Saturday, May 28, 2016

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from May 26

Spring at last! Or is it summer? Either way, many thanks to the fourteen people who passed up an evening in their yard or a walk on the beach to attend the book discussion last night. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

The book discussed last night was the Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the romance that changed the world by Greg King and Susan Woolmans. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, due to the death of his cousin, was the heir apparent to the throne of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. When he fell in love and wanted to marry a Bohemian countess, it scandalized the court and the royal family. She was beneath him in rank and was deemed unsuitable. His uncle, the Emperor Franz Joseph, was appalled and furious and refused to sanction the marriage. Franz Ferdinand insisted and after much turmoil agreed to a morganatic marriage and had to endure constant insults and humiliations to his much loved wife. Years into their marriage and with three non-royal children, the couple made a state visit to Sarajevo. During the visit, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated by a Serb nationalist. The result was World War I, the destruction of three empires and twenty-one million dead. Our discussion was very animated and covered the ethnic diversity of Europe and the current refugee crisis, why Sophie was considered unfit to be the heir’s wife, the role of alliances in the causes of World War I, Franz Ferdinand’s vision for the future of the empire, what Europe would have been like had the war not happened and whether there was a conspiracy involving Russia or the Austrian government to allow the assassination to take place. A good time was had by all.

Our next meeting will be on June 23, 2016. The book to be discussed, One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from March 24

Many thanks to the seven people who braved a damp, chilly evening to attend the book discussion. Their attendance, as always, was much appreciated.

The book discussed was Empire of Cotton: a global history by Sven Beckert. Cotton, for centuries, has been one of the most important commodities in the history of human existence. In this book, the author describes how the growing, harvesting, milling, spinning and weaving of cotton fiber into cloth actually created capitalism as we know it today. Along the way, it also contributed to the spread of slavery, the destruction of subsistence farming, the creation of city based slums, child labor, environmental pollution and the exploitation of labor. As cotton went from a secondary crop grown by farmers between rows of grain into a huge plantation based industry, it created the need for massive shipping and railroad companies, the insurance industry, the futures market, letters of credit and exchange, modern banking and government and military support to insure access to markets and raw materials. Cotton provided the prototype for such future integrated industries as steel, coal, oil, agriculture and, eventually, technology. Our conversation covered many topics and everyone contributed to it. Issues discussed included the Erie Canal, the costs of slavery and colonialism, subsistence versus a cash economy, unions and labor, workers’ safety, social safety nets and much more. It was an enjoyable evening.

Our next meeting will be on April 28, 2016. The book to be discussed, The Family: three journeys into the heart of the twentieth century by David Laskin, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Patron Review

Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman
Review: I defy anyone to read this book and not shed a tear! Charming story of grumpy Ove and how he must adapt to his changing neighborhood and life. Don't want to give too much away. Thanks Susan M. for the recommendation!
Ratings: 5

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Winter Reading Club for Adults - 2016

The Winter Reading Club for adults concluded on Monday, February 29th. Over 300 books were enjoyed by 80 participants.

The lucky raffle winners are Marjorie Losen, Sharon Somerville and  Gloria Burgess.

Pictured L to R, Reference Librarian Karen Cognato & Sharon Somerville

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Just the Facts: Book Discussion Recap from January 28th

Ten people braved the winter chill to attend this book discussion. Their presence, as always, was much appreciated.

The book discussed was Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s lost Pacific empire: a story of wealth, ambition, and survival by Peter Stark. John Jacob Astor, in the early nineteenth century, was the wealthiest man in the United States, having built his fortune in furs and real estate. In 1806, he conceived of a grand plan to build an outpost in the Pacific Northwest that would be the center of a worldwide trading empire consisting of furs, Chinese goods and European manufactured products. It was to be the largest commercial venture ever attempted. Thomas Jefferson approved the plan, but for different reasons. Jefferson envisioned a sister democracy in the Pacific Northwest. And so, the plan to build Astoria was born. Two expeditions were dispatched for the Pacific, one by sea, led by Jonathan Thorn, and one overland, led by Wilson Price hunt. Both groups suffered incredible hardships, but eventually reached their goal. Once established, the men and women there endured hunger, privations, illness, rivalries and, especially, isolation and loneliness. Eventually, due to pressure and threats from the British, the experiment failed. Our discussion was interesting, covering the nature of courage, people’s ability to endure hardship, the change in human nature from then to today, the meaning of adventure, post-traumatic stress syndrome and much more.

Our next meeting will be on February 25, 2016. The book to be discussed, Atlantic: great sea battled, heroic discoveries, titanic storms, and a vast ocean of a million stories by Simon Winchester, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Feathered Friends of Winter Adult Reading Club Review

Title: The Rosie Effect
Author: Graeme Simison
Review: The sequel to The Rosie Project, finds Don and Rosie about to become parents.  How can they, with their particular quirks, adjust to the 'baby under development?'  In a funny, romantic way you will enjoy the twists and turns they take to realize what it takes to be parents.
Rating: 4

Feathered Friends of Winter Adult Reading Club Review

Title: The Guest Room
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Review: Once again, Chris Bohjalian writes a compelling novel, bringing attention to the sordid details of sex slavery. He shows the human side of the atrocity after a single night changes many lives. Like in past books, his characters become people you know, so the twists and turns of the plot keeps you guessing. This is a good one of his.  I'd recommend.
Rating: 4.5

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Feathered Friends of Winter Adult Reading Club Review

Title: The Edge of Eternity
Author: Ken Follett
Review: The last of the century trilogy! If you plan on reading these books, and I recommend you do if you are a fan of Follett's historical fiction, try to read them somewhat close together so you can keep track of the characters.  He does a good job of refreshing your memory and the cheat sheets help but for continuity purposes. I felt the last few years were a bit rushed but thoroughly enjoyed the series and reliving and relearning history through the eyes of compelling characters.  It is a time commitment for sure but well worth it.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Feathered Friends of Winter Reading Club Review

Title: Modern Romance
Author: Aziz Ansari
Review: Aziz Ansari and his co-author investigated, interviewed and compiled information about love in the modern technological age.  Some interesting and funny commentary.  Glad I'm married and don't have to deal with finding my romance but if the need ever arises may take some of their suggestions to heart.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Feathered Friends of Winter Adult Reading Club

Beginning January 11th, all  Harborfields Public Library adult cardholders are invited to join the Winter Reading Club. Migrate over to the Adult Reference "Aviary" Desk and pick up your Bird BINGO card to record your books. For every book you read or listen to, you will receive a raffle ticket for the chance to win one of several themed baskets. Learn what your neighbors are reading or write a review.