Book Preview: The Magician’s Land

By , August 1, 2014

JK Rowling AKA Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm  has been out for a while and I hear it’s pretty good. But for those still sitting at home in your wizard cap & gown, wondering what to do with that honorary Hogwarts degree, I’m guessing these past few novels smack a bit too much of the Mugglish variety…

Just last month, Potter fans rejoiced as a new morsel was cruelly tossed to them by the author: a short story of the Hogwarts class as adults (link to Pottermore). This has led to some very palpable excitement as to whether J/K will ever write another wizard novel. While I continue to be amazed by the power of this decade-spanning franchise, I’ve been feeling the need to interject lately with an obvious book recommendation:

Seriously, for those seeking to continue their magic-themed coming-of-age on into adulthood, look no further than the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman.  I say “obvious recommendation” because this critically acclaimed series has landed high on the NYT Bestsellers List, and it’s parallels to Harry Potter are inescapable (Though, I’m supposed to say here that such comparisons do a disservice to both). Yet, I still haven’t seen it embraced by aging Potterites.

The wizards, er, magicians in this series are not some elite class ordained by birth, but rather make up an outsiders group of geniuses, misfits and miscreants. Casting spells involves learning intricate hand positions, mastering dead languages, and the application of unnamed mathematical principles. (that’s right, folks, ‘with great power comes a lot of hard work’.)

This is YA for adults (the series kicks off in college).  This is Harry Potter with a side of scotch. This is fantasy meets realism/ tongue-and-cheek black comedy/ moody coming-of-age. At. It’s. Best.

Okay. To be honest, if you read these books in the hopes of reliving your Hogwarts honeymoon, you will likely be hit by a Confundus spell of disappointment.  What I like about them—what seems real to me—is the listlessness of the main character, Quentin Coldwater (and this is part of what pushes it into the realm of adult fiction).  The tone hints at a central question, and how it plays out may hit a little close to home: What if you found out that magic was real? (Not only is there a magic college, but YOU got in!) Except, what if, after all that, you still weren’t happy? What if that still weren’t enough? Well, Potter fans, welcome to adulthood…

The final installment of The Magicians trilogy, The Magician’s Land, will be out on Tuesday. Place your holds here. It looks like the series is headed for the SyFy channel, so you may soon see a spike demand.

And, abracadabra: Lev Grossman is confirmed for this year’s Southern Festival of Books, to be held here at the downtown library in October! You’re welcome.

 

Book review: The Crooked Hinge

By , July 31, 2014

The Crooked Hinge

by John Dickson Carr

Known for his literary command of the “locked room” mystery, John Dickson Carr’s novel The Hollow Man was selected as the greatest example of this style by an unofficial panel of seventeen mystery fiction authors and critics in 1981. The full list is here.

His 1938 novel The Crooked Hinge took the number four spot.

What this impossible crime has in addition to a terrific set-up is an eerie atmosphere that displays Carr’s love of the bizarre that only occasionally made its way into his mysteries. The plot is typically complex and involves such disparate elements as:

-          a deteriorating automaton

-          the sinking of the Titanic

-          witchcraft

-          two persons claiming one identity

Behold as Mr. Carr deftly ties them all together!

The man was prolific and many of his mysteries are highly regarded examples of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. If you’ve ever enjoyed a whodunit from the first half of the twentieth century – or you like your mysteries spooky – give this vintage puzzle-master a try.

- Ben

Popmatic Podcast July 30, 2014: The Oxymoronic Masochistic Phenomena of Having a Favorite Dystopia

By , July 30, 2014

Dystopias have a literary cachet as of late. We run down the our favorite dystopias, old and new. We say we love big brother but we never mention 1984. If you think about it, having a favorite dystopia is bittersweet. But there is nothing bitter about the tickle my fancy segment. The tickle my fancy segment is pure sugar.

DYSTOPIAS BY ANY OTHER NAME

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver film trailer

Snowpiercer trailer

Marco Beltrami

Off the Shelf book list: Contemporary Dystopias

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

Alpha Centuri or Die! by Leigh Brackett

Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Children of Men by P.D. James

The Lottery tv show

Children of Men directed by Alfonso Cuarón

The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor

Page One: Inside the New York Times

TICKLING OUR FANCY

OZ art space

Master Chef

Billy Bob Thorton’s dystopia is Cupcake Wars.

With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story

Shadowrun Returns video game

Shadowrun 5th Edition tabletop role playing game

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Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Music review: Bob Mould – Life and Times

By , July 29, 2014

 Bob Mould – Life and times

A tremendous, thoughtful, tuneful, just over 36 minute work by Bob Mould – full of bittersweet, longing and often melodic tunes.  I find myself letting it immediately play over in the car as the music washes over me in a comforting way during a somewhat stressful time.

Of course for those of you who remember or dug the mid ’80s independent force Husker Du provided – along with the Minutemen from San Pedro, Minneapolis’ Replacements and the Meat Puppets in their Heyday will know Bob once fronted (and thankfully didn’t blow out his vocal chords!) that seminal band.  Then went on to form Sugar (Copper Blue a highwater mark) and has since put out several generally very impressive recordings.

This one has great songs from the beginning with the title track followed by “The Breach” - a great opening one-two.  I find myself really enjoying snippets of lyrics and the overall, forward blasting yet melodic feel of this recording throughout.  “Mile Marker 17″ is another  gem as is the memorable “I’m Sorry, Baby, You Can’t Stand in my Light Any More”.  The credits: Bob Mould, vocals, guitar, bass, percussion, keyboards, programming; with Jon Wurster, drums. (and very good drumming I might add).  Mr. Mould’s guitar playing is stellar and instantly recognizable as being “his sound” throughout this recording. Great indeed.

Bob has written an autobiography a couple years after this was released (in 2009) and has dealt with a lot of painful issues including the loss of his father and addresses some personal demons here so it’s an emotionally charged album for sure.   The past and present is refracted  through a prism of reality, reconciliation and the need to move forward again. Many well thought out lyrics abound when you can get them…

Also available through Hoopla so check it out or stream it; you won’t regret it.

-Phil

Back to School

By , July 28, 2014

“The First Day of School” by Norman Rockwell
Sears Ad in Life magazine, August 14, 1964

Back-to-school fashions from Sears,
advertised in Life magazine from August 20, 1956.

For those of us with children in the Metro Nashville Public Schools, the first day of school is just around the corner (August 6th, to be exact).

Even if you don’t have children going to school, you probably went to school yourself and can remember all the excitement and nervousness you felt about the first day and everything that went along with it: school supplies, new school clothes, your new teacher and who would be in your class.

Some of these ads and articles from the past seem to prove the adage, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

 

 

 

This sweet poem, “His First Day at School” by Mary Catherine Hews, is from the December 1901 issue of St. Nicholas, a children’s magazine. It reads:

“A pair of mittens, warm and red, New shoes that had shiny toes, A velvet cap for his curly head, And a tie of palest rose; A bag of books, a twelve-inch rule, And the daintiest hands in town–These were the things that went to school With William Herbert Brown.

A ragged mitten without a thumb, Two shoes that were scorched at the toes, A head that whirled with a dizzy hum Since the snowball hit his nose; A stringless bag, and a broken rule, And the dingiest hands in town–These were the things that came from school With happy ‘Billy’ Brown.”

 

 

 

This article, from the September 15th, 1947 issue of Life, recounts the summer activities of two school boys as they prepare to write the required “What I Did On My Vacation” composition.  The author calls this “one particularly dismal chore,” stating that “Recalling the summer is difficult as well as sad because in a schoolchild’s memory vacation is a warm and wonderful blank, spent mostly in just fooling around.”

These boys’ summer adventures included fishing, riding horses, swimming, frog gigging, practicing music, doing chores, and attending the town carnival.  There wasn’t a television or a video game to be found in this article, but if you add in a soccer game or two and eliminate the frog gigging, this summer vacation doesn’t seem terribly different from my kids’.

 

 

This Barcalounger ad from Life magazine of September 15, 1952 is fun, telling moms:

“It’s a great relief getting ‘em back to school . . . if you don’t drop dead in the process!  Time you get through washing, mending, sleeve-lengthening, and lunch-packing, you deserve a gold medal . . . or a Barcalounger!”

I don’t know of too many mothers, with or without a Barcalounger, who would (after getting their children off to school) pass up the opportunity to “Pour yourself a second cup of coffee.  Sit down, lean back, and relax.”

 

 

 

The little guy in this photo from Life magazine on October 5, 1962 seems to be staging a protest to the lesson, according to the caption, taught to all children on their very first day of school, “this is a regimented world.”

Check out some of  these education-related titles from our collection to help you prepare for the coming school year:

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character  by Paul Tough
What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know: Preparing Your Child for a Lifetime of Learning by E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer’s Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits  by Donalyn Miller
Help Your Kids with Math: A Unique Step-by-Step Visual Guide
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare  by Ken Ludwig

50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer

By , July 27, 2014

In the summer of 1964, around one thousand young people, mostly college students, mostly white, headed to Mississippi. Their goals seemed simple. Help black people to register to vote. Start community schools, libraries, and centers. They knew it would be tough. Mississippi law was not on their side.

Check out the full movie: Freedom Summer from Nashville Public Library

 

Freedom Summer by Susan Goldman Rubin

Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi 
by Susan Goldman Rubin

The disappearance of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner forms the backbone of this thoroughly researched book. Rubin conducted interviews with many of the students and leaders present in Mississippi during that summer, interweaving their stories with news accounts and other primary source documentation. The real treasures of the book, however, are the photographs. From frightening scenes of violence to the peaceful setting of children reading in a library, readers are able to viscerally connect with that long-ago summer.

Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell

The Freedom Summer Murders  
by Don Mitchell

Who were those three young men who were shot in a dark, secluded Mississippi woods? Their names and faces mobilized the first real government interference in Mississippi’s racist political system, but they did not set out to be heroes. Mitchell traces the early years of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, as well as the reactions of their families to their disappearance at the onset of Freedom Summer.

 

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

Freedom Summer  
by Deborah Wiles
illustrated by John Lagarrigue

John Henry swims better than anyone I know. He crawls like a catfish, blows bubbles like a swamp monster, but he doesn’t swim in the town pool with me. He’s not allowed. Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim. But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is. Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there…only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts.

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be  
by Augusta Scattergood

A Mississippi town in 1964 gets riled when tempers flare at the segregated public pool. As much as Gloriana June Hemphill, or Glory as everyone knows her, wants to turn twelve, there are times when Glory wishes she could turn back the clock a year. Jesslyn, her sister and former confidante, no longer has the time of day for her now that she’ll be entering high school. Then there’s her best friend, Frankie. Things have always been so easy with Frankie, and now suddenly they aren’t. Maybe it’s the new girl from the North that’s got everyone out of sorts. Or maybe it’s the debate about whether or not the town should keep the segregated public pool open.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Revolution  
by Deborah Wiles

Sunny is twelve-years-old as the summer of 1964 begins to bake her home in Greenwood, Mississippi. She’s already feeling overwhelmed by her new stepmother and her two kids, and now there’s talk of white people coming to stir up trouble for everyone. And sure enough, right away three Freedom Summer workers disappear. Violence hangs like a thundercloud over Greenwood, while Sunny frantically tries to understand who is right.

 

Freedom Summer by Bruce Watson

Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy 
by Bruce Watson

A majestic history of the summer of ’64, which forever changed race relations in America In the summer of 1964, with the civil rights movement stalled, seven hundred college students descended on Mississippi to register black voters, teach in Freedom Schools, and live in sharecroppers’ shacks. But by the time their first night in the state had ended, three volunteers were dead, black churches had burned, and America had a new definition of freedom. This remarkable chapter in American history is the subject of Bruce Watson’s thoughtful and riveting historical narrative.

Like a Holy Crusade by Nicolaus Mills

Like a Holy Crusade: Mississippi 1964 – The Turning of the Civil Rights Movement in America  
by Nicolaus Mills

We remember the Kennedy men of the 1960s as “the best and the brightest”; we celebrate the Mercury astronauts for having “the right stuff.” But, Mills writes, if anyone in the 1960s earned the right to be called heroes it was the men and women who risked their lives to carry out the Mississippi Summer Project. That summer took a terrible toll on staff, volunteers, and, above all, those black families who opened their homes to the movement. In the face of danger, courage was everywhere.

 

Freshwater Road by Denise Nichols

Freshwater Road  
by Denise Nichols

Nineteen-year-old Celeste Tyree leaves Ann Arbor to go to Pineyville, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964 to help found a voter registration project as part of Freedom Summer. As the summer unfolds, she confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also deep truths about her family and herself.

 

 

Mississippi Burning (movie) Mississippi Burning (DVD)

Two FBI agents investigate the deaths of civil rights workers in a Mississippi town. Tension is caused by the discovery of a local coverup.

Directed by Alan Parker. With Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, and Brad Dourif.

 

Neshoba (movie)

 Neshoba: The Price of Freedom (DVD)

The story of a Mississippi town forty years after the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, an event dramatized in the Oscar-winning film Mississippi Burning. No one was held accountable until 2005, when the State indicted preacher Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old notorious racist and mastermind of the murders.

Directed by Micki Dickoff and Tony Pagano

 

The Nashville Room at the Nashville Public Library’s Main Branch has many resources on the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these books are unique and hard to find. Below is a list of books available in the Nashville Room. These books cannot be checked out.

Letters from Mississippi

Letters from Mississippi: Reports from the Civil Rights Volunteers and Freedom School Poetry of the 1964 Freedom Summer  
ed. by Elizabeth Martinez

800 students gathered for a week-long orientation session at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, in June, 1964, before leaving for Mississippi. They were mostly white and young, with an average age of 21. Letters from Mississippi is a collection of moving, personal letters written by volunteers of the summer.

And Gently He Shall Lead Them

And Gently He Shall Lead Them: Robert Parris Moses and Civil Rights in Mississippi  
by Eric Burner

Moses spent almost three years in Mississippi trying to awaken the state”s black citizens to their moral and legal rights before the fateful summer of 1964 would thrust him and the Freedom Summer movement into the national spotlight. This first biography, a primer in the life of a unique American, sheds significant light on the intellectual and philosophical worldview of a man who is rarely seen but whose work is always in evidence.

Freedom Summer - Belfrage

Freedom Summer 
by Sally Belfrage

Published in 1965, Belfrage recounts her time participating in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s summer project in Mississippi in 1964. The text covers one intense summer from the basic training session in June to the Democratic Convention in August.
 
Faces of Freedom SummerFaces of Freedom Summer
text by Bobs M. Tusa
photographs by Herbert Randall

These rare photographs re-create the exhilaration and danger of Freedom Summer in 1964 Mississippi.

David Baldacci – The Finisher

By , July 26, 2014

David Baldacci discusses The Finisher, his first fantasy novel for young readers. This author talk was recorded July 10, 2014. David Baldacci appeared as part of the continuing Salon@615 author series.

Learn more about Salon@615 and view upcoming author visits at  salonat615.org

Listen to the Archived Recording

Download MP3 audio

Subscribe to Salon@615 podcast

The Fashions of Turn

By , July 24, 2014

AMC’s hit new series Turn has created a renewed interest in the colonial period including its fashions. Turn, based on Alexander Rose’s book Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring, tells the story of the Culper Ring and the part they played in aiding  the colonies’ liberation from England.  Turn’s Emmy award winning costume designer Donna Zakowska, makes the show’s colonial period fashions sophisticated in a contemporary way.

The library has many amazing books in its fashion history collection. If you would like to learn more about the clothing worn during the colonial period then you may want to take a look at the following titles:

 

The History of American Dress: the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods

By  Alexander Wyckoff

This oldie but goodie is packed with rich historical details depicting the clothing worn by men, women and children during the American Revolution. Drawings showcase every aspect of the clothing worn, from the men’s wigs, to the shape of the heel on children’s shoes. This book is a must read for fashion history fans.

 

  Everyday Dress of Rural America, 1783-1800: with Instructions and Patterns

By Merideth Wright

This slim volume is a “comprehensive study of late-18th-century clothing worn by the settlers of New England. Features full descriptions and line drawings with complete instructions for duplicating a wide range of garments from: shifts, petticoats, gowns, breeches, waistcoats and headgear.”

 

 Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries

By Avril Hart and Susan North

This book is filled with large, beautiful, color photographs of fashions from the historical costume collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Each featured piece includes a detailed photo and description of the item and a drawing of the garment to better understand its overall construction. This book is amazing don’t miss it!

 

 What Clothes Reveal: the Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America: the Colonial Williamsburg Collection

by  Linda Baumgarten

“Drawing on the costumes and accessories in the Colonial Williamsburg collection, Linda Baumgarten examines how Americans of all classes dressed in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Topics range from the work clothes of slaves to the elegant, high-style attire of the gentry. What people wore during significant life passages and the social contexts of such apparel are fully and engagingly discussed.”  This book features tons of lovely photographs of American colonial fashions.

 

 

-Karen

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Costume Dramas of the Last Twenty Years

By , July 24, 2014

My love of fashion began when I was six years old. I watched Walt Disney’s Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and saw ladies wearing ball gowns. I was hooked, to this day I love nothing more than a film filled with beautiful clothes.   With that being said, here is a list of my favorite costume dramas of the last 20 years……

 

   

 A Royal Affair (2012) “The story of a passionate and forbidden romance between the royal physician and the Queen.”  German with English subtitles.

 

 

 

 Bright Star (2009) “19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, share an unstoppable love.”

 

 

 

 Coco Before Chanel (2009) “Years after being abandoned at an orphanage by her father, Gabrielle Chanel finds a job in a tailor shop and begins making hats.”  French with English subtitles.

 

 

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009) “By the 1920s, Coco Chanel has established herself in the world of fashion. After a disastrous reaction to an early production of his Rite of Spring ballet, Igor Stravinsky has become a penniless refugee living in exile. When the two are introduced, the attraction is immediate.”  French with English subtitles.

 

 

 Dangerous Liaisons (1988)  “Set in 18th century France, this is the story of two bored aristocrats and the havoc they wreak when they play dangerous games with people’s lives.”

 

 

Doctor Zhivago (2002)  “War and revolution bring poet and physician Yury Zhivago together with the beautiful Lara.”

 

 

Elizabeth (1998) ”In 1554 young  Elizabeth Tudor comes to the throne amidst bloody turmoil.”

 

 

 

Forsyte Saga (2002)   “The family life and loves of an upper–middle–class Victorian family.”

 

 

 

 Frida (2002) “The life of artist Frida Kahlo, from her humble upbringing to her worldwide fame and controversy that surrounded both her and her husband, Diego Rivera.”

 

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) “17-year-old Griet must work to support her family, becoming a maid in the house of Johannes Vermeer.”

 

 

 Great Gatsby (2013) “A would-be writer Nick Carraway leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922 and lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby.”

 

 

Marie Antoinette (2006) “The story of young Marie Antoinette of France.”

 

 

 

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) “In 1929, an impoverished girl is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto.”

 

 

Pride and Prejudice (2005) “Mr. Bennet is an English gentleman living in Hartfordshire with his overbearing wife and 5 daughters.”

 

 

Renoir (2012) “Set on the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Jean Renoir — son of the Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste — returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I.”  French with English subtitles.

 

 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011) “Centuries ago, two ‘sworn sisters’ are separated by their families, but stay connected through a secret language written in the folds of a white silk fan.” In Mandarin with English subtitles.

 

 

Titanic (1997) “Two people from different classes meet and fall in love on the brief, tragic maiden voyage of the grand ocean liner Titanic.”

 

 

Wings of the Dove (1997) “A young society woman must choose between a life of ease and her lover.”

 

 

Young Victoria (2012) “Chronicles the life and times of Queen Victoria from her childhood to her early rise to power and the first turbulent years of her rule.”

 

 

-Karen

 

 

 

Popmatic Podcast July 23, 2014: The Fault in Our Social Media Stars

By , July 23, 2014


Neil GaimanJohn Green made himself famous by using social media (and by writing great books). We clue you in on the best authors and musicians who are active on the interwebs: who’s real, who’s funny, who’s fake, who’s a train wreck, etc. Be sure to put your faves in the comments. And what is tickling our fancy this month. The team convinces me not to talk about copyright.

SOCIAL MEDIA STARLETS

John Green at NPL

John Green on twitter

John Green on youtube

Neil Gaiman at NPL

Neil Gaiman’s blog

Neil Gaiman on twitter

Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming” by Neil Gaiman

Mother, Wife, Sister, Human, Warrior, Falcon, Yardstick, Turban, Cabbage by Rob Delaney

Rob Delaney on twitter

George Takei at NPL

George Takei on twitter

George Takei on facebook

Try! Live in Concert by John Mayer Trio

John Mayer’s whole catalog on Freegal

John Mayer on twitter

Cherie Priest at NPL

Cherie Priest’s blog

Cherie Priest on twitter

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Amanda Palmer on twitter

Moz is not on twitter.

Kanye New Yorker tweets

Josh Groban sings Kanye tweets

Nick Offerman reads tweets from young female celebrities.

Celebrities read mean tweets about themselves.

TICKLING OUR FANCY

Bao Down Nashville food truck

Night Time is the Right Time” performed by Ray Charles

Cosby Show Season 2 Episode 3 “Happy Anniversary”

Snowpiercer

Forever For Now by LP

Live on the Green

War by Sebastian Junger

Bettie Page Reveals All

The Notorious Bettie Page

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Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

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