Monday, November 16, 2015

National Book Finalists!

A few days ago, the National Book Foundation announced the finalists for the 2015 awards. This is pretty big doins 'round these parts! We have quite a few of the books in our collection, so if you want to show off how avantguarde you are and read them before they become NBF winners, come on in and check them out. Winners will be announced on November 18, so stay tuned!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara  [FIC YAN]

"Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its readers." (Amazon)

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisis Coates    [305.8009 COA

 "Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” 
(The New York Observer)

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann  [770.92 MAN

"Richly compelling and evocative.... An unforgettable memoir. But it's more than that.... The abiding and precious gift of this book is precisely this: Mann's highly personal exploration of her passion, and her perseverance." (Bookforum)

Ordinary Light: A Memoir by Tracy K. Smith  [818.6 SMI

“Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, a talent evident in every line of this crystalline memoir. Hers is not the dysfunctional family story we've grown accustomed to reading; in fact, Smith recalls her family of seven as ‘steady, steadfast, happy, and whole.’ In loving detail, she recalls both the happiness and the complex questions of her childhood. Religion is a force to be reckoned with again and again [and] questions about race are also ever-present . . . Smith’s honest, unflinching book offers an inspiring model for seeking the light in an ‘ordinary’ life: ask the tough questions, look in the hidden corners, allow yourself to understand, and never stop searching for faith.”  
(Oprah Magazine)

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby [FIC RUB]

"The story of Roza, a beautiful girl who is taken from a quiet midwestern town and imprisoned by a mysterious man, and Finn, the only witness, who cannot forgive himself for being unable to identify her kidnapper. As we follow them through their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are." (Amazon)

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman   [FIC SHU]

Caden Bosch lives in two worlds. One is his real life with his family, his friends, and high school. There he is paranoid for no reason, thinks people are trying to kill him, and demonstrates obsessive compulsive behaviors. In his other world, he's part of the crew for a pirate captain on a voyage to the Challenger Deep, the ocean's deepest trench. There he's paranoid, wary of the mercurial captain and his mutinous parrot, and tries hard to interpret the mutterings of his fellow shipmates as they sail uncharted waters toward unknown dangers. Slowly, Caden's fantasy and paranoia begin to take over, until his parents have only one choice left. Shusterman's latest novel gives readers a look at teen mental illness from inside the mind of Caden Bosch. He is a credible and sympathetic character, and his retreat into his own flawed mind is fascinating, full of riddles and surrealism. Shusterman based the novel on his son's mental illness, and Brendan's input regarding his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and psychiatric care makes the novel ring true. Teens, especially fans of the author's other novels, will enjoy this book. VERDICT This affecting deep dive into the mind of a schizophrenic will captivate readers, engender empathy for those with mental illnesses, and offer much fodder for discussion. (School Library Journal)

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson  [GN STE]

“Those of you who haven’t read Nimona yet are lucky, because you can buy the fantasy comic in book form instead of waiting for Noelle to post an update twice a week. Seriously, that wait was always excruciating.” (

“If you’re going to read one graphic novel this year, make it this one.” 
(Kirkus Reviews)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Mark Twain!


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. dream. Discover."

Happy Birthday 

Mark Twain!

This month we celebrate the birth of one of America's comedic and literary geniuses - the iconic Mark Twain. Born on November 30, 1835, in Missouri, Samuel Langhorne Clemens would become the small town of Hanibal's most legendary figure. After Samuel's father died, when he was only 13, he went to work in a printing press and discovered his love of writing. In 1856, he left home (at age 17) and headed to St. Louis, to become a river pilot. In this period he adopted his pseudonym of Mark Twain, which is the term used when the depth of the water is safe for a boat to navigate. Once the Civil War began, much of the river trade began to slow and thus Samuel Clemens went looking for work off the Mighty Mississipi and landed jobs reporting for multiple newspapers around the country.  In 1870 He married Olivia Langdon and they had 4 children only one of which survived over the age of 20.

It wasn't until 1865 when a piece entitled, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County" got picked up by the Saturday Evening Press, that Twain began to receive acclaim for his writing. "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" was published in 1876, and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in 1885. He wrote 28 books and numerous short stories, letters and sketches. 

Here in the library we are honoring Twain with a November display of his most famous works and quotes. Come on in for a visit to pay homage to the printer, pilot, soldier, miner, reporter, lecturer, editor, humorist, author, businessman, publisher.

"Good Friends, good books and a sleepy conscience : this is the ideal life."

And remember, "Never put off til tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow!"

If you still can't get your fill of all things Twain, check out the following sites and online exhibits:

Monday, November 02, 2015

A.P. Story Hour

If someone claims that being read to aloud isn't something you do past childhood, you'll certainly hear me yell, "Balderdash!" 

When I mentioned hosting a Story Hour for 'big kids', (ie Govs students), 
I didn't know whether the idea would be viewed as a bit fruity or brilliant. Fortunately, as we have such a hip and cool staff in the library, the latter held true. The premise of "AP Story Hour" is quite simple. Most of us were read stories as children, but as we get older, this ordinary and magical experience becomes virtually extinct. So why not reintroduce the tradition in a modern adolescent setting? Bring young adults back to their respective carpeted squares in the children's section of their local libraries. Genius, right?

In an age dominated by the electronic dissemination of information and social networking, the art of reading aloud seems essential for so many reasons. Reading aloud allows young people to experience literature together. As in, what together used to imply - face to face, in the same room, no snapchat or twitter - togetherIt also seems as if reading aloud taps into some part of our subconscious, like a long forgotten part of our history, that we can still feel. It is communal in an age where so many experiences seem computerized and surreal.

Let us not forget that reading aloud also has quite a regal history. Before the creation of the printing press, storytelling was an essential part of both royal life and the common man. Bards, poets and storytellers were venerable and sometimes wealthy people. While I am certainly not in the library business for the money, reading aloud is very much a favorite pastime of mine and I enjoy doing it for people of all ages. Near the end of my grandmother's life, I read aloud (and stomached) a Harlequin romance novel for her.

After announcing the first Story Hour, I fretted that no one would show. I must confess I offered candy to tempt some, (because the currency of candy in a boarding school is always off the charts!) So, happy was I when 10 of you arrived for our first spooky short story night! We would all agree that we had a fun and creepy literary adventure together.

I look forward to reading aloud to you soon. Join us this Tuesday night, November 3, @ 8 PM in the library for a continuation of our spooky tales from last week.

For further suggestions for reading aloud, check out this N.Y. Times list: