Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from April 23

If you accept the fact that we are going to have neither a spring nor a summer, last night was a lovely, brisk autumn evening. Many thanks, as always, to the ten people, wrapped in scarves and hats, who attended the book discussion last night.

Our book last night was The Dreyfus Affair: the scandal that tore France in two by Piers Paul Read. Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a rising star in the French artillery command. Dreyfus had everything: family, wealth and a real chance to advance to a coveted position on the general staff of the army. But Dreyfus was also reserved, perhaps arrogant, had few friends and was a Jew. In 1894, scraps of a memo containing French military secrets were found in the trash at the German embassy and were delivered to the French counter-intelligence service. Dreyfus, on the basis of very little evidence, was accused of selling secrets to the enemy. He was found guilty of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. For the next twelve years, the efforts of many to free Dreyfus and the determination of the army to conceal the truth nearly tore France asunder, toppling governments, inciting coup attempts and pitting Catholic against Protestant against Jew. Our discussion was lively and covered many topics including anti-Semitism, immigration, assimilation, submerged populations, the nature of prejudice, the American religious freedom laws, and much more. It was an interesting evening.

Our next meeting will be on May 28, 2015. The book to be discussed, The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the epic age of flight by Winston Groom, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from March 26

If April showers bring May flowers, what do March rainstorms foretell? Anyway, many thanks to the eleven people, umbrellas in hand, who attended the book discussion last night. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

Our book last night was A Disposition to be Rich: how a small-town pastor’s son ruined an American president, brought on a Wall Street crash, and made himself the best-hated man in the United States by Geoffrey C. Ward (Ferd Ward’s actual great-grandson.) Ferdinand Ward was the Bernie Madoff of his day, a supposed genius at making big money on Wall Street who turned out to have been running a giant pyramid scheme. Ward was the son of missionaries and was raised in a strict Christian household. He enticed former president Ulysses S. Grant to lend his name to his firm, took his money and, ultimately, ruined him. Mark Twain thought that Ward was responsible for Grant’s death. Ward was equally ruthless in his relations with his wife, his only son, and his friends. He served time in prison and died alone and without money. Our discussion was wide ranging and lively, covering missionaries, the influence parents do or do not have on their children, financial scandals, investments, honesty, honor, morality, how eager people are to be duped and much more. The book and the evening were both very satisfying.

Our next meeting will be on April 23, 2015. The book to be discussed, The Dreyfus Affair: the scandal that tore France in Two by Piers Paul Reid, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Long Island Reads 2015 - "One Island, One Book"

For 2015, the Long Island Reads Committee selected The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.

Mesmerizing and illuminating, Long Island-raised Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things is the story of an electric and impassioned love between two vastly different souls in New York during the volatile first decades of the 20th century. With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic and masterful storytelling to unite her characters in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of self-discovery in tumultuous times. The book incorporates numerous real-life events, including the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the Dreamland fire at Coney Island, and will appeal to those with an interest in New York City history. It features compelling descriptions of immigrant life on the Lower East Side, upper Manhattan in its wilderness days, and the development of “freak shows” and amusements at Coney Island.

This book will be discussed at our From Cover to Cover book discussion group on Wednesday, April 15 at 11:30 am. Copies of the book are available for pickup at the Circulation Desk.
Author Alice Hoffman will be speaking on Sunday, April 19 from 2-4 pm at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library about The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sir Terry Pratchett, 1948 - 2015

Terry Pratchett was the acclaimed creator of the global bestselling Discworld series, the first of which, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. His fortieth Discworld novel, Raising Steam, was published [in the UK] in 2013 [in the US in 2014]. His books have been widely adapted for stage and screen, and he was the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, as well as being awarded a knighthood for services to literature. He died March 12, 2015.

Larry Finlay, MD at Transworld Publishers: “I was deeply saddened to learn that Sir Terry Pratchett has died. The world has lost one of its brightest, sharpest minds.
In over 70 books, Terry enriched the planet like few before him. As all who read him know, Discworld was his vehicle to satirize this world: he did so brilliantly, with great skill, enormous humour and constant invention.
Terry faced his Alzheimer’s disease (an ‘embuggerance’, as he called it) publicly and bravely. Over the last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. His legacy will endure for decades to come."

If you have not read Terry Pratchett's book before, read this article about how There's No Wrong Place To Start Reading Pratchet.

Monday, March 2, 2015

And the Winter Reading Club Raffle Winner Is...

Judith Knorr won the tickets to the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium.
A big thank you to all reading club participants for joining the library for a winter of hot reads on very cold (and snowy!) nights!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from February 26

Many thanks to the eleven people who braved cold and icy roads to attend the book discussion this month. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

Our book last night was Fordlandia: the rise and fall of Henry Ford’s forgotten jungle city by Greg Grandin. Americans have long assumed that our system of government, our culture and our customs were the best for people living anywhere on the globe. No one believed this more than Henry Ford. His attempt to create a mid-western town in the middle of the Amazon jungle was as big a failure as the attempts to Americanize the Native Americans, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the American experience in the Middle East.

Ford Motor Company, in the early years, was a vertically integrated organization. It controlled everything it needed to produce cars, from the iron ore in the ground to the smelting of steel to the growing of trees and the milling of lumber. Ford controlled the lives of its workers, how and where they lived and what they ate and drank. But it could not produce its own rubber. Henry Ford decided to change that by acquiring and building a huge rubber plantation in the Amazon jungle and then proceeded to introduce “Fordism” to the native population. It didn’t work. The people there were used to living off the bounty of the river and the jungle, not punching a time clock. The insects refused not to spread disease and the rubber trees, planted in neat rows, succumbed to blight. The result was an almost comic failure. Our discussion was animated, covering racism, vertical integration, industrial vs. agricultural time, the nature of fathers and sons, Americanism, and much more.

Our next meeting will be March 26, 2015. The book to be discussed, A Disposition to be Rich: how a small-time pastor’s son ruined an American President, brought on a Wall Street crash, and made himself the best-hated man in the United States by Geoffrey C, Ward, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Winter Reading Club Book Review: Kilimanjaro Adventure

Title: Kilimanjaro Adventure
Author: Hal Streckert
Review: I've read many books about climbing mountains, specifically Mt. Everest, since I am awed by the strength and determination it takes to achieve such a goal. One that I will never do and actually have no desire to so. This book was the tale of one family's quest to scale the highest peak in Africa. It put mountain climbing on a more personal level. I still don't want to climb mountains but this made it seemed possible. Cheers to the Streckert family for sharing their story.
Rating: 2 out of 5