Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pop Culture and Celebrity

The next Genre Reading Group meeting will be on Tuesday, January 28th at 6:30pm and we'll be starting our Year of the Theme!  January's meeting will celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday with a discussion of the Civil Rights Movement in America.  Books, audiobooks, movies, documentaries, graphic novels, fiction, nonfiction...YOU pick what to read/watch/listen to, then come tell us about it on January 28th!

Last night we met to talk about pop culture and fame and the discussion ranged from Downton Abbey to the paparazzi to variety shows and stars of the past.

The Cult of Celebrity: What Our Fascination with the Stars Reveals About Us by Cooper Lawrence
America’s fast-growing religion is—let’s face it—celebrity worship. From gossip magazines to entertainment TV, from blogs to ads featuring famous faces, the stars are our new gods and goddesses. But why are we so quick to put them on pedestals? Why are we even more spellbound when they topple back down to earth?

The Cult of Celebrity is the first book to explore this phenomenon comprehensively and yet in eminently readable terms. In a compulsive read, Cooper Lawrence maps out the psychology behind the behavior of the stars—and that of the millions out there who follow their every move. She points both to the benefits and dangers not only to society but also to us personally; to our spending habits, health, social awareness, attitude toward personal failure and toward relationships, and above all, our self-image. And she offers practical tips on keeping our interest under control. Drawing on the latest research as well as interviews with fans and entertainment industry insiders, as well as celebrities themselves, The Cult of Celebrity is as accessible and sassy as it is thought-provoking. (amazon.com)

The Line That Learned a Lesson by Beverly B. Erdreich  (not in the PLJC system)
“The Line That Learned a Lesson” tells a moral while delightfully engaging young readers to look at the alphabet in a creative, new way. The Line is very proud that it is straight and tall and brags about the things that it can achieve. The Line loves its family and also finds the alphabet irresistible. It can draw 15 letters, but finds the other 11 impossible to write. What happens when the Line tries to relax and bend? Is it better to stay true to oneself or to change? Using a clever approach, this refreshing tale ends with a happy solution! (amazon.com)

Marilyn Monroe by Maurice Zolotow  (not in the PLJC system)
The classic book on Marilyn Monroe, written during her lifetime and partially based on interviews with the actress herself, now illustrated and brought up to date. Originally published in 1960, Zolotow's book was the first to take Marilyn seriously as an actress at a time when she was thought to be just an eccentric, gorgeous blonde. 16 pages of photographs.  (books.google.com)

Comic Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World's Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment by Rob Salkowitz
Welcome to Comic-Con: where the future of pop culture comes to life.  Every summer, more than 130,000 comic fans, gamers, cosplay enthusiasts, and nerds of all stripes descend on San Diego to mingle with the top entertainment celebrities and creative industry professionals in an unprecedented celebration of popular culture in all its forms.  From humble beginnings, Comic-Con has mutated into an electrifying, exhausting galaxy of movies, TV, video games, art, fashion, toys, merchandise, and buzz. It’s where the future of entertainment unspools in real time, and everyone wants to be there.

In Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, author Rob Salkowitz, a recognized expert in digital media and the global digital generation (and unabashed comics enthusiast), explores how the humble art form of comics ended up at the center of the 21st-century media universe. From Comic-Con’s massive exhibit hall and panels to its exclusive parties and business suites, Salkowitz peels back the layers to show how comics culture is influencing communications, entertainment, digital technology, marketing, education, and storytelling.

What can the world’s most approachable and adaptable art form tell us about the importance of individual talent and personal engagement in the era of the new global audience, the iPad, and the quarter-billion-dollar summer blockbuster?  Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture combines the insights business leaders need with the details fans crave about the future of the world’s most dynamic industry. Even if you can’t be in San Diego in July, this book brings the excitement into focus . . . no costumes required!  (amazon.com)

I'll Be Right Back: Memories of TV's Greatest Talk Show by Mike Douglas with Thomas Kelly and Michael Heaton
The man who ruled daytime TV for two decades displays the same engaging style that made him so enormously popular--in a memoir bursting with terrific stories told with nostalgia, wit, and more than a touch of class. 100 photos throughout.  (amazon.com)

Muscle Shoals (documentary film) (not in the PLJC system)
Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music. Under the spiritual influence of the "Singing River," as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals has helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. At its heart is Rick Hall who founded FAME Studios. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, Hall brought black and white together in Alabama's cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations. He is responsible for creating the "Muscle Shoals sound" and The Swampers, the house band at FAME that eventually left to start their own successful studio, known as Muscle Shoals Sound. Greg Allman, Bono, Clarence Carter, Mick Jagger, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals' magnetism, mystery and why it remains influential today. - See more at: http://www.magpictures.com/muscleshoals/#sthash.5CX2bULq.dpuf

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol McDonald Wallace
From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles--just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details--plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette--To Marry An English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible. (amazon.com)

The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
A lavish look at the real world--both the secret history and the behind-the-scenes drama--of the spellbinding Emmy Award-winning Masterpiece TV series Downton Abbey

April 1912. The sun is rising behind Downton Abbey, a great and splendid house in a great and splendid park. So secure does it appear that it seems as if the way it represents will last for another thousand years. It won't.

Millions of American viewers were enthralled by the world of Downton Abbey, the mesmerizing TV drama of the aristocratic Crawley family--and their servants--on the verge of dramatic change. On the eve of Season 2 of the TV presentation, this gorgeous book--illustrated with sketches and research from the production team, as well as on-set photographs from both seasons--takes us even deeper into that world, with fresh insights into the story and characters as well as the social history. (amazon.com)

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey:  A New Era for Family, Friends, Lovers, and Staff by Jessica Fellowes
The Great War has ended, but Downton Abbey is far from peaceful...

"Americans can't get enough of 'Downton Abbey,'" said The Boston Globe. As Season 3 of the award-winning TV series opens, it is 1920 and Downton Abbey is waking up to a world changed forever by World War I. New characters arrive and new intrigues thrive as the old social order is challenged by new expectations.

In this new era, different family members abound (including Cora's American mother, played by Shirley MacLaine) and changed dynamics need to be resolved: Which branch of the family tree will Lord Grantham’s first grandchild belong to? What will become of the servants, both old and new?

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, carefully pieced together at the heart and hearth of the ancestral home of the Crawleys, takes us deeper into the story of every important member of the Downton estate.This lavish, entirely new book focuses on each character individually, examining their motivations, their actions, and the inspirations behind them. An evocative combination of story, history, and behind-the-scenes drama, it will bring fans even closer to the secret, beating heart of the house. (amazon.com)

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy. (amazon.com)

A Paper Life by Tatum O'Neal
A real Hollywood-style tell-all, this is the extremely candid and highly explosive autobiography of one of the movie industry's most talented and troubled young stars.

At age ten, Tatum O'Neal became the youngest Oscar winner in history for her performance in the film classic Paper Moon. As the sidekick to her father, the flamboyant star and man-about-town Ryan O'Neal, she became a fixture at the most glamorous Hollywood parties and counted celebrities ranging from Cher to Stanley Kubrick among her childhood friends.

Yet behind the glittering fa├žade of Tatum's life lay heartbreak: abandonment, abuse, neglect, and drug addiction. She reveals the most intimate secrets of her dysfunctional relationships with her father, Ryan O'Neal, and stepmother, Farrah Fawcett, as well as her alcoholic mother, Joanna Moore, and ex-husband, tennis pro John McEnroe.

After the collapse of her marriage and with no real family to turn to, Tatum succumbed to the demons of her past that would nearly kill her. Now she has emerged clean and sober, rediscovering herself as an actress, mother, and wonderfully vibrant woman in what she considers the prime of her life. (amazon.com)

What are YOU reading?
Holley




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Caldecott Award Winners

Our next meeting will be Tuesday, December 17th at 6:30pm and the topic is any aspect of popular culture.  From celebrity gossip to China's youth, anything goes!  You pick the book and come tell us about it!

Also, 2014 will usher in a year of themes for the Genre Reading Group.  Each month, we will celebrate a holiday or commemorative month/week.  January we will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a discussion of books on the Civil Rights Movement.  Pick ANY book on that topic.

We met last night to talk about the Caldecott Award and some winners and honor books.  The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Book descriptions from amazon.com

Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (author and illustrator)
What a night!
The moon is full.
Kitten is hungry
and inquisitive
and brave
and fast
and persistent
and unlucky . . .
then lucky!
What a night!

The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble (author and illustrator)
"There was a girl in the village who loved horses... She led the horses to drink at the river. She spoke softly and they followed. People noticed that she understood horses in a special way."
And so begins the story of a young Native American girl devoted to the care of her tribe's horses. With simple text and brilliant illustrations. Paul Goble tells how she eventually becomes one of them to forever run free.

Song and Dance Man written by Karen Ackerman; illustrated by Stephen Gammell
Illus. in full color. "In this affectionate story, three children follow their grandfather up to the attic, where he pulls out his old bowler hat, gold-tipped cane, and his tap shoes. Grandpa once danced on the vaudeville stage, and as he glides across the floor, the children can see what it was like to be a song and dance man. Gammell captures all the story's inherent joie de vivre with color pencil renderings that leap off the pages. Bespectacled, enthusiastic Grandpa clearly exudes the message that you're only as old as you feel, but the children respond--as will readers--to the nostalgia of the moment. Utterly original."--(starred) Booklist

Snowflake Bentley written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin; illustrated by Mary Azarian
"Of all the forms of water the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied." -- Wilson Bentley (1865-1931)
From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley's enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist's vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature. Snowflake Bentley won the 1999 Caldecott Medal.

Animals of the Bible with text selected by Helen Dean Fish; illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop
Dorothy Lathrop's Animals of the Bible won the very first Caldecott Medal when it was originally published in 1937. Now, in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of this prestigious medal and its first recipient, comes this special deluxe edition of Lathrop's award-winning collection of some of the Bible's most extraordinary animals. Thirty richly detailed black-and-white drawings illustrate the favorite stories of the Creation, Noah's Ark, the first Christmas, and many others. A glorious tribute to a great tradition in children's literature, this special anniversary edition will be a keepsake to treasure for years to come.

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (author and illustrator)
When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . . . Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.

Sector Seven by David Wiesner (author and illustrator)
Only the person who gave us Tuesday could have devised this fantastic Caldecott Honor-winning tale, which begins with a school trip to the Empire State Building. There a boy makes friends with a mischievous little cloud, who whisks him away to the Cloud Dispatch Center for Sector 7 (the region that includes New York City). The clouds are bored with their everyday shapes, so the boy obligingly starts to sketch some new ones. . . . The wordless yet eloquent account of this unparalleled adventure is a funny, touching story about art, friendship, and the weather, as well as a visual tour de force.

Flotsam by David Wiesner (author and illustrator)
A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam - anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share ...and to keep.

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann (author and illustrator)
"Besides the beguiling story, the affable illustrations of the smiling Gloria, the accidental mayhem in the background, and the myriad safety tips -- such as 'always pull the toothpick out of your sandwhich' and 'never lick a stop sign in the winter' -- add to the enjoyment. A glorious picture book." -- The Horn Book "Rathmann is a quick rising star in the world of chidren's books. In this book, she again shows her flair for creating real characters, dramatic situations and for knowing what will make young audiences giggle and think." -- Children's Book Review Magazine "Rathman brings a lighter-than-air comic touch to this outstanding, solid-as-a-brick picture book." -- Publisher's Weekly "A five-star performance." -- School Library Journal

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (author and illustrator)
In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of one of Aesop's most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.

Black and White by David Macaulay (author and illustrator)
Four stories are told simultaneously, with each double-page spread divided into quadrants. The stories do not necessarily take place at the same moment in time, but are they really one story?

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein (author and illustrator)
In 1974, French aerialist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This picture book captures the poetry and magic of the event with a poetry of its own: lyrical words and lovely paintings that present the detail, daring, and--in two dramatic foldout spreads-- the vertiginous drama of Petit's feat.
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers is the winner of the 2004 Caldecott Medal, the winner of the 2004 Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Picture Books, and the winner of the 2006 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children's Video.

Owl Moon written by Jane Yolen; illustrated by John Schoenherr
"As expansive as the broad sweep of the great owl's wings and as close and comforting as a small hand held on a wintry night . . . The visual images have a sense of depth and seem to invite readers into this special nighttime world."--School Library Journal, starred review. Full color. 1988 Caldecott Medal Book.

Arrow to the Sun: A Pueblo Indian Tale adapted and illustrated by Gerald McDermott
An expression of the universal myth of the hero-quest, this beautiful story also portrays the Indian reverence for the source of life: the Solar Fire. Vibrant full-color illustrations capture the boldness and color of Pueblo art. A Caldecott Medal Book.

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (author and illustrator)
Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for her and her eight ducklings to live.  The problem was how to get them there through the busy streets of Boston.  But with a little help from the Boston police, Mrs. Mallard and Jack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack arive safely at their new home.
This brilliantly illustrated, amusingly observed tale of Mallards on the move has won the hearts of generations of readers.  Awarded the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children in 1941, it has since become a favorite of millions.

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship: A Russian Tale retold by Arthur Ransome; pictures by Uri Shulevitz
When the Czar proclaims that he will marry his daughter to the man who brings him a flying ship, the Fool of the World sets out to try his luck and meets some unusual companions on the way.  The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship is the winner of the 1969 Caldecott Medal.

Lon Po Po: a Red Riding Hood Story from China translated and illustrated by Ed Young
"Not for the faint-hearted, Lon Po Po (Grandmother Wold), is a tale of a menacing danger and courage....(Young's) command of page composition and his sensitive use of color give the book a visual force that matches the strength of the story and stands as one of the illustrator's best efforts." --Booklist "Absolutely splendid." -- Kirkuse Reviews. "An extraordinary and powerful book." -- Publisher's Weekly

Smoky Night written by Eve Bunting; illustrated by David Diaz
In a night of rioting, Daniel and his mother are forced to leave their apartment for the safety of a shelter. “Diaz has not been afraid to take risks in illustrating the story with thickly textured paintings against a background of torn-paper and found-object collage. Without becoming cluttered or gimmicky, these pictures manage to capture a calamitous atmosphere that finally calms. . . . Both author and artist have managed to portray a politically charged event without pretense or preaching.”--The Bulletin

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

forensic fiction







Next month, the Genre Reading Group will be getting in touch with its inner child as we discuss Caldecott Award winners.  The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.  I pulled a selection of the winners from the past 40 years and they will be on display at the 2nd floor Reference Desk until the meeting on Tuesday, November 26th at 6:30pm in the Library's Conference Room.

You will find a complete list of winners by clicking here.

One of our members let us know that a local author will be featured at the Birmingham Museum of Art's First Thursday program, November 7 at 7pm in BMA's lecture hall as part of the Chenoweth lecture series.  Born and raised here in Birmingham, Margaret Wrinkle (writer, film maker, educator, and artist) will present a program on the research and writing of her recent novel, Wash.  For more information, visit BMA's website at www.artsbma.org.

(amazon.com)  In this luminous debut, Margaret Wrinkle takes us on an unforgettable journey across continents and through time, from the burgeoning American South to West Africa and deep into the ancestral stories that reside in the soul. Wash introduces a remarkable new voice in American literature.  In early 1800s Tennessee, two men find themselves locked in an intimate power struggle. Richardson, a troubled Revolutionary War veteran, has spent his life fighting not only for his country but also for wealth and status. When the pressures of westward expansion and debt threaten to destroy everything he’s built, he sets Washington, a young man he owns, to work as his breeding sire. Wash, the first member of his family to be born into slavery, struggles to hold onto his only solace: the spirituality inherited from his shamanic mother. As he navigates the treacherous currents of his position, despair and disease lead him to a potent healer named Pallas. Their tender love unfolds against this turbulent backdrop while she inspires him to forge a new understanding of his heritage and his place in it. Once Richardson and Wash find themselves at a crossroads, all three lives are pushed to the brink.

Last night, the GRG discussed forensic fiction, mysteries/thrillers in which a forensic science is part of the plot and/or its resolution.

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
(amazon.com)  Portland detective Archie Sheridan spent years tracking Gretchen Lowell, a beautiful and brutal serial killer. In the end, she was the one who caught him…and tortured him…and then let him go. Why did Gretchen spare Archie’s life and then turn herself in? This is the question that keeps him up all night—and the reason why he has visited Gretchen in prison every week since.  Meanwhile, another series of murders is tearing up the Portland streets. Archie seems to be getting closer to solving this high-profile case…until he finds himself in a fatal collision course with the killer—one that inevitably leads him back to his former captor. Gretchen may be the only one who can help do justice. The only thing she can’t do, this time, is save Archie’s life.

The Architect by Keith Ablow
(amazon.com)  West Crosse is a stunningly brilliant, strikingly handsome architect with a love of ideal beauty and a commitment to achieving it at any cost. But the rich, powerful families who secretly engage him to design their homes don't know his dark side: Crosse can't stop at designing their dwellings. He needs to make their lives more perfect, too, even if it means a gut rehab of the family, even if the final design takes years to achieve--murdering an abusive spouse, a toxic lover, a predatory business partner or an unwanted child. As Crosse is about to embark on the master work or his creative life, the FBI puts Frank Clevenger on the case, and the ultimate cat and mouse game begins.

The Dinner by Herman Koch
(amazon.com)  An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal.  It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.  Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

Guilt by Jonathan Kellerman
(amazon.com)  Jonathan Kellerman’s “psychology skills and dark imagination are a potent literary mix” (Los Angeles Times), and this intensely thrilling blend has never been so powerful as in the acclaimed author’s new novel of murder and madness among the beautiful dreamers, seductive predators, and doomed innocents adrift in the glare of Southern California’s eternal sunshine.  A series of horrifying events occur in quick succession in the same upscale L.A. neighborhood. A backyard renovation unearths an infant’s body, buried sixty years ago. And soon thereafter in a nearby park, another disturbingly bizarre discovery is made not far from the body of a young woman shot in the head. Helping LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis to link these eerie incidents is brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware. But even the good doctor’s vast experience with matters both clinical and criminal might not be enough to cut down to the bone of this chilling case—and draw out the disturbing truth.

 Backtracking six decades into the past stirs up tales of a beautiful nurse with a mystery lover, a handsome, wealthy doctor who seems too good to be true, and a hospital with a notorious reputation—all of them long gone, along with any records of a newborn, and destined for anonymity. But the specter of fame rears its head when the case unexpectedly twists in the direction of the highest echelons of celebrity privilege. Entering this sheltered world, Alex little imagines the macabre layer just below the surface—a decadent quagmire of unholy rituals and grisly sacrifice.  Before their work is done, Alex and Milo, “the most original whodunit duo since Watson and Holmes” (Forbes), must confront a fanatically deranged mind of such monstrous cunning that even the most depraved madman would shudder.

Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter
(amazon.com)  The killer strikes in plain sight . . . but you'll never see it coming.  The mutilation murder of a young college professor paralyzes a tiny Georgian community. This hideous crime is the worst thing small-town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton has ever seen—but only when the autopsy is complete is the intricate, terrible genius of a profoundly twisted psychopath truly revealed. As Sara's ex-husband—Heartsdale police chief Jeffrey Tolliver—pursues an elusive fiend, Lena Adams—the victim's sister and the county's only female detective—swears she'll have her personal vengeance. But their worst fears are realized by the macabre crucifixion of a second local woman: there is a serial slayer in their midst, one whose identity is hidden somewhere in Sara Linton's secret past. And this killer has no intention of stopping . . . and will not be stopped.

Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs
(amazon.com)  She works with the dead, but she works for the living.  "Down time" is not a phrase in Tempe Brennan's vocabulary. A string of disturbing cases has put her vacation plans on hold; instead, she heads to the lab to analyze charred remains from a suspicious fire, and a mysterious black residue from a small plane crash. But most troubling of all are the bones. . . . Tempe's daughter's new boyfriend invites them to a picnic -- a pig pickin' -- in the North Carolina countryside, where a cache of bones turns up. But are they animal or human? X-rays and DNA may link the crimes, but they can't reveal who is closing in on Tempe and her daughter -- and how far they will go to keep her from uncovering the truth.

The Bone Collector (the movie) adapted from Jeffrey Deaver's book of the same name
(amazon.com, THE MOVIE)  Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie star in the gripping suspense thriller The Bone Collector about a serial killer who takes his victims' lives and leaves behind mysterious pieces of a bizarre puzzle. It is now up to Lincoln Rhyme (Washington), a onetime top homicide investigator, who may be the only person who can make sense of his deranged plan. When a tragic accident changes his life forever, Rhyme can only watch as other cops bungle the case...until he teams up with a young rookie, Amelia Donaghy (Jolie), who bravely searches out the clues that could help them solve the case. As the killer senses the cops closing in, Rhyme realizes that he and his partner are on the trail of a vicious, sadistic murderer who will stop at nothing on his deadly mission. At any moment, Rhyme and Amelia could become his next targets - and their first case could become their last.

(amazon.com, THE BOOK)  New York City is thrown into chaos by the assaults of the Bone Collector, a serial kidnapper and killer who gives the police a chance to save his victims from death by leaving obscure clues. The cops go to Lincoln Rhyme, an ex-NYPD forensics expert left paralysed after an accident on the job. Rhyme reluctantly postpones his ambitions towards suicide and puts together a forensic investigation team, enlisting as his eyes and ears young police officer Amelia Sachs. Rhyme digs deep into the only world he has left - his astonishing mind - and slowly begins to narrow the noose around the Bone Collector. But the kidnapper is narrowing his own noose - around Lincoln Rhyme.

Political Suicide by Michael Palmer
(amazon.com)
A massive cover-up gone awry
A prominent physician accused of murder
Uncovering the truth could put the entire country at risk

Dr. Gary McHugh, known around Washington, D.C. as the “society doc,” calls his longtime friend Dr. Lou Welcome in a state of panic, certain he is about to be arrested for murder. McHugh was found in an alcoholic blackout in his wrecked car after visiting a patient of his, the powerful Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Elias Colston. Soon after McHugh leaves, Colston’s wife returns home to find her husband shot to death in their garage. McHugh has no recollection of committing the crime and no one who would possibly believe in his innocence, other than Lou. As more facts come to light, even Lou has serious doubts. But something about McHugh’s story nags at him and as he looks into matters, pieces of the puzzle don’t point to his friend’s guilt so definitively.

With the help of Sarah Cooper, an ambitious attorney with her own reasons for hating doctors, Lou finds himself at the center of a deadly, high-level conspiracy where the difference between right and wrong is a matter of interpretation, and the words “whatever it takes” have a chilling meaning. If Lou and Sarah don’t uncover the real reasons Colston is dead, they may not survive themselves, and the entire country could be at risk for attacks that could destroy the very fabric of national security.  Once again, bestselling author Michael Palmer proves that he is the king of suspense in this page-turning thriller, Political Suicide, set at the crossroads of politics, the military, and medical science.

GENERAL DISCUSSION:  Another series of books that bear a resemblance to Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhymes series, in that the detective solves the crimes despite physical limitations, is Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries.

There are several popular TV series based on some forensic fiction series:

Rizzoli & Isles (Tess Gerritsen)
Castle (Richard Castle)
Bones (Kathy Reichs)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Books you wish you'd read

The next Genre Reading Group meeting will be on Tuesday, October 29th at 6:30pm in the Library's Conference Room.  The topic of discussion will be forensic fiction, mysteries/thrillers in which the forensic sciences are used to solve the crime.

Before our next meeting, October will be chockablock full of other entertaining things to do!

- AGES 18+ ONLY, Saturday, October 12th at 5pm, come watch (somewhat) scary movies at the Nightmare on Oak Street Horror Movie Double Feature (tiny, ravenous creatures followed by comet-induced zombies) and eat pizza and other movie snacks.

- Tuesday, October 15th at 6:30pm, join us for Documentaries After Dark, featuring a film about the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.  This film is not rated but is intended for adult audiences.

- Saturday & Sunday, October 26-27th, take a stroll through the Dead Authors' Graveyard.  This walk-thru attraction is open to all ages, but may be scary for small children.
Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday 1pm-4pm.



Have you ever had a book (or books) in your life that sit around on shelves or lists, but that you just never seem to get time or inclination to actually read?  Our September meeting was all about books we finally got around to reading.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel by American novelist John Kennedy Toole which appeared in 1980, eleven years after Toole's suicide. Published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a foreword) and Toole's mother, the book became first a cult classic, then a mainstream success; it earned Toole a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981, and is now considered a canonical work of modern literature of the Southern United States.  The book's title refers to an epigraph from Jonathan Swift's essay, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him". Its central character, Ignatius J. Reilly, is an educated but slothful 30-year-old man living with his mother in the Uptown neighborhood of early-1960s New Orleans who, in his quest for employment, has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters. Toole wrote the novel in 1963 during his last few months in Puerto Rico.

The Shining by Stephen King
Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

On Monday, September 24th, Stephen King was interviewed about his recently published sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, on NPR's Morning Edition.  Click here to listen to the interview.

Fahrenheit 451: 60th Anniversary Edition (with foreward by Neil Gaiman) by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.  Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.  Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.  When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

The Vantage Point: Perspectives on the Presidency 1963-1969 by Lyndon Baines Johnson
The 36th President of the United States describes the challenges, the trials and achievements of his eventful years in the White House.

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
The bestselling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos tackles perhaps the most mind-bending question in modern physics and cosmology: Is our universe the only universe?  There was a time when "universe" meant all there is. Everything. Yet, a number of theories are converging on the possibility that our universe may be but one among many parallel universes populating a vast multiverse. Here, Briane Greene, one of our foremost physicists and science writers, takes us on a breathtaking journey to a multiverse comprising an endless series of big bangs, a multiverse with duplicates of every one of us, a multiverse populated by vast sheets of spacetime, a multiverse in which all we consider real are holographic illusions, and even a multiverse made purely of math--and reveals the reality hidden within each.  Using his trademark wit and precision, Greene presents a thrilling survey of cutting-edge physics and confronts the inevitable question: How can fundamental science progress if great swaths of reality lie beyond our reach? The Hidden Reality is a remarkable adventure through a world more vast and strange than anything we could have imagined.

The Brushstroke Legacy by Lauraine Snelling
Forbidden. Hidden. Denied. Can art be powerful enough to endure?  Ragni Clauson’s work, relationships, and body all seem to be falling apart. And she isn’t convinced that spending her vacation fixing up her great-grandmother’s cabin and supervising her rebellious teenage niece, Erika, will offer any much-needed rejuvenation.  As Ragni and Erika clean, they begin to uncover the secret paintings and life of Nilda, Ragni’s ancestor who lived in the cabin in the early 1900s. Ragni doesn’t know how much she has in common with her great-grandmother, but it becomes clear Nilda faced her own struggles. Taking care of home and menfolk, fighting off locusts, raising her daughter, and finding time to paint in the midst of it all were not easy tasks. Will Nilda’s passion for enduring art re-ignite Ragni’s artistic soul a century later?  Weaving together the stories of three generations of women, The Brushstroke Legacy stirs us to believe that no matter the circumstances, we are called to use our gifts– never knowing when they might bring a stranger to a new place of hope.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Overdrive and the new iOS 7 update

We received communication this morning about the new Apple iOS 7 update and Overdrive services.  If you upgraded and are having problems with your OverDrive Media Console app, read the following:


Apple released iOS 7 yesterday and many of your Apple users may have upgraded their device(s) or will be upgrading in the near future. When an existing OverDrive Media Console (OMC) user upgrades to iOS 7, the app will fail when trying to open a DRM-protected eBook. New or first time users of OMC are unaffected by this issue. We are resolving the issue but in the meantime, here are immediate remedies for users: 1) Re-authenticate the app with their existing or a new Adobe ID. Refer to the iOS section of this Help article for assistance. (Recommended)  2) Uninstall and re-install OMC which will also require the user to re-authorize with Adobe. IMPORTANT NOTE: A re-install will clear a user's bookshelf, history, and app settings. Audiobook users won't notice that anything is different unless they attempt to download parts of audiobooks they already downloaded to OMC before upgrading to iOS 7. A user will receive an error message informing them to download the title again.  We encourage you to share this information with your users via email, Facebook or Twitter. Please be sure to follow our Digital Library Blog for the latest updates. We apologize for the inconvenience. Regards,OverDrive's Partner Services

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

truth is stranger than fiction

On most people’s bookshelves at home there’s a title or two they’ve been meaning to read or on a to-be-read list like so many of us keep going in our heads, on a social book sharing site like GoodReads or Shelfari, or even on good old-fashioned paper.  September’s meeting will be your chance to select that never-before-read potential favorite!  We’ll be meeting on Tuesday, September 24th at 6:30pm to discuss “Books You Wish You’d Read!”  From classics to bestsellers to children’s books, you pick it.  We’ll discuss it. 

Other than our next GRG meeting, September is chockablockfull of fun stuff to do

Each Wednesday night in September is Wild West Wednesday!  Join us in the meeting room each Wednesday at 6:30pm for classic western film.  For film titles and/or program information, contact Matt at 204-445-1141 or mlayne@bham.lib.al.us.

Our next Cities for Life event is on Thursday, September 12th at 6:30pm.  Dr. Douglas Moellering will be back with us to talk about making room in your life for physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.

On Thursday, September 19th at 6:30pm, Western Supermarkets head wine steward Scott Atkinson will be back with Caroline Pryor to share some of the wine shop staffs’ favorite wines.  This event is limited to ages 21+ only and registration at 205-445-1121 is required.  Call and reserve your spot today!

One of the premiere wine tasting events of the year falls on Friday, September 27th from 6-9pm at the Birmingham Zoo, Western Supermarkets Fall Food & Wine Festival!  Proceeds from the Festival benefit the Library.  There’ll be over 600 wines open for tasting with knowledgeable staff on hand to answer your questions and the Jeff State Culinary School will be on site preparing some of the best food you’ll ever eat.  Tickets are $50 in advance, $60 at the door, and $40 each for groups of 10 or more.  Purchase your tickets at the Emmet O’Neal Library, at Western Supermarkets, or purchase them online.

Zara’s Tales: Perilous Escapades in Equatorial Africa by Peter Beard
From adventurer, explorer, photographer, writer, pied piper Peter Beard—eleven irresistible tales, told to his daughter in his tented encampment at Hog Ranch, Kenya, about life, about living, about Africa.
He writes of the East African hills he came to know so well over four decades, where time slows to infinity in a great bottomless, bottle green underwater world . . . about Nairobi in the 1950s, still a quaint, eccentric pioneer town, full of characters of all stripes and tribes, where rhinoceros roamed the streets and local residents went to the movies in pajamas.
He writes of the camp he built twelve miles outside of Nairobi so that he would never be off safari, a forty-acre patch of bush called Hog Ranch (abutting Karen Blixen’s plantation), named for the families of warthogs who wandered into camp, a camp populated with waterbuck, suni, dik-diks, leopard, giraffe, and occasionally lion and buffalo.
In “Big Pig at Hog Ranch,” Beard tells the story of Thaka (translation from the Kikuyu: “handsome stud”), Hog Ranch’s number-one, fearsome, 300-pound warthog, who came into camp and dropped to the ground happy for a vigorous tummy rub, and who one night, “lying in his favorite position, munching on corn and barbeque chicken,” was encroached upon by a bristly haired, wild-looking boar hog. All three hundred pounds of Thaka exploded straight at the hairy intruder, the two brutish, bony heads crashing together thundering through the camp and Peter witnessed the unleashed power—the bullish strength—of the wild pig . . .
In “Roping Rhino,” Beard tells of his first job in Africa, rounding up and relocating rhinos for the Kenya Game Department with his cohort and neighbor, a weather-beaten native of Old Kenya who thrived on danger and refused to bathe—and of the enormous silver-backed rhino bull that became their Moby Dick . . .
He writes of his quest to photograph overpopulated and habitat-destroying elephants for Life magazine on the eve of Kenya’s independence . . . of his close encounter with the legendary man-eating lions of “Starvo” (descendants of the famed beasts rumored to be immune to bullets, who in the late nineteenth century halted the construction of the Mombasa railroad, devouring railroad workers and snatching sleeping passengers from their Pullman berths in the dead of night to make a meal of them), who charged the author, “coming in slow motion, like a bullet train erupting out of a tunnel, soundless, like an ancient force.”
He tells of his round-the-clock adventure tracking and studying crocodiles with a game warden–biologist at Lake Rudolf, a tale that begins with one crewmember being grabbed from behind by a ten-foot crocodile and another doing battle with an almost prehistoric monster fish—a 200-pound Great Nile perch! . . . and he writes of the final wildlife encounter that ended his safari days, an incident that proved Karen Blixen’s motto: “Be bold, be bold . . . be not too bold.”
Zara’s Tales confirms to our constant surprise and delight that “nothing out of the ordinary happens. It’s just Africa, after all.”
Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel
More than a quarter of a million Americans crossed the continental United States between 1840 and 1870, going west in one of the greatest migrations of modern times. The frontiersmen have become an integral part of our history and folklore, but the Westering experiences of American women are equally central to an accurate picture of what life was like on the frontier.
Through the diaries, letters, and reminiscences of women who participated in this migration, Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey gives us primary source material on the lives of these women, who kept campfires burning with buffalo chips and dried weeds, gave birth to and cared for children along primitive and dangerous roads, drove teams of oxen, picked berries, milked cows, and cooked meals in the middle of a wilderness that was a far cry from the homes they had left back east. Still (and often under the disapproving eyes of their husbands) they found time to write brave letters home or to jot a few weary lines at night into the diaries that continue to enthrall us.
Trail of Feathers: Searching for Philip True by Robert Rivard
In December 1998, San Antonio Express-News reporter Philip True vanished during a solo backcountry trek in western Mexico, home of the reclusive Huichol Indians and the Chapalagana, the Twisted Serpent Canyon, a 150-mile long gash that twists and plunges through the heart of the Sierra Madre. Five days later his editor, Robert Rivard, was part of a small search party that, nearly miraculously, tracked a trail of feathers that had leaked from True's sleeping bag to find his body.
Trail of Feathers is the story of the search for True and of the quest to bring his killers to justice. It is also the story of another perplexing mystery: Why had True taken such a dangerous trip, into such a raw, uncivilized wilderness, alone and without sufficient safety preparations, in the first place? After an unhappy and unsettled youth, True was at the age of fifty finally settling down to a career and a wife he loved. His first child was about to be born. What was he running from, or to?
Rivard's search for answers to these questions leads him deep into the Sierra Madre Occidental, one of Mexico's last true wildernesses, and deep into the secrets of Philip True's past. It also leads him into his own past, and an acknowledgment of the ways in which his life and True's mirrored each other. Suspenseful, atmospheric, and moving, Trail of Feathers is more than a true crime tale; it's a classic tragedy about how the past reverberates destructively into the present — for individuals, for cultures, for nations.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
The Man Who Rode the Thunder: The True Story of the Most Incredible 40 Minutes in History and the Man Who Lived Them by William H. Rankin (NOT IN THE LIBRARY SYSTEM)
Lieutenant Colonel William H. Rankin (1920–2009) was a Marine pilot and veteran of both World War II and Korea when a Cold War accident literally catapulted him to fame. On July 26, 1959, the engine of his F-8U Crusader, a carrier-based jet fighter, suddenly stalled and the fire warning light on his instrument panel began flashing. Rankin triggered his ejection seat, which shot him through his plane’s cockpit canopy. He was flying at an altitude exceeding 45,000 feet, without a pressure suit—and he exited the plane at the top of a gigantic thunderstorm cloud mass. His harrowing experience riding the thunder down has few parallels; if it were fiction, it would be hard to believe.
Alcatraz Island Prison and The Men Who Live There by Warden James A. Johnston (NOT IN THE LIBRARY SYSTEM)
Alcatraz is possibly the most famous prison that has ever existed.  In this book, prison warden Johnston offers a fascinating history of this island in San Francisco bay, with interviews and biographies of some of the notorious people who called it home.
Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin
The stunning, never before told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon
In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America itself, along with its golf courses, ice-cream shops, bandstands, indoor plumbing, and Model Ts rolling down broad streets.
Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, quickly became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the car magnate, lean, austere, the man who reduced industrial production to its simplest motions; on the other, the Amazon, lush, extravagant, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Ford’s early success in imposing time clocks and square dances on the jungle soon collapsed, as indigenous workers, rejecting his midwestern Puritanism, turned the place into a ribald tropical boomtown. Fordlandia’s eventual demise as a rubber plantation foreshadowed the practices that today are laying waste to the rain forest.
More than a parable of one man’s arrogant attempt to force his will on the natural world, Fordlandia depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this gripping and mordantly observed history, Ford’s great delusion was not that the Amazon could be tamed but that the forces of capitalism, once released, might yet be contained.
Fordlandia is a 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: The PBS American Experience documentary series has a program about Henry Ford.  Check it out from the library (click here to check the catalog) or watch it online here.

Black Wave: A Family’s Adventure at Sea and the Disaster That Saved Them by John and Jean Silverwood
An exhilarating true-life adventure of one family’s extraordinary sea voyage of self-discovery and survival, tragedy and triumph
Successful businessman John Silverwood and his wife, Jean, both experienced sailors, decided the time was right to give their four children a taste of thrilling life on the high seas. And indeed their journey aboard the fifty-five-foot catamaran Emerald Jane would have many extraordinary and profound moments, whether it was the peaceful late-night watches John enjoyed under the stunning celestial sky or the elation shared by the whole family at the sight of blissful pods of dolphin and migrating tortoises. John and Jean had hoped to use the trip as a teaching opportunity, with the Emerald Jane as a floating classroom in which to instruct their children in important lessons–not only about the natural world but about the beauty of human life when stripped down to its essence, far from the trappings of civilization.
Yet rather than flourishing amid the new freedoms and responsibilities thrust upon them, the children were sometimes confused, frightened, and resentful. The two oldest, fourteen-year-old Ben and twelve-year-old Amelia, missed their friends and the comfortable life left behind in San Diego, while the two youngest, Jack, seven, and Camille, three, picked up on the stressful currents running above and below the surface–for throughout the journey, the Silverwood family found its bonds tested as never before.
John and Jean, whose marriage had weathered its share of storms, would wonder again if they had taken on too much as the physical, emotional, and financial strains of caring for the expensive catamaran and their children brought old resentments to the surface.
John’s dream trip that began on Long Island Sound ended almost two years later as a nightmare in treacherous waters off a remote atoll in French Polynesia, where, in an explosion of awesome violence, the terrifying brunt of the ocean’s anger fell upon the Emerald Jane.
Gradually, in the crucible of the sea, a stronger, more closely knit unit was forged. The Silverwoods became a crew. Then they became a family again. But just as it seemed to them that they had mastered every challenge, their world was shattered in a split-second of unimaginable horror. Now their real challenge began, forcing them to fight for their very lives.
Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
Seven Years in Tibet  relates the author's account of the seven years he spent living in the remote and then little-known country of Tibet after escaping from a British internment camp in India in 1943. The chief value of the book is in its privileged glimpses into the Tibetan way of life -- customs and rituals, morals and manners, politics, religion, festivals and costumes. It is a rare and fascinating record of a now almost extinct culture. Harrer's description of Lhasa is particularly vivid, and he is generous in his praise of those Tibetans; it is fair to say that Harrer portrays quite accurately the Tibetan national character, at least as it once was, prior to the Chinese invasion in 1952. The book concludes with Harrer return to Europe and the fate of Tibet still very uncertain. Harrer's final statement reads: "My heartfelt wish is that this book may create some understanding for a people whose will to live in peace and freedom has won so little sympathy from an indifferent world."
GENERAL DISCUSSION: We got into a discussion of road trips and their place in literature as well as real life.  Here is a great article about a great American road trip from Paul Theroux writing for Smithsonian magazine in September of 2009. 
What has been YOUR greatest adventure, reading or otherwise?
Holley







Friday, August 23, 2013

Sidewalk Reading Companion Part 3

It's finally here - the opening night of the Sidewalk Film Festival. In this final installment of the Sidewalk Reading Companion, I will suggest some books to chase down Sunday's intense lineup of documentaries. Oh, and according to recent reports, Lil Bub is confirmed to be attending the opening night screening of her movie! For more information about the Sidewalk Film Festival and for a complete schedule, visit sidewalkfest.com

(All book descriptions from Amazon.com)
(From sidewalkfest.com) In God We Trust - Eleanor Squillari, Bernie Madoff's secretary of 25 years, describes her devastation and shock upon learning that the biggest financial scam in U.S. history was perpetrated right under her very nose. Click here to view the trailer.

For another woman's close-up and personal experience with Bernie Madoff's and the devastating aftermath of his scam, read The End of Normal by Stephanie Madoff Mack - An explosive, heartbreaking memoir from the widow of Mark Madoff and daughter-in-law of Bernard Madoff, the first genuine inside story from a family member who has lived through- and survived-both the public crisis and her own deeply personal tragedy. When the news of Bernard Madoff 's Ponzi scheme broke, Americans were shocked and outraged, perhaps none more so than the unsuspecting members of his own family. After learning that their father's legendarily successful wealth management company was "all just one big lie," Mark and Andrew Madoff turned their father in and cut off all communication with both parents. Mark and his wife, Stephanie, strove to make a fresh start for the sake of their two young children, but Mark could not overcome his sense of betrayal and shame-he and other family members were sued for $200 million in October of 2009. He hung himself on the two-year anniversary of his father's arrest. Left to raise her children as a single mother, Stephanie wrote this memoir to give them a sense of who their father really was, defend his innocence, and put her personal statement on record once and for all. In this candid insider account, she talks about her idyllic wedding to Mark on Nantucket, what it was really like to be a part of the Madoff family, the build-up to Bernard's confession, and the media frenzy that followed. It is about the loss of the fairytale life she knew, adjusting to life with a man she hardly recognized anymore, and the tragic and final loss of her husband.


(From sidewalkfest.com) Good Ol' Freda tells the story of Freda Kelly, a shy Liverpudlian teenager asked to work for a young local band hoping to make it big: the Beatles. As the Beatles' fame multiplies, Freda bears witness to music and cultural history but never exploits her insider access. Their loyal secretary from beginning to end, Freda finally tells her tales for the first time in 50 years. Click here to view the trailer.


There is no shortage of books on the Beatles, but for the definitive (800+ plus page) account, check out The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz - As soon as The Beatles became famous, the spin machine began to construct a myth--one that has continued to this day. But the truth is much more interesting, much more exciting, and much more moving. In this bestselling book, Bob Spitz has written the biography for which Beatles fans have long waited.

Like Freda, Astrid Kirchherr is another little-known female who had unique access to The Beatles - in this case, in Germany when instead of John, Paul, George, and Ringo it was John, Paul, George, Pete, and Stuart. Her moving Beatles story is told in the graphic novel 
Baby's In Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles by Arne Bellstorf - A fascinating, exhilarating portrait of the Beatles in their early years. Meet the Beatles . . . right at the beginning of their careers. This gorgeous, high-energy graphic novel is an intimate peek into the early years of the world’s greatest rock band. The heart of Baby’s In Black is a love story. The “fifth Beatle,” Stuart Sutcliffe, falls in love with the beautiful Astrid Kirchherr when she recruits the Beatles for a sensational (and famous) photography session during their time in Hamburg. When the band returns to the UK, Sutcliffe quits, becomes engaged to Kirchherr, and stays in Hamburg. A year later, his meteoric career as a modern artist is cut short when he dies unexpectedly. The book ends as it begins, with Astrid, alone and adrift; but with a note of hope: her life is incomparably richer and more directed thanks to her friendship with the Beatles and her love affair with Sutcliffe. This tender story is rendered in lush, romantic black-and-white artwork.

(From sidewalkfest.com) Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story depicts one man's wild, lifelong adventure of testing societal boundaries through his use of subversive art. This 98-minute film combines traditional documentary storytelling with original animation from over 70 years worth of art from the renegade children's book author and illustrator. Using a historical palette of 20th century events to paint an artist's epic yet controversial life story, this HD documentary film offers a feature-length retrospective of Ungerer's life and art, pondering the complexities and contradictions of a man who, armed with an acerbic wit, an accusing finger and a razor sharp pencil, gave visual representation to the revolutionary voices during one of the most tantalizing and dramatic periods in American history. Far Out Isn't Far Enough explores the circumstances of his meteoric rise and fall on American soil, but also delves into Ungerer's formative years leading up to, and prolific years since, his time in America. Click here to view the trailer.

Several of Tomi Ungerer's celebrated children's book are on the shelf in the library's Childrens Department including the following:

Moon Man - In this gently satiric fable, Ungerer pokes fun at self-important adults who are afraid of anything or anyone unfamiliar, and reminds us that there is indeed no place like home. On its first publication in the US in 1967, at the height of the Space Race, Moon Man won the Book Week prize for books for children aged 4-8, and Maurice Sendak described it in "Book Week" as 'Easily one of the bet picture books in recent years'. Bored and lonely in his shimmering home in space, the Moon Man watches the people on Earth dancing and having a good time.Just once, he thinks, he would like to join in the fun. So one night, he holds on to a passing comet and crash lands on Earth. But the unexpected arrival of this mysterious visitor causes statesmen, scientists and generals to panic, and the Moon Man is thrown into jail. Alone in his cell, the Moon Man uses his special powers to slip through the hands of the law: it turns out that in accordance with the lunar phases, the Moon Man waxes and wanes.

The Three Robbers - Tomi Ungerer has been described as 'the direct natural descendant of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen' and, like all the best fairy tales, The Three Robbers is by turns scary, charming, and surprising. The book tells the story of three fierce black-clad robbers who terrorize and plunder the countryside, armed with a blunderbuss, a pepper blower, and a huge red axe. One night, they meet a small girl called Tiffany, who is on her way to live with a wicked aunt. Tiffany is delighted to meet the robbers, and they take her back to their hideout in place of their usual haul of gold and jewels. Tiffany asks what they plan to do with their riches, but the robbers had never thought about spending money before. They soon find themselves embarking on a completely new career: they gather all of the lost, unhappy, and abandoned children that they can find, and then they buy a big castle so they can give all of the children a happy home.


(From sidewalkfest.com) Antenna -  In 1977, Memphis had hit bottom. With the death of Elvis and the collapse of Stax Records, the music that made the city famous was fading into memory. Local artists who played original music found themselves locked out of Memphis clubs in favor of cover bands and disco Djs. Tired of being ignored, a small group of punks found a decaying dive bar on Madison Avenue and transformed it into the Antenna, a name that would, for the next 15 years, be sononymous with new music. The no-rules club introduced the city to punk, new wave, alternative, and hardcore by providing local and national bands a place to play. But Antenna was more than a musical venue. It was a meeting place for the freaks, misfits, and artists; a pressure cooker for art and ideas. Seventeen years after it closed, the Antenna lives on in the thriving Memphis underground music scene it inspired. Featuring the music of Panther Burns, The Grifters, The Oblivians, The Modifiers, Pezz, Calculated X, Sobering Consequences, Raid, Impala, Big Ass Truck, The Hellcats, and many more, this rollicking documentary shines a light on a neglected episode of 20th century music history, and finally gives the Memphis scene the respect it deserves. Click here to view the trailer.

Remember when I suggested Respect Yourself: the Stax Records Story in the previous post? Definitely watch Respect Yourself to find out more about Memphis' legendary music scene. But for another account of a punk community emerging from the dregs of a rich cultural landscape, check out Gimme Something Better: the Profound, Progressive, and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk from Dead Kennedys to Green Day - Outside of New York and London, California's Bay Area claims the oldest continuous punk-rock scene in the world. Gimme Something Better brings this outrageous and influential punk scene to life, from the notorious final performance of the Sex Pistols, to Jello Biafra's bid for mayor, the rise of Maximum RocknRoll magazine, and the East Bay pop-punk sound that sold millions around the globe. Throngs of punks, including members of the Dead Kennedys, Avengers, Flipper, MDC, Green Day, Rancid, NOFX, and AFI, tell their own stories in this definitive account, from the innovative art-damage of San Francisco?s Fab Mab in North Beach, to the still vibrant all-ages DIY ethos of Berkeley's Gilman Street. Compiled by longtime Bay Area journalists Jack Boulware and Silke Tudor, Gimme Something Better chronicles more than two decades of punk music, progressive politics, social consciousness, and divine decadence, told by the people who made it happen.

Amanda