Information, Answers & Reviews

March Books Plus Discussion

RoomPlease join us on Sunday, March 4th, to discuss the intriguing premise of Emma Donoghue's Room.  Here's how the author described the genesis of the book, "In my experience, the bond between mother and newborn is a tiny, cozy world that gradually relaxes its magic to let the rest of the world in. But motherhood -- even under ideal circumstances -- also has elements of nightmare as well as fairy tale, sci-fi as well as realism: it's a trip like no other, and it can occasionally feel like (let's admit it, shall we, mothers of the world?) a locked room."

This highly acclaimed novel was voted the One Book One Bloomington title for 2012. Please come and share your opinions and ideas about this topic.

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The Artist

ImageSo, The Artist won big at the Academy Awards.
You can get on the already long holds list for its June 26th release on home video, but while you are waiting...
You might check out OSS 117, Cario Nest of Spies and its sequel, both directed by and starring new Academy Award winners Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin, respectively (Bérénice Bejo even co-stars in the first one). These films are playful spoofs that show a bit of the same homage to filmmaking as the Best Picture winner, just set in a later time period and genre, and with color and sound (French with English subtitles). They are parodies of a set of spy books and movies from France in the 1950s and 1960s that are supposedly similar to Ian Fleming's James Bond series. The two newer films are full of intentionally kooky sight gags and constant mugging by Dujardin (that he does so well). The jokes are hit-or-miss depending on your own personal taste, but the films are definitely nice to look at. And they've got stupid Nazis.

Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain

ImageThe title of this book Lighting Out for the Territory by Roy Morris, jr. refers to the last paragraph in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when Huck reckons that it's time "to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest", which is exactly what Clemens himself did in July 1861. Clemens had ridden as a guerilla maurader for the Missouri militia in a locally formed group in the very early days of the Civil War called the Marion Rangers. They never saw any real action, but his brief stint with them, plus the ever present chance he could be drafted by either side, Union or Confederate, to pilot a gun boat, made the mostly neutral West look inviting.

His brother Orion had been appointed as Secretary to the Territorial Governor of the newly created Nevada Territory. Orion invited Sam to go along to share expenses. From this happenstance beginning one of America's great writers was born.

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The Stone Carvers

Stone CarversThe Canadian National Vimy Memorial sits on a preserved battlefield in France where the Canadian Expeditionary Force took part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge during World War I.  The huge marble monument took 11 years to build and has giant human sculptures representing sacrifice, mourning, and strength and includes over 11,000 names of Canadian soldiers missing in action.

In Jane Urquhart's novel The Stone Carvers, we meet three fictional people who wind up working on this magnificent monument. Their lives are transformed both by the beauty of art and the horrors of war. 

Klara and Tilman Becker grow up in rural Canada in a German immigrant community at the turn of the century.  Their grandfather is a wood carver with high hopes for Tilman to learn the master craft.  While Tilman has a natural carving ability, he is proves unable to stay on the farm.  Even as early as 12, Tilman must migrate. Nothing his family does can keep him on the farm, not even a chain. Read more »

How to Die in Paris

ImageThe title intrigued me, so I pulled this book off the new shelf.  How to Die in Paris is Thomas's first book, a memoir, about her trip of seven months to Italy and Paris. Like all good travel books, it's also autobiographical, not only detailing the author's present but also her past.

Like many twenty-somethings, Naturi's had a difficult time in the recession finding steady work in NY City. Periodically, she lists how many times she's moved in the past few years, and how many nights she has spent couch-surfing, or staying with friends.

Before setting off for Europe, a friend takes her to see a fortune teller.  Although Naturi pokes fun at the process, the fortune teller is adamant that the young woman will have an extremely tough time in Europe.  Naturi scoffs it off, but... Read more »

Real Steel

ImageIt is not often that a movie impresses me with its sheer chutzpah in taking three previously made stories and combining them into a new film. This is what the film Real Steel has done and it works amazingly well. Take The Champ, about a boxer and his son, and the complete plot of Rocky, mix with the episode Steel from the Twilight Zone about a robot boxer, stir well and out pops Real Steel. Read more »

Hachi: A Heart-Warming Tale Inspired by a True Story

Professor Parker Wilson and his dog, HachiFor those of you who love animal stories, this DVD from our collection is a must see! Hachi, starring Richard GereJoan Allen, and Sarah Roemer, chronicles the life of an extraordinary dog named Hachiko. No one really knows where Hachi came from, but the small Akita puppy shows up at a train station one evening as Professor Parker Wilson (played by Gere) comes home from work. Though the professor's efforts to find Hachi a new home prove in vain, his wife and daughter watch the bond between man and dog grow and agree that Hachi should stay. As he grows, Hachi becomes so attached to his master that he walks him to the train station each morning and awaits his return there each afternoon. 

One day, however, tragedy strikes and the professor does not return home on the train. Though the professor's family tries to explain to Hachi that the professor won't ever be coming home, Hachi continues to wait for his master's return at the station each day--for nine years! This truly inspiring story is family-friendly and shows the beauty of a dog's loyal and undying devotion for his master. If you are particularly tender-hearted, make sure to keep a box of tissues handy, as this movie may tug on your heartstrings!

This title is located in our Juvenile Collection on the first floor of the library. A trailer is available to watch at the Internet Movie Database website.

 

A History of the World in 100 Objects

ImageWhat a cool idea for a book. Telling the history of the world by looking at museum artifacts. To make it even more interesting, these descriptive reports of jewelry, mummies, pottery, coins, art, textiles, etc. were written by experts for radio.  Luckily, for us we get to view the pictures also, hundreds of them.

A History of the World in 100 Objects is no coffee table book but a book to be read end to end. The entries for each of the objects (that range in date from 2,000,000 B.C. to 2010 A.D.) describe not only the artifacts themselves but what they teach us about history and about humanity. For example of silver bowl full of coins from around the year 927--shows that already England was well on its way to becoming a monarchy. Inscribed on one coin is Athelstan Rex totius Britanniae or Athelstan, King of All Britain.  

Other items found in this same buried stash were arm bracelets from Ireland, Viking coins, and others from as far away as Afghanistan. A Viking stash of coins showed that they were becoming Christian--engraved on several was St. Peter's name (Petri), but also inscribed was the hammer from Thor, the old Norse god. Read more »

New! eBooks From the Gale Virtual Reference Library

The library has recently purchased this large collection of eBooks from Gale, part of Cengage Learning, a world leader in e-research and educational publishing. Access thousands of pages in hundreds of eBooks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Print, email and download articles.

 

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Arctic Obsession: the lure of the Far North

ImageOne of the earliest historical reports of a far northern, snow-covered place was by Pytheas who sailed out of what is now Marseilles in 325 B.C., and discovered a place he called Ultima Thule, a six day journey north of Britain. No one knows exactly where his ship landed but people believe that it may have been Iceland, Greenland, Norway or the Shetlands.  Pytheas described the remarkable midnight sun and reported that the sea surrounding Thule was "neither sea nor air but a mixture like a sea-lung that binds everything together."

In the following centuries the Romans and medieval scholars called the Far North "the kingdom of the dead" where the Cyclops lived "in a place of chaos, the abysmal chasm." In those days scholars also believed that the North Pole was a "gigantic metallic rock rising out of the ocean." Read more »

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