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.”