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Nonfiction: Young House Love by Sherry and John Petersik

Cover of Young House LoveWith spring on the way, it’s time to get started on the household DIY projects that have been set to the side. Sherry and John Petersick share more than 200 ways to decorate and update a variety of living spaces. Mixing photographs with drawings and humor with helpful tips, the couple presents ideas ranging from using a Sharpie to spruce up a shelf to more complicated projects like creating sink backsplashes. Sherry and John spread the wealth of where they receive inspiration from by listing their favorite websites and magazines plus featuring guest bloggers throughout. With such a range of ideas, Young House Love will be sure to inspire a variety of crafters, from the inexperienced to the more seasoned.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 12, 2015 Categories: Books, Nonfiction

Book Discussion Questions: The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Cover of The Round HouseTitle: The Round House
Author: Louise Erdrich
Page Count: 321 pages
Genre: Coming of Age Stories, Literary Fiction
Tone: Reflective, Moving, Bleak

Summary from publisher:
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface because Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe’s life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared. While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

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

1. The Round House is a book for which a sentence or two summary cannot fully capture the experience it holds. How would you describe the feel of reading this story?

2. As you read, were you conscious of the fact that it was an older Joe looking back on this summer? Did that impact the narrative for you?

3. This work has been described as a coming-of-age story. In what ways are Joe’s experiences universal? In what ways are they specific? Does this category do justice to the narrative?

4. One of the ways a typical adolescence is explored is through sexual curiosity and preoccupation. Were you at all uncomfortable with these depictions in a story that is incited with a brutal sexual assault? Was this intentional?

5. The Round House deals with some deeply troubling themes and struggles. How was that balanced? Were there elements that lightened the story for you?

6. Describe Joe’s friendship with Cappy. What did he add to the story?

7. Is Joe proud of his heritage? What does this narrative have to say about cultural identity?

8. Much of the complication for Geraldine’s case is the question of jurisdiction. How does the legal relationship between the U.S. and the Ojibwe complicate the investigation?

9. Why didn’t Geraldine simply lie and say she knew where it happened? Do you agree with her reasons?

10. When Joe makes his decision, he says it is about justice, not vengeance. What do you think? How does that decision change him? Does his decision change your perception of him?

11. One reviewer shared, “In Erdrich’s hands, you may find yourself, as I did, embracing the prospect of vigilante justice as regrettable but reasonable, a way to connect to timeless wisdom about human behavior. It wasn’t until I put the book down that I recognized – and marveled at – the clever way I had been manipulated.” Was your experience similar to that of the reviewer? Does this affect your assessment of the book and/or the author?

12. How would you describe Father Travis and his role in the story?

13. Near the end of the story (p.306), Joe’s father talks of “ideal justice as opposed to the best-we-can-do justice”. What did he mean? How is this borne out in the story?

14. What else did Joe’s father want him to understand from that conversation? Did he make his point?

15. What was the importance of the wiindigoo motif?

16. Do you feel you have a good understanding of what Geraldine was like before the incident? How does the author convey this?

17. At one literary festival panel, during a discussion of the general lack of strong marriages in fiction, author Lorrie Moore said she felt the marital life of Joe’s parents was a central part of The Round House. In what ways would you agree or disagree with this statement?

18. What were the most uncomfortable scenes for you? Did these lessen your enjoyment of the book as a whole?

19. What was the significance and the symbolism of the Round House? Why choose this as the title?

20. How would you describe the author’s writing style and storytelling choices?

21. At the conclusion of the novel, when Joe’s parents are driving him home and they don’t stop at the roadside café, Erdrich writes, “we passed over in a sweep of sorrow that would persist into our small forever. We just kept going.” What do you think she meant?

22. The Round House won the National Book Award and was later selected for Book Crossing, a shared reading program between Mount Prospect Public Library and our sister city, Sèvres, France. What elements make this book a good choice for discussion?

 

Other Resources
LitLovers guide
Video of National Book Award honors
NY Times Q&A with Louise Erdrich
Resource guide from Minnesota Book Awards
University of North Carolina questions for reflection
Another perspective: book response

If you liked The Round House, try…

Thirteen Moons Canada Perfect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
Canada by Richard Ford
Perfect by Rachel Joyce

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 11, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Literary

Staff Pick: Dazed and Confused

Picture of DianeIt’s 1976, the last day of school in Austin, Texas, the music is rocking, the keg is tapped, and Matthew McConaughey is “All right, all right, all right.”  Join the party in Dazed and Confused, the coming of age cult comedy film written and directed by Boyhood’s Richard Linklater.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 10, 2015 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by Diane, Staff Picks

Fiction: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Sculptor book coverTo be discovered and promoted by a wealthy patron is what most young artists can only imagine, but David Smith was the promising exception. Too bad his ego brought it all crashing down after only six months. While at his lowest, he is offered the chance to make a different dream come true:  he will have the power to create anything he wants but will only have 200 days to enjoy the gift before he dies. When he falls for a mysterious girl and dares to desire a different future, the true cost of his bargain seems much too dear. The Sculptor is one of the year’s most anticipated graphic novels, and author Scott McCloud’s expert techniques frame a story of ambition, love, and self-discovery.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on March 9, 2015 Categories: Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

New: Historical Fiction and Romance

Every other 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: Historical Fiction Books

Cover of Driving the King Cover of The Marriage Game Cover of A Touch of Stardust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving the King by Ravi Howard
The Marriage Game by Alison Weir
A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott
Cover of The Secrets of Midwives Cover of Mrs. Grant and Madame Julie Cover of The Nightingale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
Mrs. Grant and Madame Julie by Jennifer Chiaverini
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

New: Romance Books

Cover of The Unexpected Consequences of Love Cover of A Bad CharacterCover of Sweet Surprise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell
A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor
Sweet Surprise by Candis Terry

Cover of Earls Just Want to have FunCover of The Years Cover of You're So Fine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earls Just Want to Have Fun by Shana Galen
The Years by Nicholas Delbanco
You’re So Fine by Kieran Kramer

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 6, 2015 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, New Arrivals, Romance

Fiction: The Onion Girl by Charles De Lint

Cover of The Onion Girl“Look hard enough, and everything has a story. Everybody is important.”

De Lint breathtakingly tells the painful story of a girl walking the line between life and death. Jilly Coppercorn is a young artist living in a big city. Known for her selflessness and eclectic nature, it isn’t until Jilly is hit by a car that her friends begin to unravel Jilly’s layers and find a girl broken by a horrific past. Returning to the urban fantasy world, Newford, he has labored on for so many years, Charles DeLint continues to bring magic and meaning to the ordinary in The Onion Girl.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 5, 2015 Categories: Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Staff Pick: John From Cincinnati

Picture of JohnDavid Milch’s brilliant, confounding HBO series John From Cincinnati defies easy classification – the closest most come is “surf noir” – but ultimately, it’s about the same thing as his previous series (the all-time classic Deadwood):  how strange and damaged people come together to form unlikely communities.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 3, 2015 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

Fiction: Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson

Unwanted book coverHenry, a conductor for Swedish National Railways, was enjoying a fairly uneventful journey until a signaling problem stopped the train for a spell. He thought it odd when he saw a woman step onto the platform without the little girl he’d seen with her earlier, but it wasn’t until the train was again on its way that everything went wrong. When alerted that the frantic mother had been left behind, Henry was relieved to discover the girl sleeping unaware. A ruckus forced him to step away for only a few moments, but when he returned, the only sign she’d been there were her shoes arranged neatly by the seat. Unwanted by Kristina Ohlsson is a tense thriller that will captivate fans of Scandinavian crime fiction, especially those who are waiting for next books from Jo Nesbø, Anne Holt, or Camilla Läckberg.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on March 2, 2015 Categories: Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

2015 Folio Prize Shortlist

As the first English Language book award to recognize novels written internationally, The Folio Prize is dedicated to celebrating the best of literature. Announced at the beginning of February, the shortlist was narrowed down to eight selections from a longlist of eighty titles. Chair of Judges William Fiennes explained in developing the shortlist, “We were looking for boldness, freshness… books in which the form or structure of the story was perfectly matched to the ideas. You feel reading these eight books that you’re witnessing fiction discovering new possibilities for itself.”

The young prize is only in its sophomore year, and will be announcing the 2015 winner March 23. You can view the full shortlist on The Folio Prize website.

Cover of Family Life Cover of Dust Cover of Dept. of Speculation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Cover of OutlineCover of How to Be Both Cover of 10:04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outline by Rachel Cusk
How to be Both by Ali Smith
10:04 by Ben Lerner

                    2014 Winner:
Tenth of December by George Saunders

 

Cover of Tenth of December

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on February 27, 2015 Categories: Awards, Books, Lists, Literary

Music: Testimony by August Alsina

Image of Testimony by August AlsinaR&B artist August Alsina begins his debut studio album, Testimony, with an introduction of who he is and where he’s come from with the song “Testify.” The confessional ballad sets the tone for an album covering a lot of ground. In fifteen songs, the young artist explores the addictions of his father, the death of his brother, and the constant pull of his dreams. While the songs are largely reflective and involve Alsina’s history, the energetic rhythm and occasional song about partying bring additional flavor to the mix. Although this BET Best New Artist of 2014 stands by himself, some songs feature other rap and R&B artists such as Yo Gotti, Fabolous, B.o.B., and Trinidad James.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on February 26, 2015 Categories: Music