Friday Reads: Hidden Figures

“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. 

We had a big group this week at the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club.  We were all primed to discuss Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.  You may recognize the title from the 2016 Oscar nominated film by the same name, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe.

The cover of the Hidden Figures explains, “During World War II, America’s fledgling aeronautics industry hired black female mathematicians to fill a labor shortage.  These ‘human computers’ stayed on to work for NASA and made sure America won the Space Race.  They fought for their country’s future, and for their share of the American dream.  This is their untold story.”

The month prior, we read The Rise of the Rocket Girls:  the women who propelled us from missiles to the moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt, which made for a rich comparison this week.  The two books are about the same thing (female computers) working for the same purpose (to send missiles, rockets and then men into space for NASA) at the same time (1940s through 1960s), but on different coasts and with contrasting groups of women.  Hidden Figures takes place at Langley Research Center in Virginia and focuses on a group of black women, whereas The Rise of the Rocket Girls takes place at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, California where most women were white.  There were one black and a few Asian “rocket girls,” but race does not factor into the narrative by Holt. One group member commented that the titles of the two books good easily be swapped and they would still make sense.

Interestingly, they were published 5 months apart (Holt’s was first in April, 2016) and both authors got the idea for their book in 2010 when each of them accidentally learned about a woman working for NASA.  In Shetterly’s case, her Sunday school teacher and another woman she knew from childhood were both computers at Langley, but she didn’t know about their professional lives until her father casually mentioned it when she was an adult.  To her, they were just part of the fabric of her neighborhood.  Holt was googling baby name ideas for the impending birth of her daughter and learned that an Eleanor Frances, a name she was considering, worked at the JPL in the 1960s, and won an award.  Surprised that women worked for NASA, both writers set out to learn more and both found compelling stories, simultaneously, but independently.

Many of us were a little hard pressed to follow the math and science in detail, but all of us were eager to learn about the women and their struggles, how they balanced their home and professional lives, how they fought for equality in the workplace and were respected for their great achievements.  Both of these books are great for a book club because there are so many issues to explore you can only benefit from hearing a variety of perspectives.

Join us next month when we discuss Evicted:  poverty and profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.   Focusing on poverty and classism, this book is the first in our new 6-month series about social justice.   Each month we will read about a different aspect of social justice from a narrative, not a scholarly, voice.   Pick up a copy of the book at the reference desk and come share your thoughts with us on Thursday, October 5 at 10 AM in the Hermann Foundation Meeting room.

Friday Reads: Nolo Guides

“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. 

 

Do you feel the chill in the air?  Autumn isn’t far away.  Kids are heading back to school.  It is a good time to turn your attention to those serious matters that you put on hold for the summer, like planning your retirement, long-term healthcare, your estate or will, or on a happier note, getting a patent or starting a new business.

The library has a collection of books published by Nolo, which has been publishing do-it-yourself legal guides, since 1971. Their website, Nolo.com, states: “Consumers and small business owners can handle many legal matters themselves with Nolo’s do-it-yourself products, which range from online forms and software to books and eGuides. All are written in plain English, with step-by-step instructions that help you get the job done.”   Their mission is “to help consumers and small businesses find answers to their everyday legal and business questions.”

With that in mind, I want to show you all of the titles that we have purchased in the last several months.   I hope you can make good use of them and take care of those legal issues with confidence.

101 Law Forms for Personal Use

8 Ways to Avoid Probate

Becoming a U.S. Citizen:  a guide to the law, exam and interview

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: repay your debts

Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits

The Employer’s Legal Handbook

Estate Planning Basics

Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court

Every Landlord’s Guide to Finding Great Tenants

Get it Together:  organize your records so your family won’t have to

How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation

How to Write a Business Plan

Incorporate Your Business

IRAs , 401 (k)s  & Other Retirement Plans:  taking your money out

A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples

Long-Term Care:  how to plan & pay for it

Make Your Own Living Trust

Making it Legal:  a guide to same-sex marriage, domestic partnership & civil unions

Neighbor Law:  fences, trees, boundaries and noise

Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce

Nolo’s Guide to Social Security Disability

Patent it Yourself

Plan Your Estate

The Public Domain:  how to find copyright-free writings, music, art & more

The Quick & Legal Will Book

Represent Yourself in Court

Finding Your Center with Dr. Sang H. Kim, PhD

Nationally renowned author and mindfulness expert Sang H. Kim, PhD will lead a workshop at the Falmouth Public Library on Wednesday, October 4, at 6:30 pm.  The workshop, “Finding Your Center,” aims to help participants discover and experience inner calm through movement, meditation, and breathing. In this two-hour workshop, participants will learn practical strategies for centering themselves as a means of stress buffering and building stress resilience, and practice with Dr. Kim the essential components of inner balancing.

Dr. Kim has published over 20 books on motivation, mindfulness, fitness and martial arts. Over the past thirty years, his work has focused on the development of self-care strategies which he has used in a federally funded program at the University of New Mexico Medical Center in finding the curative effects of mindfulness-based stretching and deep breathing on PTSD. For the past four years, he has taught his system of mindfulness and meditation to over 40,000 individuals in the United States, Europe, South America and Asia. “The goal,” says Dr. Kim, “is to help participants create inner harmony and balance, develop gentleness and strength, and explore the inner wisdom and spirit of mind and body through movement and stillness, mindfulness and openness.”

The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited and preregistration is required. To register, please call the Reference Dept. at Falmouth Public Library, 508-457-2555 x 6, register online, or stop by the reference desk.

Friday Reads: 1,001 Ways to Slow Down

 

“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’s book, isn’t as much of a “good read,” as it is a “good contemplation”.  1,001 Ways to Slow Down:  a little book of everyday calm by Barbara Ann Kipfer is quite simply a numbered list of things to do or attitudes to adopt to help one lead a slower, more mindful life.  It is beautifully designed with a plethora of floral watercolor illustrations by Francesca Springolo, and an attractive font on high quality cream colored paper.   The chunky form gives the impression of holding a colorful little gem in your hands, that is meant to be enjoyed.

The author, who admits to having a “driven nature,” has selected quotes from famous people as diverse as Marcus Aurelius and Henry David Thoreau to augment her list.  As a practitioner of living slowly all of my life, I can attest to the usefulness of many items on her list, for example:

Unplug.

Watch autumn leaves parachute slowly out of trees and tumble gently across the landscape.

Speak with kindness.

Avoid making some decisions today.

Let a vehicle cut in front of you on the roadway.

 

Although, “Sing out loud!” would cause those around me to cry out in pain.

You can find this book on the new nonfiction shelf with the call number 158 KIP.

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Friday Reads: The Hemingway Thief

“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. 

The Hemingway Thief by Shaun Harris

I am a fan of ‘hard-boiled’ crime novels, such as Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, and I just read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, on which this novel is dependent.  So, there is no question why I enjoyed Shaun Harris’ The Hemingway Thief.  I laughed aloud at John Grisham’s expense, thoroughly enjoyed all of the literary references and got caught up in the rollicking adventure.  If you don’t mind the foul language and violence that goes along with the hard-boiled characters, then try out this buddy caper.  Reading A Moveable Feast first would help, but is not required.

This summary from the publisher will give you a taste of the style:

“Novelist Henry “Coop” Cooper is contemplating a new book between sipping rum and lounging on a Baja beach with hotel owner Grady Doyle.  When Grady tries to save a drunk from two thugs, Coop tags along for the sake of a good story.  The drunk is Ebbie Milch, a small-time thief on the run in Mexico because he has stolen the never-before-seen first draft of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast from a wealthy rare book dealer. The stolen manuscript is more than just a rare piece of literary history. It reveals clues to an even bigger prize: the location of a suitcase the young, unpublished Hemingway lost in Paris in 1922.  A year’s worth of his stories had vanished, never to be seen again.  Until now.  But Coop and Grady aren’t the only ones with their eyes on this elusive literary prize, and what starts as a hunt for a legendary writer’s lost works becomes a deadly adventure.  For Coop this story could become the book of a lifetime . . . if he lives long enough to write it.”

You can find The Hemingway Thief on the Staff Picks Shelf, unless …

 

Friday Reads: I am of Cape Cod

 

“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. 

 

I am of Cape Cod:  people and their stories, a new book by Chatham author John Whelan, seeks to portray a variety of people who call this beautiful peninsula home.  Beginning in Provincetown and working his way to the canal, Whelan highlights 139 people, from young to old, with different occupations and backgrounds.  Each person relates their connection to the Cape in a brief narrative and photographer Kim Roderiques expertly captures their character in thoughtful black and white photographs.  Bestselling author, Anne D. LeClaire (The Halo Effect and The Lavender Hour) wrote the introduction.

You can enjoy this book by flipping through and finding people that you recognize or you can read from start to finish and see the patterns that emerge as you travel from one end of the Cape to the other.   Henry David Thoreau is a common theme and beach photos abound.   Perhaps you’ll find a kindred spirit when you read someone’s testimony to this land.

We have two copies of this local hit.  While you wait for our circulating copy to work its way through the wait list, come to the reference room and peruse the reference copy.  While you’re at it, you can look at Succanessett Snapshot: the people and places that make Falmouth a community by Troy Clarkson or Legendary Locals of Falmouth by the Falmouth Historical Society.

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.