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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Upcoming Book Club Selections

Posted by Staff

If you haven't already joined us for book club, please consider it. Below are the books that our book club will be reading and discussing in the upcoming months. Just click on the book titles to go to our catalog so you can request them.
We'd love to see you at one of our upcoming book discussion groups!

Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (January 24)

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart--he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone--but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them. 


Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (Februrary 28)

Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset.

As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.


Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt (March 28)

In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn't turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible.

For the first time, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women--known as "human computers"--who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. Based on extensive research and interviews with all the living members of the team, Rise of the Rocket Girls offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we've been, and the far reaches of space to which we're heading. 


LaRose by Louise Erdrich (April 25)

In this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich, the bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture.

North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.

The youngest child of his friend and neighbor, Peter Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux’s five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools; and Landreaux’s wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty’s mother, Nola. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to an Ojibwe tribe tradition—the sweat lodge—for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them.


The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis (May 23)

Everything Elka knows of the world she learned from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her under his wing when she was just seven years old.

But when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Celebrating 15 years: Jacob D.

Posted by Staff
Jacob joined the library staff while he was in high school. He has risen through the ranks and is now the Head of Research and Adult Services. This is not by chance, but rather the result of his dedication to library patrons and services, and his numerous talents. We are so fortunate that Jacob has chosen to make his career at our library.

Jacob is very popular with his co-workers and the patrons. We all rely on him for technical help, for his amazingly wide-ranging knowledge of books and movies, for the entertaining programs he arranges for our community, and his quick wit. For those of us who know Jacob well, we can't imagine the library without him! 
How long have you worked at the library? 
Since October 2001.

In what part of the library do you work and what do you do?  
I’m the Head of Research and Adult Services. Some of duties include traditional reference help and hands-on assistance with in-house computers, personal eReaders, and other techy stuff. I also do adult programming.

What has changed the most since you started working here?
The building itself has changed quite a lot in 15 years. There are almost 10 times as many computers in the building. In 2001, we still had the old-fashioned card catalogs—now it’s all computerized. There have been many other changes throughout the adult and children’s libraries. If you haven’t stepped into the library in 15 years, you might be surprised by the way it looks.

What services offered at the library do you wish more people knew about?
Movie Night! We’ve been screening monthly movies in the evenings for over a year (we also have monthly movies on Monday afternoons). We’d love for more people to come to these screenings and share the love of film with the rest of us.

What has kept you working at the library?
In my time as an employee, I finished college and went to graduate school for library science. I’ve moved to the reference department, which we now call Research and Adult Services. During my time here, I have been seeing many of the same faces daily, weekly, or monthly. The library’s patrons and the library’s employees make me look forward to coming into work every day.

If you could have coffee with any author, who would you choose?
I’m assuming this is living or dead—I’ve always thought it would be amazing to meet Kurt Vonnegut.

What’s an underrated book you think everyone should read?
I’ve purchased copies of The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt as gifts for a few different friends. I read it 10 years ago, and I still haven’t met anyone else that’s read it (including the recipients of my gift purchases).

Do you have a favorite book genre?
I’ll give most genres a try, but I really enjoy reading non-fiction. I can be a bit picky with fiction. I tend to be drawn to coming-of-age stories and books about dysfunctional families.

What is your favorite book that you’ve read in the past year?
It was just under a year ago that I read My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman. I was pleasantly surprised, and I definitely need to read Fredrik Backman’s other books.

It was just over a year ago that I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s very tragic, but also very inspiring to know there are people like Bryan Stevenson out there.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Irv's Book Reviews: Two Great Reads

Posted by patron and guest blogger, Irv S.

Shakespeare Basics for Grownups: Everything you need to know about the Bard by E. Foley and B. Coates
This book may not provide "everything" but it certainly offers quite a bit in its 295 pages, plus a quiz, list of sources,epilogue and index. The intro includes a one sentence summary on each play, e.g., "Unsupportive relatives ruin young lovers' bliss, leading to fatal fake suicide mix-up."

There is a section on language and style, as well as a discussion of and quotations from numerous plays: comedies (e.g.,A Midsummer Nights Dream, Much ado about Nothing,) histories, (e.g.,Richard II , Henry V), and tragedies (e.g.,Hamlet, Othello) There is also a brief section on poetry and a good deal of background and history, including a discussion of other possible playwrights and a list of possible collaborators, and "Tips for watching Shakespeare's plays" e.g. do your homework before attending the performance.

The book entertains and informs. It is a worthwhile read.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
The term "transgender" has been receiving a lot of mention in the media of late, but little by way of enlightenment. Is it synonymous with "gay"? Does it imply surgical alteration of organs? Is there a clear definition? I was uninformed and curious but unable to find answers until I stumbled upon Beyond Magenta, Transgender Teens speak Out, by Susan Kuklin, 2014. The author has interviewed six people, each in their late teens or early twenties, all purporting to be transgender. She has provided narratives about each and photos of some. Each is an individual with separate and distinct background and attitudes but all share some experiences. All have dealt with confusion, rejection, and bullying. Some have had sympathetic parents, some have not. Each is bright and sensitive. Most have resolved at least some of their self-doubts. Four started life as females, two as males. Each has believed himself or herself to be gay but has reached the conclusion that their gender is not what their birth certificate states and has taken hormone therapy to change appearance. None has had surgery. The level of awareness and sensitivity suggests that the six subjects are not necessarily typical. Or perhaps they are. All have decided that they are not the sex that has been assigned to them. Most seek to be the opposite gender, Some believe that they are neither male nor female, or perhaps are both. The author defines transgender:
a general term that refers to a person whose gender identity, expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they are assigned at birth.

The definition leaves a lot unanswered but at least gives us a starting point. And it gives the answer to the three questions set forth above: No, no and no.

Some will be offended by the very notion of transgender, perhaps equating it with "gay" or "lesbian" which it is not. Certainly the young people interviewed for the book pose no threat to anyone, except perhaps his or her self. The author aptly demonstrates that gender is important but it need not be the defining element in a person's life.