 1776. It is as inspiring as it is interesting.

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