Archive for March, 2009

Last booklist from Winter Reading

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Spring is sprung! The Vernal Equinox was on March 20 heralding with equal hours of night and day the end of winter.

Thus Winter Reading is well and truly over; but we had so many people star their favorite book on their reading logs that I’m putting up one last list of Winter Reading Favorites on My Next Good Book.

Check the list out for more reading suggestions from your friends and neighbors.

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr discussed at book group in Whiteford

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

The Whiteford Book Discussion Group of Harford County Public Library met on the evening of March 25 to discuss The Lost Painting, by Jonathan Harr. Find this book in our catalog.

The group has decided to keep meeting at the Modular during expansion of the Whiteford branch library, although the location may change to adapt to building needs.

The group enjoyed The Lost Painting, which is the true story of the quest for the Caravaggio masterpiece known as the “Taking of Christ.” Graduate student, Francesca Cappeletti stumbles across some clues pointing to the missing painting. The story reads smoothly as if it were fiction and feels like a treasure hunt as the main participants research clues in old family vaults, examines records in Art galleries and old catalogs from auction houses, and tracks down papal export licenses in Rome. The puzzle finally comes together when Francesca meets Sergio Benedetti, an art restorer working in Ireland.

The group enjoyed the search, marveling that it was a true story, but also enjoyed the technical information of how an old painting is restored , which even in the 1990’s could include homemade paste made from flour, vinegar, ox skull and molasses. Interspersed , there was also information about the artist Caravaggio. His life and art was intense and at times violent, but definitely exciting. The group decided that The Lost Painting was definitely a volume that they would suggest to others. Although the discovery actually occurred in the late 1990’s, because of the old family homes and European flavor, the book had an older feel to it. They also noted that the research required a lot of patience and sifting through old files but also a matter of luck in the end.

The Lost Painting was originally chosen, as a companion book to a previously read novel. Several months ago the group had read a mystery entitled The Art Thief by Noah Charney, a mystery dealing with art theft and double crosses. This fictional escapade started with the disappearance of Malevich’s “White on White” from the Paris vault of the Malevich society and spread to several more thefts in 3 different cities. During this search an array of forgeries and overpaintings come to light including a very valuable painting by Caravaggio. So part of that discussion and last night’s included looking at art books to examine, at first Malevich’s and then Caravaggio’s works.

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel – nonfiction that reads like fiction

Friday, March 27th, 2009

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the invention of Galileo’s telescope in 1609. In honor of this revolutionary event, try reading this biography of Galileo which reveals
some of what drove Galileo in his quest for knowledge, success, and in his relationship with the Catholic hierarchy.

Author of the bestselling Longitude, Dava Sobel again does a fine job in Galileo’s Daughter of revealing a controversial and pivotal event in the history of science as an enthralling human story. Find this book in our catalog.

Galileo’s daughter of the title is Suor Maria Celeste, the elder of Galileo’s two illegitimate daughters. Both were lodged in a convent because they were considered unmarriageable because of their illegitimacy. The story unfolds through 124 letters sent by Maria Celeste to her father, published in this book verbatim and in translation for the first time. Maria Celeste was deeply involved in her father’s life work, even transcribing his writings. Her letters show us the human side of Galileo’s trial for heresy, his recantation, his banishment, and house arrest. The letters also reveal fascinating insights into daily life of the times: the harshness of life, especially for women. In her letters Suor Maria Celeste does not express any sense of what we probably today would consider the injustice of her lot. Reading of her obvious loving relationship with her father allows us to see a very human side of the great man.

Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Announced

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Sana Krasikov’s debut short story collection, One More Year, has won the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for emerging writers. The Jewish Book Council noted that Krasikov won “based on her demonstration of a fresh vision and evidence of future potential to further contribute to the Jewish literary community.”

Allen Hoffman, one of this year’s fiction judges, said, “Her characters are often alienated and confused, but her stories are always clear and precise, because Krasikov deeply understands her characters’ aspirations, fears, and stubborn passion for survival. Her elegant, revealing narratives imbue their fragile, vulnerable lives with an imposing dignity.” (This book is on order for Harford County Public Library and will appear in our catalog shortly).

The $25,000 Sami Rohr Prize Choice Award went to Dalia Sofer, author of
The Septembers of Shiraz. Find this book in our catalog.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

This book was first reviewed on this site on Monday, October 6th, 2008. Please visit our archives to read Elizabeth’s review.

I am reviewing it again as it was the chosen title for the Abingdon Book Discussion group in March. It has also featured at other branches, and I am sure a lot of non-library groups have been reading it. Why has this book with the unusual title become so popular? It is written as a series of letters, and although this style might be a little awkward for some readers at first, keep reading. Once you get into the flow of the letters, this is a charming, sometimes moving and always entertaining story. It is set against the background of second world war Guernsey, where a group of friends forms a book group to explain to the German occupiers why they are out afer curfew. Once the book group is formed, the friends find the strength & support there that helps them endure wartime conditions. There are some wonderful characters. Juliet is the English writer who contacts the islanders & receives their letters. Dorsey, Amelia, Isola and the other members of the group reveal themselves and their lives to Juliet as they write to her. And there is Elizabeth, the pivotal force whose spirit shines through all the letters. We get to know these characters and others who reflect the hope and tragedy of this period. Try this informative and optimistic book and you won’t be disappointed.

We were all very sad to learn that Mary Ann Shaffer passed away as this book was reaching its conclusion. We wonder what else she might have written had she lived longer. This book is a great memorial to her.

If you are interested in reading the thoughts of someone who was actually a child in Guernsey at the time of the occupation, please go to this BBC website.
WW2 People’s War: An Archive of World War Two Memories – written by the public, gathered by the BBC. A Child’s War: The German Occupation of Guernsey submitted by Peter LePrevost.

Check out these links for reviews of the book, author biographies and book group questions.;=rg

John Hope Franklin, historian of the African-American Experience

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

John Hope Franklin, the historian whose work focused on the African-American experience and the effect of slavery, died March 25. He was 94.
His classic work, published in 1947 and reissued several times including 2000, one of many influential titles he wrote, was From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans. Find this book in our catalog.
His autobiography was Mirror to America. Find this book in our catalog.
The New York Times wrote this of Dr. Franklin: “During a career of scholarship, teaching and advocacy that spanned more than 70 years, Dr. Franklin was deeply involved in the painful debates that helped reshape America’s racial identity, working with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall and other major civil rights figures of the 20th century.”

April is National Poetry Month – Sign up for a Poem-a-Day

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Beginning April 1, [from the Academy of American Poets]sends one new poem to your inbox each day to celebrate National Poetry Month. The poems have been selected from new books published in the spring. Sign up here.

Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose basis for Fox pilot now filming in Baltimore

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

A pilot episode of a new TV series planned for the Fox lineup next season based upon M.J. Rose’s novels The Reincarnationist and The Memorist is currently being shot in Baltimore the Sun reported.

The pilot, working title “The Reincarnationist,” which follows a team of investigators who use the concept of reincarnation to solve present-day problems in their clients’ lives, is being directed by Deran Sarafian, and features actors Kelli Giddish, Nic Bishop and Ravi Patel. David Hudgins wrote the script and serves as executive producer.
Click here to find The Reincarnationist by M. J. Rose in our catalog.

James Beard Foundation Cookbooks Awards Nominees

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

The James Beard Foundation Awards nominees have been announced. James Beard was “one of the greatest gastronomes of our time.” I thought all you cookbook fans out there might be interested to learn that among the awards are book awards. They will be presented by Green & Black’s® Organic Chocolate for cookbooks published in English in 2008. Click here for more on the Foundation and the book awards nominees.

The Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

The Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice. Find this book in our catalog

Here is a recommendation for this book from a Winter reader:

” It is historical fiction about the French and Spanish and slaves in New Orleans – It is unique because it depicts the color distinctions among slaves & their place in society, etc. A grand book.”