Monday, July 2, 2018

Diana's picks

Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions by Russyell Brand 
Addiction can effect anyone and comes in all shapes and sizes. Russell Brand shares his story of addiction in brutal honesty on how he worked each of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in his life since his recovery in 2002.  A long lasting value of this book is the author’s personal story, which makes it powerful and incredibly engaging.  This is a story of hope against hopelessness and Brand is vulnerable, honest, compassionate as well as funny in telling of his story.  

From Addiction to Serenity by Vaughn W
Experience can be the driver of teaching when a life purpose comes out of the abyss of addiction.  Vaughan, a world war II veteran and Michigan native utilized his struggle of reaching sobriety as a life career to share with others and help them understand the long road of addiction and a path toward finding inner serenity.  Utilizing personal experience, Vaughan developed a recovery prototype, which became a prominent model at Marquette General and St Mary’s hospital.  Vaughn celebrated 50 years of continuous sobriety and wrote this book in his retirement years with a desire to show that there is still hope when facing an uphill battle every day of your life.

Forged in Crisis by Nancy Koehn
For leaders in the 21st century, there is only one pressing question: What set of skills are necessary to lead in a crisis? Does history have the answers? Harvard Business School historian professor Nancy Koehn surveyed some of history’s greatest leaders and made an incredible discovery: courageous leaders are not born but made, and the power to lead resides in each of us.  Leaders include Ernest Shackleton; Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Rachel Carson.  Forged in Crisis is an insightful read that can teach anyone how to develop remarkable leadership skills. 

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss
A journalist by trade, Elaine Weiss weaves the historical context on the political battle in the State of Tennessee in 1920 over the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. What strengthens the narrative are the author’s minibiographies of primary characters in this “furious campaign”—Carrie Chapman Catt (“it was [her] her life’s mission—to guide American women to the promised land of political freedom”), Alice Paul, Josephine Pearson, and Presidents Warren G. Harding and Woodrow Wilson—as well as of the less-well-known players (mostly Tennessee politicians and lobbyists). Pearson is the most visible of the women who opposed suffrage, believing that it posed a danger “to the American family, white supremacy, states’ rights, and cherished southern traditions.” Perhaps the most famous of the anti-suffragists was reform-minded journalist Ida Tarbell, whom Weiss chronicles briefly. The author clearly explains how the opposition by women—a stance that will surprise some modern readers—derived partly from their desire to be sheltered from politics, partly from the negative influence of men in their lives, and partly from racism (providing ballots to white women would open the floodgates of black women voters).

-Diana Menhennick, Reference Department

Popular new titles

One of the most popular services (and worst-kept secret) of a public library is the availability of newly-released bestsellers without the expense of a purchase. Here are some new buzzworthy fiction titles on the shelf at PWPL ready for you to borrow today.

Brass by  Xhenet Aliu - Elsie hopes her small tips will add up to a new life when she meets a worldly, but married man who left home to chase his dreams—and wound up working as a line cook.  When she learns that she’s pregnant, she can’t help wondering where his heart really lies, and what he’ll do about the wife he left behind.  Seventeen years later, Lulu decides to find out what exactly her mother has been hiding about the father she never knew. As she soon discovers, the truth is closer than she ever imagined.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah - .Set in 1974 Alaska, this sweeping tale follows 13-year-old Leni and her parents, Ernt and Cora, as they learn to survive the unforgiving wild of their new home in Alaska.  But Ernt, suffers from PTSD following the Vietnam War and now struggles with the isolation of  an Alaskan winter. Leni's finds comfort in her schoolmate and neighbor Matthew which eventually evolves into a forbidden romance.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones - Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.  As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together and everyone must navigate a future no one could have imagined.

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht - Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation but enjoys certain freedoms others do not until the day she saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is captured and sent away to a hellish future.  Fast forward to 2011 where Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget her sister’s sacrifice.  As Emi witnesses the healing of her children and country and looks to move toward forgiveness and peace. 

White Houses by Amy Bloom - Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota, she evolved into the most prominent woman reporter in America, "Hick" is not at first charmed by the idealistic Eleanor. Her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love and an unexpected life for many people.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin - It's 1969 in New York City and word has spread of the arrival of a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.  Their prophecies inform their next five decades.  Will the date move the children to live their greatest life or fear the day it ends?

--Heather Steltenpohl, Development Director

Internal and external journeys

(Originally published April 28, 2018)
After my mid-May retirement from Peter White Public Library I will have endless time to read dozens of library books. My latest job was to choose and order materials for adults, after doing the same work in the Children's Room for many years. There were, and continue to be, so many great new books, more than any one person can read. Additionally, as the shelves are weeded to make room for new books, I've come across many older books that invite one's curiosity.

An older book we recently replaced is the 1946 epic, Independent People by Halldór Laxness. Set in Iceland in the early twentieth century, the novel concerns a sheep farmer determined to be emancipated from the landowner for whom he has slaved for many years. His daughter, too, wishes to be free, to live independently from him. The battle of wills between father and daughter, and the war the farmer fights within himself, are the heart of this book. (adult fiction)

Many patrons know that Circulation staff member Ben Sargent's favorite book is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This book has been on my reading list for over 35 years.  A brutal landlord is murdered. The murderer's identity is revealed through the investigation and trial in this story of good and evil, innocence and corruption. (adult fiction)

Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon was published in 1940. This account of a
journey through Yugoslavia looks at that country's people, landscape, history, and politics in the context of the Balkans' troubled history and the relationships among its various ethnic and religious groups. (914.97We v.1, v.2)

Several years ago, a patron's request introduced me to Patrick Leigh Fermor's travel book trilogy, A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water, and The Broken Road. In December 1934, at the age of 18, Fermor began a walk across central Europe starting in Holland and ending in Constantinople. His journey took a bit more than a year and coincided with Hitler's coming to power. Fermor noticed everything, and describes the plants, animals, architecture, geography, art, music, food, religion, customs, and people he encountered, capturing the joy of travel with boyish enthusiasm. He wrote decades after his walk so was able to provide historical depth to his descriptions of pre-WW2 Europe. The third book was finished after Fermor's death by John Murray, drawing on Fermor's diary and an early draft of the book. (914.96Fe)

My journey will be to Ireland. Several relatives and I will travel to the birth towns of our grandparents and meet relatives who stayed. In preparation, I will read as much as I can, including The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen. This gothic novel takes place in an Irish castle full of secrets, tragedies, and ghosts, all with ties to the legend of the Darkling Bride. Two stories thread their way through the book. The current thread concerns a Chinese-American bookworm hired to catalog the castle's library. The parallel thread, set in 1879, follows an English novelist who falls in love with the castle's mistress who dies. The cataloger and the current viscount who is both handsome and brooding, of course, work together to solve the mystery of various untimely deaths over the centuries and their ties to the Darkling Bride. (adult fiction)

In My Father's Wake: How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love and Die, author Kevin Toolis deals with his father's death by writing about the historical tradition of the Irish wake and the ancient Irish way of working through the mourning process. Toolis' father died at home on an island off the west coast of Ireland. He was cared for and watched over as he died and then honored with the old rites and rituals carried out by his whole community. Toolis compares this tradition to much of the modern world's way of putting death into the hands of experts. He shows how community and tradition helped him deal with his father's death and his own mortality in this work of memoir and anthropology.  (new adult nonfiction 393.93To)     

After the southwest peninsulas, we plan on visiting Northern Ireland which brings to mind the Irish crime novels by Adrian McKinty. The Belfast born writer is best known for his noir crime series featuring Sean Duffy, a Catholic policeman in the Protestant RUC during the Troubles in the 1980s. The sixth book in the series is Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly. Number seven, Detective Up Late, is expected later this year. McKinty's description of Belfast including historical events and people, his hardboiled characters, snappy dialogue, and thrilling plotting, are full of witty Irish language.  (mystery books and audio CD)
Then a bus trip to see friends in Dublin. In award winning Irish author John Banville's latest work, Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir, we tour Dublin through Banville's personal reminiscences. In conversational style, Banville reveals how the city shaped his life. We get to see cultural, political, social, and architectural aspects of the city as Banville writes of the people and places he knew through childhood birthday visits and those he knows now since his return. His meditations are accompanied by Paul Joyce's photographs. Banville also writes the Detective Quirk novels under the name Benjamin Black. (new adult nonfiction 914.1835Ba)

Good travels, no matter if your journey is inward or across the world.

--Cathy Seblonka, retired librarian

If you're having a bad day...

(Orignally published April 14, 2018)

As I gather together titles for this article, Marquette is immersed in a weather pattern that just doesn’t fit my mental construct of what Spring is supposed to be.  It’s cold, it’s windy, and nary a daffodil is to be seen.  This morning I went to the PWPL online catalog in search of new books with the word “humor” in the record and was rewarded with the following titles to lift my spirits. 

Treating People Well by Lea Berman is a guide to personal and professional empowerment through civility and social skills, written by two White House Social Secretaries who offer an important fundamental message-- everyone is important and everyone deserves to be treated well.

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin is a debut novel that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart's capacity for forgiveness. Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they're happily married wives and mothers with successful careers. Their lives are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

The Complete Peanuts by Charles Schultz collects all the "Peanuts" comic strips as originally published in newspapers, including both daily and Sunday strips into individual volumes that we have housed in the Teen Graphic Novel collection.  The Peanuts have been lifting “kids” of all ages out of the doldrums for my whole life. 

In L’appart:  The delights and disasters of making my Paris Home, bestselling author and world-renowned chef David Lebovitz writes about his evolving ex-pat life in Paris, using his perplexing experiences in apartment renovation as a launching point for stories about French culture, food, and what it means to revamp one's life.  Lebovitz maintains his distinctive sense of humor with the help of his partner Romain, peppering this renovation story with recipes from his Paris kitchen. In the midst of it all, he reveals the adventure that accompanies carving out a place for yourself in a foreign country--under baffling conditions--while never losing sight of the magic that inspired him to move to the City of Light many years ago, and to truly make his home there

In The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, author/comedian Paula Poundstone asks, Is there a secret to happiness? I don't know how or why anyone would keep it a secret. It seems rather cruel, really ... Where could it be? Is it deceptively simple? Does it melt at a certain temperature? Can you buy it? Must you suffer for it before or after? In her wildly and wisely observed book, the comedy legend takes on that most inalienable of rights--the pursuit of happiness. Offering herself up as a human guinea pig in a series of thoroughly unscientific experiments, Poundstone tries out a different get-happy hypothesis in each chapter of her data-driven search. She gets in shape with taekwondo. She drives fast behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. She communes with nature while camping with her daughter, and commits to getting her house organized (twice!). Swing dancing? Meditation? Volunteering? Does any of it bring her happiness? It’s certainly fun to consider the possibilities.

Written in a spirit of exploration rather than declaration, Montaigne in Barn Boots is a down-to-earth (how do you pronounce that last name?) look into the ideas of a philosopher "ensconced in a castle tower overlooking his vineyard," channeled by a Midwestern American writing "in a room above the garage overlooking a disused pig pen." Whether grabbing an electrified fence, fighting fires, failing to fix a truck, or feeding chickens, author Michael Perry draws on each experience to explore subjects as diverse as faith, race, sex, aromatherapy, and Prince. But he also champions academics and aesthetics, in a book that ultimately emerges as a sincere, unflinching look at the vital need to be a better person and citizen.

In Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America journalist Amy Ettinger channels her ice-cream obsession, scouring the United States for the best artisanal brands and delving into the surprising history of ice cream and frozen treats in America. For Amy Ettinger, ice cream is not just a delicious snack but a circumstance and a time of year--frozen forever in memory. As the youngest child and only girl, ice cream embodied unstructured summers, freedom from the tyranny of her classmates, and a comforting escape from her chaotic, demanding family. Sweet Spot is a fun and spirited exploration of a treat Americans can't get enough of--one that transports us back to our childhoods and will have you walking to the nearest shop for a cone.

--Ellen Moore, Web Librarian