Check It Out

What is a Microhistory?

Category O in the 2016 MPPL Summer Reading challenge encourages you to read a microhistory. But wait, what is a microhistory? It is a very narrow or specific study on a single event or object throughout history. Below are just a few of the many titles we carry at the Library! Take one out and become an expert.

Labor of Love book coverLabor of Love: The Invention of Dating
by Moira Weigel
Weigel examines dating throughout the ages, from the days of video dating in the 1980s to today’s texting.
The Warmth of Other Suns book coverThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
Three American migrants are traced as they moved from the South to the North to create an emotional yet inspirational story of the struggles involved.

 

The Most Perfect Thing book coverThe Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg
by Tim Birkhead
Bursting with everything you wanted to know about bird eggs, this will cause you to look at birds in a new way!
Banana book coverBanana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World
By Dan Koeppel
A life without bananas? Sounds impossible, right? Wrong! Koeppel tracks bananas through the ages and the sobering reality that bananas as we know them are at risk.

 

Paper Paging Through History book coverPaper: Paging Through History
by Mark Kurlansky
How has paper changed from its beginning to now? Kurlansky (known for Salt) shares the unique roles paper has played in society.
Oneida book coverOneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table
by Ellen Wayland-Smith
Wayland-Smith explores the Oneida community in America, which rejected monogamy, marriage, and the traditional family structure in 1848 and eventually turned itself into a successful silverware company.

 

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

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Fiction: Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton

Margaret the First book coverWell-behaved women seldom make history,” and it isn’t for lack of trying that the once-notorious Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, is now largely unknown. After a shy, sheltered girlhood, a later life at court led to a new-found confidence in her intelligence, imagination, and ambition. She unabashedly flouted social norms, even earning the nickname “Mad Madge”. The one thing she did retain from her youth was her passion for writing, and she published extensively under her own name and with the support of her husband, both of which were nearly unheard of in the 17th Century. Danielle Dutton presents the life of Margaret the First in a series of personal tableaus that play out in short and fast-moving chapters.  You’ll be introduced to a fascinating woman from history who still has quite a bit to say to the world today.

This title will count as category F in the Summer Reading Challenge: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900.

For more pre-1900 biographical fiction about fearless characters in the arts, try..

Exit the Actress book coverExit the Actress
by Priya Parmar
The Master book coverThe Master
by Colm Tóibín
In America book coverIn America
by Susan Sontag

 

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

Staff Pick: 50/50

Janine from Circulation suggests the movie 50/50

50/50 cover imageJoseph Gordon Levitt stars as Adam, a normal 27-year-old, aside from the fact that he just found out he has a rare spinal cancer. His odds of survival are 50-50. While that all sounds pretty dire, the journey the viewer takes with Adam will have them laughing out loud.  Between Adam’s loyal but lewd best friend (Seth Rogen), his unreliable girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), overbearing mother (Anjelica Houston), and young, inexperienced therapist (Anna Kendrick), there are plenty of laughs to be had along the way.

That’s not to say the entire movie is all fun and games. The movie strikes a delicate balance between sharing the gravity of his illness and all that comes with it. As Adam’s therapist, Katherine, tells him, “You can’t change your situation. The only thing that you can change is how you choose to deal with it.” 50/50 is the story of how he deals with it, and the story is achingly honest, heart-breaking and hilarious in equal measure.

For more humorous stories with heart, try…

The Night Before dvd cover

 

The Night Before (DVD): Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt team up again, this time with Anthony Mackie joining them. The three friends spend a hilarious Christmas Eve roaming New York City in search of a Christmas party they’ll never forget.

 

 

Juno dvd cover

 

Juno (DVD): Juno MacGuff is 16, pregnant, and knows keeping the baby isn’t an option. This quirky, heartwarming movie is one you won’t soon forget.

 

 

 

Silver Linings Playbook dvd cover

 

Silver Linings Playbook (DVD): Bradley Cooper plays a bipolar man who befriends a similarly unstable woman while living at home with his parents in this story about family, and learning to love yourself and others, flaws and all.

 

 

Where'd You Go Bernadette book cover

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (Book): A funny book about an unforgettable woman named Bernadette, who disappears, leaving her daughter to find her any way she can. (book)

 

 

Picture of Tig


Live
by Tig Notaro (Audiobook): Comedian Tig Notaro’s groundbreaking stand-up performance is kicked off by announcing to the audience that she had cancer. Oh, and that was just after her mother unexpectedly died and she went through a terrible breakup. Raw, funny, and honest.

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Read a Book with Nonhuman Characters

Up for a challenge? Read a story that is told from the perspective of an object, an animal, or an idea! You may be well familiar with the many books centering on dogs or cats (and we’re fans of those, too), but try stretching yourself to see what you can learn about the human condition from something less familiar but just as decidedly nonhuman.  Below are a dozen noteworthy entries in different genres that can help you Read for the Win!

Firmin book covera rat

 

Jacobs Folly book covera house fly

 

My Name is Red book covera coin, a corpse, a tree…

 

The Bees book coverbees
The Bees

 

Join the Summer Reading Challenge.
Print your events list and scorecard here.
Not sure how to get started?  We have advice!

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

Regardless of what you read and how you choose to read it, share your picks using #MPPLsummer16

Nonfiction: Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte

Overwhelmed book coverdFor the parent that feels like they are being pulled in a variety of directions between work, family, and the rest of life, Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte could provide useful advice to help manage time or at least the comforting solace that you’re not alone. While most of the book is targeted toward middle to upper class working mothers in America, the information regarding the importance of seeking out time for leisure and tips on how to do so can be applied to other situations as well.

This book will count as category V: Read a book with a one word title in the Summer Reading Challenge!

 

 

For a few more one word titles, try..

Injection book cover Injection
by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey
Unbecoming book coverUnbecoming
by Rebecca Scherm
Pride book coverPride
by Lorene Cary

 

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

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Staff Pick: True Sadness by The Avett Brothers

Picture of JennyThe Avett Brothers’ newly released album True Sadness shows off the continued evolution of the band’s blended sound of indie rock and folk. While the band of four address the natural sadness experienced throughout life, there is more upbeat rhythms and hope than the album title may suggest!

Favorite song: “Ain’t No Man”
Favorite lyric: “Call the Smithsonian I made a discovery, life ain’t forever and lunch isn’t free.”  (from “Smithsonian”)

Also available on Hoopla for instant check out with a MPPL card.

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Movies and TV: Moone Boy

Moone Boy DVD coverIrresistible in its Irish charm, the quirky comedy series Moone Boy is guaranteed to bring a grin. Martin Moone may not be the brightest of twelve-year-olds, but he knows that life is more manageable with an imaginary grown-up buddy by his side to offer questionable advice. How else to contend with three older sisters, distracted parents, school bullies, and the general business of growing up? Set in a small town in Ireland in 1989, this winner of the International Emmy Award for Best Comedy is newly available on DVD. Co-creator Chris O’Dowd stars in one of the most cheerful, unique, and entirely lovable series on offer. You’ll find a friend in him.

Book Discussion Questions: Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen

Still Life With Bread Crumbs Book CoverTitle: Still Life With Bread Crumbs
Author: Anna Quindlen
Page Count: 252 pages
Genre: Fiction
Tone: Moving, Romantic, Reflective

Summary:
Moving to a small country cabin, a once world-famous photographer bonds with a local man and begins to see the world around her in new, deeper dimensions while evaluating second chances at love, career, and self-understanding.

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 did you like Rebecca Winter as a character?  Do you feel satisfied with how much you know about her?  Are there any aspects of Rebecca’s situation that you especially relate to?

2. How does the third-person narration affect your impression of Rebecca?  How different would the book have been had it been written from a first-person point of view?

3. What are Rebecca’s initial impressions of living in the country?

4. How did Rebecca’s marriage to Peter affect her?  Despite it not having been an ideal match, what does she miss about being married?

5. How is Jim intelligent in ways that Peter isn’t?  What are some other character traits that make Jim likable?  What do Rebecca and Jim like about each another?

6. How did you respond to the character of Rebecca’s mother?  Beatrice (Bebe) is described as being “as definite, as unyielding, as dark as the ungainly statue of Artemis” (p. 53).  As a columnist/author of nonfiction, Quindlen has written candidly about the importance of motherhood as well as its joys and challenges – why do you think she created a chilly, unsupportive mother figure for Rebecca?

7. How does her father, Oscar, compare as a parent?  How would you characterize Rebecca’s relationship with him?  Why does she keep her move to the country from him?

8. How did you respond to the portrayal of Bebe’s dementia?

9. What do the secondary characters contribute to the book?  Do you have any favorites?

10. In an interview published in The Washington Post (1-28-14), Quindlen said that Rebecca’s story was partially inspired by “how we live in New York City, about failing to see beneath the surface.”  One of the themes in Still Life With Bread Crumbs is things (objects / people / experiences) not being what they are initially perceived to be.  What are some examples of this?

11. A theme in much of Quindlen’s nonfiction pieces is the effect of losing her mother at a young age (19), and in particular how the loss influenced her appreciation for life and “the gift of getting older.”  Like Quindlen, Jim lost his mother at a young age.  What does this loss mean for his character and his worldview?

12. The book explores how Rebecca’s photography career took off after her Bread Crumbs photo, and yet “she mainly found her good work to be accidental, and immediate” (p. 78).  Why did her photography become so important artistically for feminism?

13. Jim is upset with Rebecca for taking pictures of the crosses despite not knowing why they were there.  Do you believe a photographer has a responsibility to understand what they are capturing with their photographs?  Why / why not?

14. Rebecca thinks her father believes “photography was a second-rate artistic pursuit.”  Some people do dismiss photography as an inferior art form, or as not art at all.  What are your thoughts on this?  What other types of creative expression are not held in high esteem?

15. Have you ever felt locked into an image of yourself, whether it was created by you or outside forces?  (p. 173: “People froze you in place, Rebecca sometimes thought… More important, you froze yourself, often into a person in whom you truly had no interest.  So you had a choice: you could continue a masquerade, or you could give up on it.”)

16. There is a particular life stage captured in this book, accepting that you are getting older but realizing there are still many possibilities ahead.  Do you believe this book appeals more to readers past a certain age, or is there a broader potential audience?

17. Do you find the idea of reinventing yourself exciting or terrifying?  How does the idea of control play into this?

18. At the end of the book, what does Rebecca like about her life and situation that she didn’t appreciate before?

19. Were there any lessons you learned from this book?

20. In By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from the NY Times Book Review (ed. By Pamela Paul), Anna Quindlen writes “I have many poetry collections – that’s my version of self-help” (p. 163).  Can Still Life With Bread Crumbs be seen as a form of self-help to its readers?  Why or why not?

21. Quindlen is a self-described feminist writer and has covered women’s issues in her journalism (exploring topics of women’s rights, political climate for women, balancing career and family, and modern life for women).  How does Still Life With Bread Crumbs contribute to the literature of contemporary women’s lives?  How is Rebecca’s story unique to the experience of women?

22. In an interview with Bookgirl TV pocast, Quindlen remarks “a simple, ordinary existence is just about the best thing out there.”  How does this novel reflect that belief?

23. With Still Life With Bread Crumbs, one of Quindlen’s goals was to write a love story.  How much does the romance element factor into this novel?  She also wanted to write a book with a happy ending.  Do you believe the conclusion of Still Life succeeds?

24. There are some interesting stylistic choices in the book.  Several scenes loop backward in time to a prior scene that the character recalls.  How did you respond to these multiple time shifts in certain scenes?  Does the circular patterning make you think of anything theme-wise?

25. In a direct reference to time, the phrase “but that was later” is a frequent comment at end of scenes.  What did you think of this pattern/repeated phrase?

26. Related to this, some chapters go far back in time (Thanksgiving 1956, for example) or way forward (one of the White Cross Series reviews).  What did you think of this?  What do you think the author was trying to achieve and do you think she succeeded?

27. Quindlen has stated that the theme of running out of money has been rarely explored in novels.  What do you think of the author’s choice to include specific dollar figures in Rebecca’s ruminations, when she does mathematical calculations in her head?

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

OTHER RESOURCES:

Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
Video Interview with Anna Quindlen on BookGirlTV
New York Times book review, “Second Shot” by Joanna Rakoff
Washington Post interview with Carole Burns
Transcript of NPR interview (2-2-14)

REadalikes:
Back When We Were Grownups book cover Open House book cover Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
Open House by Elizabeth Berg
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

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Staff Pick: In the Country by Mia Alvar

Picture of NancySummer is a wonderful time to pick up a collection of short stories.  I recommend Mia Alvar’s knockout debut, In the Country, which has been described by readers as dazzling, phenomenal, and stunning.  With a variety of characters as well as settings, these richly detailed stories capture the Filipino immigrant experience in an unforgettable way.