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SEPTEMBER 24, 2011
Just finished reading...
The Greater Journey:Americans in Paris by David McCullough. If you have ever been to Paris, celebrated American historian, David McCullough's latest book will have you wanting to go back, and if you haven't been there, you'll want to go. During the 19th century American painters, sculptors, musicians, aspiring doctors, and statesmen travelled to Paris in droves, seeking inspiration from its fine museums and acclaimed schools. In spite of a very chaotic political climate, Paris had become a center for the very latest ideas and trends in the arts and sciences. McCullough has conjured up a splendid picture of the city through the eyes of these young Americans, but the real stars of the volume are the Americans themselves. Like characters in a novel, their stories are exciting, compelling, and many times, surprising. I lived for three years not ten miles from Cornish, New Hampshire, where American sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, had a home and studio. I never visited it, however, because I had no idea who Saint-Gaudens was, nor of his importance in the art world of his time. McCullough's style of writing is clear and well-organized, very easy to read for history. I especially enjoyed the sections about the young doctors who went to Paris to study. The history of American medicine owes a lot to the French! You might never get to Paris for real, but this book definitely takes you there for free.
Bottled and Sold:Our Obsession with Bottled Water by Peter H. Gleick. I first visited California in the mid eighties, and I was amazed to find aisles of bottled water in grocery stores, and vending machines dispensing spring water. I thought this was a West Coast affectation, but in time, of course, it has become a nationwide habit. Gleick is obviously an advocate for drinking from the tap, not the bottle, and he has some very good arguments in his favor. See what he has to say about the safety, cost, and actual benefits of bottled water. You might be surprised. This book was purchased with a grant from the Schuylkill Area Community Foundation.
Sondheim and Lloyd-Webber: The New Musical by Stephen Citron. I happened to be watching a concert celebrating the 80th birthday of Stephen Sondheim, one of America's most accomplished composer/lyricists, when I was reminded of this book. I had come across it several times as we were weeding(removing books no longer in demand) or rearranging shelves. The concert was a real treat if you are any kind of Broadway musical fan. Elaine Stritch doing a number from Follies, Patti LuPone singing 'The Ladies Who Lunch' from Company, Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters reprising their roles from Sunday in the Park with George. This biography tells the story of not only Sondheim, but also of his rival of sorts from the UK, Andrew Lloyd-Webber. By chronologically alternating between these two musical icons, he follows their careers, the great musicals they created, and the ways in which their music has changed over the years. Fans of A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd. The Phantom of the Opera, or Jesus Christ Superstar-read this book!
The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin. You may know Jeffrey Toobin from CNN. He's the guy they call in when something is happening with a court case. This book deals with what could be considered the most significant court in the land, the Supreme Court. In this book, Toobin describes the activities and personalities of the Rehnquist court, a group of justices who worked together for an unusually long period of time and in very recent years. These were the days of our first women justices, Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It also covers the controversial confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas, and includes fascinating discussions regarding some of the most important issues of the last 30 years such as abortion, gun control, and the infamous Bush v. Gore. Toobin's portraits of the Justices give us the opprotunity to better understand this mostly unknown, but extremely powerful group of individuals, whose decisions influence all of our lives.
The library recently received two grants for materials, and the Board of Trustees and staff would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge them. The Schuylkill Area Community Foundation awarded the library a grant of $250 to purchase non-fiction books for adults in the categories of biography and contemporary history. These books include titles such as Googled by Ken Auletta, Roger Lowenstein's The End of Wall Street, and War, a chronicle of Afghanistan by Sebastian Junger. Biographies of Laura Bush, Carol Burnett, and Sean Connery have also been added to the collection. We also received an award of $600 from the Snayberger Memorial Foundation to be used for materials specifically for school-age children. These future purchases will include picture books, easy readers, and more complex fiction for young teens. Visit the library and see some of these new acquisitions!
On Thursday, October 1, 2009 our Adult Reader's Group will be delving into the newest offering of television talkshow host , Bill O'Reilly. A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity chronicles O'Reilly's days as a schoolboy at St. Brigid's parochial school to his current position as influential TV personality. The group meets in the library at 7PM. Call 874-3382 or use our contact page at www.frackvillelibrary.com.
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux. Ever since I was a kid, I have always longed to take off to exotic places. Consequently, I really loved this book. In the 1970's, Theroux took a train trip throughout Asia and wrote a popular travel book called The Great Railway Bazaar. Now in his early 60's, he decided to take the trip again to see how things had changed. In those days, the war zone was Vietnam, and he had been able to travel freely in Iraq and Iran. This time he had to divert his route from the Persian Gulf north to the "stans", those former satellite states of the USSR. Much mellower in his tone than he was thirty years ago, Theroux paints a fascinating picture of modern Turkey, India, Singapore, and Cambodia, just to name a few of his many stops. He also meets a fabulous cast of characters along the way. If you're yearning for the adventure of travel, but your pocketbook won't allow it, this book is a great substitute!
A few new arrivals that might be of interest are now on our shelves, in part, thanks to some generous patrons. The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch's final lesson to his students at Carnegie Mellon has attracted added attention since his death. What Happened:Inside the BushWhite House and Washington's Culture of Deception is an expose written by the President's former press secretary, Scott McClellan.
On August 2, the final volume of Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster Twilight series arrived, but be patient-there's a waiting list for Breaking Dawn! A timely new novel for teens is Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci. Two teenagers on opposite sides of the world become involved in a terrorist attack involving the world's water supply. Visit our website at www.frackvillelibrary.com to contact us about these new books.
Thanks to a collaboration between the American Library Association and The Lance Armstrong Foundation, the library recently received two copies of a great reference resource. The comprehensive Surviorship Notebook was developed by the Foundation in order to insure that cancer survivors have access to the information they need. It includes things like a health journal, practical information about insurance, an organized plan for keeping your medical records, and chapters on the physical, emotional, and practical aspects of coping with the disease. In addition, there are many inspirational stories about ordinary individuals who are dealing with cancer on a daily basis. As Lance Armstrong has said, "Knowledge is power and attitude is everything." Keep this valuable resource in mind.
Girl Sleuth:Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak. The story of the creation of Nancy Drew, one of our most famous American literary icons, is almost as exciting as Nancy's adventures themselves. Originally the germ of an idea of Henry Stratemeyer, the creator of other long-lived characters like the Bobbsey Twins and Tom Swift, Nancy was actually developed through the collaborative effort of several individuals-Stratemeyer himself, his daughters Harriet and Edna, who took over his company after his death, and a hard-working Midwestern journalist by the name of Mildred Wirt Benson. In Ms. Rehak's book the real Nancy Drew mystery is revealed! The library has thirty volumes of the series as well as many Hardy Boys, Dana Girls, and Bobbsey Twins editions.