Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Salon Discussion

Twice a year, the Genre Reading Group takes a step back from selected topics and harkens back to the literary salons of old for a discussion of any books group members care to share.  Yesterday evening was both our last meeting of the year and the second Salon Discussion.  What a kaleidoscopic of topics and view points!  Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 29th at 6:30pm and we'll be discussing the work of James Michener.  Read any book written by Michener and come tell us about it!  Now, on to the list!

First Lady From Plains by Rosalynne Carter
A story of victory and defeat, of Camp David and the Iranian hostage crisis, First Lady from Plains is, most of all, the story of a woman who developed into a dynamic leader and captured the respect of millions.

It was one of the greatest romances of our time. They were both Hollywood giants in their own right, yet it was the nine hit films Katherine Hepburn made with Spencer Tracy that, in the eyes of the American public, defined them as Hollywood's most celebrated romantic team. On-screen, the headstrong Tracy had met his match and she put him in his place. Off-screen, despite the fact that he never divorced his wife, Kate remained utterly devoted to the mercurial, sometimes violent Spencer as he battled his dependence on alcohol. Christopher Andersen reveals fascinating insights from important sources, and offers the full, poignant story of their life together. An Affair to Remember paints the complete, inspiring, often funny, sometime heartbreaking, always captivating portrait of the unique relationship between these two American icons.

Christmas comes but once a year: a Christmas book like this comes but once in a lifetime. First, the illustrations are by America's best-loved artist, Norman Rockwell, and the book, like Rockwell himself, is made up of equal parts of love, good cheer, gentleness, and humor. Then, this rich Yuletide feast includes not only stories and poems but the words "and" music of many songs--and they run the full gamut of Christmas moods, from tender reminiscence to rollicking jollity.

Norman Rockwell’s Faith of America by Fred Bauer and Norman Rockwell
More than one hundred heartwarming illustrations, many in full color, by the acclaimed artist offer an inspirational portrait of uniquely American towns, families, traditions, and more, all captured with Rockwell's trademark understanding of everyday human existence.

Do you believe other gospels, contemporary with those in the Bible, ought to be heard? Do you question certain articles in the Apostles' Creed, such as the virgin birth and bodily resurrection? Do you believe other religions other than Christianity have validity? Do you accept that women have the right to be clergy? Is your personal relationship to God more important than believing what you are told to believe? Is your way of faith honestly seeking what is true for the world and God? Do you believe Christ's call was to a dynamic faith rather than to any system of beliefs? If you answered "yes" to a majority of these questions, you will find that the Gnostic Gospels support a different way to be Christian. These long lost, hidden, writings, as do the gospels in the Bible, lift up the power and love of Christ. This book explains how and why!

Research into the human brain has exploded in recent years, and neuroscience has become a major program at many universities and a required course for a wide range of studies. Neuroscience For Dummies tracks to an introductory neuroscience class, giving you an understanding of the brain's structure and function, as well as a look into the relationship between memory, learning, emotions, and the brain. Providing insight into the biology of mental illness and a glimpse at future treatments and applications of neuroscience, Neuroscience For Dummies is a fascinating read for students and general interest readers alike.

The brain holds the secrets to our personalities, our use of language, our love of music, and our memories. Neuroscience For Dummies looks at how this complex structure works, according to the most recent scientific discoveries, illustrated by helpful diagrams and engaging anecdotes.

From how the brain works to how you feel emotions, Neuroscience For Dummies offers a comprehensive overview of the fascinating study of the human brain.

In less than three years, I’ve gone from being the worst waitress in LA to living out my childhood dreams of singing my songs to people all over the world. Sometimes, it feels as if the last few years have encompassed a few decades. . . . You might have heard my voice on the radio, seen me onstage and on the red carpet, or in a music video, but that’s only a part of the story. In these pages, I’m revealing a more complete picture of what my life is really like. It’s not all glamorous and it’s not all pretty, but it’s all real. . . . I want you to come on a whirlwind journey with an all-access pass to My Crazy Beautiful Life.

A beloved, bestselling classic of humorous and nostalgic Americana—the book that inspired the equally classic Yuletide film.

The holiday film A Christmas Story, first released in 1983, has become a bona fide Christmas perennial, gaining in stature and fame with each succeeding year. Its affectionate, wacky, and wryly realistic portrayal of an American family’s typical Christmas joys and travails in small-town Depression-era Indiana has entered our imagination and our hearts with a force equal to It’sa Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.

This edition of A Christmas Story gathers together in one hilarious volume the gems of autobiographical humor that Jean Shepherd drew upon to create this enduring film. Here is young Ralphie Parker’s shocking discovery that his decoder ring is really a device to promote Ovaltine; his mother and father’s pitched battle over the fate of a lascivious leg lamp; the unleashed and unnerving savagery of Ralphie’s duel in the show with the odious bullies Scut Farkas and Grover Dill; and, most crucially, Ralphie’s unstoppable campaign to get Santa—or anyone else—to give him a Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Who cares that the whole adult world is telling him, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid”?

The pieces that comprise A Christmas Story, previously published in the larger collections In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash and Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters, coalesce in a magical fashion to become an irresistible piece of Americana, quite the equal of the film in its ability to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone.

"What a joy! Live your favorite Christmases over again with this sugar-sprinkled guidebook of magic memories." --Karal Ann Marling, Author of Merry Christmas
  A nostalgic look at Christmas in the mid-twentieth century
  Memorable color illustrations
From plastic nativity scenes to aluminum trees, Christmas became a major marketing extravaganza in America in the mid-twentieth century. This book recalls the holiday between 1940 and 1970, courtesy of department stores, five and tens, toy manufacturers, publishing houses, and record companies. Boomers and Gen-Xers will relive memories of special holiday toys and treats, Christmas children's books by Little Golden and Wonder, holiday music released by Peter Pan and Disneyland records, and merchandising characters such as Frosty the Snowman and Montgomery Ward's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Liberally illustrated with vintage ads, book covers, record sleeves, and photographs.

Award-winning blogger Jen Yates has focused on confectionery calamities at her popular Web site Cake Wrecks since May 2008, while her debut book, Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go HilariouslyWrong, quickly climbed the charts to become a New York Times best-seller within weeks of its release. Now, Yates is back with Wreck the Halls, a fresh mix of fan favorites and plenty of never-before-seen holiday wreckage.

From thankless Thanksgiving turkeys and confusing Christmas conundrums, to less-than-happy Hanukkah horrors and New Year's meltdowns, Wreck the Halls has an icing-smeared disaster for every occasion. With additional chapters on Black Friday, family communication, and navigating the murky waters of politically correct cake greetings ("Winter!"), Wreck the Halls combines Yates's signature blend of wit and sarcasm with the most hilarious frosting fails this side of winter solstice. Find sweet relief from the holiday madness (not to mention plenty of laughs) with Wreck the Halls.

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 Cézanne 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.

In her astonishing new book Susan Casey captures colossal, ship-swallowing waves, and the surfers and scientists who seek them out.

For legendary surfer Laird Hamilton, hundred foot waves represent the ultimate challenge. As Susan Casey travels the globe, hunting these monsters of the ocean with Hamilton’s crew, she witnesses first-hand the life or death stakes, the glory, and the mystery of impossibly mammoth waves. Yet for the scientists who study them, these waves represent something truly scary brewing in the planet’s waters. With inexorable verve, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.

Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel
From the water's surface, it's a simple exercise: a dog's leap, a splash, and then a wet head surfacing with a ball, triumphant.

But beneath the water is a chaotic ballet of bared teeth and bubbles, paddlingpaws, fur and ears billowing in the currents. From leaping lab to diving dachshund, the water is where a dog's distinct personality shines through; some lounge in the current, paddling slowly, but others arch their bodies to cut through the water with the focus and determination of a shark.

In more than eighty portraits by award-winning pet photographer and animalrights activist Seth Casteel capture new sides of our old friends with vibrant underwater photography that makes it impossible to look away. Each image bubbles with exuberance and life, a striking reminder that even in the most lovable and domesticated dog, there are more primal forces at work. In Underwater Dogs, Seth Casteel gives playful and energetic testament to the rough-and-tumble joy that our dogs bring into our lives.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Authors who've died since 2000

This broad variety of books made for one of our most rowdy (in a good way!) meetings to take place in quite a while.  I believe we all discovered something unexpected or lost to memory.  Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, December 18th and it is our biannual Salon Discussion so there is no assigned topic.  Bring any book you'd like to share with us!

On to the list!

The Early Stories, 1953-1975 by John Updike (Specifically, the stories "A & P" and "Early Easter")
His pen rarely at rest, John Updike began publishing fiction, essays, and poetry in the mid-fifties, when he was a staff writer at the New Yorker, contributing material for the “Talk of the Town” sections. “Of all modern American writers,” writes Adam Gopnik in Humanities magazine, “Updike comes closest to meeting Virginia Woolf’s demand that a writer’s only job is to get himself, or herself, expressed without impediments."  He is known to many first as an author of short stories, with dozens having graced the pages of the New Yorker before being published in collections. Many other readers know his shorter fiction either through the O. Henry Prize Stories or anthologies of American literature, where they would have entered into the at times sad, at times triumphant thoughts of, say, a certain check-out clerk at the local grocery store; “A & P” serving as a model of dramatic irony for at least two generations of English literature teachers. (from

2061: Odyssey Three by Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clark, creator of one of the world's best-loved science fiction tales, revisits the most famous future ever imagined in this NEW YORK TIMES bestseller, as two expeditions into space become inextricably tangled. Heywood Floyd, survivor of two previous encounters with the mysterious monoliths, must again confront Dave Bowman, HAL, and an alien race that has decided that Mankind is to play a part in the evolution of the galaxy whether it wishes to or not.

Minority Report and Other Stories by Philip K. Dick (Specifically, the story "Minority Report)
This volume covers a wide span, from late 1954 through to 1963, the years during which Dick began writing novels prolifically and his short story output lessened. The title story of this collection has been made into the Steven Spielberg-directed movie of the same name, while "The Days of Perky Pat" inspired one of Dick's greatest works, the novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch; The Penultimate Truth grew from "The Mold of Yancy". Philip K. Dick is shown at his incomparable prime in this fourth volume of the definitive collection of short fiction.

"Minority Report" is about a future society where murders are prevented through the efforts of three mutants who can see the future. Paradoxes and alternate realities are created by the precognition of crimes when the chief of police intercepts a precognition that he is about to murder a man he has never met. The story also touches upon the dangers of a powerful post-war military during peacetime. Like many stories dealing with knowledge of future events, "The Minority Report" questions the existence of free will.  In 2002, the story was adapted into a film directed by Steven Spielberg.

I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron returns with her first book since the astounding success of I Feel Bad About My Neck, taking a hilarious look at the past, the present, and the future, bemoaning the vicissitudes of modern life, and recalling with her signature clarity and wisdom everything she hasn’t (yet) forgotten.  Filled with insights and observations that instantly ring true—and could have come only from Nora Ephron—I Remember Nothing is pure joy.

Here is a link to a 2006 interview of Nora Ephron about her book I Feel Bad About My Neck on The Diane Rehm Show.  Click here.

Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities by Elizabeth Edwards

She’s one of the most beloved political figures in the country, and on the surface, seems to have led a charmed life. In many ways, she has. Beautiful family. Thriving career. Supportive friendship. Loving marriage. But she’s no stranger to adversity. Many know of the strength she had shown after her son, Wade, was killed in a freak car accident when he was only sixteen years old. She would exhibit this remarkable grace and courage again when the very private matter of her husband's infidelity became public fodder. And her own life has been on the line. Days before the 2004 presidential election—when her husband John was running for vice president—she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After rounds of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation the cancer went away—only to reoccur in 2007.

While on the campaign trail, Elizabeth met many others who have had to contend with serious adversity in their lives, and in Resilience, she draws on their experiences as well as her own, crafting an unsentimental and ultimately inspirational meditation on the gifts we can find among life’s biggest challenges. This short, powerful, pocket-sized inspirational book makes an ideal gift for anyone dealing with difficulties in their life, who can find peace in knowing they are not alone, and promise that things can get better.

Mr. Food's Favorite Cookies by Art Ginsburg
Television's Mr. Food offers quick and easy recipes for a delicious assortment of cookies, including no-bake cookies, "dunkers," "rollouts," and innovations, plus tips on mailing cookies and a special section for kids.

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
When asked, Maurice Sendak insisted that he was not a comics artist, but an illustrator. However, it's hard to not notice comics aspects in works like In the Night Kitchen. The child of the story is depicted floating from panel to panel as he drifts through the fantastic dream world of the bakers' kitchen. Sendak's use of multiple panels and integrated hand-lettered text is an interesting contrast to his more traditional children's books containing single-page illustrations such as his wildly popular Where the Wild Things Are.

Coyote Waits by Tony Hillerman
The car fire didn't kill Navajo Tribal Policeman Delbert Nez—a bullet did. And the old man in possession of the murder weapon is a whiskey-soaked shaman named Ashie Pinto. Officer Jim Chee is devastated by the slaying of his good friend Del, and confounded by the prime suspect's refusal to utter a single word of confession or denial.

Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn believes there is much more to this outrage than what appears on the surface, as he and Jim Chee set out to unravel a complex weave of greed and death that involves a historical find and a lost fortune. But the hungry and mythical trickster Coyote is waiting, as always, in the shadows to add a strange and deadly new twist.

The following Hillerman novels were adapted to the movie screen: The Dark Wind, Skinwalkers, Coyote Waits, and A Thief of Time.

Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales by Ray Bradbury
For more than sixty years, the imagination of Ray Bradbury has opened doors into remarkable places, ushering us across unexplored territories of the heart and mind while leading us inexorably toward a profound understanding of ourselves and the universe we inhabit. In this landmark volume, America's preeminent storyteller offers us one hundred treasures from a lifetime of words and ideas -- tales that amaze, enthrall, and horrify; breathtaking journeys backward andforward in time; classic stories with the undiminished power to tantalize, mystify, elate, and move the reader to tears. Each small gem in the master's collection remains as dazzling as when it first appeared in print.

There is magic in these pages: the wonders of interstellar flight, a conspiracy of insects, the early bloom of love in the warmth of August. Both the world of Ray Bradbury and its people are vivid and alive, as colorfully unique as a poker chip hand-painted by a brilliant artist or as warmly familiar as the well-used settings on a family's dining room table. In a poor man's desire for the stars, in the twisted night games of a hateful embalmer, in a magnificent fraud perpetrated to banish despair and repair a future, in a writer's wonderful death is the glowing proof of the timeless artistry of one of America's greatest living bards.

The one hundred stories in this volume were chosen by Bradbury himself, and span a career that blossomed in the pulp magazines of the early 1940s and continues to flourish in the new millennium. Here are representatives of the legendary author's finest works of short fiction, including many that have not been republished for decades, all forever fresh and vital, evocative and immensely entertaining. This is Bradbury at his very best -- golden visions of tomorrow, poetic memories of yesterday, dark nightmares and glorious dreams -- a grand celebration of humankind, God's intricate yet poignantly fallible machineries of joy.

The Cat Who Wasn't There by Lilian Jackson Braun
Qwill's on his way to Scotland--and on his way to solving another purr-plexing mystery. But this time Koko's nowhere the scene of the crime. He and Yum Yum are back in Pickax being coddled by a catsitter...but Koko won't sit still once Qwill's traveling party returns--minus one member. He's behaving oddly, and Qwill knows what that means: Koko may have been miles away from the murder scene, but he's just a whisker away from cracking the case!

Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints by Phyllis Diller (Not available in the JCLC system)
If you've ever seen the Surveyor moon pictures, you've seen Phyllis Diller's living room. But disasters like this don't just happen, They're planned. How? Here are just a few examples of the diligent Diller method for guaranteeing total abstinence from the curse of housework.

Here is a link to an interview with Phyllis Diller from the Comedy Hall of Fame Archives.  Click here.

I Didn't Come Here to Argue by Peg Braken (Not available in the JCLC system)

Here is a link to an interview with Peg Bracken in 2007 on the NPR show, All Things Considered.  Click here.

Star Ghosts by Hans Holzer (Not available in the JCLC system)

According to Hans Holzer, an expert in psychic phenomena, the ghosts of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow and other top stars still inhabit the Hollywood mansions in which they once lived.

Compelled to seek the peace that eluded them when they were alove, they now roam the corridors of their former homes, lost in the shadowy world between life and death.


Is This You, Jean Harlow?
A Visit With Carol Lombard, Thanks to Julie Parrish
Word From Marilyn Monroe
Do the Barrymores Still Live Here?
Rudolph Valentino is Very Much Alive
Elvis Presely: Death is Not the End!
James Dean and Lesser Hollywood Ghosts
The Last Adventures of the Late Clifton Webb
The Two Lives of Gaye Spiegelman, Topless Mother of Eight
Hello There, Harry Houdini!
The Hollywood Psychic Scene

The works of Edward Gorey
A truly prodigious and original artist, Edward St. John Gorey (1925-2000), gave to the world over one hundred works, including The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Doubtful Guest and The Wuggly Ump; prize-winning set and costume designs for innumerable theater productions from Cape Cod to Broadway; a remarkable number of illustrations in publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Times, and in books by a wide array of authors from Charles Dickens to Edward Lear, Samuel Beckett, John Updike, Virginia Woolf, H.G. Wells, Florence Heide and many others. His well known animated credits for the PBS Mystery series have introduced him to millions of television viewers. Gorey's masterful pen and ink illustrations and his ironic, offbeat humor have brought him critical acclaim and an avid following throughout the world. (from

Happiness is a Warm Puppy by Charles Schulz
These collector’s editions perfectly recreate the original look and feel of the best-loved Peanuts books—their paper, their ink, even their lamination.  And of course, the heartwarming content that charmed the world, sold millions, and launched the career of Charles M. Schulz remains untouched. On every spread there’s a tiny tidbit of wisdom from one of the gang, along with one of Schulz’s irresistible drawings.  It’s a trip down memory lane that every Peanuts fan will cherish.

The Wit and Wisdom of Snoopy by Charles Schulz (not available in the JCLC system)

Kids Say the Darndest Things by Art Linkletter
Almost 50 years since its first printing, this famous collection of children's wisdom and witticisms is now back in print in a facsimile edition to entertain a whole new generation. KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS! includes the best of the unconsciously funny, everyday thoughts and reactions kids shared with kid-at-heart Art Linkletter on his long-running radio and television series House Party .Gems include tips for conjuring up a sibling: "Give Mommy a lot of real sweet food so she'll get fat -that's how you get a baby ";and hysterical observations: "Our pussycat has got some kittens and I didn't even know she was married. "Illustrated with cartoons by Charles Schulz (yes, that Charles Schulz) and with a new introduction by Bill Cosby, KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS! will prove as popular with the readers of today as it was when it first was published five decades ago.

The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey
Never had there been as close a bonding as the one that existed between the daring and adventurous young Lord Jaxom and his extraordinary white dragon, Ruth. Pure white and incredibly agile, Ruth was a dragon of many talents, though almost everyone on Pern thought he was a runt that would never amount to anything. But Jaxom knew better, knew he could teach his dragon to fly and to destroy the deadly silver Threads that fell from the sky. Disobeying all rules, Jaxom and Ruth trained in secret. Their illicit flights seemed but a minor disobedience - until they found themselves in the path of danger and in a position to prevent the biggest disaster of all.

Jeffrey's Favorite 13 Ghost Stories by Kathryn Tucker Windham
This is the first anthology of the author's own favorite ghost stories from the highly successful Jeffrey series of books that began in 1969 with 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. Hundreds of thousands of these books have been sold. The present volume includes 13 of the best of Mrs. Windham's stories, representing mysterious and supernatural doings from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Most of the stories are related to historical places and sometimes to historical people.

Count Those Buzzards, Stamp Those Grey Mules: Superstitions Remembered from a Southern Childhood by Kathryn Tucker Windham

Murder Runs in the Family by Anne George

Mary Alice has spared nothing for her only daughter's wedding -- from seventy-five yards of bridal train to gourmet food for over three hundred guests and enough glittering elegance to make Mary Alice think about finding herself a fourth rich husband to pay for it all.

Practical Patricia Anne has put away her aunt-of-the-bride blue chiffon and settled back into domesticity when fun-loving Mary Alice calls to say they have a post-wedding date with a genealogist from the groom's side of the family. Lunch is a fascinating lesson on the hazards of finding dirty linens in ancestral boudoirs that ends abruptly when their guest scurries off with the local judge, leaving the sisters with their mouths open -- and finishing their luncheon companion's cheesecake -- when the police arrive.

Their mysterious guest has taken a plunge from the ninth floor of the courthouse building -- an apparent suicide. But given the scandals a nosy genealogist might have uncovered, the sisters are betting that some proud Southern family is making sure their shameful secrets stay buried. . .along with anyone who tries to dig them up.

The Changeover by Margaret Mahy
Carnegie medal-winning supernatural romance from Margaret Mahy. The face in the mirror. From the moment she saw it, Laura Chant knew that something dreadful was going to happen. It wasn't the first time she'd been forewarned. But never before had anything so terrible happened. The horrifyingly evil Carmody Braque touched and branded her little brother -- and now Jacko was very ill, getting steadily worse. There was only one way to save him. Laura had to change over: had to release her supernatural powers. And that meant joining forces with the extraordinary and enigmatic Sorenson Carlisle!

A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney by Andy Rooney
The first of these collections of Rooney's satirical TV pieces and syndicated newspaper columns "can be moving, as in 'D-Day,' or can fall flat, as in 'The Faces of Christ,' which is maudlin," said PW . The second, an anthology of only his newspaper work that discusses topics from faulty home appliances and dieting to cliches and celebrity endorsements, is more successful: "Every entry is trenchant and telling and, best of all, fun to read." (from Publishers Weekly)

The Proud Princess, from The Best of Barbara Cartland by Barbara Cartland

Having survived the 1871 siege of Paris with her mother the Queen of Dabrozka, Princess Ilona is summoned back to the war-ravaged kingdom of her father, a tyrannical monarch whose unjust rule has divided the nation into two factions: her own Radák people and the Sáros. Worse still, Russia threatens to march on Dabrozka to impose their iron-clad style of order.

Only Ilona can save her country from this fate – by making a terrible sacrifice. At the Prime Minister’s request, she must marry the Prince of Sáros, their union bringing together the people. This she will do; this she must do – but what her pride will not allow her is to love the aloof, indifferent Prince. Humiliated by the Prince’s evident disregard, and beaten by her own father on the eve of her wedding, it seems that love will never fill her heart – but as war clouds gather over Dabrozka, both the Prince and the Proud Princes are about to share a dramatic change of heart!

(This was the description of the Amazon Kindle edition)The Barbara Cartland Eternal Collection is the unique opportunity to collect as ebooks all five hundred of the timeless beautiful romantic novels written by the world’s most celebrated and enduring romantic author. Named the Eternal Collection because Barbara’s inspiring stories of pure love are just the same as love itself, the books will be published on the Internet at the rate of four titles per month until all five hundred are available. The Eternal Collection, classic pure romance available worldwide for all time.

Here is a link to the website maintained by Barbara Cartland's son, Ian McCorquodale.  Click here.

Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi by Dean Faulkner Wells
In Every Day by the Sun, Dean Faulkner Wells recounts the story of the Faulkners of Mississippi, whose legacy includes pioneers, noble and ignoble war veterans, three never-convicted murderers  the builder of the first railroad in north Mississippi, the founding president of a bank, an FBI agent, four pilots (all brothers), and a Nobel Prize winner, arguably the most important American novelist of the twentieth century. She also reveals wonderfully entertaining and intimate stories and anecdotes about her family—in particular her uncle William, or “Pappy,” with whom she shared colorful  sometimes utterly frank, sometimes whimsical, conversations and experiences.

This deeply felt memoir explores the close relationship between Dean’s uncle and her father, Dean Swift Faulkner, a barnstormer killed at age twenty-eight during an air show four months before she was born. It was William who gave his youngest brother an airplane, and after Dean’s tragic death, William helped to raise his niece. He paid for her education, gave her away when she was married, and maintained a unique relationship with her throughout his life.
From the 1920s to the early civil rights era, from Faulkner’s winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature to his death in 1962, Every Day by the Sun explores the changing culture and society of Oxford, Mississippi  while offering a rare glimpse of a notoriously private family and an indelible portrait of a national treasure.

Here is a link to a 2001 interview with Dean Faulkner Wells on The Diane Rehm Show.  Click here.

A False Sense of Well-Being by Jeanne Braselton

At thirty-eight, Jessie Maddox has a comfortable life in Glenville, Georgia, with the most responsible husband in the world. But after the storybook romance, “happily ever after” never came. Now Jessie is left to wonder: Why can’t she stop picturing herself as the perfect grieving widow? As Jessie dives headlong into her midlife crisis, she is joined by a colorful cast of eccentrics. There’s her best friend Donna, who is having a wild adulterous affair with a younger man; Wanda McNabb, the sweet-natured grandmother who is charged with killing her husband; Jessie’s younger sister Ellen, who was born to be a guest on Jerry Springer; their mother, who persistently crosses the dirty words out of library books; and of course the stuffed green headless duck. . . .

When a trip home to the small town of her childhood raises more questions than it answers, Jessie is forced to face the startling truth head-on–and confront the tragedy that has shadowed her heart and shaken her faith in love . . . and the future.

Dead-Eye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut
Deadeye Dick is Kurt Vonnegut’s funny, chillingly satirical look at the death of innocence. Amid a true Vonnegutian host of horrors—a double murder, a fatal dose of radioactivity, a decapitation, an annihilation of a city by a neutron bomb—Rudy Waltz, aka Deadeye Dick, takes us along on a zany search for absolution and happiness. Here is a tale of crime and punishment that makes us rethink what we believe . . . and who we say we are.

What are YOU reading?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Resources on Fraud & Elder Abuse Prevention

Did you know that Alabama is ranked in the top 20 for states in cases of identity theft? Recently Ana Rodriguez ran an article on about a program we have coming up this week on fraud and elder abuse and this disturbing statistic was the headline. We are seeking to change that headline! Please join us this Wednesday, November 28th at 12:30 for a Town Hall Meeting when we will discuss ways to spot and avoid situations of fraud, identity theft, and elder abuse. According to Representative Paul DeMarco, who will moderate Wednesday's event, "We've seen an increase in elder abuse and we want to provide this forum to distribute this information with some of the experts from our state." We will hear from representatives from the Office of the Attorney General for the Sate of Alabama and the Alabama Securities Commission. 

In addition to the above experts, the links below will lead you to further resources for help in spotting fraud, identity theft, and elder abuse situations. If you know of a great resource not listed, please let us know!

  • This web page is a great resource to check out on a regular basis. Even if you think these tips will not pertain to you, you will find information on all types of scams and con artists listed on this page. The most current information (from August, 2012) warns against certain threats to unwary investors as well as a reminder to work only with licensed professionals.
  • Here you'll find numerous resources to help you stay in control of your money AND your identity! Links will take you to information from tips to avoid investor fraud to how to remove your name from telemarketing and email lists.
  • The office of the Attorney General has gathered information meant to protect consumers from all types of fraud. From this page you can file a consumer complaint as well as find links to brochures on phone scams, check fraud, identity theft, and other types of consumer protection information. The FAQ section is particularly detailed, check it out!
  • At this website you will find all the information a senior should know from Medicare to issues involving elder abuse. You will also find a link to which, according to their website, is meant to "assist older adults, individuals with disabilities and their family members locate services they might need as well as other information that might be of interest."

Wednesday's program is free of charge, and no reservation is required. It is part of a regularly scheduled Brown Bag Lunch program, so please bring a sack lunch. The Library provides soft drinks and dessert. Doors open at noon, the program will begin at 12:30. For more information, please contact the Reference Desk at Emmet O'Neal Library at (205) 445-1121. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

National Book Award Winners 2012

Hi Folks!
The National Book Award winners were announced today. Most of the books on the list are available here at EOL in various formats from print to digital, or you could even check out an e reader with the book already on it! Drop by today and check one out.

The winner for fiction was Louise Erdrich's The Round House.

The finalists for fiction were

Katherine Boo won in nonfiction for Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.

Finalists for non fiction include:

Prizes were also awarded for poetry and young people's literature.

Additionally, several titles listed above are available on e readers. With this new program, patrons can check out an e reader pre loaded with titles ranging from bestsellers to mysteries to romance. Check out our various e readers here!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Let's Talk Voter Fraud

It’s election season, which means the sphere of public opinion and political intrigue is rife with dishonesty, scams, and double-speak, and I’m not even talking about the candidates.  Voter fraud, while a contentious issue, is a sad reality especially in municipal elections throughout the state of Alabama.

According to the Tuscaloosa News on September 6, 2012, State Attorney General Luther Strange, with the help of federal authorities, launched an investigation into several blatantly fraudulent activities, including Perry County’s Uniontown in which a remarkable 130 percent of the town’s population registered to vote in upcoming municipal elections.  Barring any unnoticed and unlikely influx of 18-and-up men and women into Uniontown since the previous Census, this represents a very evident case of voter fraud.

The numeric inconsistencies in Uniontown, combined with Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman’s new Voter Fraud Unit, in an already controversial year of voter ID laws makes this political season one for more-than-usual concern.

But what can you do to prevent voter fraud?  A great deal of voter fraud happens outside the voter’s individual influence and is therefore difficult to combat as a concerned citizen.  However, staying vigilant and reporting any suspicious or over-inquisitive activity can certainly make a difference.

Typical fraudulent methods used to influence voters include:

·         Disenfranchisement – When those working at the polling station require a condition such as a literacy test or ID in order to distribute or receive your ballot.  As of 2012, Alabama DOES NOT require a voter to present his or her Identification to vote, nor does it require any sort of examination or test.  Ongoing legislation may require voter ID in Alabama as soon as 2014, but as of 2012 no such requirements exist.
·         Intimidation – By which one threatens violence, vandalism, or other harm to people or property to influence a vote.  This extends to corporations as well, handing down hushed mandates or threatening one’s employment.
·         Legal Threats -  Any U.S. citizen, naturalized or otherwise is entitled to vote as a resident in any municipal, state, or federal election.  This does not mean only once, or once annually, as perpetrators of voter fraud might insinuate.  Anyone who attempts to impose limits on an individual’s number of or, legal right to vote is committing fraud.  The only exception extends to convicted felons, and even then only if the disenfranchisement of the vote was not appealed.
·         Vote Buying – In which services, exceptions, or money might be offered to any individual for his or her vote. 

 If you have anything to report, please visit

To read more about Luther Strange’s investigation into Alabama voter fraud, visit

For information about the upcoming election, including information on polling places and sample ballots, please visit which is published by the Office of the Secretary of State of Alabama.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The First Ladies

The Genre Reading Group met this past Tuesday to discuss books about the United State's First Ladies and the talk was lively!

First Ladies: An Intimate Group Portrait of White House Wives by Margaret Truman

"Fascinating. . . . First Ladies is a wonderfully generous look at the women who, often against their wishes, took on what Truman calls 'the world's second toughest job.' " --The Christian Science Monitor

Whether they envision their role as protector, partner, advisor, or scold, First Ladies find themselves in a job that is impossible to define, and just as difficult to perform. Now Margaret Truman, daughter of President Harry Truman and an acclaimed novelist and biographer in her own right, explores the fascinating position of First Lady throughout history and up to the present day.

With her unique perspective as the daughter of a First Lady, Ms. Truman reveals the truth behind some of the most misunderstood and forgotten First Ladies of our history, as well as the most famous and beloved. In recounting the charm and courage of Dolley Madison, the brazen ambition of Florence Harding, the calm, good sense of Grace Coolidge, the genius of Eleanor Roosevelt, the mysterious femininity of Jackie Kennedy, and the fierce protectiveness of Nancy Reagan, among others, Margaret Truman has assembled an honest yet affectionate portrait of our nation's First Ladies--one that freely acknowledges their virtues and their flaws.

Presidents and First Ladies of the United States by Doranne Jacobson
Covering each administration from Washington to Clinton, portraits and historical illustrations are combined with essays on the political and personal lives of every First Couple. These narratives are augmented by fact charts listing the highlights and achievements of the presidents and first ladies.

Commander in Chic: Every Woman's Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady by Mikki Taylor

The nation’s major networks, radio stations, and newspapers call on Mikki Taylor not only to discuss the “Obama look” and its feverish impact on style, but to hear Taylor’s own smart advice on looking polished and pulled together. She’s been privy to Obama’s style philosophy as well as that of countless celebs through her longtime role as beauty and cover director at Essence magazine, where she collaborated with Obama’s team on fashion and beauty choices for prime photo shoots for the magazine.

Now Taylor is sharing the keys to the Obama look with her diary-like observations, tips, and Mikki-isms (her short, ultra-clever style aphorisms) for women everywhere. Mikki knows we all want to possess a signature look and a wardrobe of bankable pieces that allow us the kind of versatility where we never have to worry about what to wear again! Consider Commander in Chic as your personal style diary—one where you’ll find everything you need to know to possess great style—simply, effortlessly, and for keeps.

Cover-to-cover, the book is full of stunning photo-graphs that take the guesswork out of what works. Every chapter in the book shares the kinds of concrete information and inspiring style ideas that not only make getting dressed a fabulous experience, but define what will make you a woman to remember! Here is everything you need to know about style—from your glossary of high-performance hair products and “do how-to’s” to the best makeup finds and techniques to what you need to know to grow your nails long and strong to the most polished hues for all skin tones. In “The Gam Slam,” Taylor tells you how to work summer-pretty legs year-round—from how to keep them even-toned and satiny smooth to vein-free.

Mikki took great care in talking to the experts about what we need to know to manage our lives from the inside out—from our mental and physical health and wellness to the importance of self-nurturing. As a result, you’ll find guiding principles on diet and exercise for the various stages of your life—from age twenty and beyond. You’ll also find the critical information you need to know to nourish your well-being so you can continue to be the empowered woman you are called to be.

All in all, Commander in Chic is a gold mine of information that will inspire you—from head to toe, inside and out—on how to truly style, now and for years to come.

Dear First Lady: Letters to the White House by Dwight Young & Margaret Johnson

Following on the success of their recent collaboration Dear Mr. President, Dwight Young and Margaret Johnson join forces once again to produce this charming collection of correspondence to and from First Ladies during their time in office. A wonderful gift book for any American, Dear First Lady reminds us that ours is a great government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," which entitles us to make our views known to our leaders. Although some of these missives were written by the famous or the infamous, most are from ordinary Americans who wished to connect with their First Lady. Amusing, appealing, heartbreaking, and heartwarming, the letters appear as full-size facsimiles wherever possible so readers can see for themselves the substance and style of these intriguing exchanges.

Dwight Young annotates each letter with biographical and historical stories that illuminate the context and provide broader insights into the public and private lives of presidents’ wives. Richly illustrated with archival photography and images, Dear First Lady paints a fascinating portrait of American culture and a behind-the-scenes look inside the White House.

With presidential history a perennial best-seller, and interest in First Ladies growing as these influential women make ever more prominent contributions to the society and public policy, this rich volume holds limitless gift potential.

The Wilsons by Cass R. Sandak
A biography of Woodrow Wilson, with emphasis on his years as president, tells the story of the only president who had two first ladies: Ellen Axson Wilson and Edith Boling Wilson.

Edith Wilson: The Woman Who Ran the United States by James Cross Giblin
An informative and readable introduction to the life of an important First Lady. Giblin focuses primarily on the years after she became the wife of President Woodrow Wilson. He makes clear that throughout her lifetime, Edith Bolling Wilson succeeded in overcoming both personal and professional obstacles. Her marriage immediately put her into the country's political limelight and her strength and support for her husband were evident during the tumultuous times of World War I and its aftermath. Her role during his illness is clearly explored. The black-and-white line drawings that illustrate the text are marginal. For reports or pleasure reading, this simply written, well-organized volume captures this remarkable woman's personality and contributions to society.

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson by Alice Flanagan
Presents a biography of the wife of the twenty-eighth president of the United States, a woman who helped her husband manage the affairs of his office after he suffered a stroke.

The Girls in the Van: Covering Hillary by Beth Harpaz
The Girls in the Van is the ultimate press pass to Hillary Clinton's historic Senate run, following the first lady from the moment she dons a black pantsuit and a Yankees cap all the way to her historic victory. This book is a front-row seat in the press van as Hillary takes a "My Fair Lady" -style Yiddish lesson, invokes Harriet Tubman thirty times on a tour of black churches, and spends as much time explaining why she kissed Yassir Arafat's wife as she does justifying why she stays married to Bill. The Girls in the Van takes you on an unforgettable trip, from the ladies room at the Waldorf to the garden of the Clinton's Westchester home.

GENERAL DISCUSSION:  Discussion about The Girls in the Van brought to mind a great book I read several years ago called Women for President: Media Bias in Eight Campaigns by Erika Falk, which explores past women presidential candidates, objectivity in journalism (more often, the lack thereof), and political aspects of gender roles and expectations.

Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Cokie Roberts comes New York Times bestseller Founding Mothers, an intimate and illuminating look at the fervently patriotic and passionate women whose tireless pursuits on behalf of their families–and their country–proved just as crucial to the forging of a new nation as the rebellion that established it.

While much has been written about the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, battled the British, and framed the Constitution, the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters they left behind have been little noticed by history. #1 New York Times bestselling author Cokie Roberts brings us women who fought the Revolution as valiantly as the men, often defending their very doorsteps. Drawing upon personal correspondence, private journals, and even favoured recipes, Roberts reveals the often surprising stories of these fascinating women, bringing to life the everyday trials and extraordinary triumphs of individuals like Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Read Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Catherine Littlefield Green, Esther DeBerdt Reed and Martha Washington–proving that without our exemplary women, the new country might have never survived.

Sara & Eleanor: The Story of Sara Delano Roosevelt and Her Daughter-in-Law, Eleanor Roosevelt by Jan Pottker

We think we know the story of Eleanor Roosevelt--the shy, awkward girl who would redefine the role of First Lady, becoming a civil rights activist and an inspiration to generations of young women. As legend has it, the bane of Eleanor's life was her demanding and domineering mother-in-law, Sara Delano Roosevelt. Biographers have overlooked the complexity of a relationship that had, over the years, been reinterpreted and embellished by Eleanor herself.

Through diaries, letters, and interviews with Roosevelt family and friends, Jan Pottker uncovers a story never before told. The result is a triumphant blend of social history and psychological insight--a revealing look at Eleanor Roosevelt and the woman who made her historic achievements possible.

My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir by Noelle Hancock
After losing her high-octane job as an entertainment blogger, Noelle Hancock was lost. About to turn twenty-nine, she'd spent her career writing about celebrities' lives and had forgotten how to live her own. Unemployed and full of self-doubt, she had no idea what she wanted out of life. She feared change—in fact, she feared almost everything. Once confident and ambitious, she had become crippled by anxiety, lacking the courage required even to attend a dinner party—until inspiration struck one day in the form of a quote on a chalkboard in a coffee shop:

"Do one thing every day that scares you." —Eleanor Roosevelt

Painfully timid as a child, Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated herself to facing her fears, a commitment that shaped the rest of her life. With Eleanor as her guide, Noelle spends the months leading up to her thirtieth birthday pursuing a "Year of Fear." From shark diving to fighter pilot lessons, from tap dancing and stand-up comedy to confronting old boyfriends, her hilarious and harrowing adventures teach her about who she is and what she can become—lessons she makes vital for all of us.

The Genre Reading Group's next meeting will be on Tuesday, November 27th at 6:30pm and the topic is "In Memoriam: Authors Who've Died Since 2000."  There is a display of eligible titles at the second floor reference desk but you are always free to research and select your own!  For more information, contact Holley at 205-445-1117 or

Thursday, September 27, 2012

GRG Recap - Graphic Novels

For the second time, I had the pleasure of guest moderating the Genre Book Group. Let me tell you, Holley isn't lying when she says that GBG is the funnest book club in the world! Since graphic novels are a more of a format than a traditional genre, we enjoyed a discussion about a particularly eclectic group of titles, with topics ranging from United States history to surrealist neo-noir. October's topic is America's First Ladies and the meeting will take place Tuesday, October 30th at 6:30pm.

William Blake: the complete illuminated books by William Blake
From Publishers Weekly
Editions of Blake's poetry which as an artist and printer he frequently engraved and published himself most often fail to reproduce his integral illustrations, or do so in poor enough quality as to negate the effort. This Complete edition from the Blake Trust, published last year in a Thames and Hudson hardback edition that is now out of print, should replace the b&w-only Dover edition (but not David V. Erdman's commentary therein, or his reading text The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake) for any reader. The 366 crisp color and 30 b&w reproductions here, culled from the scholarly Princeton University Press six-volume annotated set, are little short of a revelation, giving us Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, America, Milton, Jerusalem and the rest of the Blake canon in a form acceptably close, as Binder's introduction makes clear, to the way Blake wanted us to see them. Many of these works are currently hanging in a special Blake exhibition the largest ever at the Met in New York, for which the Abrams book serves as an informative and revealing catalogue. Hamlyn, a senior curator at London's Tate (where the exhibition originated), and the University of York's Phillips present prints, drawings, paintings, selections from Blake's own illuminated books and other relevant materials, such as snapshots from Blake's marvelous editions of Edward Young's Night Thoughts and Thomas Gray's Poems. Introductory essays from novelist and biographer Peter Ackroyd (Blake; T.S. Eliot) and Marilyn Butler, rector of Oxford's Exeter College, synopsize Blake's life and times, while extensive "label copy" situates each work as presented. While the visual overview is useful and some of the detail shots of larger works are compelling, poetry readers who have to choose will take the Complete.

Are You My Mother? Written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It's a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother—to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers. 

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron Written and illustrated by Daniel Clowes
From Publishers Weekly
Clowes's ( The Official Lloyd Llewellyn Collection ) new book-length epic is eerily funny and just a bit disgusting. The title refers to a strikingly demented movie viewed by Clay, the story's hangdog, Clowes-like protagonist. No ordinary "art" film, its utter incomprehensibility sends our hero on a search to find out more about it. Every prosaic situation Clay encounters on his journey soon turns wildly fantastic. He meets a swami-like character dispensing wisdom from a men's room stall, is arrested by couple of sadistic but conscientious cops, and later still he meets Tina, a grotesque waitress with a heart of gold, whose mother tries to seduce him. Clowes's stream-of-warped-consciousness has produced a faux-existentialist, slapstick, sci-fi sitcom in comic book form. His drawings, a combination of skilled rendering and a campy 1950's graphic style, capture a risible procession of weirdos, aliens and conspiracy nuts and mark him as one of the most talented among the comics artists who emerged in the 1980s. 

Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft  Written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez
From Publishers Weekly
Novelist Hill, author of Heart-Shaped Box, crafts a gripping account of the shattered Locke family's attempt to rebuild after the father/husband is murdered by a deranged high school student and the family subsequently moving in with the deceased father's brother at the family homestead in Maine. But as anyone who has read horror fiction in the past 70-odd years will tell you, it's a bad idea to try to leave behind the gruesome goings-on in your life by moving to an island named Lovecraft. What begins as a study in coping with grief soon veers into creepy territory as the youngest Locke discovers a doorway with decidedly spectral qualities, along with a well that houses someone or something that desperately wants out and will use any means available to gain freedom, including summoning the teenage murderer who set events in motion in the first place. To say more would give away many of the surprises the creative team provides, but this first of hopefully several volumes delivers on all counts, boasting a solid story bolstered by exceptional work from Chilean artist Rodriguez (Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show) that resembles a fusion of Rick Geary and Cully Hamner with just a dash of Frank Quitely.

A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld
From Publishers Weekly
American Splendor artist Neufeld beautifully depicts the lives of seven New Orleans residents who survived Hurricane Katrina. In the dialogue-free opening chapter, The Storm, Neufeld powerfully intersperses images of the hurricane gathering speed with the cities it crippled when it hit Louisiana on August 29, 2005, specifically New Orleans and Biloxi, Miss. Readers are then introduced to seven New Orleans residents, from all walks of life and parts of the city. Denise and her family—mother Louise, niece Cydney and Cydney's daughter, R'nae—join thousands of hungry and thirsty New Orleanians waiting to be evacuated after their apartment is destroyed. Leo, the publisher of a local music zine, and Michelle, a waitress, reluctantly leave the city for Houston and are devastated when their apartment (and Leo's impressive comics collection) is flooded. Other characters flee, or try unsuccessfully to ride out the storm. Neufeld's low-key art brings a deeply humanizing element to the story. Though the devastation caused by the hurricane and the government's lackluster response are staggering, Neufeld expertly underscores the resilience of the people who returned to rebuild their lives and their city.

The United States Constitution: a graphic adaption Written by Jonathan Hennessey, illustrated by Aaron McConnell
From Publisher's Weekly
Writer Hennessey and artist McConnell undertake the imposing task of going through the entire U. S. Constitution, article by article, amendment by amendment, explaining their meaning and implications—in comics format. Avoiding the didactic, the book succeeds in being both consistently entertaining and illuminating. The illustrations are sometimes predictable: as the text describes King George III wrestling with the rebellion, the art shows him arm wrestling a colonist. More often, in the editorial cartoon tradition, McConnell's art ranges inventively through different styles and devices, from realistic depictions of historic personages to symbolic figures (the president as a man with the White House as his head) and even talking birds and parodic superheroes. Hennessey is particularly good at exploring the historical context in which various elements of the Constitution originated, such as the excesses of European monarchies. He also chronicles the dark side of constitutional history, notably how long it allowed slavery to remain legal. While the book depicts the framers of the Constitution as practical men, readers will also be impressed by the framers' vision in devising a system that has endured for two centuries, and it's a fine introduction to U.S. legal history.

Graphic Classics: O'Henry Stories by O'Henry, edited by Tom Pomplun, various illustrators.
O. Henry is the pen name of William Sidney Porter, who was born on September 11, 1862 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Porter was a licensed pharmacist and worked on a sheep ranch in Texas. He was a draftsman for the General Land Office and a teller for the First National Bank of Texas. He was convicted of embezzlement and eventually served five years in prison. While in prison, he began writing short stories under his pseudonym and eventually wrote over 300. As O. Henry, Porter is one of America's best known writers, and his stories, such as "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Ransom of Red Chief", are still taught in schools. In 1918, the O. Henry Awards, an annual anthology of short stories, was established in his honor. Porter died on June 5, 1910. Graphic Classics: O. Henry is a great collection of stories from the master of the surprise ending. This eleventh volume in the Graphic Classics series features "The Ransom of Red Chief," the precursor to "Home Alone." Plus "The Cabollero's Way," the original tale of The Cisco Kid, and O. Henry's Christmas classic "The Gift of the Magi," along with seven more stories, including a new O. Henry "sequel" by Mort Castle.

The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb 
From Publishers Weekly
Far removed from the satirical reimagining some might expect from the father of underground comix, Crumb's long-awaited take on the first book of the Bible presents the artist's own sensitive, visually intense reflections. Where most visual adaptations edit down their prose sources, Crumb has, strikingly, included every word of the Book of Genesis within his first major book-length work. His humanistic visual response to this religious text imbues even briefly mentioned biblical characters with unique faces and attitudes, and his renderings of the book's more storied personalities draw out momentous emotions inspired by the book's inherent drama. Throughout, Genesis is a virtual portfolio of Crumb's career-long effort to instill fluid cartoon drawing with carefully rendered lifelike detail. Some might miss Crumb's full stylistic and tonal range, but the source's narrative sweep includes moments of sex and scandal that recall the artist's more notorious comics. Indeed, this monumental visual adaptation's basic strategy may subvert simply by demanding a reconsideration of its source, one that continues to motivate the complex cultural struggles that have, for decades, preoccupied this master cartoonist's landmark work.

R. Crumb: The Complete Record Cover Collection by none other than R. Crumb
Robert Crumb first began drawing record covers in 1968 when Janis Joplin, a fellow Haight Ashbury denizen, asked him to provide a cover for her album Cheap Thrills. It was an invitation the budding artist couldn't resist, especially since he had been fascinated with record covers-particularly for the legendary jazz, country, and old-time blues music of the 1920s and 1930s-since he was a teen. This early collaboration proved so successful that Crumb went on to draw hundreds of record covers for both new artists and largely forgotten masters. So remarkable were Crumb's artistic interpretations of these old 78 rpm singles that the art itself proved influential in their rediscovery in the 1960s and 1970s. Including such classics as Truckin' My Blues Away, Harmonica Blues, and Please Warm My Weiner, Crumb's opus also features more recent covers done for CDs. R. Crumb: The Complete Record Cover Collection is a must-have for any lover of graphics and old-time music. 450 four-color illustrations

The Life and Times of R.Crumb Edited by Monte Beauchamp
From Booklist
Underground comics artist Robert Crumb, recently subject of the lavish R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book , receives further confirmation of his arrival as full-fledged cultural icon: a collection of memoirs and tributes attesting his importance and influence. The 47 contributors Beauchamp, editor of the occasional alternative comics anthology Blab (see Blab #9 ), rounds up include fellow cartoonists (Matt Groening, Will Eisner), filmmakers (Terry Gilliam, Jim Jarmusch), cultural observers (Paul Krassner, Roger Ebert), and even Crumb's ex-wife. The most heartfelt contributions are testimonials from the current generation of alternative comics artists, who speak of the profound influence Crumb's art--and his iconoclastic, irreverent attitude--had on their work. More fascinating, though, are the comments of Crumb's contemporaries, who provide behind-the-scenes glimpses of the early days of hippiedom and the birth of the underground comics movement. Crumb's fans constitute the obvious audience for the volume, but viewers of the acclaimed 1994 documentary Crumb should also appreciate these additional glimpses of its outlandishly eccentric subject.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel
From Publishers Weekly
This autobiography by the author of the long-running strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, deals with her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and proprietor of the local funeral parlor (the former allowed him access to teen boys). Fun Home refers both to the funeral parlor, where he put makeup on the corpses and arranged the flowers, and the family's meticulously restored gothic revival house, filled with gilt and lace, where he liked to imagine himself a 19th-century aristocrat. The art has greater depth and sophistication that Dykes; Bechdel's talent for intimacy and banter gains gravitas when used to describe a family in which a man's secrets make his wife a tired husk and overshadow his daughter's burgeoning womanhood and homosexuality. His court trial over his dealings with a young boy pushes aside the importance of her early teen years. Her coming out is pushed aside by his death, probably a suicide. The recursively told story, which revisits the sites of tragic desperation again and again, hits notes that resemble Jeanette Winterson at her best. Bechdel presents her childhood as a "still life with children" that her father created, and meditates on how prolonged untruth can become its own reality. She's made a story that's quiet, dignified and not easy to put down.

Maus I  Written and illustrated by Art Spiegelman
Some historical events simply beggar any attempt at description--the Holocaust is one of these. Therefore, as it recedes and the people able to bear witness die, it becomes more and more essential that novel, vigorous methods are used to describe the indescribable. Examined in these terms, Art Spiegelman's Maus is a tremendous achievement, from a historical perspective as well as an artistic one.
Spiegelman, a stalwart of the underground comics scene of the 1960s and '70s, interviewed his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor living outside New York City, about his experiences. The artist then deftly translated that story into a graphic novel. By portraying a true story of the Holocaust in comic form--the Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs, the French frogs, and the Americans dogs--Spiegelman compels the reader to imagine the action, to fill in the blanks that are so often shied away from. Reading Maus, you are forced to examine the Holocaust anew.
This is neither easy nor pleasant. However, Vladek Spiegelman and his wife Anna are resourceful heroes, and enough acts of kindness and decency appear in the tale to spur the reader onward (we also know that the protagonists survive, else reading would be too painful). This first volume introduces Vladek as a happy young man on the make in pre-war Poland. With outside events growing ever more ominous, we watch his marriage to Anna, his enlistment in the Polish army after the outbreak of hostilities, his and Anna's life in the ghetto, and then their flight into hiding as the Final Solution is put into effect. The ending is stark and terrible, but the worst is yet to come--in the second volume of this Pulitzer Prize-winning set.

Maus II Written and illustrated by Art Spiegelman
From Library Journal
Spiegelman's Maus, A Survivor's Tale (Pantheon, 1987) was a breakthrough, a comic book that gained widespread mainstream attention. The primary story of that book and of this sequel is the experience of Spiegelman's father, Vladek, a Polish Jew who survived the concentration camps of Nazi Germany during World War II. This story is framed by Spiegelman's getting the story from Vladek, which is in turn framed by Spiegelman's working on the book after his father's death and suffering the attendant anxiety and guilt, the ambivalence over the success of the first volume, and the difficulties of his "funny-animal" metaphor. (In both books, he draws the char acters as anthropomorphic animals-- Jews are mice, Poles pigs, Germans cats, Americans dogs, and French frogs.) The interconnections and complex characterizations are engrossing, as are the vivid personal accounts of living in the camps. Maus and Maus . . . II are two of the most important works of comic art ever published.

Habibi Written and illustrated by Craig Thompson
Habibi is impressive to hold. It looks like a lost tome, recovered from a different time and place--a fitting package for a comic book that feels like an exotic, bizarre fairy tale. Craig Thompson's inkwork is bold yet intricate. Each page reveals a meticulous symmetry, both in art and narrative, that unravels a sweeping tale that takes readers from the dessert to an industrial wasteland to the inner walls of a harem. Thematically, there's no shortage of ambition here, as Thompson tackles familial and romantic love, one's relationship to their environment, the shared roots of Christianity and Islam, and the effects of industrial modernization. Not all of these conflicts are resolved--in fact, there's more ambiguity than there is clarity--but it's Dodola and Zam, the book's two orphaned lovers, that imbue Habibi with empathy and humanity. Thompson, who is best known for Blankets, one of the most critically lauded comics of the past decade, has crafted another affecting story of passion, humor, and imagination.

PS Magazine: The Best of The Preventive Maintenance Monthly Written and illustrated by Will Eisner
From Publishers Weekly
For the first time, Will Eisner’s superlative work for the U.S. Army has been assembled into a single collection. The result shows the artist’s keen understanding of the educative power of graphic storytelling. From 1951 to 1971, between The Spirit and A Contract with God, Eisner produced PS Magazine for the army in order to teach the common soldier how best to use, maintain, repair, and requisition their equipment. From explaining how to load a truck correctly to why it won’t start, Eisner used a combination of humor, sound technical writing, and graphic storytelling to educate the soldiers. His magazines could be found at the front lines, in the officer’s mess, and in the quarters of senior military officials. It featured a cast of recurring characters like the loveable Joe Dope and the voluptuous Connie Rodd, who headlined featured segments like “Joe’s Dope Sheet” and the provocatively named “Connie Rodd’s Briefs.” With Eisner’s wonderful artwork and clarity of style making sometimes difficult concepts easy to understand, it’s no wonder PS Magazine was so popular with military personnel. A fascinating document for both fans of Eisner and military history buffs.

Edgar Allen Poe's Tales of Mystery and Madness Stories by Edgar Allen Poe, illustrations by Gris Grimly
From Booklist
Archetypal horror writer Poe has received a variety of graphically enhanced treatments in recent years, including a volume in Eureka Productions' Rosebud Graphic Classics series (2001) and Jonathan Scott Fuqua'sIn the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe (DC Comics, 2002). This exceptionally well-produced collection of four tales will, perhaps, reach a wider audience. The gently abridged retellings are in Poe's original language, and Grimly's wonderfully ghastly, full-color spot and full-page art splendidly depicts the mayhem that leads to murder in "The Black Cat," the partying in the "The Masque of the Red Death," the vicious genius of "Hop-Frog," and the dual connotations of "The Fall of the House of Usher." In addition to varied sizes and presentation of images, Grimly uses different typefaces to set off aspects of the narratives, which flow across the pages in the traditional manner rather than appearing in comics-style panels. With high-production values and gothic sensibilities thoroughly reflected in both text and art, this is an essential purchase for libraries. Adults can use it to lead young people to some great literature; readers will pluck it off the shelves themselves for creepy, entertaining fun.

GENERAL DISCUSSION: One book group member recounted her admiration for the work of  promising young cartoonist and fellow student named David Horsey while attending the University of Washington. Horsey went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning and is currently employed at the Los Angeles Times. His work is also syndicated nationwide.

The JCLC system has the following materials by David Horsey available:

From Hanging Chad to Baghdad: editorial cartoons by David Horsey

and Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic  with illustrations by David Horsey

Happy reading!