“And so we rode out that Christmas morning from the ruins in which the Tipmen had discovered ‘The History of Mankind in Space,’ which still resided in my back-satchel, vagrant memory of a half-forgotten past.”
-Robert Charles Wilson, “Julian: A Christmas Story”
Merry Christmas from the theocratic neo-Victorian 22nd century created by Robert Charles Wilson! Climate change and the end of peak oil have caused a technological reversion. The social order is structured by a hierarchy with feudal indenture, property-based representation in the senate and a hereditary line of succession to the presidency. The titular character, Julian Comstock, is the nephew of the sitting president sent to a remote district by his mother for his safety. That safety is threatened two days before Christmas when reservists arrive to impose a draft for the war with the Dutch in Labrador. Maps and geopolitical relationships have changed significantly — our flag has 60 stars and Julian’s father was a hero of a war against Brazil. Julian’s father was also hanged for a dubious charge of treason, and the president now sees Julian as a threat. Conscription into the war would be a convenient way for the president to eliminate his teenage nephew. Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: Christmas Edition?”
Throughout the year, I’ve shared the LibraryReads Top 10 favorite books that librarians love each month. From those lists, a vote is held to determine the top 10 of the entire year. Without further ado, here is the Favorite of Favorites 2017:
“Little Fires Everywhere”
by Celeste Ng
“’Little Fires Everywhere’ delves into family relationships and what parenthood, either biological or by adoption, means. We follow the members of two families living in the idyllic, perfectly-planned suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio: Mia and Pearl, a mother and daughter living a less traditional lifestyle, moving from town to town every few months, and the Richardsons, the perfect nuclear family in the perfect suburb … until Izzy Richardson burns her family home down. Ng’s superpower is her ability to pull you into her books from the very first sentence!”
~Emma DeLooze-Klein, Kirkwood Public Library, Kirkwood, MO
And here are the rest:
Continue reading “LibraryReads: Favorite of Favorites 2017”
Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released in December. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.
“No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters” by Ursula K. Le Guin
A collection of essays from the legendary author’s blog that express her thoughts on aging, belief, the state of literature and the state of the nation. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: December 2017”
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.
What a wonderfully written book! I’ll admit that I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I first cracked “History of Wolves,” and the meandering pace and plot kept me unsure through the first several chapters. But as this tale revealed itself to be an introspective look at the thoughts and actions of youth, I was left completely enthralled. Part of what impresses me most about this piece is how much I connect with the young protagonist despite how little I actually have in common with her. Linda is an observer, she’s self-critical, she’s trapped, she seeks no assistance or sympathy despite her age, she’s fascinating. As I reached the midpoint in this book I gleefully wrapped myself in the subtle sense of dread that Fridlund imbues these pages with.
Three words that describe this book: Atmospheric, fresh, enveloping
You might want to pick this book up if: If you want to spend several hours inside the head of an adolescent girl grappling with an unusual reality.
Here are the authors making their debuts this November. It’s a pretty sparse crowd as we head toward the end of the year, but there are still some fantastic books waiting to be discovered. I’m especially excited about “The City of Brass” by S. A. Chakraborty.
“The City of Brass” by S. A. Chakraborty
Con artist Nahri uses her wits and sleight of hand to survive the streets of 18th century Cairo. She gets by, by performing palm readings and healings, but she doesn’t believe in magic — that is, until she accidentally summons a mysterious djinn. Together they journey to Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, where Nahri is drawn into a world of magic and politics that she doesn’t understand and learns secrets about her past that change everything.
“The Library at the Edge of the World” by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
Set in the villages of Ireland’s West Coast, librarian Hanna Casey returns to the rural town she grew up in to rebuild her life after discovering her husband in bed with another woman. Even as she works to become independent, she finds herself at the center of gossip and her library is threatened with closure. So Hanna begins a battle to save the library and her community, along the way forging relationships with the neighbors she had worked so hard to keep at a distance.
Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: November”
What does life mean when you are living on a dead world? How do you remain human when most of what surrounds you is artificial? Questions of authenticity and what it is to be human haunt Philip K. Dick’s dead and sparsely populated vision of Earth in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”
While best known as the source material for the classic movie “Blade Runner” and the recent sequel, the novel is its own unique story. It describes a post-apocalyptic Earth where a radioactive atmosphere caused mass emigrations to colonies on other planets. Most who live on Earth are not there by choice — they do not have the means, nor do they pass genetic or intelligence thresholds that would permit them to live “off-world.” Status in this world is exemplified in the quest of the protagonist, Rick Deckard, to own a real, live animal. Most animals are extinct and rare specimens are coveted. When we first meet Deckard he is making do with a robotic sheep he passes off to his neighbors as real. Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”
Sometimes it’s easy to be grateful because some things simply demand gratitude, such as avoiding a collision or winning a lottery — or even just finding $20 in an old coat pocket. But it can also be hard to be grateful. Every day. Day after day. Life gets busy and overwhelming partly because of the big things swirling around us, but also because of the small and petty things that demand our attention. It can be hard to refocus and reflect on our blessings. That is why November, the month of Thanksgiving, has become my time to make a concerted effort by focusing on a different gratitude each day. And, as with most things in my life, that includes a healthy dose of books. Continue reading “A Month of Gratitude”
If you’re a music fan and want to dig further behind the music, there are always a lot of great books to read. But if you want to hear the people behind the music and see their process, nothing can beat a documentary. Check out these documentary series that explore different aspects of music history.
The eight-part series explores the art of music recording and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of brand new sounds. Featuring more than 160 original interviews with some of the most celebrated recording artists of all time, “Soundbreaking” explores the nexus of cutting-edge technology and human artistry that has created the soundtrack of our lives.
Jazz has been called the purest expression of American democracy; a music built on individualism and compromise, independence and cooperation. Ken Burns’ 10 episode series follows the growth and development of jazz music from the gritty streets of New Orleans to Chicago’s south side, the speakeasies of Kansas city and to Times Square.
“The History of Rock & Roll” (1995)
This 10-part documentary covers rock ‘n’ roll history from its humble beginnings in the ’50s to Lollapalooza in the ’90s. Fans can experience their favorite rock ‘n’ roll moments all over again through hundreds of exclusive interviews, classic footage and unforgettable in-concert performances from rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest stars.
November 17, 2017: the hundredth anniversary of Auguste Rodin’s death.
You don’t have to cross the state, country or sea to study and admire and treasure Rodin’s seductive sculptures. The Saint Louis Art Museum and Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art have castings of his originals on display, and the library, of course, has many books describing and depicting his sensuous works. Continue reading “Rodin: One Hundred”