Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2015 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.
The son of John Steinbeck delivers a captivating novel similarly set in Montgomery, California (same as “Cannery Row“). “In the Shadow of the Cypress” explores the roles and culture of the Chinese throughout the history of the American West Coast. A potentially mind blowing archeological discovery is found pertaining to Chinese American history in the 1900’s. Narrators change in the story as the setting shifts from early 20th century to present day while the facts continue to unfold. Thomas Steinbeck’s voice has traces of his father but maintains a distinct difference. Almost a mystery novel, but not quite, it walks an interesting line of suspense, being gripping without any threat of mortal peril to any characters. It can be read and enjoyed without any prior knowledge of the former Steinbeck’s work. Continue reading “Reader Review: In the Shadow of the Cypress”
I know, I know. We just turned the calendar page to November, and bookish types are already making pronouncements about the best books of 2015. We can’t help it. As a book person and a list-maker, this time of year makes me positively giddy.
Before sharing some of the year’s best titles, we want to hear what you think was the best book of 2015. Specifically, what book did you read this past year that you think would make an excellent selection for next year’s One READ program? Our reading panel is looking for books that will appeal to adults of different ages and backgrounds and that have numerous topics for discussion. Pop on over to oneread.org, nominate a book, and then come on back to this list. I’ll wait.
Back? Okay. Here we go.
Publisher’s Weekly is one of the first out of the gate with its best books of 2015 list. The lyrical and important “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coats, previously reviewed here on the blog, tops their list. Other stand-outs (and their publishers’ descriptions):
“Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life” by William Finnegan
This memoir describes the author’s experiences as a lifelong surfer, from his early years in Honolulu through his culturally sophisticated pursuits of perfect waves in some of the world’s most exotic locales. Continue reading “Best Books of 2015: Early Bird Edition”
More than 100,000 children in the U.S. are waiting for permanent homes and families.* November is National Adoption Month, and the motto for 2015 is “We never outgrow the need for family.” The focus this year is on older youth in foster care.
In keeping with this theme, here is a list of resources for those interested in expanding their families by adding some big kids: Continue reading “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family”
Before we begin, I would like to set the mood with some music. Here is the first verse of a song called “Black Sabbath” by the band Black Sabbath from their album titled . . . “Black Sabbath“:
“What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me.
Turn around quick, and start to run.
Find out I’m the chosen one.
Oh no, indeed.
This is a spooky time of year. It gets dark earlier, trees look like they’re dying, and people stand outside in the cold with crazed looks saying it’s “good football weather.” Then there’s that eerie orange hue to their eyes from starting the day with pumpkin lattes and ending it with pumpkin beers. Also, Halloween is coming! Continue reading “Chilling Tales of Terror!”
The album and documentary Buena Vista Social Club was released to much praise in the late 1990s, piquing America’s interest in Cuban music. The band released a live album in 2008 and a collection of previously unreleased tracks earlier this year, reigniting interest in the island to the south. If you’re craving the sound of Old Havana and the beat of the clave, check out these documentaries that explore Cuban music.
“Roots of Rhythm” (1989)
Cuban music plays heavily into this three-part historical survey of the African musical roots of Latin music. Harry Belafonte takes you to Africa’s steamy jungles, Cuba’s wild carnivals and the packed dance floors of New York’s hottest nightspots for an exhilarating musical odyssey. Continue reading “Rhythm is Key: Docs About Cuban Music”
In November the nights get longer and colder, which makes this the perfect month to snuggle up with a good novel. The latest LibraryReads list – the top 10 books publishing in November that librarians across the country recommend – is heavy on the historical fiction but still includes a few thrills, mystery and even some fairy tales to keep you warm on cold nights. Happy reading!
“The Japanese Lover” by Isabel Allende
“Irina is a young Moldavian immigrant with a troubled past. She works at an assisted living home where she meets Alma, a Holocaust survivor. Alma falls in love with Ichi, a young Japanese gardener, who survived Topaz, the Japanese internment camp. Despite man’s inhumanity to man, love, art and beauty can exist, as evidenced in their beautiful love story.” – Ellen Firer, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY Continue reading “Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The November 2015 List”
I love reading about history, especially histories with unique perspectives! Traditional histories omit so much, and what we know has been carefully shaped by what schools usually teach and promote. The myths these texts create often overshadow the realities.
“An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” is a book that dispels many of the myths surrounding indigenous people, such as the myth that the “New World” was sparsely populated at the time of first contact by Europeans or that their cultures were unsophisticated. The indigenous populations were actually much denser than European societies at the time, and they were “supportable because the people had created a relatively disease-free paradise. There certainly were diseases and health problems, but the practice of herbal medicine and even surgery and dentistry, and most importantly both hygienic and ritual bathing, kept diseases at bay. ” Continue reading “Staff Book Review: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States”
The first thing my husband and I noticed while landing in Portland was how smoggy the city was. With the hottest summer on record and wild fires raging in Oregon, Washington and California, that was hardly surprising. Yet we had no time to dwell on it. We rented a car and drove to Multnomah Falls, located 30 miles away from Portland.
We humans are hardwired to be drawn to water, but waterfalls seem especially magical. Is it the sheer force of falling water? The cool glimmering beads that gently spray your face? The fresh smells and the haunting monotony of the sound? Who knows? All I know is that no picture can do justice to Multnomah Falls (at least not my picture 🙂 ). The falls are immense – the drop from the upper falls is 542 feet and from the lower 69 feet – and they attract two million visitors every year. Continue reading “Let’s Travel: Oregon 101”
November will be year 17 of National Novel Writing Month. (I promise “NaNoWriMo” has a certain ring to it after you say it enough times!) Those who finish the challenge write rough drafts of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. Whether you’re NaNoWriMo-curious or a seasoned finisher, be sure to check the calendar for events at both the Columbia and the Callaway County Public Libraries, including starter sessions later this month and write-ins in November.
The thought of writers across the nation sharpening their pencils (okay, double-clicking on the shortcut for their word-processing program of choice) makes me want to read short novels. Here are a few I have loved. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo Inspiration: Favorite Short Novels”
Are you concerned about or interested in determining whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs, also known as GM foods) are safe for the environment and safe to eat? GMOs are very controversial; just look in the media for evidence. You can find no end of articles asserting data of their safety and benefits on one side of the debate, and just as plentiful are contradictory arguments that present otherwise. With GMOs it appears that the truth is a moving target, so it may be hard to trust that you can find an ultimate truth on which to base your decision-making. Still, making an effort to inform yourself of their pros and cons can help you determine whether to avoid them or not and whether to support any, all or none of their use should you decide to engage with your elected officials on this matter…because the GMO debate is a political one. Continue reading “The GMO Controversy”