Last night, our monthly book club met, and once again, it was full of fun, energy, discussion and lots of laughter. Each month I come away with such a sense of gratitude for being a part of this group, and I wish everyone could have this experience. You see, our book club is completely made up of individuals that live in our neighborhood, and that unique element takes the connection between us to a whole different level. Before our meeting begins, women can be seen walking through the neighborhood on their way to the home of whomever is hosting the current month’s discussion, with their dish to share. As we arrive, there is fun discussion of neighborhood happenings, family news and updates on remodeling projects. (And yes, we even discuss the book.) I like to think this is what neighborhoods used to be like, before the onslaught of technology, transience and shifting school boundaries. Or maybe what it was like when women got together to work on a quilt or to do the canning for the winter. It is more than a book club; it provides a sense of community that was certainly missing for me. Continue reading “Book Clubs: The Community They Create and Resources to Start Your Own”
“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.” — Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Churchill is a historical figure who certainly was larger than life. The impact his life made on the last century is far-reaching. Churchill managed to capture much of this through his own writings, and there are numerous fascinating biographies that explore his long life, as well. The nonfiction connected to Churchill’s life is quite fascinating and can provide hours of good reading. For people who are more drawn to fiction, though, it’s worth noting that his life and role in history have inspired quite a few tales of fiction. Here are few of those books which you can check out from the library:
If you tend to generally stick with nonfiction, you may want to try “Winston’s War: A Novel of Conspiracy” by Michael Dobbs. This book is truly historical fiction — telling the story of real events from a fictional perspective. Churchill, an outcast from the British government during the 1930s, warned of the impending troubles of Hitler’s Nazi regime. Dobbs’ book offers a fictionalized look at how various figures in England during that time, including Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, King George VI, US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy and the BBC’s Guy Burgess, responded to Churchill’s warnings. Dobbs’ story is ultimately fiction, but it offers a lot of insight into why the real events played out the way they did. Continue reading “Exploring Winston Churchill in Fiction”
Creating films often leads to a flurry of activity and decision making that is itself interesting to capture on film. Check out these documentaries that capture films being made.
“Becoming Bulletproof” (2016)
A diverse group of disabled people from across the U.S. take on leading roles in a Western filmed on vintage Hollywood locations. This film within a film immerses us in a dynamic, inclusive world of discipline and play, raising questions about why we so rarely see real disabled actors on the big screen.
It’s been a tough election season. No matter who you ended up supporting, I’m sure you are glad that we have four whole years before the next presidential election cycle. I know I’m exhausted from all the negativity, and I am looking forward to getting lost in something more comforting. Here are some cozy, feel-good books to cleanse your palate.
Imagine looking out into your yard and seeing a robot. This is the opening of “A Robot in the Garden” (Doubleday, 2015) by Deborah Install. Ben is good at failing, so when he sees a slightly broken little robot named Tang, he decides he’s going to try to fix him, and not fail for once. Alas, when he brings Tang home, Ben’s wife Amy deems it the last straw, and leaves. So he can add marriage to the list of things at which he fails. Ben and Tang set out together to get Tang fixed, and in the process Ben gets a little “fixed” too. This book is a funny, insightful look at humanity and coming into one’s own. And while Ben’s transformation is heartwarming, adorable Tang is the real star of this story. Continue reading “Literary Links: Heartwarming Reads”
For the first time in the United States’ 240-year history, a woman had a real chance at the presidency and put a significant crack in the highest glass ceiling. Hillary Clinton was the first female presidential candidate nominated by a major party. But she didn’t rise, a lone woman, out of the void. Other women paved the way, and eventually a woman will follow who makes it into the Oval Office. Wouldn’t now be a good time to read about some of the trailblazers?
The following titles are by or about women who broke (or at least chipped away at) a glass ceiling in politics:
“The Highest Glass Ceiling” by Ellen Fitzpatrick covers three American women who pursued the highest office in the country. Victoria Woodhull ran for president on the National Radical Reformers ticket in 1871, decades before women gained the vote. Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman elected on her own to the U.S. Senate, made an unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination in 1964. Eight years later, Shirley Chisholm would become the first African-American woman to run in the Democratic primary. Continue reading “Glass Ceilings in Politics”
“Lovecraft Country” is set during the Jim Crow era, and while its main characters endure racism that makes one long for the sort of monster that relieves one of one’s sanity with a single glance, they also (spoiler alert) get to experience triumphs. I lightly spoil because I want you to know this is a book with big-league heart, one that might pleasantly distract you from something that is currently troubling you. Previous recommendation Charlie Jane Anders says:
“It’s a heroic story that will have you pumping your fist. But it’s also an incredibly powerful portrayal of American racism—in which the entrenched oppression piles on, page after page, and meanwhile the secrets of a hidden world of monsters and power only add to the sense of—yes—eldridtch dread.”
It is ever so satisfying to finish a book, but often I find myself so busy that it’s hard to dedicate the time to whatever I’m reading. This leads to one of two things: 1) I neglect my other responsibilities and read instead (my usual choice — who needs clean dishes?), or 2) I get super distracted by daydreaming about what is happening in my book and pine for the time when I get to pick it up again. Either way, all I want to do is read to the gratifying conclusion of the story. If you’re like me, I’m sure you know the feeling. Well friends, I have discovered a cure for our ailment: read a shorter book! I’m not suggesting that you do this all the time, but it’s especially handy when your schedule is full, and you need the mental relief that only a great story can give. Here is a selection of some shorter books at your disposal for when life gets hectic.
An incredibly short (110 pages) coming-of-age story of Esperanza Cordero. The story is told in vignettes and centers on her growing up as a Latina in Chicago. This is often considered a classic (or well on its way to being one), and with it being so short, what have you got to lose? Continue reading “Weekend Reads: Short Books to Devour Quickly”
“Presenting Princess Shaw”
Website / Reviews / Trailer
Playing at the True/False Film Fest in 2016, this film is the true story of the incredible Princess Shaw and the enigmatic composer Kutiman, who discovers her from the other side of the world. By day, Samantha Montgomery cares for the elderly in one of New Orleans’s toughest neighborhoods. By night, she writes and sings her own songs as Princess Shaw on her confessional YouTube channel. Continue reading “New DVD List: Presenting Princess Shaw & More”
Here we are at the start of November — where does the time go?! For those folks intending to host a Thanksgiving meal, or for those who want to pitch in and bring a dish to someone else’s gathering, you know what time it is — it’s time to plan your menu! Never fear–there are plenty of resources here at DBRL to help you conjure and organize the preparation of this revered feast. Continue reading “Planning Your Thanksgiving Meal”
“Your baby will arrive at 7 tomorrow morning…” and thus, our first day of being parents was about to begin. Of course, the process started much earlier with the adoption application, home study visits, being cleared through immigration and basically being evaluated by what felt like a gazillion people. Although our process was relatively easy to negotiate, it did involve many steps, lots of preparation and extensive research. Decisions have to be made regarding the type of adoption (domestic, international, private, special needs, etc.) and choosing an adoption agency, as well as financing the adoption.
Additionally, preparing and educating yourself, your friends and family about adoption and how best to navigate the transition for yourself and your child is extremely important. Working with an excellent adoption caseworker and speaking with other adoptive parents is invaluable (and we did), but equally as helpful were the many books that we read. Besides, reading gives you something meaningful to do while you are waiting (patience wasn’t my strong suit), and let’s face it – you won’t have much time to read once your child arrives. Continue reading “November Is National Adoption Month”