Check It Out Category: Nonfiction

Getting Down with The Get Down

Get Down poster image“You hear that? That is life. And destiny. That is the get down.”

Part two of Netflix series The Get Down recently dropped, and though it isn’t yet available through the Library, we know some of you are already primed to lose yourselves in the music, the style, the art, and the drama of the Bronx in the late 1970s.

The fascinating world of early hip hop is one born of frustrations, passions, and even activism. To experience more of this electric era, try one of these:

Hip Hop Family Tree vol 1 cover

 

Hip Hop Family Tree 1: 1970s – 1981 by Ed Piskor

The early days of hip hop have become the stuff of myth, so what better way to document this epic true story than in an explosively entertaining, encyclopedic history presented in graphic format? Piskor’s exuberant cartooning takes you from the parks and rec rooms of the South Bronx to the night clubs, recording studios, and radio stations where the scene started to boom. The Hip Hop Family Tree is an exciting and essential cultural chronicle for hip hop fans, pop-culture addicts, and anyone who wants to know how it went down back in the day.

Wild Style DVD cover

 

Wild Style, directed, produced, and written by Charlie Ahearn

A perfect point of contrast to a series that recreates the emergence of hip hop is one that was created during the era in question! Wild Style is a 1983 docudrama that celebrates the colorful lives of teens who live in the South Bronx (sound familiar?). There they are seen break dancing, creating graffiti art, and listening to raucous rap. One focus is on the figure of Zoro, who likes to spray-paint subway cars, another reference point from The Get Down in the character of Dizzee, played by Jaden Smith.

Adventures of Grandmaster Flash book cover

 

The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats by Grandmaster Flash with David Ritz

In the 1970s Grandmaster Flash pioneered the art of break-beat DJing–the process of remixing and thereby creating a new piece of music by playing vinyl records and turntables as musical instruments. In this powerful memoir, Flash recounts how music from the streets, much like rock ‘n’ roll a generation before, became the sound of an era, as well as his own rise to stardom, descent into addiction, and ultimate redemption.

 

Get Down soundtrack cover

The Get Down: Original Soundtrack from the Netflix Original Series

Whether you’ve seen the series and can’t let it go or you want to experience it vicariously, the series soundtrack will satisfy your yen. Featuring both original songs and era classics, the line up includes artists such as Miguel, Christina Aguilera, Michael Kiwanuka, Janelle Monae, and Donna Summer, as well as the talented cast. Consider this your hot summer soundtrack!

Nonfiction: Where the Water Meets the Sand by Tyra Manning

Where the Water Meets the Sand book coverOne of Tyra Manning’s biggest fears comes true when she is in the hospital seeking help with her addiction and depression: her husband is killed in the Vietnam War. A wrenchingly open memoir, Manning digs deep to share her journey of perseverance in the Where the Water Meets the Sand.

On Thursday, May 18th at 7pm you will have the chance to meet and hear from Tyra Manning herself as she joins us at Mount Prospect Public Library in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)/Cook County North Suburban chapter. The mission of NAMI Cook County North Suburban is to improve the lives of individuals with serious mental illness and those who love and care for them through education, support, and advocacy.

Click here to register.

Staff Pick: Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

Picture of NancyWill Schwalbe’s Books for Living is a celebration of reading and how worthwhile it is, even if you have a full plate of responsibilities. He thoughtfully explores more than twenty of his favorite books and what each has meant to him. This is a wonderful book for sparking your own thoughts on reading and discovering what you’ll want to read next.

The Sobbing School by Joshua Bennett

The Sobbing School book cover“Who can be alive today
and not study grief?”

Poetry can be a powerful medium to share emotional truths, which is exactly what Joshua Bennett’s collection of poems, The Sobbing School, does as he writes about his life in contemporary America. Writing on a myriad of topics, Bennett is able to funnel his insight into striking turns of phrases, taking the breath of his readers away due to their beauty and somber truths.

While Joshua Bennett offers a personal window into his world as he writes about his relationships with friends, his family, and his experience as a black man in today’s society,  he also pays homage to historical figures, shedding light on the added weight history brings to the modern day. If you’re looking to read poetry for National Poetry Month, this would be a strong collection to start with!

Audiobook: Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Men We Reaped book coverCrafted in near-novelistic style, Men We Reaped may tempt you to forget that the vivid vignettes are from National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward’s own life rather than from her imagination. Even if so, the poignancy with which she describes the abrupt loss of five young men in a period of a few short years will reveal that this is a writer who knows tragedy firsthand and, even more dishearteningly, knows the struggle to believe that their lives matter to others.

Narrator Cherise Booth is an ideal partner for Ward’s prose, reading with grace and conviction. She skillfully toggles among characters and tones, never losing sight of the harsh truths of the author’s personal experience. Her performance underscores the resignation, strength, uncertainty, and stubborn hope that make this layered, lyrical memoir unforgettable.

Staff Pick- Good Eats Three: The Later Years by Alton Brown

Joanne from Community Services suggests Good Eats Three, The Later Years by Alton Brown

Good Eats 3 book coverAlton Brown has a very simple, but scientific, and methodical way of looking at food. In his book, Good Eats Three: The Later Years, Brown revisits the final 85 episodes of his culinary cult classic program, Good Eats. These shows highlight recipes, or “applications” that are simpler and feature common foods that people don’t ever think about making. It’s not fussy food, to say the least.

Each episode of Good Eats has a theme and tells the story about a certain food or culinary tradition. They can range from a certain cooking technique, like planking, or to the origin of a food like the Marshmallow.

Always the performer and informer, Brown’s gift is making the most mundane food interesting and he makes his audience think outside the pizza box. Episode 192: Celeryman deconstructs celery and even gives the reader an application for celery soda. Yum.

Although the show is over, this book can reignite your interest in cooking and the science behind it.

For more informative cookbooks and delicious recipes, try…

The Joy of Cooking book coverJoy of Cooking
by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
In 1931 Irma Rombauer took her life savings and self-published a book called The Joy of Cooking. Now in an updated 75th Anniversary edition, the voice of the original authors are restored to provide many quick and healthy recipes for the way we cook today.
Mastering the art of French Cooking book coverMastering the Art of French Cooking
by Julia Child
This collection that introduced America to Julia Child is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine.

 

Mexico One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless book coverMexico One Plate at a Time
by Rick Bayless
This great introduction to Mexican cuisine is a launchpad to master before you head into further exploration, more complicated techniques, and harder-to-find ingredients. These recipes are not complex, but they are authentic.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
by Marcella Hazan
This author introduces the idea of pairing pasta shape with sauces, encouraged using seasonal produce in Italian cooking, and started the craze for balsamic vinegar.

 

Movies and TV: Life, Animated

Life Animated DVD coverAs fans of books, television, and movies, we believe in the power of story. Narratives can show us we’re not alone. They can introduce us to experiences and ideas that we would not otherwise know. In the Oscar-nominated documentary Life, Animated, we learn that amazingly story can give voice to a speechless boy and be a source of strength for a young man striking out on his own.

When Owen Suskind was a toddler, he lost the ability to communicate. A rare joy for him was watching and re-watching Disney movies, and one day he responded to his dad with a line of dialogue from a favorite character. Elated, his parents found ways to interact with their son using Disney personalities and stories. Life, Animated features a loving family, an exceptional young man, and a triumphant journey worthy of the stories Owen adores.

Book Discussion Questions: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Boys in the Boat book coverTitle: The Boys in the Boat
Author:  Daniel James Brown
Page Count: 404 pages
Genre:  Nonfiction, Sports
Tone:  Impassioned, Inspiring

Summary:
Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times – the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

 

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:  2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. What made you want to read this book? Would you have felt compelled to read it outside of book club?

2. Do you think that reading this during the Olympics would make a difference to you?

3. What are the differences, if any, as to how the Olympics were regarded in the 1930s to how they are regarded now?

4. What are your thoughts on Avery Brundage and his role on the Olympic committee?

5. Bobby Moch was Jewish. Knowing what he knew about Germany, are you surprised he went? Would you have gone? Why did his father not tell him sooner?

6. Should there have been a boycott against the Olympics?

7. Leni Riefenstiahl is probably the most famous female director ever; what did you think of her?

8. Let’s talk about Joe’s family life. What are your thoughts? Specifically Thula and Harry ?

9. Which relationship do you believe was ultimately the most pivotal for Joe?

10. Ulbrickson kept putting different boys in different boats, what do you think made these boys fit together?

11. What do you think was the turning point for Joe to become a unit with the rest of the boys in the boat?

12. Why do you think the boys were so unbeatable?

13. How much of a pivotal character was Pocock? Could they have won without him?

14. What did you think of George Pocock’s issues with the California coach Ky Ebright?

15. What did you think about the journey over to Germany on the cruise ship? Did anything interest you?

16. What did you think about the way the Germans handled the race?

OTHER RESOURCES:

Lit Lovers’ Reading Group Guide
West Maui Book Club discussion questions
Seattle Times Q&A
(Video) Daniel James Brown on The Boys in the Boat
“Nazi Olympics Berlin 1936” article by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Rowing Team That Stunned the World

 

READALIKES:

The Three-Year Swim Club
by Julie Checkoway

Salt Sweat Tears
by Adam Rackley

Nazi GamesNazi Games
by David Clay Large

Staff Pick: The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Picture of DonnaThe successful HGTV show, Fixer Upper, stars the upbeat couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines. The Magnolia Story is about their interesting lives and a lot of ups and downs with running their decorating, retail and real estate businesses. In their own words, they have learned that with change comes opportunities and contentment in the journey. Hope you enjoy.

Staff Pick: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Picture of NancyH is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is a deeply personal memoir about grief, falconry, and T. H. White.  A unique combination for sure, but Macdonald masterfully blends these threads into an engrossing work of art.  I highly recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by the author herself for a particularly mesmerizing experience.

Audio is also available on Hoopla.