Know Your Dystopias: Cli-Fi

Posted on Monday, April 23, 2018 by Eric

Loosed Upon the World book cover
The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction

Societal upheaval caused by environmental changes is not a new subject for speculative fiction, but as concerns over climate change increase there is a parallel increase in dystopian novels about it. The label “Cli-Fi” has been adopted for these explorations of the consequences of climate change. This subgenre imagines how the predicted and unpredictable effects of climate change will alter our maps, our systems of governance, social customs and methods of survival. These stories are dystopian in a literal sense — they are the flip side of utopian dreams. It turns out that the industrial revolution and the subsequent technological advances that have made amazing improvements in our lives come at a cost — oops! What follows is a sampling of some of the best writing in this fast-growing genre.

In “The History of Bees” Maja Lunde approaches the pace and scale of climatic changes by taking the reader through the past, present and future of three generations of beekeepers. In the future people must hand-paint pollen onto fruit trees because there are no more bees to pollinate them. Sadly, that detail isn’t science fiction. It is already starting to happen, and Walmart just filed a patent for robotic bees. Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: Cli-Fi”

Meditate on This

Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 by Melissa

Young Woman Meditating on the FloorPracticing meditation probably won’t make you have superpowers, but it can help with anxiety, depression or just feeling constantly rushed. If you’ve considered meditating but need to be convinced about the benefits, pick up Richard Wright’s recent book “Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.” Wright writes with the depth and clarity one would expect from a Princeton professor and Pulitzer finalist, but also is a practitioner of meditation and brings levity to this examination.

Wherever you Go There You Are book coverOnce you’ve decided that you want to give meditation a go, there are a range of options to help you along your path. “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life,” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, is a classic handbook. First published in 1994, it has remained an important book for mindfulness practice. Continue reading “Meditate on This”

The Gentleman Recommends: Samanta Schweblin

Posted on Monday, April 16, 2018 by Chris

As a gentleman more concerned with sufficiently starched top hats, photographs of cats, and the total dearth of responsibility for young humans and the constant bowel movements that accompany them than I am with propagating my lineage, one might presume the full impact of Samanta Schweblin’sFever Dream” (translated  from Spanish to English by Megan McDowell) would be lost on me. This would be an erroneous presumption, as I, like all true gentlefolk, am not only capable of empathy, but indeed often overwhelmed by it. So, when the ceaseless dread generated by Schweblin’s powerful and brief jolt of a novel occasionally crescendos and a child is in peril (or a mother imagines her child to be in peril), my heart pounds and my worry kerchief is vigorously applied to my creased and dread-sweat blighted brow. I paused in the consumption of this terrifying story only to swap one sopping worry kerchief for the next temporarily dry portion of silk.

Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Samanta Schweblin”

Quintessential Comics: Top Five Black Panther Graphic Novels

Posted on Friday, April 13, 2018 by Josh

Hey, everyone! We’re back once again for another installment of Quintessential Comics. In honor of the overwhelming success of Marvel’s Black Panther film, we are going to take a look at five of T’Challa’s best appearances in his own graphic novel. Let’s get right into it, as we don’t want to keep the King of Wakanda waiting.

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet

Black Panther book coverStarting us off is a story by Ta-Nehisi Coates in which T’Challa must deal with a terrorist organization called “The People.” As Wakanda finds itself under attack, Black Panther must discover who is truly behind the suicide bombings that are throwing his home into chaos. Struggling to maintain order and unity, T’Challa’s mettle is truly tested in this installment. How can a King be respected if he can’t protect his people? Be sure to check this one out for your fill of familiar foes, difficult choices, and epic altercations. Continue reading “Quintessential Comics: Top Five Black Panther Graphic Novels”

Literary Links: Financial Literacy

Posted on Monday, April 9, 2018 by Anne

The ability to manage debt and make good financial decisions can have a lasting impact on our lives, and yet many Americans struggle with financial literacy. Each stage of life, from starting a new career, to beginning life with a new baby or contemplating retirement can take a different financial toll. For that reason, financial literacy is something we have to work on throughout our lives. April is designated as Financial Literacy Month in this country and would be a good time to visit the library for a wide variety of books on the topic that can help no matter what stage you’re at financially.

the memo book coverAuthor John Bryant acknowledges that building financial stability when you start in an impoverished state can seem impossible. He shares the lessons he learned on his own journey out of poverty in “The Memo: Five Rules for Your Economic Liberation.” Bryant explores how a person’s inner capital works in combination with their life’s outer situation to bring them to financial success or failure. Inner capital includes your own knowledge, personal relationships and drive, and it can ultimately shape how you handle situations. Bryant advises readers on how to build inner capital to work through roadblocks that life and society can place in our way.

Continue reading “Literary Links: Financial Literacy”

Read Harder Essay Anthologies

Posted on Monday, April 9, 2018 by Reading Addict

Melcher's Woman Reading by a WindowI may be a little weird (aren’t we all?), but I tend to read a lot of nonfiction, and I actually love reading essays. I don’t usually make the time to sit down with a magazine to read the articles, but it seems different to me if they are collected in a book format. I also find essay anthologies to be appealing because I can just skim (or skip) the ones I’m not particularly interested in and linger over the ones I like. And if I need to put it down and walk away for a while, it’s easy to come back to later.

If you are participating in the Read Harder 2018 Challenge, task #22 read an essay anthology, and here are some of my favorites:

The Fire Next Time Book CoverThe Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin is a classic and is just as relevant today as it was when he wrote it in 1963. I love reading and listening to James Baldwin. I have seen interviews with him that just floored me. It’s a small book of a letters to Baldwin’s nephew and an essay on America’s “racial nightmare.” Continue reading “Read Harder Essay Anthologies”

Debut Author Spotlight: March 2018

Posted on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 by Katherine

There are so many exciting debuts that came out in March that it was difficult to decide which ones to highlight. If you’re interested in the longer list please visit our catalog.

Tangerine book coverTangerine” by Christine Mangan

After the death of her first husband, Alice escapes her past by marrying again and accompanying her new husband to Tangier, Morocco in the early 1950s. But her past finds her again when her former best friend and college roommate Lucy shows up in Tangier.

Upon learning that Alice is unhappy in her new marriage, Lucy is determined to reestablish her relationship — and her control — over fragile Alice, who she had obsessively loved in college. As Lucy begins to manipulate Alice, more about their tragic past is revealed and it’s hinted that an equally tragic future may be in store for them.

Movie rights have already been sold with George Clooney set to produce and Scarlett Johansson to star as Alice. Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: March 2018”

Books With Female Protagonists Over Age 60: Read Harder 2018

Posted on Friday, March 30, 2018 by Dana S

Person Reading a Book

March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to celebrate than to read books with awesome female characters?! For those of you participating in Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder challenge, this could be the perfect time to check off task #23: a book with a female protagonist over the age of 60. I highlight here a few books featuring female characters “of a certain age,” some who have made history, others who have been there to bear witness to it.

Grandma Gatewood's Walk coverNow, the term protagonist is most frequently used to refer to the central character of a fictional text, but can be used more broadly to refer to prominent figures in real contexts. I just had to make use of this latter definition to include “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.” At age 67, Emma Gatewood told her family that she was going for a walk; surely they assumed she’d be taking a leisurely stroll around the block. Nope! Gatewood’s walk was the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, and she became the first woman to complete this journey solo. Becoming something of a hiking celebrity, she later was the first person to walk the trail twice, and then three times. Talk about determination! Continue reading “Books With Female Protagonists Over Age 60: Read Harder 2018”

Know Your Dystopias: Women’s History Month Edition

Posted on Monday, March 26, 2018 by Eric

March is Women’s History Month, but here at the Know Your Dystopias underground bunker I am always looking to the future — the depressing, bleak future.  So I will recognize this occasion with a roundup of (mostly) recent contributions to dystopian lit written by women that specifically envision what the future might hold for women.  During these “history months” we are supposed to reflect on the lessons of the past, and the past Handmaid's Tale book coverinforms the present. Dystopian literature is often inspired or informed by the past, but it is ultimately about the present.  As Margaret Atwood said in a recent interview, “Prophecies are really about now.  In science fiction it’s always about now.”

Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a story about subjugated women in a patriarchal society.  The book was published 33 years ago, but is still an essential read in this genre because of both its lasting influence and continued relevance. A television adaptation premiered last year and won critical praise and awards. The story is about the former United States of America — now the Republic of Gilead — where a religious military dictatorship rules based on judicial laws from the Old Testament. Women’s rights have been removed, and a class of women known as “handmaids” are kept exclusively for reproductive purposes. The book primarily follows a handmaid named Offred, and the reader learns about this world through her experiences. Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: Women’s History Month Edition”

YA and Middle Grade Book Series: Read Harder Challenge 2018

Posted on Friday, March 23, 2018 by cs

Everyone has a favorite type of book … it could be the genre, a certain style of writing, a particular setting or book theme. The Read Harder Challenge asks you to step out of your comfort zone (or as I like to call it — my rut) and try a different type of book. One of the challenges is to read the first book in a new-to-you young adult or juvenile series — a collection that I have never been drawn to, except for Harry Potter, of course! (Don’t ask me how many times I have read those books!) I have selected a few for you to try out. You can also look at the list in our catalog for other options.

Whether or not you are a fan of fantasy, Maggie Stiefvater’s first novel in the Raven Cycle series is sure to please. Raven Boys book coverOne of my struggles with fantasy is often the characters don’t seem believable. However, it was easy for me to connect with Stiefvater’s characters and the plot line in the first book of the series, “The Raven Boys.” Blue, the main character, comes from a family of clairvoyants with her only talent being that she can increase the gifts of others with her special energy. The story takes off when she meets Gansey and his group of friends who attend a private boy’s school in town. She is drawn to Gansey and his quest to find a specific ley line to the resting place of Glendower. It is rumored that if he wakes Glendower one wish will be granted. Also central to the story is Blue’s curse: if she kisses her true love he will die, which makes her attraction for Gansey fraught with tension. Continue reading “YA and Middle Grade Book Series: Read Harder Challenge 2018”