Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Beginnings

Spring is a natural time to think of new beginnings. While opening windows, cleaning, painting, and planting, we get a sense of fresh possibilities. It also seems like a good time to read about those who have made a truly courageous start -- a journey to a new country with dreams of a better life. The following are some novels that capture a variety of immigrant experiences:

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991) – Julia Alvarez

These fifteen tales vividly chronicle a Dominican family's exile in the Bronx, focusing on the four Garcia daughters' rebellion against their immigrant elders and the difficulties they experience in America.

House of Sand and Fog (1999) – Andre Dubus
This page-turner explores a struggling Iranian immigrant trying to restore his family’s dignity.

Middlesex (2002) – Jeffrey Eugenides

This tale of Greek immigrants’ daughters coming of age in Grosse Pointe, Michigan also explores questions of gender identity.

The Namesake (2003) – Jhumpa Lahiri

Immigrants from Calcutta try to become good Americans while dealing with the unavoidable intergenerational conflicts that result from trying to honor tradition in a new world.

Digging to America (2006) – Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler gives us a complex story about what it is to be an American; Maryam Yazdan, after thirty-five years in this country, must finally come to terms with her “outsider” status.

What Is the What (2006) – Dave Eggers
In this fictionalized memoir, Valentino Achak Deng, one of the so-called Lost Boys, is forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and journey many miles to finally reach freedom. In America, he finds a life full of both promise and challenges.

A  Free Life(2007) – Ha Jin
The Wu family fully severs ties with China in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and begins a new, free life in the United States.

Into the Beautiful North (2009) – Luis Alberto Urrea
After watching “The Magnificent Seven,” Naveli, a young Mexican woman in a town whose men have fled north for better opportunities, travels to El Norte to recruit illegal immigrant men to save her village from gangsters.

Girl in Translation (2010) – Jean Kwok
Intelligent, eleven-year-old Kimberly Chang narrates her story about coming from Hong Kong and working with her mother in an illegal sweat shop in Brooklyn. She must translate for her mother and also try to hide her poverty from classmates as she meets both heartbreak and wild success in her new life.

Buddha in the Attic (2011) – Julie Otsuka
Otsuka combines a unique voice and graceful, poetic language to tell the stories of Japanese mail-order brides who arrive in California with little idea of the men and experiences awaiting them.

Open City (2011) – Teju Cole
Feeling adrift after ending a relationship, Julius, a young Nigerian doctor living in New York, takes long walks through the city while listening to the stories of fellow immigrants until a shattering truth is revealed.

All This Talk of Love (2013) – Christopher Castellani
Fifty years after arriving in America, generations of the Grasso family contemplate a trip back to Italy to visit relatives. Secrets, tragedies, and memories are revealed as the plot progresses.  One Library Journal reviewer “defies anyone not to fall in love with the Grassos.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Apocalypse is Coming…Zombie Fiction

There is a long-standing interest in the undead as a movie genre.  Remember the classic films The Plague of Zombies (1966), Night of the Living Dead (1968), and Dawn of the Dead (1978)?  More recently we’ve seen films such as 28 Days Later (2002) and Shaun of the Dead (2004).  Movies don’t have a corner on the zombie market -- the popularity of the graphic novel series, and now TV series, The Walking Dead, has adults and teens voraciously reading the books. To be sure, the idea of a zombie apocalypse is intriguing, especially in light of germ warfare and mystery illnesses that cannot be cured.  If you like reading about zombies, try reading these books:

World War Z: an oral history of the zombie war by Max Brooks.  An account of the decade-long conflict between humankind and hordes of the predatory undead is told from the perspective of dozens of survivors who describe in their own words the epic human battle for survival. 

Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection : Field Notes by Dr. Robert Twombly by
Don Roff.  The year is 2011, and what starts as a pervasive and inexplicable illness ends up as a zombie infestation that devastates the world's population.

Zom-B by Darren Shan.  "When the news starts reporting a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B's father thinks it's a hoax-but even if it isn't, the two of them joke, it's only the Irish, right? That is, until zombies actually attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers. But when they come face-to-face with the ravenous, oozing corpses, all bets are off. There are no friends. No allies. Just whatever it takes to survive."--Dust jacket. 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Graham-Smith.  A mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton--and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. 

The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor. "The town of Lake Woebegotten, Minnesota, is a small town, filled with ordinary (yet above average) people, leading ordinary lives. Ordinary, that is, until the dead start coming back to life, with the intent to feast upon the living. Now this small town of above average citizens must overcome their petty rivalries and hidden secrets in order to survive an onslaught of the dead." -- Publisher. This parody of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon stories includes some of Keillor's characters. 

Zombies for Zombies  by David P. Murphy. So, you've been bitten by a zombie? Bummer.But there's no need to panic! Yes, your life will be undergoing a major transformation, but this doesn't have to be the end-all it once was when the Disaster first hit. There have been significant breakthroughs in the last decade in helping you keep significant parts of your wit and dignity. Together we can limit the damage. Zombies for Zombies is a motivational guide designed specifically to make a profound difference in your accidental, strange new life. You say you don't want to become another one of those ghastly creatures you see on the news out in the Tempe Containment Zone? You don't have to - if you follow the great advice inside, including: How to dress for your new lifestyle Handy recipes for brains Fitness ideas for keeping you somewhat energetic New skin-care techniques to help ward off "rotting flesh syndrome." How to overcome that darned zombie social stigma and dance steps for the motor-impaired.


Friday, March 22, 2013

April: Movies at the Library

A busy slate of films for April kicks off with a special matinee screening of Paul Thomas Anderson's sprawling The Master on Sunday, April 7 at 1:30 PM.  From there, on Friday April 12 we'll continue our current Glenviewings film series, Freedom!, with a screening of the highly regarded historical drama Lincoln, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring an Academy Award winning performance by  actor Daniel Day Lewis. Lincoln  screens at 2:00 and 6:30 PM. We'll finish up the month with the film Today We Saw the Face of God that chronicles the work of a local organization (Little-by-Little) and celebrates our National Library Week theme "Communities Matter @ Your Library". Little-by-Little is a Glenview-based medical missionary that provides family primary care to those in need in Haiti. Little-by-Little co-founders Sue and Brain Walsh will be at the library with the film's director Mercedes Kane to lead a discussion after the film, April, 14, 1:30 PM. We'll see you then! 

Earth Day

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 and this year marks its 43rd anniversary. This environmental movement is concerned with how the people, animals and places are affected by climate changes and how to protect the planet that we live in.

 There are several films to watch which will open our eyes to, or remind us of the beauty of this planet that we live in. Start with Earth, the Biography: the story of our world. It is a 2-disc DVD produced by BBC/National Geographic Channel. As stated in the title, it tells the life story of how our planet was created. After we have that understanding, move on to another BBC production called Planet Earth. It is described as taking you from the highest mountains to the deepest rivers and places you’ve never been to. If that’s not enough to amaze you, then also watch Earth Songs. This is another documentary produced by BBC/National Geographic that will take you to the most beautiful places on earth.

Now that we have seen the grandeur around us, we can think about preserving these places and animals. The 11th Hour and Project Earth explores and offers possible solutions to either stop or reverse what we have done to our planet.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

If you miss Maeve Binchy...

Published in the United States just last month, Maeve Binchy's final book, A Week in Winter, quickly reached the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list. Binchy died last July at the age of 72, and her many admirers feel a sense of loss knowing that there will be no more novels from this extremely popular Irish author.

Binchy's warm, compassionate, upbeat stories about women's lives and relationships certainly have many fans in Glenview. The hold list at the library for A Week in Winter seems to grow daily. (Worry not! More copies are on the way!) If you are impatiently waiting your turn for Binchy's last book or are just looking for another author to help to fill the void that Binchy's death has left, consider some of the titles and authors below.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Luck of the Irish!

St. Patrick's Day is upon us once again. In case the corned beef and cabbage isn't enough,
here are some books, movies and music to get your Irish on.  Everyone knows that on St. Patrick's Day everyone is a little Irish.
Erin Go Bragh!

The Irish Tenors CD
My favorite song on this CD is Galway Bay.
Celtic Divas CD
Dolores Keane sings so sweetly.
Herding Cats CD by Gaelic Storm
My favorite song on this CD is She Was the Prize.


St. Patrick's Day Murder by Leslie Meier
Irish ambiance mixed with murder mystery.
Faithful Place by Tana French
Reminds me of a Law and Order episode
In Dublin's Fair City by Rhys Bowen
Detective Molly Murphy boards the White Start Liner Majestic to her native Ireland to find a missing heiress.

Angela's Ashes DVD
Based on one of my all-time top 10 favorite books.
Ballykissangel DVD Season One
Irish television show based on small town in Ireland with warm and witty characters. If you like season one you can keep on watching as there are five seasons in all.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

May the Family Fiction of the Irish Be With You

In honor of St. Paddy's Day, everyone thinks of Ireland in the month of March. So, if you like reading fiction about Irish families and Irish family life and their tenacious spirit, here are a few suggestions:

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
This is a simple tale of adultery and its consequences, told from a female perspective. It is set in the basically secular environment of 21st century Dublin - and is a brave and unusual variation on a familiar theme with sharp and funny observations. Enright's interest is not so much in the broad shape of the affair so much as its texture, its moment-by-moment shifts of feeling and perception.

Shannon by Frank Delaney
This novel follows an American priest as he travels along Ireland's Shannon River in search of his family roots, and while seeking peace, trouble finds him.  It is an adventurous tale of forbidden love, civil war, death, and other things Irish.  If you love Ireland, you'll find this a rare read.

Woman of the House by Alice Taylor
Taylor's novel traces three generations living on a farm in rural Ireland and their conflicts. The story defines what family is, the struggle to love a member whose behaviors are hurtful to other family members, the pain of losing a member and the difficulties associated with accepting a new member. Set in the 1950's, this is a wonderfully warm, charming story of Irish life lived close to the earth.

The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor
Lucy Gault grows up a Protestant in a Catholic part of Ireland in the 1920s. An only child, she enjoys an intimate relationship with her parents and is wedded to her family's lavish country home, the nearby beach and woods, and the house staff. When Lucy's parents decide to flee the persecution of arsonists and move to England, her life takes an unforeseen turn. Tragedy and heartbreak will haunt the Gault family, and their lives do not proceed as expected.  Trevor gives gives us a poetic sense of the Irish character and countryside and magically evokes the passage of time.  It is a beautiful legendary story of love and redemption.

Paddy Clarke, Ha-Ha-Ha by Roddy Doyle
This book is a vivid and poignant portrait of a little boy trying to make sense of the adult world. As Paddy Clarke himself would say, it is "brilliant."  It portrays the daily exploits and thoughts of a 10-year-old Irish boy. As the story progresses, readers become more and more aware of the anguish that Paddy Clarke is feeling as he becomes conscious of the impending breakup of his parents' marriage.
It is powerfully written. Doyle, one of Ireland's most captivating novelists, won the Booker Prize for this extraordinary tale.

Blood Ties by Jenifer Lash
Set mainly in Ireland, Jennifer Lash's dark, exhilarating novel is about the redemptive power of love. It tells of Violet Farr and her loveless marriage, her wild, unfathomable son and his illegitimate son, all of them bound together in a repeating pattern of exile and homecoming, rejection and, finally, acknowledgement and love. It is an emotionally draining but very rewarding tale.

Other Side by Mary Gordon

Both Ellen and Vincent left Ireland in the early part of this century, one bitterly escaping shame, humiliation, and fear; the other filled with hope for the promise and future of America - the "other side." Gordon writes of family passage and change and that the generational struggle to find a common ground can be resolved only in the realm of the heart.

Cashelmara by Susan Howatch
Rich, gosssipy tale and mighty saga of a wealthy and titled English family in Ireland during the 19th century.

Hope you're lucky enough to enjoy a fine family read from this wee list!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - 2013

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - 2013

The 28th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inducttion Ceremony will be held on April 18, 2013 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angels.  The following musicians will be inducted.

Rush is a Canadian rock band which was formed in 1968 in Toronto, Ontario.  The band consists of Geddy Lee (bassist, keyboardist and lead vocalist), Alex Lifeson (guitarist and backing vocalist), and Neil Peart (drummer, percussionist and lyricist).  Past members are John Rutsey and Jeff Jones.

Rush's music began with blues-inspired heavy metal and then moved on to hard rock, progressive rock and a period of heavy use of synthesizers.

Rush was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994.  They possess 24 gold records and 14 platinum records.

Heart is an American rock band who started in Canada, came to the United States and then went worldwide.  Members include Ann Wilson (lead singer), Nancy Wilson (guitarist), Ben Smith, Craig Bartock, Debbie Shair and Dan Rothchild.

Heart has been known as The Army (1963/1967-1969), White Heart (1969-1972), and Hocus Pocus (1972-1973). Their music is influenced by hard rock, folk rock and heavy metal.

Heart has sold over 30 million records worldwide.  They rank number 57 on VHI's "100 Greates Artists of Hard Rock."

Randy Newman (born November 28, 1943 in Los Angeles, California) is an American singer-songwriter, arranger, composer and pianist.  He is known for his pop songs and for film scores.  

One of his biggest hits is "Short People."  His film scores include Ragtime, Awakenings, The Natural, Leatherheads, James and the Giant Peach, Meet the Parents, Cold Turkey, Seabiscuit, The Princess and the Frog, Toy StoryA Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Cars and Toy Story 3.

Newman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002 and inducted as a Disney Legend. 

Public Enemy is an American hip hop group (also know as PE!) consisting of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff and his S1W group, DJ Lord, and Music director Khari Wynn.  They were formed in 1982 in Long Island, New York.  They are best known for their criticism of the American media and concerns of the African American community.

Public Enemy has been ranked number 44 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the Immortals: 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.  They were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

Donna Summer (December 31, 1948 - May 17, 2012) was an American singer and songwriter.  She was a five-time Grammy award winner and has three consecutive albumes reach number on on the Billboard chart.  She began singing in church choir groups and then joined bands influenced by the Motown Sound in the 1960s.  She spent several years in Germany after joining a touring version of the musical Hair.

After returning to the United States, she co-wrote the song "Love to Love You Baby" with Pete Bellotte.  It was released in 1975.  Other disco hits followed, such as "I Feel Love", "MacArthur Park", "Hot Stuff", "Bad Girls" and "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)".

She was posthumously described as the "undisputed queen of the Seventies disco boom."

Albert King (April 25, 1923 - December 21, 1992) was an American blues guitarist and singer.  He was one of the "Four Kings of the Blues Guitar" (along with B.B. King, Earl King and Freddie King) and was known as "The Velvet Bulldozer".  King was left-handed, but usually played right-handed guitars flipped over upside-down.  He played his signature Gibson Flying V guitar.

King greatly influenced many rock and roll guitarist, including Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Bloomfield and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

His real breakthrough came in 1966 when he recorded such classics as "Crosscut Saw" and "As the Years Go Passing By."  He continuted playing until his death in 1992.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Last Great Race -- the Iditarod Begins!

The temperature can drop to -40° degrees or colder in a short time.  The wind can howl along with the dogs and wolves, and moose can attack without warning.  These are all things that happen during the Iditarod Dogsled Race, and it's running right now. This race runs every year in early March, to honor the memory of the 1925 dogsled relay from Anchorage to Nome -- a whopping 1331 miles -- to cure an outbreak of diphtheria.  Perhaps one of the greatest books ever written about this incredible endurance test of man and dog is Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen. Paulsen, an author who writes primarily for children and young adults, takes a departure from his usual audience to write a hilarious account of his first attempt at running his dogsled team in the Iditarod.  His story is engaging from the first page, and continues to simultaneously lead the reader through laugh out loud stories and nail-biting descriptions of the race.  After you read this one, you'll probably be hooked on the Iditarod, and thankfully there are plenty of great books -- fiction and non-fiction -- to read about this "last great race."

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod  by Gary Paulsen. Paulsen and his team of dogs endured snowstorms, frostbite, dogfights, moose attacks, sleeplessness, and hallucinations in the relentless push to go on. Map and color photographs.

A Fan's Guide to the Iditarod by Mary H. Hood A full reference to Alaska's annual 1,200-mile sled dog race, which since it was founded in 1973 has gained world attention. History, the race course, the volunteers and staff, the racers and their equipment, the dogs and their care, the weather, winners and other statistics, and controversies are among the topics. Includes many stunning photographs. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR.

No End in Sight: MyLife as a Blind Iditarod Racer by Rachael Scdoris. The inspirational first person story of a young dog sled racer who had to overcome incredible odds to compete: she is legally blind For more than eleven years, twenty-one-year-old Rachael Scdoris has been guiding teams of sled dogs across jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, and desolate tundra at speeds exceeding twenty mph. Not only is Rachael the youngest athlete to ever complete a 500-mile sled dog race mile, but she is also legally blind and has been since birth. Though she faced resistance from race organizers, Rachael finally achieved her goal of competing, with the aid of a visual interpreter, in the 2005 Iditarod Trail International Sled Dog Race across the wilds of Alaska. No End in Sight is a story full of heartache and hope, challenge and courage-- and ultimately the triumph of dreaming big and working to make those dreams come true 

RaceAcross Alaska: The First Woman to Win the Iditarod Tells Her Story by Libby Riddles.  Explores the history of the trail and celebrated the frontiersmen and their dogs who braved its dangers.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Call the Midwife

I just finished watching Season 1 of the delightful medical drama series Call the Midwife. The series aired in the fall of 2012 to wide critical acclaim in both the U.S. and Great Britain.  Season 2 premiers Sunday, March 31st on PBS and I can't wait! The story is told through the eyes of newly qualified nurse midwife Jenny Lee. Jenny takes her first job at what she thought was a private hospital in East London, but Nonnatus House turns out to be a maternity clinic operated by nuns. The Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus along with lay midwives serve the slums of East London in the 1950's. A wonderful medical drama about the professional and personal lives of the midwives.The drama stars; Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, Cliff Parisi, Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Judy Parfitt and Vanessa Redgrave. The TV series is based on the book The midwife: a memoir of birth, joy and hard times by Jennifer Worth.

Novels featuring midwives:
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
The time 1981, and Sibyl Danforth has been a devoted midwife in the rural community of Reddington, Vermont, for fifteen years.  One winter night, during a strong winter storm, Sibyl takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency Cesarean section on its mother, who appears to have died in labor. But what if --as Sibyl's assistant later charges--the patient wasn't already dead, and it was Sibyl who accidentally killed her?

Amish Midwife by Mary Starns Clark
A desire to learn about her biological family leads nurse-midwife Lexie Jaeger to the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country, where she meets a mysterious lay-midwife who needs her help after an Amish client and her baby die.

Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson
Following a predictable delivery in a rooming house, turn-of-the-century midwife Sarah Brandt discovers that another boarder, a young girl, has been murdered and, despite the interference of the girl's powerful family, joins forces with Sergeant Frank Malloy to find the killer before er can strike again. Gaslight mystery series features midwife and amateur detective.

Staircase of a Thousand Steps by Masha Hamilton
Set in Transjordan before the 1976 war with Israel, Jammana and Faridah, the midwife, find themselves trapped between the old world and the new.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Talk of the Ton: Georgian/Regency Mysteries 1760-1830

One hears about Regency romances a lot, but what about Regency era mysteries?  Come join the Much Ado About Mysteries discussion group on Thursday March 14, 2013. At 7:00pm we will be chatting about the theme Talk of the Ton: Georgian/Regency Mysteries 1760-1830. We are going to be discussing the mystery stories set in the time period in which George III and his son George IV reigned.

Americans know George III as a revolutionary tyrant, but he is know for much more in his homeland.  In England, he was known as "Farmer George" for all of the progress that British agriculture made during this time. Those scientific advances helped grow the rural population, who eventually became the workers during the industrial revolution. He also kept the country together during the French Revolution and during the Napoleonic wars. He was known as a devoted husband (rare for a monarch of his time) and provided the country with several heirs.  Unfortunately he suffered from various health issues (another topic for discussion!) and his son was called in to reign as Regent.

The Regent (the future George IV) was known for his fashionable taste and his scandals. But he did have influence on the high society or as the French called it the 'ton.'  He definitely loved and created gossip.

So come and grab a copy of the reading list, held at the Reader Services desk, find a book and join us in the fun of discussing mysteries about this fascinating period of history. We have Jane Austen in the role of a sleuth, but there are gritter and darker stories too - a little something for everyone. Hope to see you there on March 14th.