Friday, May 26, 2017

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from May 25

Thunderstorms in May? A solid week of overcast skies and rain? Is this really the beginning of summer? Many thanks to the thirteen people who braved the elements to attend the book discussion. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

The book discussed was Lives in Ruins: archeologists and the seductive lure of human rubble by Marilyn Johnson. In the book, the author provides an overview of the current state of archeology. When most of us think of archeology, we think of Indiana Jones, swashbuckling his way through jungles, deserts and bad guys to gather some archeological treasure. Today, Jones would be considered a looter, not an archeologist (although most male archeologists own both a fedora and a whip.) Where an object is found is as important as the object itself. To remove it from its context is to lose its history. Archeologists today are low paid, if they can find employment at all, and work in, at best, unpleasant and often dangerous environments. The author covers the many uses archeology is employed in today, from searching for ancient sites to crime investigation to making sure the latest strip mall or housing development is not destroying an ancient village or burial ground. One such investigation uncovered the largest unknown Revolutionary War cemetery in upstate New York. Our discussion was animated and interesting and covered many aspects of the science, but seemed to focus mostly on ancient treasures such as the Elgin Marbles that were seized from poorer countries for display in richer ones. Should they, in our more “enlightened” times, be returned?

Our next meeting will be on June 22nd, 2017. The book to be discussed, one of my favorites, is Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap From April 27

Maybe spring has at long last arrived, although some warm and sunny weather would be nice. Many thanks to the nine people who withstood a few sprinkles to attend the book discussion last night. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

The book discussed was Midnight Rising: John Brown and the raid that sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz. John Brown was a staunch abolitionist and had participated in the bloody fighting in Kansas that led to its admission to the union as a free state. On October 16, 1859, Brown and a handful of followers set out to capture the federal armory in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Their goal was to use the captured weapons to arm slaves and instigate a general slave uprising across the South. It never happened. Alarms were sounded and federal troops and state militia rushed to the area. Brown and his followers, including his sons, were killed or captured. Brown himself was put on trial by Virginia for treason and was condemned to death and eventually hanged. Brown’s raid encapsulated the worst fears of the South, that of a slave insurrection and Northern invasion. Brown died a hero in the North and a traitor in the South. His actions increased the already severe divisions between the two regions. The author presents the factors in Brown’s life, including his belief in fundamental Calvinism and his many business failures, that led to his actions at Harper’s Ferry. The Civil War began just over a year later. We discussed many things last night, but centered mostly on whether Brown was a terrorist in our modern understanding of the word and the fluidity of morality, whether there concrete definitions of right and wrong.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from February 23

The evening was clear and warm, perhaps a harbinger of things to come. Many thanks to the ten people who had no elements to brave, but still came to the book discussion. Their presence, as always, was much
appreciated.

The book discussed last night was The Hare with Amber Eyes: a family’s century of art and loss by Edmund de Waal. Mr. de Waal is a well known ceramacist whose works have been displayed in galleries and museums around the world. He is also a direct descendent of the wealthy Russian-Jewish Ephrussi family. The family made their wealth in Odessa selling grain in the 19th century and then, as was the custom, sent their sons to establish branches of the business in other European cities. One of these sons, Charles, went to Paris and became an important art critic and dealer, befriending many Impressionist artists including Renoir, Manet and Cezanne. He also bought a collection of Japanese netsuke, small, elaborately carved ornaments made of ivory or wood. They are the size of small plums and can be whimsical, religious, playful or even erotic. World War I split the family and World War II destroyed it, but the netsuke survived, traveling from Japan to Paris to Vienna, back to Japan and, presently, to the author’s home in London. Mr. de Waal tells the story of his family’s history by tracing the route of the netsuke from family member to family member. The book is about family history, art and memory and we discussed these as well as the value of things, anti-semitism, the importance of touch, family artifacts, the appeal of antiques and much more. It was a very enjoyable evening.


Our next meeting will be on March 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm. The book to be discussed, Paper: paging through history by Mark Kurlansky, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Books-a-licious 2017 Adult Winter Reading Club

Title: Chef
Author: Jaspreet singh
Review: A chef in the military deals with love, cooking, politics, revolution,loyalty and loss in this book.  A little tough read if you're not familiar with the strife between India and Pakistan and a little tough keeping names straight but the term I've used for Indian writers is, 'lyrical' and I would say thay it is true for this book as well.
Rating: 2.5

Books-a-licious 2017 Adult Winter Reading Club

Title: The Sleepwalker
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Review: Another one of my favorite authors has written another story with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very shocking end.  Set in Vermont, a mother with a history of sleepwalking disappears - as the mystery of what happened to her unfolds you learn all about sleepwalking.  
Rating: 4

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Books-a-licious 2017 Adult Winter Reading Club

Title: In the President's Secret Service
Author: Ronald Kessler
Review: Although this book is filled with interesting tidbits about the Secret Service;  including who tried to elude their agents and how a psychic played a part in preventing an assassination, it's true focus is on the mismanagement of the department and the threat to democracy.  Eye-opening reporter's view of the agency.
Rating: 4

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Books-a-licious 2017 Adult Winter Reading Club

 
http://alpha1.suffolk.lib.ny.us/record=b4967991~S28Author: Paul Kalanithi
Review: What is the meaning of life?  What makes life meaningful?  These are some of the questions the author grapples with in his life and career.  They become more important as he faces a terminal illness.  Thought-provoking and poignant.
Rating: 3.5

Friday, January 27, 2017

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from January 26

It was a cold, dark and windy February night, but eleven people still managed to make it to the book discussion group. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

The book discussed last night was When Books Went to War: the stories that helped us win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning. When World War II began, The United States was completely unprepared in terms of men, equipment and munitions, but also in terms of book. There were no libraries at the new bases, camps and hospitals that were being rapidly created. The American Library Association formed the Victory Book Council and cooperated with publishers to collect hardcover books from both the public and remainders from the publishers to stock the shelves of these new libraries. But hardcover, old and out of date books were not appropriate for soldiers and sailors in the field. Realizing this, the ALA and the publishers created the American Services Editions. These ASEs were small and compact, designed to fit in a soldier’s jacket or a sailor’s back pocket. They were extremely popular and helped to create a literate middle class and prepared returning servicemen for further study under the G. I. Bill once the war ended. They also resurrected The Great Gatsby from obscurity and made a classic of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I brought in my small collection of seventy year old ASEs and they were much appreciated by all. Both the authors and the publishers refused to accept royalties on these publications, but they did create the paperback industry that we now take for granted. Our discussion was lively and widespread, covering everything from the sense of unification during the war to current politics.

Our next meeting will be on February 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm. The book to be discussed, The Hare with Amber Eyes: a family’s century of art and loss by Edmund de Waal, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Books-a-licious 2017 Adult Winter Reading Club

Title: In Such Good Company
Author: Carol Burnett
Review: For those of us that grew up in the era of the 'variety show' Carol Burnett's was one of the best!  Her recap (better on audio to hear her Tarzan yell) was fun especially the behind the scenes stories.  Her retelling of specific sketches got old at times but you'll probably be compelled to go to YouTube to watch some of the classics.
Rating: 3.5

Books-a-licious 2017 Adult Winter Reading Club

Title: Swimming in the Sink
Author: Lynne Cox
Review: One of the world's greatest open water swimmers recounts her battle to regain her health, mind and spirit after experiencing heartbreak (literally and figuratively) An inspirational read.   
Rating: 3.5