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The 5 Books I Plan to Read for Summer 2017

16 Jun

Nothing makes a librarian happier than recommending books to others, so I was delighted when my niece FaceTimed last week to ask for summer reading suggestions. She starts high school in the fall and is required to read a nonfiction book and a fiction book during the summer, which she will do while she is away at camp. This also inspired me to think about my own summer reading, so I will tell you about the books I suggested for my niece, and what I plan to read.

(Don’t forget that the Hoboken Public Library is here for all your summer reading needs, with print books, eBooks, audiobooks, and more. Our Summer Reading Programs for all ages kick off Thursday June 22, where what you read this summer puts you in the running for prizes! And of course, we will celebrate our reading successes once summer ends.)

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My niece: isn’t she a cutie? ❤

Recommendations for My Niece

My suggestion for nonfiction was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. (Click here to find this title in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, large print, and eBook.) This book about Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose still-growing HeLa cell line has been used in more than 60 years of scientific and medical progress, has been a sensation since it was first published. It is a hybrid of biography about Henrietta, her family, and where she grew up in rural Virginia; history of racist practices against poor blacks in medical settings (Henrietta’s cells were taken during a medical exam and used in research without her or her family’s knowledge and consent); and science writing that is accessible and makes the reader think. This book is absolutely brilliant, and ranks among the best nonfiction I have ever read.

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This book assigned in high school classes, and a friend that teaches high school science gave this book a thumbs-up for teens. I think it will be a challenging and educational read for my niece. However, she is forbidden from watching the recent HBO movie adaptation that stars Oprah instead of reading the text. (This Librarian always prefers the book to the movie.)

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For fiction she wanted straight YA. I first suggested The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which I am currently reading. Starr is a young African American woman straddling two worlds–her gritty urban neighborhood and her pedigreed suburban private school–whose childhood friend Kahlil is shot and killed while unarmed during a traffic stop by a police officer.

The heavy subject matter yielded a nose wrinkle from my niece, and I understand her feeling. Most people want to read light, fun books in the summer. (As you read further into this post, you will see that I am not one of these people!) This book is intense, and has moved me to tears a few times while reading, but The Hate U Give is an impressive debut by Angie Thomas.

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My next YA fiction suggestion was When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (available in print and as an eBook). I haven’t read this book, about two Indian-American teens whose parents are planning an eventual arranged marriage for them who meet in a summer program before college. Rebecca and Liberty from Book Riot’s All the Books podcast say that this book is adorable, and I plan to read it myself. My niece may like the romantic elements and the teen characters. 

I will be writing letters to my niece at camp to check in on her reading progress, and to talk about what she ultimately chose to read.

Next up are books I want to read this summer.

Inspired by the American Crime Story Anthology Series

I watched American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson last year and was riveted. Perhaps the series resonated because I remember the Bronco chase broadcast live on TV in 1994 (and was miffed that the chase interrupted ABC’s TGIF lineup) and the extensive trial coverage. 

In 2018 there where will be two more installments of the American Crime Story series, and I may change my cable cord-cutter status to watch them. The first is about the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace in August 1997 that was part of a killing spree by Andrew Cunanan. (Filming for this series is underway, and photos of Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan are online.) The source book is Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Manhunt in FBI History by Maureen Orth, which reports on Cunanan’s crimes leading up to his encounter with Versace. I love a good true crime story (click here to read my review of The Lost Girls by Robert Kolker) and want to read about this case before the show airs.

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The next American Crime Story will cover Hurricane Katrina. I have written about media inspired by this devastating storm, so I am very interested in this story. The source text is The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley. This is a well-researched, dense volume that will likely take me all summer to get through. I am reading the first chapter now, which discusses the establishment of New Orleans as a port city, its flooding history, and how the vulnerable Louisiana coastline has eroded over the past 200 years.

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In case you are wondering, the source for American Crime Story: The People v O.J. Simpson was The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin.

A Wildcard Pick

My father will happily tell you that he has been exposing me to 1960s music since my early childhood. In the car, the radio was always tuned to 101.1 FM, which was New Yorks’ Oldies station. Now that he’s upgraded to satellite radio, he always listens to the 60s on 6 channel, and sometimes First Wave (the 1980s alternative channel, which is my influence on him).

This exposure has definitely fostered my appreciation of 1960s music. In particular, I am a fan of Otis Redding. This past spring Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life by Jonathan Gould was published. I want to read this well-reviewed biography to learn more about one of my favorite artists, who died in a plane crash before his signature song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was released in 1968 and became a hit.

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So, this is my summer reading list. I am also duty-bound to read the books for the Library’s Mile Square City Readers Book Club, the Lady Memoir Book Club at Little City Books, and the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge I’m following. So I have no shortage of books to read!

Tell me reader, what are you reading this summer?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

Lesbian Classics to Check Out for this Year’s LGBTQ Pride Month

31 May

June is LGBTQ Pride Month!  For this year I decided to celebrate with three classics of lesbian literature, each of which capture a moment in queer history.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

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Patricia Highsmith is probably best known for Strangers on a Train and other suspenseful thrillers, but her 1952 lesbian romance novel The Price of Salt (originally written under the pseudonym Claire Morgan) is considered a classic of the genre and is notable for having a much happier ending than many of the novels with LGBT characters had at the time.  It is set in this area, in both New York City and New Jersey.  It was later retitled Carol which was also the title given to the 2015 movie adaption staring Rooney Mara as the bored stage designer who falls for a suburban housewife portrayed by Cate Blanchett.  You can borrow an eBook or a streaming audio copy of the book from Hoopla. You can also borrow a Spanish language translation from BCCLS libraries.

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

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Image via Goodreads

Cozy Mystery lovers likely know Rita Mae Brown as the New York Times bestselling author of the Mrs. Murphy mystery series which she “co-writes” with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown.  Rubyfruit Jungle is Rita Mae Brown’s 1973 novelization of her own coming of age story of as a lesbian writer and chronicles the journey of Molly from her childhood in small town Florida to New York City.  In 2015 Brown received the Golden Crown Lee Lynch Classic Book Award for Rubyfruit Jungle.  Created in 2004, Golden Crown recognizes and promotes lesbian literature.

DTWOF

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DTWOF or Dykes to Watch Out For was Alison Bechdel’s comic strips published between 1983 and 2008.  You can checkout compilations at BCCLS libraries.  The women portrayed are a diverse group and the cartoon manages to merge politics and the drama of their lives in an engaging and often funny way.  Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragic Comic, about her father’s death and her exploration of her own sexuality was adapted into a Tony Awarding winning Broadway Musical (you can borrow the cast recording on CD).

You can read about two of my favorite authors, Jeanette Winterson and Sarah Waters who both have written landmarks in lesbian literature in a previous Pride Month post.

Celebrate LGBTQ History at the Hoboken Public Library!

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Join us for our special Pride Month event on Thursday June 15 at 7 PM!  You can learn about Hidden Heroes of the Gay American Experience and how they made profound contributions to arts, history and culture.  John Catania and Charles Ignacio, producers of In the Life (America’s first and longest running LGBT national TV newsmagazine) take you on an entertaining and provocative journey into the past and explain how these trailblazers’ efforts continue to reverberate to the present and beyond.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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