Books and Beyond
The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy
I’m sad that Maeve Binchy passed away in 2012. She has so many wonderful books and The Glass Lake is now one of my favorites. Set in 1950’s Ireland and London, The Glass Lake is classic Binchy. Kit McMahon’s mother, Helen, didn’t belong in the small Irish hamlet of Lough Glass. The troubled woman walked night after night along the shores of the serene lake. Then, when Kit was only 12, her mother disappeared one night. The mystery surrounding what happened to Helen will haunt the girl for years.
As a military mom myself, I understand just how hard it is to have a family member in danger. We worry everyday about their hardships, the mental and physical stress they are under, as well as knowing someone is trying to kill your loved one. That by itself is very hard to wrap your head around. When you hear on the news that we have lost more service members, you hold your breath for days waiting to hear from your soldier. The stress is almost overwhelming. Then, if you are lucky, they come home, maybe injured, but most certainly changed, but still they come home. They and their families must weather the changes and adjust to the lives they left behind and find a new way forward together.
In honor of Military Appreciation Month here are some nonfiction titles that show the hardships our service members and their families endure.
Voices From the Front: Letters Home from America's Military Family, letters collected, edited, and with a foreword by Frank Schaeffer
Outside the wire : American soldiers' voices from Afghanistan, edited by Christine Dumaine Leche; foreword by Brian Turner
The military father: a hands-on guide for deployed dads by Armin A. Brott
I miss you! : a military kid's book about deployment by Beth Andrews
Witness: G.I. homecoming, (DVD) produced by Siskel Jacobs Productions for National Geographic Channels
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
A teen girl rescues a young orphaned bonobo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, saving him from a cruel future. When her world explodes because of a rebel attack on her compound, Sophie saves herself by living and traveling with the bonobos. This endangered species is related to chimpanzees and shares 99% of humans’ DNA! The story is gripping, moving, poignant, and one you’ll hate to put down.
A friend challenged me to participate. A 28-day regime of eating that would cleanse my body of toxins and all that bad stuff we in the USA accumulate by eating the foods mostly available. I checked the menus and suggestions. Included were lots of vegetables and fruit, lots of beans and a fun variety of grains – brown rice, quinoa, faro, whole grain pasta and even a little fish and chicken. Sprouted or whole wheat breads were fine in moderation and spreads like hummus were suggested. OK – I can do this, I thought. Then the clincher – no dairy. You mean no yogurt? No cheese? No ice cream? What about my morning smoothie with yogurt and fruit? And cheese on pizza? The alternatives are non-dairy yogurts and milks like soy, coconut and almond. OK – I can still do this and after all – it is only 28 days. Little did I know that after the first day I would feel better, sleep better, have no digestive issues and actually come to enjoy my smoothie with soy yogurt, fruit and bunches of kale? Are you wondering what is left to eat? Here are some suggestions to get you started on a dairy-free diet.
Complete idiot’s guide to dairy-free eating by Scott Sicherer
Living dairy-free for dummies by Suzanne Havala Hobbs
Hot Coffee examines the effects tort reform is having on the average American’s right to access the U.S. Civil court system. The documentary is named Hot Coffee after the infamous case Stella Liebeck brought against McDonald’s. Although the media reported the outcome of the case, they never reported the facts of it. Here they are:
Stella Liebeck sustained burns while she was the passenger in a stopped car after lifting the lid on her coffee to add cream and sugar. Liebeck was then hospitalized for eight days with third-degree burns on six percent of her body and needed reconstructive surgery. Liebeck asked McDonald’s to cover her medical bills; they refused. Liebeck sued McDonald’s. During the trial, the jury learned there were over 700 claims against McDonald’s prior to Liebeck’s accident – they learned this from McDonald’s own records. In other words, McDonald’s knew their coffee was sending hundreds of people to the ER and they did nothing to prevent it from continuing to happen. The jury awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages to punish McDonald’s. The jury chose $2.7 million because it equaled two days of McDonald’s coffee sales. However, the trial court judge reduced the punitive damages from $2.7 million to $480,000 and Liebeck settled for an undisclosed sum.
Hot Coffee looks at how sensationalized court cases, like Liebeck’s, were used by tort reform advocates to push forward regulations and laws restricting everyday people’s ability to access the courts. One result has been the rise of mandatory or forced arbitration clauses, which cut off an individual’s access to a jury trial. Arbitration clauses are now found in the fine print of many contracts you sign: bank accounts, credit cards, gym memberships, leases, employment contracts, etc. If you want to understand what this means for you, watch Hot Coffee.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eugenides explores the dynamics of three Brown students as they transition from college to post-college life. The characters form a triangle: Madeleine, who usually avoids fellow students with ‘problems,’ falls in love with brilliant but troubled Leonard Bankhead. In the meantime, she maintains a sometimes flirtatious friendship with Mitchell Grammaticus, a student who heads to India seeking self-discovery on a spiritual path. Set in the Reagan era - 1982 - Eugenides crafts an entertaining, thoughtful, and intelligent novel which analyzes the most complicated of human emotions: love.
Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time
Andy Goldsworthy is a sculptor, photographer, and environmentalist. Rivers and Tides looks at this amazing artist’s work, which is highly unique and stunning. It shows him in action, building art pieces in the wild with nothing but nature as his materials and canvas. Goldsworthy’s art is so fragile he cannot always finish it before it is destroyed by the natural elements. I highly recommend this DVD for anyone who likes art and/or the outdoors.
As Seen Through These Eyes
As Seen Through These Eyes is a moving DVD about artists who survived the Holocaust. It is narrated by Maya Angelou and it looks at individuals who were spared from the gas chambers because their artistic talents were needed by the Nazis. Many of these artists drew realistic depictions of the Holocaust, while in the death camps, knowing that if their work was found it would mean death. The DVD includes interviews with the survivors, personal stories, and lots of art.
Simon Schama's Power of Art
Dramatic, engaging and informative, Simon Schama’s Power of Art examines eight works of art and the artists who made them. Schama does not break down each piece from a solely aesthetic perspective, he also looks at the life of the artist and how their prior work feeds into the work he is examining. The artists are: Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, David, Turner, Van Gogh, Picasso, and Rothko. Enjoy!
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Take a trip back in time to see what might be the oldest human drawings ever discovered. Werner Herzog and his camera crew gained access to the Chauvet Cave in France, where the cave drawings are located. The result is striking. Cave of Forgotten Dreams interviews scientists and historians who talk about the drawings and what they mean and what it took, and will take, to preserve them.
Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?
Meet Teri Horton, a truck driver who bought a painting at a garage sale. She later finds out it might be an original Jackson Pollock. The problem is no one is 100% sure it is a Pollock. Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? looks at Teri’s struggle to have the painting authenticated, particularly by forensic science and the art world.
Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
Lou Arrendale, an autistic man, is the narrator. He lives in a near future where there are very few people with autism left. Cures exist for anyone diagnosed in childhood, but Lou was too old to be helped when the solution came along. He has created a life for himself with friends and a job and a car, but always there is the struggle to be normal. It is a quiet, constrained existence that we come to know well through Lou’s description of his days and routines. It has its advantages too—Lou has special abilities to recognize patterns, and these he applies to his job in a pharmaceutical firm. He enjoys listening to classical music in ways not open to most people. All in all, he has mostly come to terms with autism and his life.
Into this situation an experimental treatment presents itself. Lou’s supervisor wants him, and all the other autistics in his work unit, to undergo a surgery that may “fix” their brains—or leave them mentally worse off than before. Their jobs are threatened. But even if the treatment works, how would it affect Lou and the life he has built? What would it do to his personality, his essence? Would it change his unique abilities? Would it alter his feelings for a woman who he has only recently come to love?
Elizabeth Moon has created a moving, thoughtful, complex tale. Speed of Dark draws us completely into the world of Lou Arrendale, a unique and fascinating hero. As the mother of an autistic child, she brings street cred to her portrayal of the man, and makes us care.
Money, Power and Wall Street is a FRONTLINE special originally shown on PBS about a year ago. In a special four-hour investigation, this documentary tells the inside story of the origins of the financial meltdown and the battle to save the global economy. It explores key decisions, missed opportunities, and the bailouts of financial institutions that citizens of the United States may not know about. These unprecedented moves by government officials and banking leaders have affected the fortunes and futures of millions of people worldwide in fascinating ways. The documentary ends with an exploration of the news rules and regulations that are currently under consideration. Will they be enough to fend off the next financial crisis?
Have you heard of the Lambda Literary Awards? For 25 years, the "Lammys" have celebrated the best in gay and lesbian literature. This year's Awards ceremony will be held in New York on June 2nd. There are a little over 20 award categories and more than 100 finalists nationwide.
It just so happens that 6 of this year's finalists live in the Denver area, so JCPL thought it would be neat to bring them in for a group reading for the public.
The Belmar Library is going to host the reading on Friday, May 10th, from 6:30-8pm. You'll get a chance to meet the authors, ask questions, get autographs, and hear some really great stories.
The readers and their nominated works are:
Jerry Wheeler - Strawberries and other Erotic Fruit
Kieran York - Appointment with a Smile
Sean Eads - The Survivors
Dylan Edwards - Transposes
Matt Kaily - Teeny Weenies: and Other Short Subjects