Information, Answers & Reviews

Tips for Finding Foreign Films using the Library Catalog

I will admit it, creating a list of foreign films using the library's catalog can be a frustrating experience for many patrons;  however,  it can be done and it is simpler than you might think.  Here are some tips to help you generate a list of foreign films in various languages. Read more »

National Book Critics Circle Awards

ImageLast night the National Book Critics Circle awards were presented to the best books published in English.  They are the only awards chosen only by book critics.  The National Book Critics Circle "honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature".  Great mission!  We like fostering conversations about reading too!  

The winners include: Read more »

Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness

ImageAlexandra Fuller writes beautifully about Africa. This is her second memoir set there. Both Cocktail Hour under the Tree of Forgetfulness and Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight also give homage to her parents, particularly her mother, Nicola, or Nicola of Central Africa, as her mom playfully nicknamed herself.

Nicola loves books and reading and wanted her first daughter to become a writer but Vanessa held firm about spurning books and taking up art. So Alexandra became the writer in the family, but not one that her mother could not control.  For Nicola, Alexandra's career as a writer is a mixed blessing.  She constantly calls her daughter's first memoir that "awful book" probably because Alexandra tells the truth in it about her Mom's drinking. Read more »

Me and You

ImageThis short novel describes a teen's experience not fitting in at school.  What makes Me and You different is that it's set in Rome, so you get a feel for the modern Italian family. Lorenzo has trouble making friends. Observing other kids at school closely, he sees what they do to fit in--what clothes they wear, how they talk, where they hang out, etc. and he tries to blend in but pretending to be someone he's not goes against his basic being. Nobody hangs out with him at school; he has no friends. But it's driving his overly-doting Mom crazy.

So one day he informs her that he has been invited on a ski week with several of his most popular classmates. It's a bold-faced lie to make her happy and to get her to leave him alone. But then he must improvise a place to stay as well as provide chirruping conversation on his cell to convince his mom that he has gone to Cortina and is having a grand time.He sneaks back into the basement of their house where the former owner's furniture is stored. Apparently, his father bought the house on a reverse mortgage plan, and even though the woman has died, they have never gotten rid of her belongings. Lorenzo has set up a cot and stored enough food and sodas for the week. Also, carefully gathered are piles of books. Read more »

How Beautiful the Ordinary, edited by Michael Cart

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How Beautiful the Ordinary, edited by Michael Cart, is a welcome addition to the small but growing collection of young adult fiction exploring gender identity and sexual orientation. Being a young person is difficult, what with all the changes physical, emotional, and social. Most of us spend our whole lives getting to know ourselves, and those initial explorations in our youth are some of the most confusing and painful (and exhilarating and profound) because they are so new. All of this can be overwhelming, and when you throw in societal condemnation of some of these identities and/or lifestyles it is especially hard. This collection of short fiction by well-respected young adult authors takes a loving and unrelenting look at the struggle not only to discover what we are as young women and men, but to accept and own that identity as well. Read more »

Bestseller Express Collections at the Library

Monroe County Public Library patrons tired of being on waiting lists for popular new titles, both books and DVDs, now have another option: they can get these materials into their hands faster through the library's Bestseller Express collections. These browsing collections make popular books and movies available to more people more quickly. Titles in the collections cannot be reserved or renewed. "We developed Bestseller Express to make more copies of high-demand titles available to our patrons," says Collection Services Manager, Pam Wasmer. "The Express collections are proving very popular. We want everyone to know about this new service option." Read more »

March Books Plus Discussion

RoomPlease join us on Sunday, March 4th, to discuss the intriguing premise of Emma Donoghue's Room.  Here's how the author described the genesis of the book, "In my experience, the bond between mother and newborn is a tiny, cozy world that gradually relaxes its magic to let the rest of the world in. But motherhood -- even under ideal circumstances -- also has elements of nightmare as well as fairy tale, sci-fi as well as realism: it's a trip like no other, and it can occasionally feel like (let's admit it, shall we, mothers of the world?) a locked room."

This highly acclaimed novel was voted the One Book One Bloomington title for 2012. Please come and share your opinions and ideas about this topic.

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The Artist

ImageSo, The Artist won big at the Academy Awards.
You can get on the already long holds list for its June 26th release on home video, but while you are waiting...
You might check out OSS 117, Cario Nest of Spies and its sequel, both directed by and starring new Academy Award winners Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin, respectively (Bérénice Bejo even co-stars in the first one). These films are playful spoofs that show a bit of the same homage to filmmaking as the Best Picture winner, just set in a later time period and genre, and with color and sound (French with English subtitles). They are parodies of a set of spy books and movies from France in the 1950s and 1960s that are supposedly similar to Ian Fleming's James Bond series. The two newer films are full of intentionally kooky sight gags and constant mugging by Dujardin (that he does so well). The jokes are hit-or-miss depending on your own personal taste, but the films are definitely nice to look at. And they've got stupid Nazis.

Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain

ImageThe title of this book Lighting Out for the Territory by Roy Morris, jr. refers to the last paragraph in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when Huck reckons that it's time "to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest", which is exactly what Clemens himself did in July 1861. Clemens had ridden as a guerilla maurader for the Missouri militia in a locally formed group in the very early days of the Civil War called the Marion Rangers. They never saw any real action, but his brief stint with them, plus the ever present chance he could be drafted by either side, Union or Confederate, to pilot a gun boat, made the mostly neutral West look inviting.

His brother Orion had been appointed as Secretary to the Territorial Governor of the newly created Nevada Territory. Orion invited Sam to go along to share expenses. From this happenstance beginning one of America's great writers was born.

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