Friday, September 30, 2011

Spanish language movies for Hispanic Heritage Month

Sept. 15-Oct. 15 Hispanic Heritage Month

Looking for ways to celebrate? Why not host your own Spanish Language Film Festival for Hispanic Heritage Month? You can spend time with friends while brushing up on the arts and pop culture. Here are a few good movies to help plan your event. And of course, don't forget the popcorn.

Mar adentro
Ramón Sampedro wants to end his life because a diving accident 28 years ago left him a quadriplegic. For most of those years he made the most of it: he has come to see his life as frustrating and pointless and wishes to die with what remains of his dignity. He enlists the help of Julia, a lawyer he hopes will help him persuade the courts to let him end his own life. As Ramón and Julia work together on his case, Ramón finds himself falling in love with her.
Raimunda lives in Madrid with her daughter Paula and her drunk husband Paco. Her sister, Sole, is separated and works clandestinely as a hairstylist for women. Years ago they lost their parents in a tragic fire. Superstitious villagers claim that the girls' departed mother has been seen wandering around their Aunt Paula's home. The sisters begin to investigate the possibility.

Y tu mamá también
Two teens from Mexico City set off on a wild cross-country trip with a seductive, 28-year-old Luisa. Luisa schools them in the finer points of passion, but will their mutual desire for her destroy their friendship forever?

Jamon jamon
Hilarious, sexy, and complex, this is a story of two young lovers, the Sylvia and Jose Luis. When they announce their plan to wed, his mother hires the town's sexiest man to break up their plans. Naturally, nothing goes as planned.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week, September 24-October 1

Last week we celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I hope you were able to get your "arrrrrrrg" on. This week, much less trivial affairs to talk about (but you can still talk like a pirate if you like). It's Banned Books Week , an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read (whatever the heck we choose) and the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. Come to the library this week and check out our display, it's around the corner from the Information Desk and adjacent to the fireplace. You might be surprised by some of the titles propped up there, from children's and young adults titles to adult books, all have been the subject of bannings or attempted bannings.

Better yet, come to the library and pick up a banned or challenged title this week and remind yourself of the importance of the freedom to read.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Great Ideas for Book Discussion Groups

One of my favorite resources for uncovering interesting titles for book discussion groups is Great Group Reads. For the past 3 years, the organizers of National Reading Group Month have selected a list of fiction and memoir titles that they feel will have strong appeal for reading groups. Books chosen have compelling narratives and fully realized characters that are intended to promote lively discussions about timely and provocative topics. The 2011 list has just been released. If your book group is looking for a good book discussion title a bit outside the mainstream, consider one of the new Great Group Reads titles below.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb
Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney
The Good Sister by Drusilla Campbell
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
If You Knew Then What I Know Now by Ryan Van Meter
My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy
The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt
Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson
To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton
When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman
Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lyric Opera of Chicago 2011-2012

When you think of opera what comes to mind? 'Opera is an art form consisting of a dramatic stage performance set to music.' ... or, as George Bernard Shaw put it: '{Opera is when} a tenor and soprano want to make love, but are prevented from doing so by a baritone.'

All operas have interesting facts beyond their stories. Take for instance, Offenbach wanted to write one serious opera, The Tales of Hoffmann, before he died. Unfortunately, he never got to see the show; he died during rehearsals. "Someone else finished the rehearsals, doing major restructuring, omitting an act, and generally messing with the thing." (Opera for Dummies)

Lucia di Lammermoor is based on a novel called The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter Scott. The first names have all be Italianized, but the last names remain Scottish. Australian soprano Nellie Melba inserted a lengthy cadenza with solo flute.

Boris Gudunov is Mussorgsky's only completed opera in about ten attempts. Mussorgsky stated, "Her's what I would like: that my characters speak on stage as living people speak.

Ariadne auf Naxos is a comic opera about a serious opera being presented in a rich guy's house. This opera was designed as a thank-you note, a mini-mini-opera for the producer of the composer's previous opera.

Come hear the stories, music and more in the Multipurpose room, given by a docent from the Chicago Lyric Opera Lecture Corps on Thursdays from 7-8:30 pm. You can register online or by calling the Reader Services Desk at 847-729-7500.

The Tales of Offmann by Jacques Offenbach - September 22

Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti - October 6

Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky - October 27

Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss - November 3

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Booker Prize Final Six

The Man Booker Prize shortlist of titles was recently announced in London. This literary award has been given for 40+ years to recognize the works of contemporary fiction writers from the British Commonwealth and Ireland. Last year's winner was The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobsen. Other titles that have won in the past have been Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. When the winner is announced on October 18, the author will receive a prize of £50,000. Which one of these titles will win this award in 2011?

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
Recruited by a famed importer of exotic animals to capture a fabled dragon during a three-year whaling expedition, former street urchin Jaffy Brown and his friend and rival, Tim, successfully capture the beast only to find themselves targeted by superstitious sailors.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Set against the backdrop of the great California Gold Rush, this darkly comic novel follows the misadventures of the fabled Sisters brothers, two hired guns, who, under the order of the mysterious Commodore, try to kill Hermann Kermit Warm, a man who gives them a run for their money.

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
When a basketball-playing classmate is killed in what seems to be a senseless act of violence, eleven-year-old Ghana emigrant Harrison Opuku and his best friend, Dean, apply detective skills gleaned from popular television shows to gather clues only to stumble on the actual killer.

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller
Witnessing the progression of regional corruption in his work as a British lawyer in early 2000s Moscow, Nick Platt rescues two sisters from a purse snatcher and pursues a glamorous romantic relationship with one of the sisters before he is asked to help with a dubious family endeavor.

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan - tentative US release date of May 6, 2012
The aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black. Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero's bandmate and the only witness that day, is going back to Berlin.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - tentative US release date of January 24, 2012
Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is in middle age. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Real People In Fiction

It’s always fun when writers incorporate real historical figures in their books. This allows us to become familiar with a bit of history while enjoying a good story. Here are a few titles you might consider:

Paris Wife by Paula McClain.
Follows the life of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, as she navigates 1920s Paris.

 The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin.
Mid-nineteenth-century little person Mercy Levinia Warren Bump comes of age in the antebellum south before being invited to join the P. T. Barnum circus, through which she meets her future husband, General Tom Thumb, and pursues limitless international opportunities.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland.
Hoping to honor his father and the family business with innovative glass designs, Louis Comfort Tiffany launches the iconic Tiffany lamp as designed by women's division head Clara Driscoll, who struggles with the mass production of her creations.

The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle.
A snobbish wife and her henpecked husband travel to Dr. Kellogg's spa in turn-of-the-century Battle Creek, where the youth-crazed affluent succumb to quackery.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.
Fact and fiction blend in a historical novel that chronicles the relationship between seminal architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney, from their meeting, when they were each married to another, to the clandestine affair that shocked Chicago society.

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes.
Chronicles the lives of two boys--one who is forgotten by history, and one who becomes the creator of the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, as they pursue their separate destinies until they meet in a remarkable alliance.

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth.
In a novel of alternative history, aviation hero Charles A. Lindbergh defeats Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election, negotiating an accord with Adolf Hitler and accepting his conquest of Europe and anti-Semitic policies.

Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell.
A vividly rendered portrait of both the rise of Impressionism and of Monet, the artist at the center of the movement. It is, above all, a love story of the highest romantic order.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Forthcoming Fiction for October

Here are some titles coming out this October. You can reserve these by going to our Online Catalog, Bibliocommons, or by calling the Reader Services Desk at 847-729-7500 x7600!

Cloudburst by V.C. Andrews

Well-Tempered Clavicle by Piers Anthony
As the Pig Turns by M.C. Beaton
The Night Strangers: a novel by Chris A. Bohjalian
Murder Unleashed: a novel by Rita Mae Brown
Headstone by Ken Bruen
Skeleton Letters by Laura Childs
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Lost December by Richard Paul Evans
The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
The Litigators by John Grisham
Ed King by David Guterson
The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman
Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin
Bonnie by Iris Johansen
Changes by Mercedes Lackey
Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey
City of Whispers by Marcia Mullers
The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson
A Christmas Homecoming by Anne Perry
Snuff: a Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Shock Wave by John Sandford
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Tribute to 9/11 - AV Titles

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the horrific attacks on September 11th, 2001. Keep the memory alive with the following AV titles that preserve the memory of the events and those that were lost on that day:

Rebirth  follows the transformation of five people whose lives were forever altered on 09/11/2001 and tracks, via time lapse photography, the evolution of the space where the Twin Towers once rose. (2011)

Fahrenheit 9/11
When the treachery hits with the 9/11 attacks, Michael Moore explains how Bush filed to take immediate action to defend the nation. (2004)

Hijacking Catastrophe 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire
This film places the Bush Administration's original justifications for war in Iraq within the larger context of a two-decade struggle by neo-conservatives to dramatically increase military spending while projecting American power globally. (2004)

Reign Over Me
Alan has a great job, wife, and children, but finds that managing it all is too hard and has no one to talk to about it. Charlie lost his family on 9/11 and quit his job. The two randomly meet and rekindle a friendship they once shared. (2007)

The Dark Side
The United States has been waging a war against terror for years. There has been a constant internal struggle for control of the intelligence agencies, labeled "the dark side." (2006)

World Trade Center
The unforgettable true story of the courageous rescue and survival of two Port Authority policemen who were trapped in the rubble on September 11, 2001, after they volunteered to go in and help the victims. (2006)

Building on Ground Zero
Look back at the events of 9/11 and review the major investigations into the collapse of the World Trade Center. This is the follow-up to the Emmy Award-winning documentary Why the Towers Fell. (2006)

United 93
This powerful film about September 11th, one of the darkest days in our history, paints an unforgettable and inspiring portrait of the 40 passengers and crew who sat down as strangers and found the courage to stand up as one. (2006)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9/11 Fiction

After 9/11, as America turned to remember that day, many authors did so in their own way. As a result, with many novels written with the September 11 terrorist attacks as either the plot, subject or setting were published. Here are just a few of many:

Foolproof – Barbara D’Amato
September 11 survivors Brenda and Daniel establish a secret anti-terrorist division within their new software security firm and expose a terrorist plot to rig a presidential election.

Falling Man – Don DeLillo
Escaping from the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks, Keith makes his way to the uptown apartment where his ex-wife and young son are living and considers how the day's events have irrevocably changed his perception of the world.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
Oskar Schell, the nine-year-old son of a man killed in the World Trade Center attacks, searches the five boroughs of New York City for a lock that fits a black key his father left behind.

The Whole World Over: a novel – Julia Glass
Hired as the personal chef to the governor of New Mexico, Greenie Duquette leaves behind her Greenwich Village pastry business and her husband to head west with her four-year-old son, prompting a period of upheaval and reflection for herself.

Once in a Promised Land: a novel – Laila Halaby
Jassim Haddad, a Jordanian, has come to Arizona to pursue his career as an hydrologist, but after the events of September 11th, he and his wife are investigated by the FBI as their marriage unravels.

Home Boy – H.M. Haqvi
Three young Pakistani men in New York City at the turn of the millennium have the guts to claim the place as their own. But when they embark on a road trip to the hinterland weeks after 9/11 in search of the Shaman, a Gatsbyesque compatriot who seeminglydisappears into thin air, things go horribly wrong. Suddenly, they find themselves in a changed, charged America.

A Disorder Peculiar to the Country – Ken Kalfus
On September 11th, a couple in the midst of a divorce, each believing the other has been killed in the attack, discover that they both have survived and continue on with their fierce battle over assets.

The Good Life – Jay McInerney
A revelatory novel of family, love, conflict, and loss chronicles the lives of diverse characters--including Luke McGavock, a man searching for a sense of purpose in life; Corinne Calloway, a mother of twins; and her husband, Russell--whose world is forever transformed by the catastrophic events of September 11th.

L’America – Martha McPhee
Meeting on a small Aegean island, Beth, an American dreamer raised in a commune, and Cesare, the cosseted Italian scion of a prosperous family, embark on a love affair that spans two decades, two continents, and two lifetimes.

A Day at the Beach – Helen Schulman
In an insightful novel that takes place over the course of an eventful twenty-four hours, the troubled marriage of famed choreographer Gerhard Falktopf and his dancer wife Suzannah is profoundly affected by the events of September 11, a national tragedy that suddenly brings to light their hidden desires, dreams, conflicts, and differences.

The Writing on the Wall – Lynne Sharon Schwartz
In a tale of emotional survival in post-9/11 New York City, thirty-four-year-old Renata deals with the effects of the bombings on her personal life, in light of the trauma she has already experienced.

Ground Zero – Paul F. Wilson
Jack finds the secret behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in the new dark thriller in the bestselling 'Repairman Jack' series.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious and Perplexing City

David Lebovitz was a pastry chef for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. He decided at one point to move to Paris. His adjustment to living in a foreign country became the material for his blog. His book, The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious and Perplexing City is based on some posts from that blog and more.

While Lebovitz offers some lovely recipes and advice on where to go in Paris, the book is really not a travelogue. It is more of an expat's love letter to his adopted city, even when he thinks it is a wacky place. Some points of fun: he earns more respect from his neighborhood vendors after it is found out he is a pastry chef, how customer service is non existent in certain shops, giant French supermarkets vs local markets, and the joys of French cheese and chocolate.

Written with gentle humor, Lebovitz encourages the reader to come over to his side of the pond to experience it all for themselves. Or at least buy some French cheese and chocolate to munch on while reading it! A Francophile's dream and a fun read.