Happy World Book & Copyright Day

worldbookandcopyrightday.Today is World Book &  Copyright Day a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.  Did you know that this date was picked because it in important day in world literature.  April 23rd is a symbolic date for world literature. On this day in 1611, Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, Haldor K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.  Share your love of reading by stopping by the library to pick up a new book, read to your child, and donate any old books for our book sale.  What’s your latest favorite read?

Posted in book group; reading group;, books, Cervantes, Nabokov, Shakespeare, UNESCO, Vallejo, World Book Day | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande tackles one of the hardest conversations we have in society today–what index-2.aspxto do at the end of our lives?   Many in the medical profession have always tried to prolong a life at any cost and at a huge detriment to the patient at hand. When  should physicians stop the  innate need to save the body but lose the essence of the person?   As a physician, Gawande is in a unique position  to ponder this  as he studied over 200  people as they tackle the end of the life cycle.  Many in the medical field have a hard time talking about their patient’s anxieties  and just provide them with facts and false hopes.   The author has discovered that sometimes not only are we not prolonging lives , but shortening it. He not only talks about this issue but the general aging process itself.    What are the different housing and living options  that are available for today’s elderly? What can we do to make the last years of our lives about our living and not about our dying?  Read Being Mortal and you’ll have some ideas for you and your loved ones.

Posted in aging, Atul Gawande, books, family relationships, nonfiction, reflective, science writing, thought provoking | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Andrew Carnegie Medals Shortlist for Fiction and Nonfiction was Announced this Week

Sponsored by the American Library Association and the Carnegie Corporation,  the Andrew Carnegie Medals for excellence in fiction and nonfiction  shortlist was announced this week. Started in 2012, this literary award was established to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction published in the United States the previous year.  Check them out of the library today!

allthelightwecannotsee   norawebster   onsuchafullsea

justmercy  sixthextinction   thirteendaysinseptember.

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The Rosie Effect by Graeme C. Simsion

rosieeffectIf you became  enamored with the quirky lovable character of  Professor Don Tillman in The Rosie Project you should continue on and read The Rosie Effect by Graeme C. Simsion.  Honeymooners, Tillman, a genetics professor, has been married for ten months to the beloved Rosie, medical student/bartender.   Don whose personality  is very similar to Sheldon Cooper’s Big Bang Theory persona, is trying to adjust to the the idea of being married.  It is hard enough for the average Joe to assimilate to marriage but Don is extremely used to routines and order  and is doing his best to do things a bit more spontaneously in marriage.  Sometimes, that isn’t the easiest thing for him to do and Don is sent into a tailspin when Rosie announces she is pregnant.  How will this addition change the relationship between Rosie and Don?  Will he be supportive throughout the pregnancy?  Author Simsion has continued with his winning formula in The Rosie Effect and leaves the reader laughing and smiling throughout this charming read.

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#Women in Fiction

I love the fact that Twitter is lighting up with the  hashtag #womeninfiction.   Started by Preeti Chibber, manager of Harper Collins Children’s Books, Chibber started tweeting about women authors and women heroines in the world of fiction.  Check out her  Storify where everyone from Hermoine Granger to Jane Eyre is mentioned in an outpouring of love to strong women characters.  I started to think of my favorite women characters in history that I’ve read in the past few months  and these two titles came to mind.

jamonthevine.Ivoe Williams is the main character of LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s   Jam on the Vine.  The young well-educated African American woman helps found the first female-run African American newspaper during the turbulent times of the Jim Crow era.


indexAaliyah Saleh, the complex woman in Rabih Alameddine’s  extraordinary work, The Unnecessary Woman, nominated for a National Book AwardHow could I not fall in love with the cantankerous septuagenarian Lebanese woman whose love of books is at her  essence and the transformative  power in her life. If you haven’t read these two titles, you should add them to your to be read pile. More importantly, who are your recent favorite women protagonists?

Posted in African American Fiction, book group; reading group;, books, jim crow, literary fiction, National Book Award, Women in Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

R.I.P Sir Terry Pratchett

index-1.aspxLast week  the iconic and beloved fantasy author, Terry Pratchett,  lost his battle with early onset Alzheimer’s disease  and began his walk with Death. Writer of over 70 novels, Pratchett is perhaps best known for his series of books set in  Discworld, a flat planet  balanced on the back of four elephants where the seas pour over the sides.  Discworld was a place ever evolving, becoming  more convoluted and somber in Pratchett’s later works, perhaps the result of Pratchett’s diagnosis.   The author had written over 40 novels based  in this  fantasy world — and one of those characters was Death himself.    If you have never read anything by Pratchett, a good place to start might be A Blink on the Screen, a collection of shorter fiction by Pratchett that spans his illustrious career.  You will see  how Pratchett evolved from a young high schooler to the  finesse and witticisms of his latter work.  In another of his books about Death , Reaper Man, Pratchett wrote “no one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away”.  Please give a work by Pratchett a try so his ripples live on for many more years.

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Discoworld, fantasy, fiction, science fiction, short stories, Terry Pratchett | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today marks the anniversary of the Broadway debut of A Raisin in the Sun

index.aspxA Raisin in the Sun debuted on Broadway on March 11, 1959,  The  play, written by Lorraine Hansberry,  was the first play written and acted by African Americans to appear on the Broadway stage. The play tells the classic story about a struggling African American family living in an apartment on Chicago’s South Side.  The premise of the play revolves around  the younger family matriarch who is due a life insurance check that could change the family fortune.  When the curtain rose  on March 11th, Hansberry was worried about its success.  It later  went on to win the New York Drama  Critics’ Circle  and was nominated for 4 Tony Awards. Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote that A Raisin in the Sun changed  American theatre forever.  If you’ve never read or watched this iconic story, please give it a try.

Posted in African-American, books, Broadway, dvds, New York Drama Critics' Circle, play, Tony Awards | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking Down Barriers- Women Authors Using Pen Names

I recently stumbled across this article from Mashable regarding the pen names of women authors who’ve had to change their names in order to get published. Seeing as how it is Women’s History Month,  I thought it would be interesting to see the history of the use of womenoverhurdlemale pen names by women  and how they are still being used today.   From Jane Austen who published simply under the name,  “A Lady, ” to the present, Nora Roberts as J.D. Robb; women have simply had to modify their name in order to get their works published and to establish credibility with literary critics.  Bloomsbury asked Joanne Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, to initialize her name so it would be more appealing to young boys.   Since she had no middle name, she borrowed her grandmother’s name, Kathleen.   After her enormous success with the series, she wrote, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and added another nom de plume, Robert Galbraith, mystery writer,  to separate herself as much as possible from her famous persona.

“In 1980, science fiction writer and editor Ben Bova told a group of women writers, “Neither as writers nor as readers have you raised the level of science fiction a notch. “  I’m sure that Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin would have disagreed with his outrageous comment.  However there were science fiction authors who did  take male or unisexual names in order to get their works taken seriously.  Author Alice Sheldon wrote her speculative fiction under the name James Tiptree.  When her name was revealed it caused quite a stir.  Carolyn Janice Terry as CJ Terryh and Catherine Lucille Moore as CL  Moore also adopted more androgynous names to gain acceptance.

Conversely, there have been a few male authors who’ve adopted women pen names for various reasons.  Mohammed Moulessehoul, a high ranking Algerian military officer,  wrote The  Swallows of Kabul under the female pen name, Yasmina Khadra, to avoid military censorship.  There are also male romance writers who have adopted female pen names to gain women readers.

In the 21st century, is it possible to get past these sexist preconceived notions  in order to accept that good writers can write from any angle, male or female?  I certainly hope so.

Posted in C.J. Cherryh, C.L. Moore, fiction, James Tiptree, nom de plume, pen names, pseudonyms, science fiction, Women's History Month, Yasmin Khadra | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toni Morrison on Censorship and the Power of the Written Word

burnthisbookPerhaps it is no accident that I happened to stumble upon Burn This Book edited by Morrison a few days before her birthday today.  Published in conjunction with the PEN American Center, the book is a collection of essays by famous authors, such as Updike and Rushdie, and  the meaning of censorship and the power of the written word.  Why write? is the question posed in the 11 essays in this slim powerful volume of work.  As Morrison states in her essay, Peril, “We all know nations that can be identified by the flight of writers from  their shores.  These are regimes  whose fear of unmonitored writing is justified because truth is trouble. ”   Written in 2009, Burn This Book is still relevant today  where the whole truth is often hidden from view. We are grateful to our writers, especially one as gifted as our beloved Toni Morrison, for as she writes ” A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind, they are its necessity.”



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Black History Month- Other titles of Interest

The Village Voice recently published an article on lesser known titles for Black History Month, other than the usual recommended classics.  Here are the titles we have available at Newburgh Free Library.  Take them out and give them a read.

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Posted in African American Fiction, black history month, books, fiction, jim crow, nonfiction, slavery | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment