How about some great series from Across the Pond?
Not sure what this is? Read all about it here. And remember! Our Holiday gift to you is 20 downloads this month. Enjoy!
How about some great series from Across the Pond?
Not sure what this is? Read all about it here. And remember! Our Holiday gift to you is 20 downloads this month. Enjoy!
Greetings! I wish you all a Very Happy End of the First Full Work Week of 2015. And it’s been quite the week! Lots of cold and a little snow, which is feeling oddly familiar and not in a good way. It’s January, after all so we should not be shocked or surprised. And that is all I am saying about that. The SoNo Loft this week would like us to consider the following resolution: 2015: Be Brave. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that you should “do one thing every day that scares you.” So I charge each and every one of you to stretch a bit in the coming year. Make yourself a little or a lot uncomfortable every once in a while. Now, with this being said, Be Brave does not mean Be Stupid. Please make sure you all have your flu shots (it’s not too late!), that you are taking care of yourselves by bundling up, staying warm, getting into the sun and fresh air when possible and eating well. Sick? Call us up on the phone to renew your items. Don’t have anything to read? Consider our digital library! Too sick to read? Watch some good stuff through Hoopla! We have seen a lot of illness this week and this is no way to begin a year People! And frankly? I have no interest in spending my weekend or my Monday night while watching the College Football National Championship curled up on my couch, with nothing but a box of Kleenex and a cocktail of Nyquil Rocks with a Robitussin Chaser willing to be next to me. So Be Brave, not Stupid and Soldier On! And Let’s Go Buckeyes! (You had to know that was coming and I applaud my restraint over the last 2 weeks).
This week we have a Martian, and monsters, Burma, and bone disease. The Playlist is cued and ready!
Let us begin!
Miss Elisabeth of the CL is sharing the feedback her dad gave her on her Christmas gift to him. How’d it work out Elisabeth? “I heard great things about The Martian by Andy Weir (including a recommendation by our own Alan Gray!) and got it for my father for Christmas. My dad is the person who encouraged me to read science fiction, and it has always been a shared love of ours. He started reading it the evening he opened his presents and finished it two days later, and very eagerly to texted me about how much he loved it! ‘An intense read! One of the best crafted survival epics I've read in a long time. It's very technical and scientific but somehow the author has made it a completely believable story. It's really Swiss Family Robinson meets Robinson Crusoe, meets a probable scientific future. I'm on the last few pages and wow! I could read this forever. You're the best, Daughter Dear!’” I would say that you gifted well! Good job Miss E!
Miss Lisa of the CL is enjoying some Hair-Raising Reading Time. “I just read an awesome graphic novel called Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. It is totally creepy and brilliant. Carroll’s beautiful illustrations are a perfect companion to her stories, which are as timeless as folk tales but a million times more unnerving. She nails all the things you wouldn’t want to meet in the woods, including burrowing monsters that turn you into a frightening empty shell, ghosts with blood vessels, and chopped up ladies who sing through the floors. Mainly, her work is all about the fear of not knowing what the heck is going on – you just know you’re scared out of your mind.”
Sweet Ann! just finished this year’s Booker winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. Here’s what she thought: “This novel won the Man Booker prize and has been put on many lists as one of the best books of the year and I have to agree. The story begins with Dorrigo Evans, an aging Australian surgeon, reflecting on his life as he writes the forward for a book of drawings done by a fellow POW during their torturous time as prisoners of war in Burma during WWII. It is a difficult read when you learn how these Australian men were treated by the Japanese to build the Burma-Thai Railroad in 1943. These prisoners did not have tools, clothing or food and were beaten and tortured constantly and many did not survive. Another intriguing aspect of this book is Dorrigo's personal life. Prior to the war he is engaged to a woman who is deemed to be the proper wife of surgeon, but he really doesn't love her. He has an affair with his uncle's wife whose memory of their times together will help him get through the horrors of the war. There is such a twist in the story that was not revealed to just about the end of the book and it was great. This is a heavy book but one I believe well worth reading.”
Steph tackled something that has been on my bookshelf for years and is one of those ‘Most Definitely Someday Books.’ Here’s her take on an American classic. “Over my vacation, I read Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. It’s been on my to-be-read list for years, as I’ve heard dozens of readers sing its praises. And with good reason! It’s spectacular. The book has two stories. The first is of Lyman Ward, a writer and historian who is newly confined to a wheelchair due to a bone disease, trying to maintain his independence. From his seat in the 1970s, he’s researching and writing about his grandmother, Susan, in the mid-1800s, and how her life went from one of culture and civilization in the East to one of hardscrabble mining towns out West after she married an engineer. The book weaves back and forth between the two, illuminating not just the highs and the lows of their lives, but the development of the United States, for better or for worse. Lyman is angry but compassionate towards his grandmother, whose voice springs to life in dozens of letters, and who he is determined to protect from modern intrusion. I was instantly swept up in the writing and the story—it is just so rich. It combines the resonance of good historical fiction with characters you feel you could reach out and touch. This is truly one of the great American novels, and reminded me very much of Stoner by John Williams, another favorite of mine. This is a great choice for settling in by a fireplace during a snowstorm.”
Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC from The State Up North with some final thoughts and of course The Playlist. Congrats on that new coach Pats, we look forward to next November. Now what’s good? “It’s a new year and it’s a time for new beginnings and new opportunities, but we can’t move forward without reflecting on the past. It has not been a great year for our country. Abroad it’s much the same. Unrest and uneasiness are an unpleasant, but unavoidable part of change. Our freedoms here are many and public libraries are a physical manifestation of our freedom of thought and speech. To protect those freedoms, we have a responsibility to be brave. We can march to our own beat. We can be fearless and jump feet first into something that makes us uncomfortable. We can have necessary and difficult conversations. So be brave. Maybe start with some music. Be brave and listen to what I believe were some of the Best Albums of 2014.”
Greetings! And a very Happy 2015 to us all! I know I am not alone in being rather pleased to kick 2014 to the curb. I don’t know of a single person who didn’t have a hard time of it this past year, whether it was health, monetary or professional issues and in some sad cases a bit of it all. So all I am asking for is a better year. It doesn’t have to be a stellar one, though that would certainly be lovely. I am only asking for better. This weekend also brings us the first full moon of the year. This moon is known as the Wolf Moon. Apparently this was because wolves would howl outside villages in hunger. So let’s show some kindness People! See a wolf this weekend? Throw it a bone won’t you, preferably a nice meaty one. This week we have England, Brooklyn, Dystopia, and of course The Playlist! New Year! New Playlist!
Let us begin!
Amanda took my advice and watched Small Island. “I decided to watch this because I’m a fan of Benedict Cumberbath (hello, Sherlock!). Quickly I changed course as I got pulled into the struggles of two Jamaican immigrants to England around WW2. They were taught that England was a kind and gracious mother who loved all her children. They arrive with high expectations, but are met with scorn, racism, and violence. Meanwhile, their landlady struggles with having her dreams clipped by circumstances that led to a cold marriage. The two couples’ lives are headed towards a major collision. I’m easily led to tears and this one left me weeping. This miniseries is based off an award-winning novel that The Guardian selected as a defining book of the decade. I also suspect that Cumberbatch’s socially awkward portrayal of Bernard led to his BBC Sherlock role. I highly recommend Small Island for history buffs. “
Barbara M has just finished reading a book that has proven to be a favorite with all who pick it up. I’ll let her explain. “I recently read a children’s fiction book, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson which is neither only for children nor truly fictional. This poignant fictionalized memoir written in verse describes Woodson’s childhood first in the south during the Civil Rights Movement and later in Brooklyn as her passion for writing blossomed. Woodson’s free verse poetry is easily accessible and flows effortlessly. This is a beautifully written book that touched me deeply. “
I spent my Christmas break playing Book Catch-Up. This time of year is tragic for new books and I usually spend it tackling the To Be Read Pile of books that have already been published that I have missed. So, on the advice of some of my Librarian Friends (I am looking at you Sue B and Mary C!) I picked up Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Now please understand that this book had to be practically shoved into my hands. I am not a fan of Science Fiction or Dystopian Lit. But they were so passionate and so insistent that I acquiesced to them and I am happy to report that I could not imagine a better use of two days off. When the world as we know it vanishes in the blink of an eye due to a virus that kills in the matter of hours, what’s left? Art is what is left. Art and a nostalgia for everything that we take for granted. Which sounds odd I know, but trust me on this: you want to pick this one up and savor it.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here with our first playlist of the year. What’s good Pats? “This week I am on the road. We took to the road after the holidays to visit friends and family. NYC was dressed in all her holiday finery and we enjoyed a lovely dinner in CT with friends that overflowed with laughter. Thank you Christine & Peter! Currently we are with the east coast cousins in MA. We will hike around the Acton Arboretum, sit in front of a big fire, swap stories and laugh like you do with the best of friends. There are few people whom we enjoy more than these folks and it’s both the perfect way to end and begin a new year. It’s been a rough year and I think we can all say that we’re looking forward to better days. Wishing you better days in 2015! “
Here is a list of the most popular items this week.
Greetings and welcome to the Hellidaze edition of You Are What You Read! It’s hard to believe that this time next week we will all be standing in line trying to return that gift that leaves us scratching our head and pouring ANOTHER glass of eggnog. The words from The SoNo Loft remain ‘Just Breathe’ so, as always in the coming days, heed the message, stop, and take a deep breath. I know that for myself, this weekend will be spent tying up those loose ends and then as a reward for just getting it done, a Sunday Morning Meet Up with a selection of some of my Outlaws for a catch-up and some breakfast. Remember People! The important stuff always gets done and the most important piece of the Hellidaze is being with your people! As a reminder we are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but we will see you bright and early on the 26th for our regular hours. Next week, we will have our big reveal as to what the Library’s Top Ten Reads of 2014 are. So put your heads down, power through it with a bit of joy, a whole lotta eggnog, maybe some pants with an elastic waist and we’ll catch up next week. This week we have Lord Byron, whimsy, Miss Alabama, genius, and some Little House. Of course we have The Playlist for your dashing through the snow, rain or ice, or whatever it is the Weather Gods will be slinging at us.
Let us begin!
Abby explores the history of the seemingly newish Tech Industry with The Innovators by Walter Isaacson. “My biggest takeaway from The Innovators is that even the most creative and brilliant minds need to master the art of collaboration in order to bring about progress. The book opens with the story of Ada Lovelace, born in 1815, who was the daughter of Lord Byron. Ada was an accomplished mathematician and early logic theorist whose work set others on the road to computing. In fact, throughout the book, women are the unsung heroes of early computer programming. While men tended to build the machinery, it was women who were instrumental in making the contraptions work. The Innovators is an enjoyable and educational book; that’s a tough combination to master, but Isaacson has again shown he has found the right formula.”
Pat T has a solution for us this week. “If you are feeling stressed with the holiday rush, I suggest you take 10 minutes to read the delightful, Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow. Basically, this whimsical book agrees that yes, the holidays are a lot of work, but it also reminds of us what we would be missing if we didn't celebrate. So keep it simple and enjoy this special time with family and friends!
Sweet Ann is breaking out of her usual fare and doing things a little differently “I am listening to I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg. It’s read by Ms. Flagg and it's a hoot. I am known for reading on the side of dark and depressing but occasionally I need a chuckle. You wouldn't think this book would make you smile since it opens with the main character, Maggie Fortenberry, a former Miss Alabama, planning her demise in the local river. Maggie is an interesting woman who can't stop putting other’s needs before her planned departure. This novel contains race relations, a little person, a murder mystery and a cast of characters that will make you smile. “
Steph is getting that jump on 2015. “I’m using the holidays to start getting ahead on my 2015 reading. This week, I read Kelly Link’s short story collection Get in Trouble, which comes out in February. She is a genius who brings a new life to everything she writes. Whether you’re a lifelong short story lover, or have been coming back to stories thanks to writers like George Saunders, or perhaps don’t like them at all, you’ll find something to love in this book. Link combines the clarity and structure of an Alice Munro story with the imagination of our best fantasy writers. Each story has a surreal element (for instance, superheroes are real and they have conventions like every other profession) and is set in a world that is otherwise our own. The tension between reality and fantasy is spectacular, taking most of the stories to a whole new level. While not all of them are perfect, there are 5-6 stories in here that blew me away. I can’t wait to start recommending this one.” It comes out in February and will be in the catalog next week.
How am I avoiding the Hellidaze? The same way I always have; with my nose in a book. I have never been shy about my love of The Little House Books. In fact, not only was the next installment in the series was always one of my favorite gifts under the tree growing up but if I am being totally honest, it was probably the first of many obsessions that I cultivate to this day. I had nothing but contempt for the TV series by the way. They weren’t faithful to the stories and Melissa Gilbert just plain annoyed me. So I will be tucked away in a corner with Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill, editor. Hidden away from the world since the 1930’s, Wilder’s biography has a lot of surprises in it. Think a not-so-sunny prairie with financial insolvency, early death and child labor. Add to that some meticulous foot notes by the folks at the South Dakota Historical Society who researched each and every sentence, added photos pertaining to the text when they could be found and I will be in Little House Heaven. For those hankering for more on the true story there is this New Yorker article that I reread every couple of years and don’t forget another favorite of mine Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC from That State Up North. What’s doing Pats? “Greetings from the Motor City! Chanukah is here and Christmas is right around the corner. Seems like everywhere I turn there’s a procession of cars with menorahs on top or a car grille with a wreath strapped on to it. How is this not a fire hazard? Folks here take their holidays VERY seriously. Plastic Santa’s line the rooftops, 12-foot blow-up Chanukah Bears holding dreidels sit on lawns and Hines Drive Lightfest will celebrate its 21st year. It’s a 4-mile light show spectacular complete with 55 animated holiday-themed displays. Because here in the Motor City, we do everything with our cars, holiday driving through a light show on a roadway is just part of the seasonal merriment. So may you have a dusting of snow for your holiday, enjoy a steaming mug of Glögg in front of the old Yule log and share it with those you love. This year it seems appropriate to share something from The Godfather of Soul. Happy Holidays everyone!”
Here are the new titles available from OverDrive.
Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Deadline by John Sandford
The Escape by David Baldacci
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
Full Force and Effect by Mark Greaney
Greetings! This week’s brilliant message from the SoNo Loft is one we all need to heed this time of year. The Loft is reminding us to ‘Just Breathe.’ It’s very easy to get sucked into the insanity of the season this time of year and rush about like a four-year-old on an extreme sugar high. Cathy the sister-in-law posted the above list on Facebook earlier this week and tracked it down for me so I could share it with you all. Thanks Cath, you’re the best. It’s a to-do list that we all could use as a blueprint for the upcoming days. This weekend, take a moment to look around, breathe and be present in the moment. We have a gift for you all! Instead of just 10 Hoopla downloads for this month, starting Monday and going through the end of January we are allowing 20! If you haven’t played around with Hoopla you really should. There are no pesky holds to deal with, no need to fret about returns, and there is something for everybody including music, movies, series and documentaries, and audio books. To learn more click here. So Very Merry from us! Enjoy! This week we have a midwife, a trio of anthropologists, obsession, Russia and some monsters under the bed.
You know we have The Playlist. Don’t even worry your pretty heads about that.
Let us begin!
Babs B has just finished My Notorious Life by Kate Manning. What did you think Babs? “I absolutely loved this one! Based on a true story, this is a well-researched, beautiful historical novel that traces the life of Axie, an impoverished Irish girl from the slums of New York City. How she becomes a midwife in the second half of the 19th century is really the heart of this story. Axie came from nothing and ended up being a very wealthy woman. Even spending time in jail didn't deter her from helping women deliver their babies or performing abortions on women who had been raped. Axie was way ahead of her time on this subject, which can still be a debate in this day and age. The end of this book will shock readers in a good way. I never saw it coming!
Laura has just finished a book we have been shouting about for a long time now and has won a well-deserved place on the New York Times Best of 2014 list. Here is what she thought of Euphoria, by Lily King. “Taking place between the two world wars, you meet Nell and her husband Fen, anthropologists who are running for their lives from a blood-thirsty tribe deep in the jungles of New Guinea. When they meet Bankson, an English anthropologist who introduces them to the female-dominated tribe, the Tam, a love triangle of epic proportions is set in motion. Tragedy ensues and the reader is left wondering who is more civilized; the well-educated scholarly scientists or the actual natives who have patiently taken them into their societies. I listened to the audio book and was entranced each and every hour.”
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is here to tell us what her latest obsession is. “Guilty or not guilty? After binge listening to the addicting Serial podcast, I remain undecided. Is there reasonable doubt that Adnan Syed committed murder at the age of 17? Absolutely! If you don't know what I am talking about, then you are missing out on one of the best crime dramas produced in years and it’s not even on TV. From the creators of This American Life and hosted by Sarah Koenig, Serial is a podcast that follows one true story over an entire season. For its debut, Koenig conducts an investigation into the 1999 Baltimore murder of Hae Min Lee and whether or not Lee's ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was wrongly convicted for her murder. Koenig is a masterful storyteller and how she presents her investigation is absolutely enthralling. You get sucked into the real time play-by-play of what she finds in the case files, interviews with the very likable Syed, the other key players and witnesses. For any true crime fan, the inconsistencies and details that went unexplored are not all that surprising, but as a listener you find yourself shocked. For Adnan Syed, the buzz and cult-like following the show has generated has had major impact for his case. But how much impact remains to be seen, as Serial continues to play out in real-time. For all of you other Serial addicts, join me next Thursday at the library as we play the final episode in the podcast with a follow up discussion of the case.”
The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished Midnight in Siberia by David Greene. “Part travelogue, part cultural snapshot, David Greene has created a remarkable portrait of the Russian everyman today. Greene spent three years as an NPR Moscow Bureau chief, ending in 2012. During this time, he clearly developed a deep infatuation with the people, the culture and the country. He wanted to discover what Russians really thought of the changes they had experienced in the post-Soviet years. In order to do this, he wanted to get out the globalized environment he found in Moscow. So he and his former colleague and interpreter Sergei embark on a 6000 mile cross-country Trans-Siberian rail journey from Moscow to Vladivostok. Through conversations with fellow travelers, as well as in-depth interviews with individuals in stops along the way, we are offered a rare portrait of a people who are deeply conflicted about democracy. While grateful for the end of much of the commonplace oppression suffered during Soviet times, they still miss the economic stability inherent in such a system; who maintain deep religious and spiritual ties and who seem married to the idea that being Russian and suffering go hand in hand. Greene creates a new window from which to view Russia in the twenty first century. This book is extremely compelling and I couldn’t put it down.
Stephanie has never made a secret of her love of Stephen King. So what does she think of his latest? “This week I was delighted to read Stephen King’s latest, Revival. Despite being burned many times by some slouches, I still read each of his books. I can’t resist! Revival wasn’t as fantastic at 11/22/63, but it was still a great read. You will be stunned to hear that this book opens in a small Maine town, and features a young boy who turns into an adult with a drug problem. Crazy, right??? But no matter how many times King goes back to that well, there’s still more water for him to draw on. In this story, King explores the nature of devotion and religious belief. Protagonist Jamie is haunted throughout the book by his childhood minister, who leaves the church after a horrific tragedy and re-enters his life years later as a very changed man. Though much of the book reads like King’s more recent novels, which focus more on human relationships than monsters under the bed, it does take a turn for the horrific, and has one of the most frightening endings I’ve read in one of his books. If you’re looking for a holiday distraction, or to feel grateful for your life in the real world and not in a Stephen King novel, look no further.”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is in residence with some final thoughts. Here’s what is going on in her world. “This year my son will not celebrate Christmas in his school classroom and this makes me happy. I’ve got nothing against celebrating holidays it’s just that his classroom is so diverse that if one religious holiday were singled out it would be unfair. I was a theology minor in school and feel that part of my job as a mother has been to teach my children about different religious celebrations. I consciously chose to not raise my children with a religion but rather expose them to everything and when the time came for them to make a choice (or not) they would be educated in that decision. The choice will be theirs, not mine. I believe we should all have choices. Often folks who need choices the most don’t ever get to enjoy that privilege.”
Greetings! A Happy Friday to us all. Mistakes. We all make them. Last week I was so obsessed with eradicating all the M’s that I forgot to link to the correct post. I rectify that here. Sometimes we learn from our mistakes. For instance, for The Game last year, my brother taped it because he was running in a race that morning and we would not be darkening his door until well into the second half. This seemingly excellent plan enabled us to catch up with each other, nibble on what emerged from The Green Egg and sip a beverage in a leisurely manner before settling down to the business at hand. It all went swimmingly and The Game was a thing of beauty. A tied score in the last 32 seconds and then it happened. Because The Game ran long we were confronted with The Blue Screen of Death. Yup. The DVR ran out of room and we were tasked with frantically trying to determine the ending. Well, this year was going to be different! This year, Peter set the timer for the next two shows. We were covered! Peter ran his race, we showed up early in the afternoon, caught up with each other, ate lovely lunch, sipped a little something and then settled in to watch The Game. When our quarterback got badly hurt in the beginning of the 4th quarter with the score tied, we were on pins and needles! How would this play out? And then what happened? Yup. Cue The Blue Screen of Death, which left us scrambling to find out how it all ended. Next year there will be no race, no leisurely nosh. We have learned our lesson. The Game begins at noon and we will be watching it live. Last week I failed to credit sister-in-law Cathy for the picture so I am doing that now. Cathy, my apologies! Great picture from The Shoe and thanks! Mistakes happen People! We are only human after all. So learn your lessons, learn to apologize and move on knowing better. This week we have murder, creepiness, some organizing, hockey and how about a nice cup of hot chocolate to go with that Playlist?
Let us begin!
Abby has another series that she wants to tell us about. “Fans of the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly will be happy to learn the Detective is back in The Burning Room and as methodical and determined as ever. Harry has been in the elite cold crimes unit for a few years, but when a man dies due to a decades old shooting, it’s ruled a murder. Harry and his partner catch the case and must balance the challenges of a fresh crime against the techniques of solving a cold case. As usual, Connelly weaves an intricate web of clues and connections that allow Bosch to close the case. The road to getting there illustrates that justice is not always what we imagine, but that’s doesn’t mean it can’t be satisfying. Connelly is one of the few crime writers who can offer a new book with regularity and consistent high-quality.”
Sweet Ann is here this week with a story of book happenstance with The Unknown Bridesmaid by Margaret Forster. What have you got going Ann? “As I was shelving books one day, I saw this book and was intrigued by the title as well as the cover. I am so glad I chose to read this book written by a British author. I found this book to be creepy and one I could not put down. It tells the story of Julia, a forty-eight-year old child psychologist and magistrate in London. She works with damaged children and makes decisions that will shape their lives. As Julia looks back on her childhood and the choices she made, we learn of Julia's actions and the way she was raised by her dismissive mother. As a reader you feel you are almost reading the case study of young Julia and discovering who she becomes as an adult. I thoroughly enjoyed this book”.
Barbara M is busy busy busy! I’ll let her explain. “I have read an incredible amount of books on organizing; too, too many. For the most part they all say the same things. Things I already know. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo is different. One of her instructions is to store all similar items in the same place instead of by frequency of use. Storing items by frequency of use she says makes it easy to forget about them. She also never piles things. She rolls things and stores them vertically making it easy to see what you have. She is ruthless. Her main principle is that you should keep only things that ‘spark joy’. While that idea made sense to me her suggestion that you thank your discards for having served you well was beyond what I could do. I won’t and can’t follow her instructions systematically. There is no way I can put all my clothes in a pile on the floor and then sort through them. However, that being said, this book has somehow inspired me to look at the amount of things I own in a different way.”
Steph! What’s this week’s read? “This week I have been engrossed in Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard by John Branch. You may have seen the story of Derek Boogaard before, in Branch’s three-part New York Times feature on Boogaard, published after his tragic death in 2011. After an improbable rise through the ranks of hockey, Boogaard became one of the most feared enforcers in the NHL. However, this rise was accompanied by countless injuries to his body, including several broken noses, a ruptured disc in his back, and hands that were constantly swollen and covered in open wounds. His friends and family worried about him, but playing for the NHL was all the boy from rural Saskatchewan wanted, and team doctors kept fixing him up. These fixes came with many painkillers, however, and before long Boogaard developed a fierce addiction that worsened after a horrific concussion. This addiction led directly to his death at age 28, shocking everyone around him and the entire sports community. Branch, who was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on this story, tracks Boogaard’s tragic story from beginning to end with copious detail from interviews, credit card statements, and medical records. It’s heartbreaking to watch it unfold with hindsight, seeing all the places someone might have made a difference. While Branch subtly underscores the story with references to hockey culture and how it contributed to Boogaard’s death, he seeks not so much to place blame as to instigate change. Though this is a must-read for hockey fans, any sports fan will see the parallels between Boogaard and the stories of sacrifice from every sport. This is a top non-fiction book of the year.”
Miss Elisabeth is in the spirit! "This week I read the absolutely delightful My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. Edited by YA Author Stephanie Perkins and featuring stories by such YA stars as Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman, Matt De La Pena, and David Leviathan, this book is the perfect choice for curling up by a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Each story features some kind of romance, most swoon-inducing. I would say there’s not a bad story in the bunch; I had my favorites (the editor’s own It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown was definitely one of the best), but the entire collection is worth a read, something which is not necessarily true with other themed anthologies I’ve read. Don’t let the YA label fool you! The book is not filled with angst-y teens. Most of the stories are about true young adults (i.e., out of high school) and some deal with decidedly grown-up problems, like hunger. This little gem of a collection is sure to put a smile on your face, bring you great holiday cheer and it would make an excellent holiday gift!"
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with some final thoughts on foibles. What’s good Pats? “Mistakes. Gaffes. 404s. Screw-ups. Blunders. Faux pas. Solecisms. Lapses. Hiccups. Admit it, we all make mistakes. Guess what? That’s usually a good thing. Mistakes are necessary for our own education. Just ask any Rube Goldberg enthusiast. I try to not make the same mistake twice and while I am not entirely successful in that endeavor, I try to be conscious about it. I will not use the most overused cliché in writing about insanity here. You know what it is. I will say that lately it has felt like the world has gone a bit insane and that can be unsettling. As if the holiday season wasn’t stressful enough! Things can feel like they are spinning out of control with injustices abounding, frustration and anger seem to be the emotions of the day. Will we learn from these mistakes? I certainly hope so. We shouldn’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again. That would just be insane.”
Getting the tree this weekend? How about some music to get you in the Holiday spirit?
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Greetings! Hope the Thanksgiving was all you hoped for and the leftovers bountiful. A happy Hate Week to us all. This weekend, the kinfolk and I celebrate the diversion that is That State Up North v. Ohio State. Also known as the holiday that rivals the Yuletide, if the Yuletide was fueled by a whole lotta dislike. The clan has been celebrating this for just about as long as there has been a clan or at least since 1897. The TC and I will be traveling to New Jersey on Saturday before noon to watch with The Brother and his people. There will be a protein in the Green Egg and a keg of beer at the ready. This is not an event that we take lightly. At Ohio State, the student body has dedicated their week to eradicating a certain letter everywhere it appears on the property and I too have taken up that challenge. So there will not be a certain letter in this weekly dispatch. You can read about the student body efforts here. This is the 110th get -together and even though the squad of The State Up North is sad, sad, sad this year, a win by OSU is not a foregone conclusion. You can’t predict the results when passions run high on both sides. A favorite story about this rivalry involves a young boy who is the son of two OSU grads. When Grant Reed was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11 he decided to label his cancer after That State Up North so that when he was cured he could state with a certitude that he had indeed Beat That State Up North. Happily he has done just that. You can read about that here. So Happy Weekend People! Let’s go Buckeyes! This week we have Big Coal, China, privilege, and elephants.
Playlist? Yup. No worries.
Let us begin!
The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished Gray *ountain by John Grisha*. How was it Pat? “After a long hiatus as a reader of Grisha*, last year’s highly entertaining Syca*ore Row brought about a return to the fold. So I picked up Gray *ountain and so far, have not been disappointed. Sa*antha Kofer, high powered associate in a big New York City law fir*, beco*es a casualty of the financial collapse of 2008. Her career plans co*e to a screeching halt as she is furloughed, and told to find a volunteer position in a legal aid situation of so*e kind, and just possibly, after a year’s ti*e, she could be reconsidered for fullti*e e*ploy*ent again. This brings her to *ountain Legal Aid in the s*all town of Brady, Virginia, deep in the heart of Appalachia. Here she is faced with a veritable cornucopia of injustices perpetrated against the poor and underprivileged, particularly in an area of the country that is essentially run by Big Coal. Naturally, there is a very attractive lawyer who takes on the big co*panies-only to be found dead in questionable circu*stances. Ulti*ately, Gray *ountain is an indict*ent of the coal industry in A*erica today. However, if by *ixing in a little *urder, a little ro*ance *akes the topic of coal *
ining so co*pelling then I tip *y hat to *r. Grisha*.”
Steph! What’s doing? “This weekend I read The Three-Body Proble* by Cixin Liu, the first book in a land*ark Chinese science fiction trilogy, which has just been translated into English. I’ve been anticipating the book for *onths, and I’* happy to report that it *ore than lived up to *y expectations! In *any ways, The Three-Body Proble* has a classic sci-fi plot: hu*ans *ake contact with aliens, disagree about what to do next, and start turning on each other even as the aliens are en route for first contact. There’s lots of high-level science and technology discussion, not to *ention an otherworldly video ga*e. But Liu layers this story with one that’s all too real: the events of the Cultural Revolution in the late 60s, when Chinese youth took over the country in a violent political *ove*ent. The co*bination of hard sci-fi and living history is powerful and brings the science of the book to life in an unexpected way. Translator Ken Liu has done a *arvelous job of creating a work that reflects the original book while keeping it accessible to Western readers (for exa*ple, he uses footnotes very unobtrusively to help readers keep pace with references to Chinese history). Sci-fi lovers probably already have this on their TBR list, and video ga*e fans *ay also, but fans of apocalyptic fiction would do well to check this one out as well. It *ay not what you’re used to, but that can be a good thing.”
Babs B loves herself a celebrity bio. Here is what she thought about There Was A Little Girl: The Real Story of *y *other and *e by Brooke Shields. “I have to be honest, I was not in a rush to read this book but a* so glad I did! This was a very frank account of growing up in a privileged but painfully dysfunctional fa*ily. Brooke's parents divorced when she was less than a year old and Teri Fields raised Brooke by herself. Teri, who loved Brooke al*ost too *uch, was unfortunately an alcoholic and Brooke goes through life trying to ‘fix’ her *other. How Brooke ended up being as nor*al as she did is a *ystery to *e. She was a loving daughter trying to deal with her *other's illness while at the sa*e ti*e beco*e her own person. This is a beautifully and honestly written tribute to a co*plex, talented and ulti*ately tragic person. Kudos to Brooke Shields for writing this book...she is *uch *ore than a pretty face!”
The Tall Cool Texan Virginia who is not a football girl (how does a girl fro* Texas get away with that?) is here with a new favorite in Begin Again. “I a* not a huge *ovie person, but on a whi* last week, I grabbed Begin Again starring *ark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. I a* so glad I did because this *ight be *y new favorite *ovie. It is absolutely char*ing and it re*inded *e that fil**aking and acting are actual crafts. A chance encounter between a broken-hearted songwriter and a burned out *usic producer turns into a pro*ising collaboration. This isn’t a ro*ance, it’s about two people rediscovering the*selves through each other’s eyes. All of the actors are tre*endous and have real che*istry with each other. As a bonus Ada* Levine fro* *aroon Five is in it and is surprisingly good (granted you have to get past his *ega beard). Altogether, it is a poignant, hopeful, and funny fil*. It isn’t often I consider buying a *ovie but this one *akes the cut.”
Pat T is still listening. “Ann wrote about Leaving Ti*e by Jodi Piccoult last week, so I thought I would give you *y take on the audiobook. This novel has ele*ents of fiction, detective *ystery, non-fiction and fantasy. The best thing about this book is the extensive research the author did on Asian and African elephants and elephant sanctuaries. The narrator of the character, Alice *etcalf, the research scientist, was engaging, but the other narrations didn't depict the essence of the characters they were portraying. Also, the ending was a bit contrived, but I would still reco**end reading/listening to this book because of what you learn about elephants. Next on *y list to listen to is The Elephant Whisperer: *y life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony.
DJ Jazzy Patty *cC is here in the house. But not The Big House. Your turn to host is next year. What’s doin’ Pats? “The closest I ca*e to being a football fan was *y crush on Wayne Gretzky. Oh, wait that’s hockey. *y sports indoctrination was born out of teenage years spent in a ho*e that religiously watched Hockey Night in Canada like the Pope attends *ass on Sunday. I don’t understand football but I a* a good student. So this week I’ve got so*e questions that I’* hoping Jen can help *e out with: What’s up with the stickers on the hel*ets? Are they five years old? Do they get a gold star every ti*e they score a touchdown? Why does the guy put his hands dangerously close to another guy’s butt and what is he shouting while he is doing it? What’s with all the Bob Fosse *oves after the touchdown? Can we please add jazz hands if they’re going in that direction? I will say that I do, however heartily approve of the tight pants. Ga*e on and *ay the best tea* win! GO BLUE!”