Black Literature Matters

On Saturday, March 4,  Sara Hines (co-owner of Eight Cousins) and I hosted “Black Literature Matters: A Book Talk”. The event was a huge success and our thanks go out to everyone who braved the cold to hear about these important titles. As a part of a larger series entitled, “Books Build Conversations,” we focused on #ownvoices books. #OwnVoices is a hashtag coined in 2015 in order to highlight stories written by authors from marginalized communities featuring protagonists who are also a part of those same communities. For our purposes, we chose books by black authors with black protagonists.

A few days ago, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center released a graph on their blog chronicling the rise and fall of children’s books with black protagonists both by non-black authors and #ownvoices authors.

This graph would have been perfect to include in our talk. As the author of the blog points out, authenticity matters: books about black characters written by non-black authors, while well-intentioned, may fall into the problematic tropes and reinforce stereotypes and negative ideologies. Also, as the author of the blog states, black authors and illustrators need to be “given the same opportunities to tell their own stories”.

In order to give attendees the opportunity to really connect with each title, Sara and I limited our scope by each selecting one book from four categories: picture book, middle grade, teen/young adult, and non-fiction. We committed to reading each other’s selections to ensure an in-depth conversation. During the talk, we shared background on the #ownvoices hashtag, the need for diverse representation in children’s literature, and described how books serve as windows or mirrors depending on the reader. In addition, we dialogued about each of our eight selections, discussing the stories and our thoughts about them.

Each attendee was given a pamphlet that included all of the books highlighted during the talk, as well as additional recommended #ownvoices titles. You can view and print the pamphlet below and if you click on the booklist link, you will find a list with additional titles that feature black protagonist by authors/illustrators that may or may not be #ownvoices. All books are available within the CLAMS system. Both the pamphlet and the list are free and may be reproduced. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Sara (sara@eightcousins.com) or I (sseales@falmouthpubliclibrary.org) directly.

–Stephanie Seales
Falmouth Public Library Children’s Room

Click here to view the handout

Click here for the booklist

 

Friday Reads: The Encyclopedia of Journalism

Are you aghast at the prevalence of fake news swirling around? How is one to distinguish it from the real thing? Just in time, the library offered an  enlightening presentation by news professionals on how to spot fake news, and a blog that offered resources to help. One of these resources is The Encyclopedia of Journalism (REF 070.4 ENC 2009). Here you’ll find reliable, credible information, written by academics, to fill in some of the blanks you may encounter in reading the news. Need some background on what exactly is Al Jazeera? Maybe you’re wondering what the relationship is between the Supreme Court and the press? You’ll find it here.

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With all the misinformation swirling around, what is happening to our society all of a sudden? If you think today’s fake news is a new phenomenon, open volume 4 of the encyclopedia to the News Scandals section (page 1273) and discover prominent journalists of the past who plagiarized, fabricated, and otherwise misled their readers in well-known publications. Some even won Pulitzer Prizes before their fake news was discovered. It doesn’t sound all that different from today, except fake news lately seems to be seeping from every imaginable direction.

In the end it’s all about ethics. The press has a tradition of self-regulation. Yet there often is friction surrounding things like what is the truth and the right to know versus privacy issues. Volume 5 presents some key documents that reflect the ongoing struggle between journalists and the public and the courts to define where journalists’ professional rights end and legal restrictions begin.

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We Got Him with Elizabeth Searle

We hope you can join us for a special afternoon reading and signing with local author Elizabeth Searle on Saturday, March 25 at 3:00 pm. Ms. Searle will be speaking about and reading from her newest work of fiction, We Got Him

We Got Him

We Got Him is the story of one family’s inherited flaws, harbored guilts, and obsessive desires, whether for a child, a parent, or a second chance to do the elusive right thing. Powerfully worked against the unfolding events of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Elizabeth Searle’s taut drama of a young, pregnant stepmother and her troubled stepson is a narrative tour de force, interweaving public and private acts of terror with the redemptive, but ever fragile, forces of love.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Searle is the author of five books of fiction and the librettist of Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera, which has drawn major media coverage and which was produced in Chicago in 2016 and at the New York Musical Theater Festival in NYC. Her previous books are: Girl Held in Home (New Rivers Press, 2011), Celebrities in Disgrace, a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize; A Four–Sided Bed, a novel nominated for an American Library Association Book Award; and My Body to You, a story collection that won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize. A Four–Sided Bed is now in development as a feature film. Her Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera had a sold–out extended run at the New York Musical Festival in NYC in 2015. Elizabeth lives with her husband and son in Arlington, MA.

Mysteries on The Point!

Today on The Point we talked about mysteries! If you missed the show, you can listen online. By the way, the great photo that WCAI used to illustrate the radio show was taken from the back cover of Killer Verse: poems of murder and mayhem. Jennifer Gaines of the Woods Hole Library (and enthusiastic mystery reader) joined Mindy Todd and Jill Erickson for a lively discussion on what a mystery is and why one kind of mystery appeals to one person and not another, not to mention the plight of a library cataloger trying to decide where to SHELVE a novel that might be a mystery and might not.

Jennifer asked if we could post our mystery lists, and they are now posted! The lists include Stand-Alone Mysteries, Mystery Series Set in Foreign Cultures, and Mysteries Set in the United States.

I mentioned the Twitter conversation with Neil Gaiman‘s twitter followers, which began here, and then continued over here. And thus began a cataloging conversation for the ages between an international world of public and academic librarians, and just readers who love Neil Gaiman. As Susan Wyndham commented: “Great question, great discussion. Can we have librarians unleash Dewey knowledge every week? Are there other tricky books?” To which Mr. Gaiman wrote: “probably another question for the librarians.” The conversation itself surrounded Gaiman’s newest book Norse Mythologyand you will see in the link that we have decided to put one copy in fiction and one copy in non-fiction.

But I digress! The real discussion was about how deeply librarians care about where to put mysteries, and thus what IS a mystery, and also some great books about mysteries. The list of books discussed are below. We hope you enjoyed the show! We did!

 

Jennifer’s Picks

MYSTERIES, American in which winter weather figures heavily:

William Kent  Krueger:  character Cork O’Connor in Minnesota;

Julia Spencer-Fleming:    “novels of faith, murder, and suspense” Characters Rev’d Clare Ferguson & police Chief  Russ Van Alstyne, upstate New York, town in the farm and factory land nestled against the Adirondacks, In the Bleak Mid-Winter, etc.

MYSTERIES, Canadian:

Louise Penny: province of Quebec, village of Three Pines

MYSTERIES/Thrillers, Scandinavian Noir

(Sweden) Hennig Mankell, Kurt Wallender series; Steig Larsson, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.

(Norway) Jo NesboKarin Fossum

(Iceland) Arnaldur Indridason

(Denmark) Peter Høeg , Smilla’s Sense of Snow

MYSTERIES, Travel Destinations

Cara Black: Paris

Martin Walker: South of France, the Dordogne with his Bruno, Chief of Police

Donna Leon: Venice

Janwillem Van de Wetering: Amsterdam

MYSTERIES, crossed with historical fiction

Jacqueline Winspear: Maisie Dobbs, mostly WW1, English nurse

Todd, Charles: Bess Crawford, WW1 battlefield English nurse (also Inspector Rutledge) “vivid period mystery series” (New York Times Book Review)

Kuhns, Eleanor: Will Rees, weaver, Shaker communities, 1790’s

King, Laurie R.: Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes

MYSTERIES, Cape Cod and the Islands  There are lots, but these are the ones we talked about:

Craig, Philip:  The Vineyard, fishing derby, Z

Phoebe Atwood Taylor, Cape Cod in the 1920’s, sleuth Asey Mayo charges along the sandy back roads of the Cape in his roadster

MYSTERY, LIBRARIES (who knew?)

Jenn McKinlay: Due or Die

 

 

Jill’s Picks

The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Mystery by John Charles, Candace Clark, Joanne Hamilton-Selway, and Joanna Morrison. (See how many people it takes to describe what a mystery is!)

The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery by Bruce F. Murphy

Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes by Michael Sims

On Conan Doyle or, The Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda

Buried Angels by Camilla Lackberg (And the Wellfleet copy is back! And copy should be available very soon!)

Killer Verse: poems of murder and mayhem edited by Harold Schechter and Kurt Brown

Pistols and Petticoats: 175 years of lady detectives in fact and fiction by Erika Janik

Women Crime Writers. Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s edited by Sarah Weinman

Women Crime Writers. Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s edited by Sarah Weinman

The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing by Michelle Spring and Laurie R. King

The Strand Magazine (Feb.-May 2016 issue has interview with Mark Gatiss, co-creator of Sherlock.)

Listener Picks

Louise Penny mysteries. The first one in the series is Still Life.

Michael Connelly mysteries. The first one in the series is The Black Echo.

Best of 2016: NEW Fiction at FPL*

FICTION Hawkins The Girl on the Train
FICTION Child Make Me: A Jack Reacher Novel
FICTION Baldacci The Guilty
FICTION Connolly A Song of Shadows: A Charlie Parker Thriller
FICTION Lowell Perfect Touch: A Novel
FICTION McLain Circling the Sun: A Novel
FICTION Sparks See Me
FICTION Steel Undercover : A Novel
FICTION Gerritsen Playing with Fire: A Novel
FICTION Atkins The Redeemers
MYSTERY Maron Long Upon the Land
MYSTERY Connelly The Crossing: A Novel
MYSTERY Parker Robert B. Parker’s the Devil Wins: A Jesse Stone Novel
MYSTERY James You are Dead
MYSTERY Penny The Nature of the Beast
MYSTERY Kellerman Breakdown: An Alex Delaware Novel
MYSTERY Cleeves Harbour Street
MYSTERY Evanovich The Scam: A Fox and O’Hare Novel
MYSTERY Evanovich Tricky Twenty-two: A Stephanie Plum Novel
MYSTERY Olson Hidden
SCI FI Cline Armada: A Novel
SCI FI Chu Time Salvager
SCI FI Jemisin The Fifth Season
SCI FI Martin A Game of Thrones
SCI FI Scalzi The End of All Things
SCI FI Martin A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms
SCI FI Corey Nemesis Games
SCI FI Higgins Lightless
SCI FI Sandford Saturn Run
SCI FI Abercrombie Half a War
LP FICTION Baldacci Memory Man
LP FICTION Coben The Stranger
LP FICTION Blume In the Unlikely Event
LP FICTION Hawkins The Girl on the Train
LP FICTION Hilderbrand The Rumor: A Novel
LP FICTION Patterson 14th Deadly Sin
LP FICTION Thayer The Guest Cottage
LP FICTION Connelly The Crossing: A Novel
LP FICTION Moyes The Ship of Brides
LP FICTION Clark The Melody Lingers On

*Based upon titles checked out.

Friday Reads: In the Heart of the Sea

 

This month the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club was all hands on deck to discuss In the Heart of the Sea:  the tragedy of the whaleship Essex by Nantucket author, Nathaniel Philbrick.  In a nutshell, the book recounts in harrowing detail how an angry 85-foot sperm whale stove in the Essex in late 1820 and the men, some of them, survived at sea for more than 90 days with little more than some hard tack (dry biscuits) and their wits.

Not just a survival story of man against nature, we also are provided with thoroughly researched and well-presented historical context of Nantucket culture in the 19th Century and the whaling industry.   The shipwreck was well-known during its time, in part because the men resorted to cannibalism to survive.  Also noteworthy was the rarity of a whale, and an unusually large whale at that, attacking a ship.  The event was the inspiration for the climactic scene in Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick.

There was so much to talk about that the hour was quickly over, quite unlike the whaling voyages we were discussing.  Although a few in the group had read the book before, and many of us had some familiarity with whaling, we all were thoroughly engaged and felt enriched for having read this book.

If you are looking for an excellent work of narrative nonfiction about historical New England, then In the Heart of the Sea is for you.  Look for it on the Staff Picks shelf soon.

Next month we will be discussing Unbowed: a memoir by Wangari Maathai.  Join us on Thursday, March 2 at 10 AM in the Hermann Foundation Meeting room.  We look forward to seeing you.

Friday Reads: Great House

Great House is a great book.  Written by Nicole Krauss, author of the international bestseller The History of Love, the follow up novel, Great House is a “tour de force of fiction writing” according to a starred review in Booklist (2010).

In this complex novel we meet five very different people, including an American novelist, an antiques dealer in Jerusalem and a man in London caring for his dying wife.  “Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away.  As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.

Great House is a story haunted by questions:  What do we pass on to our children and how do they absorb our dreams and losses?  How do we respond to disappearance, destruction and change?” (Publisher’s summary)

Here in the library Great House was discussed by the Fiction Book Club some time ago and it is currently on the Staff Picks shelf, although not for very long – it is frequently checked out.

If you are looking for a book that is rich, intricately plotted, character-driven and demands close reading, then you will be hooked on this “soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.” (Publisher’s summary)

Money Books on The Point

Mindy Todd and I were delighted to have author Jacquelyn Mitchard join us on WCAI this morning to talk about books having to do with money. Thanks for all our listener suggestions as well!

 

Jackie’s Picks

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramonda Ausubel

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Hillbilly Elegy: a memoir of a family and culture in crisis by J. D. Vance

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

Negroland: a memoir by Margo Jefferson

Minimalism: how to de-clutter, de-stress and simplify your life with simple living by Simeon Lindstrom

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (also suggested by listener)

 

Jill’s Picks

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis Try Finances, Money, For Sixty Cents. There is also a story called Cape Cod Diary.

Shapinsky’s Karma, Boggs’s Bills, and other true-life tales by Lawrence Weschler

Wampum and the origins of American Money by Marc Shell

Payback: debt and the shadow side of wealth by Margaret Atwood

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Lydia Davis

The Diary of Virginia Woolf by Virginia Woolf, edited by Anne Olivier Bell

Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Mind Over Money: the psychology of money and how to use it better by Claudia Hammond

Origami with Dollar Bills & Paper Airplanes with Dollar Bills by Duy Nguyen

Plotto: the master book of all plots by William Wallace Cook

 

Listener Suggestions

Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Father Struck it Rich by Evalyn Walsh McLean. Available in the Internet Archive!

Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald. The first book in the series is The Deep Blue Good-By.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre. Available online.

Friday Reads: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil

Did you read the wildly popular Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt when it came out in 1994?  Did you see the movie of the same name, produced by Clint Eastwood and starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack three years later?  Well I did neither at the time, but I knew they were both excellent, so I selected the book for this month’s meeting of the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club.

The best-selling true crime story Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was shocking when it came out more than twenty years ago because it featured a gay man accused of murdering his bisexual friend/assistant and a transgender drag queen, in a time and place when those subjects were not written about.  The first half of the book describes the city of Savannah, Georgia, its history, architecture and several of its colorful characters whom the author got to know over eight years of living there part-time.  The second half of the book focuses on the murder trials of Jim Williams, the first person in the state to be tried four times for the same crime.

I gathered that five out of the 11 people who came to the meeting had read the book when it was new. Most were happy to read it again, however, because it is a captivating story expertly rendered with the essence of a thrilling novel.  With so many having read the book twice, it prompted a very interesting conversation about how times have changed and how the readers themselves had changed.  We discussed how the author’s experience as a columnist for Esquire and an editor of New York magazines influenced his organization and writing style in his first book.  We also wondered about how skewed his perspective was on his adopted part-time city.  Many Savannahians welcomed this northerner warmly, thrusting him into their party or touring him through their town, but we got to really know only the eccentric ones.  Of course, they make for the most interesting read.

We had a terrific discussion this month and I know at least a few of us are now hoping to visit Savannah someday.   One group member highly recommends Berendt’s other book, The City of Falling Angels, which is about the city of Venice.

Join us next time for In the Heart of the Sea:  the tragedy of the whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick.  Did you read it before?  Reading it again and discussing it with an engaged group like the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club is sure to reveal something new.   Join us on Thursday, February 2 at 10:00 a.m. in the Hermann room.   Copies are available at the reference desk.

Faith Lee
Reference Librarian

 

P.S. Lady Chablis, the transgender drag queen who became quite famous after the publication of this book and starred as herself in the movie, died in September, 2016 at age 59, according to CNN.

2017 Falmouth Reads Together

We are excited to announce our selections for the 2017 Falmouth Reads Together program!

The Falmouth Reads Together committee has selected Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, MD, and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast as the townwide reading selections for 2017. Both best-selling books are honest, humane explorations of how we approach the end of life for ourselves and our loved ones. Younger readers are invited to read Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord, I’ll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar, and The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner.

Copies of Being Mortal and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? are available for circulation at every public library branch in Falmouth, courtesy of the Friends of the Falmouth Public Library, as well as at Eight Cousins Bookstore on Main Street.

Atul Gawande is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. He practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and is a professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He also has been a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine since 1998 and has written four New York Times bestsellers. Roz Chast’s cartoons have been published in many magazines besides the New Yorker, including Scientific American, the Harvard Business Review, Redbook, and Mother Jones. She is the author of several best-selling books.

The committee is so pleased to partner with several Falmouth/Cape Cod organizations to promote this important conversation including Neighborhood Falmouth, HopeHealth, the Death Café, and Cape Cod Healthcare’s Quality of Life Management Task Force.

Scheduled events include:

  • February 13, 5 p.m.: In a live video simulcast co-hosted by Neighborhood Falmouth, Being Mortal author Atul Gawande will speak about the value of communities and the opportunities they offer as we grow older. This will be the only opportunity to hear directly from Gawande this year. The presentation will be followed by a Neighborhood Falmouth open house. Hermann Room, Falmouth Public Library. This event is free, but registration is required; please contact Susan Loucks at Neighborhood Falmouth at 508-564-7543.
  • February 25, 2 p.m. Hope Hospice will co-host a screening of the one-hour documentary “Being Mortal,” followed by a panel discussion and Q&A featuring members of Cape Cod Healthcare’s Quality of LifeManagement Task Force: Ellen McCabe, RN, of Hope Hospice; Tina Soares, RN, from the Visiting Nurse Association; and Dr. Peter Hopewood. Hermann Room, Falmouth Public Library.
  • March 13, 6:30 p.m.: A Death Café will offer the opportunity to meet Falmouth neighbors, eat cake, drink tea, and discuss all aspects of death in a relaxed and comfortable setting. Small group conversations will be group directed and lightly guided by trained Death Cafe facilitators. Its objective is to “increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.” Congregational Church in Falmouth Center.

The schedule of events will be updated as more programs are planned.

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