Next month’s Genre Reading Group meeting will be Tuesday, August 26th at 6:30pm in the Library’s Conference Room and the topic of discussion will be WWII/VE Day. So read, watch, or listen to the material of your choice and come tell us about it!
GRG met last night to discuss travel, vacations, national parks, road trips, etc. It was a very summery meeting, quite fun, and made me want to take an extended vacation to some of these places!
The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Harry William Fritz
(powells.com) Fritz demonstrates how a series of unrelated events converged to make the Lewis and Clark expedition—and America's dream of westward expansion—a reality. Maps guide the reader along the routes taken by Lewis and Clark, and a detailed timeline gives readers an easy-to-use resource for looking up important dates and events. Biographical sketches of major figures conclude the work. An extensive bibliography and index make this an ideal first stop for anybody interested in learning more about this truly remarkable expedition.
William Clark and Meriwether Lewis are widely credited with exploring the American West and paving the way for settlement. Yet if Thomas Jefferson's bid for president in 1800 had failed, the expedition probably would not have ventured west. Furthermore, if Napoleon had not been dealt a severe blow by a Haitian slave rebellion, France might never have sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States. The expedition also relied heavily on the goodwill of Native Americans peopling the explored territory.
Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman
(powells.com) They were young, brilliant, and bold. They set out to conquer the world. But the world had other plans for them. Bestselling author Susan Jane Gilman's new memoir is a hilarious and harrowing journey, a modern heart of darkness filled with Communist operatives, backpackers, and pancakes.
In 1986, fresh out of college, Gilman and her friend Claire yearned to do something daring and original that did not involve getting a job. Inspired by a place mat at the International House of Pancakes, they decided to embark on an ambitious trip around the globe, starting in the People's Republic of China. At that point, China had been open to independent travelers for roughly ten minutes.
Armed only with the collected works of Nietzsche, an astrological love guide, and an arsenal of bravado, the two friends plunged into the dusty streets of Shanghai. Unsurprisingly, they quickly found themselves in over their heads. As they ventured off the map deep into Chinese territory, they were stripped of everything familiar and forced to confront their limitations amid culture shock and government surveillance. What began as a journey full of humor, eroticism, and enlightenment grew increasingly sinister-becoming a real-life international thriller that transformed them forever.
Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven is a flat-out page-turner, an astonishing true story of hubris and redemption told with Gilman's trademark compassion, lyricism, and wit.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
(powells.com) In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.
Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless's short life. Admitting an interest that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the drives and desires that propelled McCandless. Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.
When McCandless's innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless's uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer's stoytelling blaze through every page.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: The film adaptation of Krakauer's book is very well done and stars Emile Hirsch, William Hurt, Vince Vaughn, and Marcia Gay Harden among others.
Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters
(powells.com) John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads “I’m Not Psycho,” he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash?
Before he leaves for this bizarre adventure, Waters fantasizes about the best and worst possible scenarios: a friendly drug dealer hands over piles of cash to finance films with no questions asked, a demolition-derby driver makes a filthy sexual request in the middle of a race, a gun-toting drunk terrorizes and holds him hostage, and a Kansas vice squad entraps and throws him in jail. So what really happens when this cult legend sticks out his thumb and faces the open road? His real-life rides include a gentle eighty-one-year-old farmer who is convinced Waters is a hobo, an indie band on tour, and the perverse filmmakers unexpected hero: a young, sandy-haired Republican in a Corvette.
Laced with subversive humor and warm intelligence, Carsick is an unforgettable vacation with a wickedly funny companion and a celebration of America’s weird, astonishing, and generous citizenry.
Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore by Madison Scott Bell
(powells.com) With a writers keen eye, a longtime residents familiarity, and his own sly wit, acclaimed novelist Madison Smartt Bell leads us on a walk through his adopted hometown of Baltimore, a city where crab cakes, Edgar Allan Poe, hair extensions, and John Waters movies somehow coexist. From its founding before the Revolutionary War to its place in popular culture, thanks to seminal films like Barry Levinson’s Diner, the television show Homicide, and bestselling books by George Pelecanos and Laura Lippman, Baltimore is America, and in Charm City, Bell brings its story to vivid life.
First revealing how Baltimore received some of its nicknames, including “Charm City”, Bell sets off from his neighborhood of Cedarcroft and finds his way across the city’s crossroads, joined periodically by a host of fellow Baltimoreans. Exploring Baltimore’s prominent role in history (it was here that Washington planned the battle of Yorktown and Francis Scott Key witnessed the “bombs bursting in air”), Bell takes us to such notable spots as the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill, as well as many of the undiscovered corners that give Baltimore its distinctive character. All the while, Charm City sheds deserved light onto a sometimes overlooked, occasionally eccentric, but always charming place.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: Charm City is part of the Crown Publishing’s Crown Journeys series. Publisher’s Weekly describes the series: “When visiting a new city, one of the best ways to learn more about the place's history and people, as well as discover its heralded hot spots and hidden treasures, is to ask a native. This idea is at least part of the inspiration behind the Crown Journeys series of books and audiobooks, which features authors writing and reading about cities they love.” Among the notables are James McPherson, Kinky Friedman, Edwidge Danticat, Michael Cunningham, Chuck Palahniuk, and Christopher Buckley.
Insight Guides South America
(powells.com) Insight Guide South America is the most illustrated, full color travel guide to the continent on the market, and its lively narrative and stunning images provide both inspiration and information to plan a memorable trip to South America. The Best Of section highlights the unmissable sights and experiences - from Perus breathtaking citadel of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, the number one South American trek on most travelers wishlists, to vibrant Rio with its famous Carnival and beaches, sophisticated Buenos Aires, and the jungles of the Amazon, home to the greatest biodiversity on the planet. Lively features focus on South Americas history and culture, while the Places chapters show you where to go in South America, with beautiful photography, insightful descriptions of all the main attractions, and detailed, full color maps for easy orientation. The Travel Tips section provides practical information for planning a trip and getting around once you're there, along with our independent reviews of selected hotels and restaurants throughout South America.
Delacroix and the Matter of Finish edited by Eik Kahng
(powells.com) This groundbreaking publication centers on a previously unknown variation of Eugene Delacroix’s (1798–1863) dramatic masterpiece The Last Words of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, published here for the first time. This book offers a compelling reassessment of the relationship of the artist, widely considered a primary exemplar of Romanticism, to Neoclassical themes, as demonstrated by his life-long fascination with the death of Marcus Aurelius. Through this investigation, the authors reinterpret Delacroix’s lineage to such fellow artists as Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867) and Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825). Playing on the various interpretations of the word “finish,” the book also offers a fascinating account of Delacroix’s famously troubled collaboration with his studio assistants, his conflicted feelings about pedagogy, and his preoccupation with the fate of civilizations.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: The GRGer who brought in the Delacroix book declared that it wasn’t the book he was really pointing out, but rather how much of the world travels to YOU when you visit a museum. I believe the Delacroix exhibit brought material from 18 countries right to the heart of Birmingham. I myself have seen exhibits there showcasing Egyptian gold, the Pompeii artifacts, the terra cotta soldiers of the First Emperor of China, and the ongoing Lethal Beauty samurai exhibit, among others over the years. The Birmingham Museum of Art has wonderful galleries with art from all points of the globe, go visit!
Route 66: Lives on the Road by Jon Robinson
(powells.com) From the rise of the automobile in the United States until the 1960s, Route 66 was the byway of choice for cross-country travel. Connecting Chicago and Los Angeles, the "Mother Road" was not only filled with vacationers and travelers, it was also lined with businesses that offered these pioneering motorists a variety of services. This nostalgic, illustrated guide presents the stories of people who lived along Route 66, traveled it, and made their living there over the course of five decades. Along with stories of Route 66 travels, the book examines the entire range of Route 66 vocations: gas, food, and lodging; museums; souvenir shops; law enforcement; wrecker operators; and more. Fans of this American icon will enjoy the tales of the folks who made the road a legend, as well as the hundreds of period and modern color photographs which illustrate their stories.
Sunrise to Paradise: The Story of Mount RainierNational Park by Ruth Kirk
(powells.com) On clear days, the mammoth volcano Mount Rainier dominates the Seattle and Rainier dominates the Seattle Tacoma skylines and can be seen from Whidbey Island to Yakima and the central Washington wheat fields. "The Mountain's out!" is a cheerful local greeting, especially after a long spell of overcast weather. Sunrise to Paradise explores the rich history of this symbol of the Pacific Northwest and the national park that preserves it.Mount Rainier is the fifth highest peak in the United States outside Alaska, and it soars higher above its immediate base than does any other in the lower forty-eight. Sunrise to Paradise describes its geological and glacial origins and current ecological health, and the century-old stewardship of Mount Rainier National Park. Its stories include accounts by Native people such as Saluskin and Wapowety, climbers from John Muir and Fay Fuller to Willi Unsoeld and Lou Whittaker, and entrepreneurs from the Longmire family to Paul Sceva. Here, too, are the tales of scientists and tourists, park rangers and volunteers. Numerous illustrations span the decades. Some of the photographs were taken from albums of the 1912 and 1915 Mountaineers outings; others are by noted photographers of the past like Imogen Cunningham and Asahel Curtis and by contemporary photographers including Ira Spring. There are paintings by Abby Williams Hill and George Tsutakawa and a series specially created by Dee Molenaar.
Welcome to Mount Rainier National Park by Pamela Dell
(bn.com) School Library Journal Grades 3-5-These titles feature attractive layouts, color photographs, and engaging texts. Maps with icons pointing out various items of interest, such as hiking trails, lodging, campgrounds, and ranger stations, are interspersed throughout. An explanation of national parks, a brief history of each region, and a narrative tour of the park are provided. A list of "fast facts," including the size, elevation, tourist activities, weather, and number of annual visitors, is appended. Redwood includes Native peoples, and the flora and fauna. The fast facts for Mount Rainier lists the area as 365 square miles, but the national park Web site states it as 378. Teton gives tips for bear safety, and includes information on Jackson Hole. Hawai`i discusses the legend of Pele, the goddess of fire, and the settling of the islands by the Polynesian people. There is brief mention of individual volcanoes, such as Mauna Loa and Kilauea. These colorful and informative titles are similar in content to, but aimed toward slightly older readers than, those in the "New True Books" and "True Books" series (Children's Press). They are better for browsing than for reports. Buy where needed.-DeAnn Okamura, San Mateo County Library, CA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Now That’s Big: Mount Rushmore by Kate Riggs
(bn.com) Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
In South Dakota, an enormous sculpture is carved in a mountain. This is Mount Rushmore, with a carving that depicts the heads of four American Presidents: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt. Gutzon Borglum is the artist who envisioned the design for Mount Rushmore. The mountain is made of granite which is so hard that the workers had to use dynamite to break up the rock and sculpt it. The work was finished in 1939. And among the interesting facts are the noses on Mount Rushmore which are 20 feet long! Nearby another sculpture is in progress, this one is of Chief Crazy Horse. These two monuments make the Black Hills region of South Dakota a popular tourist attraction. More than 2 million people visit Mount Rushmore every year. In addition to the awe inspiring carving, visitors can also see a lot of wildlife such as deer and chipmunks. This entertaining and informative book includes many wonderful photographs and a glossary. Part of the "Now That's Big" series. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck
Mount Rushmore by Julie Murray
(bn.com) School Library Journal Grades 2-3-These books feature large type, interesting photographs, and fun facts relating to each site. The vocabulary is advanced for younger readers, but the scope is narrow enough to provide basic information about the background, individuals involved, and construction of the structure or monument for reports. Attractive starting points for assignments.-Krista Tokarz, Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Visit Mount Rushmore by Mary O’Mara
National Parks of America by Michael Brett
(powells.com) For tourists, family campers, and serious lovers of the outdoors, this beautiful reference describes more than 50 national parks, sites and seashores that stretch from Cape Hatteras on the Atlantic coast to Glacier Bay in Alaska. Full color.
500+ All American Family Adventures by Debbie Hardin
(powells.com) Here's THE guide to iconic America: those places that offer insight into uniquely American culture, whether they be national parks, quirky roadside landmarks, sporting opportunities, or cultural or historical sites. How about going to the Alabama Deep-Sea Fishing Rodeo; taking in some summer bobsledding at Lake Placid; visiting the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., or Carlsbad's Legoland; or tripping fantastic to Dorothy's House and the Land of Oz in Kansas? Organized in easy-to-reference state-by-state chapters for all fifty states and the District of Columbia, the guide features family-friendly sites which provide insight into the history and culture of the American experience offering a memorable visual or participatory experience. Each listing contains complete information detailing directions, the best time to visit, prices and contact information, historical background, events and fun activities.
Where are your armchair travels taking YOU this summer?