Check It Out

Staff Pick: Monkey by Desmond Morris

Steve from Research Services suggests Monkey by Desmond Morris

Monkey book coverI worked in the Youth Services Department for 12 years and have been in Research Services for the last six. Compared to what’s written for young people, there aren’t as many nonfiction series for adults, but one of the best nonfiction series for adults is Animal by UK publishing company Reaktion Books. So far, my favorite of the series is Monkey by Desmond Morris.

Like the other books in the series, it is about this particular animal in science, history, art, literature, religion, everything. It’s amazing all the projection of human traits people put on monkeys! They are both super cute lovely versions of us as well as our worst fears. The amount of havoc so many monkeys create is astounding, and you will be astounded too with any book from this series.

 

Spider by Katarzyna & Sergiusz Michalksi book cover

Spider by Katarzyna & Sergiusz Michalksi

Fascinating and Frightening! Why are so many people scared of spiders? The relationship between humans and spiders are as complicated as their web.

 

 

 

Elephant by Dan Wylie book cover

Elephant by Dan Wylie

This book draws on a rich array of cultural examples to document the elephant’s symbolic power, from the Hindu god of wisdom to Babar and Dumbo.

 

 

 

Flamingo by Caitlin R. Knight book cover

Flamingo by Caitlin R. Knight

Flamingo untangles the scientific research of this unusual bird and looks at its role in popular culture, and why we have flocks of plastic pink birds on our lawn.

 

 

 

Tortoise by Peter Young book cover

Tortoise by Peter Young

The tortoise is the oldest of the living land reptiles, the surviving link between animal life in water and on the land. It has existed for 200 million years, and they look it.

 

 

 

Hare by Simon Carnell book coverHare by Simon Carnell

The story of the hare is about a small mammal valued for its fur, flesh, reproductive power, and exceptional speed.

What Books Are People Talking About?

This summer, Twitter users took to sharing online what they have been reading using #MPPLSummer16. Below is a sampling of the books that have struck Mount Prospect Library users enough to tweet about.

 

Cover of JewelsJewels: A Secret History
by Victoria Finlay
“For my first Challenge book (A), I am LOVING the non-fiction book, Jewels: a Secret History by . ” -@amymerda

The Widow book coverThe Widow
by Fiona Barton

“Can’t put down “The Widow”. It’s a great psychological thriller! ” -@mooti

Citizen book coverCitizen
by Claudia Rankine

“CITIZEN by Claudia Rankine injects texture into race conversation with boldness and grace. Powerful, compact audio choice for ” -@nglofile

Rogue Lawyer book coverRogue Lawyer
by John Grisham
Just finished Rogue Lawyer by Grisham, easy and intriguing. Starting Stiletto by O’Malley. If you haven’t read The Rook, do.” -@jenzerbenz

Boys in the Boat book coverThe Boys in the Boat
by Daniel James Brown
“Picked up our Summer Reading Challenge at – we are now on a mission! ” -@prospectdad

Bet Me book coverBet Me
by Jennifer Crusie
“After 3 recs, finally made time for BET ME by , and it didn’t disappoint. Missing fun rom-coms? Start here! ” -@nglofile

Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

“Just finished Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta and it has this quiet fierce beauty to it. So good! ” -@jennyandthings

Cover of Dead WakeDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
by Erik Larson

Reading Dead Wake by . Love the description of the Lusitania as a “floating village in steel.” – @CKmorency

 
 
 

Summer isn’t over yet! Share what you’ve been reading using #MPPLSummer16!

The Summer Reading Challenge ends July 31st. If you’ve read 3 books since June 1, they may be applicable for the challenge! Stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk to see and enter to win for a prize.

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Book Discussion Questions: Remembering Babylon by David Malouf

Remembering Babylon book coverTitle:  Remembering Babylon
Author:  David Malouf
Page Count: 200 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary, Aboriginal Fiction
Tone:  Lyrical, Thought-Provoking, Strong Sense of Place

Summary:
In the mid-1840s, a thirteen year old boy is cast ashore in the far north of Australia and taken in by aborigines. Sixteen years later, when settlers reach the area, he moves back into the world of Europeans.

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

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2016 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1.  What would you say this book is about?

2.  In what way does the introduction of an outsider/newcomer expose the true character of the community? of the individuals?

3.  What were the two initial reactions of the village? Were these responses understandable? What qualities do the two groups have in common?

4.  Describe what you know of Gemmy. How old did you imagine him to be? Who is he at heart? Is he intelligent? Did you sympathize with him? Did anything change your opinion of him?

5.  Was Gemmy an innocent? Why did he come in the first place? Do your answers affect your experience of the story in any way?

6.  From the opening scene, it seems as if Gemmy is the central character, but he later simply disappears. Does this mean he isn’t the focus of the story?

7.  How does the setting contribute to the story? Is this simply a historical account of Australia, or is there a universal element to the book? What is the implied relation between Gemmy’s fate and the progress of Australian history?

8.  In many ways, Janet is closest to Gemmy – the one who understands him, the one he most accepts. Janet is also the focus of several pivotal scenes. Why? What is the author attempting to say, for instance, in

a. her “growing-up” moment
b. the swarm of bees
c. the final scenes as a nun (with Lachlan)

9.  What story is being told with the other characters:

a. Jock McIvor?
b. Mr. Frazer?
c. George Abbot?
d. Mrs. Hutchence?

10.  How did Lachlan Beattie’s character contribute to the story? How did he change? Why do you think he was made a Minister of the government? Did his experiences with Gemmy contribute at all to this path?

11.  Gemmy is repeatedly called a “black-white man” or even “a parody of a white man”. How does the question of race and identity impact the situation? the story as a whole?

12.  What was it that the people feared?

13.  Though Malouf employs multiple points of view, he leaves the aboriginal characters as enigmas. Why might he have chosen to do this? If the aboriginies had never visited, would Gemmy’s treatment have eventually been the same anyway?

14.  How does Gemmy’s treatment by the aborigines both parallel and differ from his treatment by Englishmen?

15.  In your opinion, what became of Gemmy?

16.  Which scenes stand out as particularly impactful?

17.  What did you think of Janet’s statement near the end, “He was just Gemmy, whom we loved….”?

18.  Were you satisfied with the ending?

19.  Did Gemmy change the town or its people? How?

20.  What importance does the title add?

21.  What role does language (or the absence of it) play? Compare with Gemmy’s sense that the words in which Abbot transcribes his story contain “the whole of what he was”.

22.  What did you think of Malouf’s style? He is first a poet; was that evident? Was his non-linear narrative effective or distracting? What does he accomplish by telling his story from shifting points of view and by withholding critical revelations?

23.  Did you have difficulty with the use of dialect? Did this add to or detract from the plot / theme / book as a whole?

24.  Is there a message about colonization? What of the allusions to “dispersals”? What of the longing for connection in a vast, empty land?

25.  Is there a political commentary in Remembering Babylon? a moral one?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

Author Colm Tóibín interviews David Malouf
The New York Times review of Remembering Babylon
Spotlight as winner of Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize
Video interview from Sydney Writers’ Festival
Discussion questions from Reading Group Guides
Australia’s Top 100 Favourite Homegrown Reads

READALIKES:

That Deadman Dance book coverThat Deadman Dance
by Kim Scott

Rabbit-Proof Fence book coverRabbit-Proof Fence
by Doris Pilkington

Living book coverThe Living
by Annie Dillard

Staff Pick: Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker

Picture of MartaDear Fellow  Reader,  it is not fair that actress Mary-Louise Parker is also a gifted writer who has known more than her share of interesting men and experiences. In Dear Mr. You, she addresses them all with unabashed honesty and razor-sharp insight. Sarcastic yet profound, Parker’s letters capture many men quite clearly, perhaps to their discomfort.

Poetry: Gotta Go Gotta Flow by Patricia Smith and Michael Abramson

Gotta Go Gotta Flow book coverIt started with the photos. In the 1970s, Michael Abramson took to photographing a handful of clubs in the South Side of Chicago. Decades later, acclaimed poet Patricia Smith brought new life to the pictures, creating stories surrounding the slices of history Abramson caught. To coincide with the range of black and white images, Smith’s poetry sways from introspective to steamy to empowering, inviting the reader further into fully imagining the life behind the subjects dancing and living throughout the pages of Gotta Go, Gotta Flow.

 

 

Patricia Smith is known for her skill with spoken-word poetry, which is an oral art form drawing attention to the way words sound and are presented to share a specific message. Check out a few more books featuring popular spoke-word poets.

Listen Up cover imageListen Up
by Zoe Anglesey
A great introductory to spoken-word poetry, Anglesey features nine diverse poets including a short introduction of them and a sampling of their poems.
This is Woman's Work cover imageThis is Woman’s Work
by Dominique Christina
Although it’s primarily a guide assisting woman in defining themselves, award-winning poet Christina sprinkles powerful poems on womanhood throughout this book.
To This Day cover imageTo This Day
by Shane Koyczan
Full spread pages of art brings added power and beauty to Koyczan’s strong words about his and others’ experiences with bullying.

 

 

Poetry is category S of the Summer Reading Challenge. It’s not too late to join!
Not sure how to get started?  We have advice!
Share what you read and see what other people are reading using #MPPLsummer16

For reading suggestions, email us at readers@mppl.org or tweet at us @MPPLIB

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Audiobook: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus book coverIt’s Thursday the first time Ted sees it. Thursdays are the nights he and Lily talk about cute boys. This night they are debating the Chrises (Hemsworth, Evans, Pine, or Pratt?) but suddenly it doesn’t matter because there is an octopus perched like a birthday party hat on his dog’s head. The octopus, what others might call a tumor, is hungry, and its arrival changes everything.

Steven Rowley’s debut Lily and the Octopus is one of the warmest, wittiest, heart-squeeziest celebrations of love between pet and owner that you will ever encounter. Actor Michael Urie narrates with a nimble flexibility: barking out Lily’s staccato excitement, adding edge to the taunting of the octopus, and giving voice to Ted’s ongoing swirl of emotions. Ted and Lily’s tale will make you giggle, make you weep, and make you very, very glad such stories are in the world.

Staff Pick: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

Picture of DeniseThe Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert is a summer must-read! It’s an uncomplicated and downright NICE book with likeable characters, a great setting (Milwaukee) and a simple plot that works! I haven’t been to Milwaukee in years and thanks to this book I will be making the trip and quite possibly eat the coconut cake!

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Read a Book Published in the Decade You Were Born

Welcome to the last quarter of the 2016 Summer Reading Challenge! Looking for a home-stretch read? Choose a theme flexible enough to include a type of book you already like. Category B is Read a Book Published in the Decade You Were Born, and it offers all sorts of options.

1. Match your favorites: Do you like mysteries, romances, or another specific flavor of story? Find out what was being written in that genre when you were young. We can help!

2. Educate yourself: Choose something from that decade’s bestsellers list or that is now taught as a modern classic.

3. Made into a movie:  Books-to-movies aren’t a new phenomenon. Look at famous films from your birth decade and connect a few to their original novels.

4. Browse a sampling : Below are lists for each decade to give you a place to start. Click through and find a book that entered the world around the time you did.

 
 
 

It’s not too late to join the Summer Reading Challenge.
Not sure how to get started?  We have advice!
Share what you read and see what other people are reading using #MPPLsummer16

For reading suggestions, email us at readers@mppl.org or tweet at us @MPPLIB

Book Discussion Questions: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings book coverTitle: The Invention of Wings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Page Count: 373 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Moving, Authentic, Strength

Summary:
The story follows Hetty “Handful” Grimke, a Charleston slave, and Sarah, the daughter of the wealthy Grimke family. The novel begins on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership over Handful, who is to be her handmaid and follows the next thirty-five years of their lives. Inspired in part by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke (a feminist, suffragist and, importantly, an abolitionist), Kidd allows herself to go beyond the record to flesh out the inner lives of all the characters, both real and imagined

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

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2016 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. How many of you would say you enjoy historical fiction? What is it about historical fiction that you enjoy? For others, what don’t you enjoy about it?

2. Did this book meet your expectations? Why or why not?

3. Did you like the way the story was told, with each chapter going back and forth between Sarah and Handful? Why or why not?

4. In the book who needed wings and how did they obtain them? Where does the author use the image of birds and flight?

5. What qualities in Sarah, Nina, and Handful did you most admire? What other admirable characters were there in the story?

6. Understanding the time and the family Sarah was brought up in, what made Sarah desire and fight for a different life for herself, other women and slaves?

7. Sarah fought against what was expected of her throughout her life. Use your imagination and tell me what her life would have been like had she acquiesced. Could she have been happy?

8. What significance did the fleur-de-lis button hold for Sarah? What was the significance of Charlotte’s story quilt? What was the significance of the rabbit-head cane that Handful receives from Goodis? What was significant about the spirit tree?

9. What gave Handful and Sarah strength to do all that they did?

10. What does having an ally mean when facing a difficult task? Who were Sarah’s allies throughout the different times of her life? Who were Handful’s allies?

11. How are the two causes of abolition and women’s rights similar? How are they different?

12. What were some of the pivotal moments in the story? Give examples of where you saw Handful moving toward freedom. Give examples of where you saw Sarah moving toward freedom.

13. Did you find the ending satisfying?

14. If this book was made into a movie would you go see it?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

Reading Group Guide on Sue Monk Kidd’s website
Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Discussion Guide
Discussion questions from blogger, Wide Lawns
Q&A video with Oprah and Sue Monk Kidd
NPR interview with Sue Monk Kidd
More about the Grimke Sisters

Readalikes:
A Mercy book cover Miss Emily book cover The Wedding Gift book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Mercy by Toni Morrison
Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor
The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

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