Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.
Website / Reviews
Playing at the True False Film Fest in 2017, this film is the moving portrait of the Rainey family living in North Philadelphia. Beginning at the dawn of the Obama presidency a married couple raise a family while nurturing a community of hip-hop artists in their home music studio. It’s a safe space where all are welcome, but this creative sanctuary can’t always shield them from the strife that grips their neighborhood. Continue reading “New DVD List: Quest, Motherland, & More”
Happy Pi Day!
I remember back in school learning the value of pi out to as many digits as I could manage. I would like to say that I memorized it all the way to 20 digits past the decimal or more, but that might be a tall tale. I can at least still remember it to five digits (3.14159). It might have been hard, but it was also fun.
Have you heard the urban legend about the US legislator who tried to make a law redefining pi so that it equals three? I’ve heard it told that the legislator was from several different states, and the legend is usually on a rather vague time scale. It happened last week? Or it could have been decades ago. That alone is enough to consider the story to be a hoax. But truth is stranger than fiction, as there actually was a case in American history where someone really did try to redefine the value of pi. Continue reading “Have Sum Pi”
Once you’ve exhausted all the content on dbrl.org/adults, and you’re looking for a nice single-sitting read, consider “The Only Harmless Great Thing” by Brooke Bolander. In the time it takes your butler to press your evening wear and prepare your evening snacks, you can consume the novella, perhaps with time to spare for contemplation over a succession of treats.
The novella combines two real tragedies (“The Radium Girls” and Topsy the Elephant) and adds the story of trying to prevent a third (future generations inadvertently entering radioactive land). Regan, like the real Radium Girls, is dying of cancer because her job is to paint watches with a paint that makes them glow and gives her cancer. Her bosses encourage her to use her mouth to moisten the paint brushes in order to save on time and cleaning materials. Unlike the real Radium Girls, she is trying to train Topsy the elephant to take over her job because her bosses appreciate the fact that it will take longer to give cancer to an elephant. When Topsy murders a cruel man, she is sold to a carnival so that she can be executed for the entertainment of an audience. Unlike the real Topsy, this one has a trick up her trunk.
Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Brooke Bolander”
The fate of displaced children is the central concern of many books published in the past few years. The practice of adoption, as we think of it today, with background checks and safeguards, has not always been the standard. In 1853, distressed by the number of street children he encountered in New York, Charles Loring Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society. From 1854 to 1929, the program put homeless children on “orphan trains” headed west for placement with families across the country. Though the intention was good, there was little investigation of adoptive households. Some children landed with nurturing parents, but others were used only as free labor for farms or sweatshops.
Christina Baker Kline addresses the plight of these children in her novel “Orphan Train.” The narrative interweaves two timelines and character stories. Molly, a teenager in foster care, is working off community service hours by helping the elderly Vivian get her house and attic in order, sorting through a lifetime of possessions. While they discuss the history of the keepsakes, Vivian tells of her childhood experiences as an Irish immigrant and orphan train rider. Continue reading “Literary Links: Orphans and Orphan Trains”
One of my favorite memories from childhood was crawling up on my mom’s lap in our big recliner and listening to her read to us. I can distinctly remember her reading E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web,” and “I Was So Mad,” which was one of the Litter Critter books by Mercer Mayer. The sound of her reading helped pull my young mind into those stories, bringing the pages to life.
A well-read story can be the height of entertainment. It can help listeners more fully connect with and understand a story. A reader can deliver the humor and the pathos in ways that draws readers into the story on a more emotional level. It also can be interesting to hear how another person interprets a character’s voice and compare it with what you might have heard in your head. Sometimes hearing someone else read a story can totally change your perspective.
It’s not surprising that our story times for babies and toddlers are so well attended. They help children discover a love of books and they provide them with entertainment that stimulates their imagination and cognitive skills. But why should the kids have all the fun? Continue reading “Story Time and Discussion for Grown-ups”
There are lots of fantastic titles by debut authors that came to the library in February. If you would like a more comprehensive list, please visit our catalog. Enjoy!
“Only Killers and Thieves” by Paul Howarth
Two brothers, Billy and Tommy McBride, seek revenge for the murder of their parents and younger sister in the Australian outback in the 1880s. Believing their family was murdered by an aboriginal man, the boys set off on a manhunt accompanied by a neighboring rancher and Inspector Noone of the Native Mounted Police.
However, relations are strained between the white settlers and the natives they have brutally oppressed, and the manhunt becomes a massacre. While Billy embraces the violence and sense of vengeance, Tommy is sickened by the cruelty they witness, and his growing conscience jeopardizes the brothers’ relationship.
Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: February 2018”
Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released this March. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.
Geneen Roth, the author of a number of popular self-help titles, returns this month with “This Messy Magnificent Life.” Here, she presents a series of insightful essays aimed at helping readers build self-esteem and assert control over all aspects of life. If you have enjoyed her previous books or are just looking for a warm and humorous pick-me-up, this one is for you. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: March 2018”
Being a gamer can challenge your cognitive ability and your dexterity, but it can also be a challenge to your social skills. How can gamers interact constructively with others while still maintaining their competitive edge? Check out these documentaries about various kinds of gamers.
“Wizard Mode” (2016)
This film is a candid personal perspective on autism through the life of one of the world’s greatest pinball players. The film follows Robert Gagno as he seeks to balance his quest to become a world pinball champion and his growing real world responsibilities, culminating at the largest pinball tournament in the world. Continue reading “Playing Along: Docs About Gamers”
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2017 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.
In the years that follow the ending of an affair between Sarah Miles and Maurice Bendrix, we learn (through the help of a dedicated private detective) what the relationship had meant to both parties and what they had done to protect themselves or the other from the intensity of love that they experienced. While Bendrix wrestles with jealousy and insecurity, Sarah struggles to honor a vow she believes keeps Bendrix safe, but demands that she quit their love entirely.
Graham Greene was a phenomenal writer and “The End of the Affair” provided both plot and prose that I found to be stunning. (Seriously, how is this not required reading?!) Greene explores relationships and morality in a way that forces the reader to abandon the dichotomy of good and bad, and appreciate the nuances and complexity in so many of life’s experiences.
Three words that describe this book: Love, loss, fantastic
You might want to pick this book up if: You want a new author to love. Also, if you’re working on “1001 Books to Read Before You Die.”