I have had an e-reader for years but I rarely purchase any e-books. I find plenty of e-books available through KPL's Overdrive and Hoopla services. I use the new Libby app from Overdrive to search for my books, place holds, and transfer them to my device. Recently, I borrowed Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner and I've been thinking about it ever since I finished reading it. This profound story about loss, love, and friendship, has affected me deeply and I'm so glad I stumbled across it via my Overdrive browsing. Otis and Meg were inseparable best friends, and first loves, until Otis' brother tragically dies. Otis is forced to move on without Meg in his life but he has never quite forgotten her. Like a phantom limb, the pains of his losses are always there. Suddenly, Meg resurfaces and as you'd figure, makes his life much more complicated than he'd planned. As Meg and Otis work through their new proximity to each other, the secondary characters make this well-written book all the more interesting. I don't think anyone who reads it would soon forget it. And anyone who's suffered the loss of a loved one, will see themselves and others through the characters here. Everyone processes loss in their own way and we are never the same again once we've lost someone or something that we loved deeply.
We don't yet have this title in print at KPL's Teen Central but we will soon. In the meantime, you can borrow it from KPL's Overdrive service on many e-formats.
The charming novel Hey Harry, Hey Matilda, formatted as a series of back and forth email messages between twins Harry and Matilda, will delight readers who like their doses of bourgeoisie torment mitigated by witty sarcasm and pithy observations about thirty-something anxiety. Matilda is the zany, unfiltered twin who cannot seem to maintain a meaningful, long-term relationship and who laments her narrowing career opportunities, clinging to the desire to live the "authentic" life of an "artist". It is revealed early on in the book that Matilda has told her current boyfriend that her twin brother has died, a childish fib that not unsurprisingly leads to Matlida’s increasingly erratic correspondence. Harry, a literature professor and the more seemingly self-assured and conventionally situated sibling, finds trouble when he begins to date a younger student at the university. Hey Harry, Hey Matilda is a fun, imaginative and quick read that was originally unfurled on author Rachel Hulin’s Instagram account before it was published earlier this year.
Because they are such a rare sight, it is easy to forget how
magnificent owls are. Every feature that makes us stop and stare actually
serves a very useful purpose. Those large piercing eyes ensure that they’ll
never lose sight of their prey. And those round moony faces actually serve as
satellite dishes to capture all sound and direct it towards their ears. All the
better to hear their next snack.
Matt Sewell has
captured the charm, and majesty of 47 different owls in his pleasing watercolor
illustrations. Check this book out today, and discover your new favorite owl!
My personal fave? The Greater Sooty Owl. They have little speckles that look
like stars in a night sky.
This picture book, with spare text and rich
illustrations, captures the emotion of the Rolling Thunder Run, a motorcycle
rally held each Memorial Day in Washington D.C. to honor American armed
forces. It follows one young boy’s
experience of riding with his grandfather:
“Grandpa rides for Joe and Tom, friends he lost in Vietnam.” It’s a poignant glimpse of one family’s
moment at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.
Anyone who has seen the moving documentary, My Architect, will know of the complicated brilliance of the architect Louis Kahn. A new biography, You Say To Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn by Wendy Lesser, fills in the detail and the greater context that aren’t possible to cover in a documentary film format. Kahn was an enigma of a man, with facial scarring from a childhood accident and often appearing disheveled from all-night drafting sessions, he was a self-described terrible businessman (his buildings were all completed late and over budget) but possessed an irresistible charisma and an almost mystical approach to architecture that left an indelible mark in his field and on the world.
I think it’s pretty safe to say
that I won’t be making the trip to Yellowstone National Park anytime
soon. But, I can celebrate the 100th anniversary of the
National Park Service (albeit a few months late) with the help of this book.
Subtitled A Journey through America’s Wild Heart, one finds herein a
short history of the park; however, author David Quammen’s purpose in writing
this book is to describe the park as it exists today. One would expect to find
great photography in a publication from the National Geographic Society, and
this work is no exception. The unconventional size (7” tall x 10” wide) adds to
the uniqueness of this volume. For a good survey of life in today’s
Yellowstone, take a look at this.
Rose is written by local Kalamazoo author, Jessica Aguilera. It’s a
cute story and Jessica did the illustrations herself by using cutouts that she
layered together and then photographed.
Rose was self-published.
“Round,” a 2017 title by Newbery-Honor winning poet Joyce Sidman, and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo, is a wonderful new addition to our “Concepts” picture book neighborhood. Designed for children aged 4-7, the story explores many of the circular shapes found in everyday life, both big and small, with charming illustrations that inspire interest in the basic geometry of the world.
On my vacation trip to Utah this year, I brought along All the Wild that Remains by David Gessner. Gessner is a creative writing professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and is well known for his nature writing. Although he is a New Englander, he fell in love with the West and two revered and influential writers: Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey, during some time he spent there in his 20s.
In All the Wild that Remains, Gessner travels around the West to important places in Stegner’s and Abbey’s lives; sometimes interviewing old friends of theirs, and commenting on these writers’ legacies and what they taught us about living in the West.
Stegner, my favorite author, spent some of his formative years in Salt Lake City and chose to have his papers archived at the University of Utah rather than Stanford where he founded and led an outstanding writing program that boasts a long line of famous attendees such as: Larry McMurtry, Wendell Berry, Ken Kesey, Robert Stone, and our other featured author, Edward Abbey. Stegner fought to preserve the wild places of the West in many ways and is best remembered in environmental circles for what is called the Wilderness Letter, which was influential in creating the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Abbey lived a wilder life and his novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, was the inspiration for the creation of the environmental organization Earth First!. Many agree that his masterpiece though is the autobiographical Desert Solitaire that Abbey wrote about his time as a park ranger in Arches National Park. Unable to attend Abbey’s funeral celebration in southern Utah, Stegner sent these words for Wendell Berry to read, "He had the zeal of a true believer and a stinger like a scorpion . . . He was a red-hot moment in the life of the country, and I suspect that the half-life of his intransigence will be like that of uranium."
If you haven’t heard of either of these authors, it wouldn’t be that surprising. They were characterized as Western authors and therefore, somewhat ignored by the East Coast literati, much to Stegner’s chagrin. Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Angle of Repose wasn’t even reviewed in the New York Times Book Review.
But now you know about them, so add them to your reading lists.
If anyone is curious about why people live where they live, this book is a must read. Richard Rothstein makes an irrefutable, well-researched, and well written account of how our government segregated America, created ghettos, allowed suburbs to be whites-only, and created the multi-generational problem that still exists today. Every aspect of the government was involved: federal, state, local, city commissions, non-profits, churches, community groups, administrative agencies, the police. The book expands its analysis to other kinds of discrimination that compounded segregation: whites-only unions, taxing African American homeowners more than white people, building schools to reinforce segregation, suppressing the incomes of African Americans in various ways, and physical violence towards African Americans trying to move into white neighborhoods - which the police largely ignored.
The book offers many moderate, urban planning solutions to foster integration. But he also thinks a radical solution is in order, if only we could accept as a country that the problem necessitates a remedy that matches the damage already done:
"We might contemplate a remedy like this: Considering that African Americans comprise about 15 percent of the population of the New York metropolitan area, the federal government should purchase the next 15 percent of houses that come up for sale in Levittown at today's market rates (approximately $350,000). It should then resell the properties to qualified African Americans for $75,000, the price (in today's dollars) that their grandparents would have paid if permitted to do so. The government should enact this program in every suburban development whose construction complied with the FHA's discriminatory requirements [referring to racist FHA policy]".