Adult, high school and middle school readers are encouraged to participate in our annual Winter Reading Program. It's easy to enter - read a book, submit an entry. Every week, winning names will be drawn to receive prizes, and a final prize will be given at the end. The more books you read, the more chances you'll have to win.
Enter anytime between January 2 and February 25 at any library location - Main, Ellettsville or the Bookmobile - or online.
I read a review of Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden’s first novel of World War I, which mentions that this isn’t necessarily an anti-war novel. I had to read the sentence in that review several times to make sure I wasn’t misreading or misunderstanding. Does a war novel have to come out and specifically declare a stance?
Really, Boyden includes anti-war elements right up to the breathtaking ending: senseless killings, madness, morphine addiction, shortsighted military leadership, dehumanization, and the day to day terror. The characters in this book do seemingly impossible and horrible things in the name of combat. Is that not stance enough? Is it even important?
It is true that this book is about more than the descent into the hell of trench warfare. It is a really poetic story of Xavier Bird and Elijah Whiskeyjack, Cree Indians who have grown up in Canada near Hudson Bay. They have spent their childhood patiently hunting, skills which serve them well as snipers in some of the worst battles of World War I, including around Vimy Ridge and the Somme. Maybe it needs to be said, but being good at killing moose to survive the winter is different than being good at killing Germans. Xavier and Elijah react differently, but equally destructively, to war. Read more »
I love making lists, reading lists and cross referencing lists. I especially love December when many journals publish their year-end best-of lists. The New York Times has a top ten list, as does Publisher's Weekly and Amazon's Editors chose 20 books that they considered the best for 2012. The only book to make it to all three lists? Bringing up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. This is the follow up novel to Wolf Hall, about Thomas Cromwell and Henry the VII. Both books won the Man Booker Prize and a third book is in the works.
Other than Mantel's struck-it-gold novel, there isn't a whole lot of other crossover. Publisher's Weekly and the New York Times both list Building Stories by Chris Ware. This graphic novel is really an unusual collection of printed material, collected in a large box, which shares the stories of the residents of one building. Tackling a wide range of themes, the New York Times calls it "simultaneously playful and profound". Read more »
Just released today (so new, it isn't even in our catalog yet!) is The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, the debut novel by Ayana Mathis. This book has gotten some good reviews, including a glowing review from the often hard to please New York Times reviewer, Michiko Kakutani. But what makes this book especially noteworthy? One word: Oprah.
Yep. In case you missed it, last year Oprah renewed her book club, renamed Book Club 2.0 and chose Wild, Cheryl Strayed's memoir of her redemptive and inspring through hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.
This year Oprah chose something completely different, but no less interesting sounding. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is about a young African-American woman who during the Great Migraration leaves Georgia and settles in Philadelphia. Hattie's struggles and those of her children are interwoven in twelve narrative threads coming together to paint an intimate picture of a singular family, but also that of a greater nation. Sounds great. I can't wait until it hits the library shelves!
What if everyone in our local community all read and discussed the same book? Earlier this spring we read the excellent Room by Emma Donoghue and I am certainly looking forward to next year's selection as well.
As in the past, we are asking the community what they want to read together in 2013. It's time to vote!
Anytime before December 15, you can cast your vote for one of six titles that are nominated for the 2013 One Book One Bloomington and Beyond community read. All of the nominations this year are books that have been banned or challenged. The winning title will be announced in January and book discussions and related programs will happen throughout the Spring of 2013. Read about each nomination and cast your vote on online!
I hope everyone on the east coast is staying safe after the destruction of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy. Today’s storms are met with an overload of information: pictures on social media, non-stop news coverage, live reporting and high tech computer models of the storm’s projected path. But if you are in the mood for a more in-depth read about storms, check out a few of these titles.
The 1900 Galveston Hurricane was one of the deadliest on record. Over 6,000 people died in this massive storm, which was complicated by the lack of technology and a complete understanding of weather patterns. Erik Larsson is an excellent non-fiction author and in Isaac's Storm he tells the detailed story of the storm, but also of the meteorologist, Isaac Cline who failed to make the best use of the information he saw. The historical details of weather prediction combined with the suspense of the building storm make for an excellent read. Read more »
Unbroken tells the amazing true story of Louie Zamperini, a rascally little boy who grows up in Southern California to Italian immigrant parents. As a child, Louie is constantly in trouble and has a restless energy. His saving grace is being introduced to long distance running by his older brother. Louie ends up running in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and is focused on the 4 minute mile and another chance at the 1940 Olympics.
Back home, he enrolls in USC and continues running when the War interrupts. Louie joins as a gunner in the Army Air Forces. He is eventually sent to the Pacific theater and after a few successful missions, his plane crashes in the Pacific during a search mission. Three members of the aircraft team make it to two small liferafts and his unbelieveable story continues. Louie's 40+ day survival on a life raft seems impossible. Then he is shot at and captured by the Japanese and unofficially is held in horrible war camps. Here too, his survival is seemingly impossible.
Louise does survive, his spirit is damaged, but also hopeful. Louie's story will stay with you. I kept thinking of him and his story well after I finished the book. Read more »
“On the boat we were mostly virgins” begins Julie Otsuka’s gem of a book, The Buddha in the Attic. One of the noticeable things from that first sentence is the unique narrative mode. The whole book is written in the first person plural style. This type of narration can be awkward – most fiction is written in either first person or third person. Convention can be comforting, we know immediately how to read the story and relate to those characters. In first person plural, the story is told from the group’s perspective, and with no main character, the rules are different.
Otsuka said in an interview that she wanted to tell the story of Japanese picture brides – not just one bride, but that as a group. And in this case, the narrative mode makes perfect sense. Between 1908 and the 1920s, thousands of young Japanese women came over to the United States after an arranged marriage agreement. Instead of focusing on one story, this book introduces the reader to many stories, some devastatingly sad, some happier, but all of them are sympathetic. And by not focusing on just one story, we read the book with a fuller picture and are moved by their collective experiences and struggles. The stories begin on the boat, and follow them through marriage, manual labor, child raising and the heart wrenching internment following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. I can imagine that this book might appeal to a wide range of fiction readers – fans of historical fiction, women’s fiction, immigrant stories, Asian-American experiences, World War II home front, and readers of fiction set in California and the West. Read more »
Henry Skrimshander is a slight shortstop with a love and strong appreciation for baseball. Henry isn’t a great player, and not very strong at bat but he does have potential. When his sister writes the message “Call Mike Shorts!” by the phone, Henry’s life changes forever.
Mike Schwartz is the captain of the baseball team at Westish College in Wisconsin. Mike is addicted to painkillers (also the captain of the football team, he has bad knees), hardworking and spends a lot of his time helping his teammates become the best players they can be. He is hard on them, pushing them through more squats, more lifts, and more runs than seemingly possible.
Just as Henry is about to break the NCAA record for most error free games, an errant ball slips out of his hands and flies into the face of his roommate Owen Dunne who is sitting in the dugout reading a book. This seemingly innocuous error sets into motion a series of events that become life changing not only for Henry, Mike, and Owen but also the President of Westish, Guert Affenlight, and his daughter Pella who has just returned to Wisconsin after some personal problems of her own. Read more »
Working in a library, I try to read a wide variety of books – romance books, graphic novels, memoirs, young adult fiction, fantasy and popular non-fiction titles. But my one true love is contemporary literary fiction. A coworker once remarked to me that I didn’t like reading novels by authors who weren’t alive. Yep. Give me Jhumpa Lahiri over Jane Austen any day.
But I assume like a lot of readers I get stuck in a rut and go long periods of time without being excited about the fiction I am reading. This fall might be the answer to all my book desires. Four of my top ten favorite authors have new books coming out!
Michael Chabon wrote one of my all-time favorites and former One Book One Bloomington title, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. His newest, Telegraph Avenue is out this week. It tells the tale of a used record shop and the two friends who are co-owners. Spouses and children complicate the story as well as a mega-store moving in down the street. Set in Northern California in 2004, Chabon explores parenthood, family, music, and the American Dream.