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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ultimate Holiday Movies

Posted by Cary H.

I have always believed in the magic of the holiday season.  I really get into the carols, lights, baking, and trimming the tree.  But one of my favorite things to do during my holiday break is watch my collection of favorite movies.  I must say ahead of time that while I grew up with the great animated holiday movies we all know and love, as an adult I prefer to watch movies that are not animated.  I’m very picky and will watch every new movie that gets made – most of which do not end up on my list!  Here is my ultimate holiday movie list that I've whittled down over the years to include what I believe are the very best.  Give some of these a try this year and you may decide to add them to your collection.  Enjoy!

A Christmas Carol (1938 Reginald Owen)
Home Alone (1990)
A Christmas Carol (1999 Patrick Stewart)
Elf (2003)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Patron Book Review: A Journey Through Economic Time, a Firsthand View by J.K. Galbraith

Posted by EPL patron and guest blogger, Irv S.

John Kenneth Galbraith was a distinguished scholar, brilliant writer, and prominent public servant. He exerted vast influence on his students, other economists, our presidents, and the public.

He was born in Canada in 1908, awarded a doctorate in economics from Cal in 193  , and appointed to a Harvard professorship and various policy-making positions in the federal government. His early specialty was agricultural economics.

He draws on an extensive background and vast experience in the writing of A JOURNEY THROUGH ECONOMIC TIME, A FIRSTHAND VIEW, published in 1994. The book deals primarily with the period from 1914, the start of The Great War, through the early 1990's. He uses the events of that period to describe and expound  economic theories, with some  of which he agrees. As an important bureaucrat and an advisor to presidents, he indeed provides a first hand view of policy-making and the results thereof.

He explains the significant role of the Great Depression in the allied victory in World War II, contrasts the relationship between government and business in the Axis powers with that in Great Britain and the U.S., and shows how the mistakes following W.W.I were for the most part avoided after W.W.II.

The book is an excellent read for anyone interested in 20th centuryhistory or modern economics in general. It is not a dense treatise but an entertaining interpretation of recent history concluding with some thoughtful suggestions for the future. I enjoyed the book and learned a great deal from it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Beat the Guilt Challenge: Results

Posted by Staff

Fifteen of us accepted the Beat the Guilt Challenge in October to read a book that we felt guilty for not having read. We have hit the deadline for completing the challenge, and here are the results. Many of us finished the book that we picked and even those of us that didn't were glad that we tried! 

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. Read by Karen K.
It has been a while since I read a book by Steinbeck but I'm so happy I chose this one. I love his straight forward style and the way he can sum up a character's personality in a simple sentence. I have wanted to read this book since visiting the Monterey area. I'm grateful for the "push" to add it to my list of books I've read and loved. Next: The Moon is Down!

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Read by Allie L.
I am so glad I took this challenge! If I would have read this book in High School when I was supposed to I don't think I would have liked it as much as I do now!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. Read by Susan C.
I really like this book but at the same time I was really no liking it! It is a fascinating read. i had to learn how to read and understand the flow of the dialogue, which took concentration. Good plot! Quite the adventure mystery. I highly recommend this book!

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. Read by Cary H.
The famed author of A Christmas Carol -- bestseller of his day--Dickens writes with a great understanding of human nature and great humor. I laughed aloud on several occasions, which is rare for me. The humor is timeless and relateable. Despite all this I was 'fidgety' while reading, unable to keep my mind off the stack of current series novels I am enjoying. Alas, I did not finish the book, but I do recommend!

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. Read by Katherine R.
I found this book to be interesting though the writing got to be a bit tiring as it is very flowery. The plot is very fun and I found it amusing that at the slightest provocation a duel must be fought.  I finished this book and am glad that I read it. The challenge gave me the little extra push that I needed to pick it up.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Read by Jacob D.

I got a third of the way through the book before I felt like I was forcing myself to read it. Huxley is much more interested in creating a world with radically different social norms than he is about introducing interesting characters. By the time the book gets around to introducing substantial characters, they weren't anyone I cared about. Another problem with reading this book in 2014 is the fact that so many other works of science fiction have borrowed/taken its ideas about emotional engineering, caste systems, etc. It’s interesting to see how much influence this book has had on the last century of science fiction, but I think I should have read this book in 1931, and I blame myself for not having done so. The guilt lives on.

Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read by Devin G.
I'll be honest, I didn't finish the book. It was so dry I just could never get into it. The plot itself had the possibility of being great, but it was weighed down by a writing style I didn't mesh with. I would definitely recommend it to those who love classics and have read Sherlock from the beginning. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Read by Judy T.
I'm glad that I accepted the challenge and read The Kite Runner. What I liked best about the book was the depiction of Afghan culture and day to day life as the political situation moved from the fall of the monarchy to the Soviet invasion to the rise of the Taliban. Parts of the book are incredibly sad but ultimately it's a story of love and redemption.

Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence. Read by Melissa P.
I want to preface this by stating that I love the idea of this. However, as I did not finish the first chapter, my guilt has quadrupled. Sigh.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Read by Gerry B.
I am currently still reading Where the Red Fern Grows but I am so glad I finally started reading it! This book is very well done and I would recommend it to everyone who has not read it already. I am happy I accepted the challenge because it motivated me to read a book I have been meaning to read for a long time.

Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison. Read by Gwen B.

Unfortunately, I was not able to finish this book. I am glad that I attempted to read it because now I understand that I just don't comprehend the writing style of Ralph Ellison. If you enjoyed his first book then I would recommend reading this one.

Divergent by Veronica Roth. Read by Megan P.
I'm glad that I participated in this challenge. I had seen the movie and really liked it, but was worried about the book keeping my attention since I already saw the film. I would recommend this book to others.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. Read by Zach H.
For the longest time I had only seen the movie adaptation. I'm glad that I finally got around to reading it. I would definitely recommend the book to others. The amount of research that Crichton put into his writing is astounding.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Read by Sam O.
No, I have not finished the book yet, but I am glad that I chose to give it a second shot. I would definitely recommend this book to others. It's a fun and easy read. I am glad that I accepted the challenge because it gave me a reason to finally start reading the series again, and hopefully finish this time!

Atonement by Ian McEwan. Read by Joanie S.
A young girl witnesses something beyond her comprehension. She is a budding writer and invents a story to suit her interpretation of what she saw. What she does not know is her story will set forth a chain of events that will not only affect her life, but also those she is closest to. The first half of the book is somewhat slow and, for me, did not hold my attention for too long. The second half of the book was much easier to read, things picked up and became more interesting. There is a moment where you are faced with an entirely different perspective that throw things into a new light.

I am glad that I read this book and accepted the challenge. I do not often read fiction, so it sparked and interest to explore other genre.