Literary Links: Orphans and Orphan Trains

Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2018 by Ida

The fate of displaced children is the central concern of many books published in the past few years. The practice of adoption, as we think of it today, with background checks and safeguards, has not always been the standard. In 1853, distressed by the number of street children he encountered in New York, Charles Loring Brace founded the Children’s Aid Society. From 1854 to 1929, the program put homeless children on “orphan trains” headed west for placement with families across the country. Though the intention was good, there was little investigation of adoptive households. Some children landed with nurturing parents, but others were used only as free labor for farms or sweatshops.

Orphan Train book coverChristina Baker Kline addresses the plight of these children in her novel “Orphan Train.” The narrative interweaves two timelines and character stories. Molly, a teenager in foster care, is working off community service hours by helping the elderly Vivian get her house and attic in order, sorting through a lifetime of possessions. While they discuss the history of the keepsakes, Vivian tells of her childhood experiences as an Irish immigrant and orphan train rider. Continue reading “Literary Links: Orphans and Orphan Trains”

Story Time and Discussion for Grown-ups

Posted on Friday, March 9, 2018 by Anne

One of my favorite memories from childhood was crawling up on my mom’s lap in our big recliner and listening to her read to us. I can distinctly remember her reading E.B. White’sCharlotte’s Web,” and “I Was So Mad,” which was one of the Litter Critter books by Mercer Mayer. The sound of her reading helped pull my young mind into those stories, bringing the pages to life.

A well-read story can be the height of entertainment. It can help listeners more fully connect with and understand a story. A reader can deliver the humor and the pathos in ways that draws readers into the story on a more emotional level. It also can be interesting to hear how another person interprets a character’s voice and compare it with what you might have heard in your head. Sometimes hearing someone else read a story can totally change your perspective.

It’s not surprising that our story times for babies and toddlers are so well attended. They help children discover a love of books and they provide them with entertainment that stimulates their imagination and cognitive skills. But why should the kids have all the fun? Continue reading “Story Time and Discussion for Grown-ups”

Debut Author Spotlight: February 2018

Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by Katherine

There are lots of fantastic titles by debut authors that came to the library in February. If you would like a more comprehensive list, please visit our catalog. Enjoy!

Only Killers and Thieves

Only Killers and Thieves” by Paul Howarth

Two brothers, Billy and Tommy McBride, seek revenge for the murder of their parents and younger sister in the Australian outback in the 1880s. Believing their family was murdered by an aboriginal man, the boys set off on a manhunt accompanied by a neighboring rancher and Inspector Noone of the Native Mounted Police.

However, relations are strained between the white settlers and the natives they have brutally oppressed, and the manhunt becomes a massacre. While Billy embraces the violence and sense of vengeance, Tommy is sickened by the cruelty they witness, and his growing conscience jeopardizes the brothers’ relationship.

Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: February 2018”

Nonfiction Roundup: March 2018

Posted on Monday, March 5, 2018 by Kirk

Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released this March. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.

TOP PICKS

This Messy Magnificent Life book cover

Geneen Roth, the author of a number of popular self-help titles, returns this month with “This Messy Magnificent Life.” Here, she presents a series of insightful essays aimed at helping readers build self-esteem and assert control over all aspects of life. If you have enjoyed her previous books or are just looking for a warm and humorous pick-me-up, this one is for you. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: March 2018”

Romance Novels by or About People of Color: Read Harder 2018

Posted on Friday, February 23, 2018 by Kat

book pages folded to make a heartThe romance genre sometimes gets a bad rap. Is it because of the book covers with people missing various pieces of clothing? Or maybe it’s the genre’s “predictibility”? (Which, I might point out, is common in many genres. Mystery book? I’ll bet the mystery is solved by the end.) These reasons may be valid, but regardless, I’m here to convince you that dipping your toes into romance is well worth your time. Especially if you want to complete your Read Harder Challenge!

One of the 24 tasks of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge is to read a romance by or about a person of color. The romance genre has many subgenres, and so there’s sure to be something out there for everyone. All of these books will fulfill task 10 of the challenge. Continue reading “Romance Novels by or About People of Color: Read Harder 2018”

Know Your Dystopias: Transmetropolitan

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018 by Eric

“Point: journalism is not about plans and spreadsheets. It’s about human reaction and criminal enterprise. Here the lesson begins.”
-“Transmetropolitan” Issue #4, “On the Stump”

Those are the words of Spider Jerusalem, a heavily tattooed, usuallyTransmetrolitan book cover medicated, often intoxicated gonzo journalist in the 23rd century.  In an homage to Hunter S. Thompson, Spider shares not just Thompson’s iconic bald head and cigarette holder, but also his passion for mind altering substances, firearms and speaking truth to power.  Spider is navigating a world of corruption and weirdness, and his journalism might be the last hope of keeping the world in the comic book series “Transmetropolitan” from devolving into … an even more dystopian dystopia. Continue reading “Know Your Dystopias: Transmetropolitan”

The Gentleman Recommends: Ben Loory

Posted on Monday, February 12, 2018 by Chris

Given the current limits of technology, the best way to escape this reality is to get lost in a great book. And while there’s no greater reading pleasure than getting lost in a novel massive enough to accompany you through the course of several sleepless nights and a charity gala or two, it’s also rather grand to gently pummel one’s imagination with 40 very short and strange stories one after another until you’re a little dizzy from the off-kilter sweetness humanity is capable of.

These stories will bring a variety of smiles to your face. You’ll do a happy smile, a wry smile, a sad smile, you may even get to display the smile of the nonplussed. These stories are magic.
Tales of Falling and Flying book cover

But where does one find 40 great, very short, strange, sweet (if also sometimes menacing) stories? I, too, wondered this, until I found “Tales of Falling and Flying” by Ben Loory, the second such collection of exactly 40 great, short, strange, sweet stories he’s written. Loory has compared his writing to “an animated version of The Twilight Zone,” and I think it’s a fair comparison. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Ben Loory”

Comics Written or Illustrated by a Person of Color: Read Harder 2018

Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Dana S

Descender panel

In case you missed it, the library is getting into the spirit of Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder challenge, and there’s plenty of time to join. The year-long challenge consists of 24 tasks to help you to read more broadly. I’m back with you this time to highlight another comics-specific task: #8 A comic written or illustrated by a person of color.

Best We Could Do book cover

The Best We Could Do” is an impressive debut effort for author/artist Thi Bui. In this graphic memoir, she documents her family’s experiences in war-torn Vietnam. Her parents ultimately fled in the 1970s, bringing Bui and her siblings to the United States as refugees. This moving graphic memoir is equal parts historical and personal tracing the effects of war, tragedy, parent-child relationships and the immigrant experience. Continue reading “Comics Written or Illustrated by a Person of Color: Read Harder 2018”

Nonfiction Roundup: February 2018

Posted on Monday, February 5, 2018 by Kirk

Here is a quick look at the most noteworthy nonfiction titles being released this January. Visit our catalog for a more extensive list.

TOP PICKS

Feel Free book coverFrom Zadie Smith, the celebrated novelist and social commentator, comes a collection of new and previously uncollected essays. In “Feel Free,” she shows off her range of knowledge, addressing such wide ranging topics as social media, libraries and global warming. This one should be popular as Smith is scheduled to be the featured speaker at this year’s Unbound Book Festival. Continue reading “Nonfiction Roundup: February 2018”

Exploring Alzheimer’s Disease Through Fiction

Posted on Friday, February 2, 2018 by Anne

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is utterly devastating. It takes away the most fundamental parts of a person — his or her memories. Families must watch their loved ones slowly disappear, even while they remain physically present. Coping with these changes can be challenging, and often leaves caregivers feeling isolated. Many authors have used fiction to explore the experience of losing someone to Alzheimer’s. The library has several books that provide insight into the Alzheimer’s experience, both from the perspective of those who suffer from it and those who take care of them.

Elizabeth is Missing book coverElizabeth Is Missing” by Emma Healey is told from the perspective of an elderly woman named Maud who is gradually losing her memory. Maud becomes more and more flustered when she can’t find her friend, Elizabeth, or remember any reason why Elizabeth should no longer be in her house. As Maud’s memory degenerates further, she begins to confuse the disappearance of Elizabeth with the disappearance of her older sister Susan,which occurred right after WWII when Maud was a young teenager and was never solved. Healey’s novel is full of suspense that will pull readers in, while also enlightening them on the challenging experiences of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Continue reading “Exploring Alzheimer’s Disease Through Fiction”