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African American History Month- Resources at the Library February 13, 2018

Posted by gregoryhatch in Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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Below we have a selection of materials available here at Rocky River Public Library.

For more materials at Rocky River Public Library please click here.

Cover image for Black fortunes : the story of the first six African Americans who escaped slavery and became millionaires

“The astonishing untold history of America’s first black millionaires–former slaves who endured incredible challenges to amass and maintain their wealth for a century, from the Jacksonian period to the Roaring Twenties–self-made entrepreneurs whose unknown success mirrored that of American business heroes such as Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Thomas Edison.”

Cover image for An African American and Latinx history of the United States

 

“An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights. Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged narrative history arguing that the “Global South” was crucial to the development of America as we know it. Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress, as exalted by widely taught formulations such as “manifest destiny” and “Jacksonian democracy,” and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms American history into the story of the working class organizing against imperialism.”

Cover image for The New Negro : the life of Alain Locke

“In The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart offers the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance, based on the extant primary sources of his life and on interviews with those who knew him personally. He narrates the education of Locke, including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University, and his long career as a professor at Howard University. Locke also received a cosmopolitan, aesthetic education through his travels in continental Europe, where he came to appreciate the beauty of art and experienced a freedom unknown to him in the United States. And yet he became most closely associated with the flowering of Black culture in Jazz Age America and his promotion of the literary and artistic work of African Americans as the quintessential creations of American modernism. In the process he looked to Africa to find the proud and beautiful roots of the race. Shifting the discussion of race from politics and economics to the arts, he helped establish the idea that Black urban communities could be crucibles of creativity. Stewart explores both Locke’s professional and private life, including his relationships with his mother, his friends, and his white patrons, as well as his lifelong search for love as a gay man.”

Cover image for Smoketown : the untold story of the other great Black Renaissance

“The other great Renaissance of black culture, influence, and glamour burst forth joyfully in what may seem an unlikely place–Pittsburgh, PA–from the 1920s through the 1950s. Today black Pittsburgh is known as the setting for August Wilson’s famed plays about noble but doomed working-class strivers. But this community once had an impact on American history that rivaled the far larger black worlds of Harlem and Chicago. It published the most widely read black newspaper in the country, urging black voters to switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party and then rallying black support for World War II. It fielded two of the greatest baseball teams of the Negro Leagues and introduced Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pittsburgh was the childhood home of jazz pioneers Billy Strayhorn, Billy Eckstine, Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, and Erroll Garner; Hall of Fame slugger Josh Gibson–and August Wilson himself. Some of the most glittering figures of the era were changed forever by the time they spent in the city, from Joe Louis and Satchel Paige to Duke Ellington and Lena Horne.”

“Master documentary filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and a flood of rich archival material. A journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.”
Cover image for American experience. Freedom riders
“In 1961, the Civil Rights Movement in America was at a turning point — while the Supreme Court had ruled that racial segregation was illegal, in many parts of the South public facilities were still divided into areas for blacks and whites, and while president John F. Kennedy spoke out in favor of civil rights, his administration had done little to practically remedy the situation. So a group of student activists stepped forward to force the issue of desegregation — dozens of college students, both black and white, began traveling together by bus through the segregated South, and simply by sitting together, eating together and sharing motel rooms, they raised controversy (often followed by violence) for flouting conventions that had been held for generations. The young civil rights activists became known as “Freedom Riders,” and as their actions became national news, they played a vital role in finally putting an end to Jim Crow laws in the South and eliminating the “separate but equal” doctrine. Filmmaker Stanley Nelson combines newsreel footage, rare photos and new interviews with the activists who faced danger to fight prejudice in the documentary Freedom Riders, which was an official selection at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. “~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cover image for Against the odds the artists of the Harlem Renaissance

“Part social engineering, part artistic happening, the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s brought the accomplishments of African-Americans to the forefront of popular culture. Against All Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance remembers the glory days of the New York neighborhood. Spurred by efforts from the NAACP and the Urban League, black Americans were urged to step up creatively after the 1919 race riots. The result was a blossoming of talent through theatre, music, dance, and art. Harlem became a place of intrigue as people recognized the heightened activity. This one-hour presentation traces the history of this important American movement. “~ Sarah Ing, Rovi

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What we’re reading now.. February 9, 2018

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Genre Book Discussion, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, New Books, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Uncategorized.
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Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Cover image for August, a worldly anthropologist, has returned to New York to bury her father, but after running into an old friend at the subway station, she is flooded with childhood memories. At a young age, August’s father has moved her & her younger brother from Tennessee to Brooklyn.  Once settled into Brooklyn,  August finds her best girlfriends in Angela, Gigi and Slyvia.  Angela and Gigi are from fractured families, and Sylvia has over bearing parents with high expectations. The four girls together navigate growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970’s.  The girls find comfort, happiness and security in their friendship within turbulent times nationally and in their own neighborhood.  The effects of the Vietnam war, white flight, drug abuse, poverty, absent mothers and predatory men are intertwined with their adolescent years. Tragedy ultimately pulls at their friendship.  A beautiful and poetic coming of age story about girlhood, friendship, dreams and loss.  Mary

His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

Cover image for I’ve been listening to this trilogy on audiobook and really loving it.  The books are The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.  Right now I’m near the end of The Subtle Knife.  Although the novels are often considered young adult literature, they can really appeal to young and old alike.  There’s a great blend in the books of realistic and fantastic elements, and the characters are compellingly and convincingly drawn.  The books are so absorbing!  Listening to them, and being entranced by them, reminds me of my experience reading books as a kid – the way you can really get pulled into the story and experience in a really intense way the magic of reading.  Andrew

Hellraiser Omnibus. Volume One by Clive Barker

Cover image for So one thing that may be coming very clear is I am a big fan of horror, specifically supernatural horror. This month I have decided to review a graphic novel I finished recently, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser Omnibus. Volume One. This volume contains  issues Hellraiser #1 to #20 and Hellraiser Annual #1 which seem to pick up years after the second film. (One note is that these comics were originally published between 1989-1993 so the comics contained don’t reference the films past those dates.) Pinhead is of course in this collection but the stories told here wildly expand the Hellraiser universe with new characters, cenobites, and new views of hell/horror. The best thing about this volume is it combines many out of print collections of comics into one handy volume. If you are a fan of horror and the Hellraiser world this is a don’t miss. Greg

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days  by Chris Guillebeau

Cover image for Chris Guillebeau provides a handbook for developing an effective alternative source of income in his book by giving  practical applications for finding extra income while pursuing a passion.  I found the example scenarios inspiring, and it has helped me to start searching for my side hustle opportunity hidden in my daily activities.  Beth

 

In the Miso Soup by Ryū Murakami (Ralph McCarthy, Translator)

Cover image for Kenji, an unlicensed guide for foreign tourists, makes his living providing tours for those looking to experience the seedier side of Tokyo nightlife.  So when his current client Frank’s behavior seems strange and troublesome, it isn’t because Kenji is naïve that he begins to wonder what Frank’s real intentions are.  An unnerving psychological thriller. Trent

 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cover image for The positive buzz and awards earned by this book are amazing. However, it is the dramatic historical fiction story, which reminds me a bit of the multigenerational miniseries Roots, and the “what if” aspect of the Underground Railroad in this telling being a real subterranean train that made me add it to my reading list. When Colson Whitehead appeared at a marketing conference in Cleveland last year giving a talk about storytelling, I picked up a copy of this book. I have high expectations for it and so far it is not disappointing. The humanity and lack of humanity in the slave experience comes across powerfully through Whitehead’s language. Byron

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

Cover image for A recent immigrant from Ireland, Clara Kelley, assumes the identity of a fellow passenger who died during the voyage. She secures a position as lady’s maid to Margaret Carnegie, Andrew Carnegie’s mother. Clara’s goal is to send money back to her struggling family in Ireland. Andrew is attracted to Clara, and they secretly spend time together. Andrew shares some of his business expertise with Clara and welcomes her suggestions until Clara disappears when Mrs. Carnegie learns of her deceptions. For lovers of historical fiction. Emma

Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller

Cover image for This book is an extension of a column Kelsey has been putting out every Monday since November 2013 called “The Anti Diet Project.” In the column—and, to a greater extent, in the book—Kelsey commits to unlearning disordered eating and distorted body image. With the help of an Intuitive Eating coach, she figures out how to eat based on her body’s instincts and how to exercise rationally and sustainably. All throughout this process, she examines how her relationship with food and her body was impacted by family, friends, and significant others. I am listening to the audiobook, and Kelsey is hilarious, sharp-as-a-whip, and wholly relatable. I highly recommend this book for any person who has been made to feel shame for their body shape or food choices. It is a liberating and empowering read (or listen). Lyndsey

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Cover image for This novel by author of The Dry takes us once again to a remote area of Australia as Federal Agent Aaron Falk investigates the disappearance of an important whistleblower in one of his cases.  Five colleagues from a family-owned business are forced to take a “team-building” nature excursion as part of  a corporate retreat, but when one doesn’t return, Agent Falk suspects that some of her co-workers know more than they are telling. This book gives a look into the complex relationships between co-workers, lovers, friends and family.  Sara

The Red Clocks by Leni Zuma

Cover image for The Red Clocks is The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation. Four women in a small Oregon town struggle with new laws that grant personhood to embryos and make IVF and abortions illegal. Ro is a single woman in her forties desperately trying to get pregnant. Susan is an unhappy housewife and mother. Mattie, one of Ro’s best students, is facing an unwanted pregnancy. Their lives intersect when Gin, a reclusive homeopath with connections to all three, is arrested. The Red Clocks is an audacious and unapologetic cautionary tale. Megan

 

 

 

 

-Cleveland Historical- African-American History Month February 5, 2018

Posted by gregoryhatch in Library Program, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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Our first featured local resource is Cleveland Historical: “Developed by the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University, Cleveland Historical lets you explore the people, places, and moments that have shaped the city’s history.”

There is an amazing wealth of information on landmarks and events telling the story of life in Cleveland. This site offers pictures, recorded oral history, news clippings, and cited sources to continue your own research. They organize topics by “Tours” which is centered around a single topic and the different  Below is a link to African Americans in Cleveland, a Tour spanning over a 100 years of  public and personal accounts.

African Americans in Cleveland

Curated by The Cleveland Historical Team

Cleveland Historical
Euclid-East 105th Area, 1946 
Adonees Sarrouh and J. Mark Souther, “Cleveland’s Second Downtown,” Cleveland Historical, accessed February 5, 2018, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/49.

African-American History Month February 2, 2018

Posted by gregoryhatch in Library Program, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized.
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In observance of African-American History Month we will be highlighting local African-American history and research from the Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio area. To start off we have an article from two years ago by the Plain Dealer which was the source material for the text I used in the display in our library.

43 notable African-Americans with ties to Cleveland:

Celebrating

Black History Month

blackhistory month

-Greg

The Important Experience of Rereading Books January 27, 2018

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Crime and Punishment (Pevear / Volokhonsky Translation)

While it’s probably a truism that books don’t change, we do, I’ve been experiencing that in a weird and interesting way as I read Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.  I read the book when I was an undergraduate, and to this day my memory of reading the book is bound up with the place where I read it, a coffeehouse in Ann Arbor, where I sat in the back at a large table and became immersed in the book.  I remember the coffee smell of the place and the hard wooden table, I remember the cover of the book, and I remember being fascinated by the character of Raskolnikov, but that’s about it.  Our memories are so idiosyncratic and sometimes unreliable, though it seems so strange that I would forget pretty much the entire book, whole plot elements and groups of characters.

But recently, in preparation for a book club I’m hoping to start this summer on the classics, I bought a copy of Crime and Punishment (since I work at a library I rarely buy books now, though I wanted to mark up my copy), and I’m starting to wonder, in a weird way, how I read the book, meaning did I just hurry through it?  Did I savor the characterizations, the manic and frenzied energy, the strange oscillation between horror and laughter?  Why don’t I remember more of it?  What did I read?  I’m also taken aback by this fact because there is so much to think about and remember about the book, and I wonder how or why I wasn’t as sensitive to this.  I wonder that if I were to have been more sensitive to Raskolnikov’s guilt, more empathetic to Marmeladov’s suffering, but also more horrified by Raskolnivkov’s murders and plight, I would have remembered more.

I had an interesting experience as an undergraduate in a creative writing class that I think could shed some light on this conundrum.  I had a great teacher, who was very incisive and penetrating in his comments on our stories, and I remember I wrote a story that had to do with the fraternity where I was living then, and the debauched life that came then with living in the fraternity (the drinking, the uncleanliness, etc.).  I wrote a story that looked upon this material as comic, and I remember the class seemed to like it and let me know during the workshop that they thought it was funny.  But when I met with my creative writing teacher, he said something that made me pause and rethink the whole piece, and in doing so, pretty much rethink my life.  And what he said was something along the lines of, “What about the more tragic elements of this lifestyle in the story?  Aspects that are not funny but are more sad, even depressing?  Have you thought about that?”  And I hadn’t!  And I came away with a shock from the meeting – I felt suddenly more self-aware, and a bit nauseated by the callow lifestyle I had been leading.  It was an about-face, a turn-around, and it left me with a different, better, more humane and human perspective.

When I read Crime and Punishment for the first time I was still living the debauched fraternity life, and it never occurred to me that my life could affect how I perceived the book.  But I wonder if I read it somewhat superficially (and again, I wonder – how can you read Dostoevsky superficially?  He almost compels your attention, it’s that good), and that I didn’t take in certain elements because that wasn’t where my mind and heart were.

Flash forward more than a decade, and the book is a revelation.  It’s terrifying and sad and tragic and funny, all sometimes on one page, and I’m so happy to be reading it.  But the truism does hold true – the book hasn’t changed.  It’s the same translation, the same words, the same plot, the same characters.  But I’ve changed.  I’ve grown older, and hopefully less superficial, and I’m taking more of the novel in and appreciating it.  Sometimes rereading a book can have that effect on you – it calls attention to where you were at during your first reading, and reflects back to you how far you’ve come.  It’s a kind of mirror, where you can look at your old readings and, in a healthy and productive way, question your beliefs and values – it facilitates the process of self-examination.  And since, as Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living,” rereading books is a necessity.

Image result for Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky

Why Criticism Matters January 21, 2018

Posted by andrewfieldlibrarian in Uncategorized.
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Image result for literary criticism

I love reading book and movie reviews.  Sometimes I see a movie, or read a book, and I’m completely bowled over by it.  I am moved to my very foundation, my core, I am shaken…but I don’t know exactly why sometimes, and sometimes I lack the ability to put into words just why exactly I’ve been so touched (or so disappointed, for that matter).  That’s why I love reading book and movie reviews of films and books I’ve just experienced – they put into words, in an often artful, intelligent, and helpful way, just what I’ve been struggling to say or express.  Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of our great American writers and thinkers, wrote, “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”  I’ve always loved that quote – what a great way of describing the way in which artists and writers and thinkers help us to say what we want to say – but I think the quote also applies to book and movie reviewers, (even if they’re not exactly a work of genius!).  We see a movie, we like it, we don’t know why, we read a movie review, and suddenly our own feelings and thoughts come back to us “with a certain alienated majesty.”  It’s a great, wonderful feeling.

I’m writing about book and movie reviews, but what I really wanted to talk about in this blog post is literary criticism, and let me explain why.  In the same way in which a book review deepens our appreciation of something, (or for that matter deepens our understanding of why we didn’t like something), literary criticism can do the same thing, and often does.  In a sense, we can think of a work of literary criticism as an extended treatment of something we care about, by someone who also cares an inordinate amount about this thing, and also most likely knows and has thought a great deal about this thing.  When you read a book and really enjoy it, but don’t understand as much as you’d like about why you enjoyed it, finding a work of literary criticism that talks about that book can be edifying.  But more than that – it can really deepen your understanding of the work, it can augment what you were intuiting but not exactly saying, and it can therefore extend your appreciation of the work to deeper levels.  (It can also, it should be said, question your own beliefs about the object, and make you think anew about the work in question.)

As I talked about in my last blog post about Tolstoy, I finished one of Tolstoy’s novels, Anna Karenina, and loved every page.  But I left with some unanswered questions.  How was I to think about Anna, her fate, her character, her life?  Or for that matter, what was I to make of Stiva Oblonsky, or Levin, or Kitty?  These characters made a deep impression on me – I felt like I really got to know them, in a way that real life makes it hard to do – but in a way what I felt after finishing the novel was that I wanted to know more.  The book had finished, but I wasn’t finished with the book.  I wondered about how Tolstoy himself intended for us to think and feel about his characters.  I wanted my understanding to be enriched and made more complex.  So for that reason, I found a book through CLEVNET called Anna Karenina in Our Time: Seeing More Wisely by Gary Saul Morson, a professor of Arts and Humanities and Slavic Languages at Northwestern University.

And I haven’t been disappointed.  I’m about sixty pages into the book, and can already say that Morson has made me rethink my original take on Anna Karenina.  He makes a very compelling and convincing argument, for example, that one character in particular embodies evil for Tolstoy – an argument that has changed the way I thought about the character, who is mostly a good-natured socialite who everyone in the novel seems to like.  Now I’m reading a chapter about Anna – the character I was most curious about learning more – and am coming to terms with a lot of traditional interpretations of her character, as well as Morson’s more heterodox interpretation.  It has been such a thrilling experience!  It feels like this perennially interesting book club or conversation, where I am able to converse and commune with an expert on something we both share and care about and even love.

That’s what good criticism can do (and not just for books, of course, but movies, art, television, theater, dance, music, etc.).  It enables there to be a deep conversation about a shared object that elicits strong feelings for those involved.  It shows us new angles, new directions in our thought, new perceptions that we hadn’t considered and wouldn’t have considered had we not found the work of criticism.  And although much criticism, at least for my taste, can be way too abstruse and theoretical, that is not true for all criticism, not in the least.  So let me end by encouraging you, reader, to find a piece of criticism that helps you to understand a work on a deeper level.  A good place to start is the New Yorker, which has three good film critics (David Denby, Anthony Lane, and Richard Brody), as well as a stellar book critic named James Wood and a wonderful theater critic named Hilton Als.  (They also have great music and art critics.)  The New York Times also has excellent film critics, as does the Los Angeles Times.  Each critic has their own taste, and they go out of their way to make an argument, to start a conversation, to convince you that their interpretation is right.  You might agree or disagree with them, but you should come away with an enriched understanding of the work in question, and maybe even a deeper appreciation of life itself.

 

Why Read the Classics (Or, Why the Classics Are Not Boring!) January 19, 2018

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Image result for tolstoy

Tolstoy

In this blog post, I want to argue that the classics are not just immense tomes that accrue dust on the shelf of the library or a bookshelf, but are instead living, breathing documents that reflect back to us our humanity.  I’m starting with this lofty statement, because recently I have become obsessed with the 19th century Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who was born in 1828 and died in 1910.  Tolstoy was an outsized personality, and he was not only a great novelist but also, following a moral crisis in his forties, a Christian anarchist and pacifist.

But although I find Tolstoy’s detours into anarchism, Christianity and pacifism interesting (his advocacy of non-violent resistance was a great influence on Gandhi), I have to say that it is his novels that really excite me.  Anna Karenina, for example, which I finished about a month ago, was this really amazing exploration of one woman in Russian society who bucked the norms (she was a married woman who fell in love with another man) and then had to face the tragic consequences.  There were scenes in that novel that felt so true to life – it was such a remarkable and uncanny reading experience.  (Isaac Babel, another famous Russian writer, once wrote that “If the world could write itself, it would write like Tolstoy.”)

One of the best things about the book was the way the characters changed and aged.  I think characters changing is one of the hardest things to pull off in a novel, because the novelist really needs to give a fine-grained and textured evocation of the interior lives of the characters in order for us to fully believe in the changes they undergo.  They also must know their characters so fully and deeply to really convey how they change.  In other words, he or she must be able to see into the minds and hearts of other fictional people – to be a very deep psychologist.  I thought Tolstoy was so good at doing just that, and for that reason his characters felt so utterly real, and I really cared about them.  In the fate of Anna, we could see our own foibles and passions reflected.

There is a scene near the end of the novel, where Anna is riding on a train.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it is a very tumultuous moment and time in her life, and Tolstoy gives us Anna’s inner monologue – the kind of scattered, fragmented thoughts that populate her mind as she looks out the train window and melds her inner world with the world she sees.  It is so well done – we feel like we are actually privy to another person’s thoughts, and the thoughts feel so real, so like our own thinking, that it is impossible not to empathize with Anna’s state of mind.  The novel reflects back to us our own humanity – it allows us to see our own selves more capaciously – and at the same allows us to empathize deeply with Anna.  It is truly a heart-wrenching moment.

And that’s the thing – Anna Karenina is a classic.  But this does not mean a big book that no one reads anymore, or shouldn’t read anymore!   Instead, it is this very profound, wonderful, fresh and moving story about families and individuals, set against a vast panorama of Russian society in the 19th century.  That’s one of the things I’ve learned from reading Anna Karenina, and now War and Peace, which I’ve read about half of – the classics are classics because they are fabulous!!!  They are timeless snapshots of fictive life, and they demand to be read.  They can be challenging and fun at the same time, but they are not just boring books that no one reads anymore.  Instead, they are deep explorations of what it means to be human, to be thinking and feeling beings, with crises, problems, and dreams.

Image result for anna karenina book cover

 

 

What we’re reading now… January 13, 2018

Posted by SaraC in Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Genre Book Discussion, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Non-Fiction, Suspense, Uncategorized, Young Adult.
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The Hearth Witch’s Compendium: Magical and Natural Living for Every Day by Anna Franklin

The Hearth Witch's Compendium: Magical and…Not a book designed to be read straight through, The Hearth Witch’s Compendium is much more a resource guide for individuals who wish to include their magical practice into their everyday routine and life. Resource guide might actually be an understatement. This 512 page volume contains dozens and dozens of recipes and remedies addressing jam preserves to making your own self care products to dyeing your own fabric. The instructions are approachable, easy to read (Franklin is a British writer but graciously provides a conversion table in the back for measurements) and clear. There isn’t much magical instruction within all these amazing recipes which was a bit of a let down, but there is a ton of information towards the back to what ruling planets, deities, and celestial phases all the ingredients correspond with. Highly recommended for readers looking for a resource they can return to again and again for ideas on how to handle the pragmatic with a magical flair. Greg


System of the World (The Baroque Cycle #3) by Neal Stephenson

The System of the World by Neal StephensonThis final volume of Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle ties up the myriad storylines that have emerged throughout the series. There is something for everyone in this.  For much of the series, we follow Natural Philosopher Daniel Waterhouse through pre-Enlightenment England as Isaac Newton and the Royal Society pivot from alchemy to science.  If the invention of calculus is not your cup of tea, there is no want of political intrigue among Protestants and Catholics following the restoration of the British Monarchs.  If not that, there is the swashbuckling adventures of Jack Shaftoe, King of Vagabonds or Eliza as she rises through the European elite via machinations involving new inventions in finance.  The breadth of this series is far beyond the size of anything that should work – yet it does.  Trent


War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo TolstoyI’ve been reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.  It’s an amazing book.  Tolstoy is so incisive about his characters, he knows them so well, and so over time we feel like we really get to know and even love Pierre, Andrei and Natasha (although there are a lot more characters, those are probably the main three).  Tolstoy studied in a very intense way the military campaigns between Russia and France, and then he is able to infuse what he learned with his astonishing imagination.  It seems like he gets every detail right, from the description of what the men and women are wearing in a ballroom, to descriptions of gun smoke in a field during a battle.  He’s able to really zoom in and zoom out in this wonderful way.  Andrew 


Carnegie’s Maid: A Novel  by Marie Benedict

Carnegie's Maid: A Novel by Marie…This is the story of Clara Kelley, a recent immigrant from Ireland, who assumes the identity of a fellow passenger who died during the voyage. She secures a position as lady’s maid to Margaret Carnegie, Andrew Carnegie’s mother. Clara’s goal is to send money back to her struggling family in Ireland. Andrew is attracted to Clara, and they secretly spend time together. Andrew shares some of his business expertise with Clara and welcomes her suggestions until Clara disappears when Mrs. Carnegie learns of her deceptions. For lovers of historical fiction and fiction. Emma


The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) by…This book marks the author’s return to the land of faeries. Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and her sisters were stolen away to the High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Faerie is all she knows and all she wants is to truly belong. One of her biggest obstacles is Prince Cardin, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. Cardin despises mortals and goes out of his way to make Jude’s life miserable. To earn a place in Court, Jude must go head to head against Prince Cardin. When she does, she finds herself caught in the middle of a political scandal that threatens everyone in Faerie. Can a mere mortal outwit the traitors and save fae? Megan


The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward AbbeyI’m almost finished with this book from the 70s about environmental saboteurs against the industrial complex out west taking the land’s natural resources. To be real the characters, plot, and writing are becoming annoying and I’m just trying to finish it quickly. Next I’m waiting on a hold through Overdrive on my Kindle for Scandals of Classic Hollywood by Anne Helen Petersen and a book on CD from Rocky River of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal. Byron


The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Refugees by Viet Thanh NguyenA captivating and complicated set of short stories that examine identity, family, and romantic love through the eyes of Vietnamese refugees. Realistic elements are mixed with some fantastical ones (for instance, in the first story in the collection, a girl is visited by her brother, a ghost)—a literary technique perhaps intended to shed light on how disorienting and bizarre immigrant life can be.  In the audio book format, Nguyen reads his own stories, and his gentle and lightly accented voice creates an authentic soundscape for the reader. It is no wonder that Nguyen was showered with accolades for his first book, The Sympathizer. His masterful, self-aware prose won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the ALA Carnegie Medal for Fiction, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, among others. Lyndsey


Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane GayThis was not quite what I expected but a very good read nonetheless. I found the beginning to be a bit scattered and slow at times which made it difficult for me to make a connection with the book.  However, after reading and digesting all her essays I feel that I would like to strive to be a similar feminist to Roxane Gay – someone who is thoughtful, objective, outspoken when necessary and truly unique.  Mary

 


The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThis story takes place mostly in one very transformative day in the life of two teens, Daniel and Natasha. They meet by chance as they are both on their way to two very different, but equally important meetings that could potentially change the course of their lives forever.  The story is hopeful and sweetly romantic. Beth

 

 


City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty,

The City of Brass: A Novel (The Daevabad…A perfect winter escape, this debut fantasy novel, book #1 in The Daevabad Trilogy, transports readers to mystical Arabia. Nahri, an orphaned young woman living in Cairo by her wits, her cons, and a little bit of magic, has her life upended when she unknowingly calls forth a djinn warrior who recognizes that she’s not entirely human. Chased by demons, they journey to the supposed safety of Daevabad, the city of brass, where political and ethnic strife is swirling beneath the surface and where Nahri discovers the mystery of her origin.  Dori


The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

The Chalk Man: A Novel by C. J. TudorSwitching between 1986 and 2016, this book takes you through the summer holidays of Eddie and his friends who are growing up and looking for some excitement in their tiny British village.  They sure find it when a game they’ve developed using chalk figure codes leads them to a dismembered body.  Jump to 2016 and the chalk figures are showing up again. It seems like just a prank until one of the old friends turns up dead.  Eddie must figure out what happened years ago in order to save himself and the others. Sara


 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate’s Top Ten of 2017 December 15, 2017

Posted by kate in Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2017, Uncategorized, Women's Fiction.
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Schoolwork has been taking up most of my time this year but as soon as finals are over I plan to catch up on some reading. Here are the one’s I plan on starting the year with:

life The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

turtles all the way down Turtles All the Way Down  by John Green

index Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

beartowb Beartown by Fredrik Backman

one of us is lying One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

since we fell Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

camino island Camino Island by John Grisham

heartbreak hotel Heartbreak Hotel by Jonathan Kellerman

swimming lessons Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

breakdown The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

 

 

-Kate

Greg’s Top 10 for 2017 December 14, 2017

Posted by gregoryhatch in Book Awards, Book Discussion, Book List, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Horror, New Books, Non-Fiction, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2017, Uncategorized.
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First off is a book I previously reviewed, Books of Blood: Volumes One to Three. As the title describes this is a three books of short stories in one not so compact volume. This had to make my list for the sheer variety it offered fans of horror. Much like Barker’s films there is a balance of psychological and visceral horror. Recommended for the horror fan who needs an introduction to Barker’s writing.
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I know I am cheating a bit with these picks but these two volumes are distinct enough in their tone and their personal achievement to deserve their own spot on this list. A retelling/reworking of the Hercules myth, David Rubin’s graphic novel The Hero breaks new ground in the telling of this millennial old story. An odd combination of ancient and contemporary motifs (there are ancient Greek news casts) Hero keeps the reader on their toes. Book One focuses on the labors and the development of Hercules as hero. Book Two takes a darker tone and starts asking what happens when the campaign is won and yet life, and its tragedies, continue on. A humanizing take on a hero who’s story is told again and again.
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Possibly a very bold claim, but for me, this collection was the work that got me interested in poetry again. I am a working visual artist who has had a desire to investigate poetry but just didn’t seem to be my medium or speak my own creative language. Smith’s work shares many of the research veins that I am interested in and gave me a gateway to the work and the art form of poetry. A Finalist for the National Book Award, these poems are both challenging and enjoyable.
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What can I say, I am sucker for short story collections that explore magical realism. Russell gives us everything from lemon sucking vampires to a silk factory who raw material comes from silkworm/human hybrids. More so than any of the other short story collections on this list Vampires offers the readers stories are truly a mixed bag of setting and tone. I haven’t had a chance to read Russell’s novel Swamplandia! but from how much I enjoyed this work its on my reading list.
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If you are familiar with Sedaris’ work you know that you are in for more of the same awkward, funny, cringe-worthy, and relatable stories. Told in his signature style, Sedaris focuses on the minor (and so minor) faux pas, social foibles, and daily disasters that everyone else will forget about but will mar you for life. Like all his work, I recommend reading before large family gatherings, for perspective.
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If I had to give Gaiman’s work a subtitle it would have to be “Translated for Clarity and Entertainment.” Master storyteller, Gaiman makes traditional Norse and Northern European mythology digestible for a wider audience. If you ever attempted to read traditional translations of Norse sagas you know that they can be a bit dense and at times confusing. This is a great introduction to the Norse religion and for fans of Neil Gaiman’s wider body of work.
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Maybe too dry (pun intended) for some, I found The Drunken Botanist an informative and intriguing romp into the history of alcohol and the cultures that made them. I enjoyed this book as an audio book while on a long drive to a conference and think it may be its best in that scenario. Filled with moments of “huh didn’t know that” and the science to back it up, Stewart’s work is great material for parties or possible future games of trivia.
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A subversive and unconventional take on the idea of a romantic comedy. We follow Oaf Jadwiga (former professional wrestler, owner of a cat sanctuary and maker of stuffed animals) as he tried to catch the eye of black metal front-man Eiffel. Now what would be romantic comedy without a few mishaps? Oaf has to deal rival bands, exes (his and Eiffel’s), and cats with emotional problems. With moments of tenderness, gross out humor, and an in your face attitude this book was always surprising.
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If you enjoyed the Alan Moore’s Watchmen’s take on the world of cape crusaders there is a good chance you will enjoy Black Hammer : Secret Origins. Lemire’s take on a super hero team takes a decidedly dark psychological tone. Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien are the a superhero team who have been trapped in a reality that they cannot escape. Rather than Superman’s Phantom Zone, their prison takes the form of a small rural town. This first volume gives us a look into the hero’s previous lives, the baggage they hold, and how they cope in a world where they have little to do but reflect.