Month: February 2013

Check It Out Blog

LISTS: Harlem Renaissance Writers

Cane book coverAfter the American Civil War, many African Americans moved from rural Southern locations to Northern locales. One of the epicenters for burgeoning African American culture was Harlem in New York City. The Harlem Renaissance (1918 – 1937) was a literary, musical, and visually artistic era that served as a cultural awakening, wherein racist beliefs of African Americans were broken down and African American culture was expanded through the arts.

Click here to get acquainted with writers of the Harlem Renaissance.

When Your Band Breaks Apart

New York Doll DVD coverThe New York Dolls were a proto-punk, rock-and-roll band who played hard, loud…and in women’s clothing. They kicked out the jams for five years and fell apart by 1977. New York Doll is a documentary on bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane after his life in the Dolls. Kane describes his alcoholism, drug abuse, and his climb back into normal life – having become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Just when working in a Mormon genealogy library was starting to get mundane, the New York Dolls reunited, giving Kane a chance to rock out without the negative nightlife.

Colleen’s Pick: Being Human

Colleen staff picks photoA werewolf, vampire, and ghost share a London flat. No, this isn’t a new Twilight love triangle spin-off. It’s Being Human, a BBC television show that combines drama, horror, and comedy all in one. Currently in its fourth season, it is one of those shows that you can’t stop watching.

A Little Night Music

Nocturnes audiobook coverIt is a gifted writer who can compose sentences that remind you of haunting melodies. Kazuo Ishiguro is one such author, and his collection Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall boasts charms that will soothe the savage breast. Set in different cities worldwide, each story is shared from the perspective of a single musician, all struggling to balance the idealism of music’s promise with the colder realities of making one’s way in the world. A sense of humor lightens many of the characters’ exploits, especially in the title story, in which an aging jazz musician undergoes plastic surgery to improve his image. Narrators Mark Bramhall, Simon Vance, Kirby Heyborne, and Lincoln Hoppe each take their turns at the podium to orchestrate Ishiguro’s symphony in words.

You Don’t Have to Wear Make-Up, but If You Do…

Wearing make-up is not a requirement of being a beautiful woman. Going natural is great, but if you do want to wear make-up, Bobbi Brown wants to help you find your style, rather than following a trend. Her newest book Pretty Powerful: Beauty Stories to Inspire Confidence gives techniques and recommendations for everyday and evening looks, along with interviewing famous women – from actresses to athletes – about what beauty means to them.

LISTS: True Romances of Writers

Henry and June book coverShakespeare has given us some of the most beautiful romances in history. Hemingway has given us some of the most controversial. Anaïs Nin, some of the most erotic. What inspired these writers, and others, to create such intense, arduous affairs in literature?

Click here for nonfiction on the real life romances of writers.

Street Style of the Over 60 Set

Advanced Style book coverAdvanced Style started as, and continues to be, a blog. Ari Seth Cohen wanted to chronicle the elegance, eccentricity, and charm of male and female fashion fanatics over the age of 60. Cohen roams the streets of New York City, searching for posh, panache, and those with a general flair for ensemble assembly. With permission given, Cohen photographs the most in vogue and posts them to his blog. Advanced Style is a hardcover coffee table book that collects the best of the best of Cohen’s chic fashion photography, pairing portraits with interviews and advice from his most refined and glamorous subjects

Book Discussion Questions: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound book cover

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


Title: Mudbound
Author: Hillary Jordan
Page Count: 328
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Compelling, Haunting, Thought-provoking

Questions composed by MPPL Staff:

1.    Whose point of view (P.O.V.) was most interesting to read?

2.    Was there a main character in this book?

3.    What was the main story?

4.    Whose story did you want more of?

5.    Would this book be different if you got to hear Pappy’s story from his P.O.V.?

6.    What did you think of the love affair between Jamie and Laura?

7.    What do you think that act meant to Jamie? Do you think it meant something different to Laura?

8.    Did you want their relationship to last?

9.    Was the sex scene written well?

10.    Laura realizes that she doesn’t truly love Jamie. Why?

11.    What did you think of the relationship between Laura and Henry?

12.    What about between Florence and Hap?

13.    Who had more equal footing in their relationship, Laura or Florence? Why?

14.    Given the times, did Laura have a choice if she was going to move to the country or not?

15.    Would you have moved?

16.    What did it say about Henry that he didn’t even tell Laura he bought a farm?

17.    Do you think Henry noticed Pappy’s bickering, unhappiness and how Laura felt around him?

18.    Who had the better relationship with their father, Henry or Jamie? Why?

19.    Do you think Pappy loves his sons? How can you tell?

20.    When the children get sick at the farm, Henry gets Florence to nurse them. What is his reaction when she gets in the front of the truck with him?

21.    Does being a racist make you a bad person?

22.    Is there such thing as being “only a little racist”?

23.    Do you think Laura would have considered herself a racist?

24.    Would Florence have considered Laura a racist?

25.    Why do you think Laura was more attractive and interesting to her family once she “had a man”?

26.    What was your reaction to when Ronsel came home with enough money to buy his parents a new mule?

27.    What was Henry and Laura’s reaction?

28.    There is strong foreshadowing in Mudbound, did you mind? Ex:  Jamie talks about Ronsel’s fate being sealed on page 212. Do you mind knowing that something awful is about to happen?

29.    Why did the men “only” cut out Ronsel’s tongue?

30.    Is there symbolism in Ronsel’s tongue being cut out? What does it mean?

31.    Why did Jamie kill his father?

32.    Do you think Jamie would’ve been a different person is he was able to talk about the traumas he experienced during the war?

33.    Is there any other way that you would have killed Pappy?

34.    What do you think happens to Ronsel?

35.    What about Jamie?

36.    Do you think Henry and Laura go on to live happy lives?

37.    How can authors writing outside of their own culture sometimes be problematic? (Re: cultural appropriation)

38.    Mudbound won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction, which awards $25,000 to a work of socially responsible literature that gives support to social change. How do you think Jordan’s book did this?

39.    Is the setting a character in this book?

40.    Do you think that this story could have been told in a different, non-southern setting?


Other Resources:

Hillary Jordan’s website
Bellwether Prize website
Lit Lovers’ book discussion guide
NPR interview with Hillary Jordan
Goodreads reviews (watch out for spoilers)
Hillary Jordan author talk


If you liked Mudbound, try…

Bloodroot by Amy Greene
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Sula by Toni Morrison

Bloodroot book cover      Kitchen House book cover     Sula book cover


Feed book coverLarry of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Feed by M.T. Anderson:

Computers have been reduced in size to a small chip that can be implanted in the human brain. Everything that can be done with a computer is now done by the interaction of one’s thoughts with the chip which is in constant connection with the network. Get the news, watch your favorite show, talk online with your friends, do your work, and buy products online through your brain’s connection to the Feed. No need to read, write, or dial numbers; it all comes to you automatically, including a constant flow of advertisements for products targeting your specific interests. But there’s a price to pay in quality of life and human development for a society of runaway consumerism and instant gratification.