It is August already. Where does the summer go? Enjoy the warm weather outdoors with a good book!
Mary – Youth Services
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers —By: Robert M. Sapolsky—Nonfiction: 616.98 Sap
For most people, the diagnosis of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, heart disease, or some other stress-related illness is enough to make an individual feel lost, and debilitated. Despite being in a world with more accessible information than ever before, it is difficult to find accurate, or comprehensive material on a wide number of stress-related disease and illnesses. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers is a wonderfully written, extensive look into stress-related medical issues, primarily viewed from a biological standpoint. Quite shockingly, Dr. Sapolsky is also quite humorous in his factual writing; his explanation of complex medical terminology is analogy-driven, to help the individual understand the biological, psychological, and environmental tie-ins with stress, and illness. If you or a loved one suffers from a stress-related disease, or illness, this book is crucial reading. The concrete reasons for mental illness – for instance – is liberating to those who are afflicted.
The Graveyard Book— By: Neil Gaiman—YA Fiction Gaiman
The Graveyard Book begins on a darkened night when a violent man leaves a home in ruin, believing he has killed all its occupants. Despite his care, one boy remains – a child. This young boy, later named Bod, wanders from the crime scene of his home, and comes to a graveyard. There he can hear voices, and finally can see the dead – very much still alive – surrounding him. A deliberation ensues, and a deceased couple decides to raise young Bod. Years elapse, and Bod learns from these members of the graveyard, until one day, it may be time for Bod to leave this peculiar childhood behind. This story masterfully takes the dynamics of the world we know, and flips them over on their head using fantastical elements, and of course, the Gaiman-esqe truth that nothing is as it appears to be.
Milk —starring Sean Penn, James Franco, and Josh Brolin—DVD Milk
With the recent release of the Harvey Milk U.S. Postal stamp, the passing of equal rights laws, now is a time that Harvey Milk and his Castro Street had hoped for. Milk chronicles the life of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), starting with his fortieth birthday when he moves to the Castro, and finally wants to do something right with his life. This desire transforms into the most iconic struggle for equal rights, and Milk becoming the first openly gay politician in the United States to win office. Sean Penn plays astoundingly detailed Milk; he neither portrays him as a hero-figure to be worshiped, or an icon, but rather, a flawed human being who had a simple desire to make the world a bit better for its occupants. Coupled with archival footage of riots, and marches in the Castro and beyond, Milk is a powerful portrayal of the human spirit, and the continued strive for equality.
Sue – Circulation
The Outsmarting of Criminals: A Mystery Introducing Miss Felicity Prim —By Steven Rigolosi—New Fiction: Rigolosi
I loved this delightful novel. I hope, as the subtitle suggests, there will more novels to come featuring Miss Felicity Prim. Felicity is a very proper and sensible lady who has lived and worked in New York City for decades. After being mugged, she decides that it is time to retire and she buys a cottage in a small Connecticut town. She decides to make a new career as a criminal outsmarter, as she calls it. Being a life-long reader of crime fiction, she feels she can successfully solve crimes in real life. Her family and closest friends, including her sister Celia, Amos, the doctor for whom she has worked for many years, and Dolly, a young woman who also works at the doctor’s office, don’t want her to leave and are worried about her new chosen career. Well before she expects it, she is immersed in her first case when she finds a dead body in the basement of her new home on the day she moves in. This book is very funny with tongue-in-cheek humor poking fun at Miss Prim’s prim character and the plots of typical mystery novels, and it has an ending that is both clever and satisfying.
I Shall Be Near to You — By: Erin Lindsay McCabe — New Fiction McCabe
This book is about a woman who disguises herself as a man and joins the Union Army to fight in the Civil War. The book is fiction, but it is based on historical accounts of over 200 women who fought in the war as men. In New York State 1862, Rosetta’s new husband Jeremiah, her childhood sweetheart, joins up. Rosetta, who has always been a tomboy and never really fit in, doesn’t want to be left on her own in their house on Jeremiah’s family’s land. Her mother-in-law doesn’t understand Rosetta and she doesn’t feel comfortable. So she cuts her hair, puts on clothes belonging to Jeremiah, and enlists under the name of Ross Stone. She joins her husband and other local boys at the encampment where new recruits are being trained. Her husband is not happy with her decision, but allows her to stay. From then on, she is a soldier like all the men in her regiment. The book follows the regiment as it trains and then into battle. They see action at the Second Battle of Bull Run and at the bloody Battle of Antietam. Rosetta tells her story in her own words, which makes the book especially powerful. A moving story about a strong-willed woman living her life on her terms and the bravery she and others showed during a terrible time in American history.
Pushing Daisies —DVD Pushing Daisies, Seasons 1 and 2
This was a terrific show and it’s a shame that it only lasted for two abbreviated seasons. It was original and whimsical, with charming characters and bright, colorful settings. Definitely not your ordinary crime procedural, but a unique show amidst so many shows that seem to all be the same. The show centers around Ned, a shy man who has a secret – his touch can bring the dead back to life, but touch the newly awakened again, and they die permanently. Plus, each time he brings a being back to life for more than one minute, someone else must die in that being’s place. Ned learned of his gift and its consequences accidentally as a child under traumatic circumstances. In the following years, Ned learned to keep his distance from people. He now owns his own pie shop and lives a lonely existence with his only companions his dog and the waitress at his shop, Olive, who is lovelorn for him while he is oblivious to her feelings. One day, private detective Emerson Cod witnesses Ned bringing someone back to life accidentally whom Emerson had been chasing and the two enter into an agreement to solve homicide cases. Ned touches the victims and asks them who killed them, then touches them again before one minute has elapsed, and he and Emerson split the reward money. All goes well until one day, the victim is Ned’s childhood love, Charlotte. Can Ned bear to see Charlotte dead when he has the power to bring her back? But what will be the consequences if he does bring her back? Watch this quirky and funny show and see what happens.
The Shadow of the Wind —By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon—Fiction: Ruiz Zafon
The Shadow of the Wind is a deep and compelling story that spans over 20 years. It begins in Barcelona in 1945 where 10-year-old Daniel is taken by his father, a bookseller, to visit the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a repository for out of print or non-circulating books. There Daniel is allowed to choose one book. He selects The Shadow of the Wind, written by an author named Julian Carax. Entranced by the book, Daniel sets out on a decades-long search to discover who Carax is and to find other works by him. Over time, he discovers that an unknown person is traveling throughout Spain, buying and then burning all of Carax’s works. As Daniel grows up, the mystery deepens. The story is complex, following Daniel’s growth from a child to a young man and chronicling his relationships along the way, first with an older girl he is smitten with as a child, then a mysterious woman who has some unknown connection to Carax, and finally to the love of his adulthood, Bea. The story delves into Carax’s childhood, and as we learn more about Carax, we see parallels between his youth and Daniel’s unfolding life. I found this book to be absorbing and haunting with touches of psychological thriller and gothic novel. In the end, it’s mostly a love story, not only Daniel’s story, but the interwoven stories of several characters whose lives are all touched in some way by the mysterious Carax.