It’s not often that I read a novel that I know is going to make me cry and actually like it! Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You is the story of two unlikely people who meet and fall in love. Sounds simple, but there is absolutely nothing simple about it.
Archive for July, 2014
If you were fascinated by The Devil in the White City, allow us to suggest a new true crime book that spotlights a gruesome reality during a celebrated time in history: Steven Levingston’s Little Demon in the City of Light: A True Story of Murder and Mesmerism in Belle Époque Paris. The “Little Demon” in question is 20-year-old Gabrielle Bompard, who lured a wealthy Parisian to her rooms where he was then strangled by her lover. When all was exposed, Gabrielle’s defense was that she had been under a hypnotist’s suggestion and so couldn’t be held responsible for her actions. The resulting scientific and legal debates became a story in themselves. History, science, justice, passion — take your pick! You’ll find it in this meticulously researched but surprisingly easy-to-read true tale.
Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.
For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.
New: Fantasy and Sci-fi
Step onstage with the newest Tony Award winners, and take your pick of musical comedy, rock opera, and jukebox hits. The spotlight shines on these original Broadway cast recordings — all of which are available in the Library collection.
Best Musical: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
** also winner for Best Direction, Best Book, and Best Costume Design
Best Revival of a Musical: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
** also winner of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Neil Patrick Harris), Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role (Lena Hall), and Best Lighting Design
Best Sound Design of a Musical: Beautiful — The Carole King Musical
** also winner of Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Jessie Mueller)
Best Original Score Written for the Theatre: Bridges of Madison County
** also winner of Best Orchestrations
The anime and manga series Attack on Titan is an action-packed and unique story. Set in a world where huge man-eating giants called Titans terrorize the earth, this story follows a group of young people who are sick of living in fear.
In the movie Grand Canyon, one character utters the memorable line, “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies!” Though not every movie may have answers for us, according to Lolly, the owner of a Maine bed-and-breakfast, Meryl Streep’s films are as “good as chicken soup, a best friend, a therapist, and a stiff drink.” She’s very grateful for the comfort these movies provide, especially while navigating more than her share of hardships. In Mia March’s heart-tugging novel, Lolly tries to reunite family by forming The Meryl Streep Movie Club, a weekly opportunity to celebrate cinema as counselor, bond-builder, and universal truth. Curl up with a bowl of popcorn and decide which Streep-inspired storyline speaks most to you.
Listen up! This year’s winners of the Audie Awards have been announced, celebrating the best audiobooks to bring giggles, sighs, knowledge, and excitement. Treat yourself to one of the top titles pictured below, and make the most of the fun by adding it to your Summer Reading Program log.
Audiobook of the Year: Still Foolin’ ‘Em, written and read by Billy Crystal
** also winner for Humor and for Narration by the Author
Biography/Memoir: The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony, read by Simon Vance
Literary Fiction: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, read by David Pittu
** also winner for Solo Narration (Male)
Science Fiction: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold, read by Grover Gardner
Romance: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks, read by Ron McLarty and January LaVoy
Thriller/Suspense: The Hit by David Baldacci, read by Ron McLarty with Orlagh Cassidy
When times are tough, it can be easy to wish for a little more awesome in our lives, but perhaps the awesome is already there, and we just need to take notice! Celebrate finding the amazing in the ordinary in The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things by Neil Pasricha, founder of the website 1000 Awesome Things. With bright spots ranging from “eating the French fries at the bottom of the bag” and “the smell of rain on a hot sidewalk” to “the sound of ice cubes cracking in a drink” or “when you hear someone’s smile over the phone,” you can’t help but feel your spirits lift. Open your eyes to simple pleasures and a happier outlook.
SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Title: The Age of Innocence
Author: Edith Wharton
Page Count: 362
Genre: Classic literature, Love stories, Social commentary
Tone: Bittersweet, Moving, Nostalgic, Satirical
1. What do you make of Newland Archer? Is a hero, a victim, or something in between?
2. Were his motivations selfless or selfish?
3. Did Newland truly love either May or Ellen?
4. Why do you think Wharton made Newland the lead character in her novel? How might the story be different if told from the Countess Olenska’s point of view? Or from May’s?
5. For which character did you feel the strongest, either positively or negatively? Did your opinions evolve as the story progressed?
6. Would Newland have been happier with Ellen?
7. How might the story have been different if Newland and Ellen had embarked on a full affair, rather than a fairly conservative flirtation?
8. Would you have liked to know more about Newland and May’s courtship? What might those details have revealed about the characters, about their marriage?
9. What does Newland see in May at the beginning of the novel? What does he see in Ellen? What does each woman represent for him? What does each woman see in Newland?
10. Some critics have described May as one of the great villains of American literature. Does that characterization surprise you? Is it a fair assessment? In what ways might she be considered villainous?
11. Can you attach any symbolic significance to May’s skill with a bow and arrow? What does this side of her reveal about her character, about her relationship with Newland?
12. How does the novel portray marriage? How does it portray passion and sexuality? Are the ideas surrounding each applied differently to the male and female characters?
13. Is this a classic tale of star-crossed lovers, of love unrequited—or is it something else, something more? Is it a story of an affair or of a marriage?
14. Some critics have called this novel a story of identity. Would you agree? What do you think it has to say about identity? How might this be a story about belonging?
15. How much of our identity comes from the life we are born into versus the life we create for ourselves? How do you see this question working in the lives and identities of the characters in this novel?
16. What other characters made an impression on you? How significantly did the peripheral characters influence the lives of Newland, May, and Ellen?
17. Think about the title of this novel. Is it meant to be taken literally—was it truly an innocent time? Or is the title ironic? Who among these characters could be described as innocent?
18. Wharton often expressed her dislike of modernity, her unhappiness with the hustle and bustle and lack of courtesy in modern life. Is her novel a piece of nostalgia for the “good old days”? In what ways might it be considered satire?
19. Upon its publication, The Age of Innocence became an immediate sensation. Why do you think that is?
20. Wharton won the Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence, but only after some controversy where the prize was taken from its original recipient—Sinclair Lewis for Main Street (a biting social satire of small-town America). The Board of Trustees said Wharton’s novel “presented the wholesome atmosphere of American life and the highest standard of American manners and manhood.” Was their assessment correct?
21. It’s a novel about the very wealthy. Could a similar story be told about the very poor? What elements would be different? Which would be the same?
22. It is certainly a novel of its time and place. Would you also consider it a timeless story? Do its themes resonate today?
23. The novel ends with Newland deciding not to meet with Ellen later in life. Why do you think he made this decision? Did you want him to see her? What would you have done if you were him?
Reader’s Guide from the Big Read
The life and legacy of Edith Wharton
Painting believed to have inspired the title of Wharton’s novel
Edith Wharton/Sinclair Lewis Pulitzer Prize controversy
Roger Ebert’s review of Martin Scorsese’s 1993 film adaptation
A body is discovered lying across the border of Sweden and Denmark, and it’s only the first in a series of violent crimes designed to draw attention to social ills. A fascinating achievement of international television, Bron / Broen (The Bridge) straddles intersecting character arcs in a tension-filled series that examines the boundaries we cross.