Month: January 2014

Check It Out Blog

Movies and TV: Trashed

Trashed DVD coverThe Earth has the possibility of becoming a garbage heap. In the documentary Trashed, Jeremy Irons narrates the problems and solutions to modern waste management while he travels from open air heaps in Lebanon to modernized dumpsites in the U.S. Broken down into “Land”, “Air”, “Water”, and “Solutions”, Irons guides the viewer through issues like groundwater pollution, birth defects, and oceans becoming a slurry of toxins – all caused by the world’s lax landfill regulations. With easy solutions, like more stringent fines on those who fail to recycle, Trashed lays out not only problems, but attainable solutions. If you like Jeremy Irons’ golden baritone or movies that are good for watercooler talk in the morning, try Trashed.

Book Discussion Questions: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw book coverSPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.

Title: The Turn of the Screw
Author: Henry James
Page Count: 134
Genre: Literary horror
Tone: Ambiguous, leisurely, literary


Questions composed by MPPL Staff

1. The job: to tend to two orphans in a country mansion full of rarely-seen servants with absolutely no oversight from the children’s remaining family. Do you think this job was unusual for the Victorian era? Why did the governess take the job? Would you have taken the job?

2. Is the Governess the first person to her position or were there others before her?

3. How would you describe the Governess as a person? Do you think she cared for the children?

4. What did you think of the children’s uncle? Do you think he cared for the children? Why do you think he never wanted to be contacted about their conduct or progress?

5. There are several unnamed characters in this book – the Governess and the Uncle. Why do you think Henry James never named them? Did you notice the characters were unnamed? What power does a name have?

6. Who is Mrs. Grose? Do the children trust her? Does the Governess trust her? Does Mrs. Grose trust the Governess?

7. The Governess has an ideal start with Flora and then Miles comes home from boarding school for the summer. A letter appears shortly after from Miles’ school saying he was expelled. Why was he expelled? Did the Governess talk to Miles about his expulsion? Why or why not? Would you have talked to Miles about it?

8. Did the Governess write Miles’ uncle about his expulsion? Why or why not?

9. What are other examples of people being vague or unnecessarily mysterious in The Turn of the Screw?

10. Who is Mr. Quint? Who is Miss Jessel? How were they connected to one another? How did the Governess first come across knowledge of Quint and Jessel?

11. Do you think the ghosts of Quint and Jessel were real?

12. Do you think the children saw the ghosts of Quint and Jeseel?

13. Was the Governess a heroic woman trying to protect the children from evil influence…or do you think she was hallucinating and losing her mind?

14. Why do you think the governess was so slow to write the children’s uncle? Did she ever actually write him? If she did, what happened to the letter?

15. Did the children write their uncle? What happened to their letters? Is there a reasonable explanation for why the Governess did not post them?

16. Did you find the children, Miles and Flora, to be lovely or sinister?

17. Did the children ever turn on the Governess? If so, how and why?

18. Miles asks the Governess when he is going back to school. It is here that we start to see his personality. What is Miles like? How does the Governess respond to his inquiries?

19. Corruption is a word often used by the Governess. What do you think this word means to her and to this story?

20. The Governess and Mrs. Grose find Flora playing outside. The Governess swears she sees the ghost of Miss Jessel across a stream from them. Can Flora see the ghost? What happens to Flora and the Governess’ relationship after this sighting?

21. Where does Mrs. Grose take Flora?

22. What happens between Miles and the Governess while Mrs. Grose and Flora are gone?

23. Do you think Miles’ death was an accident? Do you think it could have been averted?

24. What are words you would use to describe The Turn of the Screw? What genre is it?

25. What makes a good suspense novel? What makes a good horror novel? Did The Turn of the Screw make a good horror or suspense novel?

26. What is the meaning of the title?

27. Have you seen (and would you recommend) any of the movies based on The Turn of the Screw?


Other Resources

Random House book discussion questions
Goodreads reviews
The New Yorker review
SparkNotes for the book
Wikipedia page for the book


If you liked The Turn of the Screw, try…

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The White People and Other Weird Stories by Arthur Machen

The Woman in Black book cover     The Haunting of Hill House coverThe White People and Other Weird Stories cover

Movies and TV: Footnote

FootnoteFather-son relationships will never not be complicated. Add a measure of professional rivalry, and the drama is bound to entertain. Dr. Eliezer Shkolnik is a purist in Talmudic scholarship, one who for years has been largely unrecognized by his peers. His son, Dr. Uriel Shkolnik, enjoys popularity as a similarly dedicated but more personable academic. Uriel is selected to be the winner of the Israel Prize, a prestigious national honor, but the Prime Minister calls Eliezer by mistake, creating a tangle in which there is no clear way to correct the error without sacrificing one or the other. Footnote, a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film of the 2012 Academy Awards, features bittersweet humor, restrained camerawork, and exceptional understated performances.

New: Fiction and Nonfiction

Every Friday the Library will bring you two 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.

Get your reading glasses on, because here we go!

New: Fiction Books

Mercy Snow book cover

What I Had Before I had you book cover

Andrew's Brain book cover

Today I am a Boy book cover

Invention of Wings book cover

Under the Jeweled Sky book cover

Still Life with Bread Crumbs book cover

What We've Lost is Nothing book cover

New: Nonfiction Books

Short Guide to a Long Life book cover

Thing I've Learned from Dying book cover

Empire of Necessity book cover

Accidental Universe book cover

Talk about a Dream book cover

Polio Wars book coverLittle Failure book cover

Body Counts book cover

Nonfiction: Brassaï: Paris Nocturne

Brassai: Paris NocturneBrassaï moved to Paris in 1924. He slept all day and roamed the streets at night, photographing the moonlit Montparnasse quarter and beyond. Street toughs grinned broadly for him, prostitutes coyly raised thinly-lined eyebrows, and young couples necking on benches ignored the photographer entirely. Brassaï may have been called boring by his friend (and famed writer) Henry Miller, but his work is everything and anything but dull. There are no grittier, livelier images of Depression-era, European nightlife than what Brassaï captured. If you like black and white gangster movies, unflinching photography, or just want a conversation-starter of a coffee table book, try Brassaï: Paris Nocturne.

Staff Pick: The Ghost Army

Joyce Staff Picks photoThink you know WWII history? You might be surprised! The Ghost Army explains how the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops – made up of artists, sound technicians, and radiomen – created the grand illusion of American troops that held the line against German forces in major battles of the war. Amazing!

Staff Pick: Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

Stella Bain book coverGinny of Research Services recommends Stella Bain by Anita Shreve:

In 1916, an American woman wakes up with amnesia in a French hospital. She remembers her duties as a nurse’s aide and ambulance driver and that her name is Stella Bain…or is it? Dr. Bridge, a cranial surgeon who nurses Stella back to health, helps get her an appointment inside the British Royal Navy’s headquarters. While there, a former friend recognizes Stella, and Stella’s memories begin returning – like why she left her home and what drove her to the French battlefields. As Stella’s story unfolds, Shreve takes us back and forth between Europe and the United States, before and after WWI. Shreve vividly examines trauma, shell shock, and memory loss while effectively tracing a woman’s journey to recover her past.

New: Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense

Every Friday the Library will bring you two 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.

Get your reading glasses on, because here we go!

New: Mystery Books

Purity of Vengeance book cover

Dead in Their Arches book coverRide the Man Down book cover

Eggs in a Casket book cover

Billionaire Blend book cover

Way of all Fish book cover

Killer's Island book cover

Hunting Shadows book cover

New: Thriller and Suspense Books

Tiger Shrimp Tango book cover

419  book cover

Fear Nothing book cover

Death Trade book cover

Pawnbroker book cover

In the Blood book cover

Fatal Tide book cover

Execution book cover

Movies and TV: Bob Ross: The Happy Painter

Bob Ross the Happy Painter DVD coverAnyone who clicked through the TV channels from 1983 – 1994 surely crossed paths with Bob Ross. You know:  Bob Ross – the painter with the soft voice and the big afro. His 30-minute PBS show, The Joy of Painting, taught amateur artists how to landscape paint using the wet-on-wet oil painting technique. Ross brought a positive mental attitude, humor, camp, and easy-to-follow methods of art-making to the public. Bob Ross: The Happy Painter explores how Ross starring in a TV commercial for local painting classes turned into a 15 million dollar empire. Celebrities like Terrence Howard, Jane Seymour, and Brad Paisley discuss Ross’ life and legacy in this feel-good documentary.