Elaine Stewart, Library Associate
Dance is one activity that evokes an immediate visceral response in people–they either love it or hate it. Yet bodily movement is critical for human health and dance has long been one of most accessible kinds of exercise. Even the most ancient human civilizations engaged in some form of dance, whether for ritualistic, artistic or romantic expression.
We Americans don’t consider ourselves to have much of a dance tradition, but in “Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance” (University of
Illinois Press, 2015) Philip Jamison explores the many, varied forms of dance native to Southern Appalachia. Jamison, an old-time musician and flatfoot dancer, examines the distinctive square dances, step dances and reels of the mountain region and traces their roots back through time. Continue reading “Literary Links: A Journey Into Dance”
I like reading about real people — what happens to them and how they feel about their experiences. But I don’t want to read harrowing tales of survival. I want something lighter. I’ve read a number of these types of books recently that I recommend.
Some people write about making changes in their lives:
- In “Hammer Head: the Making of a Carpenter,” journalist Nina MacLaughlen decides she needs a change and answers an advertisement for a carpenter’s apprentice. She discovers she enjoys working with tools like a hammer, a saw and a level.
- “Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek” by Maya Van Wagenen was written for teens, but I think adults could learn from it. A middle school girl makes changes to the way she approaches people and how she presents herself to the world.
- “My Kitchen Year” by Ruth Reichl describes how the writer coped during the year following the loss of her job due to the closing of Gourmet magazine. Reichl includes recipes of the foods she cooked during this time.
Continue reading “Memoirs Without the Noir: A Reading List”
A hip-hop-inspired Broadway musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton seems as unlikely as Hamilton’s own historic rise. Born out of wedlock and orphaned as a young child, he struggled out of poverty and became one of our nation’s most powerful political leaders. “Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry,” Hamilton sings in “Hamilton: An American Musical,” created by Lin-Manuel Miranda (composer, writer, lyricist, actor and all-around genius). This show is a smash hit, with even terrible seats going for hundreds of dollars. And just a couple of weeks ago President Obama hosted local students and the cast of “Hamilton” for a daylong celebration of the arts in America. Continue reading “What to Read if You Have Hamilton Fever”
No, don’t leave!
I promise this is not a blog post about old men in stiff collars doing boring recitations!
Yes, Shakespeare’s works are over 400 years old. And some of them have aged better than others. There is archaic language that requires some effort, but when it comes to storytelling and wordplay, Shakespeare is peerless. Continue reading “In Defense of the Bard”
This month’s LibraryReads list of books publishing in April that librarians across the country recommend includes a nonfiction work that wins the award (an imaginary award bestowed by me) for best title ever: “The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts.” How could scads of librarians NOT recommend this book? We also have works inspired by Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes, so get ready to be entertained and place some holds on these forthcoming books!
“Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice” by Curtis Sittenfeld
“Love, sex, and relationships in contemporary Cincinnati provide an incisive social commentary set in the framework of ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Sittenfeld’s inclusion of a Bachelor-like reality show is a brilliant parallel to the scrutiny placed on characters in the neighborhood balls of Jane Austen’s novel, and readers will have no question about the crass nature of the younger Bennets, or the pride – and prejudice – of the heroine.” – Leslie DeLooze, Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY Continue reading “Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April 2016 List”
Reading while traveling in a car can be difficult. I had a friend who read magazines and books while we drove to bicycle races when I was a teenager. He was the driver. Audiobooks didn’t exist then, but I wish they had because this would have avoided many hours of extreme anxiety for me. My daughter claims that the “barf monster comes” if she reads in the back seat of our subcompact Toyota. My wife can read for about .03 minutes in the car without feeling queasy. The answer is audiobooks, whether you are traveling this spring break as a family or alone with your phone and a backpack. Unless otherwise noted, all audiobooks reviewed below are available on CD and/or downloadable mp3 formats through OverDrive. Continue reading “Audiobooks for Your Spring Break Travel”
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”
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”
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”