Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers ~ Jose Narosky

What do these items have in common? An apolitical view of the war and the sacrifice these soldiers and their family’s make everyday so this country may remain free.

This movie, The Messenger, earned Woody Harrelson a well deserved best supporting actor Oscar nomination for his betrayal of Capt. Tony Stone, an Army causality notification officer. In his final three months of service Officer Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) has just come home from Iraq and is assigned to the Army’s Casualty notification service to work together with Capt. Tony Stone. When he is first introduced to Capt. Stone, Harrelson’s character is given a strict set of rules to follow when making one of his house calls. He should knock rather then ring the door bell. He should never talk to anyone but the next-of-kin. Most importantly he should never touch the next-of-kin.

Even if Officer Montgomery (Foster) is a combat veteran and as if he wasn’t carrying scars from his time in Iraq both physical and mental, it would be a difficult assignment. He knows he is a solider and he does what he is told, so he sucks it up and does his best to be all he can be.
What he doesn’t expect is to be touched by the wife and young son of a fallen solider.

The Messenger is a tremendously moving drama filled with heartbreak, humor and more importantly, humanity. These incredible performances provide an apolitical insight into the mental plight of U.S. service members returning from combat.

Another must see film that is worth a viewing is Taking Chance with Kevin Bacon. This is another war movie with virtually no war action. Kevin Bacon plays Marine Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, a career military man who early in the Iraq war is analyzing numbers in an office. Lt. Col. Michael Strobl in April of 2004 sees the name of a young Marine from his Colorado hometown, Private First Class Chance Phelps’, on a casualty list. Both men have never met; never the less Strobl asks if he can escort the body home?

This is the story of a real life trip from Dover, Del., where Phelps’ body is prepared, to the small Wyoming town where he will be buried. Although there is much controversy and people widely differ on their beliefs of his trip he finds everyone from the pilot, cargo handlers and teenage girl texting next to him on the plane, to the long haired hearse driver. They all understand and respect his mission to provide the last full measure of honor and dignity to someone who has lost their life in war. The film isn’t anti-war or pro-war, that is not the point. Its point is that on the most fundamental matters, Americans and by extension, all people share a common sense of decency and concern. When Lt. Col. Michael Strobl finishes his escort detail for the late Pfc. Phelps, he is surprised to find how much of the experience has stayed with him. Kevin Bacon’s performance is outstanding. Given little dialogue, he has to convey the story with expression, gestures and body language, and he does it masterfully.

Bestselling author Sebastian Junger (of the Perfect Storm and A Death in Belmont ) has released a new book. Sebastian Junger is a world class war correspondent and a brilliant writer who can paint a frighteningly real picture of an Army outpost in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan, where Junger spent 5 months over the course of a year and a half with a platoon of young soldiers, fighting a war that we’ve all read about, but that few of us can imagine.

The book War is broken down into three sections: “Fear”, “Killing”, and “Love”. All three sections describe combat, but each section is loosely structured around its theme. In “Fear”, Junger analyzes why soldiers may or may not be afraid to fight; in “Killing” we learn why soldiers kill, how they feel about ending the life of an enemy combatant, and how they feel when one of their own receives that fate; in “Love”, Junger makes an attempt to learn why soldiers would die in combat for their comrades. I found this section talks about bravery probably more then the first section. Getting the men to talk about fear was very hard. The biggest worry seemed to be failing the other men in the platoon. If someone was killed, a common reaction was to search their own actions for blame. They did not want to believe that a good man could die for no reason; someone had to be at fault. Many of the soldiers had anxiety that they would fail to do their job and someone else would get killed. The men profiled in this book did not necessarily join the Army to die for their country, although some do. Above all, it’s the strong personal bonds between young men who have been through challenging training and hardship, drive much of what takes place in war, courage, bravery, a willingness to die for your fellow solider. The book has an extensive bibliography that includes up to date literature on killing and combat. Junger spends some time philosophizing about fighting, killing and cognitive processes during battle, and he backs up his writing with multiple studies.

The award winning documentary Restrepo, based upon Junger’s book will open in Chicago on July 2nd.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Birthday Celebrations at Ravinia

This year's programs at Ravinia include those celebrating birthday milestones of some of the most outstanding musicians. What better way to honor their contributions to the world of music. The Glenview Public Library has many recordings of the works being performed this summer.

Here is a sampling of what you can find at the library:

Frederick Chopin (composer) - 200 (1810)
24 preludes, op. 28

James Conlon (conductor) - 60 (1950)
Complete Beethoven Concertos can be found under: CD 784.262 BEE
Cosi fan tutte : CD 782.1 MOZc;
The Marriage of Figaro : CD 782.1 MOZn

Christoph Eschenbach (piano) - 70 (1940) (July 23)
We have many recordings of this performer.

Annie Oakley - 150 (1860)
(August 13, 14, 15 - Annie Get Your Gun) CD 782.14 BER; DVD ANN

Robert Schumann (Composer) - 200 (1810)
CD 782.42 SCH; CD 782.8742 SCH

Stephen Sondheim (Composer) - 80 (1930) (July 31)
West Side Story; Sweeney Toddy; A Little Night Music: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Company; Passion; Marry Me a Little; Sunday in the Park with George; Follies; Into the Woods; Gypsy; Side By Side

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Futbol Fever

While I am not a big sports fan, every four years I do get charged up about the World Cup. 32 teams go head to head for the prize cup. I am certain it appeals to me for its international element. Every four years I imagine the US winning the cup, when they become eliminated I hustle to find another team for which to lend my support. Because my great grandparents were from Italy, I may support the Italians or maybe Mexico, my husband was born there, or maybe Spain, where I spent a year abroad. Unlike other sporting events, you can cheer for various teams/countries at each round, up until the end of course when it comes down to just two. In the end I often go for the underdog, I love a comeback.

Catch World Cup fever with these books and media.

Soccer by Hornby, Hugh 2010

The ESPN World Cup companion : everything you need to know about the planet's biggest sports event 1st ed. Hirshey, David.

USA soccer Gulbrandsen, Don.

2010 FIFA World Cup. South Africa [electronic resource (Xbox)]

2010 FIFA World Cup. South Africa [electronic resource (Wii)]

Great moments in World Cup history 1st ed. Bailey, Diane, 2010

The great match [videorecording (DVD)]

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fiction for Father's Day

In honor of Father's Day, check out some of GPL's reads which portray relationships between fathers and their children.

For father and daughter fiction, try one of these:

A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

A farm novel where Smiley creates an idyllic world of family life that grimly unravels after the father abruptly decides to turn the farm over to his two eldest daughters and their husband. Smiley raises questions about human conduct and moral responsibility within the frame of family relationships.

The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon

An involving moving tale for historical fiction lovers who will find themselves engulfed in the tale of a young woman whose learning is at odds with her heart in eighteenth-century England after being raised by her reserved, brilliant father. An absorbing character-driven novel.

My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare's Tale by Grace Tiffany

The daughter of England's greatest dramatist, angered over her father's callousness regarding a family tragedy, heads for London intent on sabotaging his new play. This astute young woman presents a fascinating view of the life and psyche of the playwright.

Father Melancholy's Daughter by Gail Godwin

Daughter Margaret's childhood ended when she was six, the day on which her mother walked out without an explanation, leaving her and her father, a kindly but moody Anglican priest, to fend for themselves. A conflict between duty and freedom, conformity and independence ensues. The book is marked by vivid detail and superb characterization.

Donorboy by Brendan Halpin

After the death of her mother and her lesbian lover, Rosalind, a troubled teen, finds herself living with Sean, the sperm-donor father she has never met, who cares for the grieving teenager. Sean and Rosalind forge an uneasy relationship that allows them to co-exist and finally respect each other. A compassionate and engrossing story.

The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard

Wendy loses her mother in the September 11th attack and moved in with her father and meets his girlfriend as well as a sad bookstore owner while missing her half-brother back in New York.

This is a sincere, heartfelt, affirmative fast-paced novel where, in the aftermath of 9/11, the usual rules don't apply.

For father and son fiction, try one of these:

About a Boy by Nick Hornby

This is a moving story about a friendless twelve-year-old boy grown in a single-parent family as well as a thirty-six-year old emotionally undeveloped bachelor who comes to find meaning in his life. The novel accurately portrays the thoughts and feelings of a twelve-year-old boy who feels displaced and lonely. A thoroughly engaging and funny expose of the problems of modern culture.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: a Novel by Mark Haddon

Christopher is a math-gifted, autistic fifteen year old. Despite his anxiety about interacting with people, he decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog. In the process, he uncovers secrets about his mother. It is a wonderful, easy and moving story told in a fresh and inventive way.

Diamond Dogs: a Novel by Alan Watt

Seventeen-year-old Neil accidentally commits a horrifying crime. His abusive father who is also the local sheriff covers up for him until the FBI get involved and father and son get in a confrontation that could tear them apart. This is a psychological fiction story with a powerful conclusion.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

A tale of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son from the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the atrocities of the present day. It is a gripping story of personal redemption.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

This novel follows an unnamed father and son journeying together over a period of several months across a grim, post-apocalyptic landscape, years after an unexplained cataclysm has destroyed civilization and almost all life on earth. It is pessimistic, disturbing and unsettling, yet portrays a faith in the face of no hope whatsoever.

Big Fish: a Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace

When William's attempts to get to know his dying father fail, he re-creates his life as a series of exuberant tall tales. It's a modern version of the American genre of the tall tale - as a well as an imaginative and moving record of a son's love for a charming, unknowable father.

Hope you choose and enjoy one of these titles on your special holiday!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dragonriders of England

As I was looking ahead to see what books are due to be published this summer, I was pleased to see “Tongues of Serpents", the latest Termeraire book by Naomi Novik is due out in July.

The Temeraire series is in part fantasy, and in part alternate history. The series begins in the year 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars. The major difference between this world and our own is that in this world, dragons exist. Both the British and the French have an “air force” composed of various breeds of dragons with human crews. Other nations and cultures have their own species of dragons, which fit into their societies in different ways.

An interesting aspect of this series is that it reads more like historical fiction than fantasy. There are dragons, but they are not “magical” as such. Some dragons are not much larger than horses; others are enormous multi-ton flying behemoths. Some can spit fire or acid, others have good night vision, or other abilities. But in the end, they are regarded as no more remarkable than any other natural phenomena. Although most dragons do speak, some characters debate just how intelligent dragons are. This leads to parallels between the treatment of British dragons and slavery in the British Empire which plagued the time as well.

Temeraire, the central character of the book, is a Chinese dragon who upon hatching impressed on Captain William Laurence, a British Naval officer. This forces Captain Laurence to leave the Royal Navy and join the Royal Aerial Corps which is far less prestigious. Despite this the two become fast friends. They, and their aerial crew, go through a number of adventures across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The books in the series so far are:

His Majesty’s Dragon

Throne of Jade

Black Powder War

Empire of Ivory

A Victory of Eagles

Tongues of Serpents (coming in July, on order at the Glenview Public Library)


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Reading Kick-off!

Moving Madness!
Adult and Teen Summer Reading Program

Reading programs aren’t just for kids anymore!

Join us, as we celebrate our final Summer Reading Program in the old building. We’re moving in the fall and we’d like you to move with us!

To celebrate, we will have our first ever Summer Reading Kick-Off Festival, on Saturday June 12. Come in and sign up the whole family – adults, teens and children – for the Summer Reading Program and you will be eligible to win fun prizes. Activities, entertainment, and prizes will be offered for all ages. The festivities start at 10 am and will continue throughout the day until 4 pm. Refreshments will be served.

Highlights of some of the fun events under the skylight in our main reading room:

11:00 Create the Perfect Ravinia Basket, presented by Foodstuffs of Glenview. Learn how to create a Ravinia Basket for that perfect picnic under the stars. As an added bonus, if you sign up for the Adult Summer Reading program that day, you will be eligible to win 2 FREE Ravinia Festival Lawn Passes.

1:00 Improve your Home’s Curb Appeal. Nancy Clifton, Horticulture Specialist, will give you tips for every season.

3:00 Music to move you. Steve Justman, Folk Musician, will perform under the skylight.

Sign up either on June 12, kick off day, or anytime after for the Adult Summer Reading Program. When you sign up you will receive a folder with reading recommendations and a prize simply for joining. Read 5 books by July 31 and for each book you read you will receive an entry into the weekly drawings. When you read 5 books, you will win a library tote bag and you’re eligible for the Grand Prize drawing. You can read either books, audiobooks, Playaways, ebooks or eaudiobooks.

Teens can also sign up on June 12 or after. Read, watch, or listen to 5 library materials to complete the challenge and be eligible for raffles and prizes. Glenbrook South students – participating in the Summer Reading Slam? Your school selections count toward completing the Moving Madness Teen Challenge! For more details, please visit the Reader Services Desk.

A special thank you to some of our sponsors Chipotle Mexican Grill, Cookies by Design, Foodstuffs, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Noodles & Co., RA Sushi Bar & Restaurant, Salerno’s Pizza, TGI Fridays, and VIA Gelato.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Where Does Your Food Come From?

Summer is finally here! As I was outside last week planting my vegetable garden, I was thinking about some of the books and movies I have seen recently that explore the question "Where does your food come from?" All of these titles are available at the Glenview Public Library.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver and her family take a vow to grow their own food for a year on their family farm. Over the course of a year she chronicles daily life on the farm with thoughtful observations on the amount of work and time farming consumes, the challenges of eating seasonally and the pleasure of returning to a meat eating diet.

EatingWell In Season: The Farmer's Market Cookbook by Jessie Price
In this cookbook by the editors of EatingWell magazine you can find 100 recipes that feature fresh produce and different ways to preserve summer's bounty, organized by season.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Published in 2006, this book has become a modern classic for readers interested in the origin of their food. Pollan traces the source of four different meals from McDonald's, Whole Foods, a sustainable farm and the wild. His observations are realistic, yet critical, and suggest that our food choices have and will continue to have an impact on our own health and the health of the planet.

The Seasons on Henry's Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm by Terra Brockman
Brockman, a biologist and the sister of a sustainable farmer, presents a week-by-week account of life on Henry's farm located in central Illinois. Detailed descriptions of the science, the hard work and the complexity involved in farming will inspire a new appreciation for the food on your plate.

King Corn
In this documentary, two college friends return to their native Iowa to grow one acre of corn and see what happens to it as it is harvested, processed and assimilated into the food system. Even though the tone of this video is light, serious issues and questions are raised and explored.

Food Inc.
Recently shown on PBS, this documentary presents an overview on several aspects of the American food industry. Visits to factory farms and food production facilities demonstrate how the safety of food workers and our food supply is being compromised as corporations seek to increase profits. Not just gloom and doom, the documentary also features people and corporations in the food business that are working to sustain a humane business model.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer "beach read" preview

Summer is just about here! Just the other day I was reevaluating some fiction books and one had sand trapped in the book jacket. I thought 'oh, this must have been a good beach read'. I don't know about you, but I am looking forward to sitting by the beach, or even right in my backyard with a cool lemonade and a good read (nothing too heavy of course, after all, it's "relaxing"!).

Here are some "beach reads" you might look out for in the next coming months, make sure to have your name put on the list so you don't miss out!

The Island - Elin Hilderbrand
After her daughter, Chess, breaks off an engagement and her fiance subsequently dies in a rock-climbing accident, divorcee Birdie Cousins encourages her younger daughter, Tate, and her sister, India, to join her and Chess on Tuckernack Island for a month, a time when deep secrets are soon revealed.

Beachcombers - Nancy Thayer
Reuniting on Nantucket to start a business and keep an eye on their father's new romance, three sisters work, gossip and squabble while struggling with respective approaches to their responsibilities and losses

Beach Week - Susan Coll
A planned week at the beach for recent high-school graduate Jordan and her friends proves more precarious than anticipated in the face of her parents' marital tensions, a house that is not selling and a growing stack of bills.

Thin, Rich, Pretty - Beth Harbison
Holly and Nicola became fast friends at summer camp 20 years ago, united in their hatred of rich, spoiled Lexi, who loved making fun of the shy Nicola and the overweight Holly. Now in their late thirties, Holly is an art gallery owner, Nicola is a Hollywood star, and Lexi, well, she's just been tossed out of her home when her father dies and her stepmother seizes everything.

The Icing on the Cupcake - Jennifer Ross
When Ansley Waller's fiance Parish cancels their upcoming wedding, Ansley decides to leave Dallas and make a fresh start. In a surprise move, she heads to New York City to live with her recently widowed grandmother Vivian, who gives Ansley an ultimatum: get a job or go home. Before long, she's opening up her own cupcake shop and even trying her hand at dating.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender
Discovering in childhood a supernatural ability to taste the emotions of others in their cooking, Rose Edelstein grows up to regard food as a curse when it reveals everyone's secret realities.

The Summer We Read Gatsby - Danielle Ganek
Forced to set aside their differences when they jointly inherit a rundown cottage in the Hamptons, practical-minded journalist Cassie and her dreamer half-sister Peck struggle with disparate opinions on what to do with the house, which comes with a resident artist plagued by bad luck.

Classic Suggestions

In "Public Libraries", (a magazine published by the Public Library Association) February 2010 issues, Brad Hooper, Adult books Editor for Booklist magazine wrote in the Readers' Advisory Issue an article, "Selling the Classics." What is a classic? There are innumerable answers to that question. It is a work of enduring excellence. It can stand the test of time. A classic makes connections.

Anyone who enjoys recommending books will find it helpful to have a list of classics you have read and enjoyed. Classics need not be "stuffy" but vividly alive for contemporary readers. The three classics annotated here are classics that focus on one region of the United States; eastern southern and western.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jay Gatsby, a mysterious man of great wealth, entertained lavishly on his estate on Long Island, New York. His goal was to impress Daisy whom he loved and courted when he was poor. Daisy was married to wealthy Tom Buchanan. Their mansion was close to the Gatsby estate. The basic theme is about moneu; the new "rich" versus old, established wealth and class differences.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Pulitzer Prize Winner

Set in Alabama, Atticus, a single father and a lawyer, instills s strong sense of right and wrong in his two children. Atticus is appointed to defend a negro on a rape charge in a small Alabama town. This excellent classic has contemporary national significance.

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Father Latour travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico from Lake Ontario in 1851 where he is to become Vicar Apostolic of New Mexico. His great ambition is to build a cathedral. As he was successful, he became Archbishop Latour. When he knew he was dying he asked to spend his last days near the Cathedral. He died at twilight and the Cathedral bells carried the news to the waiting countryside. Conflict between the earthly and the spiritual is at the heart of this classic.