This blog has moved

By , May 3, 2016

This blog has moved to library.nashville.org/blog

 

The Nashville Public Library blog has moved to library.nashville.org/blog. This site will no longer be updated, but you can still access the archive.

Visit the new site to see what we’re reading and uncover new titles and read-a-likes. Plus, get recommendations from our weekly round-table discussion, the Popmatic Podcast.

 

Go to the New Blog

Prince (1958-2016)

By , April 21, 2016

Musician Prince
Prince, the Artist formerly known as Prince, aka Prince Rogers Nelson has died at age 57.

The Minneapolis native sold more than 100 million records during his career, won seven Grammy awards, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. He started writing songs at age 7 and is best known for hits “Raspberry Beret,” “1999,” and “Little Red Corvette.”

Prince won seven Grammys, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award for the best Original Song Score for Purple Rain. Rolling Stone magazine named Prince number 27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all time.

The 1984 film, Purple Rain, is regarded as one of the great rock musical drama films of all time. The soundtrack was the first Prince album to chart at number one and featured “When Doves Cry”…..which we can expect to be hearing again and again and again in days to come.

Prince remade genres and mixed influences from funk, rock, and R&B. His unique onstage performances showcased his supreme musical talent and mastery of vocals, guitar, keyboards, and drums that mesmerized fans for over three decades. His 2007 Super Bowl performance introduced a new generation of fans to his genius.

Prince performed at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta last Thursday night – the second of two back to back sold out shows. Prince made what is believed to have been his final public appearance on Saturday at a dance party in Minnesota.

- Laurie

Honoring Merle Haggard

By , April 7, 2016

Merle Haggard album coverHis mama’s name was Flossie.

He hopped his first train at age 10.

His second wife served as a bridesmaid at his third wedding.

No wonder Merle Haggard wrote some of country music’s greatest songs.

“Workin’ Man Blues” and “Mama Tried” and “Okie From Muskogee” the list goes on….

Hundreds of recordings by this Country Music Hall of Famer and Kennedy Center Honor recipient are available in the Nashville Public Library collection.

See the library’s collection of works by Merle Haggard.

Download an album from Hoopla (free with your library card)

Listen on Freegal (free with your library card)

- Laurie

Book Review: Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of King, Virile Lovers and Passionate Politics

By , November 30, 2015

Sex with the Queen book coverSex with the Queen: 900 Years of King, Virile Lovers and Passionate Politics
by Eleanor Herman

What’s a girl to do when she has to leave her home, move to a strange country, and marry a man she’s never met? What can any woman do when she finds herself miles away from everything she knows, hemmed in on all sides by intrigue and shackled to a man who may be old, ugly, diseased, a drooling imbecile or all four at once? If she’s a queen, she might just take a handsome lover!

Eleanor Herman’s fast-paced, readable account of royal ladies and their paramours can boast that there is never a dull moment in any of its nearly 300 pages. From doomed Anne Boleyn, sent to the block for adultery she never committed to the scandals surrounding Princess Diana of Wales, Herman gives us the triumphs and tragedies of some of the most powerful women in history. Catherine the Great’s lovers were so numerous that her enemies whispered that no man could satisfy her; she took partners at will, even after she fell in love with the brilliant Gregory Potemkin. By contrast, Marie Antoinette of France had only one: the Swedish Count Axel Fersen, but the French people were much less accommodating than the Russians.

Some of these royal studs were an asset to the women they loved and some were not. Johann Von Struensee, lover of Queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark, is credited with helping bring his country into the modern age. During the 18th century, many of Denmark’s laws still dated from medieval times. Struensee advised King Christian VII to update them and streamlined much of the official government bureaucracy. The King, almost completely insane due to a combination of alcoholism, inbreeding and continual beatings at the hands of his tutors when he was a child, was delighted to leave the business of ruling the kingdom to his wife and Struensee. Unfortunately, the queen and her lover were toppled by a coup and Struensee executed.

At the other end of the scale, many of Catherine the Great’s lovers were mere boy-toys. She chose them for their looks and paid them off when she was tired of them. Caroline of Brunswick, wife of King George IV of England had numerous affairs, but none of them were of much help when the King finally decided to divorce her and humiliated her by having her locked out of his coronation ceremony.

Whether help, hindrance, or deadly mistake, a lover helped make life bearable for a Queen. Despite her wealth and position, she had nothing to call her own. When a princess married, her lands and money became the property of her husband. Her children were the property of the Crown, often raised in separate households away from her. Most of the time, she was not even allowed to bring waiting-women or other servants from her homeland. The price for riches and power was unbearable loneliness.

Author Herman does not spare anyone’s character. Some queens were wise and kind, others vain and silly; some lovers were politically brilliant and others a disaster, but whatever the case, she casts a warm glow of sympathy as she describes the gilded cages that housed the royal women of Europe. In giving rich and full descriptions of their captivity, Herman encourages her readers to empathize with a group of people almost nobody empathizes with: the rich and powerful. Gilded the cages might be; but a Queen was never in doubt of the strength of the bars.

- A J

How to be a Heroine or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much

By , October 30, 2015

How to Be a Heroine Book CoverHow to be a Heroine or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much
by Samantha Ellis

Dedicated readers always have a collection of books they love. These are the books we read until they fall apart, the ones with dog-eared pages, creases and notes in the margins. They contain the stories that resonate so powerfully we never forget them.

In her delightful memoir How to Be a Heroine or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much, playwright Samantha Ellis revisits the stories that shaped her development as a woman and a writer, paying homage to the those literary heroines who became her muses. From Sleeping Beauty to Sylvia Plath, Ellis’ heroines were role models, each with a lesson Ellis wanted to learn. “I was reading the story of my life” she notes. “I [read] to find out what kind of woman I might want to be.”

Or not to be. As a little girl, the Iraqi-Jewish Ellis longed for Sleeping Beauty’s flowing blonde hair, until she grew old enough to realize that Sleeping Beauty doesn’t really do anything. Later, as an adult, Ellis realized that despite her lifelong adoration of the passionate Cathy Earnshaw from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Cathy lives neither wisely nor well. She marries Edgar Linton for money and then spends her marriage letting Edgar know that she never stopped loving Heathcliff. She dies and winds up a ghost.

As part of an argument with a close friend, Ellis found herself comparing Wuthering Heights to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. She noticed that Jane stays true to herself; her conscience and character are strongly formed, and together they give her the strength to leave Rochester, the man she adores, when he wants to make her his mistress. Even though she goes through great hardship, Jane survives, carves out a life for herself and eventually does marry him. “My whole life I’d been trying to be Cathy” Ellis muses, “When I should have been trying to be Jane.”

These examples and many more make for a whimsical and often poignant memoir. Ellis isn’t afraid to admit she’s wrong. As a college student, her favorite heroine was Esther Greenwood, the protagonist of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Like Esther, she longed to come apart, to have a transformative experience of suffering. When she developed an epileptic medical condition, she considered her seizures her rite of passage: “This is, above all, what I got from The Bell Jar: the idea that you had to suffer to be a woman.” Ruefully, Ellis came to realize that she found nothing either educational or liberating about not being able to control her own body: “My seizures haven’t made me virtuous or cheerful…there is just the tedious business of getting through suffering, day after day…” She still enjoys Esther Greenwood’s rise out of madness, but she no longer has any illusions about it.

If there is any flaw in this gem of a book, it’s Ellis’ tendency to criticize her heroines for not being feminist enough, but she is wise enough to realize that even though none of her heroines are perfect (Cathy Earnshaw and Scarlett O’ Hara are anything but!), they each had something to teach her, something that helped her to become who she is. The job of a heroine–or hero–is to do just that.

- A.J.

Parents, Launch an Early Love of Learning and Technology

By , October 15, 2015

picture of a launchpad tabletLike many parents, I experience pangs of guilt when I can’t tear my kids away from screens. Sometimes I ease that guilt by telling myself they might be learning something while watching inane Minecraft videos on the laptop or playing Angry Birds on my phone for the umpteenth time. But now that the library has Launchpads, parents can be confident that tablet time is indeed educational.

Launchpads are durable, kid-friendly tablets, pre-loaded with educational apps. They’re available at every library location and you can borrow them (that’s right, you can take these home!) for two weeks at a time. The apps on each tablet are themed to different age levels and interests, and you can place holds on specific themes like “Wild for Words” or “Dragons, Monsters and Dinosaurs.”

Eager to try out the library’s fancy new tablets on my own test subjects, my two boys, I checked out the “Monkey See, Monkey Do!” Launchpad, recommended for ages 3-5.

two kids playing with Launchpad

Both boys loved being able to create their own avatars and then use those avatars to log in over the course of our checkout period. I appreciated the parent analysis screen, which tracked what games they enjoyed and excelled at.

launchpad dashboard

Launchpads come encased in durable rubber casing, which helps them to stand up to children’s enthusiastic “playing”. Each tablet is bundled with a charger and instructions in a handy carrying case. The tablet’s battery life seems to last a solid two hours before needing a charge.

As thrilled as I am for my boys to try out all the different themes and apps, I’m even more excited for what this means for Nashville’s children who don’t have access to technology at home. No peripheral software or other computers are needed—the Launchpad is self-contained and ready to use by anyone with a Nashville Public Library card.

Launchpads were purchased thanks to a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Browse Launchpad Titles

9 Gen-X / Millennial Childhood Favorites

By , August 7, 2015

I’m right on the cusp of the whole Gen-X / Millennial transition, as are several of my coworkers. We were lamenting the fact that many of our beloved childhood favorites now have unappealing covers!

The following titles are just a few of the books I remember reading and loving as a child. I often recommend them to children and parents. But the cover designs from the 1990’s and 80’s, and sometimes earlier, make them a hard sell to the kids who are used to a more cartoon-like illustration style.

I hope you can peruse this list and find a much-loved treasure to offer a child in your life. In fact, read the story out loud to them (keeping the front covered) until they’re so in love with the book they can’t wait to find out what happens next. They’ll tell all their friends. We’ll start a new trend of retro reads.

Beezus and Ramona cover

Beezus and Ramona, by Beverly Cleary

Little House in the Big Woods cover

Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Cricket in Times Square cover

The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden

Encyclopedia Brown cover

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald Sobol

The Boxcar Children cover

The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Mixed Up Files cover

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing cover

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume

Best Christmas Pageant cover

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

Pippi Longstocking cover

Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren

What do you think? Did I miss some of your favorites? Mention them in the comments and maybe we’ll blog about them next time!

- Terri

Legends of Film: Peter Medak

By , March 28, 2015


The Hunchback of Notre Dame - movie posterDuring this episode of Legends of Film we talk to director Peter Medak. Mr. Medak’s film credits include The Ruling Class, The Krays, and the upcoming Movies @ Main feature The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Medak discusses working with notable actors such as Glenda Jackson and Helen Mirren, his experience directing episodes of two critically acclaimed TV series: Hannibal and Breaking Bad, and finally, his justification for making another film adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

See The Hunchback of Notre Dame on Saturday April 11, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at the Nashville Public Library, downtown.

Subscribe to Legends of Film podcast (feedburner).

Legends of Film: Randy Jurgensen

By , February 24, 2014

During this episode we talk to retired New York City police officer Randy Jurgensen, technical advisor on the film set of this month’s Movies @ Main feature Report to the Commissioner. Jurgensen explains his role as technical advisor and talks about his on-screen part as the shooter of Sonny Corleone in The Godfather and his work on the movie The French Connection (including the case that inspired the film.)

Book review: Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World At War, 1941

By , December 12, 2011

Pearl Harbor ChristmasPearl Harbor Christmas: A World At War, 1941
by Stanley Weintraub

Christmas 1941 found the whole world immersed in war and the United States still stunned by the shock of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Stanley Weintraub’s Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World At War, December 1941, describes this single month, a sliver of time, as we prepared to fight a long, costly war that defined a century and continues to shape our world. It makes a nice vacation read and includes well known and not so well known stories about that time.

On December 13th Winston Churchill boarded the Duke of York, beginning a treacherous journey across the Atlantic, reaching Washington on the night of December 22. He sat down to a simple late night supper with President Roosevelt who made a toast to “our common cause.” In the days that followed many the great figures of that war, men who would become household names, met day and night to create the glimmer of a plan to defeat the Axis powers. At the very same time, in other parts of the world, the allies faced defeat, losing the Philippines, Malaysia and points across the Pacific to the Japanese. Hong Kong surrendered to the Japanese on Christmas Day, the same day Admiral Chester A Nimitz arrived at Pearl Harbor to assume command of the Pacific Fleet.

The day after Christmas an armored car pulled up to the loading dock at the Library of Congress to deliver the precious documents of the founding of our country, carefully packed, to a train that would take them to Ft. Knox for safekeeping. On New Year’s Eve a ship carrying soldiers wounded at Pearl Harbor sailed into San Francisco. The next day The Joint Declaration of War Aims was signed by 26 nations at the White House. The world was at war.

In this short, 200 page book, Weintraub sets the stage for this defining era in history.

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