Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Genre Reading Group - Folktales, fables, and myths

This year has flown by at warp speed so here we find ourselves once again getting ready for Salon Discussion on Tuesday evening, December 28th at 6:30pm. The Library will be on Holiday Hours, closing at 6pm, but I will be here to let you in! Pick ANY book you'd like and come tell us about it!

Folktales, fables, and myths are handed down generation to generation in every part of the world and we learned about this first hand at the last Genre Reading Group (GRG) discussion! From childhood rhymes to vengeful Japanese ghosts to Lewis Carroll's literary menagerie, we explored vast worlds outside the one we inhabit every day. Have a look at the books we shared and explore these worlds for yourself!

In 1963, Judge Charles Whedbee was asked to substitute on a morning show called Carolina Today on Greenville, North Carolina's, television station while one of the program's regulars was in the hospital. Whedbee took the opportunity to tell some of the Outer Banks stories he'd heard during his many summers at Nags Head. The station received such a volume of mail in praise of his tale-telling that he was invited to remain even after the man he was substituting for returned to the air. "He had a way of telling a story that really captured me," said one of the program's co-hosts. "Whether he was talking about a sunset, a ghost, or a shipwreck, I was there, living every minute of it." Word traveled as far as Winston-Salem, where John F. Blair proposed to Whedbee that he compile his stories in book form. Whedbee welcomed the challenge, though his expectations for the manuscript that became Legends of the Outer Banks and Tar Heel Tidewater were modest. "I wrote it out of a love for this region and the people whom I'd known all my life," he said. "I didn't think it would sell a hundred copies." The Lost Colony, Indians, Blackbeard, an albino porpoise that guided ships into harbor-the tales in that volume form the core of Outer Banks folklore. Whedbee liked to tell people that his stories were of three kinds: those he knew to be true, those he believed to be true, and those he fabricated. But despite much prodding, he never revealed which were which.

The perfect bedside companion for every bird-watcher and nature lover, inside Flights of Fancy you’ll find:

“Don’t promise the crane in the sky, but give the titmouse in your hand.”
Russian proverb

“One for sorrow, two for joy…”
Traditional English rhyme

“The owl shrieked at thy birth, an evil sign.”
Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part III

“The peacock is ashamed of its large black feet.”
Medieval Persian tradition

“When the raven tried to bring fire to the world, ash turned its feathers black.”
Cherokee Indian legend

“Sewing a swan’s feather into your husband’s pillow will keep him faithful.”
British superstition

Fabulous animals and birds have fascinated and intrigued men from the earliest times: the Greeks had their centaurs and satyrs, the Chinese their qilin and fenghuang, and today we have Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. But is there any truth in these myths? Do real animals or real animal behavior lurk behind the legends? In this engrossing and highly readable book, author Peter Costello examines a wide range of strange creatures in his attempt to uncover the truth.

Aesop's Fables selected by Joseph Jacobs
Aesop's Fables or Aesopica refers to a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller who lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. His fables are some of the most well known in the world.

A collection of new and wacky fables with fresh morals, which are about all kinds of bossy, sneaky, funny and annoying people. A general moral offered by the book is, "If you are planning to write fables, don't forget to change people's names and avoid places with high cliffs".

The Three Questions written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth
What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? Nikolai knows that he wants to be the best person he can be, but often he is unsure if he is doing the right thing. So he goes to ask Leo, the wise turtle. When he arrives, the turtle is struggling to dig in his garden, and Nikolai rushes to help him. As he finishes work, a violent storm rolls in. Nikolai runs for Leo's cottage, but on his way, he hears cries for help from an injured panda. Nikolai brings her in from the cold, and then rushes back outside to rescue her baby too.

From Booklist
This unusual collection will elicit gasps of recognition, if not downright guffaws. It is irreverent, earthy, and gross as well as funny. In three sections--"Getting Down to Basics," "Dealing with Authority," and "The Commercial World" --the authors insightfully explore a variety of songs, insults, gruesome jokes, and offensive, bawdy rhymes (including some raunchy anatomical ones) invented by or passed around among children. Although the folklore here is from North America, the introduction points out that similar songs and sayings are shared by adults and children the world over. Opening with 20 versions of the familiar "greasy, grimy gopher guts" rhyme, the book combines hilarity and serious commentary as it proceeds through subject areas ranging from bodily functions, death, pregnancy, and school to parents, friends, and "The Life and Deaths of Barney." Extensive source notes and a bibliography round out a fascinating look at the culture of childhood, which should be required reading for anyone working with young people. Kids will like the book, too. Janice del Negro

Zickary Zan: Childhood Folklore compiled by Jack and Olivia Solomon
Alabama authors discuss childhood folklore and the process of collecting stories and histories.

Folk Toys Around the World and How to Make Them by Joan Joseph
1970's title which introduces toys from various countries, gives directions for constructing them, and discusses the materials needed. (not available in the JCLC system)

The Foxfire series of books compiled from Foxfire magazine, a 1960’s survey of Appalachian culture

During the latter half of the 19th century, American journalist Lafcadio Hearn became our nation's great interpreter of all things Japanese. His superb translation of 20 supernatural tales teems with undead samurais, man-eating goblins, and other terrifying demons. These classic ghost stories inspired the Oscar®-nominated 1964 film of the same name. (neither is available in the JCLC system)

Mythical Beasts of Japan: From Evil Creatures to Sacred Beings by Koichi Yumoto, Hiroyuki Kano, and Akiko Taki
A collection of glorious imaginary beings from Japanese mythology. The newest volume in the Traditional Patterns series, this book is a visual introduction to a variety of Japanese mythical beasts. Japanese imaginary creatures, such as Byakko (White Tiger), Suzaku (Vermilion Bird), Genbu (Black Tortoise), and Ryu (Japanese Dragon), were handed down from ancient Chinese mythology. Prayers were often offered to these beings since they are believed to cause mischief among ordinary mortals. Most of the featured works, mainly from the 12th century to the 19th century, feature motifs of sacred animals painted by artists such as Kawanabe Kyosai, Ito Jakuchu, Utagawa Kuniyoshi ,and more. Moreover, all kinds of the evil creatures, such as devils and goblins, and the deities from Japanese folklore are depicted in all their splendid glory in paintings, carved wood, decorative art pieces such as mirrors, incense burners, and much more.

Among contemporary artists the undisputed master of preindustrial Americana is Eric Sloane, whose wistful, bitter-sweet paintings and precise drawings preserve for us and for posterity a loving reflection of a rural way of life that has for the most part vanished.

The Mythology of Native North America by David Leeming and Jake Page
The authors have provided an introduction and commentary on seventy-two myths drawn from a variety of cultures and language groups. They honor the Native pantheons, cosmologies, heroes, and heroines first as cultural expressions, then as variations on other mythic narrative to which they may be related, and ultimately as expression of the larger human experience of myth making.

Wildflower Folklore by Laura C. Martin
Engaging legends, medicinal uses, myths, and stories about 105 North American wildflowers along with botanical information and accurate illustrations.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reading, wireless-like!

Finally, you can break out your iPad and read free ebooks courtesy of the Public Libraries of Jefferson County! Overdrive and Apple are still hammering out the details on an official app to make this work, but in the meantime this is the temporary solution they've come up with:

How to download and read eBooks on an iPad, iPhone or iTouch

1. On your computer, download Adobe Digital Editions and create an account. Authorize
the Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) program with your Adobe ID. ADE will act as “home
base” and authenticate your eBooks.
2. On your Apple device, download the free BlueFire Reader app (iTunes App Store) and
create an account.
3. Launch BlueFire Reader. Tap “Info” and authorize the app with your Adobe Digital
Editions ID.

Download an eBook:
1. On your computer, open a browser, go to the JCLC downloadable website and log in.
2. Check out an eBook. Click Download. A dialog box will open, select “Open with Adobe
Digital Editions”. This will download the .epub (the actual book) file to your computer.
The eBook will appear in ADE.
3. On your computer, locate the .epub file in the (My) Documents/My Digital Editions
folder (or the equivalent on a Mac). Send yourself an email, with that .epub file as an
4. On your Apple device, check your email.
5. Tap on and hold the attachment’s icon until the fly-out menu appears which says “Open
with BlueFire Reader”, then select it. The attachment’s icon will change to the BlueFire
Reader logo.
6. The BlueFire Reader app will now launch and you can start reading! Once the checkout
period has expired the file will deactivate from your device and your computer desktop.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Genre Reading Group meets night!

Dare I say this GRG meeting will be epic? I mean that in a quite literal sense.

Tonight we will be discussing folklore, fable, and mythology and frequently those are composed in the form of epic poetry. Ok! That was a bit of a stretch but if this sounds like a meeting in which you'd like to participate, drop by the Library's conference room at 6:30pm and join the fun! The GRG LoVeS new members and, though I am biased, it's the most fun book group in town!!!

For more information, give me call/email or drop by the meeting tonight!

Happy reading,

Monday, November 15, 2010

This week @ EOL!

Tuesday (11/16) at 6:30pm
The Documentaries After Dark film will examine the life and work of American photographer Ansel Adams

Wednesday (11/17) at 12:30pm
The Brown Bag Lunch Series film will the documentary "Open Secret" based on actual transcripts from Alabama's 1901 Constitutional Convention. The film is a re-enactment that looks into a not well-known and not necessarily pleasant part of Alabama's history.

Thursday (11/18) from 11am to 10pm
Have lunch or dinner (or both!!!) at Dryon's Lowcountry (121 Oak Street, right across from the library and next door to the Oak Street Market!!) and the restaurant will donate 10% of the day's proceeds to the library. Stroll through the magnificent Community Garden while you're there!

Saturday (11/20) from 2:30pm-4pm
Round up your knittin' buddies and head over to the library for another afternoon of Knittin' & Knibblin'. The experts from Memory Hagler Knit Shop will again be on hand to answer all your knitting questions. You bring your supplies and we'll provide the "knibbles!"

For more information about any of these programs, call 205/445-1121! Stop by the library and pick up a complete calendar of November events and don't forget to Like our fan page on Facebook!

Happy reading,

Friday, October 29, 2010

Genre Reading Group Recap: Alabama authors

The Genre Reading Group (GRG) meetings just get better and better! There is no time like the present to officially join up with the most fun book group in town!

The group picks the topics, YOU pick the book. During the meeting, participants share their thoughts on the book, the topic, and all points in between. We LOVE new members so mark your calendars for November 30, 2010 at 6:30pm for the next GRG meeting!

Last night’s discussion was on Alabama authors and participants shared something for everyone! One participant even brought props for Fannie Flagg’s A Redbird Christmas, including an electronic chirping redbird, a tiny artificial Christmas tree, a miniature Alabama state flag, and a Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer! I wish I’d had my camera. As you can tell, the GRG members are serious about reading!

Next month’s topic is Folktales & Fables. For many libraries, these books can be found in the nonfiction section at call number 398.2. I have a selection of books pulled but participants are always welcome to fish for their own choice!

On to the discussion!

Alabama Moon by Watt Key
For as long as ten-year-old Moon can remember, he has lived out in the forest in a shelter with his father. They keep to themselves, their only contact with other human beings an occasional trip to the nearest general store. When Moon’s father dies, Moon follows his father’s last instructions: to travel to Alaska to find others like themselves. But Moon is soon caught and entangled in a world he doesn’t know or understand; he’s become property of the government he has been avoiding all his life. As the spirited and resourceful Moon encounters constables, jails, institutions, lawyers, true friends, and true enemies, he adapts his wilderness survival skills and learns to survive in the outside world, and even, perhaps, make his home there.

There is a film adaptation for Alabama Moon which premiered at the 2009 Sidewalk Film Festival right here in Birmingham. If you are on Facebook, join the “The Edge 12 Birmingham” fan page and let them know. If you are not on Facebook, call The Edge at 205 795 3500. If you didn’t know about The Edge, it’s on Crestwood Blvd in the old Festival 12 Theater location. They are featuring a mix of first run and independent films and they need our support!

Dirt Road Home by Watt Key
After his recapture at the end of Alabama Moon, gutsy 14-year-old Hal Mitchell is sentenced to live at Hellenweiler, an institution that is more like a jail than the boys' home it's supposed to be. Hal could walk out in just a few months if he keeps out of trouble. But in a place like Hellenweiler, the more he tries to avoid the gangs and their violence, the stronger Hal's fellow inmates try to make him fail.

The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan
Sarah Crowe left Atlanta, and the remnants of a tumultuous relationship, to live alone in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house's former tenant-a parapsychologist obsessed with the ancient oak growing on a desolate corner of the property. And as the gnarled tree takes root in her imagination, Sarah risks her health and her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago...

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston's beloved 1937 classic,
Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston's masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published -- perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.

The film adaptation of this novel stars Halle Berry.

Penumbra by Carolyn Haines
Jade Dupree is a beautician and undertaker’s assistant, and her work with the dead is not the only thing that sets her apart from the rest of Drexel, Mississippi. Jade was raised by a black family but everyone in town knows that her real parents are a well-to-do white woman and a black man who had an affair in New Orleans. In the 1950s, that fact makes Jade both more free and more isolated. When Jade’s white half sister, Marlena, is severely beaten and her young daughter kidnapped, Jade is determined to find her niece before it’s too late. She gets some help from a white deputy sheriff, but their relationship-forbidden but inevitable-threatens to add to the violence that seems to be brewing in town. Carolyn Haines has written several acclaimed mysteries, but here she mines much darker, more serious territory, resulting in a suspenseful, lyrical, passionate and literary crime novel

The reader shared the definition of “penumbra” with the group:
1a : a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light
b : a shaded region surrounding the dark central portion of a sunspot
2: a surrounding or adjoining region in which something exists in a lesser degree
: fringe
3: a body of rights held to be guaranteed by implication in a civil constitution
4: something that covers, surrounds, or obscures : shroud penumbra of secrecy> penumbra of somber dignity has descended over his reputation — James Atlas> Merriam-Webster

Revenant by Carolyn Haines
Reporter Carson Lynch has returned to Mississippi with a half-formed desire to start over. Since her daughter's tragic death two years ago, she's been self-medicating with vodka, karaoke and work. Her reputation as a journalist hangs by a thread, but she's just been handed the story that might save her career . . .A bulldozer has unearthed a mass grave near a notorious Biloxi nightclub. The remains of five women lie within, each one buried with a bridal veil -- and without her ring finger. Now more would-be brides are turning up dead: are these copycat crimes, or has a serial killer resurfaced after nearly twenty-five years? With a fury bordering on obsession, Carson throws herself into the story. But the cozy relationship her editor wants with the D.A. and local police jeopardizes her ability to tell the real story . . . and find the monster before he kills again.

Since the author’s other book title turned into such a good vocabulary lesson, I decided to include the definition for this one as well:
: one that returns after death or a long absence (Merriam-Webster)

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
The story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women, of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder. And as the past unfolds, the present, for Evelyn and for us, will never quite be the same.

The film adaptation of this novel stars Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy. Coming up in Spring 2011, this book will be the Project Read One Book selection for the Jefferson County Library Cooperative. Associated programs and book groups may be found at many of the public libraries around the county so stay tuned!

Murder on a Bad Hair Day by Anne George
It's hard to believe practical, petite ex-schoolteacher Patricia Anne and amiable, ample-bodied, and outrageous Mary Alice are sisters, yet sibling rivalry has survived decades of good-natured disagreement about everything from husbands to hair color. No sooner do the Southern sisters discover a common interest in some local art, when they're arguing the artistic merits of some well-coiffured heads at a gallery opening. A few hours later, one of those pretty ladies ends up dead -- with not a hair out of place. The other shows up on Patricia Anne's doorstep dazed, disheveled, and telling a wild tale of a narrow escape from some deadly cuts. Now the sisters are once again combing for clues to catch a killer with a bizarre style in art -- and murder.

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man (also titled, Coming Attractions) by Fannie Flagg
Taken from the pages of Daisy Fay Harper's journal, this is a coming of age story set in rural Mississippi that is by turns hilarious and touching. It begins in 1952 when Daisy Fay is a sassy, truth-tellin' but lonely eleven-year old, and ends six years later when she becomes the flamboyant, unlikely -- but assured -- winner of the Miss Mississippi contest. Along the way, we meet some of the raffish and outrageous town locals, including her own Daddy, who comes up with a mortgage scheme that requires Daisy's "resurrection." This is a thoroughly entertaining comic novel with a heroine who is bound to capture your heart.

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (due out November 9th)
Meet Maggie Fortenberry, a still beautiful former Miss Alabama. To others, Maggie’s life seems practically perfect—she’s lovely, charming, and a successful real estate agent at Red Mountain Realty. Still, Maggie can’t help but wonder how she wound up in her present condition. She had been on her hopeful way to becoming Miss America and realizing her childhood dream of someday living in one of the elegant old homes on top of Red Mountain, with the adoring husband and the 2.5 children, but then something unexpected happened and changed everything. Maggie graduated at the top of her class at charm school, can fold a napkin in more than forty-eight different ways, and can enter and exit a car gracefully, but all the finesse in the world cannot help her now. Since the legendary real estate dynamo Hazel Whisenknott, beloved founder of Red Mountain Realty, died five years ago, business has gone from bad to worse—and the future isn’t looking much better. But just when things seem completely hopeless, Maggie suddenly comes up with the perfect plan to solve it all. As Maggie prepares to put her plan into action, we meet the cast of high-spirited characters around her. To Brenda Peoples, Maggie’s best friend and real estate partner, Maggie’s life seems easy as pie. Slender Maggie doesn’t have to worry about her figure, or about her Weight Watchers sponsor catching her at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. And Ethel Clipp, Red Mountain’s ancient and grumpy office manager with the bright purple hair, thinks the world of Maggie but has absolutely nothing nice to say about their rival Babs “The Beast of Birmingham” Bingington, the unscrupulous estate agent who hates Maggie and is determined to put her out of business. Maggie has heartbreaking secrets in her past, but through a strange turn of events, she soon discovers, quite by accident, that everybody, it seems—dead or alive—has at least one little secret.

My Last Days as Roy Rogers by Pat Cunningham DeVoto
In an Alabama town in the early 1950s during the last polio summer before the Salk vaccine, ten-year-old Tabitha "Tab" Rutland is about to have the time of her life. Although movie theaters and pools have been closed to stem the epidemic, Tab, a tomboy with a passion for Roy Rogers, still seeks adventure with her best friend Maudie May, "the lightest brown colored person" she knows. Now as they meddle with the local bootlegger, Mr. Jake, row out on the Tennessee River to land the biggest catfish ever, and snoop into the town's darkest secrets, Tab sets out to be a hero...and comes of age in an unforgettable confrontation with human frailty, racial injustice, and the healing power of love.

Stay Hungry by Charles Gaines
I have not been able to find an official synopsis of this book. It is about the world of bodybuilding in the 1960’s. A film adaptation was done starring Arnold Schwarzenegger

Gathering Home by Vicki Covington
Whitney Gaines has always known she was adopted. It's never been a problem -- she loves her parents, Mary Ellen and Cal, a liberal minister, and enjoys her life in Birmingham, Alabama. But the year Whitney turns eighteen, Cal decides to run for Congress and the entire Gaines family is thrust into the spotlight. Whitney resolves to look for her birth parents, a decision her liberal-minded adoptive parents support. Although her birth mother doesn't answer her letters, Whitney finds her father, Sam Kirby, a gay cartoonist living in New York, wondering about the child he knows is out there, somewhere. Whitney's letters reawaken Sam's ambivalence about his southern roots.At the same time, a romance blossoms between Whitney and her father's campaign manager, and Whitney begins writing to Sam's mother, who rejoices in the news that she is, against all odds, a grandmother. The relationships Whitney develops with her newfound natural relatives, particularly with her grandmother, are the centerpiece of this critically acclaimed novel.

Summer Crossings by Truman Capote
Thought to be lost for over 50 years, here is the first novel by one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Set in New York during the summer of 1945, this is the story of a young carefree socialite, Grady, who must make serious decisions about the romance she is dangerously pursuing and the effect it will have on everyone involved.

Family Linen by Lee Smith
A childhood memory re-experienced, a funeral that brings about a family reunion, and the excavation of a swimming pool on the site of an old well, uncover family secrets and air the dirty linen in this behind-the-scenes look at life and family, memory and forgetfulness, anger and forgiveness in a small Southern town.

Welcome to the World Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg
Once again, Flagg's humor and respect and affection for her characters shine forth. Many inhabit small-town or suburban America. But this time, her heroine is urban: a brainy, beautiful, and ambitious rising star of 1970s television. Dena Nordstrom, pride of the network, is a woman whose future is full of promise, her present rich with complications, and her past marked by mystery.

It’s easy to think that only Southern writers can get that close-knit community feel just right, but this is often not the case. We came up with a handful of books that are not set in the South nor authored by Southern writers but which still invoke that same small-town feeling.

The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow
Meet the Ames Girls: eleven childhood friends who formed a special bond growing up in Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight different states, yet managed to maintain an enduring friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, a child's illness and the mysterious death of one member of their group. Capturing their remarkable story,
The Girls from Ames is a testament to the deep bonds of women as they experience life's joys and challenges -- and the power of friendship to triumph over heartbreak and unexpected tragedy. The girls, now in their forties, have a lifetime of memories in common, some evocative of their generation and some that will resonate with any woman who has ever had a friend. Photograph by photograph, recollection by recollection, occasionally with tears and often with great laughter, their sweeping and moving story is shared by Jeffrey Zaslow, Wall Street Journal columnist, as he attempts to define the matchless bonds of female friendship. It demonstrates how close female relationships can shape every aspect of women's lives - their sense of themselves, their choice of men, their need for validation, their relationships with their mothers, their dreams for their daughters - and reveals how such friendships thrive, rewarding those who have committed to them. The Girls from Ames is the story of a group of ordinary women who built an extraordinary friendship. With both universal insights and deeply personal moments, it is a book that every woman will relate to and be inspired by.

The Beardstown Ladies’ Common-Sense Investing Guide: How We Beat the Stock Market and How You Can Too by Leslie Whitaker
The "Ladies" here are 16 women, average age 55, of an Illinois river town whose investment club, since 1980, has scored an average 23.4% annual return (59.5% in 1991) on a portfolio of 20 carefully selected stocks-twice the rate of the bellwether S&P 500 index. Opening monthly meetings with a prayer and closing with a recipe, the Ladies pay no heed to current market trends, preferring to buy shares after researching companies that have sustained moneymaking growth. Dividends are reinvested. The book is chock-full of family-finance anecdotes, firsthand reports on regional industry, case histories of stocks bought and sold, recommended research tools and the actual minutes (with portfolio changes) of meetings during that banner year of 1991. This well-organized, down-to-earth investment guide will make many readers feel they have never experienced such pleasant instruction.
There was mention of a scandal when this book came up and the Ladies added a note to the product description at Amazon:
Dear Reader,
We recently discovered that there were mistakes in the way we calculated our club's returns. More specifically, the 23.4 percent return rate referred to in various places in this book actually related to a two-year period ending December 31, 1992, and the return for 1991 was 54.4 percent. The annual rate of return for our investment club during the 10 years from its inception through 1993 was 9.1 percent, and through the end of 1997 it was 15.3 percent. We are distressed that there were any inaccuracies in our financial figures. Our priorities are still, as they always have been, education, enjoyment, and enrichment, in that order. We've included recipes in the past, and now we would like to share with you our recipe for humble pie: a full measure of regret mixed with our sincere apologies. We thank everyone for their support. Sincerely, The Beardstown Ladies

The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck
C'mon back to rural Indiana in 1904 and join 15-year-old Russell, whose summer ends with the unexpected death of old Miss Myrt Arbuckle. Russell and his younger brother are thrilled because just maybe the school board will decide to stop its foolishness and tear down the one-room schoolhouse. Surely it doesn't pay to hire a new teacher for the six students who attend. But to his utter horror, one is hired and it's none other than his extremely bossy older sister, even though she still has a year left of high school herself. Tansy takes to teaching with vigor and manages to circumvent all of the high jinks and calamities that threaten to undermine her authority, such as an accidental fire in the privy and a puff adder in her desk drawer. Peck expertly evokes humor and colloquial speech and mores with such sentences as "The water wasn't crotch-deep on a dwarf at that point," and "She had a snout on her long enough to drink water down a crawdad hole." Even readers who are blasé about current technological advances will be as excited as Russell is when he sees the steel Case Agitator threshing machine down from Wisconsin on its once-yearly exhibit, or the Overland Automobile Company's Bullet No. 2 racing car that can travel a mile in an unheard-of 43 seconds. Another gem from Peck–and a fabulous lead-in to titles such as Olive Burns's Cold Sassy Tree (Houghton, 1984).–Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY (School Library Journal)

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck
Peewee idolizes Jake, a big brother whose dreams of auto mechanic glory are fueled by the hard road coming to link their Indiana town and futures with the twentieth century. And motoring down the road comes Irene Ridpath, a young librarian with plans to astonish them all and turn Peewee’s life upside down. Here Lies the Librarian, with its quirky characters, folksy setting, classic cars, and hilariously larger-than-life moments, is vintage Richard Peck—an offbeat, deliciously wicked comedy that is also unexpectedly moving.

Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon books

What is your favorite Southern fiction book, author, or setting?

Happy reading!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Genre Reading Group

The GRG will meet this week to discuss fiction by Alabama authors! Don't forget that this month, we'll meet on Thursday October 28th @ 6:30pm instead of our usual Tuesday to avoid a conflict with outdoor Children's programming.

November's topic is folktales and fables so make plans to join us! I have a selection pulled but you are always free to select your own title. For more information, contact Holley at 205/445-1117 or hwesley@bham.lib.al.us.

When: Thursday, October 28th @ 6:30pm
What: Genre Reading Group: Fiction by Alabama Authors
Where: Emmet O'Neal Library Conference Room

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's creeping ever closer . . .

. . . and it's going to be even more far out than usual! What is it, you may ask?

The Nightmare on Oak Street
(Ages 18 & up only!!!)
Horror Movie Double Feature
Saturday, October 30th, 5pm-9pm

We'll eat Bongiorno's pizza, and a host of other ghoulish treats, while we watch two 1970's horror classics.

Contact Holley for more information at j205/445-1117 or hwesley@bham.lib.al.us.

Read scary,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Genre Reading Group recap - banned/challenged books

I thought this was one of the group’s most enjoyable discussions! The topic itself was ideal for bringing to the table a truly diverse group of books and the varying perspectives of the readers made it practically magical! Really! Doesn’t this sound like a group you’d love to join? Contact me for more information, 205/445-1117 or hwesley@bham.lib.al.us!

Next month’s topic is Fiction from Alabama Authors. The meeting date was moved by a few days to avoid a large children’s program scheduled on that Tuesday night, so the official October meeting date is now Thursday the 28th, 6:30pm! Please mark it on your calendars if you are planning to join us! I have a selection of books pulled for your convenience though, of course, you are free to research your own!

What we read:

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Bella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear.

The reader thoroughly enjoyed the book and has now gone on to read the entire series, which concludes with New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.

There was quite a bit of discussion about Twilight at the meeting. It is fast becoming, or more likely has already become, a solid part of popular culture and the opinions, good and bad, fly fast and furious still. My circle of friends are divided and I'm okay with that. As for my personal opinion, I am a huge fan of the saga. In keeping with that, here is an article that came out in The Atlantic magazine in late 2008 concerning the Twilight phenomena and adolescent (and some not so adolescent) girls.

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
Welcome to New York City's Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep--sometimes with each other. S is back from boarding school, and if we aren't careful, she's going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn't fit into, steal our boyfriends' hearts, and basically ruin our lives in a major way. I'll be watching closely...You know you love me, gossip girl.

The reader did not enjoy this book and did not finish it.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
For this novel of French bourgeois life in all its inglorious banality, Flaubert invented a paradoxically original and wholly modern style. His heroine, Emma Bovary, a bored provincial housewife, abandons her husband to pursue the libertine Rodolphe in a desperate love affair. A succès de scandale in its day, Madame Bovary remains a powerful and arousing novel.

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a nearly hopeless situation, partly because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, they set out for California along with thousands of other "Okies" in search of land, jobs and dignity.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, The Scarlet Letter tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple is the story of two sisters—one a missionary to Africa and the other a child wife living in the South—who remain loyal to one another across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Samuel Clemens
When we first met "the pariah of the village . . .the son of the drunkard" in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom was "under strict orders not to play with him", so he played with him every time he got the chance. Twain took his most outrageous and outcast character (and perhaps the one he loved the most), Huckleberry Finn, from the book and wrote his own adventures.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Come in . . . for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein's world begins. You'll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist. Shel Silverstein's masterful collection of poems and drawings is at once outrageously funny and profound.

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Here in the attic of Shel Silverstein you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo With an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with the Broiled Face, and find out what happens when someone steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a mountain snores, and they’ve put a brassiere on the camel.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
The wickedly funny debut novel from master storyteller J.K. Rowling tells the story of Harry Potter who, having endured 11 miserable years with his hideous aunt and uncle, is invited on his 11th birthday to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There he learns of his distinguished wizard pedigree—and his frightening destiny.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In The Great Gatsby's nine chapters, Fitzgerald presents the rise and fall of Jay Gatsby, as related in a first-person narrative by Nick Carraway. Carraway reveals the story of a farmer's son-turned racketeer, named Jay Gatz. His ill-gotten wealth is acquired solely to gain acceptance into the sophisticated, moneyed world of the woman he loves, Daisy Fay Buchanan. His romantic illusions about the power of money to buy respectability and the love of Daisy—the “golden girl” of his dreams—are skillfully and ironically interwoven with episodes that depict what Fitzgerald viewed as the callousness and moral irresponsibility of the affluent American society of the 1920s.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl is the record of two years in the life of a remarkable Jewish girl whose triumphant humanity in the face of unfathomable deprivation and fear has made the book one of the most enduring documents of our time.

The Story of Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
This story was written by Bannerman, a Scot, while living in India. Although the book doesn't contain any racial overtones, it has been known as a controversial book due to the original illustrations in early European and American editions which gave the character an African look. In reality, this popular fairy tale is about a young boy in India and his adventures.

Dick and Jane by William S. Gray
William S. Gray, Professor of Education and Dean of the College of Education at the University of Chicago, began work in 1929 on a major revision of the "Elson Readers," a popular basal series published by Scott, Foresman and Company. Organized around the daily life of two ordinary children, the Dick and Jane readers ultimately became the most widely used reading books in the country.

Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
Andersonville is a novel concerning the Confederate prisoner-of-war camp, Andersonville prison, during the American Civil War (1861–1865). The novel was originally published in 1955, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the following year.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Gone With the Wind is a sweeping, romantic story about the American Civil War from the point of view of the Confederacy. In particular it is the story of Scarlett O'Hara, a headstrong Southern belle who survives the hardships of the war and afterwards manages to establish a successful business by capitalizing on the struggle to rebuild the South. Throughout the book she is motivated by her unfulfilled love for Ashley Wilkes, an honorable man who is happily married. After a series of marriages and failed relationships with other men, notably the dashing Rhett Butler, she has a change of heart and determines to win Rhett back.

Sequels sanctioned by Mitchell’s estate: Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley and Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCaig

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Published in 1937, it tells the tragic story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. Based on Steinbeck's own experiences as a bindlestiff in the 1920s (before the arrival of the Okies he would vividly describe in The Grapes of Wrath), the title is taken from Robert Burns's poem, To a Mouse, which reads: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley." (The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go oft awry.)

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller. The Bookseller of Kabul is startling in its intimacy and its details - a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.

The reader mentioned that the book does not leave a very flattering portrayal of the Afghan people and encouraged further reading about the culture and people of Afghanistan to gain a more balanced view. Greg Mortensen’s Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools were mentioned specifically.

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole life has been one big non-event. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-butboring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into a new life, and steals his heart. After. Nothing is ever the same.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Ben Wolf has big things planned for his senior year. Had big things planned. Now what he has is some very bad news and only one year left to make his mark on the world. How can a pint-sized, smart-ass seventeen-year-old do anything significant in the nowheresville of Trout, Idaho? First, Ben makes sure that no one else knows what is going on—not his superstar quarterback brother, Cody, not his parents, not his coach, no one. Next, he decides to become the best 127-pound football player Trout High has ever seen; to give his close-minded civics teacher a daily migraine; and to help the local drunk clean up his act. And then there's Dallas Suzuki. Amazingly perfect, fascinating Dallas Suzuki, who may or may not give Ben the time of day. Really, she's first on the list.

Living with a secret isn't easy, though, and Ben's resolve begins to crumble . . . especially when he realizes that he isn't the only person in Trout with secrets.

Happy reading,


Friday, September 24, 2010

Genre Reading Group, plus knitting!!!

We meet Tuesday, September 28th at 6:30pm to discuss banned books. Bring any book that has been banned or challenged and tell us about it, plus get ideas from other readers! October's topic will be fiction by Alabama authors and I'm working on pulling those now. Stop by this weekend to get a headstart if you'd like! For more information, contact Holley at 205/445-1117 or kmoellering@bham.lib.al.us.

Also, don't miss out on Knit & Knibble on Saturday, October 2nd from 2-3:30pm! Bring your knitting projects and we'll provide the "knibbles" plus experts from Memory Hagler Knit Shop to answer all your knitting questions. For more information, contact Katie at 205/445-1118 or kmoellering@bham.lib.al.us.

Happy reading!