By Svetlana Grobman, Public Services Librarian
There are topics many of us avoid discussing, and the end of life is one of them. We know that our time on earth is finite, but most of the time we push that thought away. Recently, though, I came across a book that reminded me that it’s about time I give it serious consideration.
That book is “Being Mortal” (Henry Holt & Company, 2014). It’s author, Atul Gawande, is a surgeon and, as such, he’s witnessed life and death struggles many times, including his father’s. Gawande begins his book with an excerpt from Leo Tolstoy’s novella “The Death of Ivan Ilych.” In it, the main character is terminally ill, but nobody tells him about his imminent death. The doctors discuss his liver as if it has no connection to the rest of him, and his family pretends that he’s just sick and not dying. Continue reading “Literary Links: End of Life”
It feels like I’ve read millions of stories about smart and awesome children who are bullied by their peers and hated, or at least mistreated, by their parents (or, more likely, their legal guardian(s) or orphan master), but eventually they find the right mentor and/or peers and flourish. But when this template is used by a good writer, it remains satisfying no matter how many times it’s been slipped past my…head windows. And Charlie Jane Anders is, at least in this gentleman’s estimation, a great writer. And “All the Birds in the Sky” is a great novel, a new classic in the genre of “extra-special kid(s) with unfortunate upbringing(s) rise above their station and show the world their greatness.”
In order to judge the novel outside of the shadow of novels with similar conceits, I took the groundbreaking and head-breaking measure of attempting to induce amnesia. I tapped my noggin vigorously with all manner of mallets and took a number of tumbles down staircases, and in one regrettably memorable experience, sent myself plunging down my dumbwaiter, only to find that not only had my butler not been removing the now very rotten food scraps, but also one can earn a nasty infection from moldy silverware, and I don’t have a butler, and my dumbwaiter is just a second story window. Alas, the amnesia did not take. My mind, unfortunately, is still as sharp as…one of those, uh, sharp stabby things, the ones you use to affix pictures of your favorite monarchs to your dormitory walls…wallstabbers? Yes, wallstabbers. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Charlie Jane Anders”
As you’ve heard before, laughter is one of the best medicines, having positive effects on us physically, mentally and socially. This seems like a pretty big deal, that something free and fun can be such a gold mine of therapeutic benefits. If winter has you down low and feeling cabin-fever-confined, then stock up on some books from the library’s wit and humor collection and get your laughter fix.
No list of suggested humor reads would be complete without books by David Sedaris. I picked up his most recent title, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Essays, Etc,” hoping for some comic relief. Within the first paragraph of his essay “Dentists Without Borders,” I started laughing, deep from the belly. I knew we were off to a great start! Sedaris is a gifted storyteller and uses his unique, quirky and twisted brand of humor in a quasi-autobiographical, non-fiction approach to recount tales of his odd-ball upbringing, job histories and ordinary daily life experiences. He tempers his humor with a dose of poignancy, lending insight to our human foibles. Continue reading “Laugh Your Way to Winter’s Finish”
Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.
“The Look of Silence”
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. Playing last year at the True/False Film Fest, this unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of 50 years of silence.
Continue reading “New DVD List: The Look of Silence & More”
March is National Women’s History Month and the theme for 2016 is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.”
What perfect timing for me! I have just finished reading two wonderful books about the first two women on the Supreme Court who have worked tirelessly to make this a “more perfect union.”
In “Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World,” Linda Hirshman alternates between these two amazing women’s stories. Sandra Day O’Connor, as the first woman of the Supreme court, said that it was great to be the first, but she didn’t want to be the last. She was a product of the West, growing up on a ranch. She was a Christian and a Goldwater Republican, whereas Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a liberal, Jewish ACLU lawyer. But, with all their differences, their experiences in the world trying to make it as women were very much the same. The pair truly transformed the courts – and America in the process – to make it a more hospitable place for women. Continue reading “HerStory – In Government and Public Service”
We’ve compiled a list of previous documentaries available at DBRL from the directors who are presenting films at the upcoming True/False Film Fest. Check out their old films before you attend the fest for their new films!
True/False 2016 film: “The Fear of 13”
Past films as director: “The Flaw,” “In the Shadow of the Moon”
Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady
True/False 2016 film: “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You”
Past films as directors: “Detropia,” “The Boys of Baraka,” “Freakonomics” Continue reading “Previous Docs From True/False 2016 Directors”
The March LibraryReads list is here! This month we have historical fiction, a smart thriller, an urban fantasy and even Jane Eyre re-imagined as a gutsy serial killer. Place your holds now on these 10 titles recommended by librarians across the country.
“The Summer Before the War” by Helen Simonson
“Fans of Simonson’s ‘Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand‘ have reason to rejoice. She has created another engaging novel full of winsome characters, this time set during the summer before the outbreak of World War I. Follow the story of headstrong, independent Beatrice Nash and kind but stuffy surgeon-in-training Hugh Grange along with his formidable Aunt Agatha. Make a cup of tea, and prepare to savor every page!” – Paulette Brooks, Elm Grove Public Library, Elm Grove, WI Continue reading “Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The March 2016 List”
In recent years, video games have risen to prominence as a storytelling medium, engaging people young and old. These documentaries take a look at video games and how we deal with them in the real world.
“King of Kong” (2007)
Unprecedented rivalry rocks the electronic world to its core. This film follows novice gamer Steve Wiebe on his quest to destroy the top score of gaming legend Billy Mitchell, the uncontested champion of the Donkey Kong world for over 20 years. Only one can truly claim the title King of Kong. Continue reading “Bit by Bit: Docs About Gaming Culture”
As Valentine’s Day approached, I, like most red-blooded Americans probably, found my thoughts turning to Richard Nixon. Coincidentally, I was absorbed by Austin Grossman’s latest novel, “Crooked.” “Crooked” is the first-person account of Richard Nixon’s rise to power and fall from power, and subsequent rise to power and fall from power. While others have chronicled Nixon’s life, none before have touched on the terrifying truth: Nixon was one of the few that knew the U.S. and U.S.S.R. had moved beyond the mutually assured destruction via mundane nuclear weaponry and were onto mutually assured destruction via weaponized monsters and pacts made with the elder gods that walked the earth before being banished below the surface.
It’s no surprise that Henry Kissinger was a thousand-year-old sorcerer, but the reader won’t expect to learn that Dwight Eisenhower could stop a bullet with magic, or that the British had long been allies with a miles-long krakken, and that the monster had plucked German planes out of the sky during World War II. These sorts of treats are abundant in the novel, as are fantastic sentences such as follows:
I had, I realized, lost track of whether I was a centrist Republican stalwart, a right-wing anti-Communist demagogue, a mole for Soviet intelligence, the proxy candidate for a Bavarian sorcerer, or the West’s last hope against an onrushing tide of insane chthonic forces.
Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Austin Grossman”