Book Club on the Run – March 2015

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     Me Talk Pretty One Day   by David Sedaris.

 

“A new collection from David Sedaris is cause for jubilation. His recent move to Paris has inspired hilarious pieces, including Me Talk Pretty One Day, about his attempts to learn French. His family is another inspiration. You Cant Kill the Rooster is a portrait of his brother who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers and cashiers with 6-inch fingernails. Compared by The New Yorker to Twain and Hawthorne, Sedaris has become one of our best-loved authors. Sedaris is an amazing reader whose appearances draw hundreds, and his performancesincluding a jaw-dropping impression of Billie Holiday singing I wish I were an Oscar Meyer weinerare unforgettable. Sedariss essays on living in Paris are some of the funniest hes ever written. At last, someone even meaner than the French! The sort of blithely sophisticated, loopy humour that might have resulted if Dorothy Parker and James Thurber had had a love child. Entertainment Weekly on Barrel Fever Sidesplitting Not one of the essays in this new collection failed to crack me up; frequently I was helpless. The New York Times Book Review on Naked”

 

David Raymond Sedaris  is an American humorist, comedian, author, and radio contributor. He was publicly recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay “SantaLand Diaries”. He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Are there sections of the book you feel are snide or mean-spirited? Perhaps his criticism of Americans who visit Europe dressed “as if you’ve come to mow its lawns.”
  • Talk about the Sedaris family, in particular his parents. How do they come across? Whom does he feel closest to? Sedaris makes an interesting statement about his father: it was a mystery that “a man could father six children who shared absolutely none of his interests.” Is that unusual?
  • Are there parts of Me Talk Pretty One Day that you disliked, didn’t find funny, found overworked or contrived?

 

READ-ALIKES

  • Chicken: by David Henry Sterry

The funny, touching story of a sweet, wide-eyed son of Seventies Suburbia who spends a year as a teenage sex worker servicing rich, lonely women in Beverly Hills. A gripping story that explores what it means to suffer through the underbelly of the American Dream. And make it out alive.

  •  Cockyed: by Ryan Knighton

This irreverent, tragicomic, politically incorrect, astoundingly articulate memoir about going blind – and growing up.

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Mark Twain publishes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – February 18th, 1885

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“On this day in 1885, Mark Twain publishes his famous–and famously controversial–novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) first introduced Huck Finn as the best friend of Tom Sawyer, hero of his tremendously successful novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer(1876). Though Twain saw Huck’s story as a kind of sequel to his earlier book, the new novel was far more serious, focusing on the institution of slavery and other aspects of life in the antebellum South.

At the book’s heart is the journey of Huck and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, down theMississippi River on a raft. Jim runs away because he is about to be sold and separated from his wife and children, and Huck goes with him to help him get to Ohio and freedom. Huck narrates the story in his distinctive voice, offering colorful descriptions of the people and places they encounter along the way. The most striking part of the book is its satirical look at racism, religion and other social attitudes of the time. While Jim is strong, brave, generous and wise, many of the white characters are portrayed as violent, stupid or simply selfish, and the naive Huck ends up questioning the hypocritical, unjust nature of society in general.

Even in 1885, two decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn landed with a splash. A month after its publication, a Concord, Massachusetts, library banned the book, calling its subject matter “tawdry” and its narrative voice “coarse” and “ignorant.” Other libraries followed suit, beginning a controversy that continued long after Twain’s death in 1910. In the1950s, the book came under fire from African-American groups for being racist in its portrayal of black characters, despite the fact that it was seen by many as a strong criticism of racism and slavery. As recently as 1998, an Arizona parent sued her school district, claiming that making Twain’s novel required high school reading made already existing racial tensions even worse.

Aside from its controversial nature and its continuing popularity with young readers, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been hailed by many serious literary critics as a masterpiece. No less a judge than Ernest Hemingway famously declared that the book marked the beginning of American literature: “There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” “

Source:  (history.com)

You can find more information on Mark Twain or reserve a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in our library.  Enjoy!

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Book Club on the Run – Firestone Park Branch Library

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Have you checked out our Book Club on the Run??

 

New Books on the Second Monday of the Month!

 

No meetings, no deadlines, just good books!  Pick up new selections each month.  Discussion questions, read-a-like lists and author information included with each book.  You are invited to turn in book reviews and comments at the front desk.  Select patron reviews will be posted on the Firestone Park Library’s Facebook Page.

 

February’s Selection, just in time for Valentine’s Day:

 

February 9th, 2015

 

What I Did for Love  by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

 

 

 

A down-on-her-luck movie actress runs into her detestable former co-star–dreamboat-from-hell Bramwell Shepard–in Las Vegas and gets caught up in a ridiculous incident that leads to a calamitous elopement. Can two enemies find themselves working without a script in a town where the spotlight shines bright…and where the strongest emotions can wear startling disguises?

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

 

  • If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask? Have you read other books by the same author? If so how does this book compare. If not, does this book inspire you to read others?
  •  Has this novel changed you—broadened your perspective? Have you learned something new or been exposed to different ideas about people or a certain part of the world?
  • Did the actions of the characters seem plausible? Why? Why not?
  • How realistic was the characterization? Would you want to meet any of the characters?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Susan Elizabeth Phillips was born on December 11 in Cincinnati, Ohio (U.S.A.) to John Aller Titus and Louesa Coate Titus. After receiving a B.F.A. in theater arts from Ohio University, Phillips taught drama, speech, and English at a local high school until her first child was born, then became a stay-at-home mother.

 

READ-ALIKES

 

Can You Keep A Secret: by Sophie Kinsella

 

 

 

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets: Secrets from her boyfriend: I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken. Secrets from her mother: I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur. Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world.

 

 

Bet Me: by Jennifer Cruise

 

 

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes, and keep him on his toes.

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Satchel Paige nominated to the Baseball Hall of Fame – February 9th, 1971

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“On this day in 1971, pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige becomes the first Negro League veteran to be nominated for the Baseball Hall of Fame. In August of that year, Paige, a pitching legend known for his fastball, showmanship and the longevity of his playing career, which spanned five decades, was inducted. Joe DiMaggio once called Paige “the best and fastest pitcher I’ve ever faced.”

Paige was born in Mobile, Alabama, most likely on July 7, 1906, although the exact date remains a mystery. He earned his nickname, Satchel, as a boy when he earned money carrying passengers’ bags at train stations. Baseball was segregated when Paige started playing baseball professionally in the 1920s, so he spent most of his career pitching for Negro League teams around the United States. During the winter season, he pitched for teams in the Caribbean and Central and South America. As a barnstorming player who traveled thousands of miles each season and played for whichever team met his asking price, he pitched an estimated 2,500 games, had 300 shut-outs and 55 no-hitters. In one month in 1935, he reportedly pitched 29 consecutive games.

In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. The following year, Paige also entered the majors, signing with the Cleveland Indians and becoming, at age 42, baseball’s oldest rookie. He helped the Indians win the pennant that year and later played for the St. Louis Browns and Kansas City A’s.

Paige retired from the majors in 1953, but returned in 1965 to pitch three innings for the Kansas City A’s. He was 59 at the time, making him the oldest person ever to play in the Major Leagues. In addition to being famous for his talent and longevity, Paige was also well-known for his sense of humor and colorful observations on life, including: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you” and “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

He died June 8, 1982, in Kansas City, Missouri.”

Source:  (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history)

You can find more information about Satchel Paige here in our library.  Enjoy!

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First U. S. President elected – February 4th, 1789

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“George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, is unanimously elected the first president of the United States by all 69 presidential electors who cast their votes. John Adams of Massachusetts, who received 34 votes, was elected vice president. The electors, who represented 10 of the 11 states that had ratified the U.S. Constitution, were chosen by popular vote, legislative appointment, or a combination of both four weeks before the election.

According to Article Two of the U.S. Constitution, the states appointed a number of presidential electors equal to the “number of Senators and Representatives to which the state may be entitled in Congress.” Each elector voted for two people, at least one of whom did not live in their state. The individual receiving the greatest number of votes was elected president, and the next-in-line, vice president. (In 1804, this practice was changed by the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which ordered separate ballots for the office of president and vice president.)

New York–though it was to be the seat of the new United States government–failed to choose its eight presidential electors in time for the vote on February 4, 1789. Two electors each from Virginia and Maryland were delayed by weather and did not vote. In addition, North Carolina and Rhode Island, which would have had seven and three electors respectively, had not ratified the Constitution and so could not vote.

That the remaining 69 unanimously chose Washington to lead the new U.S. government was a surprise to no one. As commander-in-chief during the Revolutionary War, he had led his inexperienced and poorly equipped army of civilian soldiers to victory over one of the world’s great powers. After the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, Washington rejected with abhorrence a suggestion by one of his officers that he use his preeminence to assume a military dictatorship. He would not subvert the very principles for which so many Americans had fought and died, he replied, and soon after, he surrendered his military commission to the Continental Congress and retired to his Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.

When the Articles of Convention proved ineffectual, and the fledging republic teetered on the verge of collapse, Washington again answered his country’s call and traveled to Philadelphia in 1787 to preside over the Constitutional Convention. Although he favored the creation of a strong central government, as president of the convention he maintained impartiality in the public debates. Outside the convention hall, however, he made his views known, and his weight of character did much to bring the proceedings to a close. The drafters created the office of president with him in mind, and on September 17, 1787, the document was signed.

The next day, Washington started for home, hoping that, his duty to his country again served, he could live out the rest of his days in privacy. However, a crisis soon arose when the Constitution fell short of its necessary ratification by nine states. Washington threw himself into the ratification debate, and a compromise agreement was made in which the remaining states would ratify the document in exchange for passage of the constitutional amendments that would become the Bill of Rights.

Government by the United States began on March 4, 1789. In April, Congress sent word to George Washington that he had unanimously won the presidency. He borrowed money to pay off his debts in Virginia and traveled to New York. On April 30, he came across the Hudson River in a specially built and decorated barge. The inaugural ceremony was performed on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street, and a large crowed cheered after he took the oath of office. The president then retired indoors to read Congress his inaugural address, a quiet speech in which he spoke of “the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” The evening celebration was opened and closed by 13 skyrockets and 13 cannons.

As president, Washington sought to unite the nation and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. Of his presidency, he said, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn in precedent.” He successfully implemented executive authority, making good use of brilliant politicians such as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his Cabinet, and quieted fears of presidential tyranny. In 1792, he was unanimously reelected but four years later refused a third term.

In 1797, he finally began his long-awaited retirement at Mount Vernon. He died on December 14, 1799. His friend Henry Lee provided a famous eulogy for the father of the United States: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” “

Source:  (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-us-president-elected)

You can find more resources about George Washington here in our library.  Enjoy!

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First Groundhog Day – February 2nd, 1887

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“On this day in 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.

Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal–the hedgehog–as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

Groundhogs, also called woodchucks and whose scientific name is Marmota monax, typically weigh 12 to 15 pounds and live six to eight years. They eat vegetables and fruits, whistle when they’re frightened or looking for a mate and can climb trees and swim. They go into hibernation in the late fall; during this time, their body temperatures drop significantly, their heartbeats slow from 80 to five beats per minute and they can lose 30 percent of their body fat. In February, male groundhogs emerge from their burrows to look for a mate (not to predict the weather) before going underground again. They come out of hibernation for good in March.

In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney called the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club declared that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was America’s only true weather-forecasting groundhog. The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil might be America’s most famous groundhogs, but other towns across North America now have their own weather-predicting rodents, from Birmingham Bill to Staten Island Chuck to Shubenacadie Sam in Canada.

In 1993, the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray popularized the usage of “groundhog day” to mean something that is repeated over and over. Today, tens of thousands of people converge on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney each February 2 to witness Phil’s prediction. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club hosts a three-day celebration featuring entertainment and activities.”

Source:  (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history)

For more information about Groundhog Day, click here in our library.  Enjoy!

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Gandhi assassinated – January 30th, 1948

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“Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu fanatic.

Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that advocated nonviolence. Gandhi was an unremarkable student but in 1888 was given an opportunity to study law in England. In 1891, he returned to India, but failing to find regular legal work he accepted in 1893 a one-year contract in South Africa.

Settling in Natal, he was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi later recalled one such incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man. When his contract expired, he spontaneously decided to remain in South Africa and launched a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906, the Transvaal government sought to further restrict the rights of Indians, and Gandhi organized his first campaign of satyagraha, or mass civil disobedience. After seven years of protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African government.

In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and spirituality on the periphery of Indian politics. He supported Britain in the First World War but in 1919 launched a new satyagraha in protest of Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians. Hundreds of thousands answered his call to protest, and by 1920 he was leader of the Indian movement for independence. He reorganized the Indian National Congress as a political force and launched a massive boycott of British goods, services, and institutions in India. Then, in 1922, he abruptly called off the satyagraha when violence erupted. One month later, he was arrested by the British authorities for sedition, found guilty, and imprisoned.

After his release in 1924, he led an extended fast in protest of Hindu-Muslim violence. In 1928, he returned to national politics when he demanded dominion status for India and in 1930 launched a mass protest against the British salt tax, which hurt India’s poor. In his most famous campaign of civil disobedience, Gandhi and his followers marched to the Arabian Sea, where they made their own salt by evaporating sea water. The march, which resulted in the arrest of Gandhi and 60,000 others, earned new international respect and support for the leader and his movement.

In 1931, Gandhi was released to attend the Round Table Conference on India in London as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress. The meeting was a great disappointment, and after his return to India he was again imprisoned. While in jail, he led another fast in protest of the British government’s treatment of the “untouchables”–the impoverished and degraded Indians who occupied the lowest tiers of the caste system. In 1934, he left the Indian Congress Party to work for the economic development of India’s many poor. His protege, Jawaharlal Nehru, was named leader of the party in his place.

With the outbreak of World War II, Gandhi returned to politics and called for Indian cooperation with the British war effort in exchange for independence. Britain refused and sought to divide India by supporting conservative Hindu and Muslim groups. In response, Gandhi launched the “Quit India” movement it 1942, which called for a total British withdrawal. Gandhi and other nationalist leaders were imprisoned until 1944.

In 1945, a new government came to power in Britain, and negotiations for India’s independence began. Gandhi sought a unified India, but the Muslim League, which had grown in influence during the war, disagreed. After protracted talks, Britain agreed to create the two new independent states of India and Pakistan on August 15, 1947. Gandhi was greatly distressed by the partition, and bloody violence soon broke out between Hindus and Muslims in India.

In an effort to end India’s religious strife, he resorted to fasts and visits to the troubled areas. He was on one such vigil in New Delhi when Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist who objected to Gandhi’s tolerance for the Muslims, fatally shot him. Known as Mahatma, or “the great soul,” during his lifetime, Gandhi’s persuasive methods of civil disobedience influenced leaders of civil rights movements around the world, especially Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States.”

Source:  (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history)

For more information and resources on Gandhi, please feel free to check here in our library.  Enjoy!

 

 

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The Carnegie Institute was established – January 28th, 1902

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On this day in 1902, the Carnegie Institute was established.

About the Carnegie Institution

“Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1902 as an organization for scientific discovery. His intention was for institution to be home to exceptional individuals—men and women with imagination and extraordinary dedication capable of working at the cutting edge of their fields. Today, Carnegie scientists work in six scientific departments on the West and East Coasts.

Our legal name, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, has led to confusion because four of our departments are outside Washington and because our legal name does not distinguish us from other non-profits created by our donor. As a result, the institution adopted a new look and name in 2007—the Carnegie Institution for Science. The new name closely associates the words “Carnegie” and “science” and thereby reveals our core identity. The institution remains officially and legally the Carnegie Institution of Washington, but now has a public identity that more clearly describes our work. The institution is additionally confused with other, unaffiliated Carnegies listed at this link.

 

Carnegie investigators are leaders in the fields of plant biology, developmental biology, Earth and planetary sciences, astronomy, and global ecology. They seek answers to questions about the structure of the universe, the formation of our solar system and other planetary systems, the behavior and transformation of matter when subjected to extreme conditions, the origin of life, the function of genes, and the development of organisms from single-celled egg to adult.

 

The Carnegie Institution for Science is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is an endowed, independent, nonprofit institution. Significant additional support comes from federal grants and private donations. A board of trustees, consisting of leaders in business, the sciences, education, and public service, oversees Carnegie’s operations. Each of the six departments has its own scientific director who manages day-to-day operations under the leadership of Matthew P. Scott, Carnegie president.

 

In addition to the scientists on staff, there is a constantly changing roster of pre- and postdoctoral fellows and associates, as well as visiting investigators, at each facility. Each of the six departments is independently managed by a director, who is aided by support staff. Carnegie is also involved in education at the lower levels.”

Source:  (https://carnegiescience.edu/about)

 

For more resources on Andrew Carnegie, please check here in our library.  Enjoy!

 

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Looking for something great to read – visit our Staff Recommendations Page

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staff recommendations snip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many times have you wondered, after you have finished a book, “What do I read next?”  Or possibly, “I haven’t read in so long, I don’t know where to look for a book recommendation.”  We have the answer for you!  Come visit our Staff Recommendations page, right here on the Firestone Park Branch Library Blog!

This page is updated monthly, with new titles, staff comments, and book summaries.  Our staff has very eclectic tastes in reading materials, so there is always something new to discover!  Check out the page, and place holds for your favorite titles online at www.akronlibrary.org.  You may also stop by our branch or call us at 330-724-2126, and we can place the reservation for you.  Enjoy!

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Happy Birthday, George Burns – January 20th, 1896

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Happy Birthday George Burns! 

With cigar in hand, seemingly always accompanied by a young and beautiful woman, George Burns, made millions of us laugh with his quick wit and easy style.Born Nathan Birnbaum on this day in 1896 in New York City, Burns’ show biz career got started with his straight man act for zany Gracie Allen back in 1922.On January 7, 1926 the two were wed and the Burns and Allen team made history from vaudeville to radio (1932) to films and then, TV beginning in 1950. Several generations used Mr. Burns’ trademark close, “Say goodnight, Gracie,” whenever someone made a ditzy comment. Hollywood cast the duo with their inspired lunacy in a slew of films in the ’30s including: International House, We’re Not Dressing, A Damsel in Distress, College Swing and Honolulu.

Three decades passed before George Burns made another movie. This one was a winner. In fact, The Sunshine Boys won George Burns his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (1975). Other films followed in rapid succession: Oh, God! [1977], Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [1978], Going in Style [1979], Oh, God! Book 2 [1980], Two of a Kind [1982], Oh, God! You Devil [1984] and Radioland Murders [1994].

At the age of 93, George Burns was making hits with the song, I Wish I Was Eighteen Again from his 1988 film, 18 Again!. And he was playing Vegas to rave revues.

The 20th century’s premier entertainer, George Burns, continued to show all of us how to live life to its fullest, still singing and story-telling to his 100th birthday. died on March 9, 1996.

 

Source:  (http://www.440.com/twtd/today.html)

 

To find more resources in our library about George Burns, click here.  Enjoy!

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