Over 160 years since he became President, Abraham Lincoln continues to fascinate Americans. While his status as vampire hunter may be in question, there is no doubt that this month’s debut of the film Lincoln has increased interest once again.
By some estimates, over 15,000 Lincoln biographies have been written. We think these are some of the best.
Lincoln by David Herbert Donald - Written by a historian of the Civil War and Reconstruction period and considered by some to be the best single-volume account of Lincoln’s life.
Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson - This Pulitzer Prize winning tale of the Civil War provides insight into Lincoln’s strategies and conflicts at that time.
Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year by David Von Drehle - A newly published account of Lincoln and the events of 1862, a year the author asserts as the most pivotal in the outcome of the Civil War.
A.Lincoln by Ronald C. White Jr. - A comprehensive, yet readable biography which draws heavily from Lincoln’s private papers.
Many of us, now that we’re "older," are trying to fill in gaps from our reading past. Maybe we just read the Cliff Notes version in school, or maybe we missed important books entirely. Certain novels come up in conversation and we can’t remember much about them, even if read back in high school. It leaves us with a nagging feeling of incompleteness.
Eleanor Gehres’ book, The best American novels of the twentieth century still readable today, helps us fill in the gaps. She has created a 150-title guide to interesting and important American literature. Entries are organized by decade and come with short plot descriptions and reasons why they are included. Here you’ll find J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Jack London’s Call of the Wild, and Lost Horizons by James Hilton. Both obscure and famous novels are covered, but all are recommended by Gehre, a Denver librarian. It’s a great way to find some good reads!
What are some classics you've been meaning to read?
Ever want to know more about the history of the town or neighborhood you live in? Your local Jefferson County Library is a great place to start.
The Jefferson County Historic Collection at Standley Lake is home to countless historical maps from the last 100 years from around the county as well as priceless historical documents and one-off publications, such as a 1983 volume titled Grandview Streetscape Project and Notorious Jefferson County: Frontier Murder & Mayhem. Other interesting documents to look at are the old Sanborn fire insurance maps of the area. The Golden library, for example, has a map of the area from 1886 that details not only what structures were in place at the time, but also their uses and ownership.
And here at the Arvada Library, we have a sizeable collection of materials about our town, neighborhoods and Jefferson County as a whole. Wonder what Arva-Pride is and why it’s plastered on the side of that old building downtown? Want to follow the trail of Lewis Ralston that led him to pan for gold in what is now Ralston Creek? We’ve got you covered.
Want to get started? Check out our Local History guide.
I'm Not There is an artistic rendering of Bob Dylan’s life in movie form. Director Todd Haynes has six different actors play the part of Bob Dylan as he transitions through different incarnations. Dylan is portrayed as a lover/imitator of Woody Guthrie, a folk singer, an artist playing electric guitar, an actor, a poet, and an outlaw. The result is a stunning and thought-provoking film.
In order to understand the subtlety and depth of this film, it helps to know a little about Dylan’s life beyond his song writing. All of the actors who play Dylan give great performances, but Kate Blanchett’s Dylan blew me away. There are funny moments - look for David Cross as Alan Ginsberg - as well as surreal moments - Kate Blanchett’s Dylan tied to a balloon in a dream sequence and Richard Gere’s Bob Dylan’s strange scene when the animals from the local zoo are roaming free behind him.
I’m Not There is a great movie for artists, lovers of Bob Dylan, and anyone who wants to watch a stimulating and creative film. Enjoy!
I am currently reading the second book in the Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking. In some libraries this series is listed as teen fiction, but all three books are suitable for both teen and adult readers.
In the first book, Switched, Wendy Everly finds out she is not who she thought she was for most of her life! She finds herself in a strange and beautiful world, but she is not sure she wants to remain in that world and claim her legacy.
In the beginning of the second book, Torn, Wendy struggles with reconnecting with her mortal brother when evil forces catch up with her. Wendy is torn between two worlds. Which life will she decide to lead?
This trilogy concludes in the book titled Ascend, which I will be reading soon. These books are fast-paced and fun fantasy reads.
Have you read anything by Amanda Hocking? If so, what did you think?
What are some of your favorite fantasy authors?
The Standley Lake Library book group will discuss Eowyn Ivey’s debut novel The Snow Child on December 13 at 6:30 p.m.
The New York Times bestseller is a novel about the magic and mystery of a child made out of snow, and how she changes the lives of Jack and Mabel, homesteaders in the Alaskan wilderness.
We recently had the chance to ask Eowyn some questions about her novel:
JCPL: What can you tell us about your writing process? How did you go about writing The Snow Child? Would you do the same for your next project?
EI: We had a new baby in the house when I was writing The Snow Child, and my husband and I were both working, so I was left with a sliver of time after both our daughters went to bed. I would retreat to the walk-in closet that I had converted into an office and write for an hour or two each night. My mom is a poet and we arranged to share our work each week -- I would give her a new chapter, and she would give me a new poem. Because these were first drafts, we mostly gave positive feedback to each other keep the momentum going. As for my next novel, I am trying to spend time here and there working on it, but my schedule is very different now with book publicity and travel. The basic approach remains the same, however -- I have to carve out that time and just write.
JCPL: Do you think people have taken meanings from The Snow Child that you didn't put there?
EI: Definitely. But that's one of the wonderful aspects of novels. We all bring our own experience and knowledge to the page when we read. In some cases, readers have shed light on interpretations of the story that I was not consciously aware of as I wrote, but were perhaps part of my subconscious process. In other situations, readers take away meanings that I don't necessarily agree with, but that doesn't mean they are wrong. A writer is only half of the process. And I love to think that readers can discuss and find new meaning in my story.
JCPL: What is your favorite "guilty pleasure" book to read?
EI: Stephen King. And the only reason his books are a "guilty pleasure" is because I become so absorbed by his storytelling that I can do nothing but read. I started Under the Dome one evening, and then spent the entire next day reading it. When my husband came home, I said "Sorry, can't fix dinner or help with the kids" and pointed at the book. I finished it that night. Typically when I read my favorite authors, like Cormac McCarthy, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison or Annie Proulx, I savor their work over a week or so. But Stephen King is my excuse to devour 1,000 pages in a day.
JCPL: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
EI: Just to say thank you. I have been touched by the emails and letters I've received, and am so grateful to the book clubs, librarians, and booksellers who have helped spread word about the book.
With the new film about Lincoln hitting the theaters, Joshua Shenk's book, Lincoln’s Melancholy: how depression challenged a president and fueled his greatness gives thoughtful background on how Lincoln’s struggle with sadness made him a great president. Using thorough research from the past and tying that in with today’s medical knowledge about depression, Shenk convincingly argues that a major part of Lincoln’s greatness was thanks to the methods he used to cope with his illness. Famously, Lincoln used humor, loving funny stories, along with time for reflecting that served him well in navigating through America’s biggest crisis – the Civil War. Shenk uses Lincoln’s own words as well as his contemporaries’ accounts in this book, making it simply fascinating.