Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Click on the Resources for Book Groups section on our web site. The information there will be helpful to anyone who would like to join a group or start up one of their own. We also invite you to attend a Library book group meeting. WFL Book Group members read an assigned title and gather together one Monday a month at the Main Library for discussion. If you prefer to choose your own reading, the Hills Branch Book Chat is an informal gathering where readers share advice on what to read next. For more information on all of the above, please call the Reference Department or check the WFL calendar of events. Hope to see you in the New Year!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
While the topic of Henry VIII's lawyer and later chief minister, who engineered the king's first divorce and later marriage to Anne Boleyn, seemed unlikely to catch my attention, I decided to give it a try since it had won the Man Booker Prize. While the book will not appeal to all, it will certainly catch the attention of people who enjoy historical fiction, especially those who enjoy Tudor England, which has its fair share of historical fiction devoted to it.
Mantel casts Thomas Cromwell as a man far more human than his contemporaries; in religious views, in the treatment of his family, and in taking on countless cast-off children, orphans, and other unwanted individuals. Set against Cromwell is Thomas More; who denied the legality of Henry VIII's dissolved marriage brought about by Cromwell, treats his family with the same asceticism he treats his person, but who shares with Cromwell the fate of the executioner's chopping block.
Wolf Hall is largely a character-driven novel because, with personalities like these, it would be hard to imagine it otherwise--after all, it deals with kings, queens, bishops, and courtiers who are all looking out for number one. Perhaps that's why it's so difficult to watch as they go, one by one, to the executioner--or will, when Mantel concludes the tale in her promised sequel.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I was listening to WGBH today and happened upon an interview with Alan Rabinowitz. Rabinowitz is a wildlife biologist who has made it his mission to create sanctuaries for jaguars, tigers and other endangered animals. In the interview Rabinowitz talked about being unable, as a child, to talk to humans without a severe stutter. Animals, though were a different story. He’d talk quite fluently to real and imaginary animals. He attributed his interest in wildlife conservation to a chance conversation with a jaguar in the Bronx Zoo. Rabinowitz has since gained world renown for his extraordinary efforts on behalf of the big cats and for working in some of the world’s most dangerous places. I read his first book, Jaguar: Struggle and Triumph in the Jungles of Belize, and was impressed (along with most other reviewers) with the author’s ability and willingness to weave together his personal story, the nitty gritty of the fieldwork and the larger environmental issues. His next books, Chasing the Dragon’s Tail and Beyond the Last Village, have been similarly well-received.Worth reading for the adventure alone!
[I went to junior high school with Alan, but honestly, I have not seen or spoken with him since, and my decades-old relationship has NOT influenced this review. Besides, since he clobbered me the only time I have ever put on boxing gloves, I might not be disposed toward unwarranted enthusiasm anyway…]
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby
Do you think there are a lot of writers who have one good semi-autobiographical novel in them and that's it? Well, that's what I always thought about Nick Hornby. Until now. My opinion of him as a one-hit wonder has changed with his new novel, Juliet Naked. Cult musician Tucker Crowe vanished from the public eye 20 years ago. Annie lives in a small city in England with her long-time boyfriend Duncan, a self-appointed "Crowe-ologist." Annie and Tucker's lives intersect and nothing is the same afterward. Yes, it's about music and the power of music in relationships, but there's originality to the plot and interesting depth to the characters. Lots of humor too. Give it a try.
Friday, December 11, 2009
What Would Dewey Do? : an Unshelved collection by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
This graphic novel answers the question to life's greatest mystery. What would Dewey do?
Dewey, our protagonist, invites us into the mysterious and often mis-understood world of libraries and their interesting inhabitants the librarian and library patron.
Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum hit the jackpot with their webcomic. Thankfully they had the insight to transform their sequential art into a visually appealing tome.
With plenty of wit and humor Barnes and Ambaum show what life is like behind the public face of every public library. Dewey may work at Mallville's Public Library but he may as well work at YourTown, USA.
Be prepared for lots of laughs with this must read for library fans and staff.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Part fantasy, part horror, and part mystery, Locke & Key has been drawing awards, nominations, and the attention of critics like it's the only game in town. Set in a New England town with the foreboding name of Lovecraft, the Locke family finds itself in the Hill House after a tragedy befalls their family--but the beginnings of that tragedy are, unbeknown to them, at the very house they're seeking refuge in. This has secured its place as my "favorite series of the moment" for at least the next few collected editions in the future.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Like all librarians, I cannot read all of the books that come through our library, so I'm lucky to have a wife who enjoys to read (and has very different tastes than mine)--so I guess it might be best to preface this suggestion as Mike's wife suggests . . . .
If you enjoy memoirs or consider yourself a foodie, Bruni's book is sure to appeal to you. As a young man and much later into his life, Frank Bruni struggled with over-eating and bulemia--so it comes as a morbid irony when he's tapped by the New York Times to become their food critic, a highly coveted position for foodies that leads to eating almost every meal out, seven days a week. Written with a deft hand and refreshing honesty and insight, Bruni's memoir goes beyond the run-of-the-mill addict memoirs. I'm betting you'll see this on a lot of "best of" lists for 2009.