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Books and Beyond

Emily, Columbine Library

Most people are aware of the countless retellings of Jane Austen’s works, especially Pride and Prejudice.  Another author who was writing slightly later in the 1800’s, but whose works are also considered classics is Charlotte Bronte.  The continued popularity of Jane Eyre, in particular, is clear when you look up the title in the library’s catalog and see 67 references to books, movies, and articles!  Here are a few highlights…

Sunshine, Columbine Library

Creative, quirky, funny and sweet, Wes Anderson films are one-of-a-kind originals. Check out some of his movies to see for yourself.

The Darjeeling Limited - Three brothers take a trip to India a year after their father’s funeral and finally find the closure they need to move forward with each of their lives. It might sound like a downer, but this movie is also funny, playful, and filled with great visual metaphors.

Fantastic Mr. Fox - based on the book by Roald Dahl, the movie stars George Clooney as the voice of Mr. Fox and Meryl Streep as the voice of Mrs. Fox. Mr. Fox finds a nice above ground home next to three of the biggest farms in the area. The temptation is too much and he goes on one last heist stealing from each of the farmers. The farmers find out and go after Mr. Fox and his family and friends. What happens next? Watch Fantastic Mr. Fox and find out.

The Royal Tenenbaums - Royal Tenenbaum is the patriarch of a family that fell apart. He brings his family back together in a last ditch effort to make amends before he dies of a terminal illness. Again it sounds really sad but that is the beauty of Wes Anderson, by focusing on eccentric people in sad situations he is able to highlight the real magic of life.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Steve Zissou, a renowned oceanographer, is on a hunt to kill the shark that killed his partner.The Life Aquatic is a madcap movie starring Bill Murray, Anjelica Houston, Kate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, and Jeff Goldblum. This Wes Anderson movie is a bit more dry and wacky than most of his films, but I find it is funnier the more you watch it.

Emily, Columbine Library

This is a leisurely paced, beautifully filmed story of John Keats and his poetic muse, Fanny Brawne.   Those who love period pieces, such as Jane Austen adaptations, will delight to discover this hidden gem.  While first a tragic love story, the secondary characters and excellent cinematography flesh out the narrative and provide the background that let Keats and Fanny shine.

Sunshine, Columbine Library

Alternative Country, also known as Alt-Country, is a loosely defined sub-genre of country which can combine any of the following: country, rock, rockabilly, bluegrass, folk rock, and punk.  If you want to learn more about Alternative Country listen to these CDs:

Sean, Standley Lake Library

Oh, Lou Lou!

So have you heard the travesty that is Lou Reed’s latest work, Lulu? Using Metallica as his backing band, Reed has created what many critics are calling the single worst album ever made. You can decide for yourself by getting the CD through the library, but please don’t retaliate afterward by doing something rash like petitioning to cut off our funding.

It’s definitely a strange collaboration, foreshadowed by a notorious live performance of “Sweet Jane” in 2009. Who in the world could listen to this and think, “Wow, Metallica and Lou Reed sound great together!” Only a pairing of Snoop Dogg and Kenny Rogers rapping Christmas songs while the Trans-Siberian Orchestra blares away in the background might be worse (though TSO can make almost anything sound classy).

The Lou Reed/Mettalica train wreck aside, I love it when different musicians team up in odd ways to produce something unexpected and jaw-dropping without being unlistenable. JCPL happens to have a few of my favorites:

Raising Sand  – Rock god Robert Plant meets bluegrass fiddler Alison Krauss. This is a warm, rich album that caught everyone off-guard.

Seeking Major Tom  – Captain Kirk covers a lot of famous songs with a host of equally famous artists, including Brad Paisley and Peter Frampton.

Distant Relatives  – Rap meets Reggae as Nas works with Damian Marley on an album concerned with the well-being of Africa.

Duets - Lots of artists produce duet CDs, but I think this is one of the cooler ones, as opera star Pavoratti hooks up with everyone from Eric Clapton to Frank Sinatra to Lionel Ritchie while covering opera and pop rock standards.

Turtleneck and Chain - SNL’s Andy Samberg’s hilarious band is back with a ton of weird collaborations with celebrities, including director John Waters, Beck and Michael Bolton.

Emily, Columbine Library

For most of us, the closest we'll ever get to living like a rock star is reading a musician's biography or memoir.  The library has a great selection of the most entertaining, shocking, and inspiring stories you'll want to check out!  Tell us about your favorites.

Joanna, Standley Lake Library

I was watching stand-up comedian Louis CK with my husband, and one of his routines about his kids had us both laughing hysterically and saying, “Yes, that’s exactly what kids do!” I decided I wanted some more of this type of entertainment.  I decided that I would temporarily dispense with the serious parenting books and all that guilt I feel when I read about other mothers who enjoy every second of motherhood.  So I went in search of some books that would focus on the annoying, disgusting, enraging parts of motherhood and help me laugh at them all.  I came across a couple I really enjoyed.  Are you in need of comic relief too?  Try some of these:

Confessions of a Scary Mommy: An Honest and Irreverent Look at Motherhood - The Good, The Bad, and the Scary by Jill Smokler  - This book was not as negative overall as I thought it would be, but I did find myself agreeing with most of Jill’s observations.  A couple of “confessions” from Jill’s blog that she included in the book:

“I ate a jar of Nutella a month while pregnant.  Okay, a jar a week.  Okay, okay, a jar a day.  A jar of Nutella a day.  I’ve never admitted that before.”
“Last night I changed all the clocks in the house to an hour and a half later and sent my son to bed.  It was awesome.”

Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$ Story about Parenting! by Sandra Tsing Loh - This book spent a lot of time on the difficulty of choosing schools for your children, but I had a laugh about every other page because of her humorous observations.

Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, and Mary Ann Zoellner - I’m on hold for this one, and it sounds like a lot of fun.

Katie, Arvada Library

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. 

Ros, Evergreen Library

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?


Boyd, Arvada Library

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.


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