Adult Book News
Ready for their close-ups!
Books to Movies - 89th Academy Awards
On Sunday, February 26, Hollywood royalty will be parading and posing on the red carpet just before the annual awards show which will bestow honors on films made in 2016, and the actors and personnel who created them. Many of the Oscar-nominated films are based on books, both fiction and non-fiction.
And the books/nominees are:
Arrival - based on Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Elle - based on Oh by Philippe Djian
Fences by August Wilson
Florence Foster Jenkins: The Inspiring True Story of the World’s Worst Singer, by Nicholas Martin and Jasper Rees
Lion - based on A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Nocturnal Animals - based on Tony and Susan by Austin Wright
I am not your Negro - based on Remember This House by James Baldwin
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Sully - based on Highest Duty by Chesley Sullenberger
Rogue One, A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed
Silence by Shusaku Endo
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander/J. K. Rowling
New Interest in Classic Dystopian Fiction
The New York Times reports that Orwell's classic about a future world where a totalitarian government controls not only the news but also the thoughts of its citizens has seen an uptick in sales in the past month, rising to the top of the Amazon best-seller list. The publisher, Penguin USA, has ordered more copies printed, explaining that demand picked up after an advisor to President Trump referred to "alternative facts" during an interview on Meet the Press. The phrase reminded readers of several terms created by Orwell to describe the manipulation of information by the ruling regime, words like "newspeak," and "doublethink." According to a London editor for Penguin Books, dystopian novels are "chiming with people" right now. Other classic futuristic novels, like The Man in the High Castle by Philip Dick, Orwell's Animal Farm, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood are also resonating with readers uneasy over recent current events. Sales have surged for each along with another older book, It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, about "a bellicose presidential candidate who runs on a populist platform in the United States but turns out to be a fascist demagogue." (New York Times). The speculation is that readers are turning to these older books as sources for understanding the dramatic political changes taking place now, or for comfort in the fact that "things could be worse."
Major March Books
The top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love
This monthly list is created by librarians and library staff to help connect readers to new books and authors. An online community of librarians vote each month on their favorite new books and the results are tallied. "The list is a straightforward calculation: whichever ten books get the most nominations go onto the monthly list. The book with the most nominations becomes the #1 Pick. It’s as simple as that." The list is not meant to be a "best" list - just a list of collective favorites - books librarians loved and want to share.
#1 for March 2017:
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
Samuel Hawley isn't like the other fathers in Olympus, Massachusetts. A loner who spent years living on the run, he raised his daughter, Loo, on the road, moving from motel to motel, always watching his back. Now that Loo's a teenager, Hawley wants only to give her a normal life. In his late wife's hometown, he finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at the local high school.She also grows more and more curious about the death of the mother she never knew. Soon, everywhere she turns, she encounters the mysteries of her parents' lives before she was born. This hidden past is made all the more real by the twelve scars her father carries on his body. Each scar is from a bullet Hawley took over the course of his criminal career. Each is a memory: of another place on the map, another thrilling close call, another moment of love lost and found. As Loo uncovers a history that's darker than she could have known, the demons of her father's past spill over into the present--and together both Hawley and Loo must face a reckoning yet to come. "This is a convincingly redemptive and celebratory novel: an affirmation of the way that heroism and human fallibility coexist, of how good parenting comes in unexpected packages, and of the way that we are marked by our encounters with each other and the luminous universe in which we dwell." (Publishers Weekly)
February is African American History Month
"We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated."
Initially started in 1926 as Negro History Week, the commemoration of the struggles and achievements of African Americans in America was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1976. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Every president since has proclaimed February as African American History Month in order to honor the importance of contributions made by African American citizens to our society. Several months ago, on September 24, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution, opened to the public amid rave reviews. It is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. The museum has welcomed over 750,000 visitors since the opening, with passes still somewhat difficult to get.
Literature is another way to examine the African American experience; African American authors have made major contributions to our collective culture and national discourse. You can explore these contributions in recent books:
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Winner of the fourth annual John Leonard Prize, (at the National Book Awards) for an outstanding first book in any genre, Gyasi's novel is the tale of two half-sisters born in 18th century Ghana who experience vastly different lives. Effia will be married off to an English colonial, and will live in comfort in the Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned in the castle's dungeon, and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, the saga examines the impact of the slave trade on each generation of the sisters' families.
Lazaretto by Diane McKinney-Whetstone
The Lazaretto hospital, located on an island in the Delaware River, is a crucible of life and death; sick passengers and corpses are quarantined here, but this is also the place where immigrants take their first steps toward the American dream. The live-in staff are mostly black Philadelphians, who have created a strong community there, and when two of them arrange to marry, the city's black citizens prepare for a party on the grounds. But the celebration is plunged into chaos when gunshots ring out across the river. A white man has fired at a boat carrying the couple’s friends and family to the island, and the captain is injured. His life lies in the hands of Sylvia, the Lazaretto’s head nurse, who is shocked to realize she knows the patient. "This latest of McKinney-Whetstone's completely engaging novels, (is) a unique blend of poetic language and graphic depictions of the injustices suffered by African Americans in the post-Civil War period." (Booklist)
Charcoal Joe: An Easy Rawlins Mystery by Walter Mosley
In L.A. in the late 1960s, Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins finds his life in transition. He's ready--finally--to propose to his girlfriend, Bonnie Shay, and start a life together. And he's taken the money he got from his last case and, together with two partners, Saul Lynx and Tinsford "Whisper" Natly, has started a new detective agency. But, inevitably, a case gets in the way: Easy's friend Mouse requests a favor and introduces him to Rufus Tyler, a very old man everyone calls Charcoal Joe. Joe's friend's son, Seymour (young, bright, top of his class in physics at Stanford), has been arrested and charged with the murder of a white man from Redondo Beach. Joe tells Easy he will pay and pay well to see this young man exonerated, but seeing as how Seymour literally was found standing over the man's dead body at his cabin home, and considering the racially charged motives seemingly behind the murder, that might prove to be a tall order. This is no small favour. It's going to be Easy's deadliest investigation yet.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything--until it wasn't. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they roamed the neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant--a part of a future that belonged to them. But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion. Woodson heartbreakingly illuminates the formative period when a child meets adulthood, when precious innocence meets the all-too-real perils of growing up. A National Book Award finalist.
New Year, New Challenge
The website POPSUGAR has issued the challenge: to expand and diversify your reading for the new year, try the list of 40 prompts guaranteed to help you find books you might otherwise overlook. As the site explains, "the reading challenge is made up of a variety of ideas to mix up your reading choices. ... Maybe you'll even discover a new favoirite book by trying something unexpected." The list is fun and fanciful, starting with a book recommended by a librarian, and including a book with a red spine, a steampunk novel, a book with a cat on the cover, a book set during wartime, a book set in a hotel, a book of letters, a book with multiple authors, a book set around a holiday other than Christmas, a book that is a story within a story, a book involving a mythical creature, and a book set in two different time periods. Check out the rest of the list here. You can also join the Goodreads group for people participating in the challenge and join the book discussions there. Consider challenging your book group or friends to complete the list - it's another great way to find that next great read.
Tales of Wonder
January 2 is National Science Fiction Day
Why January 2nd? It's the birthday of Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), the preeminent and prolific science fiction author and master of "hard science fiction." Best known for his Foundation and Robot (I, Robot) series, Asimov published over 500 books over his long career and won every science fiction award possible. Asimov's work influenced generations of science fiction writers and was instrumental in elevating the genre from the fringe of pulp magazines to the literary mainstream.
In honor of the day, why not try another of the canonical writers of American science fiction? Literary icon Ursula Le Guin, winner of scores of science fiction writing awards, one of the few women to be named Grandmaster of Science Fiction, and the recipient of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014, has issued a collection of her novellas this year: The Found and the Lost : the collected novellas of Ursula K. LeGuin. The volume contains 13 of Le Guin's novellas with an introduction by the author. "With this astonishing volume, Le Guin demonstrates that she is just as relevant and thought-provoking as ever. No former knowledge of her works is necessary to delve into this remarkable writing, just an open mind with a desire to be filled. Pair this with the reissued The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin, and the author's many admirers will be in heaven." (Library Journal)
You know my methods, Watson.
The long-awaited new season of Sherlock, the contemporary adaptation loosely based on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories, begins with the first of three episodes on Sunday January 1, on PBS. The last season ended with Watson's wedding, Mary's pregnancy, and Sherlock's seeming banishment from England. But is Moriarty still alive? As the show's press release puts it. "Season four begins with the mercurial Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), back once more on British soil as Doctor Watson (Martin Freeman) and his wife Mary (Amanda Abbington) prepare for their biggest challenge yet: becoming parents. ...Ghosts of the past are rising in the lives of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and terror and tragedy are looming. This is the story we’ve been telling from the beginning and it’s about to reach its climax.”
Want to do a deeper dive into Sherlockian lore?
Billed as the largest collection of Sherlockian tales ever assembled, this anthology contains 83 stories, pastiches, parodies, and mysteries, all based on the great tales by Arthur Conan Doyle. Published over a span of more than a hundred years, the selections feature pitch-perfect cases by acclaimed modern-day Sherlockians Leslie S. Klinger, Laurie R. King, Lyndsay Faye and Daniel Stashower; pastiches by literary luminaries both classic (P. G. Wodehouse, Dorothy B. Hughes, Kingsley Amis) and current (Anne Perry, Stephen King, Colin Dexter); and parodies by Conan Doyle's contemporaries A. A. Milne, James M. Barrie, and O. Henry, not to mention genre-bending cases by science-fiction greats Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock. "This is the only book of its kind to collect so many pastiches dedicated to Holmes, 83 total. Fans of the fictional detective will find great joy in this tome." (Library Journal)
Star Wars Princess
Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)
Actresss and author Carrie Fisher passed away Tuesday, December 27 after a heart attack late last week. Born in Hollywood to celebrity parents Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she was brought up in the entertainment industry, working on stage and in movies as a teenager. Best known (and loved) for portraying the competent and spirited Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, Fisher was also an accomplished screenwriter, author, and humorist. She published five novels, numerous screenplays, and several memoirs, all punctuated with her characteristic wit and irreverence. Her comic, semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards From the Edge, was adapted for film and starred Meryl Streep as the troubled daughter of a famous actress mother. Fisher's most recent book, a memoir, The Princess Diarist, was published this year with the juicy details of her experiences during the filming of the Star Wars movies. In her book Wishful Drinking, she suggested her own epitaph,"I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra," which was based on a discussion with George Lucas about why Princess Leia could not wear a bra in space (lack of gravity). The New York Times memorialized Fisher as "a Princess, a Rebel, and a Brave Comic Voice."
A Little Holiday Love
Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this festive fairy tale of New York. Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she's given an opportunity to decorate a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. The owner, bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade, is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife's death looming, he's isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn't appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings.. "Sexy, touching, and often hilarious,.." (Library Journal)
Books to Movies - December 2016
Now (or soon) playing:
Nocturnal Animals/Tony and Susan by Austin Wright
This thriller is based on Wright's 1993 novel which wasn't a huge hit when first published, but got fresh life in a later reprint that caught director Tom Ford's attention. The story starts with Susan Morrow, who left her first husband, Edward Sheffield, an unpublished writer, fifteen years ago. Now, she's enduring middle class suburbia as a doctor's wife, when out of the blue she receives a package containing the manuscript of her ex-husband's first novel. He writes asking her to read the book. As Susan reads, she is drawn into the fictional life of Tony Hastings, a math professor driving his family to their summer house in Maine. As the Hastings' ordinary, civilized lives are disastrously and violently sent off course, Susan is plunged back into the past, reflecting on her life with Tony and the collapse of their marriage. The film stars Amy Adams, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Silence by Shusaku Endo
Director Martin Scorcese labored for years to bring this 1966 novel to the screen. Endo's tale is set in seventeenth-century Japan where two Portuguese Jesuit priests, seeking their mentor, travel to a country hostile to their religion, as feudal lords force the Christian faithful to publicly renounce their beliefs. Eventually captured and forced to watch their Japanese Christian brothers lay down their lives for their faith, the priests bear witness to unimaginable cruelties that test their own beliefs. Shusaku Endo is one of the most celebrated and well-known Japanese fiction writers of the twentieth century and the book garnered critical praise when published. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson and opens on December 23.
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
Written and produced by Ben Affleck, and based on Lehane's 2012 crime novel, this film is scheduled for a limited opening on December 25. Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island, Gone, Baby, Gone) has written an historical, set in the 1920s and 1930s, with the story following Joe Coughlin, the prodigal son of a Boston police captain. During Prohibition, Joe defies his strict law-and-order upbringing to climb the ladder of organized crime as a bootlegger, rum-runner, and later a gangster, as he moves from Boston to Florida and then to Cuba where he settles down, marries, and builds a criminal empire in the illegal rum trade. However, nothing lasts forever amid a dangerous cast of characters who are all fighting for their piece of the American dream. The film stars Affleck and Elle Fanning.