Monday, November 20, 2017

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from November 16, 2017

November has always been a strange weather month, first warm fall sunny weather and then an early blast of winter.  Many thanks to the thirteen people who braved the cold and wind last night to attend the book discussion.  Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

Our book last night was Marco Polo: the journey that changed the world by John Man.  In the 13th century, people knew virtually nothing about the world outside of their immediate farm or village.  At the age of seventeen, Marco Polo left his home for a journey to China with his father   and uncle.  He would be gone for twenty-four years.  His written account of his journey and adventures, co-written with a romance writer he met in prison, would change the world by bringing the far east to the west.  But was his account true?  Polo was not above embellishing his stories by putting himself at the center of events rather than at the side as an observer.  The author of the book made an attempt to follow Marco Polo’s path as closely as possible, trying to learn what Polo had actually seen, done and participated in and what might have been fabricated.  No one will ever truly know.  But the one thing beyond doubt is that Polo’s journey made the world smaller and changed history.  We had a lively conversation covering many things including the history of the Silk Road and modern China’s attempts to reestablish it, the convergence of three religions, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam in Kublai Khan’s Mongolia and China, the different sexual mores between the Mongolians and the Chinese, the influence of Polo on Columbus, the film Citizen Kane, the palace of Xanadu and Coleridge’s poem of the same name and much more.

Our next meeting will be on December 28th, 2017 at 7:00 pm.  The book to be discussed, Hero of the Empire: the Boer War, a daring escape and the making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard, is available at the Circulation Desk.  All are welcome.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from October 19

Thankfully, the scarecrows in front of the Broadway entrance to the library did not scare people away from the book discussion last night.  Neither did I see any crows.  Many thanks to the nine people who attended last night.  Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

Our book last night was The Greatest Knight:  the remarkable life of William Marshal, the power behind five English thrones by Thomas Asbridge.  William Marshal was born sometime in 1147, the third son of a minor Anglo-Norman aristocrat.  According to the laws of primogeniture, he was entitled to little, if anything of his father’s small holdings and had to make his own way in the world, attaching himself in service to a lord as a knight, a professional soldier.  What ensued was a real life Game of Thrones, full of war, treachery, alliances, chivalry, and heroism.  When his life ended an astounding, for the time, seventy-two years later, he was the very wealthy earl of Pembroke and the regent of England, protecting the rights and kingdom of the child king Henry III.  In between, he fought in many battles, including the Crusades, competed in countless tournaments, bedded an English queen, fathered a dynasty of his own, oversaw the birth and signing of the Magna Carta, and faithfully served five English kings.  In an era when loyalties changed for a bag of silver or a tract of land, William Marshal stood as an icon to loyalty and service.  Our discussion was active and varied and much less bloody than medieval combat.  We spoke about feudalism, the Magna Carta, chivalry, the rights of the Church versus those of monarchs, the status of common people,  and much more.  A good time was had by all.

Our next meeting will be on November 16th at 7:00 pm.  The book to be discussed, Marco Polo:  the journey that changed the world by John Man, is available at the Circulation Desk.  All are welcome.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Build a Better World Adult Summer Reading Club

Title: Amanda Wakes Up
Author: Allisyn Camerota
Review: A fledgling tv reporter gets a lucky break and makes it to an anchor job. Good behind the scenes daily life of a fv reporter written by someone who's been there.
Rating: 3

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Build a Better World Adult Summer Reading Club

Title: Between the World and Me
Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Review: Likely the last book I've completed for this year's reading club has made me think the most. In this short book (I listened to the audio version) the author writes to his son about the struggle of the black community.  In this timely memoir his fear, frustration, anger as well as his growth, ideas, and love of family and his 'mecca' are displayed.  At times it made me angry to read these words and other times it made me simply sad. It presents a view that I have not lived but helps me understand a place where others have. Required reading? Perhaps, but at the very least it is thought-provoking.
Rating: 4

Build a Better World Adult Summer Reading Club

Title: The Prisoner
Author: Alex Berenson
Review: John Wells, a retired CIA operative,is told there's a traitor in his organization helping ISIS. With his old boss, who's now the President, and his other colleague, he inserts himself into a black site to find him. Very exciting.
Rating: 4

Title: You Don't Look Your Age;And Other Fairy Tales
Author: Sheila Nevins
Review: This is an audio book and each chapter is read by a different celebrity. Most are funny. Some are serious, but all are interesting.
Rating: 4

Friday, August 4, 2017

Build a Better World Adult Summer Reading Club

Title: A Well Tempered Heart
Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker
Review: The sequel to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, finds Julia on another trip to Burma to solve the mystery of the voices in her head. A story of two sons emerges and Julia learns what is important in life.
Rating: 3.5






Title: Never have your dog stuffed
Author: Alan Alda
Review: Alan Alda's life from a young boy watching from the wings as his father, Robert, performed to his own life as an actor, writer and director.  Stories from MASH and his harrowing experience in Chile.  Interesting life.
Rating: 3

Monday, July 24, 2017

Build a Better World Adult Summer Reading Club

Title: You Belong To Me
Author: Colin Harrison
Review: A successful lawyer who collects New York City maps befriends his wealthy neighbor's young wife. He then gets ensnared in her secret troubles. And then into the husband's... Always a wild ride with Colin Harrison.
Rating: 4






Title: Trophy Son
Author: Douglas Brunt
Review: In making his son a tennis champion, a father alienates him eventually. Though rated number one, he needs more in his life than tennis and sets about finding it. Well paced novel(and the author is married to Megan Kelly).
Rating: 3

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Build a Better World Adult Summer Reading Club

Title: The Perfume Collector
Author: Kathleen Tessaro
Review: When a young woman of 1950's London becomes the sole recipient of someone's will - someone she never heard of, she goes to Paris to solve the mystery.  Told between the two characters in alternating chapters it is a tale of love, loss, war, separation and of course, perfume.
Rating: 4





Title: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker
Review: A sweet story of a woman in search of her father and his past after he mysteriously disappears.  What she finds is a surprising love story that reads like a fairy tale.
Rating: 4






Title: Every Day I Fight
Author: Stuart Scott
Review: In this memoir by the ESPN SportsCenter journalist and sports anchor,Stuart Scott, one is taken on a trip from his childhood to how he became a face for fighting cancer.  Told in his brutally honest way there are stories of his craft, his struggle and mostly his loves - his 2 daughters. Inspirational yet heartbreaking to lose someone so young.
Rating: 3




Title: This is What a Librarian Looks Like
Author: Kyle Cassidy
Review: The cover states this is a "celebration of libraries, communities, and access to information"  so true. Anyone in this book club probably loves Harborfields Library - and you should.  This is a picture laden book of many librarians and what they feel their job is with community, empowerment, learning and helping people mentioned most often.  It also includes several essays about libraries and librarians.  All I can say is a big thank you to librarians for all you do!
Rating: 5

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Build a Better World Adult Summer Reading Club

Title: House of Spies
Author: Daniel Silva
Review: Gabriel Allon, now the head of Mossad, gets his old group together to find the terrorist, Saladin, and destroy him. He just missed him in his last book. Black Widow. Always an enlightening worldview with Daniel Silva.
Rating: 5






Title: My Brilliant Friend
Author: Elena Ferrante
Review: Two friends growing up in a poor section of Naples, Italy after the war share their hopes and dreams. It's the first book in the quartet and all best-sellers In Europe. Excellent picture of the life and culture there.
Rating: 3

Monday, July 10, 2017

Build a Better World Adult Summer Reading Club


Title: A Mother's Reckoning; Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
Author: Sue Klebold
Review: The mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters, details life before and after the horrific tragedy. Although difficult to read, she shows a different side to what we all probably read/saw. She doesn't take away from the shooting but she poses some interesting thoughts about preventing future ones.
Rating: 3




Title: Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard
Author: Laura Bates
Review: Prof. Laura Bates teaches in prisons. This is her experience with a young man in jail for life without any chance of parole or appeal.  What they both learned from reading Shakespeare is how to deal with life and not let walls confine you.
Rating: 3





Title: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker
Review: A sweet story of a young woman who sets out to find her father who vanished from her life. She travels to Burma to find out about the first 20 years of his life and found a man who tells her a beautiful story that keeps you enthralled to the end.
Rating: 4