Check It Out

Fiction: Harsh Winter Reads

For the reader that likes to spend their winters with stories that are as heavy as a long snowfall, take a look at one of the three fiction titles below set during winter.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena book cover
Cover of Eileen
The Snow Child book cover

 

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

In a small village in Chechnya, an 8-year-old girl watches as her father is taken away by Russian soldiers and her house is burnt to the ground. She is found in the snow by her neighbor and brought  to a struggling hospital for refuge. Choose this emotion-laden story if you like winding stories focused on well-drawn out characters.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

Eileen has disappeared. At the time she is twenty-four, working at a juvenile detention center for boys in the 1960s, and living with her alcoholic father. Told fifty years later, Eileen closely details the events leading up to Christmas and her disappearance. Choose this disturbing story if you’re interested in being absorbed into the mind of someone who you’re not sure if you want to know what they’re actually thinking or not.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Set during a harsh winter in Alaska, Jack and Mabel are struggling with the bone-wearying work they have in front of them and a strained marriage. However, the childless couple find a mysterious young girl in the forest that is about to set their lives on a different path. Choose this fairy tale-inspired story if you are looking for a little bit of hope and magic this winter.

 

What Did MPPL Staff Love in 2015?

Can you choose only two of your favorite items you read, watched, listened to, and/or played this year? MPPL staff can tell you, it’s hard to do! Check out below what staff members chose for the top of their lists this year and make sure to stop by and share what your favorites have been!

Only two titles were chosen as a top favorite by more than one staff member. Can you find which ones they are?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture of JohnVideo Game:
Dark Souls II
CD:
Madvillainy

 

 

 

 

Picture of DianeBook:
Uprooted
DVD:
Mr. Robot

 

 

Picture of ColleenAudiobook:
Outlander
DVD:
iZombie Season 1

 

 

 

 

See what staff chose in 2014!

Interested in personalized reading, watching, and/or listening suggestions? Ask!

Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Artistic Achievements

“When I look at this year’s outstanding slate of Honorees, I am struck by a powerful common theme-artists as history-makers, artists who defy both convention and category.”
-Deborah F. Rutter, Kennedy Center President

Every year, The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts honors a handful of artists that have had an impact on performing arts in America. This year the gala takes place on December 29 and will honor…

Carole King
Singer-songwriter

 

 

Cicely Tyson
Actress and Broadway star

 

 

George Lucas
filmmaker

 

 

Seija Ozawa
Conductor

Carmen album coverCarmen by Georges Bizet
Piano Concerto No. 2 CD coverPiano Concerto No. 2 by Sergey Pokofiev
Gloria album coverGloria / Stabat Mater by Francis Poulenc

 

 

Rita Moreno
Actress and singer

 

These works of art are just a sample of the honorees’ bodies of work. Stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen Services desk on the second floor or contact us online and we can connect you with other works by or featuring one of the artists.

Staff Pick- The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower

Donna of Fiction/AV/Teen suggests The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower

Cover of The ResidenceKate Andersen Brower’s history and human interest book is about several first families and the staff that cared for them. President John Adams and his wife Abigail were the first to live in the White House in 1800 starting with only four staff members. Now there are 96 full-time, 250 part-time residence staff, plus 2 dozen from the National Parks Services to care for the grounds. The staff is very protective of the families but did share special memories of the good and sad times, considerate or demanding First Ladies, rude or polite Presidents, formal or more casual entertaining and the general working of the House.

 

For more stories from inside the White House, try…

The Butler book coverThe Butler: A Witness to History by Wil Haygood

This is a true story of a White House butler who served 8 Presidents. It was made into a movie too!

 

 

First Families book coverFirst Families: The Impact of the White House on their Lives by Bonnie Angelo

This book gives anecdotes about the Presidents, spouses, children and the White House.

 

 

To Serve the President book coverTo Serve the President: Continuity and Innovation of the White House Staff by Bradley H. Patterson

Examining the  total size and cost of the contemporary White House team, Patterson also looks into what people do

 

Inside the White House book coverInside the White House: Stories From the World’s Most Famous Residence by Noel Grove

National Geographic and the White House Historical Association presents never before published stories and photographs of the house.

 

Inside the White House America’s most famous house Book coverInside the White House: America’s Most Famous House

This documentary has a tour of the private quarter with interviews with the White House staff, and a behind-the-scenes look at a state dinner preparations.

Graphic Novels: Bestselling Fiction Series Characters

It wasn’t that long ago that bookish people overlooked graphic novels, assuming the format wasn’t for them. How times have changed! Not only have many readers discovered new appreciation for the partnering of story and art, but some of your favorite series characters have had adventures in this format – ones that weren’t available in traditional non-illustrated print. Take a look at what you may have missed:

Exile book cover

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander series
Retells in graphic novel format the first Outlander novel from Jamie Fraser’s point of view, revealing events never seen in the original story.

 

 

 

 

Troublemaker book cover

Troublemaker by Janet Evanovich, Alexandra Barnaby series
A man has gone missing, and to find him Barnaby and Hooker will have to go deep into the underbelly of Miami and south Florida, surviving Petro Voodoo, explosions, gift-wrapped body parts, a deadly swamp chase, and Hooker’s mom.

 

 

 

Welcome to the Jungle book cover

Welcome to the Jungle by Jim Butcher, Dresden Files series
Harry Dresden, the only professional wizard listed in the Chicago phone book, takes on supernatural villains out to turn the world upside down in an original graphic novel adventure

 

 

 

 

Richard Castles Deadly Storm book cover

Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm, Derrick Storm series
Presents an “adaptation” of the fictional first novel of Richard Castle, the main character of the popular crime television series Castle, that follows Derrick Storm’s transition from a private detective to a C.I.A. agent.

 

Book Discussion Questions: Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Cover of Loving FrankTitle: Loving Frank
Author: Nancy Horan
Page Count: 362 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Moody, Romantic, Character-Driven

Summary:
Fact and fiction blend in a historical novel that chronicles the relationship between seminal architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney, from their meeting, their marriage to another, and the clandestine affair that shocked Chicago society.

 

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

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

1. Did you know what the outcome of the book would be when you began reading. How did that affect your feelings about the book as you read it?

2. Did you find Mamah to be a sympathetic character? Did you understand why she made the choices she did? What did you like or not like about her?

3. Did you find Frank Lloyd Wright to be a sympathetic character? Did you understand why he made the choices he did? What did you like or not like about him?

4. Do you think Wright was a genius? What do you think about his belief that he could not be expected to live like a “common man.” What role do you think Mamah played, if any, in his work?

5. Did the book make you believe Frank and Mamah’s love was true. Do you think if not for the tragedy at the end they would have stayed together for life? Were Frank and Mamah a good fit for one another?

6. What did you feel about Mamah’s husband Edwin and Frank’s wife Catherine? Did you want them to behave differently than they did?

7. Have you been to any of Wright’s houses? What did you experience? Did you know about the events described in this book and how did that or might that influence your feelings toward Frank Lloyd Wright houses?

8. What did you think of the relationship between Ellen Keys and Mamah? Do you think it paralleled the relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah? What did you learn about the role of women in the early 1900s that surprised you?

9. Frank Lloyd Wright married two more times after Mamah died. Does this surprise you? How were his wives similar? How were they different?

10. Do you think it was good that Horan followed so close to the actual facts? Should she have embellished more? Would that have made a better story?

OTHER RESOURCES:

Lit Lover’s Reading Guide
New York Times book review
RA for All Book Discussion Summary
Published Discussion Questions
Interview with Nancy Horan

READALIKES:
The Women Book CoverAmerican Wife Book Cover Above All Things

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Women by T.C. Boyle
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

Staff Pick: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Picture of DeniseA thought-provoking novel that centers around the plight of those who immigrate to the United States. Maybe a touch simplistic and definitely bit sentimental, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez does give a vivid portrayal of the sacrifice and struggle it takes to make a new land your home. For those who prefer audiobooks, multiple narrators enhance the nuance of the text.

Read-Watch-Listen: Three Collections of Christmas Classics

Every year brings a new crop of holiday stories, but sometimes we can’t help but long for the good old days. If you are one to appreciate tales of Christmases gone by, cozy up to one of these collections.

Christmas Sampler book cover
Bing Crosby Christmas Specials DVD cover
Classic Christmas Stories audiobook cover

Read:  A Christmas Sampler: Classic Stories of the Season, from Twain to Cheever

Selected from the collections of The New York Public Library, A Christmas Sampler celebrates literary quality in interpretations of the meaning of Christmas. Classic American talents Langston Hughes, Washington Irving, and Edna Ferber are included along with titles such as Damon Runyon’s “The Three Wise Guys” and the iconic “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” by Francis P. Church.

Watch:  Bing Crosby, The Christmas Specials

Christmas songs are a favorite style of story, and one of the most famous renditions of “The Little Drummer Boy” was the strange pairing of Bing Crosby and David Bowie during a television event.  See for yourself on Bing Crosby, The Christmas Specials, which features nostalgia-rich entertainment that offers a respite from modern tech-obsessed holidays.

Listen:  Classic Christmas Stories

Catch the holiday spirit with an audio recording of nine timeless classics that celebrate the season. Classic Christmas Stories from L.M. Montgomery, Mark Twain, O. Henry, Willa Cather, Hans Christian Andersen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Bret Harte and Anthony Trollope are professionally recorded so you can listen while you trim the tree, wrap gifts, or simply curl up by the fire.

Like Settlers of Catan? Try These Books!

Settlers of Catan Game Cover

The tabletop board game Settlers of Catan is more than tricking your friends into giving you more wheat than is fair. It’s about exploring new frontiers and trying to gather the resources to successfully build a new settlement to support your loved ones. Bring the game to life in a different way, with one of these four novels covering the experiences of settling into a new land.

 

Clash of Eagles Book CoverWhat would have happened if the Roman empire hadn’t collapsed? Find out in the action-packed Clash of Eagles by Alan Smale.
Conquistador Book CoverJoin in the adventure of an ex-marine finding a portal to America before Europeans stepped foot on the soil in Conquistador by S.M. Stirling.

 

 

The Emigrants Book CoverFor a quieter novel about a Swedish family immigrating to America, try The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg
Red Mars Book CoverWant an epic saga of colonizing Mars? Try Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson.

 

Want to have fun meeting new people and playing games? Join us Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 6pm for a game night for adults! Read more about it here.