Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from January 22

Ten chilly people braved the weather and the wind last week to attend this book discussion. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

Our book was The Age of Gold: the California gold rush and the new American dream by H. W. Brands. Gold has always had a special hold on the human imagination. It has been coveted and hoarded, turned into everything from coins to jewelry to fine art. When gold was discovered by James Marshall while building a saw mill for John Sutter in January of 1848, the discovery started a gold rush of immense proportions. People rushed to California from not just the eastern United States, but from revolution ravished Europe, China, South America and Australia. These immigrants changed the course of American history and the nature of the American people. The author describes the treacherous voyages to the gold fields, whether by wagons across the country’s mountains and deserts, sailing around the Cape Horn or by crossing the jungles of Panama. The author describes the geology of gold and the ways to mine it, the horrors of the mining towns thrown up around the mines, the building of the transcontinental railroad and the effects of all this on the Native Americans and the Mexicans who had lived in California before the rush. Gold was found in great quantities, but few of the miners became rich. People like Leland Stanford and Sam Brennan made immense fortunes by selling supplies to the miners. The author concludes that the gold rush changed America by changing the American dream from attaining prosperity through hard work to looking for get rich quick schemes. It ushered in the Gilded Age of great fortunes and robber barons.

Our next meeting will be February 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm. The book to be discussed, Fordlandia: the rise and fall of Henry Ford’s jungle city by Greg Grandin, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter Reading Club Book Review: This is Where I Leave You

Title: This is Where I Leave You
Author: Jonathan Tropper
Review: Jonathan Tropper knows how to put the dysfunctional in family. At their father's death request, Judd and his siblings must sit Shiva for a week. During this time they realize what it means to be a family as they dredge up their shared history and look towards the future. Tropper's concise writing and humor made this book both touching and funny.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter Reading Club Book Review: Free for All

Title: Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library
Author: Don Borchert
Review: First book of 2015! And off to a good start... I love libraries and if you want to know the behind-the-scenes action and what librarians deal with on a daily basis, read this memoir written by the wry-humored Don Borchert. It actually made me laugh out loud at parts. Also made me wonder what our dear librarians at Harborfields are witness to here in Greenlawn :)
Rating: 5 out of 5

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Adult Winter Reading Club

Warm up at the Reference Hut for a perfect winter adventure. Pick up your “star chart” and read or listen to any books of your choice. After reviewing three (3) books, turn in your completed star chart for a prize. Each completed star chart is also used as a raffle ticket to win tickets to the Vanderbilt Planetarium.

All adult Harborfields cardholders can be a stargazer! Open your eyes this winter with your choice of enlightening reads!

The Adult Winter Reading Club runs from Monday, January 5 through Friday, February 27, and the raffle drawing will be Monday, March 2.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from December 18

Five people took a break from tree trimming, gift wrapping, candle lighting and general holiday frolicking to attend this month's book discussion. Many thanks, as always, for their attendance.

Out book last night was The Telling Room: a tale of love, betrayal, revenge, and the world’s greatest piece of cheese by Michael Paterniti. There is a growing movement in this country and the rest of the world for slow cooking, artisanal food products and meat from free-range animals. The media is filled with stories of local small batch chocolates, hand crafted beer, exotic and hand-made salts, organic herbs and artisanal breads. Farmer’s markets all around us are packed and growing. The book is the story of a Castilian farmer, Ambrosio Molinas de las Heras, who is living that life and never lived any other way. He raises his own chickens, goats and sheep, grows his own vegetables and grains and has a vineyard from which he produces his own wine. He lives as his ancestors did for hundreds of years. But the recipe for the family cheese has been lost and Ambrosio vows to rediscover it. He succeeds, and that’s when things get interesting. His cheese, Paramo de Guzman, is an immediate, worldwide hit, winning awards and finding its way to the tables of kings, presidents and bishops. The demand is great, but Ambrosio can’t meet it. He goes into partnership with trusted friends who take his cheese and betray him. Or did they? The book is a combination of Zorba the Greek and the Japanese film Roshomon. Our conversation was interesting and covered slow cooking and artisan foods, generational living, problems with the Internet age, Velveeta and much more.

Our next meeting will be January 22, 2015. The book to be discussed, The Age of Gold: the California Gold Rush and the new American dream by H. W. Brands, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Season’s greetings to all.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

JUST THE FACTS-Nonfiction Book Discussion November Summary

In spite of the cold night, eleven people turned out for the book discussion last night.  Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.
          Our book last night was Catastrophe 1914: Europe goes to war by Max Hastings.  The Great War, or World War I, was the most devastating and costly conflict endured up to that time.  Millions died from wounds and disease.  Millions more were maimed.  Three empires collapsed.  The map was redrawn with many new nations and old Europe disappeared, never to return.  The book deals with the first year of the war.  The nations involved were entangled by alliances and secret accords and a single incident, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, was enough to set the continent ablaze.  But the nations and people involved did not expect the horrors that were set loose.  They expected a short, bloodless conflict that would end in a few months, correct some borders, add some territory, gain some glory and let Europe return to normalcy.  Instead, they received four years of trench warfare, stalemate, devastation, disease and endless suffering.  Our conversation was wide ranging and interesting, covering the division between politics and the military establishment, diplomacy versus combat, the nature and evolution of trench warfare, the NATO alliance, ISIS, Putin and Russia, the chances of another world war occurring and much more.  It was an enjoyable evening. 

          Our next meeting will be Thursday, December 18, 2014.  The book to be discussed, The Telling Room: a tale of love, betrayal, revenge and the world’s greatest piece of cheese by Michael Paterniti, is available at the Circulation Desk.  All are welcome.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

JUST THE FACTS: Book Discussion Recap from September 18

            Nine people braved the impending autumn chill to attend the book discussion last night. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

            Our book last night was Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation by Robert Wilson. Mathew Brady did not invent daguerreotypes, ambrotypes or photography, but he did a great deal to make the taking and display of photographs a huge part of American culture. His photographic cartes de visite (visiting cards) became necessary accessories for any cultured lady or gentleman. His portraits of celebrities and politicians became standard decorations for the walls of all but the poorest homes and the Civil War photographs he either took or commissioned have become part of our nation’s history and conscientiousness. His impact on the tradition and story of America was huge. The book is his biography and tells the story of his introduction to photography, his business failures and successes, the perfection of his art and the difficulties of his personal life. Our discussion was wide-ranging and lively, covering photography as both art and history, the Victorian obsession with death and mourning, 3-D printing, the importance of preserving our heritage, both personal and national, the role of the image, both still and moving, in history, and much more. A good time was had by all.

            Our next meeting will be on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm. The book to be discussed, Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson, is available at the Circulation desk. All are welcome.pending autumn chill to attend the book     discussion last night. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014 Hugo Awards

Equoid by Charles Stross
While on assignment at a countryside farm, Agent Bob Howard of "The Laundry" - a secret agency tasked with protecting Britain from occult nightmares - discovers a menace of Lovecraftian proportions.
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren – a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.

On August 17 at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London, the World Science Fiction Society announced the winners of the 2014 Hugo Awards. The Hugo Awards are one of the most distinguished and celebrated science fiction awards, so be sure to check out the Hugo Awards website for the complete list of winners.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Few More Adult Summer Reading Book Reviews

Title: Bittersweet
Author: Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Review: Loved this book!  Couldn't put it down.  A story about the rich, dysfunctional Winslow family through the eyes of an outsider.  Kept me guessing 'til the end.
Rating: 5
Title: The Boys in the Boat
Author: Daniel James Brown
Review: This was the most moving book I have read in quite a while.  It follows a University of Washington rowing crew from their early life to winning the 1936 Olympics and much more... Fantastic!
Rating: 5
Title: Invisible City
Author: Julia Dahl
Review: A mystery -- but more about questions regarding parental relationships.  Murders thrown in too!
Rating: 5
Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Review: Touching story about how two people from totally different worlds can become friends in the strangest of circumstances.  Must Read!!
Rating: 4
Title: One Summer: America, 1927
Author: Bill Bryson
Review: Bill Bryson goes through all the amazing things that happened in 1927 - Lindbergh's flight, Mississippi River flooding, Babe Ruth's 60 home run season, opening of Holland Tunnel, Al Capone reign in Chicago, coming of the Great Depression, etc.  Excellent!
Rating: 5
Title: Unbroken
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Review: One of the best books I ever read... Amazing true story about a true hero!
Rating: 5 (5++ stars)
Title: What She Left Behind
Author: Ellen Marie Wiseman
Review: Great book!  Kept your attention between the two stories of women and dealing with the lives they have.
Rating: 5
Title: The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles
Author: Katherine Pancol
Review: I was disappointed when this book ended - I wanted more!! A delightful tale with wonderful characters.
Rating: 5

Monday, August 25, 2014

And the Winners Are...

This year 256 members read a record 1,065 books for the Adult Summer Reading Club (June 23 - August 15).
The most popular fiction titles were: The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (“interesting to learn about the trains which carried orphans to the Midwest for decades”), Defending Jacob by William Landay (“serious questions pull at the Landay  family”), The Fault in OurStars by John Green (“need tissues”), Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (“touching story…must read!”), The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (“outstanding!”), and Invisible by James Patterson (‘suspenseful”).
Nonfiction starred reviews were Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (“one of best books I ever read!”) and  One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (“excellent”).