Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Genre Reading Group recap - books & literacy

Next month's topic is Alabama authors. Drop by the library for a local author selection or please feel free to browse for your own selection.  I'm happy to help either way.

Also, next month we'll probably be meeting OFF-SITE! The Children's Department will be hosting their Halloween extravaganza so parking and maneuverability in general will be compromised. I'm working on that and will let you know when I find a spot for us. I'll also bombard you beforehand with Friendly Reminders.

If you or someone you know loves horror movies, make plans to attend the Nightmare on Oak Street Horror Movie Double Feature on Friday, October 21
from 5pm-9pm. Pizza, snacks, and horror...is there any better combination? (ages 18 and up only)

If horror movies are not your bag, plan to visit the Dead Authors' Graveyard on Saturday, October 22. The Graveyard will be open for visitation 10am-4pm so you may visit the graves, learn some cool facts, and eat some snacks...but you might not want to linger much past sunset.

On to the list!

Days of Reading by Marcel Proust
In these inspiring essays about why we read, Proust explores all the pleasures and trials that we take from books, as well as explaining the beauty of Ruskin and his work, and the joys of losing yourself in literature as a child.

The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin
Reading is a revolutionary act, an act of engagement in a culture that wants us to disengage. In The Lost Art of Reading, David L. Ulin asks a number of timely questions — why is literature important? What does it offer, especially now? Blending commentary with memoir, Ulin addresses the importance of the simple act of reading in an increasingly digital culture. Reading a book, flipping through hard pages, or shuffling them on screen — it doesn’t matter. The key is the act of reading, the seriousness and depth. Ulin emphasizes the importance of reflection and pause allowed by stopping to read a book, and the focus required to let the mind run free in a world that is not one's own. Far from preaching to the choir, The Lost Art of Reading is a call to arms, or rather, pages.

General discusion:
Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer
In this technology-driven age, it’s tempting to believe that science can solve every mystery. After all, science has cured countless diseases and even sent humans into space. But as Jonah Lehrer argues in this sparkling debut, science is not the only path to knowledge. In fact, when it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first. Taking a group of artists — a painter, a poet, a chef, a composer, and a handful of novelists — Lehrer shows how each one discovered an essential truth about the mind that science is only now rediscovering. We learn, for example, how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory; how George Eliot discovered the brain’s malleability; how the French chef Escoffier discovered umami (the fifth taste); how C├ęzanne worked out the subtleties of vision; and how Gertrude Stein exposed the deep structure of language — a full half-century before the work of Noam Chomsky and other linguists. It’s the ultimate tale of art trumping science. More broadly, Lehrer shows that there’s a cost to reducing everything to atoms and acronyms and genes. Measurement is not the same as understanding, and art knows this better than science does. An ingenious blend of biography, criticism, and first-rate science writing, Proust Was a Neuroscientist urges science and art to listen more closely to each other, for willing minds can combine the best of both, to brilliant effect.

Is Google Making Us Stupid: What the Internet is Doind to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2008)

Lost Classics: Writers on Books Loved and Lost, Overlooked, Under-read, Unavailable, Stolen, Extinct, or Otherwise Out of Commission edited by Michael Ondaatje, Michael Redhill, Esta Spalding, Linda Spalding
Compiled by the editors of Brick: A Literary Magazine, Lost Classics is a reader’s delight: an intriguing and entertaining collection of eulogies for lost books. As the editors have written in a joint introduction to the book, “being lovers of books, we’ve pulled a scent of these absences behind us our whole reading lives, telling people about books that exist only on our own shelves, or even just in our own memory.” Anyone who has ever been changed by a book will find kindred spirits in the pages of Lost Classics. Each of the editors has contributed a lost book essay to this collection, including Michael Ondaatje on Sri Lankan filmmaker Tissa Abeysekara’s Bringing Tony Home, a novella about a mutual era of childhood. Also included are Margaret Atwood on sex and death in the scandalous Doctor Glas, first published in Sweden in 1905; Russell Banks on the off-beat travelogue Too Late to Turn Back by Barbara Greene–the “slightly ditzy” cousin of Graham; Bill Richardson on a children’s book for adults by Russell Hoban; Ronald Wright on William Golding’s Pincher Martin; Caryl Phillips on Michael Mac Liammoir’s account of his experiences on the set of Orson Welles’s Othello, and much, much more.

The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life: How to Get More Books in Your Life and More Life from Your Books by Steve Leveen
Do not set out to live a well-read life but rather your well-read life. No one can be well-read using someone else's reading list. Unless a book is good for you, you won't connect with it and gain from it. Just as no one can tell you how to lead your life, no one can tell you what to read for your life. How do readers find more time to read? In The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life, Steve Leveen offers both inspiration and practical advice for bibliophiles on how to get more books in their life and more life from their books.
His recommendations are disarmingly refreshing, as when he advises when not to read a book and why not to feel guilty if you missed reading all those classics in school. He helps readers reorganize their bookshelves into a Library of Candidates that they actively build and a Living Library of books read with enthusiasm, and he emphasizes the value of creating a Bookography, or annotated list of your reading life. Separate chapters are devoted to the power of audio books and the merits of reading groups. The author himself admits he came "late to the bookshelf," making this charming little guide all the more convincing.

General discussion: A favored quote from the book above, "Reading groups are health clubs for the mind."

You've Got To Read This Book: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their Life compiled by Jack Canfield, Gay Hendricks with Carol Kline
There's nothing better than a book you can't put down—or better yet, a book you'll never forget. This book puts the power of transformational reading into your hands. Jack Canfield, cocreator of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, and self-actualization pioneer Gay Hendricks have invited notable people to share personal stories of books that changed their lives. What book shaped their outlook and habits? Helped them navigate rough seas? Spurred them to satisfaction and success?

The contributors include Dave Barry, Stephen Covey, Malachy McCourt, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Mark Victor Hansen, John Gray, Christiane Northrup, Bernie Siegel, Craig Newmark, Michael E. Gerber, Lou Holtz, and Pat Williams, to name just a few. Their richly varied stories are poignant, energizing, and entertaining. Author and actor Malachy McCourt tells how a tattered biography of Gandhi, stumbled on in his youth, offered a shining example of true humility—and planted the seeds that would help support his sobriety decades later.

Bestselling author and physician Bernie Siegel, M.D., tells how William Saroyan's The Human Comedy helped him realize that, in order to successfully treat his patients with life-threatening illnesses, "I had to help them live—not just prevent them from dying."

Actress Catherine Oxenberg reveals how, at a life crossroads and struggling with bulimia, a book taught her the transforming difference one person could make in the life of another—and why that person for her was Richard Burton.

Rafe Esquith, the award-winning teacher whose inner-city students have performed Shakespeare all over the world, recounts his deep self-doubt in the midst of his success—and how reading To Kill a Mockingbird strengthened him to continue teaching.

Beloved librarian and bestselling author Nancy Pearl writes how, at age ten, Robert Heinlein's science fiction book Space Cadet impressed on her the meaning of personal integrity and gave her a vision of world peace she'd never imagined possible. Two years later, she marched in her first civil rights demonstration and learned that there's always a way to make "a small contribution to intergalactic harmony."

If you're looking for insight and illumination—or simply for that next great book to read—You've Got to Read This Book! has treasures in store for you.

Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry
With astonishing charm, grace, and good humor, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lonesome Dove returns with a fascinating memoir of his lifelong passion of buying, selling, and collecting rare books.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: the True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Unrepentant book thief John Charles Gilkey has stolen a fortune in rare books from around the country. Yet unlike most thieves who steal for profit, Gilkey steals for love-the love of books. Perhaps equally obsessive is Ken Sanders, the self-appointed "bibliodick" who's driven to catch him. Following this eccentric cat-and-mouse chase with a mixture of suspense, insight and humor, Allison Hoover Bartlett plunges the reader deep into a rich world of fanatical book lust and considers what it is that makes some people stop at nothing to posses the titles they love.

The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
Inspired by the process of creating a library for his fifteenth-century home near the Loire, in France, Alberto Manguel, the acclaimed writer on books and reading, has taken up the subject of libraries. “Libraries,” he says, “have always seemed to me pleasantly mad places, and for as long as I can remember I’ve been seduced by their labyrinthine logic.” In this personal, deliberately unsystematic, and wide-ranging book, he offers a captivating meditation on the meaning of libraries.

Manguel, a guide of irrepressible enthusiasm, conducts a unique library tour that extends from his childhood bookshelves to the “complete” libraries of the Internet, from Ancient Egypt and Greece to the Arab world, from China and Rome to Google. He ponders the doomed library of Alexandria as well as the personal libraries of Charles Dickens, Jorge Luis Borges, and others. He recounts stories of people who have struggled against tyranny to preserve freedom of thought—the Polish librarian who smuggled books to safety as the Nazis began their destruction of Jewish libraries; the Afghani bookseller who kept his store open through decades of unrest. Oral “memory libraries” kept alive by prisoners, libraries of banned books, the imaginary library of Count Dracula, the library of books never written—Manguel illuminates the mysteries of libraries as no other writer could. With scores of wonderful images throughout, The Library at Night is a fascinating voyage through Manguel’s mind, memory, and vast knowledge of books and civilizations.

What is YOUR favorite book about books?

3 comments:

trav said...

There are too many to name! I really hate I missed the discussion there.

My favorite fiction re:books about books
'Booked to Die" by John Dunning

My favorite non-fiction re:books about books
"Ex Libris" by Anne Fadiman

My favorite lust-worthy books about books
"At Home With Books" by Estelle Ellis

Was there a general consensus, at the group, regarding a favorite?

Emmet O'Neal Library said...

Each person read something so different from the others, it was hard to pick a favorite!

Holley T said...

The books discussed that I left the meeting really wanting to read were Larry McMurtry's "Books: A Memoir", "The Man Who Loved Books Too Much," and "The Little Guide to Your Well-read Life"