Circe, by Madeline Miller

April 22, 2018 by

[Lesley] Circe. The witch who turned Odysseus’s men into pigs. That’s about all most of us think of when we hear the name. I love how Madeline Miller uses the staging of Greek mythology and hero lore to tell an old story from a new perspective. I liked Circe even more than the Song of Achilles and I think some of that had to do with the female voice. I like that our biases and our complacency with the old stories are exposed when we read this re-interpretation. We are usually so busy looking at Odysseus that we miss Circe andTelemachus. We are so sure that naiads and nymphs are beautiful and good that we miss the complexities of being even less than a demigod. We see Prometheus alone, bound to that rock and never think of a girl who might have tried to offer him comfort. As Miller (and Circe) shine a light onto this, we also see how Circe overlooks the stories behind the stories and comes to suffer for it. She straddles the strange line between god and mortal and ultimately uses witchery (actually the power of Kronos, but who would know how to collect or use it but a witch?) to choose where she will land. Choice after a near-eternity of living out someone else’s intentions for her.

Circe

 

Check the library catalog for availability:
http://catalog.library.strathamnh.gov/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=54066

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Everybody Paints!: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family by Susan Goldman Rubin

February 16, 2018 by

[Lesley] Yes, this is a book written for elementary-aged children, but before you think it’s not for you, think again. This book is a wonderful read for children and adults who are interested in art and especially artists from New England whose work is iconic. I have been taken with work by the three Wyeths (N. C., Andrew, and Jamie) since I was in 6th grade. My mother took me to an exhibit of Andrew’s Helga paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The exhibit also included some other pieces and I remember distinctly Christina’s World. Part of my fascination probably came from my mother’s clear admiration and love of these paintings, but I had my own attraction to them as well. More recently, the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester had an exhibit of watercolors by Andrew Wyeth. Jamie takes a blend of his grandfather’s and father’s styles and creates one wholly his own. I love his portrayals of Monhegan Island and the coast of Maine along with his surprising portraits of animals and people, including one of Andy Warhol.

While I have admired the artwork of all three Wyeths over the years, I never knew much about them as people or their development as artists. Everybody Paints! was a perfect entry into their worlds and their training/education. The book starts with N. C. Wyeth, his childhood, his drive to create art despite his father’s disappointment, and his mentoring by the tough and eccentric Howard Pyle. N. C. Wyeth was a very successful illustrator (for the Saturday Evening Post and eventually for Scribner’s – remember those classic illustrations in Treasure Island?) but always struggled with wanting to be known as a “real” artist. Andrew left traditional school early, just like his father, in order to study art seriously with his father (N. C.) who gave Andrew his first watercolor set at age 13. After Andrew “graduated,” his father encouraged him to go to Maine to paint. There, Andrew found his talent for depicting the sea and quickly had a sold out exhibition. The Helga paintings were perhaps his crowning achievement and were in tempera, dry brush, watercolor, and pencil – showcasing his mastery in many mediums. Jamie is an illustrator, a portraitist, a landscape artist and a draftsman using watercolor, oil, charcoal and often using his fingers, sticks, and pieces of cloth instead of brushes.

I appreciated how the book focused on each Wyeth in turn, but also integrated each one into the other two lives – as it usually is in families. Being able to see how they each influenced each other was interesting, and even more so that the influence didn’t just work in one direction; the sons inspired and taught their fathers as well as the other way around. The quote from Jamie Wyeth on the back of the book (and where the book gets its title) sums it up: “Everybody in my family paints, excluding possibly the dogs.” I learned so much from reading this book and it made me want to seek out even more of their work.

Visit an Art Museum!
The library has discount passes that you can reserve online and then pick up at the library before your visit. Reserve Passes Here.

Find Books (and more!) about Art and Artists at the library: See a List of Library Books on Art and Artists

  • Children’s, Teen, and Adult nonfiction – Check Dewey numbers 708 – 760
  • Artist Biographies (children’s, teen, and adult) – Look in biographies under the artist’s last name
  • DVDs – Nonfiction 708

 

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

February 12, 2018 by

Bird BoxI had never heard of this author, but when a customer recommended this book wholeheartedly I thought I’d give it a chance. I’m glad I did! Very good audiobook– it was terrifying to be trapped in a sightless world with these characters. They are stuck indoors, afraid to look outside, afraid of the unknown. Malerman paints a picture of terror, capturing well the feelings and interactions of characters caught in a new era they know little about. I felt he even did a good job giving voice to a female main character and mother, not always an easy feat for a male author.

I saw today that Netflix has a film adaptation in the works- I’m skeptical and curious because I feel like there is something innately off when it comes to “viewing” this story. I’m kind of excited, though, to see what the director does with it when it comes to portraying the absence of sight. Audio was obviously a great format for this sensation.

I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

Bird Box on Overdrive
Bird Box on Hoopla

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

February 9, 2018 by

behindB. A. Paris drew me right in, weaving the main character’s past and present perspectives together into a story I could not put down! So thrilling.

Behind Closed Doors in Wiggin’s Catalog (print copy)
Behind Closed Doors on Overdrive (eBook & Audiobook)

No One Can Pronounce My Name

February 4, 2018 by

[Lesley] You can change your life and the lives of others. How? A cup of chai, listening, trying something new, being honest and kind. That all sounds pretty sappy, but it is what is at the heart of this book, surrounded by humor, misfits, gossip, and Cleveland.

This group of Indian immigrants and Americans meet each other in tangential ways and their lives become more intertwined even as they each are on their own path to discover who they are and how they fit into their families and surroundings.

Prashant breaks out of cultural expectations to follow his passion in college instead of in his father’s footsteps. Harit breaks free from grief and in the process also frees his mother. Teddy breaks free from what others think he *should* be and finds love. Cheryl breaks free from the monotony of Cleveland and her job to go on a Thelma and Louise-style road trip. Mohan breaks free of his shyness and routine to court his wife again. And, at the center of it all, Ranjana (mother to Prashant, wife to Mohan, co-worker of Cheryl, acquaintance of Teddy, and eventual confidant to Harit) breaks free of being “only” any of those things, writes paranormal romances, and decides that she can choose what lies ahead and what person to be.

Loved it. Just loved it.

Autumn, by Ali Smith

January 27, 2018 by

[Lesley] In some essential ways this novel made me think of Tinkers by Paul Harding. Nonlinear narrative that looks at time, humanity, and aging (and growing up) – beautiful language and deep quiet. I can’t wait to read the others in the quartet (Winter just came out in January!).

This is a tough sort of book to recommend though. There’s no way to think of this story as having a beginning, middle, and end – no way to feel like everything is resolved at the end. It’s hard to get a complete “read” on the characters; everyone is a bit out of focus in a dream-like way. We’re left with some mysteries, some things that may be true but might not be, and both Elisabeth and Daniel existing in that in-between state of growing older. It may not be the book for every reader, but it is one of the best I have read.

And, how could I not love that Daniel always asks Elisabeth, “What are you reading?”

Watership Down by Richard Adams

January 26, 2018 by

[Cindy]

I came upon this classic in a roundabout way. While reading (again) Steven King’s great novel “The Stand” one of his main characters mentioned that although he wasn’t a strong reader, he picked up this book and could not put it down. Later in the story he uses a phrase “going tharn” from the novel.
As for the plot, it’s basically a tale about a group of rabbits ousted from their home by human development and desperately looking for a new place to live. The author gives the rabbits their own unique personalities and even their own culture, language and religion. This is a beautifully written novel about friendship and trust between this group of rabbits and I love it for the story of their exciting and sometimes terrible journey to find their new home. Definitely, a classic.

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

January 10, 2018 by

[Tricia]
This is a beautifully written novel that follows several generations of a Palestinian family from the 1960s to the present. It focuses on the day-to-day impact of the huge historical events and struggles that surround this family as they move again and again from Palestine to Kuwait, Beirut, Paris, Boston, and more in search of a new and safer life. The challenges the different generations face to keep a sense of normalcy for their families, how much of their past to hold onto, and navigating new places as immigrants are heart-breaking at times, and will stay with you.

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

January 9, 2018 by

[Tricia]
This is the second book in a trilogy by Katherine Arden (the first book is The Bear and the Nightingale), and that can be a tough thing to pull off without seeming like filler between the first and last books. Katherine Arden really pulls it off! This book builds on the characters, particularly the main character Vasya, in interesting ways, takes them in unexpected directions, but would also work as a stand-alone book. The series is steeped in Russian fairy tales, and has a lovely, magical feel to it, although it it doesn’t spare you the brutality of life in medieval Russia. I love this series so far. Can’t wait for number 3.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

January 8, 2018 by

35504431[Sara]

I actually picked up this book after reading Dark Tower #6 because of the title phrase “Turtles All the Way Down.” This bit of philosophical thought plays heavily into both these stories despite their vastly different content.

John Green does a good job delving into the main character’s psyche, making her relatable despite her severe anxiety and nauseating compulsions. This YA novel is great for an adult to pick up too despite featuring teenage characters– Green’s excellent writing brings you right into this girl’s life from her perspective. He presented her world in a way that was reminiscent of high school for me despite taking place (presumably) in 2017. (Age Disclaimer: I was not in high school during this millennium)

A page-turner, interesting.

Find this book in the Wiggin catalog to check availability or place a hold