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MARCH 25, 2011
Just finished listening to...
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. What a thoughtful, delightful, inspiring book this is! And how meaningful to those of the baby-boomer generation. In 1960's Jackson, Mississippi, Eugenia Phelan, also known as Skeeter, has just returned from college. She is looking to make a place for herself in the world, preferably not under the thumb of her overbearing mother, Charlotte. But Skeeter's old friends, Hilly Holbrook and Elizabeth Leefolt are interested only in the Junior League, their ambitious husbands, and having children. Pursuing her interest in writing with a purpose, Skeeter seeks the help of two unlikely partners-Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, two black maids who agree to tell Skeeter what it is really like to serve the privileged ladies of white Jackson society. This partnership results in real change for Skeeter, her friends, and for the black women who agree to tell their stories. The book is filled with references to the early Sixties and the news and cultural events that marked the decade-the Kennedy assassination, integration in Mississippi, Bob Dylan, and mini-skirts all make an appearance. I would venture to say that everyone who has read or listened to this book, whether staff or patron, has enjoyed and recommended it to others. We have both the book and the audiobook versions. The latter uses different voices for the main characters and is very well done. Read this soon-the film comes out in August, 2011!
In 2003, Khaled Hosseini, an Afghani physician, burst onto the bestseller list with his debut novel, The Kite Runner. Most who read it would probably say it was one of the best books ever. The story of Amir and Hassan, two young boys from different ethnic groups is as much a story of loyalty, betrayal, and forgiveness as it is about Afghanistan. In 2007, a film based on the novel was released, but it never made it big at the box office and has pretty much been forgotten. The library has recently added a copy to our DVD collection, and it is definitely worth a look. The scenery is breathtaking, the characterizations mirror Hosseini's literary creations, and the emotional intensity almost matches the extraordinary novel. If you have read the book, and woud like to revisit the story, or if you prefer a cinematic version to reading the book, give it a try. Please note, however, that much of the film is subtitled.
If you still have a cassette player, you might be interested in a book on tape currently available in our rotating collection. P. D. James wrote her first mystery novel when she was forty. Until that time, she was employed in the British Civil Service. Too bad she didn't start to write sooner, for her work is excellent. Cover Her Face was the first of her acclaimed Inspector Dalgliesh series, and it is detective fiction of the classic kind. A cozy country house, a tightly knit family group, a brazen interloper-this novel has all the elements of a good English mystery. The character of the detective is not yet quite developed-we are just getting to know Dalgliesh, and his backstory is only partially revealed. Once you get a taste of P. D. James, you will most probably want more.
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.