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Archive for November, 2013

Lists: True Crime Nonfiction

Devil in the White City book coverErik Larson, the author of The Devil in the White City, has said, “I don’t necessarily hunt for dark subjects. It just happens that the darker events of history are often the most compelling.”

If you want a safe way to explore the blood and shadows of the human psyche, click here for true crime books.

By Readers' Advisor on November 15, 2013 Categories: Books, Lists, Nonfiction

Music: Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County album coverNo joke, John Mellencamp and Stephen King are friends. They even collaborated on a Southern gothic musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, about two brothers involved in a murder/suicide who haunt an isolated, Mississippi cabin. King wrote the play, Mellencamp wrote the music, and T. Bone Burnett put his haunting, roots rock stamp over the soundtrack, which features a devilish Elvis Costello, Neko Case, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and more. Interspersed with dialogue from the play, the soundtrack gathers you into the story of ghost brothers Jack and Andy as they feud, die, and later watch their nephews step onto the same calamitous path of tragic love and family secrets.

By Readers' Advisor on November 14, 2013 Categories: Horror, Music

Book Discussion Questions: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore book cover

SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.

 

Title: The Other Wes Moore
Author: Wes Moore
Page Count: 233
Genre:  Memoir, pop sociology
Tone: Moving, fast-paced, thoughtful

 

1. What drove author Wes Moore to write to the prisoner Wes Moore? Why do you think prisoner Wes Moore wrote the author back?

2. Have you ever, or would you ever, write a prisoner? Why or why not?

3. What was the fate of author Wes Moore’s father? Do you think his father might have survived under other circumstances? (p. 15)

4. What was the fate of prisoner Wes Moore’s father?

5. What significance did fathers play in the lives of both Wes Moores?

6. Did both Wes Moores have strong mother figures? Do you think both mothers tried their best? Is there anything that either of them could have done differently?

7. Do you think one Wes Moore had a stronger family unit or a better support system while growing up? How can having a strong support system change a child’s life?

8. Outside of his family, who warned author Wes Moore about the bad path he was on? (police officer after he got caught tagging) Did Moore heed this warning? For how long? Why didn’t the change stick?

9. Author Wes Moore states, “Later in life I learned that the way many governors projected the numbers of beds they’d need for prison facilities was by examining the reading scores of third graders.” (p. 54) How did reading this make you feel? Why?

10. What allowed author Wes Moore to go to better schools than prisoner Wes Moore?

11. Author Wes Moore states, “Soon it became clear that the Riots were about more than the tragic death of Dr. King. They were about anger and hurt so extreme that rational thought was thrown out the window – these were people so deranged by frustration that they were burning down their own neighborhood.” (p. 19) Does this “deranged frustration” make sense to you? Are there places today’s America that feel like this?

12. Author Wes Moore talks about the Bronx in the 1980s and early 1990s as an apocalyptic place to be with drugs, burned out buildings, and crime everywhere. Are there still cities like this today? What causes cities to crumble like this? How does living in a neighborhood like this affect a person?

143. At what ages did both Wes Moores start to “go wrong”? Were you surprised by how young they were? What kind of crimes was author Wes Moore into? What about prisoner Wes Moore?

14. What was your first impression of author Wes Moore? What about your first impression of prisoner Wes Moore?

15. How did each Wes Moore respond to danger and aggression? Were their reactions the same?

16. How did Tony try to dissuade prisoner Wes Moore from following his illegal path? Why did it work or not work?

17. At one point, Mary, prisoner Wes Moore’s mother, flushed his drugs down the toilet. What did you think of her actions? Was it enough? Would you have done anything different?

18. Military school obviously benefited author Wes Moore. Do you think there were any other paths that could have set him on the straight and narrow?

19. Prisoner Wes Moore joined Job Corps. Did it help him? What did he go on to do after he exited the program? Why?

20. Prisoner Wes Moore continued to proclaim innocence, saying he wasn’t there for the robbery. Do you think the author believed him? Did you believe him? Do you think he should have been sentenced to life in prison?

21. What did author Wes Moore go on to do after exiting military school?

22. What do you think was the defining factor of why author Wes Moore stepped out of his cycle of destruction and prisoner Wes Moore did not?

23. What does education have to do with the path that each Wes Moore landed on then continued on?

24. What does racial privilege have to do with the stories of both Wes Moores?

25. What does economic privilege have to do with the stories of both Wes Moores?

26. Are racial privilege and economic privilege tied together? How so or how not?

27. Was there a topic you wished the author delved deeper into?

28. After the epilogue, there is “A Call to Action”. What is this section about? Why do you think the author put it in the book? Did reading The Other Wes Moore make you feel called to action? What other books have made you want to take action in the world?

29. If someone enjoyed reading The Other Wes Moore, what books would you recommend to them?

30. Are there any documentaries you would recommend to someone who enjoyed this book?

 

Other Resources

Author Wes Moore’s website
Lit Lovers’ book discussion questions
Wikispace guide to The Other Wes Moore
Brooklyn Public Library hosts Wes Moore
Interview with the Open Society Foundation
Interview with Oprah
Interview with Salon

 

If you liked The Other Wes Moore, try…

There are no Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
Whatever it Takes by Paul Tough

There Are No Children Here book cover     Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria book coverWhatever it Takes book cover

By Readers' Advisor on November 13, 2013 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Nonfiction

Staff Pick: The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

Marta Main PictureAnne Tyler has taken the sting from death in The Beginner’s Goodbye. Aaron’s wife begins appearing to him a year after she dies. As Aaron looks back on his marriage and moves forward in his life, he’s challenged to recognize his deceased wife for her truest self and offer one final romantic date.

By Readers' Advisor on November 12, 2013 Categories: Books, Picks by Marta, Staff Picks

Fiction: Pride & Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice graphic novel coverJane Austen wrote, “How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book,” and her fans surely agree when it comes to the much-beloved Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps your own devotion has led you to read all the books, watch all the movies, and still it isn’t enough. May we suggest enjoying the story in Marvel comic form? That’s right!  Graphic Novels for Grown-ups Month is the perfect time to sample Pride & Prejudice as adapted by an award-winning romance author and skilled illustrators. Much of Austen’s language and wit are smartly preserved, and the drawings add insight into the characters’ personalities and foibles. This is a delightful way to revisit a favorite, and don’t forget to enter for prizes after you reach the happy ending!

By Readers' Advisor on November 11, 2013 Categories: Books, Literary, Romance

Lists: Latino and Latina Authors

In the Time of Butterflies book coverFiction has many gorgeous layers. One layer is that of Latino and Latina authors. Latino refers to male citizens of the U.S. who have Latin American origins, whereas Latina points to female citizens of the U.S. with Latin American origins.

Click here to dive into the depth and diversity of Latino and Latina authors.

By Readers' Advisor on November 8, 2013 Categories: Books, Lists

Nonfiction: Broke, USA by Gary Rivlin

Broke USA book coverIn the 1970s and ‘80s activists began to hound banks for redlining – an unwritten rule that banks would avoid putting branches in poorer neighborhoods. By the 1990s, other entrepreneurs stepped into the gap that the banks had left. Pawnshops, check cashing companies, payday lenders, and furniture rental stores filled working poor neighborhoods. In Broke USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc., Gary Rivlin examines the businesses that serve people living paycheck to paycheck. Rivlin begins neutrally, but as a cycle of debt is revealed he pounces on these businesses as predatory in this surprising page-turner. If you like easy-to-read exposés on American economics like Nickel and Dimed, try Broke USA.

By Readers' Advisor on November 7, 2013 Categories: Books, Nonfiction

Staff Pick: Mistress by Amanda Quick

Denise staff picks photoIphiginia Bright is a witty, impertinent woman ready to break free of her role as a staid schoolmistress, but is she equipped to handle her newest role…as the Earl of Masters’ mistress? Amanda Quick’s historical romance Mistress will have you laughing and turning pages to see what happens next.

By Readers' Advisor on November 5, 2013 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Picks by Denise, Romance, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Friendship Bread by Darien Gee

Friendship Bread book coverDenise of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Friendship Bread by Darien Gee:

Friendship Bread is a heartwarming, extremely touching novel on loss, the healing power of friendship, and the tremendous gifts of sharing and forgiveness. The story centers around an Amish friendship bread that makes its way throughout the town of Avalon, Illinois. It changes the lives of five women in various stages of life, all dealing with different issues. You will feel their sorrows, revel in their successes, and love how they come together over tea and friendship bread. This novel is sweet and sentimental with a lovely ending. When you read it, you’ll want to share it with a friend, and don’t forget to add a starter packet of friendship bread!

By Readers' Advisor on November 4, 2013 Categories: Books, Picks by Denise, Staff Picks

Lists: Celebrity Audiobook Narrators

Return of the Native audiobook coverIf there’s any better reading experience than Alan Rickman narrating an audiobook…we don’t know what it is. Or maybe we do. Maybe it is Will Wheaton narrating an audiobook or Nelson Mandela or Bob Dylan or Jeremy Irons. There are so many fabulous, famous narrators!

Click here to check out audiobooks with celebrity narrators.

By Readers' Advisor on November 1, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Lists