Chris Who? Even if the name Chris Haney doesn't ring a bell, chances are that you have his most famous invention in your home: the game of Trivial Pursuit. Earlier this week, Haney succumbed to a long illness at age 59, having turned a friendly challenge with co-creator Scott Abbott into an industry with over $1 billion in sales. In the early 80s and beyond, Haney and Abbott had all of us scrambling to get those blue, brown, green, pink, yellow, and orange wedges so we could have a crack at that center hub space for victory!
The story of Trivial Pursuit, along with other Parker Brothers board games, is found in The Game Makers, a recent book that chronicles the braintrust behind Monopoly, Clue, Sorry!, Boggle, Risk, Pit, and beloved toys like Nerf balls and Ping-Pong. We learn the origins of many familiar games and see how a small family venture became the gold standard for wholesome, fun, competitive pastimes. The book also features long-forgotten board games such as The Mansion of Happiness, Keyword (a Scrabble play-alike), and a special edition of Monopoly made for Allied POWs during World War II, which included a compass hidden inside one of the token pieces, a working metal file, maps, and actual German, French, and Italian currency hidden among the Monopoly play bills!
We may have lost one of its creators, but Trivial Pursuit will continue to challenge and entertain for generations to come. Thanks to Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, we all win!
Here is what we are excited about and we hope that you will be too.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender is a second novel that we are very intrigued by. Rose Edelstein is nine years old when she realizes that she has a special gift. She can read the emotions of whoever prepares her food. The story follows Rose as she grows into adult hood and helps her understand the secret emotional undercurrent in her family that has been flowing all along.
The Lion by Nelson DeMille is the follow up to The Lion’s Game. The lion is a Libyan terrorist who is murdering one by one the pilots who bombed his home and killed his family back in 1986. But the Lion has much more than that planned. Can John Corey the former NYPD detective turned Special Agent stop him in time? Or will the evil plans be unleashed? DeMille always provides us with a great, fast paced story and it would seem that he is doing just that with his latest.
So Cold the River by Michael Koryta is a fabulous read that is sure to give you goose bumps even on the hottest June day. Failed filmmaker Eric Shaw has been reduced to making “home movies” to be shown at funerals. When he is approached by client with a fat wallet to film the video history of a dying old man he jumps at the chance. It takes him to the town of West Baden, Indiana a town that was once famous as a resort for the rich and what he finds there is probably not what his client had in mind. In a style that is very reminiscent of Stephen King, Koryta tells a tale of secrets, lies and evil. I loved this one.
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brainsby Nicholas Carr is an examination of what the computer has done not only to our society but to our minds and how that is impacting every aspect of our lives. Carr is an astute social critic who has some very important things to say about what technology has not only brought to us, but taken away from us also.
Hitch 22by Christopher Hitchens is the memoir of a man who is the ultimate contrarian. If you have ever read anything by him you know that he is always thought provoking and you never walk away feeling any neutrality over what he has put forth. This book promises to show what shaped Hitchens into the man he is today.
This beach bag contains a little something for everyone. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Apollo 13..."Miracle on the Hudson"...Ernest Shackleton...some of the most amazing and inspiring stories of human endurance and triumph are in our new collection, Great Escapes: The Stories Behind 50 Remarkable Journeys. Within these pages, we read unforgettable accounts of survivors who battled nature, escaped from brutal prison camps, eluded terrorists, murderers, and wild animals, and lived to tell their tales.
Many of these stories are so ingrained in our culture that the original details have been lost to time. We all know about the 1962 escape attempt from Alcatraz, but did those three prisoners actually make it to freedom? What brought hiker Aron Ralston, trapped by a rock, to such a horrifying life-or-death decison? How did anyone survive Jonestown? Many of these tales have been made into successful films, such as Papillon, Midnight Express, Apollo 13, and The Great Escape, and author Scott Christianson compares cinematic versions to actual eyewitness accounts. He also reminds us of what it takes to succeed in the face of overwhelming odds: a cool, intelligent plan, patience, and no small amount of luck. Great Escapes -- a great get-away read!
Some call him the best all-around baseball player of all time, and most would agree that he is the greatest player alive today. Born on this date in 1931, Willie Mays grew up in Westfield, Alabama and played in the Negro Leagues as a teenager. Scouts for the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers passed on their chances to recruit him and he signed with the New York Giants in 1950. In 1951, he made it to the major leagues and had a Hall of Fame career with the New York/San Francisco Giants and New York Mets over the next 23 years. Nobody could hit, run, and field like the legendary Willie Mays.
An excellent new biography of Mays was released earlier this year and looks to be the definitive record of his life. Author James S. Hirsch interviewed Mays extensively for the book, and includes many new stories and revelations from the man whose name is synonymous with all-out effort and baseball talent. Mays' career began in a golden era of baseball in New York, when there were three teams for fans to choose among and the rivalries were deep and bitter (see below for our favorite books on the topic). But even the most die-hard Yankees and Dodgers fans knew that Willie Mays was a Giant among men. Today, he's Major League Baseball's greatest ambassador, lives close to the Giants' ballpark in San Francisco, and is known for giving out autographed baseballs to trick-or-treaters. Thanks to this new biography, Willie Mays is back in the spotlight -- happy birthday and many more to #24!
It’s hard to believe but pretty soon it will be time to pack the beach bag and head out for a day at the beach/pool/lake. Here are four new offerings that this month has to offer that you will totally need to find space for!
My name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira is a first novel that I am really looking forward to. Mary Sutter is a midwife from Albany New York who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Realizing that this is not the most realistic of goals, she leaves New York for Washington at the start of the Civil War with the intention of nursing the wounded. She soon finds herself as a surgeon’s assistant helping with amputations, and surgeries. This book has been getting lots and lots of very positive buzz. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
You may remember Marlena DeBlasi from her memoir A Thousand Days in Venice. This month she will be making her fiction writing debut with Amandine. Amadine is the illegitimate daughter of Polish aristocrat who has been placed in a convent in Southern France. When she reaches young adulthood the Nazi invasion shatters her peaceful world but it could also be the just what she needs to find out her true identity.
In Storm Prey by John Sanford Minnesota cop Lucas Davenport is back and another nice police procedural is our to savor. When a robbery turns into murder Davenport and his crew is called in to solve it. But this time it’s personal. Lucas’s wife is a key witness. Can he keep her safe and solve the crime too? This is the 20th installment in this series and it is purportedly just as finely wrought as the first.
Looking for a fast paced legal thriller? Supreme Justice by Phillip Margolin is coming out this month and will fit that bill quite nicely thank you. When a murder case is slated to go before the Supreme Court a justice suddenly resigns. Then another justice is attacked. Soon it would seem that the entire court is in danger. And how is this all related to a shoot out on a freighter that ended with a ship full of dead crew and illegal drugs? Dana Cutler is back and is looking to tie up all these loose ends and solve the mystery. Margolin started life as a criminal defense attorney so he brings a gritty realism to his writing.
Here's to sunny days and cool breezes!
The Spring Book Discussion Series, Dysfunction Junction: The Lives of Others, continues!
Tuesday, April 20 at 7 PM
Our third selection is The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer. Library staff members will lead the discussion (the Library has copies of the books available for patrons to borrow, but prior reading of the books is not necessary to attend the discussions.)
The Tender Bar: A Memoir tells of author Moehringer's life spent searching to fill the enormous void left by his father's abandonment of him as a young child. At age 8, he surprisingly discovers refuge and companionship at the corner tavern, where the daily characters that drink, share stories, and leave their worries behind form a "fatherhood-by-committee" for the boy. As Moehringer moves on with different aspects of his life - his schooling, his jobs, his relationships - he struggles to tear himself away from something that provided so much solace to him during difficult times.
"A fierce and funny coming of age story about ambition and yearning and necessary betrayals...A superb literary brew." – NPR
Exactly 25 years ago today, readers of Sports Illustrated were introduced to Sidd Finch, a mystic and mysterious pitching prospect who, it was said, could throw baseballs at speeds up to 168 MPH. Writer George Plimpton explained how Finch had learned "the art of the pitch" in the snowy mountains of Tibet, appeared and disappeared in the Mets' spring training camp, played French horn, and pitched wearing only one shoe, a hiker's boot.
The full story can be found here or in our excellent collection, The Best of Plimpton (which includes many of his "participatory journalism" essays and profiles of various personalities he encountered over the years).
Plimpton detailed the Mets' efforts to court Finch as he decided whether to commit to baseball, allowing for his various eccentricities on the basis of his almost supernatural pitching abilities. Half-shadowed pictures of Finch with various Mets players and staff accompanied the article, which prompted thousands of letters of response from readers wanting to know more...Would Finch sign? Who was this guy? And how in the world were batters going to face 150+ MPH pitches coming at them? The answers, it turned out, were all hidden in the subtitle to Plimpton's article (note that the first letter of each word spells out a message): He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd's deciding about yoga -- and his future in baseball. In other words, Happy April Fool's Day -- ah, fib!
Robert Browning wrote the opening line of Home Thoughts, From Abroad while he was in Italy. It's a wonderful poem about longing for one's homeplace and in Browning's case it was England.
And with two of this month’s releases you too can be in England in your mind and with the third revisit the wonderful world of Precious Ramotswe. These are three series that we absolutely adore and we cannot be more excited to reunite with some of our favorite characters.
Ariana Franklin has added to her Mistress of the Art of Death series with the new release of Murderous Procession. Medieval forensic pathologist Adelia Aguilar has a royal summons from Henry II. He wants her to accompany his daughter to Italy. But there is a killer on loose and as the members of the procession are found murdered, Adelia is determined to discover who the killer is, and who is his true target? Is it the Princess or Adelia herself? We love Franklin’s attention to historic details and her notes at the end other books are almost as fascinating as the cases themselves. If you have never read this series please begin at the beginning with The Mistress of the Art of Death.
This Body Of Death: An Inspector Linley Novel by Elizabeth Lowell is reuniting readers with Lynley who has been brought back to London to investigate the murder of a young woman found in a graveyard. Will he be able to crack the case? Or has the death of Lynley's wife and unborn child caused him to lose his analytical skill? And what is up with the new and highly attractive new female department chief?
Double Comfort Safari Club: The New No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Novel by Alexander McCall Smith shows us that even though this is the 12th installment of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the ladies have not lost their sparkle. Precious and her crew are back for more doings in Botswana. As always there will be muliple plot lines that are more about human nature than evil doings. This is what makes them so appealing.
Here’s to the promise of spring! Wherever you get to spend it!
How do you make the impossible possible? For writer Roger Rosenblatt, it’s facing a new reality after the sudden and unexpected death of his daughter, who left behind a grieving husband and three young children. Rosenblatt and his wife move into the family’s home and start the process of moving forward while absorbing an impossible loss…they answer heartbreaking questions from the children, attend school events and carpool to play dates, create silly songs and new routines, and yes, learn to make toast to each child’s specifications.
This memoir has the potential to be overly sentimental and maudlin, but Rosenblatt keeps his tone upbeat and maintains a forward motion that rings true. There are moments of grief, moments of bright laughter, setbacks and moments of great courage, and even humor. Making Toast is an intimate, frank account of how one family faces the impossible and finds a new path, together.