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.
This weekend, if you just can't seem to find the perfect Valentine's Day cards to express your unconditional feelings for the ones you care about, here is a little help from best-selling author Deborah Tannen, who, in my opinion, says it best:
It’s time for the latest installment of what we are reading/watching/listening to! And with a weekend of foul weather ahead we are making sure that we not only have the necessary bread/milk/eggs, but that we also have laid in wonderful books and movies too.
I am loving the latest from Chris Bojhalian Secrets of Eden. From the very beginning you are sure that something is not quite right with the Rev. Stephen Drew and you just can’t put your finger on it. However, if you have ever read Bojhalian before, you know that it will be even more twisted than you ever dreamed.
It would seem that Barbara is in serious nesting mode! Her pick is Your Home, Your Sanctuary by Clodagh. It is a Rizzoli book so you know it will be beautiful.
She is also reading Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America by Kati Marton. Sure, Marton’s family survived the Nazis but little did they imagine that the worst was yet to come under Communist rule. Everyone who we have spoken with who has read it loves this book.
Abs is slogging through the new Ian Rankin Doors Open. She reports that she does not like it as much as she did the Rebus series but she’s sticking with it.
Bill liked the Hurt Locker a lot. This movie is about the US Army bomb disposal unit stationed in Iraq. Not at all political in nature, this film simply tells of the not so simple job these soldiers do every day.
And I must confess that we are still discussing Game Change and can’t wait to get our hands on The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edward’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal that Brought Him Down by Andrew Young. Pat T. asked the very thought provoking question at lunch, "would you still vote for the canidate of your choice at the time after reading this book?" I told you that we can be a tad obsessive!
Have a great, safe weekend!
If you're like me, you are SO EXCITED for tonight's premier of Lost. I can't wait. I can't wait. I can't wait.
There's lots of speculation about the little hints dropped by the writers of the show, and one thing people like to theorize about is the books that turn up. Here's a list of some of the books that have made appearances on Lost. Maybe if you read them, you'll be able to figure out where the island is?