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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dreams of Traveling? Pick Up a Book!

Posted by Staff

It's often during winter that we think of getting away and traveling to exotic or warmer climes. It's impossible for most of us to drop everything and physically travel to some of our dream locations, but with books, we can still get there. Here are some of our recommendations for books that will let you travel without having to leave your cozy chair.

The White Masai by Corrine HofmannThe White Masai combines adventure and the pursuit of passion in a page-turning story of two star-crossed lovers from vastly different backgrounds. Corinne, a European entrepreneur, meets Lketinga, a Samburu warrior, while on vacation in Mombasa on Kenya's glamorous coast.Despite language and cultural barriers, they embark on an impossible love affair. Corinne uproots her life to move to Africa—not the romantic Africa of popular culture, but the Africa of the Masai, in the middle of the isolated bush, where five-foot-tall huts made from cow dung serve as homes. Undaunted by wild animals, hunger, and bouts with tropical diseases, she tries to forge a life with Lketinga. But slowly the dream starts to crumble when she can no longer ignore the chasm between their two vastly different cultures.

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung ChangThe story of three generations in twentieth-century China that blends the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history. An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.  January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….
As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Neopolitan Series by Elena Ferrante. This a 4-part book series that starts with My Brilliant Friend. The series follows the lives of two perceptive and intelligent girls, Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo, from childhood to adulthood. The girls grow up near Napes, Italy and the books give you an excellent feel for what it would be like to live there. Highly recommended!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. This a quick read with a good love story. The majority of the book is set on an airplane and then finishes in London. Since I have personally traveled to London I felt like I could picture the setting better while I read. The location definitely ads something special to this story.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. The astonishing saga of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton's survival for over a year on the ice-bound Antarctic seas, as Time magazine put it, "defined heroism." Alfred Lansing's scrupulously researched and brilliantly narrated book has long been acknowledged as the definitive account of the Endurance's fateful trip. Reading this book will not warm you up, but it will keep you riveted and you'll learn all about how to survive if you're stranded in the Antarctic.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia MarquezThe novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Patron Book Review: Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis

Posted by patron and guest blogger, Irv S.

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis asserts that "Wall Street is rigged", and that traders, large and small, but especially the large ones, e.g., mutual funds, are regularly taken advantage of by "high frequency traders", which through  various strategies manage to  manipulate stock prices to the benefit of the HFT's. The HFT's are aided and abetted by the major banks, the stock exchanges, and investment banks.The SEC also comes in for a share of the blame.

A small group of traders and tech people, who were offended by the HFT's tactics and concerned that the system could collapse, undertook a plan to attempt to stifle the HFT's activities. The story is well told, the characters interesting, and the results surprising. The strategies of the HFT's, "front running,"  "rebate arbitrage," "slow market arbitrage," and "dark pools" are too complex to be described in a short review, but Michael Lewis does an excellent job of exposition and exposing.

The HFT's execute trades in milliseconds (thousandths of a second) and microseconds (thousandths of a millisecond.)  They pay huge sums to co-locate their computers next door to an exchange because of the infinitesimal advantage which they can translate into billions of dollars in annual profits. The large banks and stock exchanges are paid handsomely for the co-locations and for routing investors to the HFT's. Your retirement plan or investments likely have been reduced by the actions of the HFT's. Conflicts of interest and breaches of fiduciary duty are rife.

Fans of John Grisham are accustomed to his outrageous but entertaining exaggeration. He can spin a good yarn involving millions of dollars. The HFT's and their allies make Grisham's numbers appear small--and the HFT's numbers are for real. Grisham often relies on evil conspiracies.  Lewis does not find a sinister plot, but rather many greedy principals--stock exchanges, large banks, and major investment bankers--each acting independently  and supporting the activities of the HFT's because of the huge profits to be gained by doing so.

The book may cause anger and depression but it will also educate and illuminate. Michael Lewis is literate and savvy. His book The Big Short has been made into a critically acclaimed movie.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

How to Link Your Goodreads and Edwardsville Public Library Account

Posted by Amanda E.

We are very excited to share with you a way to request books available in our library system from Goodreads book description pages.  No longer do you have to open Goodreads in one tab and the catalog in another in order to request what you are seeing in Goodreads.  Just follow these easy steps to get this wonderful feature set up!

1. Login to your Goodreads account.
2. Click on the drop down arrow to the right of your profile picture and select Edit Profile

3. Click on add a new link under the Book Links tab
4. It will be easier to find the library link that you will create if you remove links that you don’t use regularly by clicking remove.  You can also reorder links by clicking on the up and down arrows.

5. In the Link name box: EPL
6. In the ISBN box copy and paste the blue text:
7. In the Title box copy and paste the blue text:

8. Search for a book. In the following example I have chosen an edition of Pride and Prejudice.

9. You can find the link you just created in the line that says Get a copy: just click on EPL. If you have a lot of book links in your account there may be a drop down menu that you will have to click on to find EPL.

10. This is what it will look like in the library catalog.  Everyone once in awhile you will click EPL and it will bring up the library catalog with a message that says “Session Timed Out” just close that out and click the link again and all should be well. 

I hope you guys enjoy the instant gratification that this provides.  My requests have seen a pretty significant increase since I connected my Goodreads and Library account.  Feel free to call the library if you have any questions.  618-692-7556. We love to hear from you!