Friday, July 29, 2016

Liked Stranger Things? Try These!

Have you just finished binging on Stranger Things? Not quite ready to step away from the brilliantly nostalgic aesthetic? Here's a list of movies referenced - either directly or by visual homage - by the newest hit series.

    But there's more to nostalgic homage than the movies of the time period. Try some music featured in the show too:

    Last but not least, why not try Dungeons & Dragons? The classic game is featured throughout the series. The game is currently in its 5th edition, and we've got all the newest books, and some older ones as well.

    Cover image for Monster manual.

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016

    Art and Life

    What better combination than art and literature? Even if you don’t have the artistic gene, you can imagine what it might be like with these novels.

    Seek My Face by John Updike
    During a day-long interview with a young New Yorker, 79-year-old painter Hope Chafetz tells the story of her eventful life and her career in postwar American art.

    The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland
    Written using the journals of real-life artist Emily Carr, this is the story of Carr’s struggles for independence at the turn of the century as she paints the vast Canadian landscape.

    The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

    When Annie discovers a lost masterpiece in a junk shop, she gets more than she bargained for. Colorful characters, fascinating settings, and suspense abound.

    Friday, July 22, 2016

    Need Help With that Square? - Armchair Travel

    Close to BINGO but having trouble finding a book for that one square?
    Here's some reading suggestions for Armchair Travel.

    The Painted Girls - Cathy Marie Buchanan

    Set in Belle Epoque Paris.  The Van Goethem sisters struggle for survival after the sudden death of their father, a situation that prompts Marie's ballet training and her introduction to a genius painter.

    The House at Riverton - Kate Morton
    Grace Bradley went to work at Riverton House as a servant when she was just a girl, before the First World War. For years her life was inextricably tied up with the Hartford family, most particularly the two daughters, Hannah and Emmeline. In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were Hannah and Emmeline and only they--and Grace--know the truth...

    The Midwife of Venice - Roberta Rich

    Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers--a gift aided by the secret "birthing spoons" she designed. But when a count implores her to attend to his wife, who has been laboring for days to give birth to their firstborn son, Hannah is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but the payment he offers is enough to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea.

    Nora Webster: A Novel - Colm Tóibín
    Widowed in her forties, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven-- herself.

    City of Women - David R. Gillham

    1943, in the height of World War II. With the men taken by the army, Berlin has become a city of women. While her husband fights on the Eastern Front, Sigrid Schroder is the model soldier's wife. She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind the facade is an entirely different Sigrid. She dreams of her former Jewish lover, who is lost in the chaos of the war.

    Monday, July 18, 2016

    Whatcha Gonna Watch?

    One of this summer's most talked about blockbusters has been the new Ghostbusters - controversial before it even came out, it's finally in theaters and getting good reviews. Here are some similar titles you might enjoy:

    Ghostbusters (1984): What could be a better companion feature to the new Ghostbusters than the film that started it all? This supernatural comedy classic has a great cast and tons of laughs.

    Bridesmaids: Sharing its director and cast with the new Ghostbusters, Bridesmaids is a perfect fit if you love the new movie. Competition between the maid of honor and a bridesmaid is the focus of this 2011 comedy.

    Groundhog Day: And if you love the original, try out another Bill Murray comedy classic! Groundhog Day is a comedy, romance, fantasy, and time travel flick all in one - when a weather man realizes he's forced to live through Groundhog Day over and over again, he tries to make the best of it.

    Gremlins: Don't show him bright lights! Don't feed him after midnight! And don't expose him to water! These are the rules given for taking care of this strange pet, but when those rules are broken, a gang of crazed gremlins tears up the town.

    Poltergeist: How about something a little scarier? Where Ghostbusters new and old uses the paranormal for comedy, Poltergeist uses it for horror. Combining the best of Spielberg's characters and Tobe Hooper's sense for what's scary, Poltergeist is as much of a classic as Ghostbusters!

    Tuesday, July 12, 2016

    Need Help with that Square? You Make Me Laugh

    Working on your Bingo card for the Summer Reading Program - Read for the Win? Check out these six amusing reads for the honor of being in your Humorous Book square.

    Book Jacket
    Still Foolin' Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal

    Nearing age 65, Billy Crystals acknowledges his accomplishments -- hosting major award shows, appearances on TV series like Soap and Saturday Night Live, and roles in blockbusters like When Harry Met Sally, and more -- with all the wry and quirky charm for which he is famed. Fans will find that Crystal still sparkles as he shares private disappointments along with details of those public successes, and fellow baby boomers will relate to Crystal's humorously catalog of the indignities of aging.
    Book Jacket

    One For the Money by Janet Evanovich

    When Stephanie Plum needs moneyshe turns to bounty hunting for quick cash even though she has no idea what to do and doesn't own a gun. Luckily, her first quarry, an ex-cop accused of murder, turns out to be her first lover, with whom she still shares a powerful chemistry.

    Bossypants by Tina Fey

    Book JacketFrom her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon, comedian Tina Fey reveals all, and proves that you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

    Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen
    Book Jacket
    Doctoring water samples to help his corrupt agribusiness employer continue illegal dumping in the Everglades, biologist Chaz Perrone attempts to murder his wife, who has figured out his scam and who survives to plot her husband's downfall.

    Book JacketIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

    The writer and actress best known as Kelly Kapoor on "The Office" shares observations on topics ranging from favorite male archetypes and her hatred of dieting to her relationship with her mother and the haphazard creative process in the "Office" writers' room.

    Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
    Book Jacket
    When her notorious, hilarious, volatile, talented, troubled, and agoraphobic mother goes missing, teenage Bee begins a trip that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her.

    Friday, July 8, 2016

    Need HELP with that Square? Books Made into a Movie

    If you're playing our Summer Reading Program Bingo game and you need some help with that Made into a Movie square, here's a few titles to consider: 

    Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
    In Ireland in the early 1950s, Eilis Lacey is one of many who cannot find work at home. When a job is offered in America, it is clear to everyone that she must go. Leaving behind her family and country, Eilis heads for unfamiliar Brooklyn, and to a crowded boarding house where the landlady's intense scrutiny and the small jealousies of her fellow residents only deepen her isolation. Slowly, the pain of parting is buried beneath the rhythms of her new life and finally, she begins to realize that she has found a sort of happiness. Until news comes from home that forces her back to Ireland and to new possibilities which conflict deeply with the life she has left behind in Brooklyn.

    The Martian by Andy Weir
    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney was one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark is stranded alone with no way to even signal Earth. Even if he could, he wouldn't last until rescue arrived. Chances are, though, he won't starve -- so many other things are likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet.

    Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
    Reluctantly investigating a kidnapping threat against his ex-girlfriend's billionaire beau, Doc Sportello tackles a bizarre tangle of nefarious characters before stumbling on a mysterious entity that may actually be a tax shelter for a dental group.

    Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke
    A story of survival on the American frontier that chronicles the exploits of fur trapper Hugh Glass, who after surviving a grizzly bear attack, undertakes an arduous trek through the wilderness to seek revenge against the trappers who left him for dead. 

    Tuesday, July 5, 2016

    Are You There, Judy Blume? It’s Me, Karrie

    When I was in sixth grade Judy Blume’s book, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was all the rage amongst my friends. That was the first time I remember any of us talking about a book. Of course I had to read it. My public library was five blocks away from our house so I jumped on my bike, parked my bike in the bike rack, and ventured into the children’s section to get a copy. The kind librarian (because in my world all librarians are kind) told me that it was checked out and that she could put a hold on it for me. Having never done that before –there had been no other book at the time that was so popular – I put my name on the list and waited. And waited. And waited. Weeks later a notification came through the U.S. mail – you remember mail, right? Back in the day, and I truly hate to tell you how long ago this was but it was in the neighborhood of 43 years ago, hold notices came in through a mail slot in our front door. I got home from school and my hold notice announced that my copy of Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret ready for me.

    My bike seemed to lift off the ground I was riding so fast to the library. As soon as the librarian handed Margaret to me, I found a quiet and comfortable corner of the library, and began reading. A couple hours later I was finishing Margaret’s story and my mom was wondering why I wasn’t home for dinner. It was a transformative book for me; I was 12-years-old and Margaret was experiencing adolescence at the same age as I was; her experiences were my experiences. I was convinced that Judy Blume knew me and had written my story.

    When I was sixteen, her book Forever was published. Forever was very edgy for its time because it was about a 16-year-old girl named Katherine who was experiencing boyfriend love for the first time. She lived in Westfield, New Jersey, and her story was simple, very realistic, and quite romantic. Once again, I was convinced that Judy Blume wrote Forever about me because at the time I lived in Westfield, New Jersey, and I was in love for the first time. Places Katherine went, I had been. She went to Westfield High School and so did I. This could not be a coincidence, right?

    Throughout her life as an author, Judy Blume has boldly written authentic books for adolescents about topics that were true to them. She understands kids. She’s been a voice for young adults and as a result she is one of the most widely banned authors in our time. Her ideas and discussion of authentic teen experiences was – and still is – very threatening to many adults. For me, I was lucky enough to grow up with her, and she is one of my heroes. Now I am a librarian and I am happy when I recommend her books to kids and they read them.

    Now I’m in my 50s, and Judy Blume writes books for adults, thankfully. She’s been the one author I truly have been reading all my life and I thank her for that. The books she writes for adults are just as engaging and wonderful as the young adult books I grew up reading. In many ways she still gets me.

    Her most recently published book In the Unlikely Event is a wonderful read, as are her other novels for adults, Summer Sisters and Wifey. As I eagerly await her next book, I’ll take note that times have changed since I was 12. When I get the email telling me that my hold for Judy’s newest book is available, I’ll jump into my car and drive immediately to the library. I begin the ritual of finding a comfy corner of the library to sit and dive head-first into whatever story she is telling me…and I’ll feel like a 12-year-old girl all over again. The anticipation is almost too much to bear!

    Sunday, July 3, 2016

    A Summer House, A Family Life

    If you have ever been to a summer cottage or cabin, you know the feeling of getting away and escaping life.  Family summer homes are places that bring out the best and worst in families.  Reading The Big House by George Howe Colt felt like I was reading a chapter from my own life.  Having spent many summers in my in-laws run-down, mouse-infested cottage in Northern Michigan, I immediately fell more in love with it than any place in the world.  I enjoyed weeks of summer fun with my kids up there as they learned to swim and play tennis, we walked in the rain, picked and jammed raspberries and spent hours playing board games.  We had lots of summers in Michigan but it was always the cottage that made me feel like I was home and had found my soul.

         When I say it was run-down, I really mean it.  It was neglected for years.  It languished during the winters, and each summer there would be a new problem with the structure. As we slept at night, mice would run through the house and take up residence in the fireplace wood, in the rafters or a corner that hadn't been noticed in awhile. Once during the winter a determined mouse burrowed into our mattress and died in there.  First order of business that summer was to buy a new mattress.  The smell of the place was so distinct that the musty order stayed in my clothes long after we returned to suburbia and the hectic pace of our everyday lives.  It was a smell that I adored, so I didn't wash my clothes right away after returning home.

         When storms would come rolling in off Lake Michigan, we would sit on the porch and watch as the trees would bend from the force of the wind, the thunder would deafen us, and pools of water would gather at the end of the road.  The sound of rain pounding on the roof was extraordinary because there was no ceiling of insulation to mute the sound.  It was wonderful to lay in bed at night and listen to nature come down around us.  And every couple of years a hoot owl would take up residence in a nearby 100-foot tree and call out in the dark of the night, "Who, Whoo, Who-Who."

         I know my children have fond memories of their summer life in the family cottage.  My kids are 5th generation in the cottage that was named Tynneycoed by their great-grandparents. Their grandmother grew up in it, and always maintained she hated the place, which was something we couldn't fathom (and didn't really believe).  My kids were very fortunate to be able to spend so much time having care-free fun summers -- summers without electronics, returning us to the "good 'ole days" when we sat at the dinner table eating summer cuisine and talked.  One summer we watched a caterpillar turn into a chrysalis right in front of our eyes as we ate our tuna noodle casserole.  About 10 days later that chrysalis burst forth into the world as a Monarch butterfly as we ate grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was the love and kindness of my in-laws that gave us that gift each summer -- a sacrifice that was not lost on us, and that we were so grateful to receive.

         As the years have gone on, and the cottage was falling in around itself, we used to dream of fixing it up, enlarging it and creating a summer home where the whole family could come together to enjoy each other's company.  There are five siblings in the family, so the dreams we had were grand, but that was our dream, not necessarily the rest of the family's. 

         Of course the question of what to do with a cottage that has been in the family for 5 generations when it is time to pass it on is a sticky issue.  As George Howe Colt so eloquently writes, "It's a very complex issue because there is so much emotion and family history involved.  What one member of the family wants, some other family member doesn't.  Where one person has a terrible memory of the place, someone else has wonderful memories."  That was so true for our cottage and family.

         So what to do with a family cottage when the current generation doesn't want it or can't afford to keep it?  What to do when the family dynamics change, marriages end, and children grow up?
         The family cottage I spent 20 years raising my children in is no longer readily available to me because I divorced my husband.  My kids now visit the cottage as adults; my older son now shares the cottage with his wife.  Every couple of years my ex extends me a generous kindness and lets me go back up with my youngest son.  In the meantime my friends in Michigan tell me the cottage looks sad and forlorn because we are not in it.  Where the lights in the cottage at night brought the cottage to life in the deep woods, now it sits dark and empty most of the summer.  

         As timeless as The Big House is, it was the summer of 2005 when I read it.  I was sitting on the screened-in porch of the cottage, listening to the sounds of the night -- critters rustling in the leaves as they passed by, people talking far away, the occasional owl hoot -- and I instinctively knew that my summers there were going to come to an end.  I felt the same heaviness in my heart that Colt felt in his heart when he decided to sell his summer home.   It truly is like mourning a family member when you say goodbye to a house that you love;  you're left with the feeling that you will miss her immensely, but you're grateful for every moment you spent together.   The memories of our family cottage will live on in my heart, even when the time comes that I never see her again.

    Saturday, July 2, 2016

    Mustang: Little Movies, Big Stories.

    Join us for the continuing film series that explores little movies with BIG stories. When five Turkish orphan girls are seen innocently playing with boys on the beach, the community erupts in scandal while their conservative guardians confine them and work to arrange forced marriages. Mustang was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2016. Just drop in, 7:00 - 8:45.