For a short month, February is celebrated for many things. It is Black History Month, Library Lovers Month, and National Cancer Prevention Month. We celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, President's Day on February 15th, and February 12th ushers in the Lunar New Year, the year of the ox.
Carter G. Woodson’s efforts to recognize the achievements of Black Americans in 1926 laid the ground work for what we now celebrate as Black History Month. In 1969, the Black United Students organization at Kent State University changed the course of history when they created a movement turning Black History Week into a month-long celebration. By the following year, the first Black History Month took place at that very same university, and by 1976, President Gerald Ford proclaimed a national African-American History Month.
It’s an interesting coincidence that many Black leaders were born in February and that important legislation also occurred during this month. American abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born on February 14th, poet and social activist Langston Hughes on February 1st, and civil rights leader W.E.B. DuBois on February 23rd. The 15th Amendment, which gave African Americans the right to vote, was passed on February 3rd, 1870.
So, there is a lot to celebrate in February, including new books, longer days, and flowers peeking up through the snow. We are also excited to announce you may now return your items to Darien Library seven days a week! Items can now be returned Monday-Friday in the Community Room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is in addition to the drive-up return which is upon on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Now, let’s see what our librarians are reading this winter!
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi is a deeply personal and moving novel. The main character, Gifty, has an intense desire to understand her brother's opioid addiction and her mother's depression, and in doing so has pursued a career as a neuroscientist. Over the course of her childhood, college years, and early adult life, she is also wresting with the long-term effects of institutionalized racism as well as with her religious upbringing and the intersection of faith and science. It is really a gift to be able to read this book and to experience Yaa Gyasi's brilliance on every page.
After reading Rose Carlyle’s debut novel, The Girl in the Mirror, I can’t wait to read her next novel! Meet Iris and Summer, who are identical twin sisters. To Iris, Summer seems to have it all. She’s beautiful without any effort; she has a hunk of a husband, Adam, who adores her. She lives an absolutely perfect life.
That is, until a tragic accident befalls the sisters while sailing from Thailand to the Seychelles aboard the family yacht. Suddenly, Iris is the only one on board, and when the yacht finally arrives in the Seychelles, Adam assumes that she is Summer. Iris does nothing to change his mind. Finally, Iris has the life she has always dreamed of and, if she plays her cards right, she will inherit 100 million dollars left by her manipulative father. All she has to do is get pregnant to be the first of his six remaining children to produce an heir. Without giving too much away, Iris does get pregnant.
The only person she has not deceived by masquerading as Summer is her brother, Ben. Will he blow her cover? You will just have to read this gem of a thriller to find out. The ending took me so much by surprise that I had to re-read the last couple of chapters to make sure I got it right. This was definitely my kind of book!
Cold winter days just call for warm, cozy soup and hot fresh bread. Beatrice Ojakanagas’s The Soup & Bread Cookbook has more than 100 seasonal pairings for simple, satisfying meals with enough variety for everyone’s taste buds.
Ojakanagas has divided the book into seasons, with the fall and winter soups being especially appealing on these chilly nights. Each soup is paired with a bread, but don’t worry, if you haven’t jumped on the sourdough train, there are many quick bread recipes that require little wait and are perfect for beginners.
While Ojakanagas is an expert on Scandinavian fare, she includes variations of soups from around the world. With so many options to choose from, I couldn’t decide on one favorite, but the Moroccan vegetable soup with couscous and olive flatbread and the German lentil soup with caraway popovers were both in the lead.
Afraid you’ll have too much left over? Many of the soups are perfect for freezing, so you can have an easy meal later in the week!
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins is described as a “Southern Gothic Jane Eyre adaptation,” and I guess my Southern roots are showing, because I absolutely loved this book.
Jane, our main character, is a young woman down on her luck who makes ends meet by walking dogs for the rich socialites in a tony, Birmingham, Alabama neighborhood. Jane is obsessed with the magnificent houses in the neighborhood, but there is one Gothic style mansion that stands out, and she often daydreams about living in it. Jane is treated as an outsider by the women in the area… that is, until she has a chance encounter with Eddie, the brooding, handsome, rich, and recently-widowed man of her dreams (Heathcliff, anyone?) who happens to live in her dream house. They have a whirlwind romance and soon Jane finds herself engaged and stepping into the life of his dead wife and the very house she designed.
As always with a psychological suspense novel, both Eddie and Jane have dark secrets that threaten to destroy their happiness and maybe even cost them their lives. This is a highly-charged thriller that is perfect for these long winter nights.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Are you prepared?
Here's a quick to do list: 1) call florist for one dozen roses, 2) buy heart-shaped box of chocolates, and 3) mail a beautiful, elegant Valentine's day card.
But to make this day truly special, cuddle up with your main squeeze to watch the most romantic film of all time: “An Affair to Remember."
As the story goes, Cary Grant loved the 1939 film so much that he convinced director Leo McCarey to remake it with Grant in the lead role. In this 1957 film, Grant plays the dashing Nicki Ferrante with Deborah Kerr as the coquettish Terry McKay. It is a film about finding love when you least expect it.
Nicki and Terry are passengers aboard an ocean liner headed for New York. They enjoy a friendly, yet flirtatious relationship and share an effortless banter with grace and humor. What would you expect? Isn’t this Cary Grant’s trademark? Elegance, charm, style, and unrivaled good-looks. Admitting love is in the air, they agree to meet in six months’ time to see if their feelings are still the same.
Do not forget to bring your hanky... or two....
There have been many remakes of this film and there will be more, but there will never be another Cary Grant! Hurry to check it out now.