Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thursday Night Book Group: 2010 Bibliography

See what we've been reading!

Thursday Night Book Group
Annotated 2010 Selections

All titles are in chronological order of selection, beginning with January 2010.

Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Publication Date: 2006
As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Memory Keeper’s Daughter
Author: Kim Edwards
Publication Date: 2005
During a blizzard in Lexington, KY, in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, yet his daughter is born with Down’s syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect his wife, he asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But his nurse has other plans – she escapes with the baby to another city, to raise the child as her own. The story unfolds over a quarter of a century in which these two families, practically ignorant of each other, must cope with Dr. Henry’s decision.

Confessions of a Shopaholic
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publication Date: 2001
Becky is a London gal with a fabulous flat in a trendy neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous friends who are the stars of the social scene, and a closet full of in-season must-haves. What’s the problem? Becky cannot afford this – any of this. Her low-paying job as a writer for Successful Saving magazine is not fulfilling on any level, and her spend-thrift ways are starting to catch up with her in the form of dismal letters from banks and creditors. She tries to cut back; she even tries to make more money, but none of her efforts are successful. As Becky starts to return to retail therapy, her professional life begins to improve – so much so that her life and the lives of those around her will be transformed forever.

Author: Gore Vidal
Publication Date: 1973
Burr is a portrait of perhaps the most complex and misunderstood of the Founding Fathers. In 1804, while serving as vice president, Aaron Burr fought a duel with his political nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, and killed him. In 1807, he was arrested, tried, and acquitted of treason. In 1833, Burr is newly married, an aging statesman considered a monster by many. Burr retains much of his political influence if not the respect of all. And he is determined to tell his own story. As his amanuensis, he chooses Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, a young New York City journalist, and together they explore both Burr's past and the continuing political intrigues of the still young United States.

Snow Falling on Cedars
Author: David Guterson
Publication Date: 1994
San Piedro Island, a small community north of the Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954, a local fisherman is found dead, and a Japanese American man is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes apparent that there is more at stake than a man’s guilt. On San Piedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees – especially memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become the wife of the accused murderer. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched.

Glass Castle
Author: Jeannette Walls
Publication Date: 2005
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. In Walls’s early life, her family lived as nomads, moving around the Southwest and camping out in the mountains. Later they settled in a dismal West Virginia mining town where her father did everything he could to escape both the town and his family. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Walls, her brother and her sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals, and searched for the resources and will to leave home.

Loving Frank
Author: Nancy Horan
Publication Date: 2007
In 1903, Mamah Borthwick Cheney and her husband, Edwin, commissioned renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank; in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives. Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place and her own creative calling in the world. Her unforgettable journey, marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leads inexorably to this novel's stunning conclusion.

Digging to America
Author: Anne Tyler
Publication Date: 2006
Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport – the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam Yazdan’s fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the babies are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate: an “arrival party” that from then on is repeated every year as the two families become more and more deeply intertwined. Even Maryam is drawn in – up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by Bitsy Donaldson’s recently widowed father, all the values she cherishes – her traditions, her privacy, her otherness–are suddenly threatened.

Little Bee
Author: Chris Cleave
Publication Date: 2009
Little Bee is a Nigerian asylum-seeker who flees to Britain in search of the O’Rourkes, a couple she met on a fateful day at a Nigerian beach two years earlier. When she knocks on Andrew O’Rourke’s door after being erroneously released from an immigration detention center, she is told by Sarah O’Rourke that Andrew has committed suicide: a direct consequence of their meeting on the Nigerian beach. When Sarah invites Little Bee to live with her and her young son, Charlie, she must confront the reality of Little Bee's life and deal with their own impotence in the face of great injustice.

Memoirs of a Geisha
Author: Arthur Golden
Publication Date: 1997
Speaking with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. Sayuri's story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house in Gion--the geisha district of Kyoto. Sayuri transforms as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: primarily competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it. But as World War II erupts and the geisha houses are forced to close, Sayuri, with little money and even less food, must reinvent herself all over again to find a rare kind of freedom on her own terms.

The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Publication Date: 2010
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed

Year of Pleasures
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Publication Date: 2005
Bette Nolan moves to a small town after the death of her husband to try to begin anew. Pursuing a dream of a different kind of life, she is determined to fine pleasure in her simple daily routines. Among those who help her in both expected and unexpected ways are the ten-year-old boy next door, three wild women friends from her college days, a twenty-year-old who is struggling to find his place in the world, and a handsome man who is ready for love.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Book Group Pick: Suite Francaise

For our October meeting, the library's Tuesday Night Book Group (which meets at our Berea location) requested a good historical fiction with some "action" ... and Suite Française delivers.

Often deemed “the last great fiction of the war,” Suite Française is a collection of two novellas detailing northern France’s fall to the Nazi advances of 1940. The first section, Storm in June, chronicles the connecting lives of a group of Parisians, who are all fleeing the probable air raids in the city for the safety of the countryside; the group moves just hours ahead of the advancing German army. The second section, Dolce, details life in a French farming village under Nazi occupation in 1941.

Némirovsky, a French writer of Ukranian Jewish origin, completed what was to be the first two sections of a planned five part Suite Française just before being arrested by the Gestapo in 1942. She was detained and months later killed at Auschwitz concentration camp. Suite Française was discovered by Némirovsky’s daughter, who finally published the text in France in 2004. Since then it has been translated into 38 languages, with millions of copies sold worldwide.

While the action in Suite Française may not be as overt as a Tom Clancy novel, it is certainly a story of war. It also offers a unique perspective not only of the Germans' occupation of France, but also of the anxiety of fleeing one's home, city, and identity.

The Tuesday Night Book Group meets on October 26 at 6:30PM at the library's Berea location. Sign-out a copy of the book at the library's circulation desk, then come to the meeting and share your thoughts - we will certainly have much to discuss!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Want to hear more of the Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars?

Did you see Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars’ Richmond concert? If you missed this great group, or if you heard them and want more, check them out at the library location in Richmond. We have their albums "Rise and Shine" and "Living Like a Refugee." We will be getting a DVD documentary about Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars soon. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Library supporters encouraged to nominate librarians for national I Love My Librarian Award | American Libraries Magazine

NEW YORK – Nominations are now open for the 2010 Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award.

The award invites library users nationwide to recognize the accomplishments of librarians in public, school, college, community college and university libraries for their efforts to improve the lives of people in their community. Nominations run through Sept. 20 and are being accepted online at www.ilovelibraries.org/lovemylibrarian.

Up to 10 librarians will be selected. Each will receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and a $500 travel stipend to attend an awards ceremony and reception in New York, hosted by The New York Times in December.

Each nominee must be a librarian with a master’s degree from a program accredited by the ALA in library and information studies or a master’s degree with a specialty in school librarianship from an educational unit accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Nominees must be currently working in the United States in a public library, a library at an accredited two- or four-year college or university or at an accredited K-12 school.

In 2008, Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded the American Library Association (ALA) $489,000 to support the award, which will continue annually through 2012. The award continues in the tradition of one The New York Times presented from 2001 to 2006.

Last year, more than 3,200 library users nationwide nominated a librarian. For more information on last year’s winners, visit www.ilovelibraries.org/lovemylibrarian.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nancy Horan's Loving Frank vs. T.C. Boyle's The Women

Over the past two months, both of our book discussion groups have read the historical fiction novel Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Loving Frank is the fictional account of the relationship between famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and his mistress, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I knew little about Wright's work, let alone his personal life; after reading Loving Frank, I wanted to learn more about this man whose life was truly stranger than fiction. The stories of his loves, losses, mistresses, and wives provides the backdrop for another novel, T.C. Boyle's The Women.

While The Women details all of Wright's wives and his mistress, Loving Frank focuses solely on Mamah Cheney. In 1909, both Wright and Cheney left their spouses and children for a two-year European excursion. The trip was an "elopement" of sorts that spawned media and public scrutiny, effectively ruining Wright's career for at least a decade and breaking up both the Cheney and Wright households. The relationship was also the foundation for Wright's prairie mansion, Taliesin, that provided the couple with a respite from the harsh critics in their native Chicago, but also set the scene for a horrific murder rampage and fire that claimed the lives of seven people.

The gruesome Taliesin murders provide a chilling climax and finale for both novels, however, The Women travels through Wright's life in reverse chronological order. The novel starts with Olgivanna, Wright's third wife, then Miriam, Wright's second wife, and finally Kitty (first wife) and Mamah. Miriam certainly causes the most spectacular drama here, arranging press conferences to discuss her husband's philandering, filing lawsuit after lawsuit against Frank in multiple states, and trespassing in to hotel and hospital rooms in hopes of catching her husband. She proves to be the most interesting of the 4 women, but definitely not in a positive way.

Overall, I would suggest Boyle's The Women over Loving Frank. Nancy Horan's account relied too much upon the romantic aspect, and could have offered more details about the consequences. Also, Horan delves deeply into the relationship between Cheney and Ellen Key, a Swedish feminist philosopher who greatly influenced Mamah's life choices. While Key provides an interesting backdrop, if not an explanation, there is simply not enough to drive the large portion of the novel that Horan devotes to this particular storyline. However, even though I favored The Women, I still enjoyed Loving Frank.

If you want to learn about the "other" side of Frank Lloyd Wright, check out these books -- you will not be disappointed!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Free Concerts @ Your Library

Join us at the Madison County Public Library during the month of July as we wrap up our Librarypalooza Summer Concert Series with six performances by local musicians! Here is our lineup:

The Incredible Sounds of L & J
Tuesday, July 6, 6:30PM, Richmond location;
Monday, July 19, 6:30PM, Berea location

Tuesday, July 13, 6:30PM, Richmond location

Robert Tincher
Friday, July 23, 6:00PM, Berea location

The Westbrook Trio
Monday, July 26, 6:30PM, Berea location
Saturday, July 31, 2:00PM, Richmond location

For band details, sound clips, and other information, visit our website: www.madisonlibrary.org/adultprograms.htm