Greetings! I hope this week’s You Are What You Read finds everyone well and ready for the weekend. The message from The SoNo Loft this week is ‘Build Your Bridge’. For me, this week has seen some bridges and they are mostly bridges to the Past. A friend alerted me to the following story about some dolls made by Thomas Edison 1890. Now, we all know how I feel about an antique doll. Imagine how I feel about an antique doll that not only has teeth but can, wait for it, speak. I have included the link to the story here, but I can in no way be responsible for your nightmares should you play the audio. These little charmers have been silent for many years because of the fragility of the wax cylinders that live in their tiny terrifying bodies. With the advent of a new technology the voices of the dolls were able to be heard for the first time in decades. This was not an Edison success apparently (they were expensive and people wanted their lips to move!) and he ended up calling them his ‘little monsters’. Consider yourselves warned should you decide to investigate further. I am relieved to report that the dolls themselves are back in a display cabinet in Wisconsin. Let’s hope it’s locked. The other story is the opposite of creepy and is in fact charming. In a high school in Oklahoma City during some renovations a discovery was made. Behind some chalkboards that were being removed so white boards could be installed in their place, were chalkboards that last saw the light of day in December 1917. Apparently they had been covered up during a December weekend when the ‘new’ boards were installed. This is not the cool part. The cool part is that they had not been erased and were perfectly preserved with the day’s lessons. It would appear that the pressing concerns were pilgrims, cleanliness, Christmas countdowns and multiplication tables. They are beautiful works of art and they make me ashamed of the scrawl that I call my handwriting. No one can be sure why the boards were covered up with new chalkboards but the janitors did take some time to sign their names before they did. The school is trying to figure out the best way to preserve them so that they can be enjoyed by all. That story can be found here. So enjoy these voices from a past that may seem long ago but still have something to say. This week we have a secret society, death, a hike, some dark secrets, a dog and some London. The Playlist this week is our bridge to some ghostly fun.
Let us begin!
Virginia the Tall Cool Texan is letting you in on a little something about herself. “I love a good conspiracy theory. Add some American history, throw in a secret society or two, and you have the perfect book recipe for me. Brad Meltzer successfully created this winning combination in his first two books The Fifth Assassin and The Inner Circle which introduce readers to Beecher White, a young staffer working at the National Archives in Washington D.C., who along with a childhood friend, inadvertently discovers a long buried national secret. This knowledge brings Beecher to the attention of The Culper Ring, a secret society that was created by George Washington to protect the presidency that is still in existence. In the third book of the series, The President’s Shadow, Beecher has embraced his role as a member of The Culper Ring and is desperately trying to find the link between his own past and that of a dangerous fringe group. The book tries to tie up all of the loose ends from the previous two novels, and at times is enthralling, but overall it was missing the historical factoids that made the first two novels so interesting. I would definitely recommend this book especially for Brad Meltzer fans, but if you haven’t read the first two in the series then start there before picking up this one. “
Barbara M is here with a topic that while less than pleasant is one that must be addressed. “I am not quite finished with Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. This is a hard book to read because no one wants to think about dying; whether it be for themselves or a loved one. But, we all will die. That is the reality. It is how we face it and deal with it that can make a difference. It was easier when extended families lived together and when there weren’t as many medical ‘miracles’ available. Dr. Gawande writes about some solutions but more importantly he makes us think about what we want for ourselves and our loved ones at the end of life. Death is certain but the time and circumstance is not. This is a thought provoking and well written book that should be read by all.”
The Ever Delightful Pat S is doing some head scratching. “How is it that no-one ever alerted me to the humor in Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods? Published in 1996, this is a travel book of the first order and I am so delighted that circumstances forced me to read it. Having returned to living in the United States after living overseas for a length of time, Bryson decides to walk the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Neither athlete nor naturalist, Bryson recounts his preparation and execution of said plan with droll wit. Early on he realizes that perhaps hiking 2,100 miles in virtual solitude may not be the safest nor sanest undertaking, and invites his old friend Stan Katz to join him. Part sage, part buffoon, Katz provides some of the high points of hilarity throughout the book. Clearly Bryson did significant research for this book and intersperses the hike with the history of the Trail as well as the government groups responsible for its maintenance. Additionally, he deftly describes various flora and fauna -and the deleterious effect of urbanization on the landscape. While I don’t believe I’ll be signing up for a similar adventure in the near future (or frankly, ever), I am certainly grateful that Bryson shared his experience.”
The Always Fabulous Babs B has just finished Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight.
“From the author of Reconstructing Amelia comes this psychological suspense tale about a journalist who uncovers her community's darkest secrets after a newborn's body is found in the woods. The story centers on three women, one of whom is a freelance journalist who is unexpectedly called upon to cover this horrible news. Unfortunately, Molly has gone through a severe depression following the loss of her own baby which makes it extremely hard to accept this assignment. Her investigation reveals a decades-old trail of dark secrets hiding behind the town's white picket fences. This is a great thriller and I didn't regret a minute. There was a big twist at the end which I never saw coming!!
It’s no secret that Pat T loves dogs so this week’s book comes as no surprise. “Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue is the perfect summer read for dog and book lovers! Maggie Brennan has relocated to San Francisco and has started a pet bereavement business where she spends a lot of time helping her patients cope with their loss. Unfortunately she hasn't confronted her own loss of her childhood pet dog, Toby, who passed away shortly after she arrived in San Francisco. She is also dealing with a case of agoraphobia which has made her a prisoner in her own home. Maggie's life is upended when a new client shows up, not for bereavement counseling, but needing help with the search and rescue of her stolen dog. While helping Anya search for her dog, Maggie faces her own fears and opens her life to new possibilities! This story speaks to the love and healing powers of pets in our lives.”
Steph is embracing the season this week and is still more than a little freaked by a chick with a brick. ”I am getting into the summer mood with a nice Victorian mystery this week. The Yard by Alex Grecian came up on hold for me this week. Why? I have no idea! Somebody must have recommended it to me, but I don’t remember who. If you’re out there, recommender, I thank you because I really enjoyed it! Set in London just after Jack the Ripper has stopped terrorizing the city; this book follows a few mysteries and the Scotland Yard detectives on the newly-created Murder Squad who tries to solve them. It has a great plot and a nice fast pace, though the characters are a little thin. It would be an excellent beach book for fans of Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt (as well as folks like me, who were fans of Anne Perry but are now morally conflicted about reading her new books).”
Here’s DJ Jazzy Patty McC from that State Up North. Not only does she have some final thoughts, but she’s got The Playlist too. What’s good Pats? I’ve been thinking a lot about the recently discovered 1917 chalkboards in Oklahoma, the Loft’s message of “Build Your Bridge” and graduations taking place everywhere. It’s a season of hope and endless possibility right on the cusp of summer. It’s also the season for quoting Robert Frosts’, “The Road Not Taken”. This oft-quoted poem is read in bits and pieces for school graduations all across our fair land and is interpreted in different ways. Mostly folks interpret the poem with a core message of the traveler taking “the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” In this interpretation, it suggests that we should strike out and live a non-conformist life, march to the music of our own playlist. Or it can be read as a romanticized look back, “What if I had chosen a different path… What if…” To me, it reads as a poem about endless possibilities, endless choices and every road in between. I wonder if those teachers of 1917 read the Frost poem to their students. I wonder if they wrote about that poem on their chalkboards. I wonder if these ghosts were encouraged to build their own bridge if one did not exist. I’d like to think so.
DL GHOSTLY VISIONS 2015
Here are the new titles available from OverDrive.
Cash Landing by James Grippando
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Girl in the Moonlight by Charles Dubow
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir by Wednesday Martin
Robert Ludlum's the Janson Equation by Douglas Corleone
Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora
These are the new titles available from 3M.
Sally and Susie presented to the Meet Us On Main Street reading group today.
Susie brought DVD's since she is in charge of our movie collection. Her choices were: Spare Parts (which is also a book by the same name) is about an economically-challenged high school tech team building an underwater robot for a science competition vs. college-level teams; Lucy is a fast paced sci-fi thriller about the accidental creation of a super brain; St. Vincent is about an older, misunderstood grump played by Bill Murray that is in need of cash and babysits for his next door neighbor which in turn throws light onto the amazing man her truely is; Wild is a fabulous adaption to Cheryl Strayed's book of the same name, where she sets off to trek the Pacific Crest Trail in response to her mothers death, the separation from her husband and her redemption from the dark slide of drug use. Heart Shaped Box, a thriller about a box that is loaded with spirits that is for sale (and which one unlucky soul did buy) is the only book she brought to the meeting. It is one of Joe Hill's (Stephen Kings' son) earlier works and she thinks it is his best.
Sally sat beside a tall pile of books that varied from mid-life crisis funny where a mid0life crisis makes a man challenge himself by riding a 100 year old bicycle in Europe's most grueling sport events in history in Gironimo!: Riding the Very Terrible 1941 Tour de Italy to distopian -- Armada as gamer protagonist meets space army that look, and shoot, just like the spaceships in his video game. (She gave a small shout out to Ready Player One, by same author, considered one of the great distopian reads ever). As a change up she selected two books on creativity and ingenuity -- The Perfection of the Paper Clip concerning the invention and development of the post-it note, staples, and all essentials that one would find on a desk or office, and Who Built That? about the "tinkerpreneurs" who created bottle caps, bridge cables, toilet paper, many things that today we take for granted. For summer fun, she suggests the anthropological tell-all that is flying off the shelves -- Primates of Park Avenue which, through scientific observation, the author decodes the primate social behaviors of Upper East Side mothers. And for the road, by the pool, on the beach take our Zinio e-magazine collection along. Simply download and voila! -- you have the latest issues of many sought after magazines for free. Sally brought her Ipad to the MUOMS presentation to show the group Vanity Fair's latest issue that features Caitlyn Jenner on the cover.
The group members recommend the following titles: War! What Is It Good For?, The Rosie Effect, The Big Year, Red Tails In Love, and Five.
The list begins below:
Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!
We're channeling our inner Boris Badenov for today's release of Red Army, a documentary about the Russian hockey teams of the 70s and 80s. Behind the Iron Curtain, young boys were screened, recruited, and trained for the Red Army team, the pride of Russia. They labored under the tyrannical eye of Coach Viktor Tikhonov, about whom one player says, "If I ever need a heart transplant, I want Tikhonov's. He's never used his." While we remember the Miracle on Ice with pride and patriotism, it was a disaster for the Russians, who can hardly bring themselves to watch the footage to this day.
After the 1980 Olympics, political and cultural upheaval forced changes, and Russian players increasingly sought better lives in North America's NHL. At first, their intricate playwork didn't match the NHL's more physical style, but eventually a middle ground emerges. The players struggle with the highs of success and lows of being so far from home, and we also watch as they finally gain acceptance from their largely American and Canadian teammates. This is not just a sports documentary -- it's an unblinking look at an entire world we never saw at the time, and recommended for any one interested in late 20th century world history, pucks included.
Since the Tonys were so much fun this past Sunday how about some Broadway? And remember you don't have to wait! Immediate gratification can be yours!
Not sure what this means? Click here!
Greetings and welcome to the Catch-Up Edition of You Are What You Read. It has been two weeks since we last checked in with each other and here is what has been going down. Tuesday gave us the Full Strawberry Moon so called because this is when we are supposed to be gathering strawberries. If you are in Europe it is known as the Full Rose Moon because the strawberry is not a native plant there. So gather your roses or your strawberries whilst you may. I am happy to report that we received our first Taffy gift of the summer from Diane H this week. Diane! Many thanks from us and our dentists! The message from The SoNo Loft this week is Stop Saying Sorry. As I always heed the advice of The Loft, I will not apologize for not being here last week. Book Expo America was its usual blend of exhausting and exhilarating all at once. There is a lot of Book Goodness coming your way this year, so get excited. We will be talking about what we are excited about in the upcoming weeks. But the really big news is that today is National Doughnut Day! During World War I, the women volunteers of the Salvation Army handed out doughnuts to soldiers serving in Europe to help keep spirits high. The tradition of the Dough Lassies or Dollies (seriously, that’s what they were called!) was revived again during World War II by the Red Cross. Originally begun as a fund raiser in 1938 it has become a good excuse to enjoy what my friend Priscilla S calls ‘pastry cooked in hot roiling fat.’ So it’s not too late! There is still time to score a little something. Maybe a beignet since it’s so late in the day. Because isn’t a beignet just a fancy way of saying cruller? This week we have Amy, Quebec, exercises in writing, and an exercise in living well.
Of course there is The Playlist. One cannot live well without a soundtrack, can one?
Let us begin!
Sweet Ann is in her car listening to Yes Please by Amy Poehler. “I like Amy Poehler and consider myself to be a fan of hers although I have never seen the television program, Parks and Rec which is mentioned quite a bit in this audio book. I mainly know her from Saturday Night Live and her award show hosting with Tina Fey. Her audio book had me laughing out loud on I-95 which generally does not happen on my morning commute. She tells stories from her personal and professional life that range from laugh out loud to poignant. She has guest readers including Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers and her parents who made me smile. Her childhood stories were great and I could envision her as a child with her sly smile and scheming eyes. There were times when I finished driving that I wrote down a quote or two of hers because she made a lot of sense in that special Amy way.”
Abby is reading another installment in one of her favorite mystery series The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny due out in August 2015. “While her previous book was a transitional piece with her main characters experiencing major changes in their lives, The Nature of the Beast has them back in stride and getting closer to discovering their own paths. Beloved Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec has retired to the healing village of Three Pines and not unexpectedly, a mystery finds him. When his team descends on Three Pines to help solve the murder of a young boy, all the pieces work together like a well-oiled machine. But can he handle being involved with the case without assuming his old role as Chief? Is living in peace with his wife enough for the man who served so well for so long? This book has a more international tone than previous books in the series. I enjoyed it very much, and the fact that Armand's wife Reine-Marie gets to put her mad librarian skills to work is a nice bonus.”
Laura wants to fend off the tendency of Summer Slacking. “With summer on the horizon, some try their hand at writing; memoir, fiction, biography, poetry, whatever is the fancy. And to aid in this endeavor I have four suggestions to help with this sometimes (often times) daunting desire. Two books that I suggest to my writing students at the Library are actually memoirs about writing; On Writing -- A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Both books contain, of course, their methods/philosophies on character development, plot and pacing. But the best thing about these two titles is the determined spirit and wisdom both authors reveal about their creative processes. These are not heavy or scholarly instead they are perfect beach reads for those who have ever thought they would like to try their hand at writing. Now, for those who have begun their quest to write the next great blockbuster, I suggest On Writing Well by William Zinsser and, the bible, Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White because, undoubtedly, you will have questions about past participles, verb retention and genre. They are so revered and necessary that writers, editors, journalists mostly likely have one or both on their shelves. Enjoy the summer, and enjoy your stories whether you are reading them or writing them. And then, perhaps, in the fall, join the Writer’s Workshop that meets at the library where your work is reviewed by fellow writers in a friendly, supportive environment."
Frequent visitors to this spot know I have certain obsessions. When something captures my interest I cannot get enough of it. Falling into the obsessions category are The Mitford Sisters, Dorothy Parker, Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra, Anne Perry’s shady past (chicks with bricks!), and Sarah and Gerald Murphy. When I heard that Liza Klaussmann who wrote Tigers in Red Weather which was a big favorite of mine a few years ago had taken them on in her new novel, Villa America, I was very excited to get an Advanced Reader Copy and I dove right in. Sarah and Gerald were a golden magical couple who left America for France in the 1920’s. Their home in the South of France was a destination for Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, and Diaghilev. They lived a charm life until it all came crashing down in the most tragic of ways. I think that Klaussmann did a great job with drawing us into a world that exists no more. This one comes out in August. If you want to get a jump on it and start the slow perc of your own Sara and Gerald obsession check out Living Well is the Best Revenge or Sara & Gerald Murphy: Villa America and After.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from The State Which Shall Not Be Named with some final musings and of course, The Playlist. What’s good, Pats? “This fall my daughter will begin her first year of high school. She will be in a special humanities program called Flex. Her summer reading assignment is Plato’s Apology. This book will serve as a springboard for their year-long focus question: Where is knowledge taking humanity? After she received the assignment she turned to me and said, “If you were born back then you would have been Socrates or Plato.” I replied, ‘Wow! That’s a huge compliment. What makes you think that?’She said, ‘You’re really good at corrupting youth.’ I am really looking forward to rereading this classic and having a year-long discussion with this particular youth. Never regret saying sorry.”