It’s December! Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones and check out the recommended titles below.
Sue – Circulation
Once Again It’s Christmas by Kenny Rogers, New CD 781.72 Rogers
This is a new Christmas album by Kenny Rogers. His last Christmas album was released in 1998. This CD includes classic Christmas carols including The Little Drummer Boy, Winter Wonderland, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas, as well as original songs and duets with Alison Krauss and Jennifer Nettles. My favorites of the original songs are Once Again It’s Christmas and The Light. I also enjoyed There’s A New Kid in Town and Back to Bethlehem, which have been covered by other artists as well. Once Again It’s Christmas is a nostalgic song about the joys of the Christmas season. It reminds me of the classic song Silver Bells. The Light is a lovely ballad exalting the virtues of the Christian faith. The song includes accompaniment by a choir and an orchestra. There’s a New Kid in Town is a beautiful, melodic song celebrating the birth of Jesus. Back to Bethlehem is about the troubles of the modern world and returning to the values of Christmas. The album has a soft and peaceful mood, with string instruments and piano featuring on most of the songs, and makes a strong addition to our Christmas collection.
Home Fires starring Samantha Bond and Francesca Annis, New DVD Home Fires
This is a PBS period drama about the British home front during World War II, set in a small community in rural Cheshire and following the lives of the members of the local Women’s Institute. It was inspired by the nonfiction book Jambusters by Julie Summers, a history of the Women’s Institute during the war and its contributions to the war effort. The series opens in August 1939 and goes through the Battle of Dunkirk in May 1940. The series has been renewed for a second season, which will open in the summer of 1940 during the Battle of Britain.
Over 300,000 women were members of the Women’s Institute during the war. They did their part for the war effort by growing and preserving food, knitting for the troops, organizing the evacuation of children and taking in evacuees, setting up canteens for the troops, and raising money for needed supplies.
I am fascinated by the history of the home front of England during WWII – how England stood alone against Hitler and how strong the people were to keep going in the face of years of war and all the suffering and loss. The Blitz, food shortages, rationing, the death of loved ones on the battlefield and at home, constant fear of bombings, and yet they not only endured, but maintained positive, can-do attitudes. It is remarkable what women accomplished on the home front despite all the hardships and the strength and resolve shown by them. Women did men’s work in the factories and fields, kept their families fed when there was no food, lost not only husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers, but also women and children to bombings and other wartime events, took in evacuees, gave up their homes or land or possessions to the war effort, and in the end, they did their part to defeat Hitler.
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, Fiction Walls
This novel by the author of the acclaimed memoir The Glass Castle is a fictional account of the life of the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, written in her grandmother’s voice. Lily was a woman ahead of her time, strong and independent. Born in the early 1900s, she spent much of her life on ranches in the American West. By the age of six, she was working with her father breaking wild horses. She went on to become a teacher, working in rural one-room school houses, and a mother of two. In addition to her skills with horses and teaching, she also learned how to fly an airplane, all great accomplishments for a woman of that time. She was a tough and practical-minded woman with good common sense who did not suffer fools gladly. The book was entertaining as Lily had an adventuresome life. Besides her experiences on the ranch, which involved flash floods, harsh winters, and all the other troubles that come with livestock and living off the land, teaching, and raising her children, she raced horses, ran moonshine, lost her sister tragically, married a con man before finding happiness with her second husband, and survived both the Depression and WWII. She passed away when the author was eight years old and is fondly remembered by her family.
Theresa – Youth Services
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, Fiction Hill
This is a ghost story about an aging rock star known for his strange and macabre collections. When he finds out that someone is selling a ghost, he has to have it. What he gets is a suit…the ghost’s suit, which comes in a heart-shaped box. What he doesn’t realize is that he was tricked into buying this ghost who has a reason to want him or anyone who helps him dead. It’s difficult to imagine that a ghost could cause bodily harm, but this one convinces his victims to harm themselves. Scary!
I enjoyed this as a perfect book to set the mood for Halloween. After reading it, I found out that the author, Joe Hill, is actually Joseph Hillstrom King, the son of authors Stephen and Tabitha King. He decided to use an abbreviated form of his given name in 1997, out of a desire to succeed based solely on his own merits rather than as the son of famous writers. After achieving a degree of independent success, Hill publicly confirmed his identity in 2007.
Dagmar – Circulation
Hemingway & Gellhorn starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, DVD Hemingway
Hemingway & Gellhorn is a 2012 HBO biopic film by director Philip Kaufman (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), starring Nicole Kidman as Hemingway’s third wife Martha Gellhorn and Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway. They are one of the most famous American literary couples. The film tells the story of their passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage; it depicts the conflicts between the career of a great literary master and that of his beautiful wife, a trailblazing war correspondent. The adventurous writers, who meet by chance in 1936 in a Key West bar, meet again in Spain and they go together through the Spanish Civil War and stay there until 1939. She becomes his muse for the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. In 1940, Hemingway divorces his second wife and marries Martha. Together they witness history and cover the great conflicts of their time, but the war they could not survive was their own. “We were good in war,” says Kidman as the renowned war correspondent Gellhorn. “When there was no war, we made our own.” In 1945, Martha Gellhorn asks Hemingway for a divorce. Kidman received a lot of well-deserved praise for her performance as Martha Gellhorn, especially for using her beauty – exceptional figure and old- fashioned movie star glamour – to full effect. Owen portrays well Hemingway’s charisma and his legendary temper. The film also features an all-star supporting cast and has a lot of extraordinary archival footage scenes. The only flaw the film has is its length – 155 minutes. But it may be a good film to watch on one of those long winter nights.
Hubbell – Circulation
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, New Nonfiction 576.84 Kol or New CD 576.84 Kol (audiobook)
Written by journalist Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction examines the patterns of the phenomenon of mass extinction throughout natural history. The author, through the presentation of convincing scientific evidence, purports that we presently are in the sixth such massive die-off in Earth’s history. Kolbert keeps the tone light, however, and even entertaining with chapters like The Rhino Gets an Ultrasound and Dropping Acid. The first chronicles zoologists’ attempts at sustaining population of the near-extinct Asian Rhino while the the latter explains the process of ocean acidification and its dire consequences on marine biodiversity. By analyzing past examples of extinction periods throughout the geological ages, Kolbert (and scientists) suggest we have now entered a new period called the Anthropocene Epoch, in which humans have irreversibly changed the very nature of biology on the planet.
Brigitte – Circulation
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase, DVD National Lampoon’s
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a Christmas classic that the whole family is sure to love. If you are feeling nostalgic this holiday season, check out this comedy starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, a man just trying to make the holidays fun for his family, often with hilariously disastrous results. Yule love it!
Jacob – Circulation
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson, Nonfiction 940.4514 Lar
The Lusitania was a luxury cruise liner headed from New York to Liverpool. Tragically, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland and sank on May 7, 1915. Through meticulous research and historical documents, Erik Larson intertwines the stories of the ship and the submarine, while telling the story of this historic turning point in WWI. If you are a fan of Larson’s previous works, you will definitely enjoy this one as well.