Friday Reads: Rise of the Rocket Girls

 

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

This week the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club discussed Rise of the Rocket Girls:  the women who propelled us, from missiles to the moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt.  Even though the we had a small group, only 5 as opposed to our typical 10, we had a spirited discussion and enjoyed many laughs while we dissected this interesting book.

Both a New York Times and a Los Angeles Times hardcover nonfiction best seller and an Amazon best book of April, 2016, Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the story of a tight-knit group of women who were human computers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California from the 1950s up to the present day.  Combining both the math and technology they worked with, as well as their personal lives, Holt aims to inspire women in the sciences by holding up these important, but little known women, as role models.

At a time when only 20% of women entered the work force and were limited to only a few occupations, which they had to leave when they became pregnant, this unusual group thrived in an intense and pioneering work environment.  Their every calculation needed to be done quickly and accurately.  They worked long, fast-paced hours, sometimes spending the night in the lab.  But somehow, some women still managed to keep a marriage afloat and raise a family too.   They were respected by the men at JPL for their accomplishments and eventually, as their roles changed from computing to designing, given the new titles of engineers.

If this sounds a bit like that movie that was nominated for three Oscars and won the Screen Actors Guild Award earlier this year, you are not entirely mistaken.  That movie was Hidden Figures and it was based on a book also about a group of women doing the same thing at the same time, but on the opposite coast.  Whereas the JPL group was primarily white with one black woman and a few Asian women, the Hidden Figures group was all black.

We will be reading Hidden Figures: the American dream and the untold story of the black women mathematicians who helped with the space race by Margot Lee Shetterly next and during our discussion on Thursday, September 7, we will also compare the two books.  If you would like to join us, pick up a copy of Hidden Figures at the reference desk.

 

 

Friday Reads: Book Club Central

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

Today’s post is a little different than usual as I’ll be highlighting a new website of interest to readers, rather than a book or magazine in our library.   Book club members read on … let me tell you about Book Club Central (www.bookclubcentral.org).

This website was created with the help of librarians (“Expert librarians,” according to the press release, but really, is there any other type of librarian?), to give the reading public an all-you-can eat buffet of helpful recommendations for a great book club.

Launched in late June by the American Library Association, this new resource boasts actress Sarah Jessica Parker as its honorary co-chair.  If you are wondering why, it is because Parker is also a library supporter and avid reader, dating back to her childhood.  Look for her book recommendations featured under the tab, “SJP Picks.”  Her first recommendation is No One is Coming to Save Us, by Stephanie Powell Watts (see photo.)

Under the tab, “How to Book Club,” leaders will find advice about what to have in mind when selecting books for a club, how to lead a great discussion and how to troubleshoot a book club gone awry.  Readers looking for a book club to join will get tips on places to search, such as their local library or book store.

The “Find Books for Clubs” tab is the place to go for the latest book recommendations, reviews and author interviews.  I will say here, that most recommendations are for novels and they don’t make it easy to find nonfiction book recommendations, but they do exist.

You can find Book Club Central at bookclubcentral.org, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

 

Friday Reads: The New York Times – Large Print Weekly

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

BREAKING NEWS!

Falmouth Public Library now carries The New York Times Large Print Weekly.

If you have been frustrated with the tiny print of the daily New York Times, or given it up altogether, then you will be relieved to learn there is a large print edition in 16-point type for easier reading.

The large print weekly comes out on Mondays and contains a “full range of content from the past week’s Times.”  It includes world and national news, business, science and health, the arts, sports, and editorials.

You can find the large print weekly next to the regular print edition in our reading room.

Did you know, we also carry the large print edition of The Reader’s Digest and back issues can be checked out.

If you have any suggestions for other large print newspapers or magazines, let a reference librarian know.  We’d love to hear from you.

Friday Reads: Midnight Rising

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

This Friday Reads blog is written by retired reference librarian and member of the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club, Adrienne Latimer.

If you enjoyed reading Confederates in the Attic (featured in last Friday’s blog), then you must read another Tony Horwitz title: MIDNIGHT RISING: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War!  It is a detailed account of how John Brown planned and carried out the 1859 attack on the Federal Arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.  Many historians consider this event to be the spark that launched the Civil War.
Born in Connecticut, Brown came from a deeply religious family and grew up to abhor slavery.  As an adult he became an active Abolitionist.  He was not content simply to protest the continuing of slavery, he was determined to stop spread of slavery into the new territories and ultimately, to abolish slavery in the United States.  Southerners considered him a terrorist, but many Northerners revered him as a moral leader, a hero. Tony Horwitz provides that incredible event the added color of the backstory, with details gleaned from his research.  He has such a vivid, energetic writing style, he draws the reader into the story.  Never has history been so engrossing or exciting.

Friday Reads: Confederates in the Attic

 

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

This month the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club discussed an old, but timely book.   Just a couple days after Independence Day, we got together on a sunny morning to examine Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by West Tisbury Pulitzer prize winning author, Tony Horwitz.

The timeliness was two-fold:  most obviously, we were discussing one of the most important events in the history of the United States during our country’s birthday week, with arguably the most significant battle of that war, the battle of Gettysburg, having taken place from July 1 to July 3, 1863.  Horwitz writes, “Probably no half hour in American history had been more closely scrutinized than Pickett’s Charge,” which was the culminating clash at Gettysburg on July 3rd.   It was also timely in view of our current political climate in which state capitals and old academic institutions are reconsidering the flags they wave and the reputations of the historic people in whose honor they have named buildings, while we grapple with our country’s racism.

The main theme in Confederates in the Attic, which was published in 1998, is that the civil war is still festering under the surface, that ancestors of Confederate soldiers and people of the south in general feel that their “way of life” is still under siege.  They still want to assert their states’ rights and not be dictated to by big government.  Reading this book helped explain to some of us northerners in the group, how southerners felt then and feel now about their “way of life,” the meaning of the Confederate flag and what they were fighting for.  It also helped explain our recent presidential election.

There was a lot to discuss with this book.  As I tried to break up the group at 5 past the hour, regretting aloud that I had to pull the plug, someone called out that we could go on talking for another hour, which was answered with a resounding, ‘yes!’  So, if you are looking for a good book for your book group, I can recommend this one.  It will surely get you talking.  You can find our copy on the staff picks shelf.

Join us next month when we will discuss Rise of the Rocket Girls:  the women who propelled us, from missiles to the moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt.   Pick up a copy of the book at the reference desk and come to the discussion on Thursday, August 3 at 10:00 AM in the Hermann Foundation Meeting Room.  We look forward to another great discussion.

Friday Reads: Carved in Stone

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

During the course of a day’s work, combing through the stacks of books, I came across this beautiful catalog of early New England gravestones.  Carved in Stone by Thomas E. Gilson and William Gilson features high quality, close-up black and white photographs of over 80 gravestones with quotations by early New England writers and captions with practical information.  This book will be of interest to anyone who studies New England genealogy, early American art, history and those who seek solace in an old cemetery.  The inner flap states:  “These stones tell of death at sea, epidemics such as smallpox, the loss of children, and a grim view of the afterlife.  The graceful narrative explores a long personal involvement with the stones and their place in the New England landscape, and attempts to trace the curious and imperfectly documented history of the gravestone carvers.”

A list of plates in the back of the book indicates where the gravestones are located, (almost all are in Massachusetts, with many in Plymouth) and a short bibliography provides ideas for further reading.

You can find this book on the staff picks shelf.

Friday Reads: Thoreau Bicentennial Statewide Read

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of noted Massachusetts author, Henry David Thoreau.  In honor of his birthday, several Massachusetts organizations have banded together to create the Thoreau Bicentennial Statewide Read, a celebration lasting throughout the whole year in which every Massachusetts town is encouraged to offer an event “that brings community member together to read and contemplate a work by Thoreau.  This is the first Statewide Read in the commonwealth that will focus on one author. The Thoreau Bicentennial Statewide Read is part of a global celebration that highlights the continued relevance of Thoreau’s writings and philosophical contributions, even 200 years after his birth (July 12, 1817). His ideas about the significance of nature, civil disobedience, the power of individual action and deliberate living have influenced millions over the past two centuries.”1

Inspired by Thoreau’s custom of taking long walks in nature minutely observing plants and animals, this week, the Falmouth Public Library and the 300 Committee co-hosted a 3.5 mile nature walk around Long Pond in Falmouth lead by a member of the 300 Committee.  It was followed by a reading of Thoreau on Freedom and refreshments at the main library.  Walkers, and non-walkers who came for the reading portion, all enjoyed the opportunity to take a metaphorical walk in this great man’s shoes on the lovely first day of summer.

The Long Pond walk was so appreciated that there are some murmurings about possibly organizing another one in the fall at another time of the week so more people can come.  Keep your eye on our website or sign up for our newsletter to keep abreast of our programming.

On August 2, we are delighted to present a second Thoreau event with author, editor, book reviewer and contributor to publications, Geoff Wisner of the Boston Athenæum.  Wisner, who edited two new books, Thoreau’s Wildflowers (2016) and Thoreau’s Animals (2017), will discuss Thoreau’s spirituality and man’s connection to nature, drawing from Thoreau’s journals and other writings.

Until that time, if you would like to familiarize yourself with Henry David Thoreau, check out this list of selected titles we have at our library:

The Annotated Walden or Life in the Woods Together with Civil Disobedience

Cape Cod

Collected Essays and Poems

Journal

The Maine Woods

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

A Thoreau Gazetteer by Robert F. Stowell (a geographical guide to the writings of Thoreau)

 

1 “Lincoln Library Hosts Statewide Reading Event to Reflect on Thoreau” by Whitney Retallic, director of education for the Walden Woods Project, posted on Wickedlocal.com Feb. 1, 2017 and viewed on June 22, 2017.

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Friday Reads: A Rainbow of Recommendations

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

June is GLBT Book Month!

“The first and most enduring award for GLBT books is the Stonewall Book Awards, sponsored by the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table.  Since Isabel Miller’s Patience and Sarah received the first award in 1971, many other books have been honored for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.” (http://www.ala.org/glbtrt/award/stonewall).  The 2017 winners are:

(Clicking on the highlighted titles will bring you to the CLAMS catalog where you can read descriptions and place holds.)

Barbara Gittings Literature Award:  Desert Boys by Chris McCormick

Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award:  How to Survive a Plague:  the inside story of how citizens and science tamed AIDS by David France

Since 2010 the American Library Association has highlighted books published in the prior year that “reflect lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender experience for adults,” with several annual book lists.  Their “Over the Rainbow” lists are for adults and encompass several subjects.  In case you missed them, see below.

2017 Over the Rainbow Top 10 Titles

The Firebrand and the First Lady:  portrait of a friendship:  Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt and the struggle for social justice by Patricia Bell-Scott (Nonfiction)

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (Fiction)

In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi (Nonfiction)

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (Fiction)

Bettyville:  a memoir by George Hodgeman (Nonfiction)

A Body, Undone:  Living on After Great Pain by Christina Crosby (Nonfiction)

Stand by Me:  the forgotten history of the gay liberation by Jim Downs (Nonfiction)

Ask a Queer Chick:  a guide to sex, love, and life for girls who dig girls by Lindsay King-Miller (Nonfiction)

Boy, Erased: a memoir by Garrard Conley (Nonfiction)

The Imitation Game:  Alan Turing decoded by Jim Ottaviani (Nonfiction)

 

2017 Over the Rainbow Fiction/Literature Nominees

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (Fiction)

Beijing Comrades by Bei Tong

Call Me by My Other Name by Valerie Wetlaufer

The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman

Dig by Brian Borland

God in Pink by Hasan Namir

Guapa by Saleem Haddad

If You Need Me I’ll Be Over There by Dave Madden

The Imitation Game:  Alan Turing decoded by Jim Ottaviani (Nonfiction)

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Moonstone:  the boy who never was by Sjón

Our Young Man by Edmund White

A Thin, Bright Line by Lucy Jane Bledsoe

 

 

Friday Reads: Daring Young Men

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

On June 1st the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club discussed a book that was a little outside of our usual parameters.  Daring Young Men:  the heroism and triumph of The Berlin Airlift, June 1948 – May, 1949 by Richard Reeves, was light on the narrative and heavy on facts and figures, but it was fascinating reading.

Reeves, a lecturer, syndicated columnist and noted presidential biographer who “has received dozens of awards for his work in print, television and film” did extensive research from hitherto unpublished papers to recount in detail the Berlin Airlift. (From the author’s official website, richardreeeves.com) This amazing organizational feat supplied a city of over 2 million people with food and necessities for almost a year, all delivered by small airplanes.   Furthermore, this generous and daring mission was performed primarily by the U.S. Air Force and British Royal Air Force who had been bombing the city to smithereens only a couple years earlier.

Some readers struggled with the amount of figures, details and lists of supplies, etc.  The intended audience was a clearly a World War II history buff or strategic planner who revels in minutiae.  But for those of us who came to the discussion, which was a high number, especially in view of the rare glorious morning we had, we were happy to have read the book because we all felt that what we learned was important and interesting.  We gained respect for the magnitude of the undertaking, the humanitarian leadership coming from President Truman, and the bravery of the “daring young men.”

Next month we will discuss another war book, but it will be a different writing style altogether: jaunty, narrative and reflective.  Join us on Thursday, July 6 at 10 AM for Confederates in the Attic:  dispatches from the unfinished Civil War, by Martha’s Vineyard author, Tony Horwitz.   I predict it will be a great hour.

Friday Reads: Every Body Yoga

 

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Blogs may be about new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

Today we are adding a unique little yoga book to our collectionEvery Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley.  The author, a certified yoga instructor with an atypical yoga body, writes in her introduction: “I wrote this book for every fat person, every old person, and every exceptionally short person.  I wrote it for every person who has called themselves ugly and every person who can’t accept their beauty.  I wrote it for every person who is self-conscious about their body.  I wrote it for every human being who struggles to find happiness on a daily basis, and for anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by the mere act of being alive.  I’ve been there.  We all have.”

If you have “been there” too and you are looking for a new path, check out this book and see if you catch Stanley’s enthusiasm.   She includes reminisces about her troubled childhood spent feeling self-conscious about her weight, which was a product of overeating an unhealthy southern diet and worrying about her very sick mother, and she liberally sprinkles her narrative with adult-rated language and street slang.  A spiritual, peaceful book featuring a slender white woman wearing all white and calmly posing on a beach, this is not.  This is a body-positive, you can do this sh*t, type of book for people who have thought yoga is not for them.

If the memoir aspect of the book is not appealing to you, skip those parts and focus on Part 2: “What the Hell is This?” where she introduces the history of yoga, the various types, and what supplies you need to do it; and Part 3: the poses.  Clear photos show Stanley in a variety of asanas (yoga poses) often wearing an infectious smile along with her colorful outfits and they are accompanied by clearly written instructions and tips about how to position your body.  There is even an index, which makes reference librarians cheer.

Here final paragraph is a good sendoff: “At the end of the day, we all struggle with emotional, physical, and spiritual turmoil.  This struggle is our great unifier.  And if we all deal with the same struggles, yoga is the equalizing influence that can calm all of our lives.  Yoga is for everyone, and body shape/size/color is completely irrelevant.  Whatever your shape, shade, whatever baggage you’re carrying around with you, put it down and get on the mat.  Find a place for yoga in your life today.”

You can find this book on the new nonfiction shelf with the call number 613.7046 STA.

 

 

 

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