Thursday, February 23, 2017

biographical fiction

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, March 28th at 6:30pm and the topic up for discussion will be the Victorian age.  If you didn’t get a chance to pick a book yet, there’s a great display out at the 2nd floor reference desk! 

We have several great programs coming up soon and  I hope you have room for them on your social calendar!

Friends Booksale Preview Party
Thursday, February 23, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Wine and Cheese
Friends Members Only

Friends Booksale open to the public:

Friday, February 24, 10a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 25, 10a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 26, 1p.m. to 4p.m.
Basement books: $10/bag on Sunday
Upstairs books: Half price on Sunday

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Disney Vacation Planning
Sunday, March 5th 2:00 p.m.
Local resident and Disney travel agent Lisa Cross will visit this afternoon with a presentation on planning a Disney vacation. We will learn the ins and outs of making hotel, park, and meal reservations.

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UAB NEUROSCIENCE CAFÉ
Substance Abuse & Addiction: Thursday, March 9  6:30pm
Join us for this partnership with UAB's Comprehensive Neuroscience Center.

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Retirement Party
Library Director Sue DeBrecht is retiring!  Celebrate with her on Sunday, March 12, from 2 to 4 pm.

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STANDING ROOM ONLY PRESENTS: AN EVENING WITH THE AUTHOR PATRICK DEWITT
Saturday, March 18 7:00pm
$20, Tickets available for purchase Feb. 1 at the Library or online.
Click here to purchase tickets online.
Join us for an evening with Patrick deWitt, acclaimed author of The Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor.

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An Evening With The Author: Marian Blumenthal Lazan
Wednesday, March 22 6:30pm

The Emmet O’Neal Library is pleased to announce an Evening With the Author event with Marian Blumenthal Lazan, best-selling author of Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story. Please join us for this rare opportunity to hear a survivor share her compelling Holocaust experience, as well as her life lessons learned. Mrs. Lazan will discuss her memoir, Four Perfect Pebbles, co-written with Lila Perl. The book will be available for purchase and gladly signed by Mrs. Lazan. 

Ms. Lazan will speak at 6:30 p.m. in the Library Meeting Room.  Tickets are required, but the event is free. Please call the Emmet O’Neal Library Adult Department for more information or for tickets at 205-445-1121.

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Bib & Tucker Sew Op quilting event
Thursday, March 30 6:30pm
Bib & Tucker Sew-Op will host an open sewing session at Emmet O’Neal Library this month as part of year three of The March Quilts: a community art project. This year's theme is the 50th anniversary of the Loving V. Virginia Supreme Court ruling that knocked down Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws in response to the marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving. Facilitators will be on hand to help make quilt blocks and no sewing experience is necessary. For more information about the project, visit www.bibandtuckersewop.org/the-march-quilts.html or www.facebook.com/themarchquilts.

This week, GRG met to discuss biographical fiction, which are novels featuring fictional accounts of real people and/or events.

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The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A thrilling novel based on actual events, about the nature of genius, the cost of ambition, and the battle to electrify America—from the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game and author of The Sherlockian

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST • SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING EDDIE REDMAYNE

New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history—and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society—the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal—private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?

In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.

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Based on the true story of Matt Bondurant's grandfather and two granduncles, The Wettest County in the World is a gripping tale of brotherhood, greed, and murder. The Bondurant Boys were a notorious gang of roughnecks and moonshiners who ran liquor through Franklin County, Virginia, during Prohibition and in the years after. Forrest, the eldest brother, is fierce, mythically indestructible, and the consummate businessman; Howard, the middle brother, is an ox of a man besieged by the horrors he witnessed in the Great War; and Jack, the youngest, has a taste for luxury and a dream to get out of Franklin. Driven and haunted, these men forge a business, fall in love, and struggle to stay afloat as they watch their family die, their father's business fail, and the world they know crumble beneath the Depression and drought.

White mule, white lightning, firewater, popskull, wild cat, stump whiskey, or rotgut -- whatever you called it, Franklin County was awash in moonshine in the 1920s. When Sherwood Anderson, the journalist and author of Winesburg, Ohio, was covering a story there, he christened it the "wettest county in the world." In the twilight of his career, Anderson finds himself driving along dusty red roads trying to find the Bondurant brothers, piece together the clues linking them to "The Great Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy," and break open the silence that shrouds Franklin County.
In vivid, muscular prose, Matt Bondurant brings these men -- their dark deeds, their long silences, their deep desires -- to life. His understanding of the passion, violence, and desperation at the center of this world is both heartbreaking and magnificent.

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Lawless (DVD)
Director John Hillcoat and writer-musician Nick Cave made a brutal, brilliant splash with The Proposition, a revisionist Outback Western that quickly tore away any lingering notions of frontier romanticism. Lawless, the duo's take on another turbulent period of history--namely, the bloodiest years of America's Prohibition--eases up on the unrelenting grimness a bit, but the hard edges still shine through. Adapted from the historical novel The Wettest County in the World, by Matt Bondurant, Cave's script follows three Virginia brothers determined to continue their family's legacy of providing quality moonshine to their faithful customers (including members of local law enforcement) during the Great Depression. While the youngest brother (Shia LaBeouf) attempts to gain the business of a feared local mobster (Gary Oldman), the three find themselves under assault from a ruthless federal agent (Guy Pearce) with a sadistic agenda of his own. Hillcoat, working with cinematographer Benoît Delhomme, delivers a fantastically realized period piece, one where the folksy, lived-in atmosphere is randomly dispelled by moments of shockingly raw savagery. Unfortunately, the attention to detail doesn't quite extend itself to LaBeouf's character, whose motivations and actions feel strangely half-baked throughout. Still, even if the main storyline occasionally falters, the film offers plenty to recommend itself, including Cave's ominously cheery score, small but vivid turns by Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska, and the gloriously weird Pearce, who starts his performance somewhere in the outer stratosphere and just keeps heading upwards. The main draw of Lawless, however, ultimately comes from Tom Hardy, who goes all out and then some as the enforcer and reluctant father figure of the family. Clad in incongruously mellow cardigans and mumbling like a cartoon sailor man, he's a Terminator for the ages. When it comes to his performance, White Lightning hardly covers it. --Andrew Wright

GENERAL DISCUSSION:

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN"
"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist
"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal
"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

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The revolution came when we weren't looking. It happened in a garage. In a dorm room. In countless hours of effort, imagining and intrigue. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates were changing the way the world works, lives and communicates. The event-packed saga of the quirky visionaries who jump-started the future unfolds with exhilarating, cutting-edge style in Pirates of Silicon Valley. Noah Wyle (ER) portrays Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall (The Dead Zone) portrays Gates in this chronicle of the fierce and often humorous battle to rule the fledgling personal computer empire. "The story is almost Shakespearean... it's a tale of lust, greed, ambition, love and hate," writer/director Martyn Burke reflects. And it's a success story unlike any other.

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Steve Jobs (DVD)
Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter. Steve Jobs is directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle and written by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin, working from Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of the Apple founder. The producers are Mark Gordon, Guymon Casady of Film 360, Scott Rudin, Boyle and Academy Award winner Christian Colson. Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs, the pioneering founder of Apple, with Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet starring as Joanna Hoffman, former marketing chief of Macintosh. Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple, is played by Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels stars as former Apple CEO John Sculley. The film also stars Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan, Jobs’ ex-girlfriend, and Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original members of the Apple Macintosh development team.

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This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves The Clan of the Cave Bear.

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly--she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

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Quest for Fire is so detailed in its depiction of prehistoric man that it might have been made by time-traveling filmmakers. Instead it's a bold and timeless experiment by visionary director Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear), inviting scientific debate while presenting a fascinating, imaginary glimpse of humankind some 80,000 years ago. Using diverse locations in Kenya, Scotland, and Canada, Annaud tells the purely visual story of five tribes (some more advanced than others) who depend on fire for survival. They "steal" fire from nature, but the actual creation of fire remains elusive, lending profound mystery and majesty to the film's climactic, real-time display of fire-making ingenuity. Employing primitive language created by novelist Anthony Burgess and body language choreographed by anthropologist Desmond Morris, a unique ensemble of actors push the envelope of their profession, succeeding where they easily could've failed. They're carnal, violent, funny, curious, and intelligent; through them, and through the eons, we can recognize ourselves. --Jeff Shannon

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Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Aviator’s Wife returns with a triumphant new novel about New York’s “Swans” of the 1950s—and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley.

People’s Book of the Week • USA Today’s #1 “New and Noteworthy” Book • Entertainment Weekly’s Must List • LibraryReads Top Ten Pick

Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends—the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a prestigious husband, and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman—a woman desperately longing for true love and connection.

Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan’s elite, along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe’s powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls “True Heart,” Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller—even when the stories aren’t his to tell.

Truman’s fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he’ll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years. The Swans of Fifth Avenue will seduce and startle readers as it opens the door onto one of America’s most sumptuous eras.

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The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
In the spirit of Loving Frank and The ParisWife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

“The history [is] exhilarating. . . . The Aviator’s Wife soars.”—USA Today

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

When Anne Morrow, a shy college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family, she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong. Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. In the years that follow, Anne becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States. But despite this and other major achievements, she is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.

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Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck
“[A] haunting and beautifully atmospheric novel...brilliantly brings Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald to life in all their doomed beauty, with compelling and unforgettable results.”—Alex George, author of Setting Free the Kites

From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity.

When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, the famous writer, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard. Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda’s most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius. But in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended...

GENERAL DISCUSSION:
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Z: The Beginning of Everything (streaming on Amazon Prime)
"Z: The Beginning of Everything" tells the story of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, the brilliant, beautiful Southern Belle who became the original flapper and icon of the wild, flamboyant Jazz Age.”

According to nameberry.com:  Meaning of Zelda: "gray fighting maid" Origin of Zelda: Diminutive of Griselda Meaning of Griselda: "grey battle" Origin of Griselda: German

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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bookies February Discussion: Hillbilly Elegy

Image result for hillbilly elegy national book awardThe Bookies met today to discuss J.D. Vance's memoir Hillbilly Elegy.  The book has been increasingly popular in the past few months, so many of us had trouble getting a copy. Vance was nominated for the Kirkus Prize and has received praise from all corners of the world for his memoir which relates the story of the author's family and their struggles as an upwardly mobile family in an increasingly hardscrabble part of the world - rural Appalachia. 

At this morning's discussion many readers compared his work to Rick Bragg's book Ava's Man

Another book group member noted that the author was interviewed on CSPAN's show Q&A on Sunday evening. That episode can be found here! 

We discussed the differences in culture and upbringing that were related in the book. Many of us could identify with some of what was related in the memoir. Mrs. P, one of our Bookies, said that she liked the way Vance incorporated research and data to support the story without being pedantic. Later, the same Bookies member recommended John Grisham's Gray Mountain, which, although fiction, relates some of the same kind of story. The main characters in the book are coal miners recently laid off who have to contend with lack of insurance and jobs while battling illnesses brought on by their work in the mines. Mrs. P. said she enjoyed the book and learned a lot!

In other news, Mrs. L. recommended a Martin Cruz Smith novel called Red Square which she said seemed to "pick up" where last month's book, A Gentlaman In Moscow, left off. 

Our meeting rounded out with calls for next month's book Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.Image result for Commonwealth: A Novel 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

climate science

Mark your calendars!

--Sunday, February 5th at 2pm, the final film in The Holocaust in Film series, “The People vs. Fritz Bauer"

--Our February GRG meeting is one Tuesday early this month on February 21st at 6:30pm and the topic up for discussion is biographical fiction.  There is a selection of this genre on display at the 2nd floor reference desk.

--The Friends of the Library annual Book Sale is the last weekend of the month.  The invite-only preview party is Thursday, February 23 @ 6pm.  Didn’t receive an invitation?  No worries!  You can join the Friends at the door for a $25 donation.  The sale opens to the public Friday-Saturday, 10am-5pm, and Sunday 1pm-4pm. 

This month, we discussed books on climate science.  The conversation was lively!

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WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST

A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes.

Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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We humans are the God species, both the creators and destroyers of life on this planet. As we enter a new geological era - the Anthropocene - our collective power now overwhelms and dominates the major forces of nature.

But from the water cycle to the circulation of nitrogen and carbon through the entire Earth system, we are coming dangerously close to destroying the planetary life-support systems that sustain us. In this controversial new book, Royal Society Science Books Prize winner Mark Lynas shows us how we must use our new mastery over nature to save the planet from ourselves.

Taking forward the work of a brilliant new group of Earth-system scientists who have mapped out our real 'planetary boundaries', Lynas draws up a radical manifesto calling for the increased use of environmentally-friendly technologies like genetic engi- neering and nuclear power as part of a global effort to use humanity's best tools to protect and nurture the biosphere.

Ecological limits are real, but economic limits are not, Lynas contends. We can and must feed a richer population of nine billion people in decades to come, whilst also respecting the nine planetary boundaries - from biodiversity to ocean acidification - now identified and quantified by scientists.

Ripping up years of environmental orthodoxy, he reveals how the prescriptions of the current green movement are likely to hinder as much as help our vitally-needed effort to use science and technology to play God and save the planet.

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The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core “free market” ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.

In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.

In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.

Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.

Can we pull off these changes in time? Nothing is certain. Nothing except that climate change changes everything. And for a very brief time, the nature of that change is still up to us.

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Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World by Charles HRH The Prince of Wales
For the first time, His Royal Highness Charles, the Prince of Wales, shares his views on how mankind’s most pressing modern challenges are rooted in our disharmony with nature. In the vein of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Van Jones’ Green Collar Economy, Prince Charles presents the compelling case that solutions to our most dire crises—from climate change to poverty—lie in regaining a balance with the world around us.

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GENERAL DISCUSSION: Prince Charles’ new book, “Climate Change: A Ladybird Expert Book,” came out last month. 
Climate Change is the first book of a new series of titles written for an adult readership and produced in the same iconic small hardback format pioneered by the original Ladybirds.

Written by some of the leading lights and outstanding communicators in their fields, the Ladybird Expert books provide clear, accessible and authoritative introductions, informed by expert opinion, to subjects drawn from science, history and culture.

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Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverberated powerfully throughout the world, and her eloquent book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.  

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Global Weirdness summarizes everything we know about the science of climate change, explains what is likely to happen to the climate in the future, and lays out, in practical terms, what we can do to avoid further shifts. In fifty easy-to-read entries, Climate Central tackles basic questions such as: 

-Is climate ever “normal”?
-Why and how do fossil-fuel burning and other human practices produce greenhouse gases?
-What natural forces have caused climate change in the past?
-What risks does climate change pose for human health?
-What accounts for the diminishment of mountain glaciers and small ice caps around the world since 1850?
-What are the economic costs and benefits of reducing carbon emissions?

Illustrated throughout with clarifying graphics, Global Weirdness enlarges our understanding of how climate change affects our daily lives, and arms us with the incontrovertible facts we need to make informed decisions about the future of the planet, and of humankind.

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The past fifteen thousand years-the entire span of human civilization-have witnessed dramatic sea level changes, which began with rapid global warming at the end of the Ice Age, when coastlines were more than seven hundred feet below modern levels. Over the next ten millennia, the oceans climbed in fits and starts. These rapid changes had little effect on those humans who experienced them, partly because there were so few people on earth, and also because those people were able to adjust readily to new coastlines.

Global sea levels stabilized about six thousand years ago, except for local adjustments that caused often significant changes to places such as the Nile Delta. The curve of inexorably rising seas flattened out as urban civilizations developed in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and South Asia. The earth's population boomed, quintupling from the time of Christ to the Industrial Revolution. The threat from the oceans increased with our crowding along shores to live, fish, and trade.

Since 1860, the world has warmed significantly and the ocean's climb has accelerated. The sea level changes are cumulative and gradual; no one knows when they will end. The Attacking Ocean, from celebrated author Brian Fagan, tells a tale of the rising complexity of the relationship between humans and the sea at their doorsteps, a complexity created not by the oceans, which have changed little. What has changed is us, and the number of us on earth.

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Is it more environmentally friendly to ride the bus or drive a hybrid car? In a public washroom, should you dry your hands with paper towel or use the air dryer? And how bad is it really to eat bananas shipped from South America? Climate change is upon us whether we like it or not. 

Managing our carbon usage has become a part of everyday life and we have no choice but to live in a carbon-careful world. The seriousness of the challenge is getting stronger, demanding that we have a proper understanding of the carbon implications of our everyday lifestyle decisions. However most of us don't have sufficient understanding of carbon emissions to be able to engage in this intelligently. 

Part green-lifestyle guide, part popular science, How Bad Are Bananas? is the first book to provide the information we need to make carbon-savvy purchases and informed lifestyle choices, and to build carbon considerations into our everyday thinking. It also helps put our decisions into perspective with entries for the big things (the World Cup, volcanic eruptions, and the Iraq war) as well as the small (email, ironing a shirt, a glass of beer). And it covers the range from birth (the carbon footprint of having a child) to death (the carbon impact of cremation). Packed full of surprises-a plastic bag has the smallest footprint of any item listed, while a block of cheese is bad news-the book continuously informs, delights, and engages the reader. 

Highly accessible and entertaining, solidly researched and referenced, packed full of easily digestible figures, catchy statistics, and informative charts and graphs, How Bad Are Bananas? is doesn't tell people what to do, but it will raise awareness, encourage discussion, and help people to make up their own minds based on their own priorities.

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Rotten Ice: Traveling by Dogsled in the Melting Arctic by Gretel Ehrlich (Harper’s: April 2015 issue)
Since 1993, Gretel Ehrlich has made several trips to northwestern Greenland, more than 500 miles above the Arctic Circle.  There, she formed friendships with Inuit subsistence hunters in Qaanaaq with whom she lived and hunted on sea ice for months at a time.

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Erin was a divorced mother struggling to raise three kids on $800 a month when she set off the investigation that forced a utility company to pay $333 million for leaking a known carcinogen into the water supply of a small California town. She was rewarded with a surprise $2 million dollar bonus for her efforts, but the real pay-offs were the respect she earned, the self-esteem she built, and the knowledge that she could accomplish anything by calling on her inner strength. Thanks to the movie of her David versus Goliath struggle and victory, Brockovich is now famous, but still fighting. She's currently researching numerous new toxicpollution cases. "We're going to make a difference," she says, "I absolutely believe that."  In Take It From Me!, Erin herself provides readers with the motivational strategies and tactics that led her to find her inner strength and teaches readers how to use their own inner strength for amazing success. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

recommended reading

The next Genre Reading Group meeting will be on Tuesday, January 31st at 6:30pm in the Library’s conference room and the topic up for discussion will be climate science.  If you’re uncertain where to start, there is a selection of nonfiction titles and documentary films available to choose from at the 2nd floor reference desk.

GRG met this week for one of our biannual Salons and it was a boisterous discussion!

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The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends—the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a prestigious husband, and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman—a woman desperately longing for true love and connection.

Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan’s elite, along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe’s powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls “True Heart,” Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller—even when the stories aren’t his to tell.

Truman’s fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he’ll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years. The Swans of Fifth Avenue will seduce and startle readers as it opens the door onto one of America’s most sumptuous eras.

In 1995, Iowa native Bill Bryson took a motoring trip around Britain to explore that green and pleasant land. The uproarious book that resulted, Notes from a Small Island, is one of the most acute portrayals of the United Kingdom ever written. Two decades later, Bryson—now a British citizen—set out again to rediscover his adopted country. In these pages, he follows a straight line through the island—from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath—and shows us every pub, stone village, and human foible along the way.

Whether he is dodging cow attacks in Torcross, getting lost in the H&M on Kensington High Street, or—more seriously—contemplating the future of the nation’s natural wonders in the face of aggressive development, Bryson guides us through the old and the new with vivid detail and laugh-out-loud humor. Irreverent, endearing, and always hilarious, The Road to Little Dribbling is filled with Bill Bryson’s deep knowledge and love of his chosen home.

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The Whistler by John Grisham
We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice. But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.

Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption. But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.

What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.  But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.  Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.
          
Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

In the winter of 1885, decorated war hero Colonel Allen Forrester leads a small band of men on an expedition that has been deemed impossible: to venture up the Wolverine River and pierce the vast, untamed Alaska Territory. Leaving behind Sophie, his newly pregnant wife, Colonel Forrester records his extraordinary experiences in hopes that his journal will reach her if he doesn't return--once he passes beyond the edge of the known world, there's no telling what awaits him.

The Wolverine River Valley is not only breathtaking and forbidding but also terrifying in ways that the colonel and his men never could have imagined. As they map the territory and gather information on the native tribes, whose understanding of the natural world is unlike anything they have ever encountered, Forrester and his men discover the blurred lines between human and wild animal, the living and the dead. And while the men knew they would face starvation and danger, they cannot escape the sense that some greater, mysterious force threatens their lives.

Meanwhile, on her own at Vancouver Barracks, Sophie chafes under the social restrictions and yearns to travel alongside her husband. She does not know that the winter will require as much of her as it does her husband, that both her courage and faith will be tested to the breaking point. Can her exploration of nature through the new art of photography help her to rediscover her sense of beauty and wonder?

The truths that Allen and Sophie discover over the course of that fateful year change both of their lives--and the lives of those who hear their stories long after they're gone--forever. 

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The Second Winter by Craig Larsen
Set in Denmark in the darkest days of World War II, The Second Winter is a cinematic novel that, in its vivid portrayal of a family struggling to survive the German occupation, both captures a savage moment in history and exposes the violence and want inherent in a father's love.

It is 1941. In occupied Denmark, an uneasy relationship between the Danish government and the Germans allows the country to function under the protection of Hitler’s army, while Danish resistance fighters wage a bloody, covert battle against the Nazis. Fredrik Gregersen, a brutish, tormented caretaker of a small farm in Jutland laboring to keep his son and daughter fed, profits from helping Jewish fugitives cross the border into Sweden. Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, Polina, a young refugee from Krakow, finds herself impressed into prostitution by Germans and Danes alike. When Fredrik steals a precious necklace from a helpless family of Jews, his own family’s fate becomes intertwined with Polina’s, triggering a ripple effect that will take decades and the fall of the Berlin Wall to culminate.

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.  From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

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Napoleon’s Last Island by Thomas Keneally
The bestselling author of Schindler’s List and The Daughters of Mars returns with a remarkable novel about the friendship between a quick-witted young woman and one of history’s most intriguing figures, Napoleon Bonaparte, during the final years of his life in exile on St. Helena—hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “insightful and nimble...consistently fresh and engaging...call[ing] to mind the giants of 19th century fiction.”

In October 1815, after losing the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte was banished to the island of Saint Helena. There, in one of the most remote places on earth, he lived out the final six years of his life. On this lonely island with no chance of escape, he found an unexpected ally: a spirited British girl named Betsy Balcombe who lived on the island with her family. While Napoleon waited for his own accommodations to be built, the Balcombe family played host to the infamous exile, a decision that would have devastating consequences for them all.

In Napoleon’s Last Island, “master of character development and period detail” (Kirkus Reviews) Thomas Keneally recreates Betsy’s powerful and complex friendship with the man dubbed The Great Ogre, her enmities and alliances with his remaining courtiers, and her dramatic coming-of-age. Bringing a shadowy period of history to life with a brilliant attention to detail, Keneally tells the untold story of one of Europe’s most enigmatic, charismatic, and important figures, and the ordinary British family who dared to forge a connection with him.

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The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg
Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town’s Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s own Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.

Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.

With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town’s Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.

In 1969, while a cultural revolution swept through the free world, there was still one place that refused to change with the times: newsrooms. Good Girls Revolt follows a group of young female researchers at "News of the Week," who ask to be treated fairly. Their revolutionary request sparks convulsive changes and upends marriages, careers, sex lives, love lives, and friendships. Based on the book The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich.

A bio-series of the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Southern Belle turned flapper, writer and icon of modern feminism. Starting right before Zelda meets unpublished writer F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1918, Z dives into the fascinating life of a woman ahead of her time and the story of the most famous, and infamous, couple of the Roaring 1920s.

A riveting portrayal of one of the most dramatic and turbulent times in English history. A story of love and lust, seduction and deception, betrayal and murder, it is uniquely told through the perspective of three different, yet equally relentless women - Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville. In their quest for power, they will scheme, manipulate and seduce their way onto the English throne.  A sequel series is in production, titled The White Princess.  Based on novels in Phillippa Gregory’s Cousins' War series of novels.

The true story of novelist William Faulkner's heartwarming relationship with a young boy named Bobby Little, who grew up in Oxford, Mississippi. The book opens with Faulkner taking the five-year-old Bobby up in his airplane. They fly just above the treetops over Oxford, over the Ole Miss campus, and over the surrounding countryside giving the young boy a wondrous view of the world laid out before him.

In the years that followed, Faulkner taught Bobby not only how to fly the plane, but perhaps more importantly, how to view the world in a unique way.  The William Faulkner that Bobby Little came to know and love through the years is quite a different character than the one put forth in academic manuals about the author s life. Above the Treetops presents the real William Faulkner - the flesh and blood character who, despite all his eccentricities and weaknesses, was a kind, caring, and adventurous soul, especially as seen through the eyes of an admiring child.

Award-winning author Jack Sacco interviewed Dr. Bobby Little now a retired ophthalmologist, age 82, living in Gulfport, Mississippi at length to gather the facts as he remembered them and to gain never-before-revealed insights into the true world of William Faulkner. This is not another tired treatise on Faulkner's work as interpreted by those who never met the man. It is, instead, a true and magical story set in the deep South, revolving around one of the world s most famous and yet most private people.

GENERAL DISCUSSION:
Inspired by true events, The Revenant is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man's epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. The Revenant is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker, Academy Award (R) winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel). (C) Fox

Abandonment of the whalers in the Arctic Ocean, September 1871, including the George, Gayhead, and Concordia. Scanned from the original Harper’s Weekly 1871. (Credit: courtesy of Robert Schwemmer Maritime Library).
--NOAA archaeologists have discovered the battered hulls of two 1800s whaling ships over 140 years after they and 31 others sank off the Arctic coast of Alaska in 1871. Abandonment of the whalers in the Arctic Ocean, September 1871, including the George, Gayhead, and Concordia. Scanned from the original Harper’s Weekly 1871. (Credit: courtesy of Robert Schwemmer Maritime Library)

The Crown is a biopic drama television series streaming on Netflix. The show is a biographical story about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. The first season, comprising 10 one-hour episodes, was released in its entirety on 4 November 2016. Reception to the series was overwhelmingly positive, with critics praising cast performances, direction, writing, cinematography, production values, and relatively accurate historical accounts of Queen Elizabeth's reign. A second season has been commissioned.

Experience the tumultuous saga of young King Henry VIII, featuring Golden Globe® winner Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, and witness the king’s near-40-year omnipotent and bloody reign, infamous marriages, and controversial decisions that led to the deconstruction of the Roman Catholic Church in 16th Century England.