A Concert for the Ages 

On December 22, 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven debuted two symphonies (including perhaps his most famous, The Fifth Symphony), a piano concerto, and a choral piece, plus a few other favorites in a four-hour long benefit concert at the Theater-an-der-Wien, one of Vienna’s grandest theaters.  

The concert was…not a success. From frigid temperatures to ill-rehearsed pieces to contentious relationships between Beethoven and the musicians, the concert was certainly one to remember, but maybe not for the reasons a composer would want!  

Even though the concert may not have gone to plan, Beethoven did make a cash profit—his only of the entire year. Many composers were not revered in their time and only in their later years or even posthumously, were they appreciated and acknowledged for their talent. 

Beethoven is probably one of the most famous names in composing and if you’re interested in some of the reasons he is so highly regarded, here are some books to learn more: 

Beethoven: A Life by Jan Caeyers 

The Great Composers: The Lives and Music of 50 Great Classical Composers by Jeremy Nicholas 

How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond by John Powell 

Playlist: The Rebels and Revolutionaries of Sound by James Rhodes 

Mr. Beethoven by Paul Griffiths 

And if you want to recreate the concert from the comfort of your home, here are some of the pieces on CD: 

Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 4 

Choral Fantasy, Piano Concertos Nos. 3 & 5 

Symphony No. 5, C minor; Symphony No. 6, F major, “Pastoral” 

Give us a call (440-333-7610) if you’d like to place any of the physical copies on hold! 

-Linnea 

Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott

On this day, 67 years ago, Rosa Parks refused to move from her bus seat to one in the back of the bus. This marked the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, lasting from the day Rosa Parks was arrested (December 5) to more than a year later. On December 20, 1956, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the bus segregation laws in Alabama and Montgomery were unconstitutional. 

While this did mark a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement, Parks was not the first to refuse to move her seat on a bus. Earlier in 1955, Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old student, was arrested for refusing to move from her seat for a white person. As for why she did not become a catalyst for the movement the way Rosa Parks did, Colvin offers a simple explanation: “she was an adult. They didn’t think teenagers would be reliable.” (NPR, 2009

Additionally, Rosa Parks was active in the Civil Rights Movement before the bus boycott and for decades afterward. She was involved with the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, a member of the League of Women Voters, and attended the Highlander Folk School, an education center for activism for workers’ rights and racial equality.  

For more information on Rosa Parks and integral figures in the Civil Rights Movement, check out these titles: 

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis 

Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks 

Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-Nagin 

The Eyes on the Prize: Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Struggle, 1954-1990 by Clayborne Carson 

Daughter of the Boycott: Carrying on a Montgomery Family’s Civil Rights Legacy by Karen Gray Houston 

-Linnea

Remembering Robin Williams

Today marks eight years since the passing of Robin Williams. An actor, comedian, legend, hero to many, we’ve all experienced Robin Williams in some way through his work. He was first introduced to me as Genie from Aladdin (1992), though I picture him as the English professor from Dead Poet’s Society (1989) more often now. Whether you laughed along to Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) or enjoyed a more dramatic performance in Good Will Hunting (1997), he certainly has left his mark in Hollywood.  

Plenty of biographies have been written about Robin Williams. Here are few books with different perspectives: 

Robin by Dave Itzkoff 

If you’re looking for a definitive biography, this will be the one. 

Robin Williams, American Master: The Movies and Art of a Lost Genius by Stephen J. Spignesi

More interested in facts and trivia about Robin Williams’ films and life? Then you’ll enjoy Spignesi’s biography. 

Robin Williams: A Singular Portrait, 1986-2002 by Arthur Grace

Arthur Grace has created a biography told in a series of photographs, taken over decades. 

And of course, here are a few of his films to remember him by: 

Popeye (1980) 

Hook (1991) 

Jumanji (1995) 

Happy Feet (2006)

Happy Feet Two (2011)

Pride Month: Memoir Spotlight

Memoirs pull back the curtain on a person’s life, providing a look into certain experiences that shaped the person they’ve become. They help readers find solace, knowing that someone has similar experiences, interests, or circumstances. Even if you can’t exactly relate to a person being a television star, or growing up with 19 siblings, or working on Human Rights campaigns, most will be able to identify with being left out, feeling disconnected from peers, and trying to figure out who they are. These LGBTQ+ memoirs tackle heavy topics but are important reads in better understanding facets of LGBTQ+ experiences, building empathy, and learning about someone who may be different from yourself. They also provide necessary representation for those in the LGBTQ+ community that haven’t seen themselves in books. 

I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the names on the selections here, and there are certainly many more to explore! 

Tomorrow Will be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride 

“In her first book, activist McBride (national press secretary, Human Rights Campaign) shows self-awareness and purpose. Cognizant of the many positives in her life—supportive family, friends, and coworkers—McBride has devoted her career to ensuring equal rights for LGBTQ people. By sharing her own story of coming out, the author illuminates the pain that can come along with that process, and how she has arrived at accepting (and living) her life. She writes movingly of her experience transitioning from a man to a woman, and her political activism, along with falling in love and then losing her love to cancer. Statistics about the marginalization of and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, especially those who are transgender, are brought to life by her voice. The importance of telling these experiences in order to combat demonizing stereotypes is stressed by the author’s experiences in passing civil rights legislation in Delaware, as well as her activism nationwide. The pressing need for broad antidiscrimination protection for the entire LGBTQ community is made clear. All readers will find this book enlightening. Those struggling with gender identity, and their families and friends, will find hope in McBride’s words.”

-Library Journal, vol. 143, issue 4 

Unprotected: A Memoir by Billy Porter 

“Television and stage star Porter opens his soul in this memoir about his life and career, from his childhood in Pittsburgh, to his recent award-winning roles in the stage musical Kinky Boots and on the FX series Pose. Porter writes candidly about growing up Black and gay, his current fears about living during the time of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic, and how his own hard work, luck, and the generosity of others provided the stepping stones for his current success. Reflecting on the title of the book, Porter tells of moments in his life when he felt unprotected, as both a child and an adult. His fearlessness in discussing the darker parts of his past (including sexual abuse by his stepfather and being diagnosed with HIV) is remarkable, but equally as impressive is the narrative of his decades-long dedication to hone his talent and make a space for himself in a racist and homophobic entertainment industry and society. This memoir, as exceptional as Porter himself, should please not only devotees of the actor and his work but readers interested in a story of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds.”  

– Library Journal, vol. 146, issue 10 

Love That Story: Observations from a Gorgeously Queer Life by Jonathan Van Ness 

“Known for his tasteful grooming counseling on Queer Eye, Van Ness moves past the triple trauma of publicly acknowledging his HIV-positive status, surviving sexual abuse, and overcoming drug addiction to explore ways to cultivate personal happiness. Despite support from fans who had experienced similar struggles, some of that support came with massive amounts of transphobic vitriol. The author offers advice on navigating the ever critical social media platforms, writing about grief, family matters, hometown pride for Quincy, Illinois, confronting and vanquishing internalized shame, and the surprisingly precarious professional and social politics of hairdressing and stand-up comedy. He also authentically tackles hot topics like the vilification of marijuana, body-shaming, homophobia, transphobia, and, in a section that will resonate with many readers, gender dysphoria: “I’ve always known I didn’t feel completely male or female, but in those early days of having gay men reject me because of my femininity, I learned fast to masculinize.” In lighter moments, Van Ness gushes over his role on Queer Eye and shares humorous behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the show. His ebullient sense of humor and his passion for LGBTQ+ rights and social justice for an increasingly marginalized transgender population inform with spirited ease. The narrative is equal parts anecdotal whimsy and social criticism, and Van Ness remains reflective, sincere, and cathartic throughout, reiterating that “the darkness I’ve survived doesn’t define me.” Rather, it motivates him to “process the noise” and “grow and be a better person.” Inspirational motivation and counsel primarily for fans who can’t get enough of the Van Ness experience.”  

-Kirkus Reviews 

Black Boy Out of Time by Hari Ziyad 

“Racebaitr editor-in-chief Ziyad merges astute sociopolitical analysis with soul-baring honesty in their striking debut memoir. Drawing on their family’s strong religious beliefs and the traumas of growing up poor in Cleveland as a young Black queer person, Ziyad charts their search for self-understanding and liberation from their guilt-ridden first experiences with boys in high school, to moving to New York City for college, to their early career as a screenwriter and essayist. Along the way, they extrapolate on how each of their experiences has roots in colonialism, white supremacy (“were raised in the same America. The America that demonizes all Black children”), and capitalism. The idea of “misoafropedia” (or “the anti-Black disdain for children and childhood that Black youth experience”) is a unique framework from which they analyze their youthful attempts to assimilate into whiteness at school, the carceral logic that led them to punish other Black children for the crime of being “ghetto,” and their relationship with their own inner child. With its candidness and sharp prose that doggedly links the personal to the political, Ziyad’s tale is engrossing and necessary.”  

-Publisher’s Weekly vol. 267, issue 47 

-Linnea 

10 Great Biographies & Memoirs to Celebrate the 19th Amendment

Did you know that 2020 marks 100 years of women having the right to vote in the United States? You can find more information, including great reading lists for all ages, educational videos, and how to get involved in the celebration at www.womensvote100.org and www.2020centennial.org. Special events have been happening all year! On August 26, 2020 buildings and landmarks across the country lit up in purple and gold as part of the nationwide Forward Into Light Campaign, named in honor of the historic suffrage slogan, “Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light.”

One way you can help to celebrate this awesome and important anniversary is to read a book about a suffragist! Below you will find 10 great biographies and collected biographies that reveal more about U.S. suffragists of note and a few contemporary feminist titles as well.

If you are a fan of biographies and memoirs, we have an exciting virtual event next week with Eliese Colette Goldbach, the talented and acclaimed author of Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit. There are still spots open for this Zoom program- register here!

Imagine Your Story -The Honorable John Lewis

U.S. Representative from the 5th Congressional District of Georgia, The Honorable John Lewis, passed away Friday, July 17. The positive impact Congressman Lewis had on America, with his words and actions, have helped shape America into a better place to live. His personal story is powerful and his leadership is inspirational. If you’d like to learn more about The Honorable John Lewis, please consider watching John Lewis: Get in the Way on PBS, read his book Across that Bridge, or his story in March: book one, March: book two, March: book three in a graphic novel format, or a simple biography, John Lewis, you want something you can share with a younger reader. Mr. Lewis, we thank you for decades of service on behalf of us all and we miss you already.

Take care everyone
—Stacey

Imagine Your Story-Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a great way to enjoy a story. Their portable format allows for them to be enjoyed while on the move.Whether you are exercising, gardening, or working on your newest creative project, audiobooks can make for a great addition.

If you are new to audiobooks why not try our pick for our upcoming:

Imagine Your Story Virtual Book Discussion

Listen to this family memoir about how 81-year-old Jay Mendelsohn, who had been a professor of mathematics, enrolls in his son Daniel’s class on The Odyssey. Later, the two men take Mediterranean cruise, retracing the mythical journeys of Odysseus.

Register and you will be emailed a link to join the virtual event on Monday, June 22, 2020 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

Or checkout the selection of biographical audiobooks over at Overdrive!



Gina’s 2016 Top 10 Books!

I’m still trying to find my reading style. This past year it has been a mix of nonfiction and fiction. I generally enjoy reading books before it is adapted into a movie, that way I can see the differences.

Yes, My Accent Is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You by Kunal Nayyar

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

How to Be Single by Liz Tuccillo

Me Before You and After You by Jojo Moyes

Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

On My Own by Diane Rehm

 

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! Happy Holidays!

-Gina

 

First comes a Debate, Second comes a book!

Like many Americans, you may be planning to watch the first Presidential Debate tonight at 9pm between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. After all the dust has cleared, come check out the Biography section here in the library to read about the past presidents. Browse the New Nonfiction displays, I think I see a new book about Clinton and Trump every week! There are many titles on Audiobooks and the OverDrive and Hoopla applications in case you would rather listen than read.

usa

Your Book Your Brew

Both the brews and the books were flowing when the Your Book Your Brew group met Friday, October 23 at Tommy’s Summer Place. We each shared 2 to 3 books that we’d enjoyed and then the discussion took off!

Here’s the list:

Ann:

dayeight

The Day We Met by Rowan Coleman and Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Ed:

gowives

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee and The Wives of Los Alamos by Tarashea Nesbit

Sarah:

torchiceprincess

Torch by Cheryl Strayed and The Camilla Lackberg series

Stacey:

crookedsouldumplin

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans, Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery and Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dori:

fateskitchens

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Mike:

puritycloudlumenlordfearclassa

Purity by Jonathan Franzen, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Luminaries by Eleanor Cotton and Lord Fear and Class A, both by Lucas Mann

Donna:

nemesisbeachalertliar

Nemesis by Catherine Coulter, Beach Town by MaryKay Andrews, Liar by Nora Roberts and Alert by James Patterson

Other books that came up in the conversation were two books by food guru Ruth Reichl, her new memoir My Kitchen Year and her foray into fiction, Delicious. We reminisced about the children’s book All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor and discussed a few biographies, including those about Johnny Carson and Charles Manson and a memoir by actress Jennie Garth (yes, that’s how it goes when you’re talking books – all over the map!). We also talked about The Women’s Room, a feminist novel published in the late 70s, The Library at Mount Char, a weird but really good new science fiction book that Stacey and I listened to and heard raves about Tampa, by Alisa Nutting.

Thanks to Ann, Ed, Sarah, Sarah, Donna and Mike for joining us and we hope more folks will come along and share some book recommendations at our next meeting on Friday, December 11th at 5pm at Erie Island Coffee Co.

Dori