Wednesday, June 27, 2018

organized crime


Upcoming programs:

Sat 7/7 @ 2:30pm – Afternoon Matinee presents “Pillow Talk,” (1959, not rated, 1h 42min)

Tue 7/17 @ 6:30pm – Documentaries After Dark presents “The Glamour & the Squalor,” (2015, not rated, 1h 20min)



Wed 7/18 @ 6:30pm – Arthouse Film series presents “Seven Samurai,” (1954, not rated, 3h 27min)

Fri 7/20 @ 5pm – Ages 21+ only, Standing Room Only presents Chopped: Vintage Recipe Edition, registration required to amandaw@bham.lib.al.us

Tue 7/24 @ 6:30pm – Birmingham Arts Journal new issue release party

Tue 7/24 @ 6:30pm – Genre Reading Group Summer Salon Discussion: Book of Choice



The Genre Reading Group met this week to discuss nonfiction on organized crime.

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No one had ever tried a caper like this before. The goods were kept in a secure room under constant scrutiny, deep inside a crowded building with guards at the exits. The team picked for the job included two old hands known only as Paul and Swede, but all depended on a fresh face, a kid from Pinetown, North Carolina. In the Depression, some fellows were willing to try anything -- even a heist in the rare book room of the New York Public Library.

In Thieves of Book Row, Travis McDade tells the gripping tale of the worst book-theft ring in American history, and the intrepid detective who brought it down. Author of The Book Thief and a curator of rare books, McDade transforms painstaking research into a rich portrait of Manhattan's Book Row in the 1920s and '30s, where organized crime met America's cultural treasures in dark and crowded shops along gritty Fourth Avenue. Dealers such as Harry Gold, a tough native of the Lower East Side, became experts in recognizing the value of books and recruiting a pool of thieves to steal them -- many of them unemployed men who drifted up the Bowery or huddled around fires in Central Park's shantytowns. When Paul and Swede brought a new recruit into his shop, Gold trained him for the biggest score yet: a first edition of Edgar Allan Poe's Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems. Gold's recruit cased the rare-book room for weeks, searching for a weakness. When he found one, he struck, leading to a breathtaking game of wits between Gold and NYPL special investigator G. William Bergquist. Both a fast-paced, true-life thriller, Thieves of Book Row provides a fascinating look at the history of crime and literary culture.

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William Hazelgrove provides the exciting and sprawling history behind the 1933 World's Fair, the last of the golden age. He reveals the story of the six millionaire businessmen, dubbed The Secret Six, who beat Al Capone at his own game, ending the gangster era as prohibition was repealed. The story of an intriguing woman, Sally Rand, who embodied the World's Fair with her own rags to riches story and brought sex into the open. The story of Rufus and Charles Dawes who gave the fair a theme and then found financing in the worst economic times the country had ever experienced. The story of the most corrupt mayor of Chicago, William Thompson, who owed his election to Al Capone; and the mayor who followed him, Anton Cermak, who was murdered months before the fair opened by an assassin many said was hired by Al Capone. But most of all it’s the story about a city fighting for survival in the darkest of times; and a shining light of hope called A Century of Progress.

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Catering to lovers of the well-written word and the well-mixed drink, Cocktail Noir is a lively look at the intertwining of alcohol and the underworld―represented by authors of crime both true and fictional and their glamorously disreputable characters, as well as by real life gangsters who built Prohibition-era empires on bootlegged booze. It celebrates the potent potables they imbibed and the watering holes they frequented, including some bars that continue to provide a second home for crime writers. Highlighting the favorite drinks of Noir scribes, the book includes recipes for cocktails such as the Gimlet described in Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, the Mojito Mulatta T.J. English drank while writing Havana Nocturne and the Dirty Martini favored by mob chronicler Christian Cipollini

Cocktail Noir also lets us in on the drinking habits of notorious organized crime figures, revealing Al Capone’s taste for Templeton Rye, Meyer Lansky’s preference for Dewar’s Scotch and Gambino family hit man Charles Carneglia’s habit of guzzling Cutty Sark. With black and white illustrations throughout, Cocktail Noir is as stylish and irreverent as the drinks, often larger-than-life figures and culture it explores. 

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In Spam Nation, investigative journalist and cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs unmasks the criminal masterminds driving some of the biggest spam and hacker operations targeting Americans and their bank accounts. Tracing the rise, fall, and alarming resurrection of the digital mafia behind the two largest spam pharmacies-and countless viruses, phishing, and spyware attacks-he delivers the first definitive narrative of the global spam problem and its threat to consumers everywhere.

Blending cutting-edge research, investigative reporting, and firsthand interviews, this terrifying true story reveals how we unwittingly invite these digital thieves into our lives every day. From unassuming computer programmers right next door to digital mobsters like "Cosma"-who unleashed a massive malware attack that has stolen thousands of Americans' logins and passwords-Krebs uncovers the shocking lengths to which these people will go to profit from our data and our wallets.

Not only are hundreds of thousands of Americans exposing themselves to fraud and dangerously toxic products from rogue online pharmacies, but even those who never open junk messages are at risk. As Krebs notes, spammers can-and do-hack into accounts through these emails, harvest personal information like usernames and passwords, and sell them on the digital black market. The fallout from this global epidemic doesn't just cost consumers and companies billions, it costs lives too.
Fast-paced and utterly gripping, Spam Nation ultimately proposes concrete solutions for protecting ourselves online and stemming this tidal wave of cybercrime-before it's too late.

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In an era that witnessed the rise of celebrity outlaws like Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger was the most famous and flamboyant of them all. Reports on the man and his misdeeds--spiced with accounts of his swashbuckling bravado and cool daring--provided an America worn down by the Great Depression with a salacious mix of sex and violence that proved irresistible. 

In Dillinger's Wild Ride, Elliott J. Gorn provides a riveting account of the year between 1933 and 1934, when the Dillinger gang pulled over a dozen bank jobs, and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars. A dozen men--police, FBI agents, gangsters, and civilians--lost their lives in the rampage, and American newspapers breathlessly followed every shooting and jail-break. As Dillinger's wild year unfolded, the tale grew larger and larger in newspapers and newsreels, and even today, Dillinger is the subject of pulp literature, serious poetry and fiction, and films, including a movie starring Johnny Depp. What is the power of his story? Why has it lingered so long? Who was John Dillinger? 

Gorn illuminates the significance of Dillinger's tremendous fame and the endurance of his legacy, arguing that he represented an American fascination with primitive freedom against social convention. Dillinger's story has much to tell us about our enduring fascination with outlaws, crime and violence, about the complexity of our transition from rural to urban life, and about the transformation of America during the Great Depression. Dillinger's Wild Ride is a compulsively readable story with an unforgettable protagonist.

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During Prohibition, while Al Capone was rising to worldwide prominence as Public Enemy Number One, the townspeople of rural Templeton, Iowa—population just 428—were busy with a bootlegging empire of their own. Led by Joe Irlbeck, the whip-smart and gregarious son of a Bavarian immigrant, the outfit of farmers, small merchants, and even the church monsignor worked together to create a whiskey so excellent it was ordered by name: "Templeton rye."

Just as Al Capone had Eliot Ness, Templeton’s bootleggers had as their own enemy a respected Prohibition agent from the adjacent county named Benjamin Franklin Wilson. Wilson was ardent in his fight against alcohol, and he chased Irlbeck for over a decade. But Irlbeck was not Capone, and Templeton would not be ruled by violence like Chicago.

Gentlemen Bootleggers tells a never-before-told tale of ingenuity, bootstrapping, and perseverance in one small town, showcasing a group of immigrants and first-generation Americans who embraced the ideals of self-reliance, dynamism, and democratic justice. It relies on previously classified Prohibition Bureau investigation files, federal court case files, extensive newspaper archive research, and a recently disclosed interview with kingpin Joe Irlbeck. Unlike other Prohibition-era tales of big-city gangsters, it provides an important reminder that bootlegging wasn’t only about glory and riches, but could be in the service of a higher goal: producing the best whiskey money could buy.



Wednesday, May 30, 2018

graphic novels


Upcoming Adult Summer Reading programs:

Tuesday, June 12 @ 6:30pm – Bob Ross Paint Party

Wednesday, June 13 @ 12:30pm – Summer Book Preview with Katie and Holley

Friday, June 15 @ 10am – Yoga & Poetry with Marie Blair

Tuesday, June 19 @ 6:30pm – Documentaries After Dark presents “Alive & Kicking,” a film about swing dancing

Wednesday, June 20 @ 6:30pm – Art House Film Series presents “Summer with Monika”

Tuesday, June 26 @ 6:30pm – Genre Reading Group: Mob/Mafia

Thursday, June 28 @ 6:30pm – Lost & Found 20th Century Classics bookclub discussing “Pictures from an Institution” by Randall Jarrell and “Stoner” by John Williams

This week, the Genre Reading Group met to discuss graphic novels.

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#1 New York Times Bestseller
2014 National Book Award Finalist
Winner of the inaugural 2014 Kirkus Prize in nonfiction
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Winner of the 2014 Books for a Better Life Award
Winner of the 2015 Reuben Award from National Cartoonists Society

In her first memoir, New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies--an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades--the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.
An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant shows the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller.

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Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant storytelling has captivated millions of readers in her bestselling and award-winning Outlander saga. Now, in her first-ever graphic novel, Gabaldon gives readers a fresh look at the events of the original Outlander: Jamie Fraser’s side of the story, gorgeously rendered by artist Hoang Nguyen.

After too long an absence, Jamie Fraser is coming home to Scotland—but not without great trepidation. Though his beloved godfather, Murtagh, promised Jamie’s late parents he’d watch over their brash son, making good on that vow will be no easy task. There’s already a fat bounty on the young exile’s head, courtesy of Captain Black Jack Randall, the sadistic British officer who’s crossed paths—and swords—with Jamie in the past. And in the court of the mighty MacKenzie clan, Jamie is a pawn in the power struggle between his uncles: aging chieftain Colum, who demands his nephew’s loyalty—or his life—and Dougal, war chieftain of Clan MacKenzie, who’d sooner see Jamie put to the sword than anointed Colum’s heir.

And then there is Claire Randall—mysterious, beautiful, and strong-willed, who appears in Jamie’s life to stir his compassion . . . and arouse his desire.

But even as Jamie’s heart draws him to Claire, Murtagh is certain she’s been sent by the Old Ones, and Captain Randall accuses her of being a spy. Claire clearly has something to hide, though Jamie can’t believe she could pose him any danger. Still, he knows she is torn between two choices—a life with him, and whatever it is that draws her thoughts so often elsewhere.
   
Step into the captivating, passionate, and suspenseful world of The Exile, and experience the storytelling magic of Diana Gabaldon as never before.

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Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

--Winner of the 2013 Hugo award for Best Graphic Story!
--When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 
--From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.
--This specially priced volume collects the first six issues of the smash-hit series The Onion A.V. Club calls "the emotional epic Hollywood wishes it could make."
--Voted one of the top graphic novels of the year by the NYT, IGN, the Examiner, and SF Weekly. ------Voted Best Comic of the year by MTV Geek and Best New Series by Paradox Comics. Voted a finalist in the GoodReads Best GN of 2012 contest.
--Named one of Time Magazine's top 10 graphic novels for 2013

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How to Pass as Human by Nic Kelman

How to Pass as Human is an attempt on the part of the world's first android to understand the irrational, unpredictable, eclectic creatures known as human beings. Written in the form of a field guide, complete with sketches, graphs, flowcharts, and other reference materials, Android Zero (aka "Zach") has compiled a variety of useful information for future androids on how to pass undetected as human beings. Along the way, he also attempts to solve the mystery of his own creation with the help of Andrea, a human female who has taken an interest in him that may be more than friendly, and eventually leading him to "meet his maker" and discover the surprising purpose of his existence.

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everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too is the illustrated story of a lonely alien sent to observe Earth, only to meet all sorts of creatures with all sorts of perspectives on life, love, and happiness, all while learning to feel a little better about being an alien—based on the enormously popular Twitter account, @jonnysun.

Here is the unforgettable story of Jomny, a lonely alien who, for the first time ever, finds a home on our planet after learning that earthlings can feel lonely too. Jomny finds friendship in a bear tired of other creatures running away in fear, an egg struggling to decide what to hatch into, an owl working its way to being wise, a tree feeling stuck in one place, a tadpole coming to terms with turning into a frog, a dying ghost, a puppy unable to express itself, and many more.

Through this story of a lost, lonely and confused alien finding friendship, acceptance, and love among the creatures of Earth, we will all learn how to be a little more human. And for all of us earth-bound creatures here on this planet, we can all be reminded that sometimes, it takes an outsider to help us see ourselves for who we truly are.

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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Andre Roussimoff is known as both the lovable giant in The Princess Bride and a heroic pro-wrestling figure. He was a normal guy who'd been dealt an extraordinary hand in life. At his peak, he weighed 500 pounds and stood nearly seven and a half feet tall. But the huge stature that made his fame also signed his death warrant.

Box Brown brings his great talents as a cartoonist and biographer to this phenomenal new graphic novel. Drawing from historical records about Andre's life as well as a wealth of anecdotes from his colleagues in the wrestling world, including Hulk Hogan, and his film co-stars (Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, etc), Brown has created in Andre the Giant, the first substantive biography of one of the twentieth century's most recognizable figures.

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Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri

"A surprisingly touching narrative that reveals a new side to Andre 'The Giant' Roussimoff. . . . With a voice and tone perfectly matched to Andre's demeanor, Easton's writing brings Andre back to life." - Brutal Gamer

Lion Forge Comics is proud to present this amazing story of a man who turned a curse into a blessing. Written by 2014 Eisner Award-nominee Brandon M. Easton with gorgeous artwork by Denis Medri, this unprecedented biography of Andre the Giant charts his earliest days on his family's farm, to his enormously successful runs in Japan, to his heated feuds with the biggest wrestling stars of all time, to his memorable turns in Hollywood TV and cinema and to his darkest moments caused by excessive substance abuse. Based on testimony from Andre's friends and colleagues - including his daughter Robin - this is the story you've never been told about Andre "the Giant" Roussimoff.

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The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a literary bottle rocket—loaded with whimsy, pizzazz, and heart.”
—Adriana Trigiani

“Is it possible that I have just read/experienced/devoured the most delightful book ever published? Do not argue with me: There is magic here and genius.”
—Elinor Lipman

“A ripping yarn of emancipated girlish adventure.”
—Audrey Niffenegger

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a visually stunning, totally unique, full-color novel in the form of a scrapbook, set in the burgeoning bohemian culture of the 1920s and featuring an endearing, unforgettable heroine. Caroline Preston, author of the New York Times Notable Book Jackie by Josie, uses a kaleidoscopic array of vintage memorabilia—postcards, letters, magazine ads, ticket stubs, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, fashion spreads, menus and more—to tell the tale of spirited and ambitious Frankie’s remarkable odyssey from Vassar to Greenwich Village to Paris, in a manner that will delight crafters, historical fiction fans, and anyone who loves a good coming-of-age story ingeniously told.

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Josephine Baker by Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel Muller

Josephine Baker (1906–1975) was nineteen years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time in 1925. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier, and Simenon. In the liberating atmosphere of the 1930s, Baker rose to fame as the first black star on the world stage, from London to Vienna, Alexandria to Buenos Aires. After World War II, and her time in the French Resistance, Baker devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, publicly battling the humiliations she had for so long suffered personally. She led by example, and over the course of the 1950s adopted twelve orphans of different ethnic backgrounds: a veritable Rainbow Tribe. A victim of racism throughout her life, Josephine Baker would sing of love and liberty until the day she died.

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The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Arrival is a migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious floating objects and indecipherable languages. With nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live, food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope.

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Through the Woods: Stories by Emily Carroll

Discover a terrifying world in the woods in this collection of five hauntingly beautiful graphic stories that includes the online webcomic sensation “His Face All Red,” in print for the first time. Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to “Our Neighbor’s House”—though coming back might be a problem. Or find yourself a young bride in a house that holds a terrible secret in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.” You might try to figure out what is haunting “My Friend Janna,” or discover that your brother’s fiancée may not be what she seems in “The Nesting Place.” And of course you must revisit the horror of “His Face All Red,” the breakout webcomic hit that has been gorgeously translated to the printed page. Already revered for her work online, award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll’s stunning visual style and impeccable pacing is on grand display in this entrancing anthology, her print debut.

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
A New York Times Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year
The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Denver Post, The Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, New York, People, Rocky Mountain News, Time, The Village Voice, The Washington Post

The searing, post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son's fight to survive.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

TV and Film


Get your calendars out and mark these events down in PEN!

Each Tuesday through May 15 @ 10am – Gentle Yoga with Marie Blair

Saturday, April 28 @ 3pm – Cross stich Bookmarks, supplies provided and no experience necessary

Friday, May 4 @ 6:30pm – All Ages Star Wars party: trivia, Cantina band, costume contest, and more

Thursday, May 10 @ 6:30pm – UAB Neuroscience Café presents the latest research on multiple sclerosis

Monday, May 14 @ 6:30pm – Community Conversation on Aging discussing patient advocacy

Sunday, May 20 @ 3pm – Sign your family up for the Library’s summer reading programs!  Fun activities all summer for adults, teens, and children! Carnival and Fun Run @ 3pm

Wednesday, May 23 @ 6:30pm – Art House Film Series presents “Purple Noon”

Saturday-Monday, May 26-28 – The Library is closed in observance of Memorial Day

Tuesday, May 29 – The Library begins Summer Hours (Mon, Wed, Thu 9-6; Tue 9-9; Fri-Sat 9-5; closed Sundays)

Tuesday, May 29 @ 6:30pm – Genre Reading Group meets to discuss graphic novels/comics

Thursday, May 31 @ 6:30pm – Lost & Found Book Club meets to discuss Richard Hughes’ “A High Wind in Jamaica”

This week, the Genre Reading Group met to discuss books about the TV and film industries!

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The instant New York Times bestseller from “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is a “relentlessly funny and surprisingly inspirational” (Forbes.com) memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to internet stardom, and embracing her weirdness to find her place in the world.

When Felicia Day was a girl, all she wanted was to connect with other kids (desperately). Growing up in the Deep South, where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons,” she looked online to find her tribe. The Internet was in its infancy and she became an early adopter at every stage of its growth—finding joy and unlikely friendships in the emerging digital world. Her relative isolation meant that she could pursue passions like gaming, calculus, and 1930’s detective novels without shame. Because she had no idea how “uncool” she really was.

But if it hadn’t been for her strange background—the awkwardness continued when she started college at sixteen, with Mom driving her to campus every day—she might never have had the naïve confidence to forge her own path. Like when she graduated as valedictorian with a math degree and then headed to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting despite having zero contacts. Or when she tired of being typecast as the crazy cat-lady secretary and decided to create her own web series before people in show business understood that online video could be more than just cats chasing laser pointers.

Felicia’s rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influen­tial creators in new media. Ever candid, she opens up about the rough patches along the way, recounting battles with writer’s block, a full-blown gaming addiction, severe anxiety, and depression—and how she reinvented herself when overachieving became overwhelming.

Showcasing Felicia’s “engaging and often hilarious voice” (USA TODAY), You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should celebrate what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.

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This remarkable journey through the Hammer vault includes props, annotated script pages, unused poster artwork, production designs, rare promotional material and private correspondence. Hundreds of rare and previously unseen stills help to create a rich souvenir of Hammer’s legacy, from the X certificate classics of the 1950s to the studio’s latest productions. This new updated edition includes an extra chapter covering the years 2010 to 2015.

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From Annette Tapert, the coauthor of the popular The Power of Style, comes a book that is just as beautiful and entertaining but that redefines an attribute even more intangible. In word and image, it evokes a unique Hollywood era and eleven of its goddesses who lived, and left as their legacy, the Power of Glamour.
       
When the Glamour Era met the Golden Age of cinema, it cast a spell on a public beaten by the Depression and the threat of war. But the key ingredient in 1930s glamour was personality. Annette Tapert's movie-queen profiles, rich with fresh insights, reach beyond the star-making machinery, fan magazines, fashions, and cosmetics to the essence of each women: the carefully molded image of Gloria Swanson, who started it all . . . Marlene Dietrich's siren persona on and off screen . . . the "reverse glamour" of Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. Their power--and that of Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, Norma Shearer, Claudette Colbert, and the long-neglected Kay Francis, Dolores Del Rio, and Constance Bennett--lay in using style, wit, and guile to outsmart the studio system and enchant the world. In these pages we see how, veiled in intrigue and mystery, they brought glamour very close to its original meaning: witchcraft.

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If you recognize the famous Mockingbird Lane address, you probably grew up in the 1960's and never missed a chance to see the Munsters. Now, it's time to rediscover Herman and Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and Marilyn in this entertaining, comprehensive look at the first family of fright. A complete episode guide makes "The Munsters" the must-have companion to watching the series on DVD, while hundreds of rare photographs from the archives of Universal Studios plus interviews with cast and crew reveal the deepest, darkest secrets of the Munster family. Foreword by Yvonne DeCarlo (who played the wife, Lily Munster) and Afterword by Butch Patrick (who played the son, Eddie Munster) are included.

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A celebration of the life and films of one of the most popular and remarkable filmmakers of the last 30 years.

A truly international filmmaker, Tim Burton has carved a reputation as one of the world's greatest creative directors, famed for the visually arresting style of his films that combine with highly original storylines. This stunning treasury explores the influences on his development as a filmmaker and assesses how he has captured the fruits of his imagination on screen.

Illustrated with many behind-the-scenes photographs and stunning film stills, chapters analyze the success and style of films such as Beetlejuice, Ed Wood and Mars Attacks!, and examine how Burton breathed new life into well-known stories that include Batman, Planet of the Apes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. as well as his latest films Alice Through the Looking Glass, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and Beetlejuice 2.

Get to the know the man behind classic films such as  Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Brideand Alice in Wonderland and learn more about the iconic filmmaker and his work. A must for any film buffs!

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Dark Shadows by Harry M. Benshoff

While supernatural events have become fairly commonplace on daytime television in recent decades, Dark Shadows, which aired on ABC between 1966 and 1971, pioneered this format when it blended the vampires, werewolves, warlocks, and witches of fictional Collinsport, Maine, with standard soap opera fare like alcoholism, jealousy, and tangled love. In this volume, author Harry M. Benshoff examines Dark Shadows, both during its initial run and as an enduring cult phenomenon, to prove that the show was an important precursor-or even progenitor-of today's phenomenally popular gothic and fantasy media franchises like Twilight, Harry Potter, and True Blood.

Benshoff demonstrates that viewers of all ages responded to the haunted world of Dark Shadows, making unlikely stars out of the show's iconic characters-reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins, playboy werewolf Quentin Collins, vengeful witch Angelique DuVal, and vampire hunter Dr. Julia Hoffman. Benshoff explores the cultural and industrial contexts of the mid-1960s that gave rise to Dark Shadows and how the show adapted nineteenth-century gothic novels and twentieth-century horror films into a televised serial format. Benshoff also examines the unique aspects of the show's casting and performance modes, its allure as a camp cult text, and the function of the show's many secondary and tertiary texts-including novels, records, games, comic books, and the two feature films, House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971).

In the years since its cancellation, Dark Shadows' enduring popularity has led to a prime-time NBC remake in the early 1990s, recent talk of a Tim Burton and Johnny Depp feature film, and a popular ongoing fan convention. Benshoff's timely study of Dark Shadows will appeal to fans of the show and all film and television history scholars who are interested in the roots of one of today's most popular genres.

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The Dark Shadows Companion: 25th Anniversary Collection by Kathryn Leigh Scott

(Not available in the JCLC system) The timeless magic of Dark Shadows continues years after the first episode was presented on ABC - TV, June 27, 1966. The Dark Shadows Companion is a special 25th anniversary celebration of the show everyone "ran home from school to watch."

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When CBS cancelled Serling's series, The Twilight Zone, Serling sought a similar concept in Night Gallery in the early 1970s as a new forum for his brand of storytelling, a mosaic of classic horror and fantasy tales. In this work, the authors explore the genesis of the series and provide production detail and behind-the-scenes material. They offer critical commentary and off-screen anecdotes for every episode, complete cast and credit listings, and synopses of all 43 episodes. Also featured are interviews with television personalities including Roddy McDowall, John Astin, Richard Kiley and John Badham.

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J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon are two of the most imaginative and accomplished men in Hollywood. As writers, directors, producers, and series creators, their credits have straddled the mediums of television and film and range across several genres, from science fiction and horror to action and drama. In addition to spearheading original projects like Lost and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, each has also made his mark on some of the most successful franchises in popular culture—from Mission Impossible, Star Trek, and Star Wars (Abrams) to Alien and the Avengers (Whedon). Their output—both oddly similar and yet also wildly different—stand at the heart of twenty-first century film and television.

In J.J. Abrams vs. Joss Whedon, Wendy Sterba compares the parallel careers in film and television of these creative masterminds—pitting one against the other in a light-hearted competition. With in-depth discussions of their works, the author seeks to determine who is the Spielberg (or perhaps the Lucas) of the twenty-first century. The author looks back upon the beginnings of both men’s careers—to Whedon’s stint as a writer on Roseanne to Abrams’ early scripts for films like Regarding Henry—and forward to their most recent blockbusters, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This books also looks at non-fantasy successes (Abrams series Felicity; Whedon’s adaptation of Much Ado about Nothing), as well as commercial failures. At the heart of this study, however, is a tour of their genre-defining hits: Alias and Buffy, Lost and Angel, Super 8 and Serenity along with Whedon’s Avengers films, and Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek adventures.

Filled with sharp-eyed analysis, illuminating anecdotes, and unexpected connections, J.J. Abrams vs. Joss Whedon will appeal to fans of either (or both!) of its subjects, and to any fan of well-told tales of the fantastic, on screens large or small.

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In a career that has spanned more than sixty years Robert Wagner has witnessed the twilight of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the rise of television, becoming a beloved star in both media. During that time he became acquainted, both professionally and socially, with the remarkable women who were the greatest screen personalities of their day. I Loved Her in the Movies is his intimate and revealing account of the charisma of these women on film, why they became stars, and how their specific emotional and dramatic chemistries affected the choices they made as actresses as well as the choices they made as women.

Among Wagner’s subjects are Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson, Norma Shearer, Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, Irene Dunne, Rosalind Russell, Dorothy Lamour, Debra Paget, Jean Peters, Linda Darnell, Betty Hutton, Raquel Welch, Glenn Close, and the two actresses whom he ultimately married, Natalie Wood and Jill St. John. In addition to offering perceptive commentary on these women, Wagner also examines topics such as the strange alchemy of the camera—how it can transform the attractive into the stunning, and vice versa—and how the introduction of color brought a new erotic charge to movies, one that enabled these actresses to become aggressively sexual beings in a way that that black and white films had only hinted at.

Like Wagner’s two previous bestsellers, I Loved Her in the Movies is a privileged look behind the scenes at some of the most well-known women in show business as well as an insightful look at the sexual and romantic attraction that created their magic.

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Believe it or not, America's fascination with celebrity culture was thriving well before the days of TMZ, Perez Hilton, Charlie Sheen's breakdown and allegations against Woody Allen. And the stars of yesteryear? They weren’t always the saints that we make them out to be. BuzzFeed columnist Anne Helen Petersen is here to set the record straight with Scandals of Classic Hollywood. Pulling little-known gems from the archives of film history, Petersen reveals eyebrow-raising information, including:
   •  The smear campaign against the original It Girl, Clara Bow, started by her best friend
   •  The heartbreaking story of Montgomery Clift’s rapid rise to fame, the car accident that destroyed his face, and the “long suicide” that followed
   •  Fatty Arbuckle's descent from Hollywood royalty, fueled by allegations of a boozy orgy turned violent assault
   •  Why Mae West was arrested and jailed for "indecency charges"
   •  And much more
Part biography, part cultural history, these stories cover the stuff that films are made of: love, sex, drugs, illegitimate children, illicit affairs, and botched cover-ups. But it's not all just tawdry gossip in the pages of this book. The stories are all contextualized within the boundaries of film, cultural, political, and gender history, making for a read that will inform as it entertains. Based on Petersen's popular column on the Hairpin, but featuring 100% new content, Scandals of Classic Hollywood is sensationalism made smart.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Debut Novels


Upcoming programs:

-Yoga with Marie Blair every Tuesday 10:30-11:30am

-Tuesday April 17th at 6:30pm, Documentaries After Dark presents the film, “Harry and Snowman”
Dutch immigrant Harry DeLeyer journeyed to the United States after World War II and developed a transformative relationship with a broken down Amish plow horse he rescued off a slaughter truck that was bound for the glue factory. Harry paid eighty dollars for the horse and named him Snowman. In less than two years, Harry & Snowman went on to win the triple crown of show jumping, beating the nation's top pedigree horses and wealthiest socialites. They became famous and traveled around the world together. Their chance meeting at a Pennsylvania horse auction saved them both and crafted a friendship that lasted a lifetime. Eighty-six year old Harry tells their Cinderella love story firsthand, as he continues to train on today's show jumping circuit.

-Thursday April 19th at 6:30pm, UAB Neuroscience Café presents the latest research on stroke and aphasia

-Monday April 23rd at 6:30pm, Money Smart Week presents the film, “The Big Short”
Based on the true story of four outsiders who saw what the big banks, media, and government refused to: the global collapse of the economy. A bold investment leads them into the dark underbelly of banking, where everyone and everything is in question.

-Tuesday April 24th at 6:30pm, GRG returns with a discussion of books on TV & film

-Thursday April 26th at 6:30pm, Community Conversation on Aging presents eldercare financial planning
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This week, the Genre Reading Group met to discuss debut novels.  I love debut novels, an author’s first opportunity to make an impact and a statement, a chance to explore new stories, methods, and worlds!  This is a great group, with lots of variety from which to choose!

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My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE FINALIST
NBCC JOHN LEONARD PRIZE FINALIST
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES'S MOST NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2017
ONE OF THE WASHINGTON POST’S MOST NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2017
ONE OF NPR’S ‘GREAT READS’ OF 2017
A USA TODAY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
AN AMAZON.COM BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A BUSINESS INSIDER BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

"Impossible to put down." —NPR

"A novel that readers will gulp down, gasping.” —The Washington Post

"The word 'masterpiece' has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but My Absolute Darling absolutely is one." —Stephen King

A brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl's heart-stopping fight for her own soul.

Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle's escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.

Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.

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Motherest by Kristen Iskandrian

A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST BOOK OF 2017

Marrying the sharp insights of Jenny Offill with the dark humor of Maria Semple, MOTHEREST is an inventive and moving coming-of-age novel that captures the pain of fractured family life, the heat of new love, and the particular magic of the female friendship -- all through the lens of a fraying daughter-mother bond.

It's the early 1990s, and Agnes is running out of people she can count on. A new college student, she is caught between the broken home she leaves behind and the wilderness of campus life. What she needs most is her mother, who has seemingly disappeared, and her brother, who left the family tragically a few years prior.

As Agnes falls into new romance, mines female friendships for intimacy, and struggles to find her footing, she writes letters to her mother, both to conjure a closeness they never had and to try to translate her experiences to herself. When she finds out she is pregnant, Agnes begins to contend with what it means to be a mother and, in some ways, what it means to be your own mother.

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

One of English literature's classic masterpieces—a gripping novel of love, propriety, and tragedy.

Emily Brontë's only novel endures as a work of tremendous and far-reaching influence. Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, situated on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before. What unfolds is the tale of the intense love between the gypsy foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class. As Heathcliff's bitterness and vengeance at his betrayal is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past. 

And now, a musical interlude...


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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Few creatures of horror have seized readers' imaginations and held them for so long as the anguished monster of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The story of Victor Frankenstein's terrible creation and the havoc it caused has enthralled generations of readers and inspired countless writers of horror and suspense. Considering the novel's enduring success, it is remarkable that it began merely as a whim of Lord Byron's.

"We will each write a story," Byron announced to his next-door neighbors, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley. The friends were summering on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland in 1816, Shelley still unknown as a poet and Byron writing the third canto of Childe Harold. When continued rains kept them confined indoors, all agreed to Byron's proposal.
The illustrious poets failed to complete their ghost stories, but Mary Shelley rose supremely to the challenge. With Frankenstein, she succeeded admirably in the task she set for herself: to create a story that, in her own words, "would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror -- one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart."

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Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

“At once a scholar’s homage to The Iliad and startlingly original work of art by an incredibly talented new novelist….A book I could not put down.”
—Ann Patchett

“Mary Renault lives again!” declares Emma Donoghue, author of Room, referring to The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s thrilling, profoundly moving, and utterly unique retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War. A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, The Song of Achilles is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously conceived and executed page-turner, Miller’s monumental debut novel has already earned resounding acclaim from some of contemporary fiction’s brightest lights—and fans of Mary Renault, Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, and Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series will delight in this unforgettable journey back to ancient Greece in the Age of Heroes.

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Or did she?

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell―of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under -- maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that Esther's insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

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The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass

This is the story of Oskar Matzerath, a dwarfish hunchback detained in a mental hospital, convicted of a murder he did not commit. From his third birthday when he received a tin drum, it has become the means of his expression, allowing him to draw forth memories from his past as well as from the Nazi era. Oskar’s imaginative distortion and exaggeration of history reveals a startlingly true portrayal of the human situation.

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Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

WINNER OF THE JEWISH QUARTERLY WINGATE PRIZE

10 WOMEN TO WATCH IN 2017--BookPage

A New York Times Notable Book of 2017

After one night's deadly mistake, a man will go to any lengths to save his family and his reputation.

Neurosurgeon Eitan Green has the perfect life--married to a beautiful police officer and father of two young boys. Then, speeding along a deserted moonlit road after an exhausting hospital shift, he hits someone. Seeing that the man, an African migrant, is beyond help, he flees the scene.

When the victim's widow knocks at Eitan's door the next day, holding his wallet and divulging that she knows what happened, Eitan discovers that her price for silence is not money. It is something else entirely, something that will shatter Eitan's safe existence and take him into a world of secrets and lies he could never have anticipated.

WAKING LIONS is a gripping, suspenseful, and morally devastating drama of guilt and survival, shame and desire from a remarkable young author on the rise.

Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.

Praise for Interview with the Vampire

“A magnificent, compulsively readable thriller . . . Rice begins where Bram Stoker and the Hollywood versions leave off and penetrates directly to the true fascination of the myth–the education of the vampire.”—Chicago Tribune

“Unrelentingly erotic . . . sometimes beautiful, and always unforgettable.”—Washington Post

“If you surrender and go with her . . . you have surrendered to enchantment, as in a voluptuous dream.”—Boston Globe

“A chilling, thought-provoking tale, beautifully frightening, sensuous, and utterly unnerving.”—Hartford Courant


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

adventure travel and exploration


Upcoming programs:

Thursday, March 8 – UAB Neuroscience Café discussing the latest research on epilepsy, 6:30pm

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Tuesday, March 20 – Documentaries After Dark presents “Art and Craft,” 6:30pm

(Rotten Tomatoes) Mark Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. His impressive body of work spans thirty years, covering multiple styles and periods. And while the copies could fetch impressive sums on the open market, Landis isn't in it for money, but instead donates his fakes to museums across the country. When Matthew Leininger, a tenacious registrar in Cincinnati, discovers the ruse and organizes an exhibition of the work, Landis must confront his legacy and a chorus of museum professionals clamoring for him to stop. However, it's not so clear that he can. Landis is a diagnosed schizophrenic whose elaborate con is also a means to cultivate connection and respect - feeding what he now understands as an outright "addiction to philanthropy." ART AND CRAFT starts out as an art caper, rooted in questions of authorship and authenticity. What emerges is an unflinching exploration of life with mental illness and the universal need for community, appreciation, and purpose. (C) Oscilloscope



Friday, March 23 – Standing Room Only presents a beer & cheese tasting, ages 21+ only and registration required, 6pm (amandaw@bham.lib.al.us or 205-445-1119)

Sunday, March 25 – Organizational meeting for the library’s newest book group, Lost & Found, discussing lost 20th century classics, 6:30pm.  Contact Gregory for more information at gtlowry@bham.lib.al.us.

Tuesday, March 27 – Genre Reading Group is back, discussing debut novels, 6:30pm


This week, GRG met to discuss books on exploration and adventure travel.  From space, to jungle, to the lightless depths of the Marianas Trench’s Challenger Deep, we discussed them all!

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Jungle of Stone: The True Story of Two Men, Their Extraordinary Journey, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya by William Carlsen

In 1839, rumors of extraordinary yet baffling stone ruins buried within the unmapped jungles of Central America reached two of the world’s most intrepid travelers. Seized by the reports, American diplomat John Lloyd Stephens and British artist Frederick Catherwood—both already celebrated for their adventures in Egypt, the Holy Land, Greece, and Rome—sailed together out of New York Harbor on an expedition into the forbidding rainforests of present-day Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. What they found would upend the West’s understanding of human history.
In the tradition of Lost City of Z and In the Kingdom of Ice, former San Francisco Chronicle journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist William Carlsen reveals the remarkable story of the discovery of the ancient Maya. Enduring disease, war, and the torments of nature and terrain, Stephens and Catherwood meticulously uncovered and documented the remains of an astonishing civilization that had flourished in the Americas at the same time as classic Greece and Rome—and had been its rival in art, architecture, and power. Their masterful book about the experience, written by Stephens and illustrated by Catherwood, became a sensation, hailed by Edgar Allan Poe as “perhaps the most interesting book of travel ever published” and recognized today as the birth of American archaeology. Most important, Stephens and Catherwood were the first to grasp the significance of the Maya remains, understanding that their antiquity and sophistication overturned the West’s assumptions about the development of civilization.
By the time of the flowering of classical Greece (400 b.c.), the Maya were already constructing pyramids and temples around central plazas. Within a few hundred years the structures took on a monumental scale that required millions of man-hours of labor, and technical and organizational expertise. Over the next millennium, dozens of city-states evolved, each governed by powerful lords, some with populations larger than any city in Europe at the time, and connected by road-like causeways of crushed stone. The Maya developed a cohesive, unified cosmology, an array of common gods, a creation story, and a shared artistic and architectural vision. They created stucco and stone monuments and bas reliefs, sculpting figures and hieroglyphs with refined artistic skill. At their peak, an estimated ten million people occupied the Maya’s heartland on the Yucatan Peninsula, a region where only half a million now live. And yet by the time the Spanish reached the “New World,” the Maya had all but disappeared; they would remain a mystery for the next three hundred years.
Today, the tables are turned: the Maya are justly famous, if sometimes misunderstood, while Stephens and Catherwood have been nearly forgotten. Based on Carlsen’s rigorous research and his own 1,500-mile journey throughout the Yucatan and Central America, Jungle of Stone is equally a thrilling adventure narrative and a revelatory work of history that corrects our understanding of Stephens, Catherwood, and the Maya themselves.




















The Pacific Tourist: Willimas' Illlustrated Guide to Pacific RR California and Pleasure Resorts Across the Continent by Henry T. Williams (published in 1876, seven years after the transcontinental railroad was completed)
I bought this in an antique mall some years ago and it is one of my prized possessions.  It's not wildly valuable, but I love having it. The preface states that "This volume represents over nine months' actual time spent in personal travel - over 2,500 miles - getting with faithfulness all possible facts of interest and the latest information. Over 40 artists, engravers and correspondents have been employed, and the whole represents an outlay of nearly $20,000: thus making it not only the most elaborate, but the costliest and handsomest Guide Book in the world." The book commences with a chapter on The Pacific Railroad, "America's Greatest Wonder," and then goes on to provide information on towns and sights in: "California, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Montana, the mines and mining of the territories, the lands of the Pacific Coast..." etc etc featuring information on "Pleasure Resorts and Places of Most Noted Scenery in the Far West, All Cities, Towns, Villages, U.S. Forts, Springs, Lakes, Mountains, Routes of Summer Travel, Best Localities for Hunting, Fishing, Sporting." A fascinating glimpse of the American West at the moment that railroad links from the East Coast were making it a tourist, as well as a settlement, destination."

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The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage by Anthony Brandt
After the triumphant end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the British took it upon themselves to complete something they had been trying to do since the sixteenth century: find the fabled Northwest Passage. For the next thirty-five years the British Admiralty sent out expedition after expedition to probe the ice-bound waters of the Canadian Arctic in search of a route, and then, after 1845, to find Sir John Franklin, the Royal Navy hero who led the last of these Admiralty expeditions. Enthralling and often harrowing, The Man Who Ate His Boots captures the glory and the folly of this ultimately tragic enterprise.

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Oxford Atlas of Exploration
From the ancient Polynesians who struck out across the vast Pacific in dug-out canoes with only the stars to guide them, to the Victorian missionaries and adventurers who opened the way for European colonial expansion, and the intrepid scientists of our own time, explorers have long tested their courage in an uncharted world. 

The Atlas of Exploration, now in an updated Second Edition, is a splendidly illustrated and authoritative history of these bold adventures. With a vivid and informative text, supported by nearly 100 specially drawn maps and 300 photographs and illustrations, it traces these journeys of discovery from the earliest recorded trips, ranging from the time of the Phoenicians' voyages in the North Atlantic through the launch of the first Pluto explorer. We follow Cortes in Mexico, La Salle on the Mississippi, Darwin in the Galapagos Islands, James Cook in the Antarctic, and many others. In each section, graphic relief maps highlight the main routes of exploration, while photographs, paintings and engravings brilliantly capture the variety of terrain through which these courageous men and women passed. Also included are maps from different historical periods which reveal cartographers' growing knowledge of the shape of the world's continents and oceans. The final section of the atlas, thoroughly updated and expanded, covers many of the discoveries of the last decade. The Second Edition also contains new biographical details on many great explorers, geographers, and cartographers, plus a revised time chart which summarizes the history of exploration over 5000 years.

From the High Andes to the ocean depths, from the Sahara desert to the outer planets, The Atlas of Exploration allows us to rediscover the extraordinary journeys of humanity. Opening its pages is taking the first step on a grand adventure.

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James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge
As a boy, filmmaker James Cameron dreamed of a journey to the deepest part of the ocean. This film is the dramatic fulfillment of that dream. It chronicles Cameron's solo dive to the depths of the Mariana Trench-nearly seven miles beneath the ocean's surface-piloting a submersible he designed himself. The risks were astounding. The footage is breathtaking. JAMES CAMERON'S DEEPSEA CHALLENGE is a celebration of science, courage, and extraordinary human aspiration.


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Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures by Karen Bush Gibson
When Valentina Tereshkova blasted off aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963, she became the first woman to rocket into space. It would be 19 years before another woman got a chance—cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982—followed by American astronaut Sally Ride a year later. By breaking the stratospheric ceiling, these women forged a path for many female astronauts, cosmonauts, and mission specialists to follow.
Women in Space profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.

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Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart by Tim Butcher
Published to rave reviews in the United Kingdom and named a Richard & Judy Book Club selection—the only work of nonfiction on the 2008 list—Blood River is the harrowing and audacious story of Tim Butcher's journey in the Congo and his retracing of renowned explorer H. M. Stanley's famous 1874 expedition in which he mapped the Congo River. When Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher was sent to Africa in 2000 he quickly became obsessed with the legendary Congo River and the idea of re-creating Stanley's legendary journey along the three-thousand-mile waterway. Despite warnings that his plan was suicidal, Butcher set out for the Congo's eastern border with just a rucksack and a few thousand dollars hidden in his boots. Making his way in an assortment of vehicles, including a motorbike and a dugout canoe, helped along by a cast of characters from UN aid workers to a pygmy-rights advocate, he followed in the footsteps of the great Victorian adventurers. An utterly absorbing narrative that chronicles Tim Butcher's forty-four-day journey along the Congo River, Blood River is an unforgettable story of exploration and survival.

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The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
The spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica.

It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? There wouldn’t be another encounter with an unknown this magnificent until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

Everyone wanted in on the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered the planning’s every stage. And then, the night before the expedition’s flagship set off, Billy Gawronski—a mischievous, first-generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business—jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard.

Could he get away with it?

From the soda shops of New York’s Lower East Side to the dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Stowaway takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a plucky young stowaway who became a Jazz Age celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps era.

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Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis
On June 6, 1924, two men set out from a camp perched at 23,000 feet on an ice ledge just below the lip of Mount Everest’s North Col. George Mallory, thirty-seven, was Britain’s finest climber. Sandy Irvine was a young Oxford scholar of twenty-two with little previous mountaineering experience. Neither of them returned. 
 
In this magisterial work of history and adventure, based on more than a decade of prodigious research in British, Canadian, and European archives, and months in the field in Nepal and Tibet, Wade Davis vividly re-creates British climbers’ epic attempts to scale Mount Everest in the early 1920s. With new access to letters and diaries, Davis recounts the heroic efforts of George Mallory and his fellow climbers to conquer the mountain in the face of treacherous terrain and furious weather. Into the Silencesets their remarkable achievements in sweeping historical context: Davis shows how the exploration originated in nineteenth-century imperial ambitions, and he takes us far beyond the Himalayas to the trenches of World War I, where Mallory and his generation found themselves and their world utterly shattered.  In the wake of the war that destroyed all notions of honor and decency, the Everest expeditions, led by these scions of Britain’s elite, emerged as a symbol of national redemption and hope.
 
Beautifully written and rich with detail, Into the Silence is a classic account of exploration and endurance, and a timeless portrait of an extraordinary generation of adventurers, soldiers, and mountaineers the likes of which we will never see again.

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Sir John Ross’s Second Expedition to the Arctic
We especially enjoyed seeing the images and maps in these two beautiful volumes of Sir John Ross's account of his second attempt to find the Northwest Passage.  Explore the images for yourself in the University of Glasgow's Special Collections by clicking here.