Seriously, this group never ceases to amaze me. It seems like every meeting is always THE best one and this month's discussion was no exception. Our topic was buildings & architecture and it was a fantastic discussion. September's topic is graphic novels (fiction and nonfiction) and the meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 25th at 6:30pm in the Library's Conference Room.
The Prague Castle and Its Treasures by Prince Karl von Schwarzenberg et al.
From Publishers Weekly
From a window in the Prague Castle, Hitler looked down on an occupied city in 1939. Fifty years later, Vaclav Havel took the oath of office in the castle, the Czech president's official residence. Begun in the ninth century, the magnificent Prague Castle has been home to saints, iconoclasts and Bohemia's monarchs; the site of confrontations between Christians and pagans; and an emblem of political independence. Czech martyr Prince Wenceslas built St. Vitus's Church on its grounds around 926. This ravishing album combines 250 color photographs and engaging essays by art historians. Because the Prague Castle complex includes the National Gallery, the Royal Palace and noted churches-all documented in text and pictures-the book provides a unique window on Czech and European art and history, evoking the interplay among architecture, painting and sculpture.
Hearst Castle: The Biography of a Country House by Victoria Kastner
Newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and his legendary California estate occupy a place in the public imagination through Orson Welles's Citizen Kane, but Kane's brooding Xanadu was merely a caricature of Hearst's exuberant castle at San Simeon. This new book sets the record straight and proves that, for once, truth is better than fiction.
Here for the first time is the real story of Hearst Castle, and of the productive 28-year relationship between Hearst and his architect, Julia Morgan, who collaborated on the magnificent 165-room estate set on 250,000 breathtaking acres near the remote seaside hamlet of San Simeon, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Drawing on previously unpublished correspondence, and illustrated with never-before-seen historic photographs as well as more than 150 stunning color pictures, Victoria Kastner chronicles the evolution of this extraordinary hilltop, with its two spectacular pools and its astounding collections of fine art and antiques. Sprinkled throughout with stories of the famous parties hosted by Hearst and his companion, movie star Marion Davies, and their celebrated guests, this book brings to life America's most glamorous country house.
California Crazy & Beyond: Roadside Vernacular Architecture by Jim Heimann
In 1980, Los Angeles historian Jim Heimann wrote a book about the oddball roadside architecture that has dotted the American landscape since the advent of the auto. Published by Chronicle Books as California Crazy, it stayed in print for nearly 20 years. Finally, here is the greatly expanded new edition of that sought-after classic. California Crazy and Beyond is packed with madcap restaurants, motels, service stations, and many other businesses shaped like hot dogs, animals, airplanes, pianos, and other architectural anomalies. Over the years, Heimann's continued research has uncovered a multitude of new pictures and forgotten buildings. With over 380 photographs and an illuminating text that tracks the subject well beyond the bounds of the West Coast, California Crazy and Beyond is an authoritative document of a style born in America and spread to all corners of the world.
The 1964-65 New York World's Fair by Bill Cotter & Bill Young
The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair was the largest international exhibition ever built in the United States. More than one hundred fifty pavilions and exhibits spread over six hundred forty-six acres helped the fair live up to its reputation as "the Billion-Dollar Fair." With the cold war in full swing, the fair offered visitors a refreshingly positive view of the future, mirroring the official theme: Peace through Understanding. Guests could travel back in time through a display of full-sized dinosaurs, or look into a future where underwater hotels and flying cars were commonplace. They could enjoy Walt Disney's popular shows, or study actual spacecraft flown in orbit. More than fifty-one million guests visited the fair before it closed forever in 1965. The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair captures the history of this event through vintage photographs, published here for the first time.
The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry that Transformed Rome by Jake Morrissey
The rivalry between the brilliant seventeenth-century Italian architects Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Francesco Borromini is the stuff of legend. Enormously talented and ambitious artists, they met as contemporaries in the building yards of St. Peter's in Rome, became the greatest architects of their era by designing some of the most beautiful buildings in the world, and ended their lives as bitter enemies. Engrossing and impeccably researched, full of dramatic tension and breathtaking insight, The Genius in the Design is the remarkable tale of how two extraordinary visionaries schemed and maneuvered to get the better of each other and, in the process, created the spectacular Roman cityscape of today.
A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder by Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan's unmatched ability to draw lines of connection between our everyday experiences- whether eating, gardening, or building-and the natural world has been the basis for the popular success of his many works of nonfiction, including the genre-defining bestsellers The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. With this updated edition of his earlier book A Place of My Own, readers can revisit the inspired, intelligent, and often hilarious story of Pollan's realization of a room of his own-a small, wooden hut, his "shelter for daydreams"-built with his admittedly unhandy hands. Inspired by both Thoreau and Mr. Blandings, A Place of My Own not only works to convey the history and meaning of all human building, it also marks the connections between our bodies, our minds, and the natural world.
The Secret Lives of Buildings: From the Ruins of the Parthenon to the Vegas Strip in Thirteen Stories by Edward Hollis
Few man-made things seem as stable, as immutable, as a building. Yet the life of any structure is neither fixed nor timeless. Buildings are forced to adapt to each succeeding age. The Parthenon, that epitome of a ruined temple, was for centuries a working church and then a mosque; the cathedral of Notre Dame was “restored” to a design that none of its original makers would have recognized; remains of the Berlin Wall, once gleefully smashed, have become precious relics. Here Edward Hollis recounts the most enthralling of these metamorphoses and shows how buildings have come to embody the history of Western culture.
Building Big by David Macaulay
Why this shape and not that? Why steel instead of concrete or stone? Why put it here and not over there? These are the kinds of questions that David Macaulay asks himself when he observes an architectural wonder. These questions take him back to the basic process of design from which all structures begin, from the realization of a need for the structure to the struggles of the engineers and designers to map out and create the final construction.
As only he can, David Macaulay engages readers’ imaginations and gets them thinking about structures they see and use every day — bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes, and dams. In Building Big he focuses on the connections between the planning and design problems and the solutions that are finally reached. Whether a structure is imposing or inspiring, he shows us that common sense and logic play just as important a part in architecture as imagination and technology do. As always, Macaulay inspires readers of all ages to look at their world in a new way.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: Macaulay wrote this as a companion book to the PBS special, Building Big. He has written many books on various architectural topics:
Practical 3D Printers: The Science and Art of 3D Printing by Brian Evans
So what is a 3D printer? It's a device you can either buy or build to make parts, toys, art, and even 3D images captured by a sensor or modeled in software. Maybe you have one, or maybe you're thinking about buying or building one, but once you have one, what can you do with it?
Practical 3D Printers takes you beyond building the printer to calibrating it, customizing it, and creating amazing models with it, including 3D printed text, a warship model, a robot body, windup toys, and arcade-inspired alien invaders.
First you'll learn about the different types of popular 3D printer models and the similarities and differences among them. You'll see how the MakerBot works, and how it's different from RepRap printers like the Huxley and Mendel as well as the whiteAnt RepStrap printer featured in the Apress book Printing in Plastic. You'll then learn how to find and create 3D models, and even how to create a 3D model from a 2D image. Next, you'll walk through building multi-part models with a steampunk warship example, working with meshes to build your own action heroes, and creating an autonomous robot chassis. Finally, you'll find all sorts of bonus projects to build, including wind-up walkers, faceted vases for the home, and a handful of useful upgrades to improve your 3D printer.
In Practical 3D Printers, Brian Evans, the author of Beginning Arduino Programming, takes this topic deeper than any other 3D printing book with an discussion of various types of popular 3D printers, how to customize and calibrate them, and how to design and create models to put your printer to work. Whether you have the MakerBot, the Mendel, the whiteAnt, or any other 3D printer, with Practical 3D Printers, you'll be able to create amazing things with your printer.
What you’ll learn:
The various types of 3D printers, what they have in common, and what sets each one apart
The printer toolchain, including controllers and printer interfaces
The art of calibrating your printer
How to find and create 3D models to print, including using Google Sketchup
How to create multipart models and meshes
How to upgrade both the mechanical and electronic parts in your printer
Who this book is for: Electronics enthusiasts, tinkerers, artists, and everyone who wants to use their 3D printer to do more than make more 3D printers.
Digital Fabrication in Architecture by Nick Dunn
With the increasing sophistication of CAD and other design software, there is now a wide array of means for both designing and fabricating architecture and its components. The proliferation of advanced modeling software and hardware has enabled architects and students to conceive and create designs that would be very difficult to do using more traditional methods. This book focuses on the inspiring possibilities for architecture that can be achieved with all the different technologies and techniques available for making complete designs or their components.
Laboring at his computer ten hours a day for five years—creating exquisitely detailed 3-D models of the Pyramid's interior—Houdin finally had his answer. It was a startling revelation that cast a fresh light on the minds that conceived one of the wonders of the ancient world.
Written by world-renowned Egyptologist Bob Brier in collaboration with Houdin, The Secret of the Great Pyramid moves deftly between the ancient and the modern, chronicling two equally fascinating interrelated histories. It is a remarkable account of the step-by-step planning and assembling of the magnificent edifice—the brainchild of an innovative genius, the Egyptian architect Hemienu, who imagined, organized, and oversaw a monumental construction project that took more than two decades to complete and that employed the services of hundreds of architects, mathematicians, boatbuilders, stonemasons, and metallurgists. Here also is the riveting story of Jean-Pierre Houdin's single-minded search for solutions to the mysteries that have bedeviled Egyptologists for centuries, such as the purpose of the enigmatic Grand Gallery and the Pyramid's crack.
A Barn in New England: Making a Home on Three Acres by Joseph Monninger
The beauty of the New England countryside, the joys of forming a new family, and the adventure of renovating a nineteenth-century barn come together in Joe Monninger's warm and evocative memoir of home and hearth. When the author and his black Labrador, and Wendy and her eight-year-old son, move into a 6,000-square-foot barn in New Hampshire, they fall in love with the building, not realizing how much work it will take to remodel--let alone heat--their new home. While building a fence, putting in a garden, renovating the house, and exploring the land, the author finds his family's new life rooted in the area's old traditions, learning the history of covered bridges and New England's witchy past. They discover the best way to trim the grass (sheep), the delight of moving a 14-foot Christmas tree into their living room, and the spooky fun of holding a seance for Halloween. With the charms of New England front and center, this endearing memoir captures the pleasures large and small of making a new place your own.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: One book group member told us about Samuel Mockbee and his Rural Studio concept. From Auburn University's website: "In 1993, two Auburn University architecture professors, Dennis K. Ruth and the late Samuel Mockbee, established the Auburn University Rural Studio in western Alabama within the university's School of Architecture. The Rural Studio, conceived as a strategy to improve the living conditions in rural Alabama while imparting practical experience to architecture students, completed its first project in 1994. In 2000, Andrew Freear was hired as thesis professor, and upon Mockbee's death, succeeded him as director while continuing to teach thesis. Under his guidance the focus has shifted from the design and construction of small homes to larger community projects."
The JCLC system has the following materials about Samuel Mockbee and his Rural Studio available:
The meeting to discuss bestsellers came out of the corner swinging and surely would have been awarded the gold medal for book discussions were it competing in London right now. There was a great variety of books on hand and the talk ranged just as widely. Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, August 21st at 6:30pm in the Library's Conference Room to discuss books on buildings and architecture.
In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, Travis Boyette abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.
Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess. But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?
Space elevators. Internet-enabled contact lenses. Cars that fly by floating on magnetic fields. This is the stuff of science fiction—it’s also daily life in the year 2100.
Renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku details the developments in computer technology, artificial intelligence, medicine, space travel, and more, that are poised to happen over the next hundred years. He also considers how these inventions will affect the world economy, addressing the key questions: Who will have jobs? Which nations will prosper? Kaku interviews three hundred of the world’s top scientists—working in their labs on astonishing prototypes. He also takes into account the rigorous scientific principles that regulate how quickly, how safely, and how far technologies can advance. In Physics of the Future, Kaku forecasts a century of earthshaking advances in technology that could make even the last centuries’ leaps and bounds seem insignificant.
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: This book was an interesting mix of fiction and the author's vintage photography that was nearly mesmerizing for the three GRG members who read it. We all agreed that it made us want to dig around in yardsales looking to build our own stash of strange vintage photographs. Another book that reminded me of this one was Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy, a compelling collection of photographs by Charles Van Schaick and news articles from local papers from the small turn-of-the-century town of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. It emphasizes the harsh aspects of Midwestern rural life under the pressures of crime, disease, mental illness, and urbanization. A docudrama-style film was adapted from the book and released in 2000.
He was called by many names—Columb, Colom, Colón—but we know him as Christopher Columbus. Many questions about him exist: Where was he born, raised, and educated? Where did he die? How did he discover the New World?
None have ever been properly answered. And then there is the greatest secret of all.
From Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author, comes an exciting new adventure—one that challenges everything we thought we knew about the discovery of America.
Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Tom Sagan has written hard-hitting articles from hot spots around the world. But when a controversial report from a war-torn region is exposed as a fraud, his professional reputation crashes and burns. Now he lives in virtual exile—haunted by bad decisions and the shocking truth he can never prove: that his downfall was a deliberate act of sabotage by an unknown enemy. But before Sagan can end his torment with the squeeze of a trigger, fate intervenes in the form of an enigmatic stranger with a request that cannot be ignored.
Zachariah Simon has the look of a scholar, the soul of a scoundrel, and the zeal of a fanatic. He also has Tom Sagan’s estranged daughter at his mercy. Simon desperately wants something only Sagan can supply: the key to a 500-year-old mystery, a treasure with explosive political significance in the modern world. For both Simon and Sagan the stakes are high, the goal intensely personal, the consequences of opposing either man potentially catastrophic. On a perilous quest from Florida to Vienna to Prague and finally to the mountains of Jamaica, the two men square off in a dangerous game. Along the way, both of their lives will be altered—and everything we know about Christopher Columbus will change.
As David McCullough writes, “Not all pioneers went west.”
In The Greater Journey, he tells the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work. What they achieved would profoundly alter American history.
Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, was one of this intrepid band. Another was Charles Sumner, whose encounters with black students at the Sorbonne inspired him to become the most powerful voice for abolition in the U.S. Senate. Friends James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse worked unrelentingly every day in Paris, Morse not only painting what would be his masterpiece, but also bringing home his momentous idea for the telegraph. Harriet Beecher Stowe traveled to Paris to escape the controversy generated by her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Three of the greatest American artists ever—sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent—flourished in Paris, inspired by French masters.
Almost forgotten today, the heroic American ambassador Elihu Washburne bravely remained at his post through the Franco-Prussian War, the long Siege of Paris, and the nightmare of the Commune. His vivid diary account of the starvation and suffering endured by the people of Paris is published here for the first time.
Telling their stories with power and intimacy, McCullough brings us into the lives of remarkable men and women who, in Saint-Gaudens’ phrase, longed “to soar into the blue.”
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: We got into a discussion of our reading habits and one member brought up the book Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch. "Caught up in grief after the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch decided to stop running and start reading. For once in her life she would put all other obligations on hold and devote herself to reading a book a day: one year of magical reading in which she found joy, healing, and wisdom. With grace and deep insight, Sankovitch weaves together poignant family memories with the unforgettable lives of the characters she reads about. She finds a lesson in each book, ultimately realizing the ability of a good story to console, inspire, and open our lives to new places and experiences. A moving story of recovery, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is also a resonant reminder of the all-encompassing power and delight of reading."
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.
A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: The Paris Wife and The Rules of Civility and the chaotic lifestyles of the characters in both books brought us around to a discussion of the "lost generation," a term used to refer to the generation that came of age during and immediately after World War I. Jack Kerouac's novel The Sea is My Brother, is another exhausting and heady chronicle of those tumultuous years.
Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.
What are your favorite bestselling books and/or authors?
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